Food processors offer a world of convenience for every home cook. They let you perfectly slice vegetables, fruits, meat, and even nuts. But can you use your appliance to cut, slice, or dice frozen foods?
Your food processor isn’t safe to cut frozen foods. The bowl can crack or get dented, the blades can get dull, and the motor might crash. That said, you’ll be fine if you thaw and chop the food and use a sturdier appliance with a stronger motor. You can also use a blender instead of a processor.
So what are the things you need to know before you dump those frozen strawberries into your food processor? Check out the reasons why you should probably just avoid doing so and what you can use instead.
Frozen Food Is Bad News for Your Food Processor
Using a food processor to shred frozen food isn’t a good idea. As this manual for the KitchenAid food processor states, you shouldn’t process firmly frozen foods with their products. However, you might get away with it if they’re not too hard and you can pierce the frozen vegetable or meat using the sharp tip of a knife.
We know that this answer goes against what we’ve all been doing. At one point or another, we have put frozen stuff right out of the freezer into the food processor and successfully shredded it to bits.
Technically, you can do that. And some food processors are powerful enough to handle frozen food, or even crush ice. It depends on the make and brand of your food processor, as well as the materials used to manufacture it.
However, to be safe, it’s best to process only partially frozen food. Doing so will help you ensure:
- The blades stay sharp longer.
- The motors are able to handle workload.
- The bowl where you put the food won’t be damaged.
- Get more uses from your food processor.
What Happens To Your Processor When Used with Frozen Food?
The Blades Get Blunt
The blades of a food processor are so sharp that they can cut through different types of food. A study on razor blades and why they become dull could give us a look into why frozen food is a bad idea for your food processor’s blade.
The processors’ blade edges are typically thin, so they can easily cut through anything. But as you use these blades, the metal rounds off and becomes gradually dull, no matter what you’re cutting with it. (Think of razor blades getting blunt after repeated contacts with something as delicate as hair.)
However, blades tend to get dull when they encounter something harder than they are. For instance, your knives become dull faster if you cut food on a ceramic plate, the countertop, or some other hard surface. Furthermore, using the wrong knife to cut through something will make it lose its sharpness, like a chef knife being used to cut through bones.
Using your food processor to cut frozen food is like using a knife to cut the wrong things. The edges can round off or chip off, making the blades dull.
The Motor May Overwork and Fail
Your appliance needs more power to cut through something hard, like frozen food. As a result, its motor goes into overdrive, overheats and fails.
Overheating motors can be quite a problem. They smell like burnt rubber that can linger more than you’re comfortable with. Or they can even cause fires.
The whole issue turns into a double whammy if your processor blades get blunt, too. That’s because dull blades often force the motor to work harder than it should.
The Bowl Can Get Damaged
Processing frozen food can damage the bowl. It might ding metal bowls or make plastic bowls a bit more opaque. Worse, it might create a crack on the plastic bowl, which would, in turn, cause leaks when you use it.A replacement bowl can easily cost over a third of what you pay for a new food processor.
So, all in all, if you want to keep your food processor for a much longer time and get more use out of it, you should avoid using it to cut frozen food.
So What Is the Best Way to Slice Frozen Food
Although food processors are made for soft food, you can do certain tricks to make it safe for frozen stuff.
Cut The Food into Smaller Pieces
If you really need to use your food processor to cut through frozen food, you might need to slice it first into manageable sizes. This is especially important if you’re using a food processor with a feed tube or models with slicing blades at the top.
Cutting up big pieces of frozen food will ensure they’re not too firm. As the KitchenAid manual recommends, your knife should be able to cut through the food before you put it in the processor. Another benefit of slicing frozen food is that it makes it easier for the food processor to manage.
Defrost the Food
If you’re always dealing with frozen food, you should allow some time to thaw it out first. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, you should thaw food in the refrigerator where temperatures are constantly colder than 40°F (4.44°C).
Avoid thawing food on the counter or any other surfaces where temperatures can range from 40 to 140°F (4.44 to 60°C). At these temperatures, bacteria can rapidly multiply.
You can also thaw food safely by putting it inside a Ziploc or any other plastic bag and then placing it in cold water. Or, you can just thaw the frozen food in the microwave.
Buy a More Powerful Processor
The ideal motor that’ll effectively crush ice would deliver around 1,500 watts of power. This kind of motor, like the ones you see on blenders, will be able to chop and crush ice with absolutely no difficulty, so it can easily handle frozen food.
However, most food processors have a very weak motor, which is another reason you shouldn’t use them to crush ice or slice frozen food. So, if you’d like to have frozen berry smoothies for breakfast every single day without having to buy a separate blender, it might help to invest in a professional or commercial quality food processor available on Amazon.com such as:
As you can guess, these commercial-grade products are going to be more expensive than your average food processor. And even then, the motors aren’t powerful enough to handle frozen foods repeatedly.
Having a powerful motor isn’t even a guarantee that you can use it for totally frozen food. The Breville Pro Food Processor (available on Amazon.com) comes close with a motor of 1,200 watts and is made for the toughest chopping, dicing, and slicing jobs you have around the kitchen. Still, it’s not recommended to use for crushing ice or chopping fully frozen meats.
Buy an Affordable, but Powerful Blender
If you’re dealing with frozen fruits mostly to make smoothies, you can also use a blender rather than a food processor to do the job. Other than cutting frozen stuff, there are many other tasks and recipes you can’t do with a food processor. So, you’ll need to have a blender, anyway.
It’s not just for frozen foods, ice, and soups; a blender helps you do more with your food. Plus, they don’t cost a lot, such as these affordable products available on Amazon.com:
There are even blenders that cost lower than a replacement bowl as we have discussed above. And yet these blenders are already strong enough to crush ice.