If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then chances are you’re pretty handy with various culinary tools. You’ve got expert knife skills, you’re a pro with slow cooker and you really know your way around a stovetop. But what about your food processors? Or your blender? Do you really know what these appliances are for? Do you know the difference? And are you using them correctly? For most of us—even those who claim to be super kitchen savvy—there’s a lot of confusion over which appliance will best suit your chopping/mixing/blending/emulsifying needs. And since some recipes and cooking sources use the terms “blender” and “food processor” interchangeably (a classic cooking error), it can be hard to navigate your tools.
According to Consumer Reports, the blender and food processor “excel at different tasks. A blender is better at mixing drinks and whipping up smoothies, while a food processor is ideal for chopping, slicing and shredding.” In other words, if you want a kitchen that is fully equipped with all the goods you need to whip up all the treats you love, then yes, you need both appliances. While we might not be saving you any counter space, we are about to save you a lot of confusion. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you assess when you need to use what. Happy mixing.
If You’re Making Soup
If you’re cooking up a soup that you want to be smooth in texture (i.e. no clumps) then a blender is your best bet. This is because the blades of a blender aren’t sharp, but they are blunt and strong thanks to the high-powered motor of the appliance. That combo gives you a perfect pureed consistency, which is exactly what you want when making soups. Here are some delicious recipes for soups using the power of a blender to make magic happen. And if you don’t want to deal with the mess and clean up of a traditional blender, then an immersion blender is a great tool to have on hand. This hand-held blender is perfect for giving recipes a quick blend to create a smooth texture with the push of a button. No extra containers or bowls, you simply blend in the saucepan, pot or bowl you are already using.
If You’re Making a Juice or Smoothie (or Adult Blended Beverage)
If you love to start your day with a smoothie or end your night with a frozen margarita then you need a blender. It takes a lot of power to crush and blend ice and an immersion blender or food processors won’t quite cut it. And since most juices and smoothies involve either ice or frozen fruit and veggies, you need a traditional blender for those bad boys.
If You’re Chopping Ingredients
Chopping requires sharp blades that can slice and dice and do it at incredible speed, which is where a food processor comes in handy. After all, sometimes your knife skills might be good, but they’re not that good, and if you have a lot of chopping to do, you want a professional tool that can help get it done efficiently and uniformly. A food processor is great for grating cheese, thinly chopping or slicing veggies like carrots and mushrooms, making homemade breadcrumbs, or even preparing pastry dough. And because this appliance typically comes with a variety of blades that you can switch up based on your needs, it really is a multi-use tool that you should have in your kitchen.
If You’re Not Sure How You’ll Use It
A blender can do a lot more than just make delicious smoothies. It can also beat fluffy eggs, prepare pancake batter, make whipped cream, salsa, soup, juice…the list goes on. So if you’re not sure that you really have a need for a blender, we suggest you give it a try. You’ll probably use it more than you think, and soon enough you’ll be wondering how you lived without one. Plus blenders are easy to clean and most come with dishwasher-safe pitchers and parts so you really don’t have to do much manual labor to enjoy and clean your new favorite kitchen tool.
If You Want a One-Stop-Shop
If you have to pick just one appliance (perhaps you’re pressed for space or you’re on a budget) then a food processor is a great starting place. It does a lot and comes loaded with different blades for different purposes, and while it might not be the best option to create purees it certainly can give you a smooth consistency if you use it appropriately and work in small batches. It can also make ice cream, delicious pasta sauce, salad dressings, and can chop nuts and other foods that are annoying to chop by hand. And if you’re really tight on space, choose a mini-chopper that does the same powerful chopping and grinding work with a smaller work bowl.