Ever wondered about the real differences between a blender and a food processor? We know that we have; we usually tend to file that question under “things we probably should know about our kitchen appliances but now feel like it’s too late to ask.” But now summer is here, with its endless possibilities for fresh salsa from our gardens, sweet smoothies from fresh-picked strawberries, and so many more delicious dishes that require the use of either a blender or a food processor. As a result, we’ve decided that it’s never too late to learn a handy kitchen fact. We’re tackling the real differences between a blender and a food processor, as well as when it’s best to use each appliance and how to use them to their maximum effectiveness.
Meet Your Standard Blender
So here’s a fun fact about your garden-variety blender: its blades are actually not that sharp. Okay, so we still don’t recommend recklessly cleaning the blades or submerging them in soapy water and forgetting they’re there. But a blender blade on its own isn’t going to cut through that much.
If that’s true, then how does a blender turn frozen strawberries into mush and ice cubs into little icy flecks? The secret lies in the blender’s motor; the super powerful motor whips the blades around fast enough that fruits, veggies, stock, and ice is no match for it. Pull out your blender when you want to make smoothies, frozen cocktails, margaritas, or shakes. Basically, anything that you want to be smooth and evenly pureed should be whipped around using those dull blades and workhorse blender.
Meet Your Standard Food Processor
While the mighty blender gets its work done through sheer, brute force (imagine those dull blades pulverizing some innocent frozen berries), the food processor is a little more of a precision instrument. Its blades are ridged and incredibly sharp, perfect for pulverizing hard, tough foods. A food processor’s motor tends to be a little less powerful than a blender’s, but its ultra-sharp blades more than make up for that.
So when do you want to pull out the food processor over the blender? Those blades are going to make quick work of nuts and seeds, and can chop up onions and garlic like nobody’s business. You can even use a food processor to make pastry dough. Try to use it for foods that have at least a little texture to them; one of the big differences between a blender and a food processor is that the deep bowl of a blender lets liquidy foods like soup become agitated without overflowing. A food processor has a shallower bowl, meaning that trying to puree soup with either be a nerve-wracking task or a very time-consuming one as you puree all the ingredients in batches.
What About Those All-In-One Tools?
We have a little bit of a kitchen-appliance-crush on new tools that combine all the best parts of blenders and food processors. The best of the bunch, like this Nutri Ninja Auto iQ Compact System, has one attachment that functions more like a traditional blender (dull blades, powerful motor) and one that acts like a food processor (razor sharp blades, motor with a little less oomph). This is a great solution if you’re lacking on storage, since there’s just one base for all the attachments, or if you like everything to match.