It’s easy to see why people get food processors and blenders a little confused. They both have a broadly similar function – whizzing food together until it’s smaller – as well as many aesthetic similarities: motorised bases, rotating blades and clear chambers on top. However, they’re not as interchangeable as they might seem and each appliance is designed for different kitchen tasks.
With many food processors and blenders being on the pricey side, it’s good to know their array of functions and uses before parting with your money. Our handy guide below will take you through the functionality and uses for both blenders and food processors.
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What is a blender?
A stationary blender blender consists of a plastic or glass blending chamber with a set of rotating blades sitting at its bottom. These blades are powered by a motorised base which sits on your counter-top. In some cases the different parts of a blender will be adjustable or can be swapped out to achieve different results. Blenders can have different sized and shaped chambers, differently shaped blades and numerous speed settings – all of which can be used to produce different consistencies and amounts of blended material.
The main tasks at which blenders excel are combining wet and dry ingredients – if you’re dealing with a liquid at all, it’s usually your blender you’ll be reaching for – as well as turning fruit and veg into purées and liquids. Blenders tend to have smaller, narrower chambers than food processors as they’re usually working with smaller quantities, and lower-sitting blades better suited to liquifying and emulsifying, rather than chopping and blitzing.
If you want more information, or specific recommendations on blenders, check out our full round-up of the best blenders available. If you’re looking for something more mobile and easily stored, we’ve also compiled a guide on the best handheld immersion blenders.
What is a blender best used for?
If you get creative enough, a blender can fulfil a wide range of functions in your kitchen. Blenders are great for making fruit smoothies, milkshakes and iced drinks like coffee and cocktails – provided your blender blades are strong enough to crush ice. A good blender can keep you satisfied with perfectly cool, healthy drinks all summer long.
In winter, a blender pays dividends when it comes time to pulverise those veggies to make a bowl of hearty soup. Similarly, it can whip up sauces and emulsify ingredients to cut cooking times down significantly. Some high-end blenders, such as the Ninja Blender and Soup Maker, even have heating elements allowing you to prepare soups and sauces entirely in one appliance.
Read our full Ninja Blender and Soup Maker review for more details
What is a food processor?
A food processor has the same constituent parts as a blender – a base, a set of blades, a clear chamber and a lid.
They have larger chambers than blenders, however, as they tend to be used on larger quantities of ingredients; processors also have plastic chutes in their lids, so that ingredients can be fed into the machine as it works. The blades are also a different shape and sit a little higher, allowing them to chop and mix, as opposed to liquifying. Food processors often come with a wider range of blade attachments in comparison to blenders as well, which allow them to perform more varied tasks.
Where blenders are best suited to combining liquid and dry ingredients, food processors work best on dry foodstuffs – blitzing, chopping and shredding various ingredients. Check out our best food processor product round-up to learn more.
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What is a food processor best used for?
Food processors can do anything. Okay, maybe that’s a little overzealous, but it’s not far from the truth. A food processor can chop carrots and onion to prepare a soup base, blitz nuts for baking, mince meat for burgers or chilli, make breadcrumbs and even grind oats and seeds to make alternative flours. Many are also suited to making thick purées that most blenders aren’t, such as nut butters and hummus. If you want to shred vegetables for a salad? Food processor. If you want to chop potatoes for dinner? Food processor. If you want to make pie crust? At this point, I think you can guess the answer.
Can one appliance do both?
If you still feel like you’d be missing out choosing one appliance over another, there are also 2-in-1 solutions, such as the Tefal Double Force, which might be better suited to you – especially if you’re looking to save space. Alternatively, check out our best blender and best food processor pages for alternative products that come with attachments for both.
It’s important to remember, however, that many of these 2-in-1 appliances tend to do one thing better than the other. Keep this in mind when you buy and always choose the product best suited to your everyday needs