When to Use a Blender vs. When to Use a Food Processor

A tale of two kitchen machines.

Woman Using Blender
Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

For the average home cook, knowing when to use a blender and when to use a food processor can be a difficult distinction to make. They look so similar! And they do similar things too, right? Not exactly.

Long story short: A blender is ideal for foods that will end up mostly liquid (like milkshakes and smoothies), whereas a food processor is better for foods that will end up being mostly solid (like pesto and textured spreads).

As Bon Appetit points out, blenders and food processors both use blades and motors, but not in the same way. To start, the motor of a blender is typically more powerful than that of a food processor. A blender needs more horsepower to create the smooth, silky texture you expect from blended foods. A blender's blades are also considerably less sharp than the blades in a food processor. "They're basically blunt objects," according to Bon Appetit. The blades of food processor, however, are "ridged and razor-sharp," making them ideal for slicing through thicker foods like nuts and garlic cloves.

"Blenders are great for mixing liquids and making sauces. The conical shape directs everything to the blades at the bottom," Atlanta-based chef Virginia Willis, author of Secrets of the Southern Table, told HuffPost. "Also, since [the blender pitcher is] so deep, it's less likely to overflow. The blades of a blender aren't that large or sharp―what mixes things up is the powerful motor."

WATCH: Here's Why Every Kitchen Needs A Food Processor

Chef Wayne Elias, who has cooked for likes of Elton John and Steven Tyler, told HuffPost that he likes to use a food processor when he needs to chop large quantities quickly and uniformly.

"I use food processors to chop and grind dry ingredients as fine as possible (like a powder)," he said. "Items like breadcrumbs, nuts and coconut are best chopped in a food processor."

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