Can you use a food processor if you don’t have a blender?


Many recipes call for using a blender to puree sauces, make smoothies, or mix batters. But what if you don’t have a blender readily available? The good news is that in many cases, you can substitute a food processor. While a blender and food processor are not exactly the same, there is quite a bit of overlap in what they can do. With some adjustments to ingredients and techniques, you can achieve similar results using just a food processor.

Differences between blenders and food processors

To understand how to use a food processor when a recipe calls for a blender, it’s helpful to first look at what makes them different:

Blender Food Processor
Usually has a pitcher or jar with blades at the bottom for blending Has a work bowl with an S-shaped blade that rotates from the top
Excel at making purees and emulsifications Best for chopping, grating, mixing, and kneading
Create very smooth textures Result is more coarse
Can blend wet and dry ingredients Not ideal for blending liquids
Typically higher powered motor Less powerful motor

As you can see, blenders are optimized for combining wet and dry ingredients into a perfectly smooth consistency, like in smoothies and sauces. Food processors do best with dry chopping and mixing tasks.

Tips for using a food processor instead of a blender

When using a food processor instead of a blender, keep these tips in mind:

– Add liquid in stages – Don’t add all the liquid at once. Start with just half or a third of the liquid called for. You can always add more but adding too much right away results in splattering. Pulse between additions.

– Use the feed tube – When making purees, remove the feed tube insert and add ingredients through the tube. Use a spatula to guide them down into the blades. This prevents splattering.

– Expect a textured result – A food processor won’t produce something as perfectly smooth as a blender. So don’t be surprised if sauces and purees are a little chunkier.

– Let the machine do the work – Resist the urge to constantly stir the mixture. Turn it on and let the food processor run until ingredients are combined. Stopping and starting it frequently can result in uneven mixing.

– Don’t overfill – Observe the max fill lines on your food processor bowl. Overfilling can prevent proper blending and strain the machine.

– Use the right blade – Most food processors come with S-shaped chopping blades plus various discs for slicing, shredding, grating, etc. Make sure to use the chopping blade when trying to blend or mix wet ingredients.

– Add liquid ingredients first – When making dough or batter, it’s usually best to pour wet ingredients like milk or oil into the processor bowl before adding dry ingredients like flour or sugar.

– Scrape down the sides – Because a food processor’s blade spins from the top, ingredients near the bottom and sides don’t get blended as easily. Stop the machine periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula so everything incorporates evenly.

Recipes that work in a food processor

You can use a food processor instead of a blender for many recipes, though the texture may turn out a bit different. Here are some recipes that work well:

Sauces and dips:

– Pesto
– Salsas and chutneys
– Hummus
– Guacamole
– Salad dressings
– Marinara sauce
– Mayonnaise

For sauces, you may need to thin them out with a bit more liquid since a food processor can leave them thicker. Aim for a pourable consistency.


Smoothies are possible in a food processor but can end up with ice chunks since food processors can’t grind ice as smoothly as blenders. Try letting ice cubes soften at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before adding to the food processor, or use crushed ice instead of cubes. Bananas also help smoothies achieve a creamy texture.

Nut butters:

You can make homemade nut butters like almond or peanut butter in a food processor. Just add nuts and a little oil or nut butter to get it started. Process for several minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides, until it forms a smooth paste.

Milkshakes and ice cream:

A food processor won’t produce perfect milkshakes and ice cream like a top-of-the-line blender, but it can achieve decent results. Use softened ice cream and milk, processing in short pulses rather than continuously.

Mixed drinks:

You can make blended cocktails in a food processor. Since alcohol doesn’t fully bind with the other ingredients, expect drinks to separate after blending unless xanthan gum or another stabilizer is added.

Pureed soups:

For pureed soups, simmer ingredients first until very soft, then process in batches in a food processor before returning to the pot. Add liquid like cream or broth until you reach the desired consistency.

Pie fillings and custards:

The food processor is great for mixing together egg-based pie fillings like pumpkin, sweet potato, or custard-style fillings. Just be careful not to over-process since this can cause the eggs to thin out or separate.

Cookie dough and cake batters:

A food processor makes quick work of chopping ingredients like oats, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. for cookie doughs. For cake batters, process wet ingredients first then add dry and pulse just until incorporated. Overmixing causes too much gluten development and chewy cakes.

Recipes to avoid

There are a few instances where it’s best to avoid using a food processor as a blender substitute:

– Ice drinks – Slushies, snow cones, and granitas will come out too chunky and icy in a food processor. These treats require a high-powered blender that can finely grind ice.

– Nut milks – For nut milks like almond milk, a blender is needed to fully pulverize the nuts and achieve a silky texture. Food processors leave too many fiberous bits.

– Precision emulsifying – Mayonnaise and delicate emulsified sauces require a blender to stabilize and bind ingredients. Food processors may curdle the ingredients.

– Batters with yeast – Thick yeast-leavened batters don’t do as well in a food processor since the sharp blades can overwork the gluten. Best to mix these by hand or use a stand mixer.

– Fibrous fruit and veggies – Blenders excel at breaking down tough fibers from pineapple, mangoes, asparagus, etc. A food processor can’t smooth these as seamlessly.

So for recipes where texture is really important, it’s best to wait until you have access to an actual blender. But in a pinch, a food processor can fill in for simple blending tasks. Just keep the differences in mind as you work.


While a high-powered blender is the best choice for ultimate blending, mixing, and emulsifying, a food processor can work in a pinch provided you adapt ingredients and techniques. Add liquids gradually, expect a coarser texture, and avoid recipes where perfectly smooth results are crucial. With some creative adjustments, a food processor can substitute for a blender for basic pureeing tasks, letting you still enjoy homemade sauces, dips, dressings, and more even without this kitchen staple on hand.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *