Blenders and food processors are both popular kitchen appliances that perform similar functions. While they can be used for some of the same tasks like making smoothies, purees, and sauces, there are some key differences between the two.
Blending vs Processing
A blender operates with fast spinning blades that finely chop and liquefy ingredients. It is ideal for blending and mixing liquids, making smoothies, pureeing soups, and emulsifying dressings. The pitcher style blender has blades at the bottom that pull ingredients down towards them when blending.
A food processor uses rotating blades and disks to chop, slice, grate, and knead food. It excels at chopping vegetables, making bread dough, grating cheese, and shredding meats. The food is pushed down onto the blades with a plastic pusher, allowing for controlled processing.
Design and Capacity
Most standard blenders have a large pitcher-style container with a blade assembly at the bottom. The typical capacity is 48-64 ounces. Blenders are designed to blend large volumes of liquid with ingredients that can circulate throughout the pitcher.
Food processors typically have a work bowl that sits on top of a motorized base. Feed tubes allow ingredients to be gradually processed. Work bowls vary in capacity but commonly range from 10-14 cups. The bowls have a wider, shorter shape designed for efficient chopping and mixing.
Blenders will typically have a motor power between 300-1500 watts. More powerful motors are needed to blend thick mixtures and handle ice and frozen ingredients. Low powered blenders may struggle with thicker smoothies.
A standard food processor has a motor between 500-1000 watts. The motors are designed for efficient chopping, not high speed blending. More expensive models may have a power boost function for kneading dough.
Blades and Discs
Blenders use detachable blades that are either sealed into the pitcher base or mount on the bottom. Most blenders only include a standard 4 or 6-prong stainless steel blade.
Food processors come with interchangeable and reversible slicing/shredding discs and chopping blades. Common discs include steel chopping blades, dough blades, shredding, grating, and slicing discs. This allows more versatility.
Ease of Use
Basic blenders usually have low, high, and pulse settings. Some include preset programs for common drinks and smoothies that automate speeds. Blenders need liquid to circulate around the blades and can jam with thick mixtures.
Food processors have on/off buttons and pulse mechanisms. Their feed tube and pusher allow better control over processing. But the parts must be disassembled to add ingredients.
High performance blender containers are designed not to leak when operating. Some have interlocks that prevent them from turning on when not properly assembled.
Food processors often have a safety interlock mechanism that stops blades when the lid is not locked into place. The feed tube also prevents hands from coming into direct contact with blades.
Cleanup and Storage
Blender pitchers can usually be rinsed or placed in the dishwasher for cleaning. But blenders tend to be bulky and need cabinet storage space.
Food processors have more parts including blades and discs to disassemble and wash. The work bowls take up significant space and are often difficult to store.
There is a wide range of prices for both blenders and processors. A basic blender can cost between $25-$100. Higher performance blenders range from $150-$600+.
Food processors start around $40 for mini choppers and go up to $200-$400 for larger machines with more power. High end models with extra accessories can cost over $500.
Here are some of the uses where blenders excel over processors:
- Mixed drinks
- Pureed soups
- Salad dressings
- Baby food
Here are tasks better suited for a food processor:
- Chopping vegetables
- Kneading dough
- Grating cheese
- Bread crumbs
- Pastry dough
Blenders vs. Food Processors
|Pitcher with blades at bottom
|Bowl with feed tube and blades
|48-64 oz pitchers
|10-14 cup work bowls
|Fixed stainless steel
|Variable speed + presets
|Pitcher is dishwasher-safe
|Parts require disassembly
|Canister or cabinet space
|Cabinet space for unit
While both blenders and food processors are handy appliances, they each excel at different tasks. For blending liquids, purees, and smoothies, a good blender can’t be beat. But a food processor takes the lead for chopping, shredding, and mixing chunky ingredients.
The typical blender has fixed blades designed for rapid circulation while processors have interchangeable discs and blades. Blenders need strength for crushing ice while processors need a wide bowl for efficient chopping.
For maximum versatility, many home cooks have both. An affordable blender provides great smoothies while a mid-range processor handles meal prep chopping. With two compact appliances, you get the best of both worlds!