A food processor is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances available today. This powerful machine can chop, slice, shred, blend, knead and mix a wide variety of ingredients, saving home cooks lots of time and effort in meal preparation. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the many uses of food processors, their key features, and provide tips for getting the most out of this multi-functional appliance.
Chopping and Slicing
One of the main uses of a food processor is to quickly and evenly chop, slice or dice ingredients. The sharp, rotating blades can effortlessly break down fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and other foods. For example, you can use a food processor to:
- Chop onions, garlic, chilies for cooking
- Slice mushrooms, carrots, zucchini for stir fries or salads
- Dice peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers for salsa or relish
- Cut potatoes into even cubes for roasting
- Finely mince ginger, shallots, lemongrass for paste or seasoning
- Coarsely chop nuts like walnuts, pecans or almonds
- Crumb bread into fine crumbs or croutons
The consistency of the chop can be adjusted by pulse processing in short bursts or running the machine continuously. The large bowl capacity of most food processors means you can chop large batches of ingredients in one go.
Mixing and Kneading Dough
The fast spinning blades also make food processors extremely effective for mixing and kneading doughs. The blades can thoroughly combine wet and dry ingredients into even, well-blended dough in just minutes.
Some examples of preparing dough in a food processor include:
- Pie crust dough
- Pizza dough
- Bread dough
- Pasta dough
- Cookie dough
- Cake batter
- Dumpling dough
The dough hooks and blades provide intensive mixing and kneading action, removing the need to use your hands and saving energy. Just be sure not to overprocess the dough, which can make baked goods tough.
Shredding, Grating and Grinding
The food processing blades excel at shredding, grating and grinding tasks. Attach the right disc blade and you can quickly shred cabbage, carrots or cheese into fine strands for slaw or topping. Swap in the grating disc to grate hard cheeses like parmesan or whole nutmegs. The food processor also makes short work of turning nuts into nut butter, grinding meat, making breadcrumbs from crackers or pulverizing spices into powder.
|Shredding||Cabbage, carrots, zucchini, cheese|
|Grating||Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, ginger, chocolate|
|Grinding||Nuts, meat, crackers, spices|
Pureeing and Blending
The sharp, fast-spinning blades are ideal for pureeing soft foods into smooth mixtures. Simply add cooked vegetables, ripe fruits or cooked beans into the food processor and run until fully blended.
Some pureeing ideas include:
- Baby food – puree cooked vegetables, fruits or meat
- Soup – blend cooked vegetables into creamy soup
- Sauces – puree tomatoes, bell peppers into sauce
- Hummus, bean dip – blend cooked chickpeas into hummus
- Applesauce – puree cooked apples
- Mashed potatoes – blend cooked potatoes with milk and butter
The food processor excels at emulsifying and binding ingredients together into thick, creamy textures ideal for dips, spreads and dressings.
While not its main function, a food processor with the right attachments can whip air into cream to create fluffy whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.
To whip cream in a food processor:
- Chill the bowl and blades for at least 30 minutes
- Add chilled heavy cream and any sugar or vanilla to the bowl
- Whip on high speed for 1-2 minutes until stiff peaks form
- Do not overmix or it will turn to butter
Food processors can easily turn nuts into delicious homemade nut butter. Simply add your favorite nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc) into the bowl and process continuously for 5-10 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. The nuts will grind down and release their oils to form a smooth, creamy nut butter you can customize to taste.
One of the most popular uses of a food processor is for making quick pesto. You can have homemade basil, spinach or other pestos ready in just minutes.
To make pesto in the food processor:
- Add basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese to the bowl
- Process until well blended but still slightly chunky
- Scrape down sides and pulse to desired consistency
- Season with salt and pepper
The food processor evenly chops the ingredients and mixes them without bruising the basil like a knife would.
Salsa and Guacamole
For fresh, homemade salsas and guacamole, a food processor is invaluable. You can control the texture perfectly – chopping some ingredients finely while giving others just a pulse to leave chunks behind.
To make salsa:
- Chop onions, garlic, chilies in processor
- Pulse in tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice just until combined but still chunky
- Season with salt
To make guacamole:
- Chop onion in processor
- Add avocado flesh, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pulse 2-3 times to mix
- Leave some chunks for texture
Pie and Cookie Dough
A food processor can quickly cut fat into flour to make tender, flaky pie dough and cookie dough. Just a minute or two of processing incorporates the fat evenly for a superior pastry.
For pie dough:
- Combine flour, salt in bowl
- Add cubes of chilled butter and pulse until pea-sized chunks form
- Add a few tbsp ice water and pulse just until dough forms
For cookie dough:
- In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt
- Add butter pieces and sugar and process until creamy
- Add egg and vanilla and pulse to combine
Chilling the dough before baking gives the best results.
Mayonnaise and Aioli
A food processor can easily make quick homemade mayonnaise that is far superior to store bought. The blades help combine and emulsify the oil and egg yolks into a thick, creamy condiment.
To make mayo:
- Add egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard to processor
- With motor running, slowly drizzle in vegetable or olive oil until emulsified
- Season with salt and cayenne pepper
Flavor mayo with garlic to make aioli, perfect for dipping vegetables and proteins.
|2 Tbsp pesto||179||18g||2g||3g|
|1/4 cup hummus||140||9g||9g||5g|
|1/4 cup salsa||20||0g||5g||1g|
As shown in the table above, homemade dips and spreads made in the food processor can make nutritious additions to meals and snacks.
Tips for Using a Food Processor
To get the most efficient use out of your food processor, keep these tips in mind:
- Cut ingredients into even, 1-inch pieces before processing
- Pulse ingredients instead of running machine continuously for more control over texture
- Scrape down sides of bowl frequently
- Add liquids slowly through feed tube while motor is running
- Be careful not to overfill bowl
- Clean blades and bowl promptly after each use
From chopping vegetables to mixing dough, whipping cream to grinding spices, food processors are one of the most versatile kitchen tools available. Their sharp blades, strong motors and variety of attachments allow home cooks to expand their culinary horizons and save significant time in meal prep. Whether making weekday dinners or weekend baking projects, a quality food processor is a worthwhile investment for any kitchen.