Both are incredibly useful appliances that perform important tasks in the kitchen. And both are essentially tools that whir blades around quickly in order to chop food into little pieces.
Neither is exactly cheap, though, so we’ve often wondered: Do we really need both a food processor and a blender? Or could we get by with just one?
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What Do Food Processors Do?
Food processors excel at prepwork—they’re great for chopping, mincing, slicing, and even shredding ingredients in seconds. They’ll save you time and effort so you can get your meal on the table faster than you would otherwise. The best food processors, including our favorite, the Cuisinart Custom 14 Cup Food Processor, can also knead doughs, too.
But food processors can leak slightly from the opening over which the blade sits, so they’re best for handling drier ingredients such as vegetables and cheese and for pie dough. You can certainly put liquids in the food processor—it’s still our go-to for things like pesto and pizza sauce—but be aware that you might get a few leaks.
You’ll also get a coarser puree in a food processor than you’ll get in a blender, since your food is traveling around a much larger container and coming into contact with the blades less frequently. But for the foods we use it for, that coarse texture is actually preferable!
What Do Blenders Do?
On the flipside, blender jars are sealed, so they’re fantastic for pureeing liquid-heavy foods. Its jar makes it ideally suited to these tasks: In the narrow confines of a blender jar, the food forms a vortex that keeps it in near-constant contact with the blades.
As the blades spin, the food is drawn down into the blades and back up again before being drawn back down into the blades at a higher rate of speed than a food processor can muster. The result: more uniformly smooth results than a food processor can achieve.
Do You Really Need a Food Processor and a Blender?
Well, it depends. If you’re the kind of person who lives on smoothies and never wants to drag out a food processor for dinner prep or doughs, you could be perfectly fine with just a blender.
Or, if you don’t care about smoothies but want to cut down on your dinner prep or get perfect doughs in seconds, a food processor might be the way to go. You could still make the occasional smoothie or frozen drink—just be aware that you’ll probably get pretty coarse-textured and somewhat lumpy results!
But unfortunately, if you want to handle both liquids and solids equally well, you’re going to need both. Blenders can’t slice, dice, or chop, and they definitely can’t make dough. (We’ve tried!) And food processors will never produce liquids that are quite as smooth as the ones you get in a blender.