Food processors are useful kitchen tools. They can make quick work of chopping and mincing ingredients, create smooth dips and sauces (such as hummus or pesto), and mix bread and cookie doughs. Follow the tips and techniques below to help you make the most of your food processor.

Safety First!

The blade in a food processor is VERY sharp. Ask an adult for help when putting the blade into the food processor or taking it out. Always lock the lid into place before pulsing or processing. (Most food processors won’t turn on unless the lid is properly locked.) And don’t overfill the processor bowl—it will overflow or leak when you turn it on! Most food processors have a liquid fill line marked on the bowl to let you know how much liquid can be added.

Pulse vs. Process

There are two basic ways to use a food processor: You can pulse ingredients or process ingredients. What’s the difference?


When recipes say to pulse, that means to turn on the processor for 1 second and then turn it off, in quick bursts. There is usually a pulse button on the food processor just for this job! The pulse function is typically used for chopping and mincing ingredients.

Pulsing helps chop or mince ingredients more evenly because the food moves around the bowl with every pulse.


When a recipe says to process, that means to turn on the processor and let it run for a specified time. This is best for mixing and pureeing ingredients, such as when making pizza sauce or hummus.

Scraping Down the Bowl

Whether you are pulsing or processing, food often gets stuck to the sides of the processor bowl. Scraping down the sides of the bowl once in a while helps make sure that all the ingredients get evenly processed.

To scrape down the bowl: Stop the processor. Remove the lid. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Be careful of the blade while you scrape so that you don’t tear your spatula.

Adding Liquid to a Running Processor

Some recipes ask you to slowly add liquid ingredients to the processor while it’s running. This helps the liquid ingredients evenly mix with the rest of the ingredients.

To do this, put the liquid ingredients in a liquid measuring cup. While the processor is running, slowly pour the liquid ingredients down the feed tube that is part of the food processor lid.

Easy Cleanup

Try this easy—and fun!—way to clean your food processor.

Add a few drops of dish soap to the food processor bowl. Then, add warm water to the marked liquid fill line and lock the lid into place. Turn on the processor for a few seconds and watch things get bubbly! Then, remove the lid and carefully remove the processor blade (ask an adult for help). Rinse the bowl well.