5 Food Processor Sins You’re Committing (and How to Fix ’Em)

Chop, chop

food processor mistakes: a food processor filled with red bell pepper and parsley
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We love our food processor for effortlessly making pie dough, chopping ten cloves of garlic in record time and quickly mixing up a batch of pesto. But even seasoned pros are guilty of these five food processor mistakes. Are you?

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Mistake #1: You’re Filling the Bowl Before Assembling the Machine

Food processors are comprised of three separate parts: a base, a bowl and a blade. Don’t make the mistake of tossing ingredients into the bowl before it’s situated on the base with the blade properly fitted inside—if there’s a bunch of food in the way, the blade won’t fit flush to the bottom, and it won’t run properly.

Mistake #2: You’re Not Scraping Down the Sides of the Bowl

Just like when you’re working with a stand mixer, you should periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl, and every time you add another ingredient to the mix. That’s because the blade only rotates in the bottom of the bowl, so it needs a little help to really get things incorporated. Stop the motor and use a flexible bowl scraper or silicone spatula to thoroughly scrape down any bits clinging to the side.

Mistake #3: You’re Adding Too Much Liquid

Although there’s some crossover in what each appliance can do, blenders and food processors are not the same. Since the blade isn’t permanently attached to the bowl of a food processor, there’s a chance the liquid could seep through the opening, and if you’re working with hot ingredients, it’s potentially dangerous (more on that below). However, small amounts of liquid—like the olive oil you’d drizzle into a dressing—are fine.

Mistake #4: You’re Processing Hot Food

We love shortcuts, but not at the cost of anyone’s safety. And if you’re skipping the cooling step in your recipe to process piping hot food, you’re risking some serious burns. Not to mention, the steam will get trapped in the food processor and potential change the final texture. Your best bet is to let ingredients cool slightly (just until they’re not steaming hot) before processing.

Mistake #5: You’re Pulsing Incorrectly

The “pulse” button on your food processor is an underrated tool—it effectively replaces rough chopping by hand (and who wouldn’t love that?). But if you don’t pulse correctly, there’s no point. Speed here is key: Short bursts of about one second each will chop your food, while pressing the button for too long at a time will over-process and eventually liquify the contents of the bowl.

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Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...