You’re eyeing a recipe for carrot ginger soup and want to make it this weekend except, dang it, it calls for a blender and you only have a food processor. Can’t you just substitute appliances? At first glance, food processors and blenders share a lot of qualities—rotating blades, a vessel for combining ingredients—but they’re not always interchangeable. When it comes to using a food processor vs. blender, here’s how you can get the most out of each appliance (and know when to swap).

RELATED: 41 Food Processor Recipes That Pretty Much Make Themselves

food processor vs blender CAT
nerudol/Getty Images

Food Processor vs. Blender: What’s the Difference?

Food processors and blenders share some functions, but they’re fundamentally designed to do different things. Think of a food processor as a kitchen assistant: It can perform a variety of prep you’d otherwise do by hand, like chopping, mincing and even making dough. Blenders are meant to pulverize and combine wet and dry or solid ingredients (think smoothies and pureed soups). But we can break it down even further.

food processor vs blender person using a food processor
sebastianosecondi/Getty Images

What Is a Food Processor?

A food processor is almost like an extra set of hands in the kitchen, designed to handle meal prep tasks like chopping. It includes a motorized base, a clear bowl, a lid with a chute and feeder for adding ingredients and at least one removable blade. Some blenders come with extra inserts for tasks like shredding. The blades rotate at one speed, but you control whether they run continuously or by pulsing manually.

Since food processor bowls are wider than they are tall, they’re best for handling dry ingredients and chopping them into smaller bits, like mincing a million cloves of garlic, ricing cauliflower, making hummus or even mixing butter into flour for pie crust.

For the same reason, they don’t play as well with liquids—in fact, we’d recommend avoiding large quantities of liquids altogether. Since the blade isn’t permanently attached to the bowl, there’s a chance the liquid could seep through the bowl opening, and if you’re working with hot ingredients (say, soup), it’s potentially dangerous. However, small amounts of liquid (like the olive oil you’d drizzle into a dressing) are fine.

  • Food processor pros: best for dry ingredients and chopping, can use the bowl at full capacity, versatile
  • Food processor cons: not great for liquids

food processor vs blender person using a blender
cream_ph/Getty Images

What Is a Blender?

Like its name suggests, a blender is meant to blend, baby, blend. At its most basic, it includes a motorized base, a pitcher with blades and a lid with a removable plug. The controls allow you to pulse intermittently or run the motor constantly, with the ability to adjust the speed of the rotating blades.

You should use a blender any time a large amount of liquid is involved. The shape of the pitcher naturally directs ingredients downward, creating a vortex that efficiently combines liquid and solid ingredients as it pulls them toward the blades. And since you can’t effectively blend with the pitcher filled to the brim, it’s safer to use with hot liquids like soup. (Still, we’d suggest removing the lid plug and placing a towel over the hole to allow steam to escape.)

While most blenders don’t come with versatile attachments, you do have a choice between a standard blender and a high-speed blender, which has a powerful motor and can handle heavier duty tasks (think grinding up Parmesan cheese, blending large amounts of frozen fruit and creating ultra-smooth purees). An immersion blender is a handheld, stick-shaped blender that can be immersed directly in a pot of soup or a bowl of sauce to blend it without transferring to a pitcher.

  • Blender Pros: handles liquids well
  • Blender Cons: typically less versatile (doesn’t come with attachments), doesn’t handle dry ingredients well without a liquid involved

Which Appliance Should You Use?

As a general rule, food processors are good for dry tasks and blenders are good for wet, but it’s not always clear cut. Here’s a handy breakdown:

  • Use a food processor for:
    • Chopping and mincing vegetables and herbs
    • Chopping nuts
    • Shredding vegetables and cheese
    • Making pie dough
    • Making dressings like pesto, chimichurri and zhug
  • Use a blender for:
    • Pureeing soups and sauces
    • Making smoothies
    • Homemade nut milk
    • Homemade salad dressings
  • Use either for:
    • Homemade nut butters

From Around The Web