We’ve all been there–trying out a new dinner recipe and everything’s going great, until we see the dreaded line in the instructions: blend well in a food processor. If you don’t have one of these appliances on hand, it can stop dinner dead in its tracks. This leads many to wonder, can a blender be used as a food processor?
The short answer is yes, blenders can be used as food processors. However, they work better for some purposes than others, and it helps to know the proper technique.
Learn how to use your blender as a food processor with the tips below!
The Difference Between Food Processors and Blenders
First, it’s important to understand what makes blenders and food processors different. While they are sometimes used for similar purposes, the truth is that they each of their own strengths and weaknesses.
In comparison to food processors, blenders are usually tall and thin, with small spinning blades in the bottom. While they don’t have the same capacity as a food processor, they usually have a wider selection of speed settings. This gives them a bit of added versatility, letting you crush ice, puree fruits and vegetables, and make milkshakes.
Here are some of the main points to remember about blenders:
- Variety of speed settings
- Lower capacity
- Better for smooth blends, less good at rough chops
Food processors, on the other hand, have lower, wider designs that are designed to accommodate larger quantities of food and blend them evenly. Most of them can’t reach speeds as high as blenders, though they still have a fair amount of versatility. They’re not ideal for smooth blends but are excellent for making salsa, hummus, or bread dough.
Keep these food processor points in mind:
- Generally fewer speed settings
- High capacity and wide design
- Excels and rough chops
- Not ideal for smoothies
How to Use Your Blender as a Food Processor
Keeping the above points in mind, we can see that using a blender as a food processor is a good choice for smoother blends. Hummus and other dips, vegetable soups, baby food, nut butter, and frozen drinks are all good matches. However, for best results, it’s a good idea to keep a few basic tips in mind:
Adjust Your Speed
Since blenders are usually much faster than food processors, you’ll want to start off using your blender’s lowest speed setting. This will more closely match the way a food processor works and achieve similar results. As a rule of thumb, remember that low settings are good for rough chops, and high settings are ideal for smooth blends.
Blend With Caution
Even when working on the lowest speed setting, using a blender as a food processor still runs the risk of over-blending your food. That’s why it’s a good idea to blend for just a few seconds at a time, taking breaks in between to ensure you’re getting the results you want. The pulse feature is a good option here, letting you blend for short bursts.
It may also be wise to scrape down the sides of your blender with a spoon. Make sure the blender’s off when doing so, or you may create a hazard.
Prep Your Food
Since food processors are wider than blenders, they’re great at accommodating larger pieces of food. However, this is not so with a blender. Even if you can fit big pieces of fruit and vegetable in the mouth of the pitcher, they may not be able to reach the blade at the bottom.
To account for this, you may want to precut your food before blending. You don’t have to be precise or neat, just get the pieces small enough so they don’t clog your blades.
Choose the Right Blender
Generally, the best blender for food processing is one with a wide pitcher and a large blade. Lower speed settings will also help too, letting you mimic a food processor even more closely. Some blenders even come with a food processor attachment, giving you the best of both worlds.
Know When Not to Blend
While a blender can be used as a food processor in many situations, it’s not ideal for all of them. There are a few applications where you’re better off considering other options.
The big one is chopped vegetables. If you were hoping to mince an onion in your blender, think again. In the blink of an eye, your blender will turn any vegetable into liquid, ruining most recipes. Instead, it’s best to do it the old-fashioned way, with a knife.
Other applications like pizza dough or shredded cheese may also not be good fits for blenders because of the shape of the pitcher. Results will vary from recipe to recipe, so use your best judgement.
Finally, blenders are not an ideal choice when working with dry ingredients. Since the blender’s blades are located at the bottom of the pitcher, they require some liquid to keep everything moving. A blender full of dry ingredients won’t result in an even blend.
What About an Immersion Blender?
Generally, an immersion blender is not a good match for most food processor tasks. Most immersion blender models are designed to liquefy large quantities of liquid or break down chunks in a pan. If you try to mince vegetables or try other rough-chop applications, you are likely to end up with a lumpy paste.
Getting Your Blend Just Right
All in all, blenders make pretty good food processors, as long as you know how to use them correctly and which situations they excel in. If you’re going for smooth, even blends and are using mostly liquid ingredients, then substituting a blender is a good choice. However, if your recipe calls for you to roughly chop ingredients, or chop large amounts of dry ingredients at once, it may not work out so well.