Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Blenders vs. food processors: How exactly are they different?

Which kitchen appliance features sharp blades that spin at incredible speeds: A blender or a food processor? Well, both, actually. But while blenders and food processors have many similarities, these appliances serve very different purposes.

To make your life in the kitchen easier, it’s wise to know what each of these high-speed machines is best at slicing and dicing, as well as which ingredients you should avoid putting in each appliance. We break down the differences between blenders and food processors in this guide.

Blenders

Vitamix5200 Professional-Grade blender

A good blender is typically better for liquids and is used to create things like smoothies and protein shakes. A food processor is used for more labor-intensive tasks, such as mixing dough or slicing vegetables. Of course, some blenders are powerful enough to handle the tasks meant for a food processor (and vice versa). For now, however, let’s just take a look at the basic differences between a blender and a food processor.

If you’ve ever shopped for a food processor, you’ve probably noticed a long list of the appliance’s skills on the package, including chopping, slicing, shredding, mixing, and pureeing. While blenders have become more capable over the years, they still don’t do much more than blend. Sure, a powerful blender will crush ice, and top-of-the-line blenders like the Vitamix 5200 are capable of making everything from ice cream to nut butter, but your typical blender isn’t going to be able to handle the number of tasks that a food processor can.

Recipe Blender Food Processor
Soups and purees Best Capable
Smoothies Best No
Dips Capable Best
Butters Not ideal Best
Chopped vegetables No Best
Baking (dough and crust) Not ideal Capable
Shredded cheeses No Best

As you can see in the chart above, there’s a considerable amount of crossover between the two appliances. However, they both excel at different tasks.

Blenders, for instance, are typically built with features that make them ideal for making soups, purees, and smoothies. So you wouldn’t want to use it to chop vegetables for your salad bowl. While some blenders have easy-to-pour reservoirs, others are made so that you can drink out of the same cylinder you use to make your smoothie. Blenders tend to handle liquids much better than food processors.

For example, the NutriBullet can whip up a nutritious smoothie with ease. While we wouldn’t recommend it as the best appliance for making everything under the sun, it is powerful enough to grind up nuts, veggies, and other potential smoothie ingredients.

Food processors

KitchenAid 2-Speed Food Processor - Black Matte

Food processors, on the other hand, are ideal for more labor-intensive tasks, like making dough. Food processors have wide mixing bowls — which make it easy to add in ingredients — and typically come with various attachments, giving you the ability to slice carrots, shred cheese, or mix dough.

The Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Food Processor is a good example of what you should expect from this type of appliance. It has a large mixing bowl, a pulse setting, multiple speeds, and blade attachments for slicing, shredding, and chopping. It also comes with a “bowl scraper,” an attachment that automatically scrapes sticky dough and batter from the walls of the bowl.

Conclusion

A food processor is a great kitchen tool for bakers. And a blender is an excellent choice for someone who likes a liquid lunch (either cocktails or smoothies). But if you want both, there’s an answer for that, too. There used to be a pretty clear line between blenders and food processors, but that isn’t the case now. It’s not uncommon for high-end blenders to come with multiple attachments. Thanks to all manner of accessories, a blender or food processor can command countless extra tasks. The recipe book for the Vitamix 5200, for instance, includes smoothies, nut butters, bread dough, cocktails, and cake mixes.

Then again, the versatility can mean choosing an appliance just got harder. Some generalities can help guide your decision, though. For example, a blender is a better option for items with a lot of liquid, like smoothies and soups. In contrast, a food processor is a beast at handling thicker things like dough and butter. However, since the line between the food processor and blender has blurred, you can find high-end appliances that admirably address both tasks.

Editors' Recommendations