food blender with fruit and vegetable around

What's the difference between a blender and a food processor? Our expert explains all

Krista

Written by health and fitness expert Krista. Last updated:

Are you on the hunt for a new kitchen appliance? Do you want something that will make mixing foods or ingredients that much easier? Perhaps you’ve done some browsing and a little bit of research, and yet, you’ve come to a standstill. Blenders vs food processors… you aren’t entirely sure which one you need.

Blenders and food processors certainly have a lot in common. However, there are some key differences. Each has various advantages and disadvantages. To add to the confusion, there are also differences between blenders and differences between food processors. Let’s get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all, and break down the differences. When it comes to blenders vs food processors, which one do you need?

What is the Main Difference Between Food Processors and Blenders?

A blender is typically used for mixing up foods that contain a lot of liquids. For example, a high-powered blender is the perfect kitchen appliance for smoothies and soups. On the other hand, food processors are more appropriate for chopping or slicing up solid food. In fact, food processors can help you handle a lot of the labor involved in baking or meal prep. They are also better suited for mixing dry and wet ingredients where there isn’t a lot of liquid involved.

What is a Blender?

a blender and fruits on a kitchen counter

A blender is a kitchen appliance that is ideal for making purees, smoothies, dressings, sauces, and more. A blender is typically comprised of four pieces, including a motorized base, a set of blades, a pitcher, and a lid. A popular blender is the well-known Vitamix, which is considered one of the most superior (and more expensive) blenders you can buy. If you check out any blender reviews, you’ll probably find Vitamix at the top of the list.

Blender blades frequently twist in at the bottom of the pitcher. However, some brands do come with the blades attached (like Vitamix).

Most blender pitchers also have a bit of a cone-shape, with a handle and a spout to make pouring easier. The lid fits tightly on the top of the pitcher. In addition, a traditional blender will often come with a removable plug. This allows you to add ingredients as they mix or even move the ingredients around to get a more consistent blend.

Basically, if there is a reasonable amount of liquid involved, a traditional blender is your go-to. A blender is typically used for making purees, smoothies, soups, and more. The cone-shape of the pitcher easily guides ingredients toward the base of the machine, creating an upside-down vortex, where everything quickly blends together.

The Disadvantages

Along with the many advantages of a blender, there are also several disadvantages, which is where a food processor may be more suitable.

For example, a blender is typically designed to work with about three-quarters of its jug full. If you fill it to the brim, the blender blades simply won’t be able to pull all the ingredients down, leaving you with a more chunky consistency.

Blender blades also don’t handle dry ingredients particularly well. While there are many recipes for blender purees and smoothies, you won’t find many blender recipes for dough and crust. Interestingly, there’s also variation in the different types of blenders. For instance, crushing ice in a blender is made easy by some brands, while other blenders just can’t handle this task, especially some blenders under $50.

The Differences Between Blenders

Generally, there are three major types of blenders: the standard kitchen counter blender, the immersion blender, and the personal blenders. An immersion blender, also known as a handheld blender, is basically a stick with a blender at the end that you can hold into a mixing bowl to quickly combine your ingredients.

Personal blenders are smaller blenders that go on the countertop, and these are best for making individual smoothies, especially if you want to do so quickly. You don’t even need to change the container in which the smoothie was made; you can simply screw on the lid after blending, and you’re ready to go. A kitchen counter blender stands somewhere between the two.

When deciding between kitchen counter blenders, personal blenders, and immersion blenders, it’s not all about which blender works best. Instead, the difference between blenders really comes down to what you intend to use your blender for.

If you just want to make a quick smoothie every morning, a personal blender is best. If you want to use the blender to mix pancake batter or cake mix, an immersion blender is probably the better option for you. Meanwhile, if you want to do a combination of tasks, such as make big batches of soup but also create smoothies, a standard kitchen counter blender is the obvious option.

If you’re really unsure about a particular product, we also encourage you to check out a blender review on the specific blender you’re interested in. This can help you get an idea of what other consumers have said.

What is a Food Processor?

image showing a food processor for sale

A food processor is a more versatile kitchen appliance. With a food processor, you can chop, grind, slice, shred, knead, or puree food.

Similar to a blender, a food processor has a base, removable blades, a lid, and a plastic container. Unlike a blender, food processors can handle solid food and also handle more food. This means you can make batters, doughs, and crusts, all in this one kitchen appliance. It takes the labor out of creating these homemade variations of your favorite foods.

A major difference between a blender and a food processor is the different food processor attachment pieces. Food processor attachment items typically include multiple blades and various bowl inserts. The bowl inserts allow you to perform different tasks in separate compartments. Meanwhile, the different blades give you various options for either chopping, shredding, slicing, or grinding.

The Disadvantages

A food processor also has sharp blades, especially when compared to a blender. A blender’s blades move very fast, allowing it to blend up ingredients, but they’re basically blunt. In contrast, the food processor’s sharp blades give it the ability to perform a greater variety of tasks in the kitchen. This is why a food processor is ideal for dry ingredients; it has a chopping blade. If the ingredients are too wet, however, they tend to stick to the sides of the plastic container, which means they don’t mix well. This is also why blenders are frequently better for crushing ice, making smoothies, or creating soups and other purees.

Which Do You Need?

a woman shopping at a home appliance supermarket

Choosing between blenders and food processors all comes down to your personal preference. What tasks do you want an appliance to make easier in your kitchen? What would you use a blender or food processor for? Assess your lifestyle and food habits, and make your decision from there. Blenders and food processors are both great appliances when used correctly!

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