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Food processor vs blender: What is the difference?

Food processor vs blender: What is the difference?
(Image credit: Getty)

Let’s be honest, food processors and blenders look very similar when it comes down to it. Despite that, a lot of people find it hard to know which to buy, and whether they need both in their home. 

The right option for you really can depend on what you’re more accustomed to make. For example, many of the best blenders are designed for creating smoothies and pulverizing ingredients for soups and sauces. Many create nut butters, hummus, salsa, even guacamole in their blenders, but believe it or not, there is a difference between these and the best food processors

Blenders and food processors have similar components, but different designs. 

Blenders and food processors have similar components, but different designs.  (Image credit: Cuisinart)

Blenders and food processors are designed in similar ways. They both are motor-operated, with rotating blades and a removable pitcher. One of the key differences lies in this pitcher - many blenders have a tall and slim pitcher designed for liquids such as milkshakes and soups, whereas the wider and lower pitchers of food processors make it easier to incorporate dry ingredients.

Food processors make it easy to add ingredients as you go, and although many blenders have this feature too it is increasingly common to find blenders designed for smoothies and protein shakes, where the pitcher is used as a tumbler to drink out of. Increasingly in fact, blenders are optimized for smoothie making, making them a generally less versatile appliance than food processors.

Food processor vs blender: Which is right for you? 

Food processor vs blender: What is the difference?

Food processors can be used to spiralize and chop vegetables.  (Image credit: Amazon)

Generally speaking, you can find a blender for a lot less money than the average food processor. This is because it requires less additional attachments as standard. For example, the Ninja Precision Processor NN310 comes with a host of added attachments such as a spiralizer, so you can expect to pay more for a multi-functional appliance as standard.

For those looking to chop, slice, spiralize, and blitz, a food processor will come with attachments and added functions to get the job done. By comparison, you can create great soups, purées, smoothies, and even dressings with a blender. This is because of their conical shape, which can create a vortex directing solid and liquid ingredients towards the base of the blender, creating an integrated blend. Due to this, blenders can often handle a larger capacity as they can circulate the contents of their pitchers far better than food processors.

Which is right for you?
BlenderFood processor
SmoothiesYesNot ideal
SoupYesNot ideal
PureeYesNot ideal
Nut butterNot idealYes
DipsNot idealYes
DoughNoYes
Shredded cheeseNoYes
Chopped vegetablesNoYes

For those who have tried to blend solids in a blender, you’ll know that this can be tricky. Because there is no liquid to facilitate the creation of a vortex in your blender, you’ll find that any ingredients which sit at the bottom of your blender are quickly turned to pulp, while solids above it sit there, untouched. 

For more solid foods such as dough, vegetables, and cheese, do not rely on a blender to do the job. Even with more solid sauces like nut butters, it’s unlikely that even a powerful blender will do the same job as a food processor. Food processors can also be used to integrate cake batters and cookie dough if you don’t have a stand mixer

Where food processors can really excel is in creating butters, dips, and other tasks where you don’t want to turn your ingredients to pulp. For chunky salsas, shredded cheese, and sliced vegetables, a food processor will come with attachments to make light work of the task.