Can You Use a Blender Instead of a Food Processor?

Kitchen gadgets take up so much space in the kitchen. A number of us have tossed a seldom-used one in the heat of the moment while moving to a new home or in a spring-cleaning purge. If cooking is not a favorite hobby, the clunky food processor may be on the chopping block. 

Blenders can substitute for food processors in almost any chopping or pureeing task. Less expensive, less powerful blenders may not be able to grind dry ingredients like beans, and either a higher-performing blender or food processor will be needed. 

Blenders may yield more liquid when chopping some foods than food processors. This can be handled by straining the chopped items or by blending smaller portions to reduce the liquid created.

Hot liquids are a weak spot for most liquids, and can actually be dangerous if the lid blows off. For these, using a food processor or other tool is recommended.

That being said, both machines are fairly flexible and can fill in for each other in a pinch. Read on to learn all the tasks blenders can tackle and tips for getting the most out of a blender.

Can a Blender Be Used as a Food Processor?

Food processors and blenders are both chopping kitchen tools, and they can handle a lot of the same things, but they are not entirely interchangeable. 

The general rule of thumb is that blenders should be used for anything that you sip, drink, pour, or eat with a spoon. Food processors are for anything that is eaten with a fork. Of course, there is some wiggle room. 

Both blenders and food processors are good for purees and dips like hummus. But the mechanics of each machine do cause some big differences.

Mechanical Differences to Help You Decide Which Machine to Use

The blender does better with liquids and purees because of the tall, narrow bowl shape. The spinning blade creates a vortex in the blender bowl, and that vortex pulls the mixture downward and toward the blade. 

In comparison to blenders, food processor blades move at a slower rate. That rate makes it better for more precise cuts that create tiny particles rather than emulsifying the mixture into liquid.

Food processors also have the option of adding a variety of specialty blades. These can be used to slice, dice, mince, grind, and grate. 

Blender Hybrids

If buying a new product, look for a high-performance blender that can tackle nearly any task. High-performance blenders have stronger motors to power through hard ingredients and will substitute for a food processor in almost every scenario.

Some also come with a built-in tamper to push food into the vortex. This helps get a smoother consistency for dryer foods that one would normally put in a food processor. 

High-performance blenders also carry a high price tag. Popular models include the Kitchenaid High-Performance Series, Kitchenaid K400, Vitamix Explorian, and Hamilton Beach Quiet Shield Blender.    

What Can a Blender Do?

Blenders are much more than margarita-making one-trick ponies. They often get overlooked for higher-powered food processors, but they can do just as much.

While a food processor’s high-set blades will have a hard time creating soup, the blender’s bowl vortex excels at sucking down the ingredients to create a smooth texture.

Food processors often have a variety of specialized blades, and so too do blenders that have some specialty parts. Not only do some come with high-powered motors, but some also have tamping tools to better process dry ingredients.

Special dry ingredient containers and grinding blades also add versatility. In all, most people end up surprised with all the different things blenders can do.

Can a Blender Make Nut Butter?

Blenders can make nut butter, albeit in smaller quantities than a food processor. The blender will require more oversight than the food processor. Have a spatula handy to tamp down the mixture to reach a more consistent texture or use a blender with a built-in tamper.

Blenders with weaker motors may not be able to tackle the duty of grinding nuts. 

Can I Chop Carrots in a Blender?

Blenders can chop vegetables, including carrots. Be sure to only try this in small batches. 

Blenders create more liquid when they chop than food processors. By doing only small batches, each batch will chop more quickly and create less liquid. 

Minimizing the liquid is important for maintaining the desired texture of the carrot.

Can You Blend Meat in a Blender?

Blenders chop cooked meat much better than raw meat. For best results, cut meat into smaller pieces before adding it to the bowl.

Less expensive, less powerful, blenders can only handle about six ounces of meat at a time. More will bind up the blades and prevent the chopping function.

Chicken and turkey chop and grind more easily than more dense cuts of meat like steak. Steaks and pork chops will take a bit of effort to blend, even with top-of-the-line models.

Can You Chop Nuts in a Blender?

Blenders have enough power to chop nuts, but they will not provide the same uniformity as a food processor. This is another food to add in only small quantities to better control the final product.

To get all the nuts chopped in a larger batch, some nuts will end up being ground into a powder. 

Can You Put Dry Ingredients in a Blender?

Dry ingredients give blenders the most difficulty, but most projects can still be tackled. Some may need a little modification, like small batches. 

Dry ingredients like beans, coffee beans, and spices can put a lot of wear and tear on the blender. Both the blades and the motor will take a beating that they are not intended to withstand. Frequently grinding them will shorten the life of your machine. 

Some machines come with special dry ingredient blades meant to withstand the wear of grinding. Some also have a dry ingredients container that keeps lightweight dry ingredients close to the blades.

Can You Put Hot Liquid in a Blender?

Blenders can be a real safety hazard when any hot ingredient goes in. Because the lid is air-tight, the heat from hot ingredients causes pressure to build up. The pressure can cause the lid to pop off, and all of that hot liquid will go slinging around your kitchen.

This most commonly happens when people try to make soup in a blender. After cooking the recipe in a stockpot, the solid ingredients need to be blended into a liquid form. 

To do this safely, allow the mixture to fully cool before blending. Some recipes recommend only adding one cup at a time to minimize the amount of heat and pressure. 

Alternatively, immersion blenders allow the cook to blend the ingredients right in the soup pot. Immersion blenders look like a stick, but they have limited kitchen uses. 

Some blenders are targeted at soup making in particular but can still perform other normal blender jobs. Soup blenders are not only made for hot liquids, but they can actually heat the liquids up in the blending bowl.

Soup blenders are the ultimate gadget for soup lovers. They can chop, saute, and blend all the ingredients, plus keep the final result warm.

Food processors do not have the same problem as blenders because food processor lids latch tightly. Many also have a vent in the tamper that allows the heat to escape.

Can You Use a Blender Instead of a Food Processor for Salsa?

Both blenders and food processors do a great job tackling salsa. But, know that the finished product may look a little different in each machine.

Blenders excel at liquifying ingredients, so they result in smooth, runny salsa. Food processors produce less liquid while chopping, so the salsa will be thicker and chunkier. 

Alternatively, to keep blender salsa chunkier, chop each ingredient separately and remove it from the bowl before adding the next one. After pureeing the tomatoes, add all the pre-chopped ingredients for a quick pulse or two.

Can You Use a Blender to Chop Onions?

Blenders take the tears out of chopping onions. Peel and quarter the onions before adding them to the blender. They should only need a few pulses.

If the onions have too much liquid after chopping, just strain them before adding them to your dish. Blenders with a small container come in really handy for chopping onions and other vegetables.

Using a smaller container allows the user to have more control over the final size of the chopped onion. It can also reduce the residual liquid.

When to Use a Food Processor?

Because the food processor blades are so sharp, they are usually recommended for cutting onions, garlic, beans, coffee, and any other really hard food. However, as discussed above, a powerful blender can often perform these tasks as well.

Food processors do have the benefit of many additional blades that perform specialty cuts. Food processors can thinly slice vegetables like a mandolin. They can also shred cheese and make zucchini noodles.

These are things that a blender cannot do, simply for a lack of interchangeable, specialized blades.

Final Thoughts

Both blenders and food processors have die-hard fans that are loyal to one or the other. Ultimately, each woman has to decide which one best suits her needs if she does not have space or budget for both. 

Blenders can take on many of the basic projects for which we normally rely on a food processor. Chopping and emulsifying solids are well within a blender’s wheelhouse.

If a new gadget is on the horizon, consider splurging for a top-of-the-line blender that has a motor and dedicated grinding blade. These high-performance blenders can take over the widest range of food processor tasks without suffering damage.

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