How to decide if you should buy a food processor, a blender or a chopper
Few kitchen tools seem to have as much overlap as food processors, blenders and choppers, making it hard for people to choose which one is best to buy for their needs. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about each of these handy tools to make your decision a bit easier.
Food processors are the most versatile of the three and can handle the widest variety of ingredients. At the same time, blenders are best reserved solely for liquifying and pureeing foods with high moisture content. When it comes to choppers, their versatility is determined by what kind you buy, but generally speaking, they are best for cutting up small batches of solid foods.
Food processors are electrical kitchen appliances designed to slice, chop, grate and dice vegetables and other foods. They are also able to puree, emulsify and blend ingredients. You can use some for kneading dough as well.
Food processors consist of a base that houses the motor, a plastic container where the cutting action happens, a lid with a chute for feeding the foods and a blade of some kind. You can pick up a budget food processor for as little as $35, with more premium models costing between $100-$400.
What you’ll love about food processors
Food processors are one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen, making them a great addition to any cook’s arsenal. They can be fitted with a variety of blades, with each one capable of a different job. Without a doubt, a food processor is one of the best kitchen gadgets you can get to cut down on your prep time.
Along with being powerful and efficient, they are also relatively safe. They generally will not operate unless the lid is locked firmly in place. However, what food processors offer in speed, they lack in precision. If you need perfectly diced or sliced items of equal thickness, you are better off using a mandoline or certain types of choppers.
What you should consider before buying a food processor
You buy a food processor to cut down on your prep time. With this in mind, it is essential to choose a model with a bowl that meets your needs. If you often cook for large groups of four or more, you should choose a model with a bowl that holds at least 11 cups. Those who only cook for themselves or one other person can opt for a smaller food processor with a 3- or 4-cup bowl.
Slicing, dicing, chopping and pureeing don’t require a lot of power. If you are only using your processor for these tasks, a model with a 500- or 600-watt motor will be fine. However, if you also want to knead dough, grind meat and perform other heavy-duty jobs, you should choose a processor with at least a 700-watt motor.
Most food processors only have a single speed and a pulse button for quick bursts. If you think you may need a little more control than that, you can find models that offer additional speed settings.
Every food processor will come with the standard s-blade. This is the all-purpose blade that you use for chopping, pureeing, emulsifying and grinding. Some models also include discs designed for grating, shredding and slicing. If you plan on using your food processor for dough, make sure it comes with a plastic dough blade.
Best food processors
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
A workhorse in the kitchen, this food processor can handle heavy daily use. It comes with various blades, features dishwasher-safe components for easy cleaning and is available in several stylish finishes.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Macy’s and Home Depot
Best food processor for the money
Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack & Snap Food Processor
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another option that features two speeds and a 12-cup capacity as affordably priced as this Hamilton model. Plus, the lid is easy to lock in place, so it won’t leave you fumbling about as you may with some others.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Most people are familiar with blenders, as they are an everyday staple in nearly every home kitchen. They are used to liquefy foods into smoothies, shakes, sauces and soups. While there is some overlap between what a blender can do and what food a processor can do, the former is best reserved for ingredients with high liquid content. Budget-friendly blenders can be found for as little as $25, while premium models can cost as much as $700.
What you’ll love about blenders
Blenders are the best option when it comes to getting that perfect consistency from your soup or sauce. They tend to have a range of settings, with some models offering as many as 16, so you can be sure to blend your foods at precisely the right speed. If you want to make a protein shake or frozen cocktail, a blender should be the go-to appliance.
What you should consider before buying a blender
Blenders come in the standard countertop models that most of us have grown up with, but they are also available in personal options like the NutriChef NCBL1000. The former will typically have blending jars that hold between 1.6-2.4 liters, while the latter usually range from 0.2-0.7 liters. There are also immersion blenders, which are handheld appliances that you use inside pots, mixing bowls and similar containers.
As a general rule of thumb, the higher the wattage of a blender, the more powerful it will be. If you only plan on mixing protein shakes and soft ingredients, a 300- or 400-watt blender should suffice. If you are blending ice cubes, frozen fruit, or other hard ingredients, you should opt for a 500-watt or higher motor model.
Some personal blenders may have just a single speed, along with a pulse option. However, countertop models, and some of the higher-end personal blenders, will have several speeds and dedicated settings for certain types of foods or actions. The more settings a blender has, the more versatile it will be.
Vitamix Professional Series 750
Found in practically every commercial kitchen, the Vitamix 750 is a high-performance machine that can make short work of nearly any ingredient. It features a 64-ounce container and offers more than 15 settings.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Wayfair
Best blender for the money
NutriBullet Nutrient Extractor
If you are on a tight budget and just want the ability to make single-serving smoothies and shakes, this NutriBullet model fits the bill. The addition of a to-go lid makes it easy to take your creations with you as you head out the door.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s
Defining a food chopper is a little tricky as the term can apply to a couple of different tools. Some machines sold as choppers are simply mini food processors. Others have designs similar to electric food processors but are manual and require you to pull a string, pump a button or turn a handle to spin the blades. There are also choppers with fixed blades that you push foods through to dice or slice them and some models where you move the blades up and down.
What you’ll love about choppers
Choppers offer you the convenience to work anywhere without having to worry about access to a power outlet. Many people will also like them because they offer a bit more control over chopping the ingredients. Additionally, they tend to be smaller than electric food processors and blenders, making them easier to store.
What you should consider before buying a chopper
As with blenders and food processors, you want to make sure to buy a food chopper that can handle your needs. For the most part, choppers are not designed for preparing large amounts of food, so their capacity usually ranges from 1-4 cups.
Ease of use
As previously mentioned, different choppers require different actions from the user. Consider which kind of motion you will find most comfortable, and choose a model that aligns with that.
With a staggered three-blade design and a 200-watt motor, the Express Chop quickly cuts, minces and grinds whatever ingredients you put inside of its 16-ounce container. Its small size makes it ideal for kitchens with limited storage space.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Macy’s
Best chopper for the money
A hand-powered model, the VeggiChop won’t keep you tethered to an outlet the entire time you work. It comes for a budget-friendly price, is available in red or green and offers an efficient pull-to-chop operation.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Should you buy a food processor, blender or chopper?
There is no cut and dry answer for which kitchen tool you should buy. It all depends on your needs. If you want a versatile workhorse that can plow through solid foods and make purees and dips, a food processor is an answer. Those looking to make shakes and smoothies or liquefy ingredients for soups and sauces should turn to a blender. Those short on space who prefer a bit more control over the process will probably be best served by a chopper.
Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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