Which would be the better addition to my kitchen?

Buy an Immersion Blender or Food Processor?

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Immersion Blender or Food Processor?

I have saved up some extra cash to get a new small kitchen appliance, but I am torn between getting an immersion blender or a small food processor. I cook with a lot of fresh veggies, so I am constantly chopping. However, I also use my blender for pureeing quite a bit, and it gets messy. Which appliance is likely to save me the most time in the kitchen and what else can I do with each of these appliances besides chopping veggies and pureeing soups? I likely will not be able to get both appliances anytime soon, so I'd like to get the most bang for my buck with this single appliance purchase.

Expert Advice from a Professional Cook and Pastry Chef

I have been a professional cook and pastry chef. Over my many years, I have found that both of these simplify a life.

An immersion blender or stick wand can be expensive, but I have found that the more inexpensive one at $9 is as good and dependable as I need. I have had mine now for ten years or more. Just gave it away because I got a more expensive one, and I gave that one away because I liked the cheaper one better.

The food processor can be a very basic one. Make sure you read all of the reviews. If it is a workhorse that's noisy, powerful, and dependable with only a few parts, that is the one to get. It is good for grinding, slicing, making pastry, etc., and it takes very little space.

Save Time with a Food Processor

If you cook for several people at a time, I suggest the food processor will save you more time. Besides chopping and pureeing, it can slice, shred, and julienne, depending on the blades you buy with it. You can use it to make salads, slice potatoes for home fries and potato chips, or shred them for hash browns, for example. All of this can be done by hand or with a mandoline, but it will be done more evenly and quickly with the food processor.

I suggest you consult a non-biased rating agency such as Consumer Reports before buying. Often they can suggest a less expensive "best buy" that will do most of what the expensive machines will do for much less money.
Barbara in SC

She Loves Her Immersion Blender

I vote for the immersion blender. I was gifted with a Cuisinart® several years ago. It is, by far, my most valued "kitchen helper" (and I have lots of them). I use it almost daily! Mine came with a small chopper bowl and a measured two-cup beaker, as well as a whisk/whipper. We can make smoothies and "ice cream" (frozen banana, berries, and milk), chop nuts, smooth soups and sauces, and whip egg whites and cream. It is a wonderful tool!

Find a Way to Get Both

First of all, I would check out thrift store and consignment shops. Ask each to put your name on a list to be contacted when the desired item comes in. Be sure anyone who might be giving you a gift knows what you desire. Look for these items on sale or maybe even at a Black Friday event. With good planning, you should be able to have both items soon enough.

If You Have Blender, Go With Food Processor

Because the reader already has a blender, I'd recommend a food processor. I use mine regularly for chopping veggies or making hummus. I used it recently when my three-year-old was begging for carrot cake. It can make quick work of things like pie crust. I make my own coleslaw regularly using it. While an immersion blender is a great tool that I highly recommend, it is redundant if a person already has a blender. Granted, it's much easier to use with things like hot soup, but if the choice is between an immersion blender and food processor, the food processor is the way to go in my opinion.
Anne Marie

How About Both?

They now make systems where the handle has the motor housed inside and it is interchangeable between different attachments. Black & Decker® and Cuisinart® both make a model that does this. I'm sure other manufacturers do as well.
Heather in CA

It's an Easy Pick

Blenders are difficult to clean and cannot be trusted to process the food to the exact consistency you seek. However, food processors can pulse to the exact consistency, process more food types (even delicious frostings and doughs), as well as being extremely easy to clean. I've also noticed that the shelf life of my food processor is well over a decade as opposed to the several blenders I've had to trash in that time due to burn out. Can you make soup starter in a blender? No. Can you make frostings or dough in a blender? No. Let me put it this way: a blender cannot make what a food processor can but a food processor can do anything a blender can do. Easy pick for me.

Both Save Time

Both of these tools save time without question. And I have both, using them frequently.

The immersion blender can quickly reduce a pot of broth and vegetables to a creamy soup. It can, with a deep jar or cup, beat eggs and emulsify, making mayonnaise, hollandaise, and salad dressing. It does not make a good smoothie or puree of thick, chunky, or woody fruits and veggies.

The food processor can chop but easily crosses the line to puree or flour. I use the slicing and grating blades unless I want a course grind of vegetables that disappear in the food. But the food processor can be used to make dough, pie, pizza, bread, and sweet roll, as well as cakes and muffins.

If you are only interested in chopping, look at the miniature food processor/chopper from KitchenAid® or Cuisinart®. Both can be found for a fraction of the cost of a food processor. Then you can get the immersion blender too!

Get Ready to Make Some Salsa!

A food processor (with attachments) is great for chopping onions and other veggies (salsa!), grating large amounts of cheese or veggies, and making sauces like hollandaise. It is not as good for blending hot soups. For soups, I would recommend the immersion blender as you can blend right in the pot, and it makes a nice smooth puree. The immersion blender is also good for fruit smoothies without ice. For fruit smoothies with ice cubes, I would recommend a standard blender. Don't waste your money on the immersion blender that comes with a little chopper attachment. It's not very useful. Hope this helps!

Be Careful With Hot Fluids

Both my husband and I are professional chefs, and my advice is that you should get the immersion blender. You can use a box grater and a sharp knife for mincing, chopping, and shredding. We use an immersion blender for making sauces, soups, and smoothies. Hot fluids are dangerous and messy!

Keep your eyes on the lookout. I buy immersion blenders on sale around Mother's Day and Christmas. Just found a Cuisinart® at HomeGoods for less than $20.

Difference in Function and Difference in Price

There is quite a difference between an immersion blender and a food processor. There is also usually quite a difference in price.

The food processor can chop, shred (coleslaw), puree (fruits, soups, veggies), and even mix up enough pizza dough for a single pizza (need the plastic dough blade). I bought an 8-cup Cuisinart® food processor back in 1980. Yes, it was expensive, but it has lasted 35 years and shows no sign of quitting. It is my main kitchen tool. It makes everything in the kitchen so much easier. Ways to buy one more cheaply? Maybe look for 4th of July or Labor Day sales in the newspaper ads (I looked on Google and they seem to be available for $99) or check Craigslist or eBay.

The immersion blender is nice to have, but I've only used it for mixing/pureeing. For example, if I cook up some veggies, I can put them in a pan with chicken broth, use the immersion blender, and come up with a very nice "creamed" (pureed) soup. It can be used for mixing smoothies, whipping cream, and making hummus and pesto. It's good and very compact (good for a tiny kitchen), but in no way would I consider it a replacement to a food processor. By the way, I found a Braun® immersion blender at the thrift store for $4 last year. I'd think that would be a good place to look.
Tina in Silver Spring, MD

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