What's the difference between a food processor and a blender?

Whether you’re preparing a hearty soup, refreshing smoothie, or delicious sauce, having the right kind of food processor or blender is the key to getting the perfect texture. Though the two may appear interchangeable, each appliance has different properties and will achieve different consistencies.

What is a food processor?

A food processor is an appliance with sharp spinning blades that finely chop and mix ingredients.

Food processors are versatile gadgets. You can use them to achieve a range of textures, and some food processors come with interchangeable blades and accessories. These allow you to prepare ingredients in different ways — from chopping and shredding to grating and slicing.

Food processors work best with solid, or mostly solid, ingredients. 

Most food processors consist of a large, flat bowl containing two blades set at different heights. By having blades at different heights, the processor is able to get to all the ingredients, above and below.

Many food processors are electrical, operated by a button. And some come with different functions, so you can change the speed of the blades or let them pulse.

You can also get manual food processors. Manual processors allow you to control how coarse or fine you want your ingredients. With the Zyliss Easy Pull Food Processor, you can adjust the coarseness by changing how many times you pull the handle. The more you pull, the finer the chop. 

Easy Pull Zyliss Food processor

Because they don’t require electricity, manual processors are portable — you can even take it camping!

A great space-saving option to go for is a mini chopper. These small food processors pulverise ingredients into small pieces but are more compact and affordable than larger styles. Mini choppers are perfect for preparing small batches of salsa and dips or chopped nuts and breadcrumbs. 

What can you put in a food processor?

Because the blades in a food processor are very sharp, they can cut through robust, solid ingredients. From healthy cauliflower rice and comforting mashed potato to delicious crunchy crumble toppings, your options are pretty much unlimited!

Unlike blenders, which require a high liquid content, you can use a food processor to break up hard or brittle ingredients, like nuts. You can also prepare thicker, stodgier textured food, like biscuit or pasta dough. 

guacamole made with a food processor


That being said, you can achieve smoother results with a food processor, too. A food processor is ideal for creating textured dips. Why not try making your own creamy guacamole or homemade hummus?

What is a blender?

If a food processor is a bladed food mixer… What is a blender? Well, a blender is also a bladed food mixer! Blenders are more suited to mixing foods that will end up mostly liquid. They have fast-spinning blades that create a whirling vortex motion, so your ingredients are smoothly combined and air-whipped. They are perfect for producing nourishing fruit smoothies and tasty soups or compotes.

Blender motors tend to be more powerful than that of an electric food processor. The force enables you to get fine, silky-smooth results.

Standing blenders consist of a power base, blades, and a jug-shaped container. These containers are generally taller than food processor bowls. They have a tapered lip so you can easily pour your soup or smoothie straight from the jug. 

You can also get handheld stick blenders. These are usually cheaper and more compact than jug blenders. They allow you to blend directly into a pan or bowl, rather than being limited to placing your ingredients in the jug. However, they can also be a bit messier to use, leading to splashes and splatters.

Top tip: Don’t fill a blender jug to the top as it may overflow. It’s best to fill it three-quarters of the way, so the mixture has space to travel up the sides as it spins. 

smooth soup made with a blender

What can you put in a blender?

Blenders are ideal for mixtures with a high liquid content. They have relatively blunt blades so may not pulverise a cupful of nuts as well as a food processor. However, they can blitz soft ingredients, like fruit and veg, to pureed perfection.

A blender is a great way to prepare baby food and lump-free batters. Why not treat yourself to a fabulous pancake breakfast? The smoother the batter, the more evenly-cooked and delicious your pancakes will be. You can use the Zyliss Smooth Blend Mixer and Dispenser to dispense just the right amount of batter into your pan.

Can a food processor be used as a blender?

Both food processors and blenders are best suited to different mixture consistencies. Food processors have sharp blades designed to chop and mix solid ingredients, while blenders work better with liquids. 

hand adding lemon juice to a blender to make a smoothie


You can use a food processor to mix solids and liquids together, but you won’t get as smooth a texture as you would with a blender.

It’s best to avoid using a blender to mix dry ingredients with no liquid at all — they tend to bounce around and miss the blades.

What should I look for in a food processor?

When purchasing a food processor, it’s best to think about the kinds of ingredients you’ll be mixing. If you’re looking for an appliance to help you prepare a healthy fruit smoothie for breakfast every morning, you’re best off going for a blender instead.

If you feel like a food processor is the way to go, consider the quantities you’ll be preparing. Will you need a processor with a large bowl capacity to make big batches for the whole family? Or will a mini-chopper be a better option for preparing single portions?

Would you like an electric or manual processor? Electric food processors often have a range of functions, while manual ones allow you direct control over the coarseness of your ingredients.

Finally, it’s always good to think about maintenance. Look for a food processor or blender you can dismantle to clean. Many, like the Easy Pull Food Processor, have bowls and blades that are dishwasher-safe, making clean up a doddle.