Face-Off: Blender vs. Food Processor

For making smoothies, a blender should be your first choice. But what about meal prep and other kitchen tasks?

When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission. Learn more.

Rendering of a blender and a food processor. Illustration: iStock

Given how much we value each square inch of counter and cabinet space, do you really need a blender and a food processor? Blenders are one of the most popular countertop appliances—and they’re used more frequently than food processors, according to the market research company Mintel.

You can purée food in either appliance, but blenders are usually better at this task. Crushing ice? “That’s the blender’s job, as the ice can damage the food processor’s chopping blade and plastic container,” says Cindy Fisher, who has tested both appliances for Consumer Reports for more than 20 years.

And when it comes to making smoothies, you want an appliance that does well in our tests involving icy drinks and puréeing vegetables, which means you want a blender.

“But the blender can’t slice or shred, and can chop just a few foods, such as a hard cheese like Parmesan and vegetables if they’re already cut up,” Fisher says.

When to Use a Blender

Blenders are ideal for making icy drinks, whipping up smoothies, and crushing ice. And when it comes to puréeing, blenders are typically better than food processors.

The best blenders ace our icy drinks, ice crush, and puréeing tests. For icy drinks, we make nonalcoholic piña coladas. (When a blender rates Excellent in this test, you can expect a smoothie with a creamy, consistent texture. A Very Good rating means there are tiny bits in the mix.) In our ice crush test, we toss in seven ice cubes and give it a go. To test puréeing, we turn veggies into soup.

More on Food Prep

You’ll see full-sized models in our blender ratings from brands including Blendtec, Ninja, and Vitamix. Many have a lightweight plastic container, which is less prone to breaking than glass. The plastic can absorb stains and odors, however, so clean it right after using it.

Blenders have a tall, often tapered pitcher with a tight-fitting lid and one blade. Most have a number of speeds, varying from one to upward of 15, but three speed options usually do the trick. More than a dozen and it starts to become difficult to distinguish one speed from another.

The height of a full-sized blender in our current ratings varies from 8 to 22 inches. Take note of this spec if the blender needs to fit under your kitchen cabinets. Planning to store it? Some blenders weigh just 4 pounds, but the heaviest weigh in at 19 pounds. You’ll find all of this information in the features & specs section of the blender ratings. (We also test personal blenders and immersion blenders, and have a full guide for how to take care of your blender, too.) Below, a glance at the range of full-sized blenders in our ratings:
Price: $25 to $650
Overall Score: 26 to 87
Capacity: 4 to 9 cups

For more information, check our blender buying guide. Here are three great blenders from our tests, listed in alphabetical order.

When to Use a Food Processor

These multitasking machines have sharp blades or discs that chop, slice, shred, grate, and purée. Some also come with a blunt blade for kneading dough, or one that turns out julienned vegetables.

We use lots of vegetables in our food processor tests. We chop onions and almonds, slice celery and mushrooms, shred carrots and cheese, purée carrots and peas, and grate cheese. The top processors prove their mettle in the kitchen.

Food processors have a big bowl with a feeding tube, an S-shaped blade, and a top that locks into place. Most come with other blade options for shredding and slicing. There are usually two settings: On/Off and Pulse, for running the processor in short bursts for more precise control. The weight of a food processor ranges from under 5 pounds to sometimes above 20 pounds. You’ll find this information and more in the features & specs section of our food processor ratings.

There are several dozen models in our ratings. Here’s a quick overview of the ones that have come through the lab:
Price: $30 to $700
Overall Score: 35 to 81
Capacity: 3 to 18 cups

Our food processor buying guide offers details that will help you choose the best one for your cooking style and budget. Here’s a look at three impressive food processors, listed alphabetically.