Should You Buy a Food Processor?

I didn’t think of myself as an “appliance junkie” before I moved into my current apartment. By Brooklyn standards, it feels luxuriously large, like I could run a restaurant supply store out of the kitchen. As it turns out, all I really needed to change my tune was simply more square-footage: I’m now the co-owner of, among other things, a food processor that I’m surprised to find myself reaching for all the time. After a year of chopping, slicing, shredding, and puréeing, I have some thoughts on whether you, too, should own a food processor.

First, let’s talk about what a food processor even is. At minimum, a basic food processor comes with a bowl, a removable lid, a base (which contains the motor), and a very sharp blade. It’s more or less an extremely powerful knife that excels at quickly chopping and grinding tons of different ingredients, from onions to to nuts to hard cheeses, in a matter of seconds. The set of attachments will shred and slice carrots (carrot cake!), cabbage (slaw!), or potatoes (hash browns!). There are a whole host of fancy-pants attachments that can knead bread dough and juice vegetables and fold your laundry and pick up your children from school, but for the purposes of this article, I’ll be talking about the no-frills basic kind.

Homemade granola bars, thanks to your food processor.

Photo by Emma Fishman, Food Styling by Sue Li

I’m going to be upfront here: Unless you’re the kind of cook who regularly makes your own homemade nut butters and energy balls, you don’t absolutely need a food processor (I point out these two foods specifically because I’m convinced you can’t make them at home without one). However, if you do a lot of meal prep or you’re chopping-averse, deathly afraid of sharp tools like mandolines and box graters, or uncertain about your knife skills, a food processor might be a worthwhile purchase to make cooking faster and generally more enjoyable.

I find myself pulling out my food processor at least once a week to make my own hummus or bean dips, which I do frequently, as well as to whip together sauces and dips that are meant to have a bit of texture. Because most food processors come with a “pulse” feature that allows you to control how finely chopped up your ingredients get, they’re excellent for making not-quite-smooth-in-a-good-way sauces like pesto (BA’s Best) and other all-purpose green sauces, romesco, salsa, or nam prik, the chunky Thai chile dip. (Conversely, food processors are not great at achieving a uniformly smooth texture, so if you’re primarily interested in making silky soups or smoothies and only have room for one appliance, a high-powered blender is the better bet.)

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