Important features - what to look for
These are the most important points that you should look for in a combo, and the ones we considered when evaluating the appliances in this roundup and picking the top performers.
The capacity refers to how much food your system can process at once.
If you’re looking to make family-sized portions, you’ll want to choose a combination food processor-blender with the most capacity possible.
In contrast, if you’re looking for single-serving blending or food processing, a smaller capacity may be more convenient.
Depending upon how much kitchen space you have, you’ll also want to keep an eye on size and storage space.
If you’re working with limited space or small cabinets, take a look at the appliance’s physical dimensions to make sure it will fit, and make sure you have room to store all of the accessories.
The power refers to how much power the base unit’s motor has. If you’re looking mainly for food processing and to make the occasional smoothie, 700 watts should be sufficient. Less than that, and the machine tends to struggle with anything tougher than soft fruits.
If you would like to process tougher ingredients such as nuts, you’ll want upwards of 1200.
For maximum functionality, you’re best off with a system that has a wide range of speeds, with slower speeds for chopping and slicing, and high speeds for blending tough ingredients such as ice.
These combined machines are generally quite versatile with many functions. You’ll want to prioritize based upon your needs and what you plan on making.
Some common functions include blending, chopping, slicing, grating, dough making, mixing, shredding and softening butter.
Pre-programmed blending and food-processing settings are ideal, as they allow for hands-free blending, and may also produce better results than manual controls.
In general the more settings the better, but prioritize based upon what you plan to make. Personally I’d shoot for a minimum of chop, whisk, grate, shred, puree and ice crushing.
Check out my product reviews above to see how loud each prospective model is.
In general most systems make about same amount of noise as a normal blender, and are noisier when blending tough ingredients such as ice.
Ease of Cleaning
Cleaning is easily the least fun part of cooking, so you’ll want to select a system that’s as easy to clean as possible. Ideally the bowls and attachments should be dishwasher-safe, and the base unit should be sleek and easy to wipe down.
Durability and Warranty Period
You’ll want to select a system that has a proven track record of durability, and is also backed up by a manufacturer's warranty in case of any manufacturing defect. The duration and terms of warranty can vary not only by manufacturer but also by model, so be sure to do your homework.
Also check to see if the manufacturer has a good reputation for customer service, what the repair/replacement policy is, and if shipping is covered.
There are many accessories available for these all in one machines. Most systems include at least a few of the following.
In the end it comes down to what you’re planning to make with your new appliance, but make sure you select one with the accessories required for recipes you plan to make often.
- Mill: A mill is usually a separate bowl attachment that’s used to grind solid ingredients such as coffee beans, grains or spices.
- Knife blade: Most food processors have a multi-purpose knife blade that is used for mixing, mincing, mashing puréeing and chopping.
- Dough blade or hook: This is usually a blade that attaches to the food processor bowl, and is used to make pizza doughs or pie crusts.
- Shredding and slicing blade: Many food processors come with several sizes of shredding and slicing blades for different consistencies.
- Chipping blade: A chipping blade usually attaches to the food processor, and is used to make homemade chips or french fries.
- Grating blade: A grating blade attaches to the food processor and is used to shred cheese or vegetables.
- Potato rasp: A potato rasp is used to finely grate hard vegetables such as potatoes or hard cheeses such as Parmesan.
- Beater: A beater, or whisk attachment, is used to make whipped creams.
- Feed tube: A feed tube usually attaches to the top of the food processor bowl, and is used to feed in food during mixing.
- Matching Spatula: Some systems come with a matching spatula, which is sometimes designed specially for use with the appliance.
Some systems have safety features such as auto shut-off and auto-lock. The auto-lock function may be important if you have young children at home.
There are a few additional features that aren’t completely necessary, but may make using your new appliance easier.
These include a citrus press or juicer that allows the machine to be used as a juicer, a straight-sided processor chop and micro-serrated blades that don’t need to be sharpened.
Blender & Food Processor FAQs
What is a food processor and why use it?
A food processor usually consists of a wide-mouth bowl, often with a cute attachment to the lid that’s used to feed in solid ingredients.
They usually come with several blade attachments for cutting, chopping, slicing, shredding and even dough hooks.
This kind of appliance is best for chopping, slicing and grating solid foods to make recipes such as salsas, coleslaw or hummus (my favorite use!).
What is a blender and why use it?
A countertop blender usually consists of a pitcher with rotating blades at the bottom. Many blender jars are also narrow at the bottom, creating a vortex that brings ingredients into contact with the blades more frequently.
A blender is best for turning solid ingredients like fruit and vegetables into liquid smoothies or purees. It’s also best for combining liquid ingredients with solid.
What does a food processor do that a blender doesn't, and vice versa?
Although blenders and food processors are similar appliances, both have different applications, and there’s less crossover than you might imagine.
A food processor can chop, slice and grate ingredients, while a blender will turn solid ingredients into a pulp - not so great for your coleslaw.
On the other hand, food processors is bad at handling liquid ingredients, and generally don’t produce a complete emulsion.
If you’re looking for maximum versatility in your new appliance, you might be best off with a 2 in 1 blender food processor for a few reasons:
- Buying both in one saves a substantial amount of money.
- Using a combination machine reduces food prep time.
- Requires less storage space.
- It offers more functionality and flexibility.
To summarize the differences between these two appliances, here's an interesting video: