To most home cooks, a blender and food processor may not seem very different. Both appear to exist simply for chopping, grinding or pureeing ingredients into bits for our dining pleasure.

So why is it that those in the know tend to keep both handy in their kitchens? Both blenders and food processors actually have their own unique strengths when it comes to different tasks. And if you’re only in the market for one of these appliances, you may need to figure out which is best suited to your needs.

Food Processor
A food processor usually has a wider container for food and its sharp blades are designed more for chopping, grating, shredding, slicing and mixing both soft and hard foods. When it’s not critical that your ingredients are evenly chopped, a food processor can save you the time and effort needed to chop food by hand.

This makes a food processor ideal for mixing ingredients for solid foods like meatloaf and chunky fillings for pies. You can also use them to crush nuts, turn bread into crumbs or knead dough. Do note that some blenders come with accessories like a mill grinder to perform these tasks just as well.

When it comes to liquids and soft foods where you want a smoother result, leave the food processor on the shelf. While food processors may be used to puree fruits and vegetables or cream soups, the result will not be as silky as when you use a blender.

Blender
A blender’s main function is to mix soft ingredients and liquids together, which is why it’s often found behind a bar counter. Designed to give its mixtures a smooth consistency, you’ll find a blender best suited to making purees, smoothies, soups, cocktails and even salad dressings. Most models now even have features like an ice crush for those who love icy cold smoothies.

The containers for blenders are usually designed like a jug. The wider and shallower containers of food processors are susceptible to splattering when processing liquids. Blenders usually have a triangular glass jar design that creates a vortex force to make blending easier and the result velvety smooth. It’s also easier to clean out the residue once you’re done.

If you require your bread crumbs or herbs to be ground more finely, a blender can help with that, although it is less suited to chopping solid foods. The smaller blades in a blender can create air pockets, while the narrower shape of the jug makes it harder for food to reach the blades. Therefore, I recommend models with a serrated blade to address this issue. The vortex force effect created in conjunction with the jug forces food into the blades, ensuring the most efficient blending.

Elizabeth Png is the brand and consumer communications director for Electrolux Vietnam. She can be contacted at elizabeth.png-reade@electrolux.com.