Today, there are so many kitchen appliances and gadgets that it can be hard to keep track of what you can use each of them for and what each of them do best. There’s juicers, blenders, electric whisks, and so much more. While many people say you can get around all of this confusion by simply learning to use a knife, I disagree. Learning to use the proper kitchen appliance for the task you’re looking to do can shave huge amounts off of the time it takes to prepare your meals, taking the processes it would take you minutes to do by hand and getting them done effortlessly in mere seconds. To help alleviate some of this confusion and help you prepare your delicious dishes more quickly in the kitchen, we’ve built this handy guide to what a food processor does best, matched up against one of its main competitors: the food chopper. These are both appliances that you can find in most kitchen nowadays, and you’ll likely come across both of them at some point if you’re looking for some new toys for your kitchen. We’re going to look at what each of them do best, where they’re generally lacking, and what they each do better than the other.What is a Food Processor?
If you’re into making your own food, chances are you have one of these. At the very least, know what it is, because you have that typical image in your head of your mother dragging a sturdy, hulking machine that must have weighed 20 pounds out of her cupboard for you to listen to it roar while she feeds something into it for the next family dinner. Luckily, technology has come a long way since then, so you won’t have to subject yourself, your partner, or your children to that same experience again.
The purpose of food processors is to be able to quickly grind, chop, slice and puree almost any food you can put into it. Some models even have extensions that allow you to knead and mix dough. The exact ingredients it can take depend on how heavy-duty of a model you have. For instance, most food processors have absolutely no trouble with fruits or veggies, but some of the lower-end models can’t handle things like doughs, meats, or some of the tougher veggies.
Basically, the food processor performs these tasks using discs and interchangeable blades instead of the usual fixed blades you see on many other appliances. They’re very similar to blenders, except that blenders have a fixed blade and usually require some kind of fluid to help process the food, whereas with a food processor, you can just throw your ingredients in without having to worry about how much fluid you put in there. If you’re making something like a milkshake, soup, or smoothie, a blender is the way to go. For almost anything else you need “blended”, use your food processor.What is a Food Chopper?
Food choppers (which are hand-powered, not electric) are probably something you’re familiar with, even if not by name. Almost everyone remembers the iconic SlapChop commercial involving nuts. Food choppers are much smaller and basically act like miniature food processors. They typically involve a blade that is powered by hitting or pushing a lever at the top of the machine, making the blade go down and chop the food you’ve placed underneath it, with a little plastic bowl that goes down past the blades to prevent what you’re chopping from flying all over the place.
These are lightweight, and great for any quick, low-effort things you need to prepare, like chopping up greens or cherry tomatoes for salads, or some fruits for a dessert. Choppers have several sharp blades and are very convenient for performing everyday cutting tasks in the kitchen in seconds, and with less effort than having to cut your ingredients manually with a knife. However, most food choppers have very low capacity that they can chop at a time, some as little as one cup!
While chopping things like tough veggies and, as we all remember, nuts, in the food chopper could go fine, many people prefer to use their food processors to more thoroughly grind them up. Obviously, the food chopper also is not suited for many of the tasks a food processor can do, such as mixing or kneading dough, pureeing foods, and slicing a lot of vegetables, as well as having overall far less capacity than most food processors.What Should I Use?
As a general rule, remember this: If it’s something you could do with little effort by using a knife, you could use the food chopper to do that same process in far less time and with far more ease. This is because of how quick the food chopper can be used simply by putting the ingredients under the blades and chopping away until you have the fineness you want. However, if you’re looking for something to grind up your almonds, or puree your potatoes or chickpeas, or just general mix, grind, puree or chop any food, especially the tougher ones your chopper can’t handle, you’re going to want to use your food processor.
There are certainly good aspects and bad aspects of each choice. For instance, the food chopper is much lighter, easier to move around your kitchen, much cheaper to buy, and doesn’t require any electricity or batteries to use, even though you’re limited on how finely you can chop your ingredients and what you can easily chop with it. Food processors are obviously the more powerful of the two, and can do everything from kneading doughs, grinding meats, and pureeing fruits and veggies, but they are also much heavier than choppers. They require electricity to use, and since they are machines, any one of their components can break down or stop working, requiring you to either fix it yourself, hope your warranty for it is still good, or buy a new one entirely.