Between all the slicing, grinding, chopping, and puréeing, food processors are about as multifunctional as it gets. Owning one opens up a whole wide world of food processor recipes that take advantage of the appliance’s prepping powers. Things that may have seemed like a pain to make—like homemade pesto, thinly grated brussels sprouts, pie crusts from scratch, or velvety smooth soup—become much more doable with the help of a food processor.
When I finally added a food processor to my kitchen collection, it totally expanded my cooking horizons. I went from buying hummus to making it myself. (It’s cheaper and it tastes better!) And I no longer had to waste precious minutes on the most tedious of kitchen tasks—chopping nuts, anyone? If I had to go back to life B.F.P. (before food processor), I probably wouldn’t cook nearly as much as I do now.
While any food processor is practically guaranteed make your life at least a little easier, they aren’t all created equal. Space-saving mini versions, usually sold in sizes from one to four cups, are best for small and simple jobs—like roughly chopping an onion or making just enough salad dressing for one. With my mini food processor, I often have to divide whatever I’m chopping into two batches so that I don’t overwhelm the machine by throwing everything in at the same time. It’s basically the same when you put too much stuff in a blender—the machine stalls.
Meanwhile, pricier full-size food processors are better for prepping larger volumes of food. If you need to make a double-batch of dinner, or chop several pounds of brussels sprouts or beets, a large food processor is the tool for the job. (For most people, a 7- to 10-cup model should be big enough for home use.) Larger models tend to have a higher power output, meaning they can run for a longer time without burning out the motor—ideal for heavy-duty projects that requiring running the machine for a while, like a big batch of homemade nut butter. Generally speaking, the higher the wattage your food processor has, the better (though soft dips and sauces like hummus or mayo are perfect to make in a food processor with a low wattage).
Bigger food processors also tend to be more versatile, because they’re often equipped with slicing, grating, and shredding blades and discs that are optimal for different tasks, like thinly and evenly grating cheese or shredding cabbage. Plus they come with a feed tube, an opening at the top that allows you to gradually add ingredients as the machine runs (as well as a pusher that helps you press ingredients through the feed tube while keeping your hand away from the blades). A feed tube is especially great for oil-based dressings and sauces, because slowly adding the oil (instead of dumping it in all at the beginning) can help create a smoother and silkier final product.
By the way, if you’re not sure whether you’re ready to invest in a larger food processor, you can always put a small, affordable food processor through a trial period to see how much you actually use it. If it gets a lot of action, you might want to consider investing in a to a larger, bigger model.
Either way, start getting some more use out of your food processor right away with some help from these 40 great food processor recipes. From soups, salads, and sauces to pudding, ice cream, and baked goods, you can make practically anything with one of these appliances by your side.
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