Food processors are easily the most versatile kitchen gadget around. You can use them to slice vegetables, chop nuts, grind meat, and much, much more in mere seconds. Basically, the gadget has a magical ability to turn tedious work into something you actually won't mind doing.
When I finally added a food processor to my kitchen collection, it totally unlocked my cooking potential. I went from spending way too long grating cheese, chopping veggies, and making pie dough by hand, to doing all of the same tasks in a fraction of the time. If I had to go back to life B.F.P. (before food processor) I could, but I probably wouldn't cook nearly as much as I do now.
If you were gifted a food processor over the holiday season, or you've decided to leap into 2019 by buying one yourself, these are all the different ways to use it depending on your model.
Every food processor is a little different—find out what yours can and can't do before you start using it.
While all food processors will probably make your life at least a little bit easier, they aren't all created equal. Some are really small and best for little jobs, some are big enough to prep food for a crowd. Some have higher power outputs that can run for a long time without burning out the motor, others can only blend for a few minutes before they run out of steam. And some are sold with attachments that make it possible to thinly and evenly grate cheese, veggies, fruit, and more, while others can only do the most perfunctory chop.
There are two kinds of food processors: mini and full-size.
Mini options are sold in sizes from one to three cups, and they're great for basic chopping duties because they can't handle a lot of food at once. With my mini food processor, I usually 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. If I were to try to put too much of an ingredient into my food processor, it might not be able to process anything at all. It's basically the same when you put too much stuff in a blender—the machine stalls.
Full-size food processors are sold in sizes that can handle five to 20 cups, and they can process a large amount of an ingredient at once. If you need to grate a ton of cheese, chop a pound of Brussels sprouts, or make big batch of homemade nut butter, a full-size food processor is the tool for the job. You don't need to buy the biggest food processor you can find, though. First of all, they're pricier and unless you work in a restaurant, you probably don't need a 20-cup food processor. Save your money and swing for a seven- to 10-cup model, which should be more than enough for whatever you're cooking at home.
And they can have a power output anywhere between 400 and 1200 watts.
The higher the wattage your food processor has, the better. For heavy duty jobs or recipes that need the motor to run for awhile (like chopping hearty veggies or making nut butter), it should have at least 600 watts to avoid burning out the motor. If its wattage is below that number, save it for things that don't need as much maintenance. For example, soft dishes like hummus or sauces like mayo are perfect to make in a food processor with a low wattage.
Most full-size food processors are equipped with slicing, grating, and shredding attachments, as well as an opening at the top that allows you to add ingredients while the motor is running, and a pusher to push the ingredients into the processor without while keep your hand away from the blades.
The opening at the top (also known as a feeding tube) is especially great for oil-based recipes like salad dressing, mayonnaise, and pesto. Instead of placing all your oil in the food processor at once, you can use the feeding tube to gradually add it to your other ingredients as the machine runs, which will create a smoother and silkier final product.
As for the attachments, most full-size food processors are sold with disc-shaped grating, slicing, and shredding tools. When you're ready to use one of these discs, place it at the base of the feeding tube. Then, push your ingredients through the disc into the bowl of the food processor and watch them go from un-prepped to prepped in no time.
Unfortunately, most mini-food processors don't have the same additional functions.
Mini food processors aren't usually sold with attachments or equipped with feeding tubes like their larger counterparts. That means you have to dump all your ingredients into the bowl of the food processor before you start the motor, which isn't great for things like pesto that need to have oil gradually worked into them. Instead, they're better for basic chopping and blending tasks, like making salsa. Of course, there is an exception—the Kitchen-Aid 3.5-cup food processor has a small well at the top for adding things like oil as you blend.
Now that you know, these are all the different things you can make with your brand new food processor.
You'll need a food processor with a high wattage to make nut butter, because the nuts need about 10 to 15 minutes in the machine to fully breakdown and get that buttery consistency. However, it's not impossible to make nut butter with a lower wattage option, but you may need to pause the machine every few minutes to avoid burning out the motor. Get the recipe here.
This hummus comes together in any food processor in just a couple of minutes. Get the recipe here.
When it comes to things like pesto, you can't add all the oil at once because it won't incorporate into the rest of the ingredients properly. Be sure to use a food processor that's equipped with an opening at the top so you can add the oil while the machine is running. Get the recipe here.
Grating cheese by hand is a nice workout if you feel like it, but if you don't, use your new food processor instead.
If you aren't already a salsa believer, your new food processor will probably turn you into one. Get the recipe here.
Making dough by hand is super tricky—making dough with your food processor is not. Get the recipe here.
If you can't find the ground chicken you were looking for at the supermarket, don't fret—you can use your food processor to grind chicken yourself. And beef, and lamb, and pork for that matter.
Using a food processor to shred, grate, or slice hard-to-handle veggies (like Brussels sprouts) will cut your prep time in half.
Chopping nuts is way less frustrating when you have a machine to do it for you.
No-churn ice cream
You can make no-churn ice cream by simply blending frozen bananas in a food processor with whatever other ingredients you like. Try this pumpkin spice-flavored recipe out here.