Collection of red KitchenAid brand countertop appliances in a kitchen

Immersion Blender vs Food Processor: What’s the difference?

Similar, but certainly not the same, a food processor has sharp rotating blades or discs that can slice, puree, shred, mix and chop a wide variety of ingredients. An immersion blender is typically used for making liquid recipes like soups, purees, smoothies and emulsifying ingredients for condiments like mayo and aioli.

The immersion blender and the food processor are both mighty tools within their own right, and while they are often compared, each has strengths in different areas. While they may perform comparable tasks, they ultimately do them differently. Keep reading below to discover the difference between an immersion blender and a food processor, and get help dechiphering which countertop appliance works best for different tasks.

 

KitchenAid® food chopper and hand blender next to a bowl of soup

Is there a difference between an immersion blender & food processor?

In short – yes! An immersion blender is a handheld blender with a small spinning blade that is immersed into ingredients to create smoothies, soups and sauces. A food processor has larger, flat blades at the bottom of the work bowl, or discs that sit at the top and can chop, shred, grind, puree and more.

Food processors feature a work bowl where processed ingredients are collected, while a key feature of the immersion blender is that you blend directly in the bowl or pot you’re using for the rest of your prep, so it takes up less space and cuts down on dishes. Depending on the model and make, both immersion blenders (also known as hand blenders or stick blenders) and food processors may offer attachments or accessories to widen the scope of their capabilities. 

KitchenAid® food processors, for example, can bring versatility and power to any recipe with accessories like a whisk attachment that’s available with some models, or a reversible slicing and shredding disc. KitchenAid® hand blenders can also enhance your culinary adventures by allowing you to blend in various containers and pots. Interchangeable blending arm accessories, like a chopper, are available to help expand their versatility. You can also find accessories like the whisk attachment to help with your quick whipping needs.

View of fresh produce and KitchenAid® hand blender next to bowl of guacamole

Immersion Blender Types and Sizes

Immersion blenders are particularly handy if you need to blend while food is cooking or still very hot, and their size makes them both easy to use and store. Different models of immersion blenders may even have various attachments for capabilities like chopping. KitchenAid has an extensive collection of hand blender models, including the Cordless Variable Speed Hand Blender and the Commercial® 400 Series Immersion Blender, so you can find just the right one to fit your needs.

KitchenAid® Variable Speed Corded Hand Blender

Variable Speed Corded Hand Blender

With their compact design, you can use a variable speed blender for quick blending without having to set up or clean up an additional appliance. Their variable speeds allow you to fine tune your speed for more control over your results. You can experience the true pureeing power of the KitchenAid® Variable Speed Corded Hand Blender and make an array of recipes like mayo, baby food, soups and even hummus. With a removable blending arm that has a 4-point stainless steel blade, you can blend a variety of ingredients with the 3-cup blending jar and lid that’s included, or use the Removable Pan Guard so you can blend in your own cookware without worrying about ruining your pots.

KitchenAid® 2-Speed Hand Blender with blending jar

Multi-Speed Hand Blender

Multi-speed hand blenders make it easy for you to blend ingredients for your favorite dips and sauces, and the simplicity of set speeds allows for consistent results, regardless of the recipe. With the KitchenAid® 2-Speed Hand Blender that comes with a 3-cup blending jar and 8" removable blending arm with a fixed s-blade. You’ll be able to comfortably blend ingredients with the soft-grip handle that lets you continuously and effortlessly create in the kitchen.

KitchenAid® Cordless Variable Speed Hand Blender

Cordless variable speed hand blender

For even more versatility, cordless hand blenders allow you to blend and create in nearly any spot of your kitchen — even if you don’t have an outlet nearby. With a Lithium-Ion battery that can blend up to 25 bowls of soup within a single charge,1 there are no limits to what you can accomplish with the KitchenAid® Cordless Variable Speed Hand Blender. The Speed Trigger Switch gives you full control of your recipe as you switch blender speeds with ease.

 

 

KitchenAid® food chopper next to pizza

Food Processor Types and Sizes

With sizes that can range anywhere from 3 cups to 16 cups, food processors are amazing kitchen tools that make chopping, mixing and pureeing faster and easier to do. And with models as varied as their capabilities, you’re bound to find a food processor that’s exactly what you need.

KitchenAid® 3.5 Cup Food Chopper in Aqua Sky

3-4 Cup Food Chopper

Perfect for smaller quantities of food and simpler tasks like chopping, mixing and pureeing, 3-4 cup food choppers are great when cooking smaller batches. The KitchenAid® 3.5 Cup Food Chopper for example, is small, but still mighty. Its compact size and lightweight design make it perfect for everyday use, and the bowl and blade are dishwasher safe. You’ll get delicious sauces and vinaigrettes using the included Drizzle Basin, as well as its  2-speed and Pulse operations.

KitchenAid® 5 Cup Food Chopper

5-6 Cup Food Chopper

Whether chopping, mixing or pureeing, you’ll get plenty done with a roomier chopper. The KitchenAid® 5 Cup Food Chopper with stainless steel blade can perform many tasks with little effort. For added versatility, the whisk accessory that’s included can help you whip, whisk and stir all kinds of ingredients, including cream for fresh whipped cream.

KitchenAid® 7 Cup Food Processor

7-8 Cup Food Processor

With larger capacity comes more versatility. These food processors typically come with a feed tube that lets you process a wider variety of ingredients easily, as well as letting you slice and shred. The KitchenAid® 7 Cup Food Processor has a one-click, twist-free bowl assembly and latched lid that makes this food processor easy to use, clean and store. The disc accessories included are cleverly designed for easy storage inside the work bowl for a seamless prep and clean up experience.

KitchenAid® 9 Cup Food Processor

9-11 Cup Food Processor

This food processor is a powerful tool in any kitchen. Always versatile, you’ll be able to shred hard cheese, slice zucchini and puree sweet potatoes in larger quantities with this appliance. Use the 9 Cup Food Processor from KitchenAid for all sorts of culinary creations, big and small. The rounded corners and smooth finishes means less food gets stuck in crevices, and you can load the work bowl and blades into the dishwasher for effortless cleaning.

KitchenAid® 13 Cup Food Processor

13 Cup Food Processor and larger

From slicing pepperoni for homemade pizza night to shredding cabbage for a summery slaw, you’ll be able to flex your culinary skills using this versatile, large capacity kitchen helper. Let your creativity flourish using the KitchenAid® 13 Cup Food Processor. The 3-in-1 feed tube can handle ingredients of different sizes and shapes, which helps you cut down prep time. It also features an all-in-one storage solution, which makes storing a piece of cake. For even more flexibility, the 13-Cup Food Processor with Dicing Kit includes accessories that let you chop, shred, precision slice, dice, knead, mix and puree everything from fresh veggies to cheeses, doughs, sauces, salsa and so much more.

 

When to Use an Immersion Blender

  • Blend: You can count on your immersion blender for most liquid and wet recipes like, this delectable Butternut Squash Soup that comes together right in the pot.
  • Puree: An immersion blender works great for pureeing ingredients, especially if you’re making a smaller batch of food. So if you want to whip up some mashed potatoes for one, an immersion blender can be your go-to.
  • Whip: The KitchenAid® Variable Speed Hand Blender with Chopper and Whisk Attachment can be used to whip fluffy egg whites or emulsify vinaigrettes. You can also purchase individual accessories for your hand blender that suit your favorite kinds of recipes.

When to Use a Food Processor

  • Chop: Chop away with a food processor or chopper. As the name suggests, this is the tool to use for delicious pesto, chopping veggies for soups and stews, and anything else your recipes call for. 
  • Puree: A food processor can be used for pureeing cooked vegetables and fruits, making nut butters, hummus and more.
  • Slice: Many food processors, including KitchenAid® food processors, come with accessories like a slicing disc that let you slice vegetables at your desired thickness.
  • Shred: Shredding discs are included with most models of food processors, and are superb at shredding cabbage, cheese, potatoes and everything in between. 
  • Knead: Some food processors, like the KitchenAid® 9 Cup Food Processor Plus, come with a dough blade that can be used to knead dough. It’s a good substitute if you don’t have a mixer handy.

Can a food processor replace an immersion blender?

You’ll be able to use a food processor for many tasks where you don’t have a blender on hand. However, if you want an ultra-smooth finish to your soups and sauces, an immersion blender is more likely to give you that desired result.

KitchenAid® hand blender next to blender jar with guacamole

Expand Your Culinary Capabilities With Both a Food Processor and an Immersion Blender

Both of these appliances are useful whether you’re crafting completely new and unfamiliar dishes or optimizing your process for a few tried and true favorites. If you’ll mostly be making soups, smoothies or cocktails, you’ll probably fare well with just an immersion blender. If you’re looking for something that offers the ability to achieve precise cuts like slicing and shredding, however, a food processor may be the way to go. Choose one or the other, or equip your kitchen with both to get just the right results no matter what you're creating.

KitchenAid® hand blender in Blue Velvet next to pot of tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes

The Best Foods to Make with an Immersion Blender

Use an immersion blender to make all your favorite soups and sauces, as well as decadent milkshakes and refreshing smoothies like the green chia smoothie recipe below.

Smoothies

Green Chia Smoothie

Soups 

No Cream Gazpacho

View of KitchenAid® food processor next to an apple pie

The Best Foods to Make with a Food Processor

Spend some time with your food processor making a wide variety of recipes like tapenades and hearty hummus or even scones and pie dough. Use these recipes as a starting point to your next culinary creation.

Latkes

Potato Latkes

Pie dough

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

 

 

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