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Nov 10, 2004 02:06 PM

Is a food processor even necessary?

  • l

I am registering for a wedding, and am contemplating getting a food processor. I don't think I need one...I'd rather use a Braun hand mixer, and I am getting a KitchenAid mixer too.
What do people think, is a food processor necessary for a home cook?

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  1. I could not live w/o my food processors. I have 2 sizes. The mini pro is great for herbs, small batches of dips, dough, chopping nuts, etc. The big one is great for everything else-chopping and/or slicing onions and other veggies, breadcrumbs, pizza dough, I could go on and on. I can’t even remember the last time I used my hand mixer. I am not a big baker however so when I do bake its usually big batches of tea breads and cookies so it is easier for me to just use my kitchen aid.

    One appliance I hardly ever use now is my blender. Since I bought a hand blender (multi prac/immersion blender or whatever you want to call it) I use it to puree soups, make shakes and whip cream, etc. The blender only comes out these days for big batches of blender drinks!

    2 Replies
    1. re: foodiex2

      i do a ton of cooking and have great knives, a kitchenaid brand food processor, a mini-cuisinart, a stick-blender, and a kitchenaid mix-master. i'd highly recommend all but the mini-cuisinart (tho it can be helpful), especially since someone else will be ponying up the dough required to get them in your case. there are things the food processor can do that, other than a manual appliance, other tools can't, and, in any event, it'll do those things very quickly.

      the mixmaster is heaven for baking (or so my over-capable wife tells me).

      1. re: foo d

        I too do a ton of cooking and have great knoves, two Cuisinart food processors, a blender, a hand mixer, one of those big kitchenaid thingies, and a mortar and pestle. I use the knives and the mortar and pestle.

        I think it all comes down to how much you love the process of cooking as opposed to the result. For me, if I can do it by hand, it's worth the extra time.

    2. As someone who has lived with a Cuisinart and misses it terribly- put it on the registry. Unless you do alot of baking- or just love their look- kitchin aids aren't really necessary. A cuisinart is perfect for chopping veggies, making dips, salad dressings, grating cheese...all sorts of things.

      1. I received a food processor when I was married in 1980 - I still have it and I wouldn't be without one! Just the tears I have not wept from all onions it chopped over the years would be worth it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Athena

          ....assuming that back in the day you bought a Cuisinart, as I did, we are still well within the 30 year warranty period for the motor and drive train. I have a DLC 7 Pro, which, IIRC, has a 1.5 HP motor. I use mine constantly, to the point of having two bowls to rotate - the original brown bowl, now 22 years old, is used for salsas and tomato-based Italian sauces. Not that they stain, really. All of the original blades and discs are intact, too. I paid well under $200 for it back in '81 - and considering that it's outlived two marriages and two cars, that is quite the return on investment!

          BTW, I have a KA, too. I use it a lot, but not as much as the Cuisinart. Guess it's what you get used to. I've gotten so accustomed to the Cuisinart quick bread method that I generally make banana and nut breads in that, rather than the KA.

          PS Stick blender - a soup-maker's best friend. The regular blender barely ever gets used anymore. That is the tool that I would chuck on the scrap heap.

        2. Okay, I'll be the dissenting voice. I have a small food processor. I use it maybe once a year. That's about it. I use my stand mixer all the time, because I do a lot of baking. I gave away my hand mixer, because I never use it. I do use my blender, for pureeing soup and for making frozen drinks and for grinding nuts. I suppose I could use the food processor for the nuts, but it's harder to clean. I was given an immersion blender I could use for soup, but it's not a very powerful one, so the blender is better. Also, since my blender gets a lot of use, it's stored in a more convenient place. A lot of gadgetry depends on what you're used to. I don't think about the immersion blender, because I'm just used to pulling out the blender.

          The other thing people use food processors for is chopping, and I am way too attached to my knife to consider that. I like the control a knife gives me, and I consider the chopping and prep one of the more soothing aspects of cooking. Plus, I'll have the knife and cutting board out anyway for trimming and so on - why dirty another appliance? Anyway, you know your own cooking patterns best. If you can't imagine that a particular appliance would be used in your kitchen on a regular basis, don't bother with it. If your cooking patterns change, you will probably realize that there is something else you need. Personally, I love my big copper jam pot and got rid of my toaster oven; my pressure cooker has never been used, but recently I've started to depend on my crockpot; I love my Turkish coffeepot but don't have an espresso maker. That's my kitchen, not anyone else's. In other kitchens, the thing I adore would gather dust while things I keep shoving further back in the closet would get used daily. So I would say, trust your instincts.

          5 Replies
          1. re: curiousbaker
            Professor Salt

            I'll second curiousbaker. I do not own a food processor nor a mixer, and choose to live without either in my small kitchen because I wouldn't use it that much.

            I like using my knives and don't mind taking time to hand chop a large pile of mushrooms for duxelle, for instance. I've used food processors for the same task in a professional kitchen, and I don't like the mushy duxelle a machine yields. On the other hand, if you frequently make large portions of fresh salsa cruda, for instance, a machine is indispensable.

            It really comes down to how often you need a food processor's features. Do you find knifework slow and tedious? Do you do a lot of baking, like cutting butter into flour for baking? You know your cooking habits and how often you long for a machine.

            1. re: curiousbaker

              I can't agree more. I prefer the FP but have recently returned to my original love: baking. I am now thinking about buying a KA. But I could save a ton of time in setting up the FP and cleaning it and its' parts after using it if I had learned better knife skills. There is something to be said for learning the basics.

              1. re: curiousbaker

                I'm dissenting as well.

                A food processor is not necessary IMO. I broke the only blade I ever used on my food processor a couple of years ago. (the metal cutting blade) I am the world's worst procrastinator, plus it was an antique Cuisinart that my Mother abandoned and finding the part was not simple. So I went about 18 months without it. Around the same time, the mini-chopper that I got as a wedding present broke too. You can get along fine without a food processor.

                However, if you have room in your kitchen, they do have their uses. I finally replaced the food processor blade because pesto in the blender was such a pain in my butt. Otherwise, I tend to only use the processor if I am doing a big meal and can figure out a way to use it for several things without washing the parts.

                I'm not sure what the OP meant by using a hand mixer instead of a food processor. Completely unrealted tools to me.

                While writing this it has occurred to me that I have a ridiculous number of kitchen tools, and I've become dogmatic about their uses. Here goes:

                Kitchenaid stand mixer - cake, cookies, pizza dough
                Hand Mixer - beating in a double boiler, i.e. 7 minute frosting
                Stick Blender - soup, other purees
                Blender - smoothies, vinaigrettes
                Chopper attachment for my KitchenAide - shredded carrots
                Food Processor - pesto, breadcrumbs, crackercrumbs, finely ground nuts
                Mandolin - anything " very thinly sliced" or "julienned"
                Knives (including a Global "sashimi" knife I like very much) - everything else


                1. re: curiousbaker

                  We do seem to be the minority here, but I'll weigh in as well. I don't have a large food processor or a stand mixer, nor have I ever felt the need for either. I use a blendor for pureeing and for chopping dried bread into crumbs and a mandolin for thin slicing of large volumes. I have a tiny food processor that will do a few tablespoons, but I seldom get it out. I bake bread every other week but rarely make cookies or pastries. I use my hands for kneading bread dough and the old-fashioned creamer for mixing flour and fat together for pastry or cookies.

                  What I use most is my trusty 8 inch chef's knife. Once in a while, I get out the 10 inch when I really have a load.

                  For me, its a conscious decision because I like being up close and personal with my food. I enjoy using my hands and feeling the food.

                  1. re: bacchante

                    I commend your hands-on bacchante. Not all of us have your strength or your patience, especially when it comes to bread dough.

                    A question: what is an "old fashioned creamer". Is that a pastry blender (u-shaped wires attached to a handle) -- or is it an egg beater? Or some other implement?

                2. Absolutely, register for a large one and a mini. It may seem like appliance over kill but I do have a big kitvhen and room so I do have the lg. Kitchen Aid stand mixer as well as a smaller hand mixer and the immersion blender and a regular blender. Frankly I would have a hard time deciding what to give up if I had to downsize. But then again I have 4 different rolling pins too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Candy

                    I should add, a separate mini processor is not necessary if you get a model that includes a smaller bowl and blade that nest right inside the large bowl. My Kitchenaid food processor has one.