HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it
TELL US

Is a food processor even necessary?

l
lb Nov 10, 2004 02:06 PM

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?

  1. j
    JoAnn Nov 21, 2004 01:33 PM

    I feed potato latkes to about 30 people every Hanukah. I couldn't imagine it without my food processor. No more scraped knuckles. And time to visit with my guests.

    1. m
      Mrs. Smith Nov 10, 2004 10:09 PM

      I don't use mine alot (I have the standard 11 cup cuisinart) but when I use it, I am very glad I have it.

      In addition to the tasks that kc girl enumerates, here's a couple more:

      1) If you plan to have a baby, a food processor makes making homemade baby food *extremely* easy. I use it for this a lot.

      2) Making pastry dough (pie crust, tart dough, etc), it cannot be beat. It really is the definitive method for the best pastry crusts.

      I'd get the kitchenaid mixer first, of course, however. I like my food processor a lot, but if I didn't a) make baby foood in it, or b) make pastry dough fairly often in it (I like to bake) I could live without my Cuisinart.

      I wish you every happiness on your upcoming marriage.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mrs. Smith
        m
        Mrs. Smith Nov 11, 2004 02:00 AM

        Oh, and how can I forget!

        The food processor is the best tool for making fresh bread crumbs. If you ever use them for breading things, or for on top of casseroles, etc, it's a handy tool.

      2. k
        kc girl Nov 10, 2004 08:39 PM

        I have had a 2-cup Sunbeam OSKAR food processor for some time and use it well. I also enjoy using my knives as I enjoy that process, too. My friend has a much larger capacity processor that comes in handy when cooking for a large amount of people, but I don't need a huge one very often and just borrow hers.

        And, here's where I've found a food processor additionally helpful with no comparison:

        > When cooking with or around children. The food processor is just safer than knives.

        > When cooking with the committee gals for a meeting of 30 or more. We then use four or five of them. Faster preparation for the masses. Grating cheese, chopping vegetables. Mixing guacamole, tuna salad, tapenade, etc. I even like it better than a mixer for creaming cheese spreads and thick frostings.

        > Food processor mixes better than a blender in some cases because you can pulse it to a course blend and it still all mixes (like egg salad with chunks of egg white). Blenders have to get a finer puree and the top is usually coarser than the bottom at the blades, necessitating more hand stirring with a spatelua or something to get it uniform.

        And, I just bought a second one that has a juicer attachment with it (and a blender attachment). The juicer makes carrot and beet juices and then I use the pulp in a cake. Dual duty. There's a ton of things that just go faster. Glancing through the book will show you things you hadn't thought of making.

        And, there is nothing like a food processor (not a blender or mixer or mortar and pestel) that makes great graham cracker crusts (simply and uniformely) or a tasty cake or cookie flour from rolled oats and/or flaxseed.

        Maybe you'd make things you wouldn't normally make - like carrot cake, zuccini bread, things where a lot of grating is used. It grates parmesan cheese pretty good, too.

        Another note: I don't like appliances on my countertop, so all are in the cupboard. Easy access can be got if you put in a slider shelf so you can reach the deep back part of it and use the space. Slide-out shelves are easy to install and not expensive. I recommend it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kc girl
          r
          Ruth Lafler Nov 11, 2004 05:17 PM

          Speaking of grinding oats, I use mine to make a natural moisturizing skin scrub from oatmeal, sunflower seeds and almonds, without which my skin would crack off in the winter.

        2. z
          Zorra Nov 10, 2004 06:06 PM

          I find that with the grating and slicing attachments (set of four cones) for my Kitchen Aid mixer, a 25-year-old Oster blender, and some good knives (mine are LamsonSharp) I can do anything I would do with a food processor. My mother-in-law has one of those little electric choppers, which we have used occasionally to chop a large quantity of onions, but it's kind of a hassle to assemble and to clean.

          Since you're getting a KA anyway, do register for the attachments and accessories. And enjoy your Globals!

          1. l
            lb Nov 10, 2004 04:34 PM

            Thanks everyone for your comments. I guess the idea of another appliance clogging up my kitchen scares me. But maybe it would come in really useful and outweigh the space/mess factors> I don't think I'd use it very much, except maybe for potato latkes? I don't know. I, like another person wrote, don't mind cutting up things by knives...especially because I shall soon have some really nice knives...global. Anyone use them? Anyway, thanks for the advice.

            3 Replies
            1. re: lb
              c
              Carb Lover Nov 10, 2004 05:14 PM

              I'm impressed that you are being selective w/ your registry so you don't needlessly clutter or waste $ (although it would be a gift in your case). It's so easy to take that registry gun and have a field day!!

              I'm in the camp of those who don't find a food processor very necessary. I have a 7-cup that my mom handed down to me, and I use it about twice a year. If she asked for it back, I wouldn't miss it. Main use is for making pie dough, although technically, this could be done on a flat surface with a pastry cutter.

              I prefer to use my Wusthof chef's knife as much as possible and then puree things in my Waring blender. Call me crazy, but I actually LOVE chopping things (onions, garlic, you name it) since it soothes me into a state of relaxation. I have found that working hands-on w/ my ingredients as much as possible has helped me to understand food better and ultimately be more creative w/ my cooking. Sure it might take more time this way, but I actually enjoy the journey of cooking just as much as getting to the destination of eating.

              1. re: lb
                c
                Christine Nov 10, 2004 05:33 PM

                I, too, am in the "not necessary" camp. I have a small food processor and an old, mega-Cuisinart. The small one is used for making mayonnaise and some chopping or making pastes; the large one mostly collects dust. It's a hassle to take apart, wash, scoop out of, etc., and I have limited counter space so I can't keep it handy. I only use it when I'm grating a ton of cheese or making big batches of things. Usually I cook for only two, though.

                I wish I could advise you on the knives. I don't know Global (I use Wusthof Classic), but I will tell you that a good knife is worth its weight in gold. You may want to arrange your list so that people can gift the knives separately (rather than as a set) so you can get as high-end as you're comfortable with. And be sure to treat them well; they are your best ally.

                1. re: lb
                  m
                  MMRuth Nov 11, 2004 06:57 AM

                  Whatever you end up deciding, I'd register for extra bowls for the mixer and/or food processor. Makes life a lot easier if you are preparing a big or complicated meal.

                  That said, I cook and bake a great deal and use my Kitchen Aid mixer, Cuisineart FP, immersion blender & Waring blender regularly. I also use my knives, but depending on what I'm doing, the FP can be v. helpful - slicing potatoes for a gratin or tortilla, slicing onions and other vegetables for soup, grinding nuts, making pastry dough. I find that I usually use my knife for regular weekday dinners, but that if I'm cooking a meal with more courses & for more people, using the FP saves a lot of time. I have a bookshelf in my very small kitchen and all of the appliances are lined up on one shelf. When I need one, I just move it to the counter & plug it in. If I had to get up on a stool to get to them, I might use them a little less often.

                2. j
                  Jujubee Nov 10, 2004 04:04 PM

                  Well, of course it's not necessary, but it does make life easier. I mostly use it for big batches of stuff, not everyday chopping (because it takes up too much room in the dishwasher). But when I have to slice mounds of onions for caramelizing, or grate pounds of carrots for carrot cake it makes life a lot easier. Also, pureed things like tapenade go a lot faster with a food processor; I tried doing that by hand once in the mortar and pestle, and once was enough.

                  But of course you don't NEED it.

                  Regarding the KitchenAid: absolutely fantastic if you bake (though still not necessary; I got by with a hand mixer for years, including a time when I would bake at least 3 things a week for company), but it will collect dust if you don't. Since I started dieting, it has just been collecting dust. Very sad.

                  1. r
                    Ruth Lafler Nov 10, 2004 04:01 PM

                    To clarify what other people have said, it really depends on what kind of cooking you do. I have a both a full-size and mini food processor, and while I can't say I use them all the time, there are times when nothing else will do the job (as I recently found out when I tried to make my favorite salsa recipe without one).

                    My housemate has a KitchenAid stand mixer. I've only borrowed it once in five years, but she borrows my food processor a couple of times a month. A stand mixer is useful if you do a lot of baking, but otherwise you can get along fine without one. I'm asking for an immersion blender for Christmas, though.

                    One tool that's been getting a lot of use in my kitchen recently is a food chopper (see below). I picked one up a long time ago, tried it, didn't like it, and shoved it in the cupboard. Recently was going to throw it out, but decided to give it another chance. I think you need to get the feel for how it works, because now I love it -- it's perfect for all those nasty little jobs (like chopping fresh herbs or shallots) that are a pain to do with a knife but not big enough to warrant getting out the food processor.

                    Link: http://www.org-etc.com/foodchopper.html

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      j
                      joypirate Nov 11, 2004 04:25 PM

                      Yes. The chopper has changed my life. And made me more likely to use 10 cloves of garlic at a time.

                      My garlic bread has vastly improved.

                      Of course, my wife was washing it the other day and asked, "do you use this for anything BESIDES garlic?" Well. No. Salsas once in a great while.

                    2. c
                      Candy Nov 10, 2004 03:23 PM

                      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
                        g
                        Grace Nov 10, 2004 05:08 PM

                        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.

                      2. c
                        curiousbaker Nov 10, 2004 03:20 PM

                        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
                          p
                          Professor Salt Nov 10, 2004 04:31 PM

                          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
                            t
                            Tracy L. Nov 10, 2004 10:58 PM

                            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
                              d
                              danna Nov 11, 2004 01:01 PM

                              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

                              Whew!

                              1. re: curiousbaker
                                b
                                bacchante Nov 11, 2004 01:42 PM

                                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
                                  m
                                  Mrs. Smith Nov 16, 2004 06:08 PM

                                  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. a
                                Athena Nov 10, 2004 03:13 PM

                                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
                                  p
                                  peg Nov 11, 2004 01:23 AM

                                  ....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. r
                                  redglass Nov 10, 2004 02:39 PM

                                  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. f
                                    foodiex2 Nov 10, 2004 02:18 PM

                                    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
                                      f
                                      foo d Nov 10, 2004 03:26 PM

                                      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
                                        b
                                        Bunny-Bunny Nov 10, 2004 04:40 PM

                                        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.

                                    Show Hidden Posts