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HELP! Small Apt. Need Blender and Food Processor Combo (or other suggestions)

Okay, I became obsessed with cooking about a year ago. I live in a small 1 bedroom apartment and am looking for a blender to make smoothies and shakes for my breakfast and after workouts. I also am looking for a food processor as I don't have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer or anything like that. I saw the Duet Blender/Food Processor by Cuisinart and thought, "Perfect! space saving and small enough for 1-2 people meals.

Being the thorough OCD-type when it comes to purchases, I started reading reviews. Unfortunately the poor Duet seems to get blasted everywhere they go. I've seen them in costco for a decent price, but the color I thought I wanted is cheap looking. There is an even cheaper white one at a local Chef Store.

Then Macy's had an Oster Fusion, Black & Decker version and another brand I forget. Then there are the Ninjas and the Bullets, but I am pretty sure I want to avoid plastic containers.

I am by no means a good cook (yet!), but I want to get something of decent quality that will serve my purposes as I gain experience and confidence.

I guess the other option is to buy a small mini food processor (Cuisinart has a cool one for $30) and then get a blender. How much space am I really saving with a combo unit since I have to store the other container while I'm using the other.

I can't be the only one in this situation. Please help me get over the hump and make a decision! I feel stuck in Amazon 2 Star Hell!

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  1. I have that Duet. It's serviceable as a blender and as a food processor, but it's not great as either one. I think it's an average food processor-- fine for the basic things I need to do-- but a crap blender. I've been able to do everything with the food processor that I've wanted to do, except it never seems big enough. I always seem to be cutting recipes in half, etc. For me, I only drag out the food processor if I want to process a lot. If it's not much, I just process it by hand, so, I'm realizing that, by definition, if I'm using the food processor, it's because I'm dealing in larger quantities. However, I don't think the Duet food processor is any worse than the average "mini" food processor; I think the frustrations with lack of capacity would be about the same. (Many years ago I had a mini-food processor and I recall always having to cut recipes in half, etc.)

    The blender on the other hand just doesn't blend stuff thoroughly. Motor not powerful enough. I find I often just settle for chunkier than I want, or I have to take it really slow and do stuff in smaller batches. Frustrating. I recently picked up an immersion ("stick") blender and it seems to be about as effective as the Duet blender, but a lot easier to use, clean, and store. I use mine for soups and smoothies.

    The Duet is not as space efficient as you think, because you still have to store all of the components and they don't store very tidily. What you're really saving space-wise, is one motor/base.

    On the other hand, I occasionally think about ditching it and getting a real blender and a larger food processor and I always conclude that I just don't have room for them. And so, I just deal with what I have.

    If you space is your primary constraint, then you'd probably be just as well off functionality-wise with a mini-food processor+immersion blender and have a small improvement in storage efficiency over the Duet.

    I hope this helps.

    ~TDQ

    1. I've got the cool $60 3-cup Handi-Prep Cuisinart (this model is tried and true, first offered by Cuisinart in the mid-80's) and a 60's model Oster "beehive" blender for my small Brooklyn kitchen and it's a perfect fit. The food processor is great for two-three people, has a chute attachment for continuous shredding/slicing and a very small footprint, aprox. 9.8 x 6.7. It's a bit more versatile and "expandable" than the model I think you're referring to (the Mini-Prep, 8 x 5.) The blender is seated on top of my frig.

      In lieu of a blender, an immersion blender is a great way to go for limited spaces. I find that just about everything you want to do with a conventional blender, you can do with a food processor and an immersion blender. Don't ask me why I don't own the immersion. It's high on my "acquire" list for 2010.

      1. I have a combo blender - food processor (a shared base) too. It's called Osterizer (my mom got it for me as a gift a few years ago so I don't know if it's even made anymore). It's got good qualities and a couple of shortcomings.

        The blender is fantastic. It's a great blender and quite powerful. And it's glass, which I prefer (after too many cracked plastic ones when trying to do soup - ouch!). I usually leave the blender on the base as that seems to be the most efficient use of space on the shelf.

        The food processor part is good -- for what it is. Like TDQ above, I find it to be small, so it doesn't work for, e.g., dough unless you halve the recipe. But it's terrific for hummus, pesto and any other smaller-ish batches of things you might do. The top doesn't have a chute but it does have a sort of pouring hole that works fine for adding olive oil, etc. I get a lot of use out of it and it's small so that separate piece is easy to store. My one big complaint about it is that it's plastic. Why the blender is glass and this isn't, I have no idea.

        1. Another option would be an immersion blender. The immersion part should handle your smoothies need, though maybe not in the same way as a conventional blender. Many come with attachments such as a food chopper (in effect a mini food processor), and a wisk.

          Braun has a multimix, which is a hand held mixer with immersion blender attachment and chopper attachment.

          1. Thank you all so much. This is great stuff. I will let you know what I decide to do. I hadn't considered an immersion blender. I guess I would still need a big pitcher to have something to stick the immersion blender into, eh? And does it chop ice? I really haven't looked into them enough, but now I'll get out the old google research tool and do some digging. Thanks again, I'm so glad I found this site!

            2 Replies
            1. re: madhockey

              Many immersion blenders have an ice chopping attachment, yes. You'll want to confirm that for the particular one you buy.

              And, no, you don't need any kind of special vessel for the immersion blender (although, many come with one). That's the beauty of the immersion blender because you, well, IMMERSE it into whatever vessel in which the food you want to blend resides. So, if you're making soup, you can put your immersion blender (which is basically a protected blending blade at the end of a long stick) right in the soup pot and blend away.

              You can make smoothies and shakes right in the glass (assuming your glass is wide enough for the tool to fit--if your glass is tapered so that it's very narrow near the bottom, sometimes, the tool won't fit). Some immersion blenders come with a cup about the size and shape of a wide drinking glass, which is nice to have, too, just because you know the tool will fit and it is a little easier to blend small amounts at once...

              You can do a search on this cookware board for immersion blenders if you want more feedback on brands, etc.

              Good luck!

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I have a Williams Sonoma immersion blender and it came with a plastic cup perfect for smoothies. I heartily recommend this option.

            2. Good luck staying plastic free. I think you'll find an immersion blender challenging for drinks, very small items.
              I recently bought a Ninja Prep and am pretty impressed with it. They claim it's BHA (or is it P?) free. Have a Cuisinart blender that replaced a 25 y.o. Waring, and an ancient processor, and they're both basically useless. Do a lot of cooking, have good knife skills and lots of great hand tools, and keep trying to remember to see what the Ninja can do. The really frustrating blender stuff, smoothies made from all frozen fruit and hummas, the NP makes easy work of in seconds.
              Bought mine @ Bed Bath @ Beyond with a 20% coupon--$42 with tax. Cleans and stores easily.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mjoyous

                mjoyous - just curious: how's the ninja doing after a couple of years? is it still alive? I'm trying to get an option for my college kid who drinks frozen fruit smoothies, and makes pesto sauce and hummus.. or rather, would like to! please let us know how well your ninja is doing after all this time..

              2. I also have a small (8" x 8" with huge fridge taking up a lot of space) kitchen and feel your pain. I long for a blender but have nowhere to put one. I use my food processor for "blending," though it falls short. My choice of food processor over blender was my need for shredding. Say what you will about doing it "all by hand," but when it comes to shredding things like zucchini, a food processor doesn't render a juicy lump of shred-like vegetables, rather it shreds beautifully. I had a spendy French mandoline but out of the box it just wasn't sharp enough and was dangerous.

                I also use a stick blender for soups.

                When Summer rolls around I make do with on the rocks but I crave a slushy Margarita. Maybe it's time to upgrade my stick blender.

                Edit - Just realized it's an old thread. Never mind.