Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Dec 17, 2011 11:12 AM

What can a food processor do that a mortar and pestle, Kitchenaid Professional stand mixer, Shun mandoline, and Vitamix Professional blender cant do?

I was about to get a food processor when I realized it might be a waste of counter space. I normally like to do chopping with a regular knife to practice my knife skills. If not I use a mandoline. The mixer is great for everything baking related. The mortar and pestle is great for a more authentic pesto. Im just left to wonder why I would need a food processor.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You say "Im just left to wonder why I would need a food processor". You do not need a food processor if ALL of your food prep needs are met by the arsenal of tools you have mentioned. You may be having a slight bout of the "I want" rather than I need. The food processor is a great labor saving device for many people.

    There is a great, out of print food processor book titled 'ABBY MANDEL'S CUISINART CLASSROOM' that can be found in used bookstores and ebay, quite reasonably priced. Abby Mandel was a food columnist for Bon Appetit magazine. Her book can be used for all brands of food processors; just adjust recipes for the size of the processor. If you can get this book, inexpensively, read thru it, then you can decide if a food processor would help you.

    Me personally? The more tools the better whether it be the kitchen, workshop, or garage. They all have a purpose; some just get used more than others.

    Good luck.

    4 Replies
    1. re: dcrb

      the thing is im a college student so im still exploring cooking. Yes, all of my food prep needs are met AT THE MOMENT but since im constantly adding new foods to my repertoire im just wondering if a food processor would eventually be needed. With my little experience I do not know what I will eventually need. Are there recipes where a food processor would be needed? I know I do not need a food processor but I really dont want to limit myself to recipes that dont need one. For example, I didn't always have a mixer and back then found no need for one as all my prep needs BACK THEN were already met. But then came meringue made of 12 egg whites for a cake i was making and I found my self laboriously whisking at egg whites until stiff in front of the tv which at my first time took the whole duration of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Did i need meringue? No. One can survive their life without it. I could have made something else that did not require a mixer. Im not the kind of person who likes to be limited. So are things that a food processor can do that all of these other pieces of equipment cant.

      1. re: little_monster

        You are a college student and you have a Shun mandoline and KitchenAid stand mixer? :) You are lucky. I don't think my entire college kitchen accessories and cookware worth one single KitchenAid stand mixer.

        1. re: little_monster

          Just read thru all the replies. Being a college student you know that research pays off. Here is a ling covering the contents of the book I mentioned earlier. Maybe some of the topics mentioned will pique you interest and help you decide.

      2. Speed and volume. A food processor can handle a much greater volume of food in a short amount of time. It makes little sense to use a food processor to chop up a potato because you will spend more time cleaning it than using it. However, if you are going to prepare a meal for 10+ people with 5 bags of potatoes....etc. So, it is all a balancing act.

        I have not had the need to use a full food processor. I have a mini 2-cup food processor just for grinding and chopping nuts (walnuts, almond...etc).

          1. Well, I'm not sure we really NEED any of these things, but I have and use them all. Sure, I could whip cream or egg whites by hand with a whisk, but I never do. I use my gadgets and love them.

            I use my Food Pro for large repetitive tasks that I otherwise wouldn't likely do if I had to do them by hand. My most frequent uses are for bashing up aromatics to a very fine state. Just turn the beast on and drop in forty or fifty cloves of garlic or a dozen or two shallots, and they spin around until they are finely minced and stick to the sides of the work bowl. Then I can drop in a few quartered onions and chunks of carrot and celery, and a few pulses later all is ready for the pan. Cleanup is just a quick rinse.

            I also use for making breadcrumbs, and for shredding cabbage finely and evenly, slicing potatoes paper thin without risking my hands on a mandoline, and I never bake a cake without it -- it mixes more thoroughly and quickly than a mixer. Well, quicker anyway. I think it's also a lifesaver for pasta dough.

            So yeah, you could do all this with the stuff you already have, but I like my processor for much of this stuff.

            4 Replies
            1. re: acgold7

              theres one gadget i really want and i dont think improvisation is possible. im asking santa for an immersion circulator and a chamber vacuum sealer. just getting ambitious and want to try out sous vide cooking and molecular gastronomy. I prefer the stand mixer over a food processor for baking because of variable speeds. Overmixing a cake just toughens it up and i think the extra time it takes to make a cake with a stand mixer is worth it. Only time i can see myself using a food processor for baking is for biscuits and pie crust.

              1. re: little_monster

                You don't need a food processor to make biscuits or pie crust. Doing it by hand, or using a stand mixer works fine. The only things I really use my food processor for are grinding nuts, oreos/graham crackers and other small items like that and pureeing roasted vegetables or soups (at least that I can think of off hand). For the latter, I'd rather use an immersion blender. If I had to choose between a food processor and immersion blender, I'd go w/ the immersion blender.

                1. re: chowser

                  im aware of that. I use a pastry blender but im just saying i would use a food processer if i did have one.I only have an ancient Betty Crocker mini food processer thats older than me atm. SUCKS!

              2. You definitely don't *need* a food processor, but as others have said it's great for chopping and slicing in large volumes. Also useful for small quantities of the kinds of things you could do in the stand mixer, but which get frustratingly stuck at the bottom of the bowl. The only thing I can think of that you can't do with the tools you've mentioned is anything involving grating: carrot cake, potato latkes, etc. You can certainly make these things with a hand grater (I have done so many times), but it's infinitely easier and faster with a food processor.

                If the parents who have contributed to your current arsenal are interested in adopting a 33 year old, please let me know.