No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

By Grace Elkus
Updated July 31, 2017
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Universal Pesto Recipe
Credit: Greg DuPree

In a recent all-staff meeting, our digital director posed the food team a question: do you really need a food processor and a blender? She had successfully made pesto in her blender, and was ready to say sayonara to her dusty, oft-forgotten food processor.

But we quickly interjected. If she, or any other home cook, was to choose between one or the other, all of us food editors would say ditch the blender for sure. Here’s why:

For starters, the process of buying a blender is intimidating, even for experts. Do you really need a Vitamix, or is a standard KitchenAid okay? Maybe you just need a single-serve, but is that big enough for soup? Once you do bite the bullet, the decision-making continues. Most blenders have way too many buttons, leaving you wondering whether ice crush, blend, or liquefy is better suited for your needs.

On the flip side, the process of buying and using a food processor is much simpler. Opt for an 11 or 14-cup bowl, which are both plenty large, but not so big that they're a pain to store—we like this Cuisinart one. (Though they’re cute, the minis can’t perform the same variety of tasks, defeating the purpose of such a versatile machine). When you’re ready to roll, the two processing options are simple: pulse, or let 'er rip.

Though the machine comes with accessories, 90 percent of the time you’ll just need the standard metal blade. Add flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and you’ll have pie dough in seconds. Add a few cups of peanuts, let it run and you’ll have totally hands-off homemade peanut butter in minutes. Make your own energy bars. Puree steamed veggies for baby food. Try your hand at creamy hummus or whipped feta dip. Make the smoothest, fluffiest soft serve, or refreshing Italian ice. It can even handle thick soups, like butternut or potato.

I can’t remember the last time I used my blender for something other than a smoothie. But I can’t even begin to list everything I’ve used my food processor for. The additional blades reduce prep time even more: they can thinly slice veggies, grate them for a slaw, or dice them into uniform pieces. Grate cheese without wearing out your arm or grind hamburger meat in seconds. Plus, the whole thing is easy to clean.

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If you're someone who drinks smoothies every day, keep your blender. But if you're deciding between one or the other, I highly recommend the food processor. When the holidays roll around and you're in charge of a dip, a shredded Brussels sprouts side, and gingerbread men for dessert, you can take a deep breath knowing you have the one tool that can do it all.