Should I Get a Blender, a Food Processor, or a Mixer?

Whether you put dinner on the table every night or a holiday only type of cooking, you can use a good blender, immersion blender, food processor, stand mixer or hand mixer. These devices can make food preparation faster, expand the range of recipes, you can solve the problem, and dramatically improve the quality of cooking and baking your cake.

Last Updated: October 7, 2016

 We’ve added a chart showing the tasks in which countertop blenders, immersion blenders, food processors, and mixers excel, so you can easily determine which appliance you’ll use the most.

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But which one do you need? Here is a summary to help you decide what kind you will get the most use from. We discuss these tasks grind, food processing, and are great mixers in which tasks they’re not good at, and what you should definitely avoid.

Comparison Chart

Blender: desk, soak blender, food processors, mixers and excel in some prepared foods and recipes, but also overlap in what they can do. This chart shows what you can do with each device.

Type

High-performance blender

Standard blender

Immersion blender

Food processor

Stand mixer

Purees BEST * * *
Smoothies and frozen drinks BEST * Single serving
Mayo and dips * * * *
Nut butters *
Chopped vegetables * With attachment BEST
Bread crumbs * BEST
Bread and cookie doughs * Some recipes BEST
Pie-crust dough BEST *
Cake batter * Some recipes BEST

Countertop blender

Blenders are the best tool for liquefying ingredients (think smoothies, pureed soups, and slushy cocktails). Our favorite, the Oster Versa, is considered a high-performance blender. Photo: Michael Hession
Blenders are the best tool for liquefying ingredients (think smoothies, pureed soups, and slushy cocktails). Our favorite, the Oster Versa, is considered a high-performance blender. Photo: Michael Hession

Countertop or vertical grinder is great for making Purees, quick sauce, and emulsifications (such as mayonnaise and vinegar), and they excel in smoothies. In fact, a blender is the only device that will whip fiber fruits and vegetables in a velvety smooth texture. The jar is narrow and usually angled at the base, creating a vicious cycle that helps the ingredients pass through the rotor often than a food processor (which does a better job of chopping). Upright blender is better for multitasking than immersion blender, because you can just run and walk; Conversely, you must keep an immersion blender.

Grinders are divided into two categories: “regular” blender means frequent use and high performance mixers strong but flexible, durable, and inexpensive. The kind you should buy depends on what (and how often) you plan to blend.


The best high-performance blender for most people – Oster Versa

The best high-performance blender for most people - Oster Versa
The best high-performance blender for most people – Oster Versa

The Versa offers the best balance between performance and price that we’ve found, and it also has the most useful combination of variable and preset speeds. It performs as well as blenders that cost twice as much.capture


For occasional blending – KitchenAid KSB1570ER 5-Speed Blender
For occasional blending - KitchenAid KSB1570ER 5-Speed Blender
For occasional blending – KitchenAid KSB1570ER 5-Speed Blender
While the KitchenAid 5-Speed isn’t as powerful as the Oster Versa, it can churn out a great emulsification and decent (but chunkier) smoothies.
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The Versa offers the best balance between performance and price that we’ve found, and it also has the most useful combination of variable and preset speeds. It performs as well as blenders that cost twice as much.
Get this if: You want to puree soup and smoothies, blend frozen cocktails, or emulsify mayo. High-performance blenders will also grind nut butters.
Don’t use it for: Mashing potatoes, chopping vegetables, or grinding bread crumbs.
Which type to get: If you don’t mind some chunks in your purees and margaritas, get astandard blender. Buy a high-performance blender if you’re a texture freak (you want satiny-smooth purees and smoothies).
Space hog? A standard blender is about 15½ inches tall, with a 7-by-8½-inch footprint; a high-performance blender runs about 18 inches tall, with an 8-by-9-inch footprint.

Immersion blender

An immersion blender can do some of the same tasks as a full-size blender or food processor and is much smaller, lighter, and easier to store (even with attachments). Photo: Michael Hession
An immersion blender can do some of the same tasks as a full-size blender or food processor and is much smaller, lighter, and easier to store (even with attachments). Photo: Michael Hession

Small batches of recipes like smoothies or pesto and puree soup-and, according to our experience, is the biggest reason to buy an immersion blender. Like a bar blender, an immersion blender to liquefy ingredients for smoothies, Purees, and emulsifications (although it will not be as fast or as fine-handling). Its small size will also create a best equipment for small households without the possibility of a blender full size.


Best immersion blender – Breville BSB510XL Control Grip Immersion Blender
Best immersion blender - Breville BSB510XL Control Grip Immersion Blender
Best immersion blender – Breville BSB510XL Control Grip Immersion Blender
Its overall ease of use and ability to create silky-smooth purees make this immersion blender worth its steep price.
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Budget pick – Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick Immersion Blender
Budget pick - Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick Immersion Blender
Budget pick – Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick Immersion Blender
Get this model over our main pick only if you don’t think you’ll use it often. It offers less power and feels cheaper overall, but it outperforms its price.
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Get this if: You want to puree soup in the pot, make single or double smoothie servings, process small batches of baby food or pesto (with a mini chopper), or whip cream (with the attachment).
Don’t use it for: Making especially smooth smoothies (or big batches of smoothies) or purees. In addition, although you can mash potatoes with an immersion blender, they come out gluey.
Which type to get: If you want smoother textures and will use your appliance often, spring for a higher-end immersion blender. If you’re fine with some chunks and will use it infrequently, you’ll be fine with a budget model.
Space hog? Our favorite measures 9 by 3 inches and fits in a drawer.

Food processor

Food processors excel at chopping, grating, and shredding. If you need only to mince the occasional onion or make a quick batch of vinaigrette, consider a mini chopper instead. Photo: Michael Hession
Food processors excel at chopping, grating, and shredding. If you need only to mince the occasional onion or make a quick batch of vinaigrette, consider a mini chopper instead. Photo: Michael Hession

Meanwhile, immersion blender and liquefy, a food processor meat, slices, and blisters. With the right attachments, even it will mix and knead the dough. It is the only small device can make quick work of pie dough; pulse just a few cold cuts butter melt powder for minimum and maximum flakiness. With a little effort, you can also grind wet ingredients (such as tomato sauce), but contains no donut shaped liquid handling as well as a jar of a blender is not. Although most people use the food processor to prepare vegetables, this device is also your best friend to quickly mesh cheese, pepperoni pizza cutting, or grinding fresh breadcrumbs.


The best food processor – Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor
The best food processor - Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor
The best food processor – Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor

With just pulse and on buttons plus a single bowl, this is one of Cuisinart’s most basic models, but it consistently chops, slices, and kneads better than any other food processor we’ve found for under $150.

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A mini option – Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus
A mini option - Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus
A mini option – Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus
Although it’s too small for making bread dough or coleslaw, this 3-cup processor is the ideal size for chopping one onion or making small batches of mayo or vinaigrette.
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Get this if: You’d like to make rough-chopped salsas, blend hummus, grate cheese, slice veggies for coleslaw, make pie and pizza doughs, or grind bread crumbs. In a pinch it will puree soups and sauces. (But if you use it for that job, expect a mess.)
Don’t use it for: Making margaritas or blending smoothies. (Mini processors also won’t make dough.)
Which type to get: Go for a full-size food processor if you prep for large crowds and make a lot of pie or pizza dough. Get a mini food processor if you’ll regularly make small batches of chopped foods, dips, or vinaigrette (or if you have a smaller kitchen).
Space hog? A full-size processor measures about 15½ inches tall, with a 8-by-9-inch base. A mini processor measures around 9½ inches tall, with a 7-by-5-inch base.

Mixer

Food processors excel at chopping, grating, and shredding. If you need only to mince the occasional onion or make a quick batch of vinaigrette, consider a mini chopper instead. Photo: Michael Hession
Food processors excel at chopping, grating, and shredding. If you need only to mince the occasional onion or make a quick batch of vinaigrette, consider a mini chopper instead. Photo: Michael Hession

If you do a lot of baking, you might want either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Serious or regular cake should go for a stand mixer, which will easily mix moist cake batters and cookie and cake large batch of dough, whip egg whites for meringue, and make quick work of whipping cream. With the right attachments, even a stand mixer will roll flour, ground meat, or stirring the cream.

If you are limited on space, or if you do not regularly grilled, hand mixers will easily whip egg whites to stiff peaks for cakes or souffles, cream sugar and butter cookie dough, and quickly whip cream. Some models come with attachments to mashed potatoes and bread dough.

“A good one will easily mix moist cake batters and cookie and cake large batch of dough.”


The best stand mixer – KitchenAid Artisan
The best stand mixer - KitchenAid Artisan
The best stand mixer – KitchenAid Artisan
This 5-quart stand mixer tackles nearly any recipe without knocking around on the counter, and it’s one of the quietest models in the KitchenAid line.
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For occasional bakers and tiny kitchens – Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer
For occasional bakers and tiny kitchens - Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer
For occasional bakers and tiny kitchens – Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Handheld Mixer
If a stand mixer seems like more than you need (and less counter space than you have), this Cuisinart is a still-powerful but smaller alternative.
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Get this if: You want to regularly mix batters and frostings, make pie dough, knead bread dough, whip cream and eggs, and mash potatoes.
Don’t use it for: Pureeing or chopping anything.
Which type to get: Heavy bakers with counter space should get a stand mixer. If you just want to make the occasional batter, cream butter and sugar, or whip eggs, go for a hand mixer.
Space hog? Stand mixers are big—our pick is 14 inches tall and 14 by 8⅔ inches at the base—and weigh around 22 pounds. Most hand mixers are small—about 8½ by 4 by 9 inches—and roughly 9 pounds.

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