Food Processors: Heaven or Hell?
November 27, 2011 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Help restore harmony to our home. Do we need a food processor? Do we want a food processor? (more inside)

We cook almost every meal at home. We have a freezer and enjoy making large batches of foods and freezing them for those "take out" nights. We have good knives and chop things with them. We have a blender that we use occasionally. What other things would we find ourselves doing if we had a food processor? Would we be delighted at how easy it is to chop things? Would we curse the time spent cleaning it? Usually our household runs on consensus, but somehow "buy a cheap one and see what we think" seems not to be a good answer in this case.

So .... food processor, yes or no? I'm interested in your specific opinion about your food processor (or your ex-f.p.). What features do you find imperative? How expensive do we have to go?

(Last time I asked a kitchen question I wanted to know how to find a tea kettle with a gentle sound. So many people were so persuasive I bought an electric kettle instead -- and I can seriously imagine snatching it if the house caught fire. So I'm looking forward to being Guided again!)
posted by kestralwing to Home & Garden (55 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I don't cook at all but my mom does. Every year when her basil gets big she chops it all down and makes huge batches of pesto, which she then freezes and uses all year. This alone seems worth the price.
posted by troublesome at 5:10 PM on November 27, 2011

We have a food processor. I used the blender most often. Then I got a hand blender and the food processor mostly collects dust. HOWEVER, it is very very handy at Christmas. We make candy and bake massive amounts of dough and need to chop tons of nuts and grate a zillion carrots and it is damn efficient for large-scale cooking.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:11 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

We cook a lot and I think we use the food processor for making pesto and pie crust. Occasionally for pureeing stuff or grating a buttload of cheese or carrots. On the list of must-haves for the kitchen I'd put it somewhere behind a stand mixer and electric kettle and somewhere ahead of a deep fryer and a juicer.

Cleaning is usually no more than a quick rinse in the sink, unless you've done something like mozzarella cheese, in which case it's a pain in the ass.

We have a low end Cuisinart. It has a couple blades and a pulse setting. That's about all you need. I'd recommend it, though again its the sort of appliance that has limited use but when it is needed it's nice to have.
posted by bondcliff at 5:12 PM on November 27, 2011

Yes, especially because you're cooks. I am too. There are a lot of things you can make for which a knife gives you too coarse a result, but a blender gives you too fine a result. Among the things I make in my food processor are black bean and white bean dip, hummus, and pesto. I also use it for grinding things - I make homemade bread crumbs by saving bread scraps in the freezer, then toasting them until crisp and using the food processor to grind them into coarse breadcrumbs, and just this Thanksgiving I used it to grind gingersnaps into a powder to make a pie crust.

So, yes, you would enjoy having one and would find uses for it. It is also absolutely terrific for a fast regular pie crust, which is my standard method since discovering Gourmet Magazine's fail-safe, always-excellent version.
posted by Miko at 5:13 PM on November 27, 2011 [14 favorites]

If you don't want the bulk of a big machine, you can get a Cuisinart Mini-Prep which is what I have, and really I haven't been too frustrated at not having a bigger one. It does all of the above and is very compact and non-fussy.
posted by Miko at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I love my Cuisinart. It's my grandmother's from probably 1980 or so but I use it a couple times a week. The really awesome thing that I love it for is making pie crust and other pastries. Pesto, hummus, and other spread-type stuff too.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2011

Yes. Yes you want a food processor.

There are many wonderful things which are much easier to make in a food processor than either in a blender or by hand. Such as:

- pesto (I own a food processor almost solely for this reason)
- hummus (you will never buy store-bought hummus again)
- batter/mix for fish cakes, if you're into that sort of thing
- pie crust
- fresh salsa

While I'm here, here's my arugula pesto recipe. It contains neither pine nuts nor basil. As a result it's pretty damn cheap and very, very spicy.

4 cups arugula (baby or mature) leaves, loosely packed
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup grated or ground parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
olive oil (not extra virgin)

yield: 2 cups

Peel garlic cloves and pulse in food processor until coarsely chopped. Add walnuts and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add parmesan cheese and salt and process until a thick paste forms. Add olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons at a time (don't measure, just eyeball it) and pulse until the mix has the consistency of peanut butter.

Add arugula one handful at at time, processing after each handful until no whole leaves remain.
At this stage you can serve immediately or add water by the teaspoon to thin it out. My mother uses the water from the boiling pasta to thin it out.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2011 [13 favorites]

I've had a Cuisinart 11-cup food processor for almost 20 years. I need to replace the bowl soon as mine is starting to crack, but the motor is still rock-solid. I have had and gotten rid of a smaller one in the intervening time and wouldn't bother with a smaller or weaker one.

I use mine for bulk grating and slicing more than anything - massive amounts of zucchini for zucchini bread and for freezing in 1-cup portions for later zucchini bread, cheese, onions for big recipes. I also use it to make hummus and other bean spreads, boursin for spreads and dips, and I have made mayonnaise in it more successfully than by any other mechanical means.

I am glad I have it and would replace it with the same thing if this one broke.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:16 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

We use a smaller-size food processor maybe once a month, mostly for grating cheese but also for chopping vegetables and blending things. It's definitely a godsend around Christmas.

Cleaning doesn't seem to be any harder than cleaning our cheese grater, which I hate to do.
posted by muddgirl at 5:18 PM on November 27, 2011

You could also check on Freecycle for one of these, because non-cooks tend to get them as wedding presents and the like and you could find a really good one for free.
posted by Miko at 5:19 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pesto, salsa, onion soup, potatoes au gratin, coleslaw, grated cheese (in quantity), all benefit from the food processor. It's so fast that sometimes I think I won't bother with it, then I start chopping and get it out.
posted by theora55 at 5:20 PM on November 27, 2011

I used to have a Braun food processor, but found that it usually took longer to clean it than it did to just chop stuff with my chef's knife. I use a blender for pureeing stuff, the knife for chopping.

But as others have mentioned, if I were doing large quantities the additional clean-up time may pay off. I'm usually just cooking for two.
posted by straw at 5:20 PM on November 27, 2011

I bought a Cuisinart food processor at a garage sale last summer. It's one of those old-looking, ridiculously heavy models. I paid $10, though I think it retails for $250+. I use it to make hummus, pesto, and other dip-like things. It's also useful for chopping nuts, which isn't much fun to do with a knife, even if you've got good knife skills.
posted by smorange at 5:22 PM on November 27, 2011

Ok, so here's what I use a food processor for:
  • Purees
  • Almond/nut flour
  • Pesto
I have a stick blender for soups and a stand mixer for other things. I do love, it though.
posted by SNWidget at 5:22 PM on November 27, 2011

Although we've had a regular blender, wand-type immersion blender, and good knives in my household for a long time, my wife (who's a good cook) had vaguely wanted a food processor, and finally broke down and got one when she started seeing recipes in America's Best Recipes that really require it (mostly as a timing thing—it requires you to make Thing A and then make Thing B in a food processor quickly enough that Thing A doesn't congeal or delaminate or whatever).

Since then, we've used it mostly for pie crust and pesto, like others upthread. I find it's kind of a pain to get really clean, but I get to eat pie for the bargain, so I don't complain much.
posted by adamrice at 5:25 PM on November 27, 2011

A thousand times yes. A food processor is the single best time-saving device for cooks ever invented. I am deeply resentful of all the other needlessly redundant space-hogging kitchen gizmos my partner has loaded us down with, up to and including the microwave, stand mixer, and blender, but I adore the Cuisinart. I would probably marry the Cuisinart, if it would have me.

Things I use it for:
- Grating and fine-slicing cheese and vegetables. This alone is an enormous quality of life improvement over hand-grating, and if that was all the food processor did, I would consider it well worth the investment of money, which is really small given how long these suckers last for.
- Chopping the enormous batches of onions, carrots, and celery required to make even small amounts of caramelized onions and mirepoix, which are really useful to have around and can improve the level of your food dramatically. Garlic, too.
- Pureeing anything at all. For me, this opened up an enormous array of cooking options, because I just can't bring myself to do it by hand. This, in turn, has made even simple dishes like plain chicken breasts so much better, because of all the sauces and leafless salads I make.
- As everyone has said, pie crust and other doughs.
- Meat or cheese based fillings, for stuffed vegetables, including making my own loose sausage.

The general "gourmetness level" of food I'm able to make in the amount of time I'm willing devote to cooking has gone way up since the addition of the food processor.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

This 13 cup outside adjustable blade food processor is the one I lust after.

So, yes. You need one. Even if it's only so that I can live vicariously through you.
posted by bilabial at 5:30 PM on November 27, 2011

Nthing the ancient Cuisinart. My husband loves chicken taco meat, and--for years--asked me to hand-shred it. One day I got fed up and got out the Cuisinart. Five minutes later, we had a pile of shredded chicken that was perfect for its purpose.

Copious quantities of hummus? Red pepper sauce? Potato and leek soup base? Yes, yes and yes. In our house, it's a purpose-built tool--there are certain jobs for which it is the best and most efficient gadget to use, even if it's not constantly *in* use. I am able to put all of the loose bits in the dishwasher, which is a big help (but then, I hate doing dishes), and they come out fine as long as I run a load of dishes right away and stuff isn't allowed to get dry and crusty on the bits.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:32 PM on November 27, 2011

We have a full sized Cuisinart, a Cuisinart Mini-Prep, and a Magic Bullet. If I could only keep one, it would be the Mini-Prep. It's really simple to clean, and it also fits really well in the dishwasher.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:37 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a blender and a food processor and a mixer. All professional grade. Not sure if it is necessary, but I must say, it made a difference when cooking large meals (like during the holidays.)

I found that I can make hummus (HOT) because I have a food processor! Also, it is a lot easier to grate cheese. Boy is that great when I make quiche and lasagne and baked ziti. I think my elbow thanks me for it. It will make cutting onions a lot easier too. I cry like someone killed my puppy when I cut onions. Pesto was much easier and I can go on and on but it would just bore you or make you hungry.

If you want to try cheap first, they make attachments for your blender that is food processor like but it isn't big and you may end up doing things in batches, but you can try it out that way. I had used that attachment for many years. There were times when I thought I broke it, and it was fine so it is pretty sturdy.

Go for it! What's the worst that can happen? You find yourself cooking more?
posted by Yellow at 5:38 PM on November 27, 2011

I rarely use mine, but when I do, it's indispensable. This homemade bouillon recipe alone is worth the price of the food processor.
posted by judith at 5:39 PM on November 27, 2011 [5 favorites]

I have also used mine to make large quantities of mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion) in advance to keep in the freezer in "recipe-ready" portions.

(This thread is getting bookmarked as I was just thinking about how I wasn't sure if I used my food processor enough to justify it, but there are a lot of great ideas I hadn't thought of! Thanks!)
posted by stefnet at 5:54 PM on November 27, 2011

I'm not a crazy cook, but I find my food processor invaluable for doing stuff like mixing ingredients for meatballs, making breadcrumbs, and making hummus. In comparison, I only use my blender for making smoothies, and I only use my hand blender for blending soups. I haven't found ours to be particularly hard to clean at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:56 PM on November 27, 2011

Yes, get one. If you are hesitant to spend a lot at first, go to Goodwill. I got my first food processor (an ancient GE) at at Goodwill for about $15 and it worked beautifully. The only reason I don't have it any more is that I got a KitchenAid food processor (recommended by Cooks Illustrated) as a wedding present. The only thing better about it is that I have all the attachments, like the slicer, that were missing from the old one.

I use mine for pastry dough, hummus, pesto, breadcrumbs, salsa, large batches of marinara sauce (though I usually use the stick blender for that), some soups, pimento cheese, chopping large amounts of vegetables for stews and other slow-cooker recipes, and -- as I did tonight -- yummy fillings for pasta (tonight's was spinach and ricotta). I've also made bread dough in it. I've had this one for nearly eight years and have never had any problems with it and if it broke, I'd replace it in a heartbeat (though I'd be OK replacing it with a used model from Goodwill, of course).
posted by devinemissk at 6:12 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a stick blender + mandolin + blender blender, there are three things I find a food processor is good for that the other three don't cover as well:

1. Dips.
2. Shortcrust pastries
3. Breadcrumbs and the like.

Depending on the size of your kitchen etc it may be worth it, if you make a lot of these things. For me, the handiest is probably for pastry, believe it or not. It's sooooooooo much easier than rubbing in the butter with your fingers. Dips can be achieved with a stick blender, it just takes longer.

Not, many stick blenders come with a mini food processor attachment; this is also pretty good.
posted by smoke at 6:19 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've a food processor I use rarely (basically for making carrot cake, or if I'm doing a lot of shredding/grating of vegies). This is largely because I'm only cooking for two, and cleaning it up is a bit of a pain in the whatsit.

However, what I use a heck of a lot more is the food-processor-like bowl attachment for my stick blender - perfect size to whip up a pie crust, or blitz things (particularly nuts) etc etc, and takes seconds to rinse clean afterwards. Mine is a basic Sunbeam jobbie that can't do the grating/shredding, but I saw this Braun one the other day, with a fancier bowl that looks like it could.

If you've not got a stick blender already, I'd definitely recommend one - particularly if you're into soups and/or smoothies. I find it easier and quicker to use than a dedicated blender.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:21 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

For me, the real question is do you have some storage space? I find that I use the food processor very infrequently, but it is wonderful those few times a year. If I had a small kitchen and it was taking up valuable cupboard space, I would resent it and probably get rid of it. But being able to drag it out for occasional use is great, and I love having it in the kitchen.
posted by Forktine at 6:21 PM on November 27, 2011

For me, the handiest is probably for pastry, believe it or not. It's sooooooooo much easier than rubbing in the butter with your fingers.

This. Ideally, you don't want to touch the butter for pastry at all, cos you want to keep it as cold as possible. For really good pastry, you need either a hand pastry blender thingy, or a machine.

And sour cream.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:23 PM on November 27, 2011

I bought a Cuisinart at an estate sale and can't imagine not having one now.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:28 PM on November 27, 2011

I've had my 11-cup cuisinart for thirteen years. I replaced the main blade, but I use it constantly. Yes, you want a food processor.
posted by KathrynT at 6:31 PM on November 27, 2011

My mom gave me an 11-cup Cuisinart a few years ago, never got to use it, and I actually just rescued it from her place tonight. I set it up as soon as I got home and made up a raw cranberry, orange, apple, and ginger salsa. My lovely friends served the same thing at Thanksgiving dinner (made in their own food processor) and it was outrageous, and so easy. My personal belief is that sauce, in whatever chop, is the key to all delicious meals. Enter the Cuisinart, to assist in realizing the ultimate vision. I did not find it at all hard to clean, but I don't have a dishwasher and am used to big, crazy dishwashing sessions. But truly, it took a lot less time than other things.

Storage is going to be an issue, as someone pointed out upthread. I have the worst kitchen ever, no good storage space at all, thanks for noticing. I have no idea where I am going to put that behemoth.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:32 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

For years and years, I was convinced that anything a food processor could do, I could do better. I mean, I have nice knives! I have a food mill! I can do anything it can do, and I can do it in a blackout!

Then my in-laws gave me a blender/food processor hybrid for Christmas one year. The blender part was meh, but the food processor part was a revelation. Shredded cheese, hummus, pesto, biscuits, shortbread...

Then after one particularly epic batch of hummus (something like five pounds of the stuff made for my sister's wedding reception), my food processor kicked it. My sister made it up to me by giving me a new, full-size one for my birthday, and I love it even more than I loved the last one.

Everything said upthread about doughs and dips is seconded. (This processor, btw, handles a two-pound batch of hummus without so much as hesitating.)

I also use mine for cookie dough, bread dough, shredding veggies for slaws, shredding potatoes for latkes (no more grating on the box grater! No more skinned knuckles!), roughly chopping various meats, slicing the onions for massive batches of caramelized onions and french onion soup, shredding broccoli stalks for broccoli soup, shredding carrots for carrot cake and carrot slaw...

I probably don't use it more than once a week, but it's cut often-overwhelming prep down to almost nothing. Also, because of that, it's made it easier for me to do things like batch cook, because it's no longer the massive time commitment that if could be otherwise. I'd ditch my blender and quite possibly my stand mixer before I ditched my food processor.
posted by MeghanC at 6:34 PM on November 27, 2011

Before I read all the answers here, I thought the real test was whether we would replace ours if it broke. I would, and it seems as if everyone else here would, too. I only use mine about once a month, but I would buy another one immediately if mine broke.
posted by raisingsand at 6:46 PM on November 27, 2011

I don't have much new insight, but I'd recommend a full-sized food processor. If I could do it over again I would have gotten a decent quality full-sized food processor. I found a good deal on it and cash was tight at the time, so I bought a cuisinart combined machine with a full-sized blender and a small food-processor attachment (an older version of this). The blender works fine but I have gotten almost no use out of the food processor attachment because it is too small (only 3 cups) to really do anything with, except chop a handful of nuts, which I'd rather just do by hand.

However, when I lived with roommates one of them had a full size (maybe this 9 cup one) Cuisinart that I probably used once a week for shredding veggies, cheeses, making hummus and salsas as mentioned above, so if you think you're interested in pursuing a food processor, just go for the bigger one.
posted by moshimosh at 6:50 PM on November 27, 2011

A big one is my list to buy - mainly because I want to make this Jamie Oliver salad but also as I cook more and more it would be nice to have short cuts for cutting onions, crushing biscuits for bases, etc.

At the moment I have to make do with the mini attachment on my stick blender. It still does a good job but isn't as powerful as I would like. Nor can I do big batches of anything.
posted by latch24 at 6:53 PM on November 27, 2011

My wife and I offered to make Thanksgiving dinner this year for her parents. The only tool we bothered to bring from home was our Kitchenaid food processor.

We use it for:
- pesto
- pastry/biscuit dough
- sauces (mole, dressings, etc.)
- chopping small things, like nuts and seeds

Also, we make a lot of stuff out of certain vegan cookbook where just about every recipe includes something made with the food processor - when my wife is sick, I make her vegan matzoh ball soup with it. We originally bought it thinking we'd use it for bread dough, but I caught a bit of a luddite streak and now make bread entirely by hand. We very rarely use the grater or slicer attachments - for two people it seems like a bit of a hassle to chop up one carrot with the thing.
posted by LionIndex at 6:54 PM on November 27, 2011


I find that it's easier to clean than the box grater, especially if you use a dish brush and wand (for the narrow, round bits).
posted by anaelith at 7:07 PM on November 27, 2011

I have been amazed at how often I use my food processor. It also comes up in conversation with my mom periodically - as in, how did we live without it? (My mom lives with us, or we with her, whatever.)

I use it for making -
chopped nuts
pie crusts (now they really are as easy as pie)
mayo (every few weeks)
grated cheese
grating the garden zucchini for freezing

I seriously can't believe I lived as long as I did without one.
posted by saffronwoman at 7:33 PM on November 27, 2011

I use mine for all the reasons above plus another recent discovery--dog food. Toss leftover chicken, broccoli and rice in there and I have a delicious doggy meal.
posted by stargell at 7:34 PM on November 27, 2011

What you want is an old Cuisinart. I stupidly gave mine away when I left the States, and upon returning found that the new ones are lightweight crap. Fortunately, a non-fp-using friend gave me here ancient wedding present Cuisinart, and now peace reigns throughout the land.

Goodwill and garage sales are your friends.
posted by cyndigo at 7:42 PM on November 27, 2011

I have a lovely cuisinart food processor, cook at home all the time, and I actually don't use it that often (mostly because I hate cleaning it [which isn't that hard {I'm a sloth}]). An old roommate had this little guy and it got the job done, especially when cooking for only one or two. Your mileage may vary, of course, but it's another option to consider.
posted by troika at 7:43 PM on November 27, 2011

We used to have one and now we don't. (Flatmate who owned it moved out). The only time I ever miss it is when making scones or pastry. (Cutting butter into flour is SO easy in a food processor). Oh, and making breadcrumbs. But they are cheap to buy pre-crumbed anyway.

I used to use it occasionally to make hummus or pesto, too, but that isn't regular enough to be something I really miss. And I used it for slicing things for coleslaw, but it's not that much quicker than doing it by hand once you factor in cleaning. Finally I used to use it for soups, but I have an immersion stick blender now, and that's much quicker and easier to use and clean.
posted by lollusc at 7:52 PM on November 27, 2011

Bucking the trend here. I've had food processors (big and small), I've had a variety of custom chopping tools, and I've made do with just a small set of knives. The mandoline wins easily.

Simplicity and time are big factors for me. My kids don't like to have large chunks in their food, so even pieces are also a factor. The mandoline proved the easiest to take apart and clean, the most adjustable in slicing sizes and shapes, and has the most uniform cuts.

Plus it takes up the least space of all the options (even a knife block takes more space than my current mandoline). If you're at all space-constrained, don't get a food processor. With the blades and add-ons it can really cramp the style of a small kitchen or tight storage space.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:34 PM on November 27, 2011

Mandoline's are great. But for the love of all that's holy don't get one if you're even slightly clumsy. You WILL lose the top of your finger.


Why no I don't speak from personal experience WHY DO YOU ASK?!?
posted by coriolisdave at 9:27 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding a mini-prep. You can leave it plugged in, on the counter, within reach of your prep area, and clean it easily and quickly in the sink as you work, so it's always worth it to go ahead and add minced shallot to the sauce, or to use the leftover herbs to make a cup of pesto for the freezer.

If you find yourself needing something with more control and larger volume in a year, get a full-size processor.
posted by desuetude at 9:49 PM on November 27, 2011

We have had a Magimix for the past 7 years or so. We used to have a cheap, crappy food processor but there's no comparison. This thing is solid as. I use it every day or two... for chopping more than one onion (because I don't like crying over them), for making coleslaw - shredding the cabbage finely and putting carrot through the Julienne disk ... for making the kids' favourite carrot and apple salad (both, grated). Fresh bread-crumbs. Making pastry, making quick apple cakes, etc etc. We have a blender and a stick blender also, but those we only get out for smoothies and soup in the pot.
posted by slightlybewildered at 10:17 PM on November 27, 2011

If you have a dishwasher, clean up should not be a big deal. Mine disassembles pretty well and has never had trouble in the dishwasher (except maybe the grater blade, which can need a little extra attention with a brush.)

It's worth if for grating alone -- zucchini bread, carrot cake, latkes, and pizza are suddenly so much easier. (And yeah, the hummus and pesto are great too, cheaper and tastier than store bought.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:22 PM on November 27, 2011

Before jumping into a food processor, I would like to suggest you consider a hand blender with appliances. I have this Delonghi set and it is terrific!! The extra large chopper is perfect for pureeing and blending and I haven't even thought of getting a processor. The handheld is absolutely perfect for pureeing soups in the pot and it also has an attachment to mash potatoes straight in the pot as well. I've made dough, pesto, curry pastes, hummus... pretty much everything people have suggested a food processor for and I think it's more versatile.
posted by like_neon at 2:25 AM on November 28, 2011

Another vote for an old-school Cuisinart. I use mine for many of the things listed above, and I also use it for chopping pork or beef chuck into tasty, tasty ground meat for burgers or meatloaf. My mom has one that she got somewhere in the late 1970s that is still going strong.
posted by drlith at 3:50 AM on November 28, 2011

I can't tell if you have a dishwasher, but if you do it's really no problem cleaning it; you just put all the moveable parts in the wash. And I agree about the old skool Cuisinart--I got one when I got married that's just like my mom's which was also a (late '60s!) wedding gift that she replaced just a year ago; it'd been working like a champ for over 40 years. And make sure to get one that's big enough--it's heavy enough to haul out you want it to really speed up the process.

I do use the blender more often for quick jobs like salsa just 'cause that stays on the counter at all times, but my experience with the food processor is that you don't use it often, but when you DO, you are super glad to have it. Examples include shredding a whole mess of potatoes for latkes using the accessory disk, grinding on-sale good cuts of meat for really good hamburgers or poultry patties/meatballs (unless you already have a KitchenAid stand mixer with the meat grinding attachment), making hummus or other paste things that involve oily residue or nuts (maybe it's just me but good food processors handle that stuff better than blenders, I think partly because of the difference in shape), pie dough (I'm of the old skool lard + ice water + food processor approach), or anything where you need to emulsify or similar by gradually pouring in ingredients while the thing is being processed/ground/chopped. It's sort of a pain to haul out, similar to a stand mixer if you don't keep that on the counter already, but yeah, like a stand mixer there are times nothing else will do the job quite the same.
posted by ifjuly at 6:50 AM on November 28, 2011

We had a small food processor and never used it. When we got a big one, we now use it from time to time, but not very often. When we need it, though, nothing else will work, and it is great.

You might think about looking at your local Good Will or Salvation army, the ones near me have full sized and smaller sized food processors for about $5-10. That way you aren't making a huge investment for something you might not use, and you can always buy a nicer one if it turns out you like having one.
posted by markblasco at 7:25 AM on November 28, 2011

just here to nth the usefulness of making your own bean-based spreads and dips.

One of the biggest rip-offs in the food world has to be pre-made hummus. Once you realize that you can make huge batches of hummus for pennies, you'll be ashamed of yourself for having ever bought pre-made hummus. If your house eats a lot of hummus, the food processor will pay for itself in no time.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 7:57 AM on November 28, 2011

Uou'll need one if you want to try making a raw food dish. Everything there seems to get processed.
posted by mirileh at 9:55 AM on November 28, 2011

I'm still using a Cuisinart I bought in the early 1980s. Major uses for me:

pasta dough
grating Parmesan
pie crust
bread dough and pizza dough
chopping meat
cranberry-orange relish for turkey day
chopping huge quantities of onions/carrots for soffrito
biscuits (try the recipe in Bittman's big yellow book)

Ever since I tasted beef ground fresh in the Cuisinart I haven't bought pre-ground beef. Cleaning is not an issue, just throw it in the dishwasher.

You definitely want one. A big, powerful one.
posted by Wet Spot at 1:24 PM on November 28, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to everybody for their experience and opinions! We're definitely going for it -- and rather than comparing/contrasting new ones, we're going to let Fate have a say. First we're going to look for older, full size food processors at thrift stores and similar sources. Can't wait for that hummus, and that coleslaw and that salsa and those ground nuts and those shredded potatoes......
posted by kestralwing at 1:29 PM on November 28, 2011

« Older 19th C. overland travel   |   Gift idea for friend Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.