What Should You Look For In A Combination Blender/Food Processor?

Blenders and food processors are two very different beasts. The former is best-suited for mixing drinks and smoothies, while the latter is designed to chop, mix, or shred solid food. Processors primarily deal with stuff like tuna, chicken, and hard-boiled eggs. It can therefore be a bit challenging to find an appliance that’s an effective ‘blend’ of the two.

In this buying guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about combination blenders/food processors. We’ll start with a roundup of the features you’ll need to consider.

Capacity

If an appliance uses different pitchers for food processing and blending, pay careful attention to the cup size of the latter. If you only plan to mince food for yourself on occasion, you aren’t likely to need anything larger than 5 cups. If, however, you plan to process large quantities of food – say, for example, you’re cooking for a family of four – then something between 7 and 16 cups is probably a safer bet.

Uses

What do you plan to use your combination processor/blender for? Do you only want to occasionally chop up some tuna, or are you interested in something more complex, like kneading dough or grating vegetables? Depending on your answer, you may want to seek a model with one or all of the following features:  

  • Feed tube: Without a feed tube, you need to put everything into your food processor before you turn it on. A feed tube – particularly a larger one – makes things more efficient.
  • Dough hook: Dough hooks allow your appliance to knead dough, a must if you plan to use it for baking.
  • Multiple blades: Some appliances come with multiple types of blades, including those made for grating, chopping, and pureeing. Others feature all-in-one blades designed for a wide array of uses.   
  • Potato rasp: Grating hard cheese, potatoes, coconut, or nutmeg.
  • Mill: Grinding coffee beans or spices and chopping nuts or herbs.

Power

A combination appliance needs to have a motor that’s powerful enough for both blending and food processing. A weak motor simply won’t cut it. Aim for something above 500 watts.

Pre-Programmed Settings

Although not a must, an appliance with a wide range of pre-programmed settings for both blending and food processing can potentially save you a lot of time in the kitchen. It can also save you a bit of grief, too, as you can avoid accidentally liquefying something you were just trying to chop. Possible food processor presets include:

  • Chop
  • Grate
  • Whisk
  • Puree
  • Shred

Speeds

Again, multiple speeds aren’t an absolute must in a combination appliance, as most food processors only have two settings (on and off). That said, having variable speed settings will allow you to exercise more fine-tuned control over your food. We’d also advise looking for a device with a ‘pulse’ setting – again, because it gives better control.  

Additional Features To Look For

We’ll round this section up with a few features which, while not absolutely necessary, are still quite nice to have:

  • Micro-serrated blade: Eliminates the need to sharpen or replace your appliance’s blade.
  • Straight-sided processor cup: Avoid slope-sided processors, as they tend to chop food unevenly.
  • Citrus press/juicer: Allows you to use your combination blender as a juicer.
  • Spatula & whisk: For cake mix and other, similar materials.
  • Safety features: Auto-locking parts, sensors to prevent operation while the lid is off, etc.

Our Top Picks

Now that you know what features you should keep an eye out for, here are a few of what we feel to be the best combination appliances on the market.

(Note: While we’ve done our research and have carefully chosen the products mentioned below, this buying guide includes affiliate links from which we earn a commission if you buy a product from Amazon.)

Best Value: KitchenAid KFP1333CU

Pros

  • Well-organized storage container
  • Beautifully designed and aesthetically-pleasing

Cons

  • Takes up a great deal of counter space
  • Feeding tube and lid are difficult to assemble
  • Blades are difficult to clean

The KitechenAid KFP1333CU has a motor with three power settings and multiple optimized speeds along with multipurpose stainless steel blades capable of shredding, slicing, kneading, or pureeing. It’s powerful enough to handle almost all home uses despite being surprisingly quiet, easy to clean, and a carrying case for the attachments makes storage very convenient. The processor is available in a wide array of different colors, and ships with the following accessories:

  • A 13-cup bowl
  • A 4-cup bowl
  • An external slicing disc
  • A reversible shredding disc
  • A dough blade
  • A multipurpose blade and mini multipurpose blade
  • A spatula and accessory case

The best thing about the KFP1333CU is of course the price – at $244.98 (as of 1/19/2016), it strikes a great balance between quality and cost.

The processor is surprisingly light, which isn’t always a positive feature, unfortunately. While it makes cleanup and storage easier, it also means the processor can wobble when kneading dough or chopping cheese. The slice thickness adjuster is a gimmick, really, and doesn’t work effectively.

Best Quality: Cuisinart FP-14DC Elite

Pros

  • All parts are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning
  • Capable of a diverse array of food processing and blending jobs
  • Durable components ensure longevity even with extensive use

Cons

  • Not well-suited for shredding food
  • Moderate issues with the dough blade
  • Carries a hefty price tag

The 1000-watt Cuisinart Elite looks to be a standard food processor at first, until you take note of the 14-cup work bowl – a component which makes it as well-suited for making smoothies as it is for chopping up food. Multiple blade attachments and accessories allow it to tackle just about any job, while its compact size means it can sit comfortably on most kitchen counters.

The Cuisinart Elite includes the following accessories:

  • A 14-cup work bowl
  • A 4-½ cup work bowl
  • An 11-cup work bowl
  • A stainless steel slicing disc and shredding disc
  • Stainless steel chopping and mixing blades
  • A spatula and storage case
  • A complimentary recipe book

While some have noted issues cleaning the processor by hand, it fits in the dishwasher and cleans easily in it. The strength of the motor and the wide range of accessories makes it useful for nearly any mixing or cutting job. Some have noted that the dough blade has some issues, but most users will find that if they scrape the ingredients toward the center of the bowl occasionally, the processor will take care of the rest. The processor has no locking mechanism to prevent the processor from running if it isn’t sealed, so you need to make sure that the lid snaps in the front and back to avoid leaking.

Most Powerful: The Ninja Ultima Kitchen System

Pros

  • Decently-priced compared to other combination appliances
  • Portable and easy to store
  • Highly versatile

Cons

  • Gears in the blade are made of plastic
  • Blades are positioned in both the top and bottom of the blender, and can present a safety risk
  • Difficult to use at first, with a steep learning curve

Our final recommendation is the Ninja Ultima. Equipped with a 1500-watt motor, it’s very powerful. The Ninja’s dual-stage technology also means you don’t need to worry about incomplete blending.

The Ultima includes the following accessories:

  • Two nutri ninja cups with sip and seal lids (meant for protein shakes or smoothies)
  • An 8-cup food processing bowl with a feed chute lid
  • A chopping blade, grating disc, and slicing/shredding disc
  • A free cookbook

There is very little to complain about from a blending and processing perspective. However, the Ultima isn’t without issues. Some have noted the blade gears, which are plastic, and hinder durability for such a powerful motor. The processor feed is also a bit narrow, and the motor is very loud.

Still looking for the right blender? Take a look at our master buying guide.

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