Someone on Quora recently asked whether a food processor was worth the expense, loss of counter space and hassle to clean. They wanted to know what the benefits of owning one were. Most of the answers were negative on food processors, but since I have owned one for years and use it frequently, I wanted to offer another perspective. Here is my response.
One person’s essential tool is another person’s waste of space. For instance, I got rid of my microwave and don’t miss it at all, but many cooks would not be without one. I do use my food processor frequently, so if you are actually going to invest in one to use on a regular basis, I don’t think it’s a waste of time and money. Here are the things I use my food processor for:
- chopping, shredding, slicing or julienning large quantities of vegetables
- purees: sauces, dips, spreads, hummus, sorbet mix, etc.
- chopping nuts and making nut butters
- making pesto and other herb purees
- shredding cheese
- grinding stale bread for breadcrumbs
- making dough
If you plan to make all of these things on a regular basis, you would probably find a food processor useful. I don’t find my food processor difficult to clean, but maybe because I use it so frequently, I am just practiced at it.
However, if you are only doing some chopping and pureeing, and not in great quantities, you could probably substitute a stick blender for a food processor (make sure to get one with a chopping attachment). I use my stick blender for making smoothies, mayonnaise and salad dressings, chopping small quantities of nuts and herbs, and pureeing soups in the pot. You will not be able to shred a block of cheese or chop a whole cabbage with this tool though.
If you are a baker, you could probably substitute a stand mixer. It will also take up a lot of counter space, it is also expensive, but it may be worth it if that is primarily what you want to do.
The point is: identify what you most want to do in the kitchen and buy the tool that you think will help. If you don’t see yourself using it several times a week, don’t buy it.
As a side note, I recently reorganized my kitchen and relocated my food processor, along with other electrical tools, to a large cabinet. When I want to use it, I just pull it out and place it on the counter above. This has freed up counter space and helps keep appliances clean between uses.