Do you need a food processor, or do you need a food chopper? What is a food chopper anyways? And is a food chopper the same as a food processor? These questions may seem confusing to untangle, but, fortunately, we’re here to help.
The truth is, while they are similar appliances, they are not quite the same, and depending on what type of cook you are, you may need one or the other, or both. So, let’s demystify these distinctions and some other common questions regarding food choppers and processors:
What is a Food Processor?
Food processors are some of the handiest, most powerful tools in the kitchen. They are relatively large, heavy, plug-in, countertop devices that come with a removable base, removable rotating blades, and a collection of accompanying attachments such as an interlocking lid, a feeding tube, grating discs, slicing discs, and perhaps even a kneading hook.
These attachments serve a variety of different purposes and make food processors truly unique appliances. The beauty of food processors is that they not only just chop food, but they can also effortlessly grind, puree, shred, slice, and even knead large portions of many different ingredients. Simply put, food processors are the ultimate kitchen workhorses.
They can be a little tricky to operate with all their attachments and buttons and may take some getting used to. Depending on the model, they can usually hold between 7 and 12 cups of food.
Finally, most food processors have rubber stoppers on the bottom and a few different buttons on the front which can be used to operate the machine at a variety of different speeds and navigate through the different functions.
Related: Best Professional Food Processors
What is a Food Chopper?
Food choppers are small countertop devices with a set of non-removable rotating blades. Some models are plug-in, but many are operated with just pumping the button on top. Conveniently, they’re light and compact machines that fit easily into a cabinet.
These devices are incredibly simple and easy to use, oftentimes having just one function. Food choppers can hold 1 to 4 cups of food at a time, depending on the model. Unfortunately, food choppers are more limited in their capabilities as they don’t do much more than chop. However, if chopping is all you’re after, these little powerhouses are remarkably efficient and convenient.
Can a Food Chopper Replace a Food Processor?
Yes and no. For many tasks such as chopping small amounts of vegetables, grinding nuts, making salsa, or other small to intermediate chopping tasks, the chopper can easily replace the processor and do so with less cost and clean. However, there are also many other tasks that a food processor can do, that the chopper simply cannot. For more on the differences between food processors and food choppers, read on.
What is the Difference Between a Food Processor and Chopper?
Food processors and choppers are similar machines that serve many of the same purposes, but they have several differences. Here are some of the principal differences between food processors and food choppers:
The biggest difference between food processors and choppers is the size. Food processors can hold up to 4 times the amount of food as a chopper and the bases are much bigger, heavier, and bulkier. For storage and for moving around, a chopper is much easier and more convenient.
On the flip side, food processors can handle much more food at a time and are generally faster and more convenient when preparing larger volumes of food.
As is mentioned above, food processors have many different functions that choppers do not. Processors come with different attachments that you can use to grate cheese, slice vegetables, grind nuts, and even knead bread dough with speed and ease.
Not only that, but the regular blades on a food processor can also chop large quantities of food with alarming speed and efficiency as well as crushing ice fine, making pie crust, making smooth purees, and making dressings and aioli. Another big bonus of food processors is that the lid and feeding tube allows you to pour the liquid into the base while it is running.
That way, you can gently stream olive oil into pesto or add a splash of cream to thin out a puree without having to take the lid off.
Food choppers, on the other hand, just chop food and you usually need to take the lid off to take anything in or out. It is possible to grind nuts and spices or make spice pastes and marinades in a chopper, but only in small batches.
Deciding which machine is more efficient or practical to use depends on the task at hand. For small projects like quickly chopping a few mushrooms, celery, and onions to go into an egg roll mix, the chopper is easier to set up, easier to clean and will get the job done just as quick.
On the other hand, if you need to perform a specialty task like shredding cabbage for coleslaw or a larger project like chopping tomatoes to make salsa for 15 people go with the food processor. Keep in mind that one is not necessarily better than the other overall, it just depends on what you’re doing.
Perhaps the biggest inconvenience with a food processor is the cleaning. After performing a task with the food processor, the food tends to get everywhere, all into the nooks and crannies of the machine and it can be a pain to get them out. There are also many attachments that may need to be cleaned.
Luckily, these days, many of the removable food processor bases and attachments are completely dishwasher safe, which can make cleanup a bit easier. But overall, being smaller, food choppers are far easier and quicker to clean.
As food processors are bigger, more powerful, and have many more functions, they tend to be much more expensive. Food processors run about $80 on the low end and up to more than $500 for the most powerful, more premium models.
All things considered; however, a food processor is still a bargain for a busy cook when you consider all the different uses it has. Conversely, food choppers are a more economical choice and can be as little as $40 or $50.
Should I get a Food Processor or Chopper?
That depends on what kind of cook you are. If you’re an intrepid, experimental cook who likes to cook often and play around with different baked goods, a food processor is an indispensable tool.
If you have a big family or entertain often, a food processor is once again a must-have. Now, if you only cook for yourself or one other person, and just make more basic foods, food choppers are much cheaper, easier to clean, and more convenient overall.
However, for many people who cook often enough, it would be wise to have one of each. That way, you can pull out the food processor when you need to chop lots of vegetables or make a pie crust and pull out your food chopper if you just need to mince some veggies for a batch of meatloaf.
This offers the best of both worlds as you can get the utility of the food processor, but don’t have to bother setting it up and breaking it down for every little job. The truth is, the differences between food processors and food choppers are many, and if you cook often enough, there is absolutely room enough, and use enough, in your kitchen for them to coexist.
What are the Best Alternatives to a Food Processor?
Now, say you don’t want to invest the money or counter space to a food processor, are there options out there to get the same jobs done? Yes and no. Technically, there’s nothing the food processor does that can be exclusively done by a food processor.
The quick chopping of vegetables or grinding of nuts can be done by a food chopper, the making of soups, sauces, and dressings can be done with a small blender, the making of pie crusts and kneading of doughs can be performed in a mixer or by hand, and the slicing of vegetables and grating of cheese can be done by hand.
The tricky part is that none of these alternative machines can do as much as a food processor. For example, a blender can make a puree, but it can’t knead a dough, whereas the mixer can knead the dough but can’t make a puree.
The food processor truly has one of the highest utilities of any kitchen appliance So, again, it just depends on what kind of cook you are. Anything a food processor do can be outsourced either to a smaller, cheaper, easier-to-clean machine, or your own hands, but if you perform any of these tasks often enough or with enough food, a food processor is a worthy investment.
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