Food Processors vs Hand Mixers – Which one do you need?

It’s a question that most of us have asked at least once in our lifetime. You want to bake cookies and muffins, or whip up a smoothie, or make pesto or hummus, but the mixing process takes too long and you have half your pantry contents on the floor. Have no fear! Every kitchen has a solution: food processors vs hand mixers. And there are some tips to help you make your decision easier.

“A food processor is what I need!” my mom shouted every time she got frustrated with beating eggs for breakfast with her hand mixer (a powerful tool for sure). I did not understand her reasoning at all. I couldn’t see how a hand mixer could possibly take more time than a food processor.

However, when she borrowed my dad’s mixer for Thanksgiving (I know, crazy idea), I started to get it. With a hand mixer you can get done in 5 minutes what would have taken 15-20 with a food processor. And that is because the hand mixer has larger beaters that actually plow through the ingredients, instead of just spinning them like the blades in the food processor.

The most important question you have to ask yourself is:

What am I using this for?

If it is just basic baking and making smoothies, the hand mixer can get you done fast and keep things from flying all over your kitchen. It may not be as powerful as a food processor, but it does the job when you need speed. If you want to make pesto or hummus or purees of any sort, then a food processor is what you need. Food processors are also great for sauces and for making things like nut butters.

Think of the food processor as a mini-blender, but one that can handle larger quantity. It is much easier to clean than a blender and has many more uses. Food processors are also great for chopping and grating.

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And what about all those other tasks like making bread dough, kneading pizza dough, or grinding meat? Mixers cannot do those things! A mixer’s beaters are made to move liquids and batters around quickly, not make flour absorb liquid. These jobs require more than just mixing – they take some serious beating (pun intended). I prefer to use my stand mixer for breads and pizza crusts because it has the power needed for wet ingredients.

A food processor (or more specifically, a mini-food processor, which is what most of us use) is different from a hand mixer with the same name. Most people just call them “mixers” and think that they are the same thing. The only difference is that most food processors have a bowl instead of beaters and the sides are shorter than the blade. Some do not have a bowl at all; these are called mini-food processors, and their main function is to make salsa or purees for dips. They can also chop nuts, which makes them great for gifts.

Q: What should I look for in a food processor?

A: Food processors come in three sizes – mini, small, and large. The mini-food processor is the most commonly used. It makes chopping nuts and grinding small amounts of meat or dough easier. Small food processors are just like the mini-food processors except they have larger bowls to hold more ingredients. And large food processors are the same as small food processors but they can handle even larger quantities.

Q: What should I look for in a hand mixer?

A: The best hand mixers are the ones with strong motors and sturdy beaters with soft and flexible ends so that they do not damage your bowl walls. They should have a long cord, a locking switch for continuous mixing, and be easy to hold. Most hand mixers can be used as stand mixers, but you don’t want the hand mixer to interfere with your stand mixer (more on that in the next question).

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Q: What should I look for in a stand mixer?

A: Stand mixers come in two different sizes – large and extra-large. The big advantage of having both is that you can do large batches of cookies and breads at once, instead of having to fix them one at a time. Most people get the larger one because it is more versatile and they find they use it more often than they thought they would.

And now for the million dollar question:

Q: Can I use a hand mixer to do what a stand mixer does?

A: The short answer is no. The stand mixer was designed to efficiently handle very thick and heavy dough and other wet ingredients, things that cannot be done by hand. If you try to mix dough with a hand mixer, the motor will burn out quickly – it just doesn’t have the power needed. Stand mixers were also made to be used as a food processor and can grind through meat and shred cheese much faster than any other machine on the market.

I have even heard of people who have used their hand mixer like a stand mixer. This is the best of all worlds, because you can use your hand mixer for all of the other tasks that a stand mixer does and some things that a food processor cannot do – and your arm won’t get tired! However, if you do use it as a stand mixer, make sure that you don’t clog it up with too much dough or something else you are trying to knead.

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Q: How much space do I need for my food processor?

A: A large food processor with a 6-cup bowl will take up lots of space on your counter. The smallest size is 3 cups, which can do almost anything you need, and still take up much less space than a 6 cup. There are many good mini-food processors that take up very little space because of the size of their bowls.

Q: How much power do I need for my food processor?

A: The type of food processor you have will determine how hard it will work your motor. Food processors with larger bowls and attachments that require more power will work your motor harder than smaller ones. If you have a mini-food processor, you should be fine with a hand mixer because it does not require as much power as the larger food processors do.

Final Thoughts:

I have had many people tell me that they have never used a food processor because with a food processor, you just throw all of the ingredients together into one container and turn it on. Most people say that this is not really cooking. Likewise, I have heard many complaints about food processors because they said they thought they could not get the same consistency as can be achieved with a blender.

While this is true, I think it is sad to think of how much wasted time people have put into cleaning their cabinets of expensive gadgets that they ended up hating and finally threw out.