Using A Food Processor for Beginners

good food processor can chop, slice, dice, knead and puree, making it one of the most versatile tools you can have in your kitchen. So, here is your guide on using a food processor for beginners.

But if you’re unfamiliar with how to use your food processor or you don’t know about all the kitchen tasks it can accomplish, there’s a good chance your handy appliance is sitting around underutilized.

This appliance does way more than chop veggies.

The Best Products Center evaluates food processors for ease of use, cleaning, and assembly. We also look at the variety of settings they have to offer.

Our team carefully measures food processors’ performance when slicing and shredding vegetables, dicing onions, mincing parsley, grating cheese,  and kneading the dough.

Like our winning 12-cup  Breville Sous Chef, the best units have the right capacity, accessories, and power to handle all these tasks and more.

While a food processor can’t fully replace your chef’s knife, it can save you a lot of time in the kitchen by speeding up tedious tasks.

Ready to start slicing and dicing? Here’s everything you need to know to get the most out of your food processor for beginners:

How To Assemble Your Food Processor?

Before you use your food processor, you’ll need to ensure all the parts are clean and properly assembled.

Most food processors come with an electric base, a plastic work bowl, a blade shaft, multiple blades, a work bowl lid, a feed tube, and a plunger.

  1. Place the work bowl onto the base. After you unplug the unit, fit the work bowl onto the electrical base, ensuring it’s securely attached.
  1. Insert the blade adapter.  If the vertical blade adapter is not built into the appliance, attach it now to the center of the work bowl.
  1. Attach the appropriate blade or accessory.  For most dicing, chopping, and pureeing, you should attach the standard S-blade that comes with your appliance. For kneading dough, attach the soft dough accessory. For slicing or shredding, attach the round slicing blade that will sit at the top of the work bowl.
  1. Attach the work bowl lid.  To prevent food from splattering, you should attach the lid to your work bowl before mixing anything. Depending on the recipe, you can add ingredients before putting the lid on, or add ingredients through the feed tube.
  1. Plug in and use your food processor.  Once you safely assemble your food processor, plug it into the appropriate outlet and get to cooking! Ensure to unplug the appliance before cleaning or changing the blade while the work bowl is in place.

What Size Food Processor Do I Need?

A standard food processor has a wide work bowl with a capacity between 2 and 14 cups — we recommend larger models between 12 and 14 cups for the most versatility. 

An S-shaped blade sits at the bottom of the bowl, and the blade can be plain-edged or serrated. The plain edge delivers clean cuts and better chopping meat and most vegetables.

Furthermore, the serrated blades can also puree, working well on nut butter and frozen ingredients.

Most food processors have one speed, though some can have high, medium, and low settings. The highest setting is good for smooth purees and tough ingredients.

However, the low setting is good for processing softer ingredients.

A pulse setting is great for incrementally chopping food and controlling the blade to limit your risk of over-processing. It’s also great for getting an even chop:

The stop-and-go motion allows unprocessed items from the top to fall onto the blade to be processed.

Otherwise, items close to the blade continue to be processed, making the bottom finer than the top. (If your appliance doesn’t have a pulse setting, you can manually pulse.)

Accessories And Blades

In addition to the basic S-blade, many food processors come with slicing and shredding discs, dough blades, dicing attachments, and other accessories.

Switching blades and discs and using different speeds — plus the pulse function — allows you to have more control over your ingredients and get the most out of your appliance. Always handle your blades with care.

What Should I Use My Food Processor For?

Food processors are good for much more than just dicing vegetables. Here are some everyday kitchen tasks you can use your processor for as a beginner. It can handle with ease.

  • Grating Parmesan cheese. Microplanes and handheld graters are great for adding some cheese to the top of a dish, but if you’re working with a pasta recipe that calls for half a cup or more of finely grated cheese, you need a quicker option. If you cut your wedge into 1-inch chunks and blitz them in your food processor with the standard blade, you’ll quickly have just what you need. Pulsing will give you control over the texture of your final product. (This goes for other cheeses, too).
  • Kneading dough.  Using the dough attachment on your food processor can make quick work of kneading bread, pizza dough, and pie crust. The standard blade works well if you’re making a crumbly crust for something like cheesecake.
  • Mincing herbs.  Standard food processor blades can mince herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil without much of the bruising you risk with a knife.
  • Whipping up dressings and dips.  Most food processors have specific chutes or holes in the feed tube that are perfect for slowly incorporating oil into the work bowl, which is essential for making mayonnaise or creamy Caesar salad dressing. I love using my food processor to make chimichurri and various dips and sauces.
  • Mixing cookies and light batter.  You can easily make simple cookie recipes that aren’t full of butter and flour in the food processor. You can also use your appliance for part of a larger recipe, like shredding carrots for carrot cake.
Using Food Processor for Beginners
Food Processor for Beginners

Food Processor Mistakes to Avoid

Although good food processors are fairly durable and versatile, they can’t accomplish everything. So, avoid these mistakes to get the best results out of your appliance.

  • Throwing in whole hard vegetables. Before chopping, cut food — particularly uncooked meat and hard veggies like carrots and potatoes — into 1-2 inch pieces for more even processing. Freeze soft meats and cheeses for 20 minutes before adding them to the processor for better results.
  • Ignoring the pulse button. You’ll get more consistent results by pressing pulse to run the processor intermittently. Pulsing is particularly great for rough chopping, preparing dishes like bruschetta without bruising herbs or onions, and dicing meat without over-processing or liquefying your ingredients. Press the central control intermittently if your food processor has no automatic pulse feature.
  • Applying too much pressure. When shredding or slicing, let the food processor do most of the work, but work gently with the pusher to guide food into the work bowl. Keep the pressure steady to get the most uniform results.
  • Not packing the feed tube. When slicing vegetables and meats, packing ingredients snugly into the feed tube and then pressing lightly with the pusher is the best way to get super-even slices. If your feed tube has multiple sizes or sections, use whichever section will fit your ingredients best and hold them in place as they go through the processor.
  • Use it instead of a blender. Not sure when to use your food processor and when to use your blender? A food processor will get the job done if you want a coarse texture. Blenders are better for fine grinding and pureeing smooth concoctions with liquid.
  • Walking away.  Don’t walk away while the food processor’s operating, particularly if you’re preparing a heavy load like yeast dough. The processor can “walk” on or even fall off the countertop, creating a huge mess and damaging the appliance.