Let us help you fall in love with this great kitchen appliance.

By Stacey Ballis
February 17, 2021

Whether you have recently received a new food processor as a gift or invested in one for yourself, this amazing tool can really streamline your cooking process. From mixing to grating to shredding, it is a game-changing appliance that once you have one, you never want to live without it again. All that potentially bloody knuckle-shredding hand grating? A thing of the past. Whole bricks of cheese disappear down the chute into perfect fluffy strands with nary a slip. All that basil from your garden magically blitzed into pesto, butter for pie crust cut into the flour in six short bursts of the pulse button.

But if you are new to working with a food processor, it might seem a little intimidating. Here are 6 tips and tricks to help you have success with your new machine!

1. Read all the instructions.

From proper usage to storage to cleaning, each machine will be a little different. Be sure to carefully read all of the materials that came with your unit to ensure you are not risking your personal safety or the integrity of the equipment. For example, the plastic parts of your machine might be recommended for either hand washing or washing on the top rack of your dishwasher only, to prevent the plastic from degrading in the high heat. Know your appliance!

2. Be careful!

First: The blades, slicers, and graters that come with these machines are razor sharp, meant to work seamlessly for years, so handle them with the same care and attention as you would any sharp knife in your drawer, and be sure to store them where they cannot either cut you, or get dulled by knocking into other items. Second: Do not stick any utensil into the chute or bowl when the unit is turned on. Be sure that it is in the off position before trying to use a spatula to scrape down the sides or dislodge a stubborn piece of food.

Cuisinart Food Processor
Credit: Courtesy Cuisinart

3. Remember it is not a blender.

A blender and a food processor, while they can have some overlap in functionality, are not the same machine. A food processor has some limitations, especially when it comes to liquids, that require a different level of care. For example, the lid is not leak-proof in the way a blender lid is, so if the bowl is too full of liquid, it can slosh out and down the sides. And while you can remove the bowl when full of chopped or shredded solid foods like cheese or vegetables, you will lose liquid down the center open hold of the bowl if it is higher than the level of that post. So, while you can use it for small-batch liquids, like salad dressings, when it comes to larger amounts like pureeing soups, you are better off using a blender.

4. Choose the right blade.

Your processor will likely come with several blades: a metal blade for mixing and chopping, a plastic blade for dough, and various slicer and grater blades. Be sure you know which blade is for what purpose and use accordingly. The chopper blade, for example, can heat up with use, so is less ideal for dough work than the designated plastic dough blade.

5. Use the finger trick!

Pros know that on most units, you can hold the blade in place while you pour out ingredients by putting your index finger into the post hole at the bottom after removing the bowl from the base unit. This is useful for both not having the blade drop into your bowl with a splash and preventing any material from slipping down the hole. Once most of the contents have been dumped out, you can then carefully remove the blade, and use a spatula to do any scraping to remove the rest of the contents of the bowl.

6. Be sure to use "pulse" or "on" for the right purposes.

The on button will give you a steady action of the blade, which is what you want for pureeing, fine chopping, slicing, and grating. Pulse will give you a short burst of the blade action, which is useful for mixing dry ingredients, cutting fat into flour, or coarse chopping or grinding. If you are unsure of the right action, err on the side of pulsing until you get a better sense of your machine.