Food processors, blenders & mixers buying guide
Confused between a stand mixer, processor or blender? Our guide will explain the difference between these preparation appliances, the pros and cons of each and how they can best help you in the kitchen.
Considerations before buying
What do you want your machine to do?
If you need to break food down, you'll need an appliance designed to chop, slice, grind and liquefy. Whereas, other gadgets are more focussed on combining different ingredients through blending, mixing and whisking.
How often do you cook?
If you're a regular in the kitchen and like to entertain, it may be worth investing in a multi-purpose machine with lots of attachments so you won't have to buy a number of different gadgets. If you're culinary skills extend to the odd spot of baking or soup making, you may want to consider an appliance designed to help with a specific task.
Are you cooking for a family or like to entertain frequently?
Machines such as food processors, blenders and stand mixers have different capacity levels, measured in litres. If you're regularly cooking for family or enjoy dinner parties, a model with a higher capacity will ensure you can mix, blend or chop all in one go.
How much do you want to spend?
Ranging from £10 to £400, there's a vast difference in the price of food processors, blenders and mixers. Naturally, appliances designed to tackle many different jobs are more expensive than those which have a single purpose. You may want to consider how often you'll be using your machine, the more expensive option may seem a lot in the short term but could prove to be more durable and efficient in the long run.
How much room do you have?
Larger appliances will either require the space to display them on a worktop or room in a cupboard to store them away. Some models, particularly retro-looking mixers, can make a style statement in the kitchen and add to the look and feel of the room. Appliances with different attachments will also require room to store them away.
Different types available
|Food processor||Good all-rounder, great for lots of different tasks||Can be noisy, larger to store, more expensive|
|Hand blender||Compact, affordable, perfect for small amounts||Less versatile than food processor|
|Stand/food mixer||Ideal for baking tasks, more powerful and versatile than hand mixer||Larger to store, more expensive|
|Hand mixer||Lightweight, affordable, best for basic baking jobs||Less versatile than stand mixer|
|Blender & smoothie maker||Ideal for liquid blending, can be stored away, option to blend-and-go||Some can be difficult to clean, can be noisy|
A food processor's main tasks are chopping, slicing, mixing and grating, using interchangeable spinning blades in a plastic bowl. Some food processors include a series of attachments which let it perform functions such as shredding, puréeing and grinding food, along with whisking and even kneading dough.
Food processors are generally quite large in size but smaller than a stand mixer, and are available in different size capacities. They're easy to use: simply feed food through the opening at the top of the machine and choose your speed setting.
Ideal for: chopping and slicing vegetables, particularly into small pieces for soups and sauces. A stand mixer may be more suitable if you're looking to buy an appliance for mainly baking tasks.
A hand blender is a handheld stick with a small blade at the bottom. They're great for puréeing smaller quantities of food, for example, blending soup in the saucepan. They're extra quick and easy to use, making them an ideal tool in the kitchen.
Basic, cheaper hand blenders will only include the chopping blade while more advanced models may come with attachments for tasks such as whisking, chopping and mashing.
Ideal for: blending soup, sauces, smoothies and baby food. Whisk attachment can be used for whipping cream and beating egg while chopper blades are useful for shredding herbs, garlic, vegetables and nuts. Smaller than food processors and greater control when blending.
Stand mixer/food mixer
A food mixer has a fixed stand and mixing bowl with an arm that can be lifted up and down and fitted with different attachments. Most mixers come with a whisk, dough hook and beater as standard, for whisking, kneading and mixing. They're ideal for taking the hard work out of mixing large batches of cakes, dough or batter.
A food mixer is larger than a processor and is generally considered quite expensive as they take all the effort out of baking. Prices range from £50 to £800, depending on the power, number of functions, speed capacity and attachments. Some stand mixers include jug blenders, meat mincers, pasta makers, food processors, and even ice-cream-making bowls, making them a more versatile option than hand mixers.
Variable speeds give you complete control over your food preparation and some models even have an electronic speed sensor control, designed to maintain the speed under different load conditions, e.g. when kneading bread dough or when eggs are added to a cake mix.
Ideal for: baking enthusiasts. Stand mixers are a key investment for carrying out most baking tasks. They're also a good choice if you have restricted movement in your hands, simply turn it on and watch it go.
A hand mixer is a compact handheld appliance for mixing, whipping or whisking. It features twin beaters, and sometimes a dough hook and balloon whisk, which rotate to blend, stir, knead and whip ingredients.
They're usually quite lightweight, easy to store away and relatively inexpensive compared to stand mixers.
Ideal for: gentle baking jobs like whipping cream, whisking egg whites and blending cake ingredients.
Jug blender and smoothie maker
A jug food blender or smoothie maker is a versatile and easy to use kitchen appliance, great for blending sauces, soups, smoothies and shakes, and even puréeing baby food. Unlike food processors, they're more suited to liquids but also feature spinning, chopping blades at the base of the jug. Variable speeds give more blending control with larger blenders having at least two speeds.
Some blenders have a larger capacity, around 1.5-2 litres, making them an ideal choice for families. Personal blenders feature a smaller blending jug for one or two portions, which can also be used as a drinking cup when you're on-the-go. These blenders may also have the ability to blend seeds, nuts and stalks as well as crushing ice.
Prices differ depending on power, speed and material and typically range from £20-£300. Plastic jugs are lighter for lifting and storing away, whilst glass jugs are heavier, more solid and less likely to get scratched. Blenders and smoothie makers take up less room than food processors and are generally easy to store away, if you don't want to keep it on show.
Ideal for: making smoothies, milkshakes and soups.
The higher the wattage of a machine, the more powerful the motor is. Appliances with 1000 watts or more will generally be able to process tougher ingredients such as nuts and seeds easier.
Capacity refers to the maximum amount of food which can be blended/whisked/chopped in the bowl and is measured in litres.
The filler cap allows you to add ingredients to a blender while it is being used. It has a hole in the base which lets you to drip feed ingredients into the jug e.g. oil into mayonnaise and can also double up as a small measuring cap.
This function is used when you need short bursts of power at the optimum speed. You can control how long the machine is run for which makes it a handy way of avoiding over-processing.
This is a useful attachment for grinding coffee beans and chopping up herbs and nuts.
Safety interlock system
This feature prevents the blades of a blender from rotating unless both the glass jug and lid are in place.