You’re craving smoothies and all you have handy is a food processor. Knowing whether you can use a food processor to make smoothies instead of a blender can expand the possibilities of this appliance.
Can you make smoothies in a food processor? You can make smoothies in a food processor, but you have to add ingredients in a different order than when using a blender. You must forego ice, as it’s too hard and may damage the processor blades. Also, the consistency of your smoothie might not be as creamy compared to making it in a blender.
In this article, I’ll explore in more detail whether food processors are suitable appliances for making smoothies. If you want to try it for yourself, I’ll even share a food processor smoothie recipe for you to try!
Can Food Processors Make Smoothies?
If you don’t have access to a blender, you can certainly use it for smoothies.
You have to add the ingredients in a specific order that’s not the same order you’d follow when blending smoothies. This will ensure your smoothie-making endeavors are easier on your food processor.
Start with Vegetables
Although a food processor can handle more kitchen tasks than a blender, blending isn’t its strongest suit. If you combine tough, leafy vegetables with frozen fruit in a food processor at the same time, you could jam up your food processor.
Do your food processor a favor and wait on the fruit for now. Refrain from adding large portions of veggies too. Cut down leaves into manageable pieces and then slot them into the processor’s feed tube.
Add Frozen or Fresh Fruit
After your food processor has sliced and diced the veggies, you can add frozen or fresh fruit. Again, the smaller the pieces of fruit, the better.
Slice bananas or pineapples into manageable chunks. It’s even a good idea to halve or quarter strawberries.
Mix in Health Boosters and Sweeteners
For some smoothie drinkers, their beverage isn’t complete until they have oats, powders, or seeds.
Protein powder and other ingredients with similar consistency should be easy for your food processor, but whole oats and seeds can be, especially if the processor has yet to mix your veggies and fruits.
That’s why you want to add health boosters in third, then any sweeteners such as agave or honey fourth.
Finally, Pour in the Liquid
I know, most smoothies require you to start with the liquid base, but when using your food processor, the liquid goes in last. If you prefer using yogurt as a smoothie base, this would still count as a liquid despite its thicker consistency.
What About Ice?
A lukewarm smoothie just doesn’t taste as delicious as one that’s ice-cold, right? That’s why you figured you’d add a few ice cubes from your freezer’s ice tray.
Just as I would not recommend you put ice cubes in a blender, you shouldn’t do it with a food processor either.
The reason? Ice is hard and unyielding. When the cubes of ice collide with the blades, they can easily dull the blade leaving your food processor or blender working poorly the next time you use it.
Is a Food Processor Better at Making Smoothies Than a Blender?
You’re thinking of making your first smoothie with a food processor, but you’re not quite sure. Will you get better results than using a blender? Let’s explore that.
Food processors and blenders do not work the same, which is something I’ve discussed before in my article Meat Grinder vs. Food Processor Comparison Guide
A blender–which is intended for liquids like smoothies–generates a blade motion that creates a vortex. That vortex pulls ingredients towards the center, where the blades then cut the food down.
A food processor has slicing and shredding discs at the top of the machine’s bowl. After inserting ingredients into the feed tube, they pass the discs and are diced.
Neither food processors nor blenders can handle you stuffing down all the ingredients of your smoothie at once. When using a blender, you’d start with the liquids, then soft veggies, next fresh fruit, and then anything hard like frozen fruit or tougher veggies such as kale.
That’s like going in reverse order of how you make a smoothie in a food processor.
Whether you like blenders or food processors more, you can’t add ice to either machine. As I mentioned, that will dull the blade.
The flavor of your smoothie should come out the same whether you choose a food processor or a blender, but what about the consistency?
Some people who have tried both appliances say that food processor smoothies lack the creaminess you get when using a blender.
How to Make a Delicious Smoothie in a Food Processor
You’d like to try making a smoothie in your food processor so you can compare it to how your blender smoothies usually come out.
Lifestyle blog Clean Eating Kitchen has a delectable food processor smoothie recipe that uses unsweetened plant milk, nut butter, frozen pineapple, frozen mango, and baby spinach. Each ingredient is chosen with care to create a powerhouse of a smoothie when combined.
The unsweetened milk is a low-cal, low-sugar liquid base. Nut butter is a great source of protein, baby spinach is packed full of nutrients, frozen pineapple is a tropical-tasting thickener, and frozen mango also thickens the smoothie.
As Clean Eating Kitchen says, with those fruits in the recipe, you should be able to forego ice and still have a smoothie with good consistency.
Here are the recipe quantities:
- Unsweetened plant milk or regular milk (1 ½ cups)
- Nut butter (2 tablespoons of your choosing, but peanut butter and almond butter taste wonderful in this recipe)
- Frozen pineapple (1/2 cup, cut into chunks or bought as niblets)
- Frozen mango (1/2 cup, cut into chunks or bought as niblets)
- Baby spinach (3 handfuls, cut into small pieces)
- Protein powder (1 or 2 scoops) [optional]
Your food processor should be outfitted with an S-shaped blade. Known as the Sabatier blade, the S blade is a standard slicing and dicing blade that’s recommended for making hummus, nut butter, and pesto.
The S blade is excellent at pureeing and blending, so don’t use any substitutes.
Begin breaking down the baby spinach in your food processor a bit. You can use the average speed setting for this job.
Next, incorporate the frozen fruits, letting them blend with the spinach.
Pour in the milk as well as the nut butter of your choice. Continue processing as you do.
Double-check that the lid of your food processor is locked. Then turn your processor to high for 30 seconds. If you don’t care for the smoothie consistency after 30 seconds, then run it for 45 seconds overall.
This burst of high speed should have broken down the tough frozen fruit. Between the addition of the frozen fruit and the nut butter, your smoothie should begin taking on a thicker, creamier consistency.
Stop running the food processor for a moment. Insert a rubber spatula to scrape ingredients off the sides of the bowl. This will also help make for a smoother beverage.
Lock the lid of your food processor again and turn it on high. This time, you only want to run it for 15 seconds.
Stop and assess the state of your smoothie. If you’re happy with it, then you’re finished. If you want the smoothie a bit creamier, then mix it for several more seconds, but don’t over-blend.
Add some ice into a glass and then pour your smoothie in. This should keep it nice and cold!
Clean Eating Kitchen notes that if you have baby kale or prefer it over baby spinach you can replace the spinach in the recipe using the same quantity.
Since this recipe can serve two, you can store the leftover smoothie mix in a covered Tupperware. Put it in your fridge but be sure to consume it within the following two days.