The food processor that sits in your appliance cabinet is so much more than a hummus machine. As delicious and nutritious as homemade hummus is, it’s time to treat your food processor as the versatile tool it really is. In fact, of all small electric kitchen appliances, the food processor might be the most useful for the home cook. Test the limit of your food processor – it can do more than make pesto and crush breadcrumbs. Here are some unique and magical tasks your food processor can take on in the kitchen.
1. Nut Butter
A great nut butter is one of my favorite ingredients to use for a quick breakfast, mix into baked goods, spoon onto ice cream, or even eat straight from the jar. However, the real tasty stuff is ridiculously expensive. With your food processor, you can make your own nut butters at home to your exact specifications!
Want a blend of almonds and cashews? Prefer a touch of honey? In the mood for something on the chocolatey side? Make your nut butters at home!
2. Cultured Butter
At Pro Home Cooks, we’re all about fermented foods. Not only are they undeniably more delicious (fermentation adds flavor and increases umami), but they’re great for your gut. Making some cultured butter is a great way to add some fermentation to your diet, and nothing beats fresh, homemade butter. The cultures present in the butter add an extremely pleasant tang and are sure to make your gut biome very happy.
3. Bread Dough
Ever think that the little machine in your kitchen with spinning blades could make bread? At the end of the day, all you need is something to mix and knead the dough and develop that gluten for you. For smaller projects, there’s no need to whip out that stand mixer. Toss your dough ingredients into the food processor, preheat the oven, and soon your home will be filled with the scent of fresh baked bread and your arms won’t have done a thing.
Home ice cream makers can be a fun appliance for kids, but they take up astronomical amounts of space and serve only one purpose. Your food processor, on the other hand, can make a great batch of creamy, frozen treat. The best part? It’s already in your kitchen. Time to make those ice cream flavors you’ve been dreaming about forever and see if they’re actually up to speed.
5. Pie Crust
To make a great pie crust at home, you have to cut the butter into the flour. This is no simple task – the butter needs to stay very cold to ensure it doesn’t start to melt into the flour. It can be done by hand, but you risk melting the butter from body heat. There are hand tools that help cut butter into flour, but your food processor can perform this task in a flash.
Pro tip: When making pie crust, use ice water to keep the temperature low. Also, replace some of the water with vodka to impede gluten development. Stick your vodka in the freezer beforehand to keep that dough temperature as low as possible!
6. Whipped Cream
Nothing beats fresh, homemade whipped cream. In my opinion, it’s non-negotiable for homemade desserts. I’m often more excited about the whipped cream than the dessert itself. It’s so easy to make in the food processor that you might just throw out that old hand-me-down hand mixer that you can’t seem to find the whisks for. Simply pour in the whipping cream, add your favorite sweetener (or don’t), and turn it on.
7.Grating Hard Cheese
I’ll be honest: I love parmesan that’s been through the microplane. It’s a mix of the fluffy, cloud-like texture, the aesthetically pleasing curls, and the nostalgia of table-side cheese grating for the pasta you spent too much on. The reality is, though, that the microplane is incredibly inconvenient for grating cheese. It takes too long, the cheese starts to clump, and it’s impossible to measure volume. For situations where you may need a lot of grated parm (or other hard cheeses), stick chunks of it into the food processor. That sandy texture you’re left with is ideal for incorporating into pasta sauces, evenly spreading on pizza, or stirring into a savory baked good. Whatever is left over is also much more refrigerator friendly.
Compound butters might seem trendy but are really a very old French culinary technique. At home, compound butter can be a convenient way to store flavor bombs and have a meal at the ready. Fat stores flavor molecules very well, and butter itself is delicious, so infusing flavors into butter is simply a natural progression of making something tasty. Pop some room temperature butter into the food processor with the ingredients of your choice and let run until smooth. Put it on bread, use it to sear a steak, or put it back in the fridge and use next time you need a quick but flavorful meal.
You can find some compound butter ideas [here].
A homemade mayo or aioli is way easier than it might seem, and the food processor is just another convenient tool to make some compared to a stand mixer or whisking by hand. Whole eggs or egg yolks; your choice. Turn on and slowly drizzle in the oil of your choice. A big pinch of salt and you’ll have mayo in minutes.
Want something akin to Japanese style mayo? Use egg yolks and add a splash of rice vinegar and a dash of MSG. Garlic aioli? Throw in a garlic clove or two and some chives.
10. Powdered Sugar
If, like me, you’re not an avid dessert maker, you might forget that you ran out of powdered sugar 5 weeks ago. The French toast you just made is now going to be disastrous. Fear not! Pour some white sugar into the food processor and pulse until you have a fine powder. Sunday morning is saved.
11. Grinding Meat
Unless you need to process and grind a large amount of meat for a project, using a real meat grinder at home can be an unnecessary undertaking. For smaller projects, the food processor can get the job done just fine. Cut the meat into small, manageable sized pieces and place them on a piece of parchment. Let the meat chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes and then pulse in the food processor. Keeping the meat cold will help keep the grind uniform and prevent any gummy situations.
Kneading pasta by hand is quite the workout. While it’s a lovely tactile experience so make the well of flour and whisk the eggs with a fork and pretend that you’re a nonna in Florence, sometimes you want fresh pasta without all the mess. Put the eggs and flour into the food processor and let it do its thing.
13. Soap + Water
Do you also hate cleaning kitchen appliances? They always seem to be manufactured with strange nooks and crannies and scrubbing the blades isn’t the most fun I’ve had in the kitchen. When you’re done making nut butter or grinding meat, simply add a pump or two of dish soap and some warm water. Pulse a few times and now your clean-up will be multitudes easier.