Many recipes call for using a food processor, but do you really need one? You only have so much space for equipment in your kitchen. A blender and a mixer seem to do the job just fine. Even your hands are tools enough sometimes. Yes, some recipes work best in a food processor, and many recipes can be accomplished just as well without one.

If you have good knife skills and cook in small batches, then you probably don’t need a food processor. For small jobs, setting up and cleaning the food processor takes longer than chopping by hand. And a food mill (spice/coffee grinder), mixer (stand or handheld), and mandoline together can do everything a food processor can do. Also, if you have a blender with a pitcher on top or an immersion blender already, you’re in great shape.

But for big jobs, like mincing a ton of vegetables, a food processor is much easier than chopping by hand. And food processors are great for making pasta dough, tomato sauce, hummus, and other dips. That said, if you haven’t found yourself thinking a particular task would be easier with a food processor, you probably don’t need one.

These recipes are made easier with a food processor, but it’s not required.

1. Easy Pie Crust

Make this pie crust even easier by making it in the food processor. It’s a 3-2-1 crust, meaning three parts flour, two parts fat, and one part water. You can make the dough, bake it, and keep it in the fridge up to a day in advance. You’ll need pie weights or dried beans. Get our Easy Pie Crust recipe.

2. Easy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

You can grate the 1 1/2 pounds of carrots along the largest holes of a box grater for this cake, but if you have a food processor with a grating attachment, now’s the time to bring it out. Even with cleaning the device’s parts, this will save you time. Get our Easy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.

3. Basic Tomato Sauce

If you canned your own tomatoes, place those homegrown beauties and juices in a food processor and pulse them until they’re evenly broken up and incorporated to make this sauce. Get our Basic Tomato Sauce recipe.

4. Cauliflower Pizza Crust

You really need a food processor for this crust to get the cauliflower into a rice-like condition. Gluten-free and low-carb eaters will want to have this technique in their repertoire. Get our Cauliflower Pizza Crust recipe.

5. Spinach Pesto Fusilli

Pesto of any kind needs a food processor, and this spinach version is no exception. Well, you can have a much chunkier version that you chop by hand, but for an almost smooth, more saucy pesto, you need electricity. Get our Spinach Pesto Fusilli recipe.

6. Spiced Cookie Butter

Graham crackers, powdered sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg need the power of a food processor to turn into almost dust. A spice grinder afterward can help the bits get even finer. Get our Spiced Cookie Butter recipe.

7. Falafel Burgers

After you soak the garbanzo beans, you purée half of them and pulse the other half with onions, herbs, and spices to get a medium-coarse texture. Then you combine. Texture is important with these patties. Get our Falafel Burgers recipe.

8. Peach Frozen Yogurt

This might be the easiest frozen yogurt you’ve ever made. And it’s pretty healthy, too, with only a touch of honey, yogurt, vanilla, salt to balance it out, and frozen peaches. Get our Peach Frozen Yogurt recipe.

9. Spicy Carrot Hummus

This is a way to spice up your usual hummus with smoky, sweet flavors using harissa, carrots, garlic, lemon, and a touch of honey. And it’s so pretty. Get our Spicy Carrot Hummus recipe.

— Head Photo: Amazon. All other photos are by Chowhound.

— Sarah Perry wrote a 2012 version of this article; Amy Sowder wrote the 2017 updated version.

Amy Sowder is a writer and editor based in NYC, covering food and wellness in publications such as Bon Appétit, Women's Health, Eat This, Not That!, Upworthy/GOOD, Brooklyn Magazine, and Westchester Magazine. She loves to run races, but her favorite finish lines are gelato shops. Learn more at
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