There are a few magical appliances that actually belong in your kitchen (ahem *you don’t actually need an Instant Pot*) and a food processor is definitely one of them. Perfect for keeping kitchen prep to a minimum, there are a few secrets to the food processor that go beyond blending hummus.

Not all recipes are meant for the processor. Use these tips when deciding when to break out the machine:

Avoid Hot Foods

A food processor produces lots of friction and heat when it is doing its thing, so trying to process hot foods in your machine can have dangerous results. Be sure to cool down foods like toasted nuts, roasted tomatoes, and boiling hot water before processing to avoid accidents.

Don’t Over-Fill

Unlike a blender, the food processor isn’t really equipped to hold large amounts of liquid. If you want to make a large batch of a liquid-based food, be sure to divide it into batches to avoid the inevitable mess and never fill the bowl of the processor more than two thirds of the way full.

Running vs. Pulse

The food processor can be an incredible prep tool, but be sure to plan out the steps of your recipe in order to properly process. Some foods like onions, nuts, and doughs can be over-processed to create undesirably gummy or mushy results while smooth nut butters and dips need more time. Use the ‘pulse’ function to better control more delicate chopping jobs and the running feature for smooth purées that require longer processing to achieve the desired texture.

Break Out the Extra Blades

Remember the extra chopping blades you probably never took out of the plastic? Use them to their full potential by quickly prepping vegetables. Shredding carrots for carrot cake or slicing potatoes for quick chips happens in seconds with the blade attachments. If saving time prepping your veggies is going to be worth the extra blade to wash, we say go for it.

From Indian-inspired naan to dark chocolate avocado mousse, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite food processor recipes to break out your kitchen’s favorite appliance.

1. Pie Crust

Chowhound

When it comes to super-flaky crust, a food processor is a pie crust’s best friend. Cold butter is the key to perfect crust, but with the traditional way of cutting butter into the flour using your hands or a pastry cutter, the butter can get soft and sticky. A processor whizzes the job in a few seconds, yielding even bits of butter throughout the crust and leaving more time to focus on awesome pie fillings. Get our Easy Pie Crust recipe.

2. Lentil Dip

Chowhound

Move aside, hummus. Lentils are here to steal your summertime spread game with higher protein and lower fat content. Cooked lentils are puréed with fresh lemon juice and herbs in a processor until smooth, making for an awesome poolside dip that’s ready in less than ten minutes. Get our Lentil Dip recipe.

3. Watercress and Walnut Pesto

Chowhound

Pesto is a food processor’s crowning achievement, inspiring riffs on the classic basil pesto since the processor’s introduction to market in the 1970s. In this rendition, fresh and spicy watercress and toasty walnuts are puréed into a smooth paste for an easy, one-bowl sauce. Get our Watercress-Walnut Pesto recipe.

4. Peanut Butter

Gimme Some Oven

If 2016 had one good thing going, it was the advent of homemade nut butters. From almond to cashew to DIY tahini, the food processor is a best friend to the nut butter obsessed. Learn the basics with classic creamy peanut butter, then go forth with dreams of combinations like pepita, sunflower, and walnut. Get the recipe.

5. Naan

Fusion Craftiness

Basic bread dough may be a food processor’s best kept secret and this naan is no exception. This quick dough is ‘kneaded’ by the blade in a few seconds, leaving most of the time required left to a rise before cooking. Due to the sharp blade and the size of the machine’s bowl, not all doughs are appropriate for the food processor, but leave the magic machine for breads like pizza dough and naan anytime. Get the recipe.

6. Cauliflower Rice

Coffee and Crayons

The food processor seems to have been created in anticipation for vegetable ‘ricing’ in 2017. The machine takes a plain ol’ head of cauliflower and transforms it into small, rice-like pieces to forget you’re not eating carbs. Check out this basic recipe, and bulk it up with more sauteed vegetables and inspired dressings for a complete meal. Get the recipe.

7. Chocolate-Avocado Mousse

Gimme Some Oven

Don’t tell the French, but we’ve got a delicious mousse that doesn’t have a trace of dairy. Ripe avocados are paired with rich dark chocolate for a vegan (and delicious!) take on the classic dessert. The fast-moving blade will whip more air into this mousse for richness and disguising the vegetable component altogether. Don’t tell the kids! Get the recipe.

8. Buttercream Icing

Completely Delicious

With your cake batter bowl definitely still sitting in the sink, break out the food processor to whip up a quick batch of frosting. This dreamy fudge buttercream handles the butter beautifully, but might need a quick sit in the fridge before it’s ready to spread. Get the recipe.

9. Salmon Burgers

Pinch Of Yum

Grinding meat can be tricky in the food processor, but fresh salmon achieves the perfect consistency for burger patties after a quick blitz. If you’re looking to add chopped onions or herbs to the mix, be sure to chop your vegetables and process your protein separately to avoid tough and sticky fish burger mix. Get the recipe.

10. Homemade Butter

The Brewer and the Baker

Fresh homemade butter is easier than you think with the magical food processor on your side. Leave fresh, heavy cream to process for a few minutes until the buttermilk and milk solids separate, leaving the creamiest butter ever. Get the recipe.

11. Shrimp Burger

I Wash You Dry

This recipe is a seaside dream, quickly pulsing a mix for fresh shrimp burgers to eat on lettuce wraps or a toasted bun. Don’t forget, you can also mix up a quick rémoulade sauce in the processor to garnish these seafood patties. Get the recipe.

12. Salsa Fresca

Life As a Strawberry

Never buy a tub of overpriced pico de gallo again. When tomatoes are in season, this should be your recipe on repeat. Roughly chop tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños to fit in the processor, and pulse until you’ve got a fresh, chunky mix at a desired consistency. Get the recipe.

— Head photo: Life As a Strawberry.

Rachel Johnson is a millennial food person; she writes about food, all she Instagrams is food, and she just can't stop talking about it. Her first cookbook, "Stupid Good: A Shut Up and Cook Book" was published in 2014, encouraging the merits of fresh, vibrant food and cooking for yourself as a twentysomething. Today, Rachel works as a freelance food writer and photographer specializing in online food media and manages her brand, Stupid Good Food. She lives in Austin with her boyfriend, dog, and full pantry.
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