Fresh butter in food processor

Small Appliances

How To Use a Food Processor: A Detailed Guide

Adding a food processor to your kitchen can instantly expand your options. With one versatile appliance, you can mix, chop, puree, slice, and much more, leaving you more time to be the master—and taster—of your culinary creations. Knowing how to use a food processor opens up a world of possibilities far beyond basic food preparation.

HOW TO PUT TOGETHER A FOOD PROCESSOR

The process of assembling your food processor is generally straightforward. For example, newer KitchenAid® models feature an easy work bowl installation—just line up the parts and set into place. These models also have hinged work bowl lids that flip over and lock to create a seal. There is no need to twist the bowl or lid. Here is a basic overview of how to set up your food processor.

Always check and follow your appliance and product use and care instructions before beginning any task, as it should be your primary source of information.

1. SET UP THE BASE
There is a motor inside this part of the food processor, which is the heaviest part. Make sure your food processor is set up on a flat, sturdy surface.

2. ATTACH THE WORK BOWL
This is a clear plastic container that fits at the base of your food processor. Depending on your food processor capacity, they are available in various sizes. KitchenAid makes models varying from 3.5 or 5-Cup Food Choppers, 7-Cup and 9-Cup, full-size food processors, and our 13 Cup larger capacity models.

Instructions for attaching food processor bowl

The KitchenAid(R) 7 and 9 Cup Food Processors have work bowls and lids that latch into place for easy, twist-free assembly. If the bowl is not correctly attached and locked fully in place, your food processor will not work. Watch this video for quick instructions on how to put together your KitchenAid(R) food processor.

On older KitchenAid models, align your bowl at around 90 degrees from the insertion point, then twist it until it drops onto the base and locks in place.

Whether you're looking to upgrade to a new design or to make setting up your food processor easier, there are many models to choose from, such as these KitchenAid(R) food processors.

3. INSERT THE DRIVE ADAPTOR
With most food processors, the blades and discs slide over a removable drive shaft adaptor. Place the drive adapter in the work bowl, onto the built-in drive pin. The drive adaptor does not click or lock into place on KitchenAid® food processors. Simply lower it onto the drive pin without pushing or twisting it.

Instructions for inserting drive adaptor

4. Choose a Blade
Slicer or Shredder Disc
7 cup and larger food processors typically come with a reversible slicer and shredder/grater disc or multiple discs for thicker or thinner slices. In order to install these on your machine, slide the drive adaptor over the center drive pin and push it down as far as possible. If the blade has finger grip holes, you can hold the disc by its center or use the holes on its blade the grip the disc. Place the disc on top of the drive shaft adaptor using the hole in the center of the disc. It will not go down into the work bowl, but rather rest on the drive adaptor.  Always check and follow your appliance and product use and care instructions before beginning any task, as it should be your primary source of information.

KitchenAid food processor blade

Multi-purpose or “S” blade
This classic food processor blade, such as the one found on KitchenAid(R) food processors,  is designed to fit over the drive pin in the center of the work bowl and base. In the middle of the shaft are two very sharp-angled blades. A click is heard when you press downward to lock the blade into place in certain models, such as the 3.5 or 5 cup food choppers. The drive adapter can be attached over the pin on larger KitchenAid models, then slide the multipurpose blade over the adapter and push down as much as possible.

KitchenAid multi-purpose blade

Dough Blade
A specialty dough blade is available in some food processors for use when kneading dough or similar tasks. Rather than being a chopper or slicer, the edges of the blade are not sharp to facilitate a kneading action. As with the multi-purpose blade, this blade attaches in the same way. 

KitchenAid food processor dough blade

5. ATTACH WORK BOWL COVER
After you attach your choice of blades to your work bowl, this clear plastic lid secures to it. For the food processor to start and run, the lid must be secured to the work bowl. With most newer KitchenAid® Food Processor models, the lid is hinged to the work bowl. Simply flip it to cover the bowl then secure it with the locking tab to make a seal. Older models require you to place the lid on the bowl before twisting it until it locks into place.

Instructions for attaching work bowl cover

6. INSERT FOOD PUSHER, IF APPLICABLE
In large food processors, ingredients are pushed slowly toward the blades via a feed tube during processing. Fill the feeding tube with food all the way up until it is flush. It's common for some models to click into place when the food pusher is in place. It is possible for the food processor to not work unless the food pusher is attached, even if you are not planning on using it.

HOW TO OPERATE A FOOD PROCESSOR

You're nearly ready to make culinary magic with your food processor after assembling it to chop, puree, shred, slice, mix, and knead your ingredients. Make sure to cut uncooked meat or firm vegetables, such as carrots, celery, potatoes, or winter squash, into 1-2 inch pieces before putting them in a food processor. This can help ensure the best results.

For details about your food processor, refer to your specific model. Always check and follow your appliance and product use and care instructions before beginning any task, as it should be your primary source of information   KitchenAid(R) 3.5 cup and 5 cup food choppers have a lever to slide from chop to puree as well as a pulse function. Three buttons are available on larger models such as the 7-cup and 9-cup for varying speeds and pulses.

Pressing the pulse button briefly allows you to operate the food processor in short bursts. After each burst, you are able to check the contents to make sure you don't turn your coarse chop into a paste.

When a low-speed button is pressed, the device will automatically operate at that speed until it is pressed again to stop.

CHOP AND MINCE

Using your food processor to chop vegetables is a great way to instantly elevate your cooking routine, and this is one of the most common functions of food processors. In fact, some smaller food choppers only include the multi-purpose blade.

KitchenAid food processor on countertop

1. REMOVE WORK BOWL LID
Remove the lid and any accessories you may have stored inside the bowl.
2. ATTACH BLADE
Attach the multi-purpose blade in the center of your work bowl according to the instructions.
3. ADD INGREDIENTS
Combine the ingredients in a bowl evenly. Fill the bowl no more than 1/2 full.
4. ATTACH LID
Ensure that the lid is attached and locked. Insert the food pusher fully, if applicable.
5. START WITH PULSES
To start chopping, pulse 2-3 times quickly.
6. CHOOSE YOUR SPEED
When processing vegetables, use the low speed, and when processing nuts or firmer ingredients, use the high speed. Use pulses to chop to the desired consistency. Make sure not to over-process, or you will get a puree.

PUREE

Ready to use a food processor to puree? Puréed vegetables or fruits are made in the same way as chopped vegetables or fruits, except they are processed for longer.

Pureed tomatoes in food processor

1. REMOVE WORK BOWL LID
Remove the lid and any accessories inside the bowl.
2. ATTACH BLADE
Follow instructions to add your multi-purpose blade in the center of your work bowl.
3. ADD INGREDIENTS
To the bowl, add your ingredients evenly. Fill the bowl no more than 2/3 full.
4. ATTACH LID
Attach and lock the lid. Insert the food pusher fully, if applicable.
5. LET THE PROCESSOR RUN
Instead of pulsing, this time you'll just let the food processor run continuously to puree. For vegetables, use the low speed, and for nuts or firmer ingredients, use the high speed. Process until the desired consistency and size is reached.
6. ADD INGREDIENTS IN WAVES
You may want to start with a small amount of fruit/vegetable and add more slowly through the food tube if you have a large amount. Always use the food pusher to move the food into the bowl.

SHRED OR GRATE

To shred cabbage or other items using your food processor, for example, with a KitchenAid(R) food processor, you'll use its reversible slicing/shredding disc. Hint: foods shred best when they are cold. You should refrigerate them until you are ready to shred.

Shredding veggies in food processor

1. REMOVE WORK BOWL LID
Take off the lid and remove the multi-purpose blade from the bowl, if it is installed.
2. ADJUST THE ADAPTOR
Push the drive adaptor over the center pin.
3. SELECT DISC
Select which side of the reversible slicing/shredding disc to use. The shredding side should face up.
4. ATTACH DISC AND WORK BOWL LID
Attach the disc to the top of the drive adaptor and lock it into place as needed. Make sure the blade is level with the work bowl top. Attach the work bowl lid and be sure it is locked.
5. ADD INGREDIENTS
Place food inside the tube. Use the feed tube size that best matches the size or cut of the food you are processing if your food processor has multiple sizes.
6. CHOOSE SPEED
Turn on the machine to your desired speed.
7. PUSH FOOD INTO THE TUBE USING THE FOOD PUSHER
When the food is in the tube, push the food in an even and firm manner toward the blade. The shredded food will drop into the work bowl after passing through the blade. Always use the food pusher to move the food into the blade.

SLICE

You can slice meats like salami or pepperoni, cheese, hard fruits or vegetables with the disc.

Slicing veggies in food processor

1. REMOVE WORK BOWL LID
Take off the lid and remove the multi-purpose blade from the bowl, if it is installed.
2. ADJUST THE ADAPTOR
Push the drive adaptor over the center pin.
3. SELECT DISC
Decide which side of the reversible disc to use. To slice, the sharp blade edge of the opening should be facing up.
4. ATTACH DISC AND WORK BOWL LID
Attach the slicer disc to the top of the drive adaptor and lock into place as needed. It is important that the disc sits level with the top of the bowl. Attach the work bowl lid and be sure it is locked.
5. PREP FOOD
Align your food to be sliced in the food tube. The size of the food tube and pusher you use for your food processor will depend on the size of the food you are slicing.
6. CHOOSE SPEED
You can now adjust the speed of the machine to your preference.
7. PUSH FOOD INTO THE TUBE USING THE FOOD PUSHER
Apply even and firm pressure to the food in the tube to make it move toward the rotating blade. After passing through the blade, the slices fall into the bowl. Insert the food pusher fully, if applicable. You should always push the food into the blade with a food pusher.

KNEAD

Several food processors come with plastic dough blades, allowing you to knead yeast dough with your machine. You can technically knead dough in your food processor with the metal multipurpose blade, but you'll have to watch the dough closely. The heat from the food processor and the metal blade can kill the yeast in your dough, which prevents your bread from rising. If you have a dough blade, it will be your best option. If not, shorten your machine knead time by about one-third.

Kneading dough in food processor

Dough blades are installed in a very similar way to multi-purpose blades. In general, to knead with your food processor, follow these steps:

1. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS
Pulse the dry ingredients 3-4 times in the bowl to mix them.
2. PREPARE YEAST
In a separate cup, proof yeast.
3. ADD WET INGREDIENTS
Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, already in the bowl, through the food processor's food tube.
4. BEGIN PULSING
Using the food tube, add the remainder of the water after about three seconds.
5. TURN UP THE SPEED
The food processor should be set at high speed, and the dough will form after about 20 seconds.
6. TURN THE DOUGH
Turn off the processor, unplug it, and remove the lid. Lightly dust the ball with flour. Turn the dough ball over so that the bottom (which is usually warmer) becomes the top.
7. CONTINUE PULSING
Re-attach the lid, plug in and pulse for another 20-30 seconds.
8. REMOVE DOUGH
Unplug the machine, remove the lid and blade and remove the dough ball from the bowl. We recommend about 30 seconds of hand kneading.
9. LET THE DOUGH RISE
Divide the dough in two, lightly coat with olive oil and return to your work bowl (or other bowl of your choice), allowing it to rise for about 45 minutes.

MIX

In addition to cutting butter into flour, your food processor can be useful in combining butter and sugar. It's great for folding chocolate chips into cannoli cream or creating great sauces and dressings. In large food processors or appliances with drizzle basins, you can add liquids through the food tube or slowly at the bottom of the work bowl while it runs. You can make your own homemade mayonnaise or add your favorite ingredients to make your own Aioli.

Mixing meat balls in a KitchenAid Food Processor

For mixing, you follow the same instructions you would for chopping, but only for a shorter time. Use quick pulses and many checks to be sure you’re not overdoing it. Many people choose dull-edged dough blades while cutting butter in order to avoid adding heat.

HOW TO CLEAN & STORE YOUR FOOD PROCESSOR

After using a food processor, it's best to clean it right away. It is harder to remove food that has become dried or caked in your bowl or blades.Always check and follow your appliance and product use and care instructions before beginning any task, as it should be your primary source of information.

Cleaning food processor in dishwasher

You can clean your food processor by following these instructions:

  1. Unplug your food processor and remove the lid, blade, and bowl
    On some models, the bowl may need to be rotated to be unlocked.
  2. Cleaning the base and cord
    Wet a damp cloth with warm water and wipe the base and cord. Make sure you dry completely with a soft cloth. Never use an abrasive cleaner or scouring pad. Do not immerse the base in water or other liquid.
  3. Cleaning the bowl, lid, and blades
    • For most food processors, the lid, bowl, and blades are top rack dishwasher-safe. If in doubt, check the manual on your machine. Avoid laying the bowl on its side in the dishwasher; upside down on the top rack is best. Use normal or gentle dishwashing cycles. Avoid cycles with high temperatures.
    • When you wash the food processor parts by hand, use warm soapy water and soft cloths or sponges. You should not use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads. There is a risk that they will scratch or cloud the bowl and cover.
    • To quickly clean the interior and blades, you can simply fill the bowl ⅓ full, add a few drops of dish washing liquid, and run the food processor on high for 30 seconds.
  4. Thoroughly dry all parts after washing
    Most KitchenAid food processors, such as the KitchenAid® 9 Cup Food Processor and the 7 Cup Food Processor plus, allow you to keep the blades, drive adaptor and discs inside the work bowl for compact storage.
  5. Wrap the power cord around the cord storge
    If you keep your food processor on a shelf or in a cabinet, wrap the power cord around the cord storage (if any) or around the base itself.
Storing a food processor

SO MANY FOOD PROCESSOR USES
There are endless ways to use a food processor, whether you're chopping mirepoix for a soup base or chopping veggies for ratatouille. Or perhaps you’re looking to make healthy, flourless, date-nut desserts.

There are so many things you can do with your food processor, including making buttery, flaky pie crusts or fluffy, chewy pizza dough, or even, pesto, guacamole, pico de gallo, or hummus. 

Read the following articles to find out more about the many uses of a food processor. Enjoy the many possibilities your food processor and other versatile countertop appliances bring to your kitchen!