Why It’s Better to have Good Knife Skills than a Good Food Processor

One argument I’ve occasionally heard against going through the somewhat difficult process of learning to use your knife like a pro is, “I don’t really need to be able to do all of that because I’ve got a good food processor.” If that’s the case, I’m glad for you; a food processor can be a very valuable tool to have.

Give me a choice between a sharp knife and a food processor, though, and I’ll choose the knife almost every time. Not that the food processor doesn’t have its place occasionally: I’d never be able to make bread crumbs from leftover heels of stale, frozen bread without mine. Likewise it’s handy if I want to grate a large amount of cheese or perhaps even to make pesto (though quite honestly, I think the blender a better tool for that task). As far as mincing vegetables goes, though, I’d just as soon cut mine to a very fine brunoise; and unless I’m making a very huge coleslaw, I’ll shred my cabbage manually, too.

For starters, there’s just so much less mess associated with using my blade: the knife and the cutting board, bada-bing, bada-boom, I’m done. Whereas with the food processor, I’ve got the chopping bowl, and the blade, and the cover, and the plunger; plus, if I’m shredding something, the shredder and the disk that goes under it and the chute the vegetables unpredictably travel through toward the general direction of a waiting bowl. Yeah, I suppose much of the mess can go in the dishwasher, but the larger pieces are awkwardly shaped and take up more than their share of room, sometimes denying a spot to a more worthy piece of dishware, so (in my house anyway) still wind up going through the hand-wash cycle.

Plus, what if you want to cut more than one thing? with my knife, all it takes is a quick wipe with a sponge, a rinse and a dry: I’m back in action, baby, the broccoli’s cleaned up, hand me that tomato! Whereas with the food processor, well, there’s no sense repeating the many pieces that need attention before it’s clean and ready for round two.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of predictability—the food processor can predictably cut your ingredients into very small pieces. Should you, on the other hand want similarly-sized larger pieces, you’re out of luck unless you’re going to be using a knife. Even if you’re pulsing the ingredients through the processor, you’ll wind up with an assortment of sizes: some of the pieces minced and others in large chunks.

Then there are the ingredients which a food processor just can’t handle. Ever try to cut cooked potatoes in a food processor? Don’t; they’ll turn into glue. Tomatoes? A nice puree is the best you can hope for. Apples? Juice. You get the idea. Too much liquid or too much starch and the item in question is deemed insuitable for processing.

Because a knife involves less mess, better predictability of results, and better versatility of product, it is clearly the superior choice to the food processorial machine. Though it may take some time and some effort before you are able to use your knife as well as you would like to be able to, it is worth the struggle because of the results you will be able to achieve.

8 Responses to “Why It’s Better to have Good Knife Skills than a Good Food Processor”

  1. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Knife Skills Table of Contents Says:

    [...] Introduction: Why it’s better to have good knife skills than a good food processor. [...]

  2. shredder Says:

    Too much liquid or too much starch and the item in question is deemed insuitable for processing.

  3. Cheryl Yang Says:

    can’t agree more… plus practicing knife skills is also good for training some small pieces of muscles of hands… good for brain, too :)

  4. Shawn Says:

    I am trying to decide whether or not to purchase a food processor. I don’t have any knife skills as of yet, but I am trying to learn. Do you honestly believe that anything I would do in a food processor I could do with knives given that I learn the proper knife skills????

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  6. knife guy Says:

    Yes! Though for most knife buffs, I’m not sure this comparison would even come to mind. Food processor has its place, as you say, but it’s no knife replacement.

  7. Knife cutlery George Says:

    Thank you for a great post. A relative just graduated from chef’s school and we are surfing for knife cutlery information. Greatly appreciated.

  8. Ralph Serpe Says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Everything has it’s own place.

    Interesting blog! Thanks

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