Blenders and food processors, on the surface, feel like the same kitchen appliance. At their cores, they each use a fast rotating blade to pulverize food. The biggest difference is just how pulverized the food gets — with a blender, you end up with something that's essentially a liquid, while a food processor chops up food to keep it mostly solid by the end. If you're not looking to buy two huge kitchen appliances that take up precious kitchen real estate, the Ninja Foodi Power Blender and Processor System (yes, that is the official name) could be for you. Here's what you should know.
Best of both worlds: If you want a smoothie, pull out a blender. If you want salsa, whip out the food processor. With the Ninja Foodi Power Blender and Processor System, you make it all within in the same device. The pitcher that's included (the brand calls it a "Power Pitcher") looks like a blender because of its taller construction, but the chopping device — a series of stacked blades — inside more closely resembles that in a food processor. You can make almost anything from cauliflower rice (something you'd use a food processor for) to a smoothie (which is typically reserved for blenders) in it. The Foodi Power Blender and Processor System is equipped with a 1,400-watt motor with something called "smartTORQUE," which Ninja says allows the motor to quickly and efficiently cut through heavy loads without the need for constant manual adjustments. I've been able to make smoothies, nut butters and hummus in it without any issues.
Attachments, attachments, attachments: Besides the Power Pitcher, the appliance comes with a Smoothie Bowl Maker, which is basically like one of those single-serving blenders; a Nutrient Extraction Cup, which is like the Smoothie Bowl Maker except with a built-in tamp for scraping the sides down; a dough blade to be used in the pitcher; and a fixed blade for the Smoothie Bowl Maker and Nutrient Extraction Cup. All together this means the one motorized base can make a number of spreads, mixes and beverages.
One-touch control: Ninja's Foodi Power Blender and Processor System has six pre-set Auto-IQ settings — Extract, Smoothie, Bowl, Spread, Chop and Dough — that help you achieve the perfect textures and consistencies for whatever you're wanting. The appliance comes with its own set of recipes, and it's helpful that it tells you which setting you may want to choose. Opting for any of those settings will bring up a timer that lets you know how long until it's done. You can also manually choose between 10 speed settings with the simple turn of a dial.
What's Not So Good
It's very loud: Blenders and food processors are inherently loud. The Foodi Power Blender and Processor System, however, might be one of the loudest motorized choppers I've ever heard. Even on its lower speed setting it sounds like I'm running a power drill. The blender only needs to operate at the higher speed settings for brief bursts, but it's still concerning to me how loud it is — so much so that I've worried about neighbors complaining. I've tried to operate it only during reasonable hours, but if you're itching for a smoothie early in the morning, you might accidentally be your neighbor's wake-up call.
There's no turning back: Most blenders and food processors have a small opening in the lid to add ingredients after you've already started blending. The Foodi Power Blender and Processor System has no such opening. (Though it does have a pour spout for mess-free pouring. However, it's too small to put food into.) Luckily the motor has enough power to chop through everything at once, but if you want to add subsequent ingredients after you've already started blending, you'll have to remove the whole lid, which is frustrating and can get messy.
Lack of food processor features: While the system comes with a bunch of attachments, it lacks some attachments that are standard when you buy a food processor. Most food processors have separate blades and discs, like those for dicing, slicing or shredding, but Ninja's system lacks those, and you'll be more apt at just doing those kitchen tasks manually.
There are loads of blenders and food processors out there. If you're opting for one or the other, a blender is probably more versatile, and no blender has as much clout as Vitamix, which usually start around $300 (and do occasionally go on sale). A few other blender-and-food-processor combos include one from Cuisinart ($188) and Oster ($130), and Ninja itself makes a number of two-in-ones, which can be found on its website.
The Foodi Power Blender and Processor System is both a good blender and a good food processor. Besides its super-loud motor, it's still a worthwhile purchase, especially for those who don't want to buy one or the other. It does come with a bunch of attachments, so be sure you have enough space to store everything. Then again, those added attachments are just a tiny nuisance when you consider how much more stuff you would have if you had both a blender and a food processor. At $180, you're essentially buying two kitchen appliances, each of which can cost hundreds of dollars. That's not a bad deal at all.