When I first got a food processor, I tossed all the extra parts in the box aside and just focused on the essentials: the bowl, lid, and standard blade. After a while, I realized I was missing the point.
You see, while you can do a whole lot with the basic blade, you can do a whole lot more if you utilize everything that your food processor came with. I mean, it wasn't just thrown into the box for no reason.
Also called the sabatier blade, this is the standard blade you're likely most used to seeing in your machine, but it's worth noting what its general purpose is. It's best for your average jobs, like churning out pesto, nut butter, and hummus. Remember: When the machine is on pulse, the blades will mix and chop. When the machine is on continuously, the blades will blend and purée.
The shredding disc, sometimes called the grating disc, sits on top of the bowl rather than in it. You put food through the feed tube on the lid and it hits the disc first, which shreds it, before falling into the bowl of the food processor. Shred carrots quickly and efficiently for carrot cake, cabbage for slaw, or broccoli for a crunchy salad.
Plastic Dough Blade
While you can use the s-shaped blade to make dough, the plastic dough blade is superior. It has less curved paddles and is usually plastic, allowing it to do a better job of kneading the dough rather than potentially just cutting into it, which the sharp metal s-shaped blade might do. Try it to make focaccia and even pasta dough.
The slicing disk is similar to the shredding disc, in that it sits on top of the food processor bowl and items are put through the feed tube to be sliced. My favorite use for this disk is to thinly slice Brussels sprouts for shaved salads and sautés. It's also great for slicing potatoes or other vegetables like zucchini thin for gratins.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen; Sheela Prakash)