Metal matrix composites (MMCs) exhibit improved strength but suffer from low ductility. Metal particles reinforcement can be an alternative to retain the ductility in MMCs (Bauri and Yadav, 2010; Thakur and Gupta, 2007) [1,2]. However, processing such composites by conventional routes is difficult. The data presented here relates to friction stir processing (FSP) that was used to process metal particles reinforced aluminum matrix composites. The data is the processing parameters, rotation and traverse speeds, which were optimized to incorporate Ni particles. A wide range of parameters covering tool rotation speeds from 1000. rpm to 1800. rpm and a range of traverse speeds from 6 mm/min to 24 mm/min were explored in order to get a defect free stir zone and uniform distribution of particles. The right combination of rotation and traverse speed was found from these experiments. Both as-received coarse particles (70 μm) and ball-milled finer particles (10 μm) were incorporated in the Al matrix using the optimized parameters. © 2015 The Authors.