Even people who love to cook are always looking for ways to save time in the kitchen, and a food processor will do just that — and help produce uniform, Instagram-worthy results while you’re at it. From chopping veggies to grating cheese and even kneading dough, food processors can do it all, in a fraction of the time you’d spend on these tasks manually.
A good food processor can prove invaluable in any kitchen. Food processor blades, although similar to blenders in some ways, are sharper and often ridged. They’re meant to replicate the manual slicing of something as soft as a grape or as hard as a carrot. A blender’s blades, by comparison, are not as precise, since the appliance is simply meant to liquify or puree ingredients, not cut them in a way that preserves the texture.
Different types of food processors
Smaller, cheaper food processors — the kind you might find in supermarket aisles — have rotating blades that can be used for chopping and pureéing (useful for veggies, making salsa, vinaigrettes, and more). These appliances are sometimes also called mini choppers, since they only include the single chopping blade.
More advanced and expensive food processors include additional attachments such as grating discs and kneading blades to handle a wider range of tasks. These models generally have more powerful motors — often more than 500 watts — to make sure they can handle more force-intensive tasks like kneading.
Most food processor bowls are generally dishwasher safe. However, even the ones that shouldn’t be put in a dishwasher can be cleaned fairly quickly by hand. The blade attachments are easy to disassemble, and the bowls themselves only require a gentle rinse with warm soap water, unless you’re trying to avoid cross-contamination from food allergens — which would require a more thorough cleaning. Even though the blades are detachable, always be careful when doing so to avoid injuries (they’re designed to cut and are razor-sharp!).
Larger models with multiple attachments come with storage cases to keep the blades in a secure place. Some of these cases even include basic locks that, if the processor were to fall, prevent the blades from spilling all over the place.
Food processor buying guide
When shopping around for a food processor, keep the following points in mind to find the one that suits you best:
• Capacity. If you’re used to cooking large meals regularly, a small 2-cup processor likely won’t do the trick. Likewise, it makes little sense to cram a 16-cup, 20-pound monster appliance in a small apartment. Basically, your kitchen size and cooking habits should determine the size of the processor you choose.
• Ingredient versatility. The food processor you choose should be able to meet your cooking needs. If all you do is chop veggies and make salsa, a small model with a single attachment will suffice. Otherwise, consider a model that can handle multiple ingredients to cut down on your meal prep time.
• Accessories. Medium to large food processors (7 cups and up) often come with multiple attachments for different tasks. If you’re not planning on making large or elaborate meals, a basic model with a chopping blade will do. Otherwise, consider a model with multiple attachments such as kneading blades and grating discs.
Best food processors
1. Best overall: Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef 16 Pro
Size: 18” x 11” x 8” | Weight: 26 pounds | Power: 1,200 watts
Starting at $400, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro is definitely an investment. But if you find yourself frequently preparing large, elaborate meals and need a premium food processor that will help you in the kitchen for years to come, this is definitely worth the money.
It comes with a 16-cup processing bowl and a second, 2.5-cup, bowl for smaller batches. Five discs and three blades offer a wide range of functions, from chopping to kneading and everything in between. It features multiple feeding chutes, including an extra wide one so you can dump whole vegetables like carrots or cucumbers in without chopping them beforehand. Not only that, but the Sous Chef 16 boasts 27 thickness settings, so you can choose the perfect size cut for each ingredient.
This Breville model also includes a digital timer, which is useful when performing multiple kitchen tasks at once. It’s important to note that the Sous Chef 16 is a very large and heavy model, almost 18” tall and weighing 23 pounds. If you don’t have the counter space for it, or if you find yourself constantly moving your food processor around, you may want to consider a smaller model.
2. Editor’s pick: Cuisinart SFP-13 Elemental 13-Cup Food Processor
Size: 19.5″ x 9.75″ x 19.75” | Weight: 17.16 pounds | Power: 550 watts
Sometimes you need the versatility and performance of a professional-grade food processor, but can’t afford the price tag of something like the Breville BFP800XL. For under $200, Cuisinart’s Elemental 13-cup model gets you a similar performance for less than half the price.
Though it lacks some of the features of its higher priced competitor — such as a digital timer — the Elemental still packs enough accessories to get the job done. It includes an adjustable slicing disc, reversible shredding disc (for medium to fine cuts), stainless steel chopping/mixing blade and a dough blade. The attachments all fit into their own storage case to prevent injuries or misplacement.
Like many other models, the Elemental has three speed settings: low, fast and pulse. The slicing disc can be adjusted for seven different thicknesses, which provides some versatility. The Elemental also sports a wide feeding tube to fit in larger veggies without the need to chop them up first.
Despite its overall solid performance, some users say the Elemental’s motor is not quite powerful enough to cleanly cut through harder ingredients like carrots. That means the results can sometimes be inconsistent.
3. Best for low prices: KitchenAid KFC3516ER 3.5 Cup Food Processor
Size: 5.6″ x 7″ x 8.7″ | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Power: 240 watts
If you want to cut down on your meal prep time, but don’t need a bunch of fancy features or you simply don’t have the space for a large food processor, you can’t go wrong with this KitchenAid. Its 240-watt motor is just powerful enough to handle basic veggies like onions and peppers, but the unit as a whole is small enough to fit inside a deep drawer. It costs less than $50 too, sometimes much less when it’s on sale.
There are three speed settings: slow for chopping, fast for pureeing and a pulse mode for manual control. The chopping bowl has a pour spout, so you can easily transfer liquids (or mayo or salsa) to a container. It’s also easy to put together and take apart, which makes cleanup quick and simple.
Even though it’s a basic, practical model, it does come in 18 different color options, which makes it good for adding a little flair and personality to your kitchen setup.
4. Best blender/processor combo: Ninja Blender/Food Processor
Weight: 1 pound (power pod) | Power: 450 watts
The Ninja brand is known for its versatile and high-performing line of kitchen appliances, especially when it comes to powerful choppers and blenders. This blender/processor combo comes with three different bowls for chopping, processing and blending, along with a detachable motor unit for easy swapping. For under $70, you can have a versatile combo appliance with parts that are easy to clean and store between uses.
The two processor cups measure 1.75 and 4 cups, respectively, allowing you to tackle small to medium meal prep with ease. The blender bowl fits up to 48 ounces, which is great for whipping up a batch of smoothies or margaritas while you go about making your meal.
Its main limitation is the fact that you need to press on the power pod and hold it down the whole time it chops and blends. This requires extra care and attention in order to avoid overprocessing or blending.
5. Best compact food processor: KitchenAid KFP0718CU Food Processor
Size: 7.87″ x 9.65″ x 15.35″ | Weight: 6.6 pounds | Power: 250 watts
When you need a versatile but compact food processor, this 7-cup KitchenAid model has got you covered. Though it’s 15.35” tall when fully assembled, you can take it apart quickly for easy storage in a deep drawer, since the base is small enough on its own, and all the accessories fit inside the processor bowl.
It has two attachments, a multipurpose blade for chopping, dicing, pureéing, and such, and a slicer/grater disc that makes short work out of cheeses and similar ingredients. Three speed settings (low, fast, pulse) give you enough range to cover basic meal prep.
Some users have reported issues with the included food pusher falling out of the lid during use, so make sure to keep an eye on it, or remove while using it.
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