We Tested 12 Food Processors: Here Are The Three Worth Investing In

We Tested 12 Food Processors: Here Are The Three Worth Investing In

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A food processor can be the next best thing to a personal sous chef. Simple-to-operate masters of chopping, slicing, mincing, shredding and even kneading dough, these culinary workhorses simplify many meal prep tasks, offering pleasingly uniform results time and time again.

To help you find the best food processor for your kitchen, we tested nine full-size food processors, along with three space-saving mini versions made for smaller jobs. We found two clear standouts and gave props to a mini model we recommend keeping close at hand.

Best food processor overall

This simple but excellent food processor comes with a large 14-cup bowl, high-quality blades and an easy-to-use design. And while it may be no-frills, it’s anything but basic, besting or matching its competition in every test we threw at it.

Best food processor runner-up

Sleek, modern and highly efficient, Breville’s food processor aced our tests and comes with some handy tools, including a mini bowl and blade perfect for smaller jobs. It’s priced higher than our winner, but still a standout.

Best food processor mini

Maybe you have a small kitchen or are short on space. Or you just need to chop herbs or a small amount of veggies or nuts, or you want to make a few servings of salsa, salad dressing or the like. This mini version has you covered. Easy to use with great results, it earned a permanent spot in our kitchen repertoire.

Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored

Lots of bells and whistles can be fun, but when it comes to testing food processors, high quality, simple craftsmanship and a tried-and-true design win out in the end. The Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is basic in design and doesn’t include a ton of accessories (it comes with a stainless steel 4mm slicing disc, shredding disc and chopping S-blade, plus a recipe book and spatula) ⁠but it outperformed the other machines we tested by leaps and bounds.

We especially appreciated the powerful 750-watt motor and a brushed stainless steel base, which doesn’t budge no matter how much you put it to work. Yes, it’s a sturdy 18 1/2-pounds, but it chops, minces, slices and shreds with precision and speed.

The 14-cup bowl was the largest capacity of any model we tested, allowing you to make extra-large batches of sauces, soups, and more. The recipes we tested came together quickly and beautifully with the touch of just two wide paddle buttons (on and off/pulse). The machine doesn’t come with a separate dough blade, as many of its competitors did, but we used the chopping S-blade to make the fastest and best pizza dough of the bunch nonetheless.

Another thing that set the Cuisinart Classic apart was the rear placement of the food chute; we liked this better than the front placement common to the other models we tested, since it makes it much easier to see what is going on inside without having to peer around the chute.

The Cuisinart also comes with large and small feed tubes and pushers, which helps to process different size foods.The wide tube, at 4 1/2 inches, is important for larger items, such as whole bricks of cheese, onions or potatoes — meaning you won’t have to spend time pre-chopping before sending them through the chute. But the smaller tube allows you to keep long, thin veggies, like carrots or celery, straight as they go through, which maintains a uniform slice.

All the parts on the Cuisinart Classic are dishwasher-safe (and the manual recommends dishwasher cleaning) and they fit into the bowl for easier storage, making cleaning up and putting everything away a breeze.

Of course, it’s not perfect: We preferred the Breville’s adjustable slicing disc for paper thin to thick cuts and we wish Cuisinart included a mini work bowl for smaller jobs. And while the warranty is good ⁠— a full five years on the motor and limited three years on the entire unit ⁠— the Breville offers a 10-year motor warranty. (Though here, we must add, an earlier version of this model we received as a wedding gift 21 years ago still works wonderfully with no replacement parts needed). If you’re looking for a food processor that does a great job and should last decades, this is it.

Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored

We loved this food processor. With its sleek, silver stainless-steel base and black feed chute parts, it looks ultra-modern on the countertop. And when it came to our tests ⁠— chopping and slicing veggies, shredding cheese and making salsa, pesto and mayonnaise ⁠— it, along with the Cuisinart, made mincemeat of the competition, with uniform results in our tests.

The Breville boasts a 1,000-watt motor, the most powerful of those tested, and comes with some well-thought-out accessories. We appreciated the adjustable slicing disc that comes with a whopping 24 settings, from paper-thin to thick, and three food chute options: 5-inch, 2 3/4-inch and 1 1/2-inch. It also comes with a reversible shredding disc for coarse or fine grating, a dough blade, a micro-serrated chopping S-blade, a mini 2 1/2-cup work bowl, spatula, cleaning brush and storage box.

At about 16 1/2 pounds, the processor was sturdy and stayed put while in use. We also liked the retractable cord, which makes for cleaner storage. And, like all the food processors we tested, the Breville’s parts are dishwasher-safe, but hand-washing is recommended by the company.

So, why did it only take runner-up honors? It was incredibly close, but the Breville didn’t do quite as well kneading pizza dough, has a smaller 12-cup bowl capacity (there is a 16-cup version of the Sous Chef as well, but it’s much more expensive) and, while it has a better motor warranty, it only has a 1-year limited warranty on parts. And, while the black food chute looks chic, it means you can’t see as easily into the bowl, which is important for checking the progress on things like  mayonnaise. Finally, it costs $70 more than the Cuisinart Classic.

But if aesthetics and the flexibility of an included mini bowl are important to you, you can’t go wrong with the Breville Sous Chef.

While full-size food processors are serious time-savers for chopping and shredding large amounts of food or making big-batch recipes, they’re not always useful with small amounts. This is where the Kitchen Aid Food Chopper comes in. A perfect supplement to a full-size machine, it has a stainless steel S-blade that stays locked in place. It’s small, light and easily stored away in a cupboard for easy access.

This model stood above its competitors in all the chopping and recipe tests we put it through. Nuts were reduced to uniform pieces, salsa ingredients were chopped evenly and fast with just a few quick pulses and pesto came together with lightning speed, with a thick and creamy consistency incorporating all the oil.

The 240-watt motor is slightly less powerful than its competitors, but we didn’t notice a difference, and the 3 1/2-cup bowl was a perfect size for smaller needs. We also liked the bowl’s small pour spout for serving. A switch toggles between two speeds ⁠— chop and puree ⁠— and an ample basin in the lid made it easy to drizzle in oil without having to worry about any messy overflow.

Another thing we liked: The pulse control is located in the lid handle and works by simply pressing down on it with your thumb. The 36-inch cord also wraps around a groove inside the base, allowing you to tuck it away when not in use.

Available in more than a dozen colors, it will fit right in with any kitchen decor.

Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored

A full-size food processor can transform your meal prep routine, but it will also take up coveted space in your kitchen. So before you toss those graters, knife sets, garlic presses, mandolines and other savvy tools, you’ll want to consider how often you might need it, how how much food you plan to process and whether you’ll be storing it away in a cabinet or leaving it on the countertop.

Food processors can make incredibly quick work of many food prep tasks. A block of cheese? Shred it in seconds. Need an onion chopped? Get tear-free, perfectly uniform slices in no time. Chopping up Brussels sprouts, carrots or celery? Just send them through the chute and you’re one and done.

If recipes such as salsas, pestos, tapenades, chimichurris and nut butters are in frequent rotation in your home, a food processor will return fast, homemade results in seconds. The same goes for recipes that involve breadcrumbs and lots of mincing, chopping, dicing and slicing. For those who make a lot of soups, ragouts and stews, a food processor could quickly become your new BFF. The machines also make quick work of doughs ⁠— see how fast you can whip together a basic pizza dough and you’ll never opt for a store-bought crust again.

Make sure to ask yourself how much chopping, slicing and shredding you’re likely to do on a regular basis. If you’re planning to make use of a food processor to handle all the prep for large meals and you think you might use it for doughs or other heavyweight tasks, you’ll probably want to get a full-size machine. If you have other tools for those things or prefer to do a lot of prep by hand, a mini version, made for simple chopping, will handle nuts, small-batch sauces and spreads.

Our testing pool included full-size and mini food processors that came with a variety of attachments. Yes, all were able to chop and slice. But ease of use, consistency and uniformity, as well as recipe results, varied quite a bit. We tested 11 food processors, ranging in price from $40 to $350, with bowl capacities as small as 3 cups and as large as 14 cups. In addition to noting the machines’ performances when it came to chopping and slicing a variety of vegetables, grating cheese and chopping nuts, we tested four recipes: salsa, pesto, mayonnaise and pizza dough, if applicable. We also assessed the selection and quality of accessories and attachments, size of the feed tube, ease of storage and cleaning, motor power and warranty.

We focused on the following criteria when testing each model.

• Chopping nuts: As this is a common job for many food processors, we measured the same amount of pecans in each machine, noting how much time it took to achieve a fine chop and evaluating the consistency and uniformity of the results.
• Slicing onions and carrots: Using the slicing blade when provided, we tested the ease of slicing half an onion at a time, as well as whole carrots. If slicing blades were adjustable, we tested different widths and recorded how uniform the slices were.
• Chopping vegetables: Using each food processor’s chopping blade, we tested perfo

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