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Food processors are our choice for the most convenient appliance in the kitchen because they take care of what are by far our least favorite parts of cooking: the repetitive, menial tasks.
For example, dicing large quantities of vegetables, grating large quantities of cheese, or churning large quantities of cream or pureeing soft fruit for pudding or ice cream. Or any other tasks that take a long time just to prepare a single ingredient for use in a recipe.
In this post, we’ll go into a bit more depth about how food processors are used and why we love them so much (and you will too). We’ll also give our picks for the best food processors around nowadays.
About Food Processors
What is a food processor?
A food processor is a countertop appliance with interchangeable blades in a closed container. Just attach one of the included blade types, put in your chosen food, turn on the food processor, and the blades will cut up the food in one of many ways, depending on which blade you selected. It’s kind of like a really big blender, but with a stronger motor and many more settings than plain, old “blend.”
What is a food processor used for?
It’s used for “processing” large amounts of food into a different form. For example, just a few incredibly useful functions of a food processor include:
- Dicing onions. Dicing even one by hand is a painful experience for my tear glands, and dicing multiple onions by hand is agony. With a food processor, my eyes get to rest easy.
- Grating cheese. I love making macaroni and cheese, but grating pounds of cheese by hand is time-consuming and dangerous.
- Slicing carrots. I like to make soups with vegetables, but thinly slicing all the carrots, celery, and radishes by hand takes a while.
- Pureeing vegetables for dips or sauces. Without a food processor, pureeing is nearly impossible.
- Grinding oats into gluten free oat flour.
- Grinding fresh spices (like cinnamon sticks) into powders.
- Making baby food. If you have a baby or a pet, pureeing some meat and veggies, along with other healthy foods, is a cheap and healthy way to prepare a delicious meal for them.
What size food processor do I need?
In general, we recommend people to buy food processors with a capacity of 3 cups (0.75 quarts) per person they want to prepare meals for.
That means a cook should have a 12-cup (3 quart) food processor if they intend to prepare ingredients for an entire four-person family. Of course, people who regularly cook for larger groups will need a larger food processor, while people who only cook for themselves and an occasional guest will not need one that big.
How do I choose a food processor?
You should consider these things:
- Size – Is the capacity large enough for the group you’ll be cooking for?
- Price – Expect to pay at least $50 for a good processor, and over $100 for the best brands.
- Features – Will it be able to do all the things you want to use it for?
- Brand – Cuisinart and KitchenAid are generally the most popular brands of food processor, but we love Vitamix and Breville too.
Best Food Processors
1. Best All-Around: Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
by Sur La Table
This is a solid food processor. It’s more than big enough for someone who has to cook for themselves and a few others on the regular, and it’s powerful enough to chop nearly anything you want.
It’s also really easy to use, with a classic two-button design (the “on” button, which rotates the chosen blade until turned off, and the “off/pulse” button, which turns off the blade if it’s already spinning or only spoons the blade for as long as the button is pressed down).
If you’re only going to buy one food processor and don’t have any special needs for it, this should be your #1 choice.
2. Best Attachments: KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor
The price may be a bit higher than the all-around champ 14-cup Cuisinart, but KitchenAid throws in some extra blades and a dicing kit that justify it.
There are also high and low settings for the blade rotation so you can increase the processing precision even further.
It’s convenient to store all the extras in the in-bowl storage caddy and switching them out is easy thanks to a Snap-n-Go mechanism in the appliance.
3. Best Splurge: Breville Sous-Chef Food Processor
by Sur La Table
The name of this food processor doesn’t lie: it really is like having a little sous-chef waiting to slice your ingredients exactly how you want them.
The unparalleled precision offered by this model is made possible by the adjustable blades, especially the micro-serrated universal blade with 24 thickness settings from .5mm to 8mm. The larger feeding tube is very nice, too, because it allows you to process larger ingredients without cutting them in half first.
This quality food processor comes with a higher price tag but its amenities make it well worth it.
4. Best Mid-Sized Model: Cuisinart Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor
Coming in at around $100 and with just enough capacity to cook for three people, Cuisinart comes through with another solid machine.
It’s surprisingly sturdy and powerful for the price, and it has both “high” and “low” processing settings – uncharacteristic for this price point. Our only complaint is that the exterior materials used are pretty susceptible to scratches and nicks.
5. Best Features: Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup Food Processor with Dicer
This model looks great on the counter. It’s the perfect size, and the “gunmetal” finish (the actual word used on the box) looks beautiful.
It also comes with a bunch of alternate blade types, along with a dicing disc and an extra 4-cup processor bowl, all of which fit nicely into an aesthetically pleasing attachment case, included.
A patented safety technology even locks the blades when the device is not in use and seals the bowl via metal claps when it is.
6. Best Separate Attachment: Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment
If you already have a base, this attachment is the way to go. Though it is not a separate appliance, this food processing bowl (with self-detect base) that fits onto all Ascent and Venturist brand motor bases.
That being said, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have another food processor bowl (especially a nicely made one like this model) to pop onto your food processor. Being able to process two foods at once for a single recipe is really great.
7. Best Micro-Processor: Cuisinart 3-Cup Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor
by Sur La Table
This one’s obviously not big enough to prepare entire meals, but it’s perfect for grinding or chopping just a bit of vegetables (or some other soft ingredient) for use in a salad or dip.
It’s simple to use, simple to clean, and really small, too, so it’s great for transporting around with you. The one major caveat is that you can’t grind anything too hard, like carrots or seeds.
8. Best Bachelor Pad Model: Cuisinart 4-Cup Elemental Food Processor
This food processor has all of the features of a bigger food processor, but packed into a size that is more than big enough for one person or maybe even big enough for two.
The safety features are on-point, and the price tag is relatively lower. It also looks amazingly good for such an inexpensive model – we wouldn’t expect anything less from Cuisinart.
Common Food Processor Questions
Things to avoid include:
• Hot foods or liquids
• Fruit peels
• Meat gristle
• Baked nuts
There are specialty food processors that can handle most of these foods. If you want to process hot liquids, for example, you can search online for food processors made from glass or heat-resistant plastic.
You can chop a lot of onions at once in a food processor, but you’ll have to mince them by hand from there. “Mincing” means cutting a vegetable up into pieces as small as physically possible without them turning into mush, and food processor blades (save the most luxurious ones used in professional kitchens) just don’t have that sort of precision.
No, the two devices are not interchangeable. For instance, the primary difference is that a blender has a stronger motor and can crush or puree ice. A food processor, on the other hand, has more “finesse.” Whereas a blender simply obliterates and liquefies whatever is put in, a food processor chops the food in the desired fashion.
Food processors save a tremendous amount of time in the kitchen. We can’t tell you how many times we have thanked our lucky stars that we have one to take make a tedious task speedy. We can’t even imagine having to do something like dice onions for an entire dinner party without one.
Hopefully, this post helps you decide which is the best food processor for you so you don’t have to suffer that fate.
Last update on 2022-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API