What Size Food Processor Should I Buy
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The answer to this question is a nearly endless list. Food processors are handy tools that can whizz up sauces like homemade aioli, pesto, vinaigrette, and more with just a few pulses. Thicker paste-like items also come together quickly in a food processor, whereas a blender might struggle to fully incorporate ingredients without extra liquid (think hummus or even pizza dough), Food processors can also make quick work of cumbersome chopping tasks. You can even chop nuts, make breadcrumbs, and DIY cauliflower rice in your food processor. Mince onion, carrot, and celery for a classic Italian Bolognese in the time it takes to heat up the pan! A food processor can also replace a box grater, mandoline, and even many knife work tasks with some strategic use.
The short answer here is: kind of, yes. The two aren't totally interchangeable, but you can squeak by if you only have a food processor and are without a blender. A food processor doesn't perform as well as a blender for things like smoothies or icy drinks, and it won't be able to fully break down things like small seeds or flecks of veggies skins, but it will do a passable job. If you're looking to make your signature Tuscan kale pasta sauce that usually comes out an even, brilliant green with no trace of bits of kale, know that it'll be a bit more 'rustic' in a food processor.
Food processors are incredibly versatile, but a few things are better left to other appliances. When you turn a food processor on, the blades create a force that moves the food much farther up the sides than the initial fill line. Because of this, recipes with a lot of liquid or anything hot are not ideal for food processors as they can make a disastrous mess or even burn you. On that note, never put hot nuts fresh from the oven in a food processor. Not only can they melt the plastic (those babies get hot!), but the hot nuts will take on a gummy, less-than-ideal texture in the food processor.
While a food processor's blade is razor sharp, avoid putting things in the bowl that will dull or damage the blade. Things like meat with bones, dry beans, frozen food, or anything with pits or hard seeds are major no-nos. In terms of safety, it's imperative that you never put any sort of utensils into the processor while it's on. Once it's off, avoid any metal utensils, they can damage the blade. Instead, nylon or silicone utensils are best for the blade and are much better for scraping every last bit of goodness from the bowl's walls.
KitchenAid is a beloved brand when it comes to kitchen appliances and its 13-cup Food Processor checked all of my boxes when it came to features I found desirable. The puree function tended to be more of a metric than chop among the food processors in this lineup, and while all the models I tested here eventually produced a perfectly worthy hummus, this KitchenAid model did so quickly, and with less noise than any other model, churning out a silky puree that was nearly restaurant-quality in its texture.
Food processors can be fussy when it comes to the locking bowls and lids that ensure the safety measures are in place to prevent blades from spinning out of control, but this model's lightweight, stacked design allows for particularly easy assembly. This is not nothing when considering whether it's worth the effort to take the food processor in and out of the cabinet. The fussier the mechanics, the more likely you are to forgo the food processor and just go the manual route.
Some of my favorite features of this model have to do with its easy storage capacity: the slicing/shredding discs and dough hook all fit in a compartment that fits within the bowl, and the base of the model includes a coil for wrapping the cord -- very few models are this self-contained with all of their parts -- making this a food processor that's always worth employing.
If you simply plug "food processor" into an Amazon search, this is the model that comes up as the bestseller, and achieves a favorable 4.6 out of 5 for over 35,000 ratings on the site. Listing for $60, and frequently discounted to only $40, it's easy to see why it would be a bestseller, but this Hamilton Beach model is much more than just its price tag. It's the closest to "plug and play" you can get with this kind of appliance, with an extremely easy setup.
At 450 watts, it's squarely in the middle of available motor muscle among food processors, but it was plenty powerful, producing evenly diced pico de gallo in about seven pulses. Its dial functionality is unusual among food processors, which mostly rely on buttons, but the dial settings were completely intuitive and easy to operate. Perhaps its best feature is the built-in bowl scraper, which prevents having to continually open the lid to scrape down the sides. If you're already a regular food processor user, you'll understand the value of this.
File this under small but mighty. This KitchenAid Food Chopper is too modest, in my opinion, by not calling itself a food processor and it's the best model for those with limited counter space. It doesn't include slicing and shredding discs like the other models in this list, but performed the chopping and pureeing functions equal to just about all of them, including a full pint of perfectly smooth hummus, in a machine scarcely the size of a french-press coffee pot. The cord easily winds up inside the base, making this a terrific option for people whose storage space is the limiting factor. If decor is also a consideration you make when choosing kitchen appliances, this model also comes in a variety of bright, KitchenAid colors.
Ninja has made a name for itself in the smoothie game, so it's no surprise that it also is a worthy contender when it comes to food processors. This Ninja Professional model has among the highest user satisfaction ratings on Amazon, at 4.8 out of 5, with more than 5,000 ratings. Its lock-and-release lid inspires confidence and is easy to operate, and the bowl itself has a built-in measuring cup, which is a nice feature.
At 18 pounds, with sparse buttons for basically on/puree and off/pulse, this Cuisinart Custom model is a tank and the best heavy-duty food processor we tested. For many, it is the prototype of what you think of when you hear the words "food processor." It also tops the list of many review sites, but be aware that its heft does not inspire regularly pulling it out of the cabinet, which runs you the risk of not using it as often as the lighter-on-their-feet models here.
For me, its bowl and lid were a bit fussy to align but its sturdiness combined with big power here makes it the ideal candidate if you imagine your greatest use for a food processor would be grinding homemade nut butter, or some other task that requires power food processing and extended use.
If you're routinely serving extended family, a football team or are considering starting a catering or food truck operation, the Magimix 4200XL is a professional-grade food processor with a price tag just above that of your largest home models. This is a serious food processor that carries a serious footprint -- the box weighs nearly 25 pounds -- and while the processor itself isn't above average in size for food processors of similar volume, the additional slicing and shredding discs and kneading paddle come in their own separate carrying case.
As a culinary school-trained home cook, I've logged countless hours using these handy kitchen sidekicks. To find the best food processors available in 2023, I tested eight popular models in terms of their ease of setup and use, as well as efficiency and efficacy in their two primary functions. There are also many blender-food processors hybrids available, but for this list, I was focused on single-purpose food processors.
The list of food processor models I chose to test was assembled based on a combination of previous CNET food processor picks and those that have also been well-vetted and appear on multiple review sites' best lists. I also considered best-selling and consistently highly rated models at major retailer sites such as Amazon, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Williams-Sonoma.
I was primarily concerned with each food processor's chop and puree functions, and tested the same pico de gallo and hummus recipe on each of them, looking for ease and intuitiveness of use, and consistency in the end product: whether the veggies were uniformly chopped and the hummus consistently smooth. I tested the shred and slice capabilities, where applicable, with carrots, looking again for ease of use and uniformity. (If I am honest, while I found the shredding feature of a food processor to be well worth it, especially where shred-heavy recipes like carrot cake or latkes are concerned, I'd probably pass on any of these food processors for a mandoline when it came to slicing.) I also considered other factors such as noise level while operating, ease of setup and storage capabilities.
While all the food processors I tested can basically get the job done when it comes to chopping, pureeing, shredding and slicing, they come in various sizes and bowl volumes with a range of additional features and price points. If size or price are limiting factors for you, the decision is going to become very easy as you'll be able to quickly narrow the field to smaller and less expensive models. If price doesn't matter much, and you have unlimited cabinet space for storage, a good place to begin might be by considering what sort of use you imagine you have for a food processor on a regular basis.
There are no standard sizes for food processors, but they are typically categorized based on their bowl volumes: small models in the 3- to 6-cup range, medium in the 7- to 10-cup range, and large in the 10- to 13-cup range. Lightweight models weigh between 5 and 10 pounds, whereas heavier-duty models can be 15 pounds and above. The lighter models tend to have suction feet on the base, to prevent movement while the food processor is operating.
Food processors are primarily used to chop or dice and puree, with an S-shaped, rotating blade doing the work. Shredding and slicing are other typical uses, but different food processors may include two-sided discs for these functions, or separate discs for each, and may include a separate anchor pin that holds these discs in place, where the main S-blade is removed. Short doughs such as pie crusts can be made in a food processor, but kneaded doughs are also possible, with several of the models here offering separate, plastic S-blades for this purpose. 781b155fdc