Best Food Processors-Top Products And Buying Guide
One of the most useful tools in any kitchen is a food processor. Often confused with a blender, a food processor is a multi-purpose appliance that can make the toughest kitchen task easy. A good food processor can chop, mince, pulverize and blend almost any ingredient with just a push of a button.
Food Processor Versus Blender
Many people use a food processor as a blender. This usually works very well and you can turn out smoothies and other mixed drinks easily with a food processor. It’s not the same if you try to use a blender as a food processor. A blender has a tall, narrow mixing jar with small blades at the bottom. These blades usually can’t be removed and can be difficult to clean. Most blenders can’t chop solid vegetables or chop foods very well. There are differences in the motors and how much power each unit will have. It’s not recommended that a blender be substituted for a food processor. These ratings and reviews are for food processors and their capabilities.
The Best Food Processors For 2021
#1 Cuisinart 14 Cup Food Processor
Cuisinart is one of the most respected names in kitchen appliances and this heavy duty food processor continues that tradition. This is a solid unit, the base is stainless steel and even the plastic components feel sturdy.
Cuisinart has given this food processor an extremely powerful 720 watt motor. This motor is strong enough to handle any chopping or pulverizing job you may give it, plus it’s strong enough to handle heavy bread dough. The controls are easy to use and intuitive. Placed at the base of the unit they are simple to use and very accessible.
One of our pet peeves with some food processors (and blenders) is a small bowl. You never want to have to split a recipe because the bowl on your food processor is too small. This unit has a very generous 14 cup bowl, large enough for almost any project. It’s large enough to handle up to 4 1/2 cups of flour for a dough recipe, meaning you can knead almost any bread recipe in this processor.
Included with this appliance are three blades; a slicing disk, a shredding disk and a chopping blade. You also receive a heavy plastic dough hook, great for taking the work out of kneading dough. The extra wide chute allows you to easily and safely add food to the processor while it is in operation. The bowl, the food chute and the blades and dough hook are all dishwasher safe, helping to make clean up a breeze.
-A very large and powerful 720 watt motor. This motor is large enough to handle any chopping or pulverizing task that you may have.
-A large 14 cup bowl. This is a great size, big enough to handle any recipe that you may want to try.
-3 cutting blades and a dough hook. This gives you a huge variety of options for slicing, cutting, shredding and chopping.
-You receive a spatula (always nice to have an extra one of those, a recipe book and very clear instructions.
-There is no adjustment available for the slicing blades.
-Only 2 settings, pulse and high, for function settings. You don’t usually need many but pulse, high and low would be a better mix of settings.
#2 Ninja Mega Kitchen System
Naming anything Ninja can be a risk. Is it just marketing or is this product really tough, fast and a bit mysterious. Not just a marketing gimmick, this system earns the title Ninja. It is a system, you have a food processor and a blender all in one. Plus, you have the ability to make one serving smoothie in the glass that you will be drinking it from.
Wow, what set up this is. First, it’s a very good food processor with an extremely powerful motor. Next, it’s a very good blender that can turn out smoothies like a pro. Last, it’s a mini-blender that not only makes single serving drinks but mixes them in the container that you will be drinking out of. Brilliant!
With such a large motor this processor can handle the hardiest of vegetables that need to be chopped. A slight drawback is the 8 cup bowl, a larger one would be more useful. The design of the bowl is very good however, and chopping and shredding are done very well. There is one multi-function blade included as well as a dough hook.
The blender piece of this unit is a very nice addition. The 72 ounce mixing jar is huge, you can easily turn out large batches of smoothies or mixed drinks. This set also comes with two 16 ounce heavy glass cups, both with to-go lids. These are designed so that you can mix your drink right into the cup you want to use, blend it, slap the to-go lid on and you are ready to travel. No need to use the large mixing jar, cutting down on your clean up.
All of the mixing bowls, jars and glasses, as well as the lids, food chute and blades, are dishwasher safe. The blades are easy to remove and overall clean up is quite simple.
-An extremely powerful motor. At 1500 watts you will have sufficient power to chop or pulverize any ingredient that you can put into this machine. Bread dough was easily kneaded with this unit.
-Crushes ice like a pro. It can be tough for some units to crush ice smoothly, this appliance handles it with no problem.
-Multiple speed settings. While you don’t need a ton of settings, there are 5 different settings with this unit.
-Blender attachment. I know that we are reviewing food processors and that the differences between the two appliances has been spelled out, but I like the blender attachment.
-A very small chopping bowl. 8 cups is definitely on the small end of the scale. You may find times that you have to halve a recipe to get it done properly.
-Only 1 cutting blade is included. You can slice and chop very well with this blade but it would be nice to have a slicing blade as one more option.
-Doesn’t blend foods as well as other processors. This is due to the lack of blade options.
#3 Hamilton Beach 10 Cup Processor
Hamilton Beach is another well known US based manufacturer of kitchen appliances. While their products tend to be more value priced, the units themselves are usually very well made and do a great job in the kitchen. This food processor does just that and for less than half the cost of the Cuisinart model.
The main selling point of this appliance (besides the low price) is the bowl scraping system. One flaw with most food processors is that you constantly have to scrape down the sides of the bowl. As food is chopped, blended or pureed it tends to climb up the sides of the bowl, requiring a good scraping to make sure that everything gets mixed properly.
Hamilton Beach has designed a system to help avoid that problem, and it’s surprisingly simple. The built in scraper looks a bit like a spider but it does a wonderful job of scraping the sides of the bowl, even when you are chopping or pulsing an ingredient. There is nothing more annoying than constantly having to start and then stop to scrape the bowl, this device does it for you.
The bowl is 10 cups, a decent size. Bigger would be better but 10 cups will generally be sufficient. There are 2 blades but you actually have 3 options for blades. The slicing blade is reversible, making it a shredding blade. The three options give you a lot of flexibility when you are preparing foods. The bowl, the feed chute and the blades are all dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
-The built in bowl scraper is genius. It eliminates one of the time wasters when it comes to using a food processor and scrapes the bowl for you. The fact that you can use the scraper while chopping foods makes it doubly convenient.
-A tremendous value.
You can usually find this appliance for under $50. Other good quality food processors can run up to $300, making this a very good value for the dollar.
-3 different options for blades, even though you only have 2 separate blades. With one blade being reversible you can shred or slice. The other blade is for chopping.
-A large feed chute allows you to easily add foods while the processor is working. This makes life so much easier, once again you don’t have to stop the unit every time you want to add an ingredient.
-3 speed options. There are 2 speeds, high and low, plus a pulse setting. This will usually cover any speed needs for processing.
-Only a 10 cup bowl. Once again we have a unit with a smaller bowl. While 10 cups is sufficient for most recipes, 12 or 14 cups would be more practical.
-A smaller motor. At only 450 watts this unit contains one of the smaller motors found in a food processor. It’s probably not strong enough to handle a bread dough (there is no dough hook anyway) and it will work hard to crush ice.
#4 KitchenAid 11 Cup Food Processor
Another very highly respected brand name is KitchenAid. We have already rated one of their stand up mixers as our #1 choice and this food processor continues with the same emphasis on quality and durability.
KitchenAid has put a powerful motor in this food processor (model KFP1133cu). It’s a 750 watt power system, making it strong enough to crush or chop most any foods, plus crush ice easily. There are 3 speed settings; low, high and pulse, giving you an adequate amount of options for speed.
Also a part of the slicing system is an added feature called Exact Slice System. This is an external lever that allows you to control the thickness of the slicing being done. It’s a great idea and I wish that more manufacturers would add something like this to their units. It allows you to slice foods at different depths, other appliances have only one option.
This unit has a good sized 11 cup bowl, large enough to handle almost any kitchen task you may have. While some of the units reviewed have bowls that are 10 cups or less, this bowl is large enough to even handle a full batch of bread dough, and the motor is strong enough to mix and knead the dough very well. There also is a smaller 3 cup bowl included, a perfect size for sauces or single serving drinks.
You get a delightfully large assortment of blades with this set. There are 4 blades and 1 bread hook included, with one of the blades being reversible. This collection gives you a huge variety in the types of slicing, shredding and chopping that can be done. Both of the bowls, all of the blades and hooks, as well as the 3 part food chute can be tossed into the dishwasher, making this an easy unit to keep clean.
-It’s a KitchenAid. That can mean a lot if you use your kitchen appliances a lot. They are known for quality and have a good reputation for handling issues if there are problems with the processor.
-A large assortment of blades. 4 blades, with one being reversible, plus a dough kneader.
-A good sized bowl, with a smaller bowl for smaller jobs. The 11 ounce bowl is large enough to handle just about any recipe of project that you may have. The small bowl is a nice extra, you can mix and blend small amounts of sauce or drinks without having to use the large bowl.
-A good sized motor. It’s strong enough to handle most chopping jobs plus it crushes ice very well. The motor is also strong enough to handle a dense bread dough recipe.
-Only one blade works with the small bowl. While the small bowl is not a critical part of this food processor, having only one blade option adds limitations to what you can do with the small mixing bowl.
-The base is light and the casing is plastic. While the unit feels solid there is not a lot of durable materials used in the construction.
-The storage case that comes with this unit is unnecessary and is poorly made.
#5 Oster 2 Speed 10 Cup Food Processor
Oster has released a very basic, but very good, 2 speed food processor with a decent sized mixing bowl. If you don’t think you will be using your food processor a lot (maybe only once or twice a month), then this unit may be the way to go. It will get most basic jobs done and it is usually retailed at a very low price.
There are not a lot of bells and whistles on this unit, but then you aren’t paying for them either. This is a value priced, strictly functional food processor that will chop and pulverize. Nothing fancy but certainly capable of doing what you expect it to do.
The motor is on the small side, 500 watts. That means it is large enough to chop and slice most foods but it will struggle with heavy chores like chopping ice and working with bread dough. For basic slicing and shredding it works just fine.
There are actually 3 speeds on this appliance; low, high and pulse. The controls are simple to use and conveniently located. The pulse feature works well and does a good job of pulverizing most ingredients. There are 2 blades, with on being reversible for slicing or shredding. There also is a dough blade (not a hook) that works well on small batches of bread dough. The food chute is very wide at 5″, making it easy to add ingredients while the blades are running. The bowl, the food chute and the blades are all dishwasher safe.
One surprise was that, despite the very low price, the base was made of stainless steel. It helped to give the entire unit a feeling of durability and strength.
-An extremely attractive price. You can usually find this appliance for $40, making it the lowest priced food processor that we found.
-Oster is a well respected brand name and they have a solid reputation for service if needed.
-The 10 cup bowl is a nice size. It will handle most recipes with ease.
-3 blades. Again, considering the very low price of this unit, 3 blades seems like an exceptional value.
-500 watt motor. This is a very small motor for a food processor. While the price is outstanding, the small motor will limit what you can do with this unit. Bread dough is a real struggle at times and it is not recommended that you crush ice with this processor.
-The shredding blade (which reverses to become a slicing blade) tends to have trouble with soft cheeses. The cheese gets stuck between the blade and the bowl.
Best Food Processors Buying Guide
Choosing a good food processor at the best price shouldn’t be complicated but there are a few things to keep in mind before you make your purchase. The first is price. The units that we reviewed ranged in price for $40 to $250, so your budget has to be considered. The second thing to keep in mind is what you will be using your food processor for. The heavier the use, the sturdier you need your appliance to be.
The size of the motor will directly affect how you food processor handles certain tasks. As a rule, the larger the motor (measured by watts), the more chores that your unit will be able to do comfortably. The last sound you want to hear from the processor is a groaning, whining whirl as the motor struggles to chop a food or knead some bread dough. The flip side of this will be that prices will generally reflect the size of the motor. The bigger the motor, the higher the price.
Number And Types Of Blades
You want blades that can do the following tasks very well: chop, slice, shred, pulverize and knead. Kneading blades (or hooks) are very simple. There job is mix and bend the dough, working the dough as if you were kneading it by hand. There is no difference in the type of bread hooks or blades.
Slicing blades should work smoothly and result in a uniformed slicing. The most effect slicing blades will attach near the top of the bowl, allowing you to add food through the food chute. The sliced ingredients then fall to the bottom of the bowl. If the slicing blade is near the bottom of the bowl you will end up with uneven slices and sometimes shredded food.
Using Your Food Processor
Knowing what you plan on using your food processor for is a key step. If most of your uses will be for making drinks, chopping ice or pureeing foods, you may want to save some money and look at a blender. Blenders are simple tools, they mix and pulverize. A good food processor is meant to slice, chop, shred, knead and pulverize. If you are looking to create meal with different textured foods, or have recipes that call for a lot of sliced and shredded ingredients, you want a good food processor.
One last word….
Check the seals around the bowl and the base unit. If there is going to be any leaking, this is where it will happen. You don’t want to have the hassle of cleaning up every time you use your food processor.