the best food processors have
performance. All food processors can chop, slice, shred and
purée foods, but they don't all perform equally well. It's easy to be seduced
by features like multiple speeds and fancy attachments, but these are no
substitute for performance. It's much easier to buy extra blades later to do
specific jobs than it is to replace a machine that can't handle the basics.
- Versatility. Any food
processor with a larger capacity than about 7 cups should have a wide variety
of discs and blades for chopping, grating, pureeing, mixing and shredding.
Smaller food processors are designed just to chop, mix and puree.
- A wide feed tube. The
narrower the feed tube, the more pre-chopping you'll have to do to ensure food
will fit into the machine.
- Solid construction. Look for
sturdy bowls and blades that are securely seated in their plastic housing. A
heavier base contributes to stability. Some problems aren't obvious on visual
inspection, so make sure the machine you choose receives good ratings from
users for long-term durability as well.
- Easy assembly. On
virtually all food processors the parts must be correctly aligned before it
will turn on. Ideally, the parts should snap securely into place with an
audible click, so you know it's properly placed. Also, be aware that some
machines won't run unless the pusher is in the feed tube. This feature can be
frustrating to some because it makes it harder to add more material, but it's a
helpful safety feature as it prevents hurried cooks from using their fingers or
another item, such as a knife or spatula, to push items into the food processor,
preventing injury or damage to the person and the appliance.
- Quiet operation. A
full-sized food processor should get very good or excellent ratings for
quietness. Mini choppers are louder by nature, but shouldn't be deafening.
- A decent warranty. We found
food processor warranties ranging from one to three years, with the motor
covered for as long as 10 years. Equally important to the length of the
warranty is how easy it is to get service. Some companies will send new parts
free of charge, while others require you to mail the machine in for service at
your own expense.
Know before you go
you use it? If you want a food processor mostly for small jobs
like mincing garlic and herbs, you might be better off with a mini food
processor or food chopper. If you plan to do a lot of cooking for a big crowd,
by contrast, you may need a bigger machine that holds up to 14 cups. (For most
home users, experts say a 7- to 9-cup capacity is usually sufficient.) If you
need to prepare both small and large batches, then a full-sized food processor
that comes with a mini bowl for smaller jobs is a good choice. You should also
focus on how the food processor performs at the jobs you intend to do most
often, such as puréeing baby food or kneading dough.
Is a food
processor the right tool? One of the biggest complaints we see when
looking at food processor reviews is that they leak. That's because most food
processors are not designed to process large batches of liquid. Most food
processor guidelines say you should not fill the bowl fuller than about half if
you're making liquids, so if you need a machine primarily for soups, an immersion blender or full-size blender will probably be a better
choice. Alternatively, if you bake a lot, mixers will handle dough
better than any food processor. We cover all of these kitchen appliances in their
will you store it? Larger machines tend to be heavier, making it
difficult to retrieve from a cabinet; they are more suited to storing on a
countertop -- and they also require more counter space. Don't forget that
attachments, such as spare blades, need to be stored too. Some models include
cases for this purpose, but many don't. Keeping sharp blades securely stowed is
especially important for those with young children.
you clean it? Many food processors have dishwasher-safe parts --
bowls, blades and other attachments -- that can make cleanup much easier. If
you don't have a dishwasher, however, it's more important to find a model that
can easily be washed by hand.