What the best food processors have

  • Consistent 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 (juicers, egg beaters, French fry cutters and the like), but they're not a 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.
  • A wide feed tube. The narrower the feed tube is, 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. Watch out for persnickety machines that won't start unless every piece is aligned. Ideally, the parts should snap securely into place with an audible click. Also, be aware that some machines that won't run unless the pusher is in the feed tube. This feature can be frustrating because it makes it harder to add more material.
  • 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 30 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

How will 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 chopper. If you plan to do a lot of cooking for a big crowd, by contrast, you may want 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 you might choose a full-sized food processor that comes with a mini bowl for smaller jobs. 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. One job most food processors have trouble with is processing large batches of liquid, so if you need a machine primarily for soups, a good blender might be a better investment. See our blender report.

Where will you store it? Larger machines tend to be heavier, making it difficult to retrieve from a cabinet, thus, begging to be stored on a countertop. That said, bigger appliances also require more counter real estate. Don't forget that attachments, such as spare blades, need to be stored too. Some models include cases for this purpose. Keeping sharp blades securely stowed is especially important for those with young children.

How will 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.

What's to come

One newer option in this field is the food processor/blender combo: a motor unit that works with both a blender jar and a food processor bowl. At this time, however, most models in this category don't get very good reviews. One exception is the Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004 (*Est. $60), which has a 450-watt motorized lid and blades that attach to a bowl or pitcher made of BPA-free plastic. In a professional test, the Ninja Master outperforms all mini choppers, with great results for grating, chopping and puréeing. Owners say this unit is very versatile, good for everything from making milk shakes to mashing potatoes to, amazingly, grinding venison. However, some owners report problems with durability. A truly reliable blender/processor combo may still be some years away.

Food Processors Runners Up:

Cuisinart Custom 14 DFP-14BCN *Est. $200

5 picks including: Amazon.com, Cook's Illustrated Magazine…

KitchenAid KFP750PK *Est. $160

4 picks including: Amazon.com, Cook's Illustrated Magazine…

Cuisinart Mini-Prep DLC-1 *Est. $30

3 picks including: Amazon.com, Epinions.com…

Magimix 4200XL *Est. $350

3 picks including: The Wall Street Journal, Which? magazine…

Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus DLC-4CHB *Est. $50

3 picks including: About.com, Amazon.com…

Cuisinart Prep 9 DLC-2009CHB *Est. $160

2 picks including: Amazon.com, Good Housekeeping…

Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Deluxe 70575 *Est. $60

1 pick including: Amazon.com, Cook's Illustrated Magazine…

image
Cuisinart DFP-14BCN 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $325.00 $151.98   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
KitchenAid KFP750PK 700-Watt 12-Cup Food Processor, Cook for the Cure Komen Foundation Pink
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $249.99 $199.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Cuisinart DLC-1 Mini-Prep Food Processor, White
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $55.00 $22.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Cuisinart DLC-4CHB Mini-Prep Plus 4-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $90.00 $33.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $270.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Deluxe 14-Cup Food Processor
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $79.99 $58.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

Back to top