Using a food processor is like having your own personal sous chef — owning one will save you from having to do tons of tedious and tiring prep work. One question we get asked a lot: What's the difference between a food processor and a blender? If you want a coarse texture, a food processor will get the job done. Blenders are better for fine grinding and pureeing smooth concoctions.
The Good Housekeeping Institute’s Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab tested how evenly food processors were able to dice onions, mince parsley, grind parmesan cheese, slice tomatoes, shred carrots and mozzarella, and knead dough. We also took note of how quickly each model performed these tasks and how much food was left unprocessed. Then we checked ease of use, looking at how helpful the owner’s manual was, how easy the blades, chute, and lid were to assemble, the ease of use of controls, the variety of setting offered, and cleanability.
Our top Lab pick is the Breville Sous Chef. It's top-of-the-line when it comes to performance, featuring a super powerful motor, a micro-serrated S-blade, an adjustable slicer with 24 settings (ranging from paper-thin to thick-cut), a reversible shredder, a dough blade, and more. It aced every test, dicing onions, mincing parsley, and uniformly sliced tomatoes in seconds.
Overall, the best food processors to buy in 2019 are:
Best Overall Food Processor: Breville Sous Chef
Best Value Food Processor: Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap
Most Versatile Food Processor: Cuisinart Elemental Food Processor
Best Small Food Processor: KitchenAid Mini Food Chopper
Best Large Food Processor: KitchenAid Food Processor
Best Timeless Food Processor: Cuisinart Prep 9
Easiest to Use Food Processor:
Oster Total Prep
What makes a great food processor?
A top-performing food processor should be able to take on whole or large pieces of fresh produce, like onions, carrots, herbs, or potatoes and blitz them into uniform pieces (dices or shreds) in very little time. They should also be able to take on tasks like grinding hard cheeses, pureeing soups or sauces, making emulsions like mayo, and even kneading dough for bread.
When shopping, look for a model that has blades for slicing foods like tomatoes or cheese, too. We also recommend getting one with a large-sized feed tube in front and making sure it has a pulse setting — both of these features will make using your chopper more intuitive. Below, you'll find more info on our top-tested chopper plus six other food processors we think you’ll love.
Best Overall Food Processor
Breville Sous Chef
Thanks to a super powerful motor, Breville’s Sous Chef is the MVP when it comes to performance. It’s stacked with bells and whistles to give you ultimate versatility, including a micro-serrated S-blade, an adjustable slicer with 24 settings (ranging from paper-thin to thick-cut), a reversible shredder, a dough blade, and more.
This model earned perfect scores in nearly all of our tests, turning out evenly diced onions, minced (read: not bruised) parsley, perfectly ground Parmesan, and uniformly sliced tomatoes in seconds. The sleek silver Sous Chef has multiple feeding tubes, one of which is large enough to hold an entire tomato or one-pound block of mozzarella.
Best Value Food Processor
Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap
Hamilton Beach's Stack & Snap proves that you don't need to spend a fortune to get a top-performing food processor. In our testing, it was able to evenly grind parmesan cheese, mince parsley, and slice tomatoes paper thin. The black and stainless steel base features grey push-button controls for slicing/shredding, pureeing/mixing, and pulsing, and three blades have you covered for slicing, shredding, and chopping.
We found assembling the Stack & Snap to be easier than most food processors: Because the lid locks on with two latches, you don't have to fuss with the typical lining-up-and-twisting-the-lid-into-place routine.
Most Versatile Food Processor
Cuisinart Elemental Food Processor
Cuisinart's food processor includes interchangeable 13-cup and 4.5-cup work bowls — so you can use it to prep salsa or coleslaw for a large party or just for two. It also comes with an adjustable slicing disc, a reversible shredding disc (for medium or fine consistency), a dough blade, a dicing disc, a versatile chopping blade, a cleaning tool, and a storage case to hold your accessories. In our tests, this machine earned high scores at nearly every task, including kneading bread dough and shredding mozzarella cheese.
Best Small Food Processor
KitchenAid Mini Chopper
Looking for a food processor but don’t have the storage space to donate to a full-sized model? This compact model is a smart pick for little kitchens, dorm rooms, or those who tend to make small portions. Because it only comes with one multipurpose chopping blade, you won’t be able to slice tomatoes in it, but we found the lack of attachments made it a breeze to use. It pulses at two speeds (chop or puree), all parts included are dishwasher safe, and with 16 shades to choose from you can match it to your kitchen.
Best Large Food Processor
KitchenAid Food Processor
KitchenAid's 14-cup food processor is pricey, but you'll get your money's worth from this large, heavy-duty model — plus it's pretty enough to park permanently on the countertop. It comes stacked with blades and attachments to give you ultimate versatility, including an additional four-cup work bowl, two lids (one with and one without a feed tube), an adjustable slicing disc, reversible shredding disc, two multipurpose blades, a dough blade, dicing kit, cleaning tool, and a storage case to neatly hold it all.
Best Timeless Food Processor
Cuisinart Prep 9
The Cuisinart Prep 9 excelled at everything in our tests, even tricky jobs like slicing tomatoes and shredding carrots. It's a classic food processor with very basic, easy-to-use controls — just three buttons (for on, off, and pulse) are included — which makes this the ideal model for those who are new to food processing.
The nine-cup capacity should be ample for most home cooks, but Cuisinart's 11-cup sister model (the Prep 11 Plus) is ideal if you entertain often and are making larger batches. This Cuisinart includes a slicer disc, shredding disc, new chopping blade, detachable stem, spatula, and recipe book.
Easiest to Use Food Processor
Oster Total Prep
The Oster Total Prep was one of the easiest-to-use food processors we evaluated. This no-frills black model comes with an S-shaped blade for chopping, a dough blade, a reversible shredding and slicing disc, and has a lid and feed tube that are both super easy to assemble.
And for quick cleanup, all parts and accessories are dishwasher-safe. In our tests, it evenly processed diced onions and shredded carrots, though it did leave parsley slightly bruised when mincing. But at this price, who could care?
5 surprising things your food processor can do
- Grate Parmesan cheese. We love the microplane fine zester/grater for a quick shower of Parm to top a bowl of pasta but when the lasagna recipe calls for a ½ cup or maybe more, hand grating can be tedious... trust us, we know. If you cut your wedge of cheese into chunks about 1-inch in size, and whiz them in the processor fitted with the blade, not the grating attachment, you'll be amazed at the results.
- Knead dough. No more excuses left for not making your own pie crust. Yes, you still have to measure out the ingredients, but the processor combines them quickly and expertly!
- Mince parsley. While generally there's a limit to how much you can process, when it comes to curly parsley leaves, you can pack them in to the top of the bowl. Try this the next time you make a healthy salad.
- Whip up dressings and dips. Since their beginnings, food processors have been hailed for their ability to make mayonnaise. In the cap of the feed tube, there's a little tiny hole. If you add the oil through the hole, it flows into the eggs at just the right pace to be absorbed and turn into mayo. But let's be honest, who among us makes their own these days? But, this technique works like a charm when you're making a mustardy or creamy salad dressing.
- Mix cookies. Simple cookie recipes that aren't weighed down with a ton of butter and flour, can be whizzed in the processor. In fact Susan Westmoreland's Chocolate-Hazelnut Macaroons calls for first grinding the nuts and chocolate and then mixing them in the processor bowl, reducing the number of steps and pieces of equipment you have to wash up. —Sharon Franke
5 food processor mistakes to avoid
- Throwing in a whole onion. Before chopping, cut food into even size chunks for more even processing. It also helps to drop chopped pieces through the feed tube while the food processor's in operation instead of loading them all in the bowl before you start.
- Ignoring the pulse button. By pressing pulse to run the processor intermittently, you'll get more even results. If your food processor doesn't have an automatic pulse feature, simply press it on and off intermittently.
- Not applying pressure. When shredding or slicing, try to exert even pressure on food as you push it down to keep it steady in the tube and get uniform results.
- Using it instead of a blender. Not sure when to use your food processor and when to use the blender? If you want a coarse texture, a food processor will get the job done. Blenders are better for fine grinding and pureeing smooth concoctions.
- Walking away. Be sure not to do something else while the food processor's operating, particularly if you're preparing a heavy load like yeast dough as the processor can "walk" on, or even fall off of, the countertop. —Sharon Franke
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