Food processors are designed to handle a whole bunch of tasks that would otherwise need to be performed manually. Every food processor is different, but most food processors offer the same basic functionalities.
They’re great for shredding cheese (see 'Best Food Processors for Grating Cheese')and vegetables, they can make kneading dough effortless ('Best Food Processors for Pie Crust'), and they can chop everything from nuts to ice to breadcrumbs. Interchangeable blades tend to be a standard feature and other dishwasher-safe parts that can be removed and cleaned with ease (see here for more on maintainance).
But while most food processors are designed to do the same basic jobs, not every appliance gets the job done as efficiently or consistently. Whatever your primary intended use for a food processor, it’s important to find the best food processor for your needs.
Finding a good food processor on today’s market isn’t difficult – your job is to find the ideal food processor for your kitchen and home.
Food Processors: Features and Functionalities
Narrowing things down to a shortlist of appliances means focusing on the features and functionalities that matter most to you. Each of the following should therefore be considered when looking to understand the difference between one appliance and the next:
1. Bowl Capacity
First up, it’s entirely up to you how large or small you need the work bowl to be. For basic meal prep for just one or two people, you’ll get away with a fairly small bowl capacity. If looking to feed a whole family on a regular basis, you’ll need something that can accommodate at least 10 cups of 14 cups of food.
Along with the capacity of the bowl, also opt for something with a wide feed tube if you’ll be processing larger quantities of food on a regular basis. The last thing you want is a feeding tube that’s too narrow to accommodate the food you intend to process.
Interchangeable blades are an absolute must to facilitate the chopping, shredding, and blending of various wet and dry ingredients. Any decent food processor will come with a whole host of attachments, but you also need to consider the quality of the blades the machine ships with.
Having all the blades in the world is all well and good, but not if they are too blunt to be effective. This is something that can quickly become tiresome with a budget food processor, making it difficult to process anything at all. It’s also worth checking whether the blades can safely be cleaned in a dishwasher.
3. Power (Wattage)
Power and speed controls should also be considered, as this can make all the difference in processing capabilities. Different models feature different power and speed settings, though it’s worth checking the actual power output of the motor in all cases.
Generally speaking, opting for something in the region of 700 Watts is the way to go. You’re unlikely to need more than this when dealing with everyday tasks unless you plan on using your appliance for commercial purposes.
This is where things start to get a little more complex, as food processors come with a dizzying array of functions and supposed selling points. Some brands really go to town with the kinds of weird and wonderful functionalities you will probably never use.
It’s, therefore, better to focus on the functions and settings you actually need in order to feed yourself and your family. Grinding meat, shredding hard cheese, dicing (see 'Best Food Processors for Dicing'), a pulse function, a slower speed setting to slice which doubles – all practical everyday essentials. Don’t focus too much on elaborate functionalities you’ll never use, or you could end up spending more money than you need to.
The vast majority of food processors come with a standard manufacturer’s warranty of one year. However, some of the best food processors on the market come with a significantly longer warranty. For example, any new-generation Cuisinart food processor will come with a three-year warranty as standard.
This is something that should be factored in when shopping for the best food processor, as it could make a huge difference in terms of long-term value for money. Cheap kitchen food processors are all well and good, but not if the lid cracks, the blades break, and the motor fails after just one year.
6. Juicer Function
Increasingly, top brands are designing and manufacturing food processes that can also function as a juicer. If your food processor can juice fruits and vegetables effectively and efficiently, you can free up more space in your kitchen with just a single appliance.
However, it’s worth remembering that there is a big difference between juicing and blending. Any food processor can blend fruits into mush, but this isn’t quite the same as juice extraction. You, therefore, need to be mindful of what ‘juicing’ actually means if listed as a selling point for a processor.
Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing a food processor that’s easy to clean. Where cleaning a food processor is time-consuming and laborious, you may as well process the food manually yourself.
Ideally, you should be looking for something with as many dishwasher-safe components as possible. Or, if not, a bowl and attachments that can be easily removed and cleaned with standard dishwashing liquid. Anything with awkward corners and crevices that are difficult to reach should be avoided – both for convenience and hygiene purposes.
8. Size and Stability
A full-sized food processor can be a large and imposing machine. Not to mention a pretty powerful piece of equipment that should have been manufactured with a total focus on safety. A food processor that vibrates itself to destruction or dances all over the kitchen counter is never a wise investment.
This is often where the difference lies between a cheap food processor and the best food processor available. Those in the latter category will almost always be quieter, stable, and safer than their low-price counterparts. A small price to pay for a safe and stable food processor you can count on.
9. Speed Controls
Do you need more than the three basic speed controls most processors feature as standard? More often than not, you’ll find that a food processor can be operated in three ways - on, off, and pulse. Elsewhere, you’ll find those that can process food in a whole bunch of different ways, with specific results in mind.
These more sophisticated processor models can certainly be convenient but may also provide you with functionalities you simply do not need. Again, it’s a case of deciding whether you’ll be using your processor for a wide variety of purposes, or simply for chopping basic ingredients for every recipe.
10. Feedback and Recommendations
Lastly, don’t make the mistake of buying an appliance of any kind without first consulting plenty of customer reviews and recommendations. This applies to all kitchen gadgets across the board, as this is often the only source of 100% objective information you have access to.
See what those who have actually bought the device in question have to say about its performance. If it’s earned positive praise from most buyers, it’s most likely a safe bet if you come across a disproportionate number of complaints, set your sights on something else.
Should I Buy a Blender or Mini Chopper?
There are instances where both of these devices can prove hugely useful when preparing meals. However, neither can perform the same number of tasks and functions as a food processor.
As the name suggests, a blender is just that – a device designed to blend ingredients to a smooth or liquid consistency. They’re versatile enough in their own right, capable of whipping cream, crushing dry ingredients, and making smooth shakes. However, a blender will rarely (if ever) come with any interchangeable blades or accessories, limiting its capacity to perform multiple functions.
The same also applies to a mini chopper, which for all intents and purposes, is basically a manual food processor. In this instance, you may get an extensive range of different attachments and cutting tools in the package. But as the chopper is operated manually, it doesn’t have nearly the same kind of speed or cutting power as a full-sized processor.
Both are great tools to have around the kitchen but cannot take the place of a food processor due to their inherent limitations.
How to Choose a Food Processor:
Realistically, picking up the best food processor for your home is little more than a two-step process:
1.Work out your budget and decide how much money you want to spend
2. Choose a processor you can afford that covers your needs and has excellent feedback
Technology has advanced significantly over the years, making it simpler than ever to find a dependable food processor at a low price. As is customary, relying on the market's most known and trustworthy producers is the prudent course of action.
Particularly with regard to products such as extended warranties, which can substantially influence long-term cost-effectiveness.