With all that they’re able to do in the kitchen, it’s no surprise that food processors can come with a high price tag. To make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, we tested 20 food processors in our Lab, evaluating them on design, ease of use, ease of cleaning, effectiveness, and value. In addition to seeking the advice of Sizemore, we also spoke to Mary Rodgers, Head of Marketing Communications at Cuisinart, and Alison Cayne, founder of Haven’s Kitchen, to help us figure out what makes a great food processor. Our top pick is the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor for its solid performance, easy-to-use design, and value for the money.Read on to see more of our top picks and learn how to choose the best food processor for your cooking needs.Who it isn’t for: People who want extra features such as multiple feeding tube sizes or a dedicated dough blade.Sizemore told us that she loves this model so much that it is the only food processor she recommends in her book. “The machine is a workhorse, with a solid base and large, sharp blade,” she says. “It’s also easy to use, without unnecessary bells and whistles. The large blade evenly distributes food and creates more consistent results than other processors.”We were pretty pleased with its performance, too. This food processor was able to evenly chop, shred, and slice the food we threw at it, and it emulsified our mayo very well. There were some inconsistencies with the thickness of the zucchini, as well as a couple of larger quarter pieces left over after mincing the onion, but for the most part it performed exceptionally well.Said our tester: “There are only two buttons, and they are responsive. The shred and slice attachment worked well, but there is no grater feature,” which could be a con for some people. Our tester ultimately recommends this machine for larger recipes, saying “this product would be great for any home cook who wants to use their processor in multiple ways.”Price at time of publish: $250Product Details:
Capacity: 14 cupsPower: 720 wattsDimensions: 9.75 x 7.75 x 15 inchesAttachments: S blade, shredding disc, slicing disc
Who it isn’t for: People who want a top of the line food processor.People who are new to the world of food processors may be surprised by how expensive these little machines can get. Luckily, we found an affordable model that offers features that are similar to higher-priced models we tested, like an S blade, reversible slice/shredding disk, and a dough blade. It also has separate buttons for slicing/shredding, pureeing/kneading, and pulsing to chop. Plus, it boasts a convenient cord storage area, making storing this machine in your kitchen cabinets a lot easier.This Hamilton Beach model did lack in performance compared to our more expensive picks, proving that food processors are the kind of kitchen appliance that you get what you pay for. Yet, it was definitely a consistent machine—it chopped the onion evenly, and although not all the cheese was grated, the shredded cheese was even. The zucchini, on the other hand, was all sliced, although not evenly. All in all, our tester recommends this machine, saying that “the only drawback is the shredding and slicing feature leaves a little of your ingredients behind.”Price at time of publish: $65Product Details:
Capacity: 12 cupsPower: 450 wattsDimensions: 8.8 x 9.5 x 16.3 inchesAttachments: S blade, reversible slice/shredding disc, dough blade
Who it isn’t for: People with limited storage space in their kitchen.Breville touts this as a product so handy that it can act as your own personal sous chef. We found this to be true during our testing thanks to its performance and incredible features. The Breville Sous Chef was able to evenly shred our cheeses and slice our zucchini. In fact, our tester told us that it was so effective at slicing the zucchini that there was “no wasted zucchini” at the end of testing. It also produced mostly “small and uniform” onion pieces, although there were some chunks left over. Our tester told us that the onion was chopped so finely that it almost formed a paste. When it came to mixing the mayo, though, the performance surprisingly fell flat. The machine successfully mixed the mayo but it took scraping the sides down two or three times until we got it right.Included with this product are three blades and five cutting discs, including a slicing disk that has 24 different settings. It also comes with a large and small mixing bowl, the latter of which can fit 2.5 cups worth of ingredients. You also get three chute options, a storage unit, and a cleaning brush, which makes it easy to get into the nooks and crannies of smaller pieces. Plus, you can actually program on the control panel how long you want your processor to mix. Overall, our tester recommends this product, saying: “This product would be great for any home cook who wants all the bells and whistles. It would be good for anyone who hosts events and needs to do a lot of prep.”Price at time of publish: $550Product Details:
Capacity: 16 cups and 2.5 cupsPower: 1200 wattsDimensions: 11 x 12 x 18 inchesAttachments: Three blades and five cutting discs
Who it isn’t for: People who want a very precise food processor.With its numerous attachments and solid performance, this GE food processor is a great option for home cooks investing in their very first food processor. The GE 12-Cup Food Processor can be purchased solo or with a range of attachments, including an S blade and discs for slicing and grating, a dough blade, an emulsifier disc, French fry disc, and a mini chopper bowl, should you want to quickly grind up some nuts for a yogurt parfait. It also comes with three feeding tube options, which is perfect for emulsifying dressings or pushing down a thick vegetable for slicing.Our tester was pretty pleased overall with the performance of this food processor. They told us that the mayo “emulsified perfectly” and grated all of the cheese well, including the parmesan, which our tester said resulted in “fine, fluffy shreds.” Using the medium slicing disc, it also created even zucchini slices. The onion didn’t fare as well, with whole halves of onion layers that didn’t end up getting chopped. Regardless of this blunder, our tester told us that it still had tremendous value and was surprised that it wasn’t priced higher. “This would be great for the average home cook,” says our tester. “Anyone who doesn’t need their cutting, slicing, or grating to be entirely precise would probably find this appliance very effective.Price at time of publish: From $129Product Details:
Capacity: 12 cupsPower: 550 wattsDimensions: 10.3 x 11.4 x 16 inchesAttachments: S blade, dough blade, emulsifying disk, French fry disk, grating disk
Who it isn’t for: People who want a food processor with multiple attachments.If you don’t mind putting in a little bit of elbow grease to get your food chopped and mixed, you’ll save a lot of money by getting a manual food processor. Instead of utilizing a motor, the Zyliss Easy Pull Food Processor is powered by pulling a two-foot cord that is attached to a built-in blade. Although this blade doesn’t resemble the traditional S blade associated with electric food processors, it’s still able to get various types of food processing jobs done, including chopping up veggies for salsa and even making a pesto.Due to the lack of attachments, we were only able to conduct our onion test on this food processor. Still, our tester was surprised to discover how well it worked for a manual chopper. It cut the onions “very, very cleanly with no tearing.” We also found it very easy to clean, with our tester saying that because it’s so small, there really aren’t any places where food can get trapped inside.Price at time of publish: $40Product Details:
Capacity: 25 ouncesPower: N/ADimensions: 5.5 x 5.5. X 5.2 inchesAttachments: Double blade
Our Testing Process
We tested 20 food processors in our Lab and assessed them on design, ease of use, ease of cleaning, effectiveness, and value. Before we started utilizing the food processor, we took into account how easy it was to put together, especially when applying different attachments. The first attachment we tested was the blade attachment. We used quartered onions, blitzed them for ten seconds, then evaluated the results to see if they were evenly chopped. We also took note if any onion pieces got stuck under the blade or on the walls of the bowl while in use.Next, we tested the grating effectiveness on a two-ounce block of cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. We noted if we were able to get the block into the feeding tube, how much of that block was able to be grated, and if it was evenly grated. We also took into account if there were any extra features that made this process safer, such as a plunger. If the food processor had a slicer attachment, we measured its effectiveness by slicing a zucchini. Like our other tests, we noted if it was evenly sliced, as well as if any tearing in the slices occurred while in use. Lastly, we tested the food processors’ emulsifying powers by making mayo. Once we were all done, we evaluated how easy it was to take apart and clean the machine. We took into account if parts of the machine were dishwasher safe and if any small parts were prone to getting food trapped inside them. We used all this information to come up with the best food processors.
How to Shop for Food Processors Like a Pro
There are two types of food processors: electric and manual. Electric food processors are versatile kitchen workhorses due to their tremendous power. Not only that, but they usually come with extra attachments that allow you to not only chop, but also grate, slice, emulsify, and even knead dough. However, these electric versions come at a cost, with some food processors costing upwards of $500. There are certainly plenty of models available that are less than that, but for a quality processor, you should expect to pay at least more than $100.Manual options are a lot less in price (think: less than $50). The tradeoff though is the amount of elbow grease you have to exert to get the chopping done. Still, using a manual food processor will take less time than chopping up food manually. Unlike the electric versions, these types of food processors don’t have additional attachments to grate or slice. Some boast the ability to emulsify, so you are still able to whip up some homemade dressings or guacamole. Manual options, ultimately, are best for people who do light cooking or want to speed up their time chopping.
Food processor capacities range from about 2.5 cups to up to 16 cups. Both Cayne and Sizemore recommended getting a high capacity food processor. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes Cayne sees people make with food processors is not getting a big enough size. “I think some people don’t think they need the larger, 14-cup size and choose the smaller one,” she says. “I get that it takes up space, but there’s not much you can make with the 2- or 3-cup sizes. They really don’t hold much and you always regret not getting the larger one,” she says.Sizemore recommends an 11- to 14-cup food processor, saying that she owns a 14-cup herself and prefers it for her own cooking. “These sizes will work with almost any recipe, except for small batch items,” she says. “For smaller batch recipes, such as dressings, sauces and condiments, I recommend that people invest in a mini 3-4 cup processor (mini food processors are also great for chopping herbs, garlic and ginger!).”If you don’t want to invest in two food processors, try to get a food processor that comes with a separate, smaller bowl. This will aid better with small processing jobs. Or, you could get a food processor with a cup size that falls between four cups and 11 cups to be able to do small and large processing jobs.
All food processors come with an S blade (a double blade that looks like an S), but many are also equipped with discs that can slice veggies and grate cheese. “The slicing and grating discs are excellent time savers when you need to slice or grate a large quantity of food quickly,” says Sizemore. “For instance, you can slice a ton of potatoes for a gratin or Brussels sprouts for a salad in just minutes. With the grating disc you can grate a pound or two of cheese in far less time than it would take to grate it by hand. It’s also fantastic for shredding vegetables for veggie cakes (such as latkes).”She tells us that the only downside with the slicing disc is that it usually comes in one size, so you aren’t able to adjust the thickness of your sliced veggies the same way you would be able to with a mandolin. Some food processors also come with separate dough blades, which, according to Sizemore, can be used for making pie or pizza dough as well as brownie batters.
The higher the wattage, the greater the power the machine possesses. Wattage is often proportional to the size of the food processors. For example, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Peel & Dice Food Processor is 1200 watts, while the GE 12-Cup Food Processor is 550 watts. The right wattage for you generally depends on the type of jobs you want to do. Unless you are planning on mixing dough with your food processor, you don’t need to be as laser-focused on wattage as you do other features of the food processor. For example, one of our testers who has owned a 250-watt food processor for more than six years told us that they have been able to make hummus, mix sauces, and chop dense veggie mixtures with ease.
More Food Processors to Consider
Magimix Compact 3200 XL Food Processor: This food processor performed quite well during our testing, creating evenly grated cheese and evenly sliced zucchini. It also “worked amazingly” to emulsify our mayo. Our chopped onion wasn’t as consistent, which may be a problem for people, especially considering its high price.KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor: Our tester told us that out of all the food processors we tested, this one was one of the most consistent when it came to grating cheese. It also did so well on our zucchini that “there are no incomplete or unsliced pieces” left. However, after the first blitz of our onion, we found the chop on our onions to be uneven.
Questions You Might Ask
Who should buy a food processor?
The person who will benefit most from a food processor is someone who does a lot of from-scratch home cooking, like making their own sauces and salad dressings. If you’re someone who only cooks here and there, there’s no use in investing in this oftentimes expensive kitchen tool. Plus, according to Cayne, neglecting a food processor can result in the premature aging of the machine. So, if you want a tool that can help with your meal prep or perfectly mix sauces like hummus or chimichurri, then a food processor is right for you.
Do I need a food processor if I already own a blender?
It depends on the type of cooking you do, but blenders can’t do the work of food processors. A common misconception people have is that these kitchen tools are interchangeable because they both have blades, but this isn’t true.“Food processors are used to take care of jobs that require more precise cuts,” says Rodgers. “Using a blender to slice and dice small vegetables would not work as well as a food processor, while a blender is better used to crush ice and create drinkable items. Blenders operate at a high 15,000 and over RPM (RPM is revolutions per minute, which determines rotational speed) and are built to crush and liquify, whereas food processors are built with much lower RPMs and are capable of processing items using less liquid than most blenders.”Sizemore agrees, telling us that blenders are best for recipes that require a lot of liquid, or for pureeing soups. “I don’t recommend using the food processor to puree hot soups,” she says. “If filled too high, the food processor will leak.” If you do add liquid to a recipe you are making in a food processor, Rodgers recommends adding it slowly. For some food processors, she also doesn’t advise filling it above a fill line, if the product has one.
What is the best way to take care of a food processor so it lasts a long time?
Both Sizemore and Cayne told us that you should not put the blade of a food processor into the dishwasher. “This will dull the blade, making the food processor less efficient,” says Sizemore. She also suggests that if you get a mini food processor (a food processor that is four cups or less in size), you should wash it on the top rack of your dishwasher. “Sometimes the heat from the dishwasher can warp the plastic [of a food processor cup],” she tells us. The reason for this is because most of the heat from the dishwasher is located at the bottom, making the top rack, a comparatively cooler place, the best place to put more delicate items.Another way to extend the life of your blade, according to Rodgers, is to not over pulse your food. Instead of keeping your finger pressed firmly down on the pulse feature, pulse on and off, allowing your food to settle on the bottom in between. “This helps to ensure the level of processing that you are looking for as well as keeping the blade healthy,” she says. She also tells us to never try to crush ice or coffee beans with your food processor, as the blade was not built for those kinds of tasks.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple. We researched the best food processors and tested 20 of the most popular options in our Lab, evaluating them on design, ease of use, ease of cleaning, effectiveness, and value. We also sought the advice of three experts: Nicki Sizemore, chef and author of The Food Processor Family Cookbook, Mary Rodgers, Head of Marketing Communications at Cuisinart, and Alison Cayne, founder of Haven’s Kitchen.
What Is Real Simple Selects?
Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. If that’s the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible.Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.