When you’re cooking up a storm, a large, high-quality food processor is a must-have. In mere moments, it can chop vegetables or blitz a bunch of parsley into dust, and some can even knead bread dough for you.
If you’ve never used one of these must-have kitchen appliances, you may find there's a bit of a learning curve to properly utilize the slicing blade. But once you master the operation, you’ll never again find it too much trouble to slice spuds thinly for scalloped potatoes, shred carrots for salads, or grind peanuts and almonds to make your own nut butters at home.
We've recently re-tested the best food processors and added new products to this guide, confirming the Cuisinart "Custom 14" DFP-14BCNY (available at Amazon) is still the top food chopper on the market. It gives top-notch performance without hogging too much kitchen counter space. With 14 cups (3.3 litres) of capacity, it's perfect for home cooks. However, if you’re looking for a more stripped-down experience, we've got plenty of other options.
Here are the best food processors we tested ranked, in order:
- Cuisinart "Custom 14" DFP-14BCNY
- Cuisinart Complete Chef
- Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef 16 Pro
- KitchenAid 5-Cup Cordless Food Chopper
- KitchenAid 7-Cup Food Processor
- Hamilton Beach 70580 Big Mouth Duo Plus
- Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap Food Processor with Bowl Scraper 70820
In our opinion, the Cuisinart “Custom 14” is the best on the market today. It excelled at almost every task, chopping onions and slicing tomatoes as well as a razor-sharp chefs’ knife and kneading pizza dough into a smooth elastic ball.
Shredding mozzarella was the only chore at which it faltered. Although it shredded without stalling, like every model we tested it failed to produce shreds evenly.
It’s not small, but the nearly 16-inch tall Cuisinart will fit under a cabinet, and at 17 pounds it isn’t too heavy to move around.
The operation is simple: There are two large levers to press, one to run the processor continuously and then shut it off and one for pulse. In addition to the basic chopping, mixing and dough blade, it comes with shredding and slicing discs. To use the discs, you attach them to a stem that sits in the bowl. Be aware that it’s a little tricky to click them into place.
The food feeding chute locks into place at the rear of the bowl, which is slightly inconvenient when you’re feeding in food but makes it easier to see what’s happening in the bowl during processing. As the tube is large, there’s no need to cut a block of mozzarella or a beefsteak tomato in half before processing them. While it’s running, the Cuisinart is so quiet it won’t shut down conversation in the kitchen.
The Custom 14 is easy to clean: Cuisinart is the only manufacturer that goes beyond just "dishwasher safe" and actually encourages you to wash the parts in the dishwasher. It’s available in white or black with stainless accents or all brushed stainless steel. A disc storage unit, a flat lid, other size shredding and slicing discs, and whisk attachments can be purchased separately.
Excels at every task
Fits under a cabinet
Slightly inconvenient chute lock
Doesn't shred mozzarella evenly
How We Tested Food Processors
Hi, I'm Sharon Franke, and I’ve been reviewing kitchen equipment for upwards of 30 years. Before that, I worked as a professional chef in New York City restaurants for seven years. Now, most of my cooking is done on weekends in my small apartment kitchen. While I’m a whiz with a knife, I wouldn’t want to live without my food processor for tasks like finely chopping veggies for a tabbouleh or preparing pastry dough for tarts and quiches.
And I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef and dinner party enthusiast. I’m the type of person that uses every single pot and pan in the house when I’m cooking dinner (and, I’ll probably dirty up all the tasting spoons and mise en place bowls, too).
To find the best food processors, we first tested seven full-size products over the course of a few weeks. Each appliance was rated on how well it chopped onions, minced parsley, ground almonds, sliced potatoes, tomatoes, and pepperoni, shredded mozzarella cheese, and cut potatoes into julienne strips. In those that were designed to knead dough, we made pizza dough, too.
Since these machines can be complicated at times—especially if this is your first time food processing—we spent a lot of time poring over each of its manuals. Did it explain how to use the processor thoroughly or did we still have to experiment to determine how to assemble the parts, use the attachments, and process specific foods?
We also considered whether it was easy to lock the lid onto the work bowl and use the controls and how much of a racket it created when running.
While we didn’t include size in our ratings, we took it into consideration as once you see what it can do, you may want to give your food processor a permanent place on your countertop. We also checked whether or not these food choppers include a storage case.
What is a Food Processor?
A food processor is a kitchen appliance that's known for quickly chopping all your large foods into mini bits. But it can do more than chop! It mixes, purees, emulsifies, grates, and shreds all your ingredients. There are two main features that set this appliance apart from others in your kitchen—its settings and its blade.
Most food processors come with base settings that include pulse and puree. Pulsing allows you to chop ingredients in short bursts—this is best used when adding large chunks to the processor, as it allows you to chop or puree them down to a manageable size. Even if you're going to eventually puree the ingredients, it’s a good idea to pulse the big pieces first so they don’t get stuck in the blade.
On the other hand, when you puree in your food, the blade blends ingredients continuously. This is the perfect setting for making pesto or tomato sauce. Most processors allow you to control the speed of your puree—typically with high and low settings. A high speed will emulsify your ingredients more, while a low speed will leave you with chunkier bits.
High-end models may also come with more advanced chopping options, but for the most part, these standard settings work perfectly. It's more important to have a powerful model, which is one of the key aspects we tested in this guide.
What's the Difference Between a Grating Disc and a Slicing Disc?
Food processors have a removable blade, which not only makes cleaning much easier but allows you to use a variety of specific attachments. You’ll want to use your standard blade for pulsing and pureeing, but the following are two common attachments that are helpful for other food prep.
Grating Disc: A grating attachment works well for items like carrots, potatoes, and cheese. To use it, remove the standard blade and place the grating disc on the middle spoke in your processor. Reattach the lid, then remove the pusher from the feed tube—that's the little "chimney" that allows you to drop ingredients into the processor. Hold the pulse button and add your ingredients. You should use the pusher to press your ingredient further into the processor. Do not use your fingers!
Slicing Disc: To slice an ingredient, follow the same steps as grating, but use the attachment that has a thin slicing line across it. You can use this attachment to shave Brussels sprouts, make potato gratin or slice up other vegetables.
How to Use a Food Processor
It can do everything short of actually cooking your dish. Here are some quick tips on how to use it to its fullest potential.
- Chop dry ingredients: Use the pulse feature to chop larger foods into small pieces. Press and release the button until you've reached the desired size. This can be done to anything from onions and carrots to nuts.
- Puree wet ingredients: Use the puree setting to combine wet and dry ingredients and create an emulsified consistency. Hummus, for example, is easy to make in your processor.
- Mix and blend ingredients: Remember when we were talking about pastries? Your processor isn’t limited to savoury dishes—you can make cookie or pastry dough or knead bread dough in your processor, as the blades can chop and blend cold butter into dry ingredients.
- Don't mash potatoes: Please don’t mash potatoes in your food processor. Chop, shred or grate raw spuds, but don’t use the appliance on cooked potatoes. When you use a sharp blade to mash potatoes, it breaks down the enzymes in the cooked vegetable and makes them unstable. This leads to gluey potatoes and very sad spirits.
How Do I Clean a Food Processor?
There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that food processors can take some work to clean. There are a lot of pieces to remove and soak, and some components have nooks and crannies that are difficult to fully clean. There are a few easy-to-clean models available if you're not one for careful scrubbing.
The good news, however, is that all the pieces are removable, and many can go in the dishwasher.
Other Food Processors We Tested
The Cuisinart Complete Chef Cooking Food Processor is a fully functioning food processor that also works as a multicooker. When it came to the food processing component, it produced thinly sliced potatoes with its adjustable slicing blade, and it had no problem finely chopping parsley and almonds. However, the Complete Chef did struggle a bit with larger chopping tasks when the 18-cup (4.2 litre) capacity bowl was filled to the max line. But, when we reduced the amount of food inserted, the results were much more uniform.
We were impressed by the sleek stainless-steel design, which is more attractive than most of Cuisinart’s food processors. We also loved the way the bowl clips into place, removing the need to twist it around until it locks. This model also resolves a complaint about chopping blades we’ve long had with food processors. After this chopping blade is clicked into place it stays put, instead of falling out of the bowl when removing the contents like with other models we tested.
With this model, you’ll get an 18-cup bowl, a lid for prepping (with removable chutes) and another one for cooking, a steamer basket insert, chopping, kneading, and mixing blades, a slicing disc that adjusts for 22 different levels of thickness, a reversible shredding disc for thin or thick shreds, a whisk, and a plastic spatula. The kit also comes with two storage containers to hold the many accessories.
The Complete Chef certainly wasn’t perfect—it struggled to shred all the mozzarella without leaving a few chunks in the mix, and the lid was sometimes tricky to secure—but we were pleasantly surprised at how delicious all the cooked food turned out. For a more detailed review of the cooking functions, check out our full review.
Bowl and chopping blades clip into place
Multi-function, including cooking
Doesn’t shred mozzarella evenly
Doesn’t chop well when bowl is full
The Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro is a real beauty, but you certainly pay for the privilege. In addition to top-notch performance, it offers every imaginable bell and whistle and then some. If you cook often in large quantities and have the change, this 16-cup machine is worth the money. However, if you don’t, the Breville may be more food processor than you need.
It's big, with a footprint of 11 x 8 inches, and at 18 inches tall, it’s too high to fit under a cabinet. And because it weighs 26 pounds, you won’t want to be lugging it in and out of a closet or cabinet. Once you invest in the Breville you’ll want to give it a dedicated space in your kitchen. With it, you get a 2 ½-cup (590 ml) bowl that turns it into a mini chopper and a storage box that holds 5 discs, 2 blades, a spatula, and a cleaning brush. While that gives you lots of flexibility as to how you use your machine and store all the stuff, that’s two other items to find room for.
But there’s much to love. The Breville screams quality with parts that glide into place. It has three lighted control buttons: on/off, run, and pulse. There’s an LCD timer that counts up or down—handy for example when a recipe specifies to knead for 2 minutes.
Adjustable slicing is possible from very thin to about a third-of-an-inch thick using the reversible shredding disc. Among the accessories are julienne and French fry blades so you don’t have to slice potatoes twice to get strips.
On the working bowl, you’ll find measurements in cups, litres, ounces, and millilitres, maximum fill lines for liquids and shredding, and a spout.
The cord, which is particularly easy to pull out of a socket, stores in a compartment in the back. As it has a huge food chute, you can slice a small pepper without cutting it in half.
When your machine is running it practically purrs. If you’re the type who likes to throw everything in the dishwasher, keep in mind that it’s recommended that you wash the parts by hand. You can choose a silver, red, or black housing.
Huge 16-cup capacity
Comes with five dics and three blades
Wide chute that cuts French fries
Takes up large space
Hard to be stored away
This cordless mini chopper only has the multipurpose blade and whipping attachments, compared to a standard-sized food processor that typically comes with shredding and slicing discs as well. That being said, it can chop, grind, puree, and whip ingredients, but it can’t knead dough or shred cheese.
It took about two hours to fully charge, which is enough to chop 40 onions. Within seconds, it turned an onion into evenly chopped bits, ready for sauteing or adding to salads. When it comes to firm ingredients like toasted almonds and hard cheese, it didn’t have any issues grinding them super-finely either.
This high-quality food processor requires no assembly and its safety measures can effectively prevent young children from turning on the device by accident. Its 5-cup (1.18 litre) capacity allows for one medium-sized onion or one tomato at a time, which is sufficient for most kitchen tasks, though you might need to work in batches.
Though we liked how convenient it was to use, this food chopper isn’t without flaws. It lacks the features that other food processors we’ve tested have, like kneading dough and processing ingredients in large quantities. Additionally, there’s no chute on the lid that allows you to add ingredients while in use. You’ll have to load everything before running a processing cycle.
Easy to use
Chops and slices well
Lack of accessories
The KitchenAid 7-Cup Food Processor was designed to be an easy to use moderately-sized model for everyday tasks. In our tests, it chopped onions cleanly and evenly, minced parsley into dust, and ground almonds into a fluffy powder. It created clean slices of pepperoni and long beautiful shreds of cheese. However, it didn’t slice tomatoes perfectly evenly. Worse though, when it came to kneading yeast dough, it stalled and couldn’t finish the task.
The working bowl is very easy to position on the base and the controls are easy to depress. Unlike most food processors, which require that you turn the lid to lock it into place, it has a lid that attaches to the bowl on a hinge and is then latched into place on the other side. It was designed like this to be easier to close and to avoid having to remove the lid entirely when you stop to stir or add ingredients and then leaving a mess on the countertop.
However, unlike other testers, I found it slightly annoying to insert the lid into the hinge and latch it in place. Perhaps because I am so familiar with these kitchen gadgets, and accustomed to turning the lid to lock it, I find that method easier.
All of the parts fit neatly inside the bowl for storage and can be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher. If aesthetics are a big concern for you, the KitchenAid is a beautifully finished product and is available in two shades of black, white, silver, and red.
Excels at chopping and mincing
All parts store inside bowl
Stalls when kneading dough
The 12-cup Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Duo Plus Food Processor can mince parsley and grind almonds with the best of them. However, it was weak on some tasks, leaving a big percentage of pepperoni unsliced and cutting ripe tomatoes so thinly they fell apart.
The Hamilton Beach is not designed to knead heavy yeast doughs.
Considering its price and lightweight it would be a decent choice for family meal preparation if the cook isn’t looking for precision results.
It comes with a smaller 4-cup (940ml) bowl that you could use to turn an avocado into guacamole or mince a few cloves of garlic.
The Hamilton Beach is definitely not a statement piece for your countertop and gunk can collect around the control buttons making it nitpicky to clean. Also, don’t be surprised if the kids cover their ears when they hear it whirring. This machine is loud.
Can mince parsley and grind almonds finely
Can't cut meats or tomatoes evenly
Can't knead doughs
While the Hamilton Beach Stack and Snap Food Processor with Bowl Scraper is proficient at chopping, mincing, shredding, and slicing evenly, it doesn’t cut as cleanly as our more highly-rated models. The edges of pepperoni came out slightly ragged and parsley a bit wet and mashed.
It did a fine job of kneading dough, once we stopped and stirred the ingredients but the machine rocked quite a bit as it worked.
However, what really made this model fall to the bottom of our list is its ease of use. The lid was difficult to put in place and before using the model, you have to bring a large locking arm up over the lid and snap it on. In addition, the lever controls are a little tricky to use.
This food processor comes with both a reversible shredding disc and a slicing disc that can be adjusted to six different thicknesses and a dough blade. It also comes with a bowl scraper attachment but as it doesn’t reach down into the edge, where food is most likely to accumulate, the scraper didn't provide much help.
You also get a storage box to hold the discs and dough blade, which can sit under the food processor when it’s not being used. All of the parts are safe for dishwasher cleaning.
Good at all tasks
Includes storage box
Tricky to operate