As a professionally trained baker and avid home cook, I consider a food processor to be the ultimate time-saving kitchen appliance. I’d much rather make a pie dough using one of these appliances than knead by hand. And manually grating carrots and other vegetables, rather than shredding them in a machine? Forget about it. So when my 15-year-old model finally started to show some signs of strain, I set out on a quest to find the best food processor in today’s market.
I researched dozens of models before selecting five to rigorously test, and ultimately landed on the Breville Sous Chef 12 as my top pick. It was such an easy and precise machine to use for every single task that I found myself wondering why it took me so long to upgrade. If you’re not ready to invest quite that much but still want a great machine plus some much-appreciated extras, the best for most people is the Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup Food Processor. And if you’re looking for a budget-friendly purchase, the Hamilton Beach 12 Cup Stack and Snap is a bargain for the functionality. Overall though, I was pleased with the performance of every model and think each has its place, depending on the cook and kitchen.
Best Food Processor Overall
A Superb Model For Those Who Know Their Way Around A Kitchen
Best Food Processor For Most Home Cooks
An Impressive Option That Doubles As A Mini Processor
Best Food Processor For Small Kitchens
A Sleek, Easy-To-Store Model From A Heritage Kitchen Brand
Best Budget-Friendly Food Processor
A Model That Gets The Job Done And Doesn’t Break The Bank
Best Mid-Tier Food Processor
A Powerful Machine That’s A Step Up From A Basic Model
What Makes A Good Food Processor
Before I dive into specifics, let’s touch on why you should buy a food processor in the first place. Simply put, it’s the ultimate kitchen multitasker. If you purchase a quality machine, it will give you the functionalities of a mixer, blender, chopping device, shredder and grater all in one. It significantly speeds up tedious prep work like mincing vegetables and shredding blocks of cheese, and since most parts are dishwasher safe, cleanup is easier, too. It’s equally as useful to cooks as it is to bakers, and if you’re the elusive hybrid who likes to do both (like me), it’s even better.
If you’re wondering what makes for a “good” food processor, it’s all about being multifunctional. If you want something that only blends or only chops, there are plenty of options to address those single tasks. But a good model will have a super sharp blade for chopping, mincing and pureeing; disc attachments that can shred and slice; and a feeding tube at the top where you can add ingredients while the machine runs. That tube is essential for the discs to function and is also super handy if you need to slowly drizzle ingredients into a mixture—think vinaigrette, mayonnaise and pie dough.
Food Processor Review Methodology
With so many options on the market, I decided to narrow my search to food processors that had the aforementioned attachments and medium-capacity bowls in the 12- to 13-cup range. Based on my experience, that is the size that most standard home recipes require. I eliminated mini choppers, large capacity bowls and multi-function hybrid models so I could assess the best options for most everyday kitchen tasks. I researched dozens of brands and models, and after considering consumer and expert reviews, I selected five well-regarded kitchen brands at various price points.
There are two notable models/brands that I eliminated from consideration. The first is the Cuisinart that started the home food processor movement, the 14-Cup Custom Food Processor. Though it consistently ranks at the top of most lists, I found the capacity slightly too large to compare to the other models. I was also tempted to include a model from Robot-Coupe, the French brand that invented the food processor for commercial kitchen use. But honestly, any time I’ve used one, I’ve hated it; I find them to be very clunky, hard to assemble and expensive.
To test in my home kitchen, I first made a single-crust pie dough recipe with weighted measurements to assess the blade accuracy with the pulse function. The butter should be pea-sized after five to eight pulses, and the mixture should come together once you’ve drizzled in the water in done another five pulses. I then made almond butter with three cups of roasted and cooled almonds to test motor strength and durability, assessing if the mixture was creamy and spreadable before the 15-minute mark. I stopped after 10 pulses to see how finely chopped the nuts were before the oils began to separate. I also finely chopped a medium-sized onion to assess consistency and size after 10 pulses. Finally, I took each shredder disc for a spin with a one-pound bag of carrots, which is what I normally need for an 8-inch carrot cake. I compared the shred size and consistency to the medium-hole side of my manual grater, which is what I would use if I made the cake by hand. In between each use, I disassembled, washed and reassembled to assess ease of use.
How To Choose The Best Food Processor For You
If you’re an ace in the kitchen and need a food processor that can do it all, definitely consider either the Breville or Cuisinart. Between their execution and amazing attachments, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better. That being said, these machines do require a bit more space to store all those goodies. Consider that you’ll need about the same size space next to your processor for the attachment storage.
With that in mind, if you’re short on space, opt for the KitchenAid or the Hamilton Beach instead. Their narrower bases and nesting capabilities are great for smaller kitchens and cooks that like to collect all the gadgets they can. Go with the KitchenAid if you want an investment piece and/or cook a lot. The Hamilton Beach is great for budget seekers, newbies or occasional cooks.
For those looking for lighter machines, the Ninja and Hamilton Beach are great options, as they both weigh less than eight pounds. (By contrast, the Breville is about 16 pounds.) I actually prefer to carry the base out separately from my closet and then go back for the rest of the attachments. Obviously, I think it’s worth that step for the performance aspect, but it’s something to consider if you have strength issues.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, let’s address the biggest complaint about food processors in general: assembly. There’s usually an extra learning curve because they have built-in safety functions, which is why most have turn-and-click bowls and lids that must be in precise spots before the blades will work. The absolute easiest, fastest and most intuitive to assemble was hands down the Breville. It replaces all that turning and clicking with a power button instead, which to me is worth every penny. No struggle, no learning curve, just pop on and go.