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When selecting gear for this year’s Kitchn Essentials, my colleagues and I got into a little debate: Do you have to spend a lot to get a great food processor? My answer was yes — after all, it’s the kind of gadget that can make hummus, grind meat, knead doughs, butter-ize nuts, and, with the right attachments, slice, shred, and more. But others said no, equally sure a cheaper gadget can do just as good of a job.
I love learning and am always open to changing my opinion, so I set out to get the answer. What is the best food processor? To find out, I rounded up an almost-overwhelming amount of them and set to work thinly slicing potatoes, shredding cheese, making mayo and mirepoix, and kneading pizza dough. I’ll get into all the juicy details, but let’s start with a quick rundown of my favorites.
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I’m the Tools Editor at The Kitchn and a professional kitchen equipment tester. I previously worked at America’s Test Kitchen and my reviews on topics like stand mixers, induction burners, toaster ovens, and multicookers have been published in Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, and on the America’s Test Kitchen website. My work has also been featured on America’s Test Kitchen’s and Cook’s Country’s television programs.
What to Consider When Buying a Food Processor
All food processors generally work the same way: The food processor’s bowl sits on a base and a S-blade (the standard blade used for most food processor-y tasks) sits in the center of the bowl. To use it, you must put on the lid and secure it onto the base (for good reason; food processors have safety features that prevent them from turning on unless their lids are clicked into place). Many also come with extra attachments, like the slicing and shredding discs, which replace the S-blade. Then you just put on the lid, and feed whatever it is you’re grating, slicing, or shredding through the machine’s feeding tube, pressing it down with a “pusher.” Food, processed!
However, not all food processors perform equally. Some of them are incapable of making precise cuts, which leaves you with unevenly processed vegetables for mirepoix. Some are unable to emulsify mayonnaise, resulting in a greasy, separated mess. And, even more, some machines have ineffective shredding and slicing blades, which haphazardly slice potatoes and leave clumps of cheese ungrated. When these issues arise, the machines usually have S-blades that are positioned further off their bases and have shorter blades, so they make less contact with food. They also tend to have flimsier attachments with fewer shredding holes and narrower slicing discs, accounting for their inefficiency.
Conversely, the best food processors make precise, even cuts and are super-powerful — capable of making mayonnaise, kneading pizza dough, and pulsing a near-instant mirepoix. Because their S-blades are closer to the base and longer, they make more contact with ingredients, instead of just passing over or by them. Their shredding and slicing attachments are noticeably more substantial, too, with far more holes for shredding and wider slicing blades.
For most home cooks, the most versatile size of food processors is 12 to 14 cups — this is large enough to accomodate pretty much all of the recipes you’ll ever want to make. Below, though, I do recommend a 16-cup model, which is a great size if you often cook for a crowd or make double batches, but is probably bigger than most people need.
I’ve had food processors that seemed to require a degree in Food Processor-ing in order to get the lid on. It shouldn’t be like that. The best food processors are intuitive to use. They have lids and bowls that are easy to put on and take off, attachments that are simple to swap in and out, and control panels that are a cinch to operate, with responsive buttons.
With everything you can make in a food processor (like mayo and pizza dough, for instance!), the machine has to be easy to clean. Some food processors have lids with tight gaps that oil, dough, and even vegetable pieces get stuck in and are incredibly hard to clean. And while most food processors have bowls and attachments that are dishwasher-safe, you still want the option to be able to easily clean it by hand. (In case you’re trying to save space in the dishwasher!) The best food processors have no nooks and crannies for ingredients to get stuck in and are easy to clean.
What We Look for in a Food Processor
I judged all of the food processors on the following criteria, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the worst and 5 being the best):
Best Overall: Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
This food processor is incredibly intuitive to use, powerful, and an excellent option for most home cooks. It has a large capacity that easily accommodates a bulk amount of pizza dough, but is still precise enough to handle a small amount of ingredients for things like mirepoix or mayonnaise. Its slicing and shredding discs are simple to put on and super-sharp, easily handling potatoes and cheese and slicing and shredding them uniformly. It has a large feeding tube, too, so it can easily fit a whole potato or a half-block of cheese without having to halve it crosswise. Plus, it’s easy to clean and all of its parts are dishwasher-safe. My only complaint: It lacks other attachments (like a fine shredding disc or a dough blade) and a case for its discs, but these can be purchased separately.
Who it’s best for: Anyone who wants a straight-forward, fantastic food processor.
Good to know: The food processor does come in some fun colors like blue, which is available sporadically on Amazon and consistently on Zola. On Amazon, I see the price of this model fluctuate quite a bit, so if you want to try for a better price, I would set a price tracker like Honey or Camel Camel Camel.
Best Upgraded Pick: Breville Sous Chef Food Processor
Cuisinart’s food processor is incredibly streamlined, but its simplicity might not be what you’re looking for. If you want something a little extra, get the Breville Sous Chef Food Processor. It comes with a smaller work bowl for (you guessed it!) smaller kitchen tasks (I use it to make mayonnaise!), has a reversible shredding disc for fine and coarse grating, an adjustable slicing disc, three blades, a large feeding chute, and a storage case. I own the 16-cup version of the Sous Chef that has a whole lot of extra attachments (like julienne and french fry discs), so if you cook a ton and want the option to use even more attachments, it might be worth considering. Both in this testing and in real life, I’ve been consistently impressed by the Sous Chef’s power and precision — easily kneading sticky bread doughs, mincing veggies, puréeing, and more. It’s also easy to clean and its attachments are dishwasher-safe.
Who it’s best for: Someone who wants extra attachments and added adjustability.
Good to know: The 16-cup version of this food processor is big, so it may well be more than you need. However, if you cook for a crowd often or just want the ability to easily make double batches of things, then its size is a huge (no pun intended!) bonus.
Another excellent option that comes with a lot of attachments is the Magimix by Robot-Coupe Food Processor. It has two extra smaller work bowls, two grating discs, two slicing discs, an egg whisk, a dough blade, a storage box, and a blending attachment to prevent any leaks while puréeing. It performs on par with the Cuisinart and Breville, but has a smaller feeding tube, so you have to trim down ingredients in order to get them to fit. No matter how you slice it (ha!), this is a fantastic food processor.
Who it’s best for: If you want extra attachments and adjustability — and are willing to spend a lot to get it.
Good to know: Robot-Coupe, Magimix’s parent company, makes restaurant-grade, commercial food processors.
Best Budget Pick: Black + Decker 8-Cup Food Processor
I know, I know, the food processors I recommended above are expensive. And while I do think (if you can or feel comfortable doing so) that they’re worth the investment, that price range is understandably not for everyone. If you want a food processor that’ll get the job done, but won’t break the bank, try this model from Black + Decker. Of all the inexpensive food processors I’ve tried, this model is the most powerful — able to decently knead bread dough, emulsify mayonnaise, and make mirepoix (although the vegetable pieces were a bit uneven). It has an 8-cup capacity and a narrow feeding tube (so ingredients often have to be trimmed in order to fit). It is decently loud, its buttons are a tad hard to press, and its reversible shredding and slicing blade is flimsier than the more expensive models. However, it is very easy to clean and really impressive at its price point.
Who it’s best for: If you want a food processor for basic tasks that doesn’t break the bank.
Good to know: It has suction cup feet to keep it anchored in place.
Kitchn’s Best List Promise
We will do our homework, going wildly in depth with our testing. But we’ll condense the info into easy, breezy summaries, so that you can see what we picked and why, and then move on with your life. Because we know you’re busy!
Do you have a question about food processors? Leave it in the comments below!