The 3 best food processors we tested in 2021

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A good food processor can slice, shred, ground, chop, emulsify, knead, and mix food effortlessly.
We put seven food processors through seven distinct prep tasks to find the best ones on the market.
The Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro is our top pick with its powerful motor and useful accessories.
Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews kitchen products.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Are you working on a soup that requires loads of chopped vegetables? Want to turn steak into ground beef but don’t have a meat grinder? Are you tired of shredding cheese by hand?

Home cooks can perform these tasks in a matter of seconds with a food processor. When you have one of these marvelous appliances, you can easily make mayonnaise and pesto that far surpasses what you’d get at the store, and it costs less too.

A food processor consists of a base housing the motor and controls, a bowl for ingredients, a spinning blade, and a lid with a feed tube for adding ingredients. These appliances come with accessories, usually at least a shredding and slicing disc. And, they have safety measures that keep your hand away from the spinning blade.

To test food processors, I sliced 7 pounds of potatoes, grated a pound of parmesan, made seven batches of basil pesto, ground 10 pounds of beef, shredded 4 pounds of mozzarella cheese, emulsified eight batches of mayonnaise, mixed and kneaded seven batches of pizza dough, and chopped 7 pounds of onion, a pound of celery, and 2 pounds of carrots in seven food processors.

I also consulted with Nicki Sizemore, author of The Food Processor Family Cookbook.

I have tested kitchen appliances for four years and have developed several objective tests to determine which models are best for specific needs.

In addition to our top picks, we list other models we recommend, what we look forward to testing, and common FAQs at the end of the guide.

Here are the best food processors:

Best food processor overall: Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor Best budget food processor: Hamilton Beach Food ProcessorBest blender food processor combo: Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment

The best food processor overall

In addition to coming with lots of useful extras, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor has a powerful motor that makes quick work of most tasks and a large feed tube, so you don’t always have to precut ingredients.

Accessories: Variable slicing disc, storage case, 2.5-cup small processing bowl, julienne disc, french fry disc, reversible shredding disc, emulsifying disc, dough blade, mini processing blade, disc spindleBowl capacity: 16 cupsLiquid maximum: 12 cupsWeight of base: 15.6 poundsDimensions: 18 x 10.5 x 9 inchesFeed tube size: 5.5 x 2.75 inchesMotor power: 1200WDishwasher-safe: YesWarranty: 1 year, and 25 years for the motor

Pros: Easy to use, quiet operation, dishwasher-safe, long warranty, great blade placement, quick-start pulse, large feed tube, many useful accessories that fit in storage case, outstanding job of emulsifying mayo and grinding beef, powerful motor

Cons: Didn’t do well mixing dough, pulse comes to a slow stop, shredding discs are hard to clean

The large-capacity Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor (model BFP800XL) was the most expensive unit we tested, and it was clearly the best. What strikes you first is its size. It’s big, yet it’s short enough to fit on a counter under standard cabinets. The heavy base stays put while in use. 

The Breville Sous Chef comes with a separate storage case to organize the many attachments. My favorite attachment is the variable slicing disc that has 24 width settings. I also like the 2.5-cup mini bowl and blade that is perfect for smaller jobs.

The Breville BFP800XL is simple to use since there are just five buttons: power, start, pulse, and up and down time adjustments. The easy-to-read LCD screen counts the time up or down. There’s only one processing speed that starts immediately when you press the pulse button. 

The only food test the Breville Sous Chef didn’t do well in was mixing and kneading dough. Using the dough attachment, I kneaded pizza dough for a minute, scraping down the sides halfway through. After that time, there was still unmixed flour along the sides. Though, the dough was still usable.

The processor’s emulsifying attachment made the best mayonnaise. It was also one of the best at grinding beef. The Sous Chef did a good job of chopping mirepoix, but it left a few large chunks of carrot and celery. Though it worked quickly, uniformity was an issue when shredding mozzarella. 

Only the Cuisinart did a better job with pesto. And, thanks to the large feed tube, slicing potatoes was fast and easy. The only confusing part was that the large pusher needed to be inserted into the tube for the processor to run. Once I figured that out, it was effortless.

The Breville was one of the quietest processors at about 67 decibels, which is quieter than a shower. Its S-blade came the closest to the sides and bottom of the bowl, allowing it to reach contents easily

All of the elements of the Sous Chef aside from the base are top-rack dishwasher-safe. However, Breville recommends washing the components by hand to extend their life. For the most part, handwashing was easy. The only problem was cheese tended to wedge into crevices on the shredding discs.

Best budget food processor

For under $60, the Hamilton Beach Food Processor is simple to use and clean and features a helpful tool for scraping the sides of the bowl without stopping.

Accessories: Bowl scraper attachment and shred/slice discBowl capacity: 10 cupsWeight of base: 3 poundsDimensions: 15.47 x 10.25 x 8.43 inchesFeed tube size: 3 x 1.75 inchesMotor power: 450WDishwasher-safe: YesWarranty: 1 year

Pros: Easy to clean and use, grinds beef well, comes with a useful bowl scraper, easy to store, quick-starting pulse

Cons: Loud operation, failed at making mayonnaise, poor job of shredding cheese

The Hamilton Beach Food Processor (model 70730) was the cheapest model we tested, and while its performance was noticeably inferior to our other picks, it performed admirably for a sub-$60 processor. 

One feature that stuck out was a scraper that sits in the bowl and operates using a lever on the lid. It lets you scrape down the sides without stopping the unit. None of the other models we tested had this.

Operating the Hamilton Beach processor is simple. There’s a dial on the base with four settings: off, pulse, speed one, and speed two. The base has suction cups on its feet, but they weren’t enough to keep the lightweight unit in place during operation. 

The Hamilton Beach 70730 did a great job grinding beef, but it struggled shredding mozzarella, producing a mix of shreds and chunks. It also failed to emulsify the mayonnaise. The appliance did an okay job of processing pesto, potatoes, dough, and the carrot, onion, and celery mix. 

This processor was the loudest we tested at 98.5 decibels. That’s almost as loud as a chainsaw. On the plus side, the pulse starts at high speed the moment you turn the knob, though it comes to a slow stop. And, the chopping blade comes close to the sides of the bowl, though there’s a wide gap between the blade and the bottom of the bowl.

All of the components except for the base are dishwasher-safe. I found cleaning the unit was effortless whether I tossed it in the dishwasher or tackled the job by hand. And, all of the components can be stored in the bowl.

Best blender food processor combo

If you own an Ascent or Venturist series Vitamix blender or are thinking of buying one, the Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment is your best bet with its exceptional performance and ease of use.

Accessories: 2 reversible slice/shred discs and disc storage caseBowl capacity: 12 cupsLiquid maximum: 9 cupsDimensions: 20 x 10.5 x 8.5 inches (as tested)Feed tube size: 6 x 2.5 inchesDishwasher-safe: YesWarranty: 3 years

Pros: Easy to clean and use, large feed tube, comes with disc storage case, 3-year warranty, outstanding job slicing potatoes, passed other food processing tests, great blade placement

Cons: Loud operation, pulse starts and stops slowly, may not fit under above-counter cabinets, only compatible with five Vitamix blender bases

Okay, so the Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment isn’t technically a “blender food processor combo.” However, it works with Ascent and Venturist motor bases (sold separately) so you can upgrade an already-great Vitamix blender to be an outstanding food processor. I tested the attachment with the base for the A3500

Setting up the attachment was effortless. You just set the bowl on the base and use the controls like you would for blending. For safety, the base detects if the lid and large feed tube are in place before it will run. 

The two reversible shredding/slicing discs store easily in the included storage case. However, storage isn’t completely effortless. With the base I used, the attachment has a height of 20 inches, which is higher than the standard under-cabinet space of 18 inches. 

The Vitamix attachment was the only processor that didn’t do poorly in any of the processing tests. It was the best at slicing potatoes producing consistent slices in a split second. And, thanks to its large feed tube, the potatoes required minimal pre-cutting. 

The attachment’s weakest performance was shredding cheese. The results were not very uniform, and I had to stop and free up chunks that jammed the disc. Yet, with the pesto, ground beef, mirepoix, dough, and mayo, it produced consistent, quality results.

One factor that likely helped with performance was the excellent placement of the S-blade. The blades come within 1.5 millimeters of the sides and 3 millimeters of the bottom of the bowl. And, I didn’t find any unprocessed food debris in the bowl during the testing period.  

The Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment was loud at 86.9 decibels, which is similar to a noisy restaurant. Also, when pressing the pulse button, the processor took a beat to ramp up to high speed and slowly twirled to a stop when the button was released.

Clean-up was a snap since all of the components are dishwasher-safe. Even when I washed them by hand, the debris came off easily.

What else we tested

We tested seven food processors for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.

What else we recommend and why:

Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor, Model DFP-14BCNY ($249.95): If we had a category for the second-best overall food processor, the Cuisinart would be the easy pick. The Breville is the only unit that performed better. The Cuisinart was the best with dough and shredding mozzarella. It was quieter than a normal conversation at 58.8 decibels, and the pulse started and stopped faster than the other units. The Cuisinart just wasn’t as easy to use or as clean as the Breville. The lid has a counterintuitive fit with the feed tube at the back of the machine, the shredding discs trapped debris, and the accessories don’t store easily with the unit. If these negatives don’t bother you, consider saving $150 and going with the Cuisinart over the Breville.

What we don’t recommend and why:

Magiccos 7 in 1 Food Processor ($99.99): The Magiccos food processor was easy to clean by hand and in the dishwasher, and it was one of the best at shredding mozzarella. But, those are the only two positives. It comes with a bunch of attachments, including a juicer, but no way to store them easily. It was one of the worst at making dough, chopping mirepoix, and slicing potatoes. The pulse wasn’t responsive, and the blades didn’t come very close to the sides or bottom of the bowl.

Ninja Professional Plus Food Processor, Model BN601 ($89.99): Ninja blenders and processors have a unique four-blade system that’s supposed to make quick work of ingredients. It did a good job of grinding beef and chopping mirepoix vegetables. However, it’s hard to clean the sharp blades by hand without coming into contact with them. They’re dishwasher safe, but machine washing will dull the blades faster. The unit also had a tiny feed tube, poor blade reach, and didn’t do well pureeing pesto, shredding cheese, or slicing potatoes.

Ninja Foodi Power Blender & Processor System, Model SS351 ($179.99): This is just a blender masquerading as a food processor. There’s no slicing blade or shredding disc. It wasn’t good at chopping, leaving lots of large chunks untouched. And, as with other Ninjas, you’re going to have a hard time cleaning the blades by hand without cutting yourself. 

Our testing methodology

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Ease of use: When testing the food processors, I focused on what made setting up and using each unit complicated or straightforward. I looked for specific characteristics: a heavy base, whether the base stayed put or slid around, if it was easy to see the contents, and if the base, bowl, and attachments could be stored together effortlessly.

Food processing: I processed the following foods and noted how uniform the results were on a scale of 1 (virtually no uniformity) to 5 (perfectly uniform):

Pesto (including grating parmesan)Ground beef from chuck steakShredded mozzarella cheese (using the shredding disc)Onions, carrots, and celery chopped together (as for a mirepoix)Yukon gold potatoes (using a slicing disc)Pizza dough (using a dough blade when supplied)Mayonnaise (using an emulsifying disc when included)

Here are the test results for our top picks:

Food Item

Breville Sous Chef

Hamilton Beach

Vitamix Attachment

Pesto

4

3.5

4

Ground beef

5

5

4.5

Shredded cheese

3.5

2.5

3.5

Chopped vegetables

4

3.5

4

Sliced potatoes

4.5

4.5

5

Pizza dough

3.5

4.5

4.5

Mayonnaise

5

1

4.5

Noise: I held a sound meter 2 feet from the food processor as it ran at high speed. All but two of the units registered over 85 decibels. The Cuisinart and Breville units were the only two that didn’t drown out my speakers as I listened to an audiobook.

Pulse speed: Some tasks require a pulse function that starts and stops quickly to achieve uniform results. I pressed the pulse and observed whether the blade immediately hit top speeds or if it ramped up. I also looked at how quickly it slowed down. The Cuisinart did the best at starting and stopping, while the Vitamix attachment was the worst.

Blade position: The blades need to be able to reach as much of the bowl’s interior as possible, so you don’t end up with big, unprocessed pieces. Using pennies, I measured how close the blades got to the sides and bottom of the bowl. A penny is approximately 1.5 millimeters thick. Armed with this information and five cents, I measured the positioning of the blades.

Cleaning: One of the main reasons people shy away from food processors is that they don’t want to clean them afterward. I washed all of the food processors in the dishwasher (top rack only) and by hand and assessed how easy the process was. 

What we look forward to testing

We’re always testing new food processors and retesting our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:

KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Food Chopper ($54.99): We didn’t test any mini food processors for this guide. This small, affordable unit would be a good candidate for a “best small food processor” category, especially since KitchenAid makes a few of our favorite kitchen appliances in other categories, including its stand mixer

Magimix by Robot-Coupe 14-Cup Food Processor ($399.95): Magimix was one of the first food processors. It comes with several attractive features, including medium and small bowls for smaller tasks, two grating discs, two slicing discs, and a 950W motor. We’re curious to see if this unit’s performance lives up to its hefty price.

Breville 12-Cup Sous Chef Plus Food Processor ($329.95): This is a smaller, more affordable version of our top pick. It’s missing the emulsifying disc, but it has the 2.5-cup mini bowl and variable slice disc that we like. Since a 16-cup bowl is more than most home chefs need, we want to see if this is a good alternative to our top pick.

FAQs

What’s the difference between a food processor and a blender?

Nicki Sizemore, the author of The Food Processor Family Cookbook, said the main difference between blenders and food processors is the circulation of the blade. “The nice thing about food processors is you’ve got a wider workspace, and things circulate around the blade easier,” she said. With a blender, you need to add liquid to get the food to circulate around the blade. When you don’t need liquid, you’re free to chop, dice, and otherwise pulverize solid ingredients.

Sizemore also noted that it’s easier to scrape out all of the food in a food processor’s bowl. “When you make something like hummus in a blender, the food gets stuck under the blade,” she said. “Whereas you can pull out the food processor blade and scrape it off and get into the corners of the bowl.”

 What should you look for when shopping for a food processor?

Sizemore recommends simpler food processors. Look for a sturdy work bowl and a nice large sharp blade. “The S-blade is really the only blade you need to be concerned with as well as the slicing disc and shredding disc attachments,” she said. She warns against being wooed by extra attachments since they’re unlikely to work better than the basic components, you’re unlikely to use them, and they can add to kitchen clutter.

Sizemore suggested choosing a unit with a heavy base so it stays put while it operates. But, since it’s so heavy, you’ll want to devote counter space to it. So, measure the cabinet and shelf clearance where you’re likely to keep your appliance and make sure the dimensions of the model you’re interested in will fit. You’ll also want to choose a finish that matches your decor. 

You might also consider a mini food processor. Sizemore has one for small tasks, such as making salad dressings and chopping nuts. Our top pick, the Breville Sous Chef, features a mini bowl that fits into the full-size bowl so you can do tiny jobs.

Check out our other small appliance guides

The best blendersThe best juicersThe best KitchenAid stand mixersThe best coffee grinders

Read the original article on Business Insider

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