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Food processors are a vital part of any home kitchen, and the best usually come from KitchenAid. Between chopping and pureeing food -- among other functions -- KitchenAid food processors save us a lot of time and effort when prepping meals.
When used appropriately, a good food processor can also spare you the first aid that may be required when you've got a heavy workload with a manual box grater or mandoline. If you're a rabid consumer of hummus or nut butter, a food processor could arguably save you money. Depending on your space, budget and whether you imagine using a food processor daily or annually, we've rounded up the best food processors of 2023 to help you through any recipe scenario.
Best food processors
KitchenAid is a beloved brand when it comes to kitchen appliances and its 13-cup Food Processor checked all of my boxes when it came to features I found desirable. The puree function tended to be more of a metric than chop among the food processors in this lineup, and while all the models I tested here eventually produced a perfectly worthy hummus, this KitchenAid model did so quickly, and with less noise than any other model, churning out a silky puree that was nearly restaurant-quality in its texture.
Food processors can be fussy when it comes to the locking bowls and lids that ensure the safety measures are in place to prevent blades from spinning out of control, but this model's lightweight, stacked design allows for particularly easy assembly. This is not nothing when considering whether it's worth the effort to take the food processor in and out of the cabinet. The fussier the mechanics, the more likely you are to forgo the food processor and just go the manual route.
Some of my favorite features of this model have to do with its easy storage capacity: the slicing/shredding discs and dough hook all fit in a compartment that fits within the bowl, and the base of the model includes a coil for wrapping the cord -- very few models are this self-contained with all of their parts -- making this a food processor that's always worth employing.
If you simply plug "food processor" into an Amazon search, this is the model that comes up as the bestseller, and achieves a favorable 4.6 out of 5 for over 35,000 ratings on the site. Listing for $60, and frequently discounted to only $40, it's easy to see why it would be a bestseller, but this Hamilton Beach model is much more than just its price tag. It's the closest to "plug and play" you can get with this kind of appliance, with an extremely easy setup.
At 450 watts, it's squarely in the middle of available motor muscle among food processors, but it was plenty powerful, producing evenly diced pico de gallo in about seven pulses. Its dial functionality is unusual among food processors, which mostly rely on buttons, but the dial settings were completely intuitive and easy to operate. Perhaps its best feature is the built-in bowl scraper, which prevents having to continually open the lid to scrape down the sides. If you're already a regular food processor user, you'll understand the value of this.
File this under small but mighty. This KitchenAid Food Chopper is too modest, in my opinion, by not calling itself a food processor and it's the best model for those with limited counter space. It doesn't include slicing and shredding discs like the other models in this list, but performed the chopping and pureeing functions equal to just about all of them, including a full pint of perfectly smooth hummus, in a machine scarcely the size of a french-press coffee pot. The cord easily winds up inside the base, making this a terrific option for people whose storage space is the limiting factor. If decor is also a consideration you make when choosing kitchen appliances, this model also comes in a variety of bright, KitchenAid colors.
Ninja has made a name for itself in the smoothie game, so it's no surprise that it also is a worthy contender when it comes to food processors. This Ninja Professional model has among the highest user satisfaction ratings on Amazon, at 4.8 out of 5, with more than 5,000 ratings. Its lock-and-release lid inspires confidence and is easy to operate, and the bowl itself has a built-in measuring cup, which is a nice feature.
The chopping mechanism has two S-blades, ensuring efficiency. It was perhaps the loudest of the models I tested, but the mark of the real ninja here is that it offers 1,000 watts of power for only $120, delivering pico de gallo in scarcely two hits of the pulse button. Speaking of this function, this is the only model that offers a separate chop button, which pulses the blades three times in a row. At 9 cups and a modest footprint, the Ninja Professional is an ideal option for those who can't justify a larger model but have greater needs than the micro models can offer.
At 18 pounds, with sparse buttons for basically on/puree and off/pulse, this Cuisinart Custom model is a tank and the best heavy-duty food processor we tested. For many, it is the prototype of what you think of when you hear the words "food processor." It also tops the list of many review sites, but be aware that its heft does not inspire regularly pulling it out of the cabinet, which runs you the risk of not using it as often as the lighter-on-their-feet models here.
For me, its bowl and lid were a bit fussy to align but its sturdiness combined with big power here makes it the ideal candidate if you imagine your greatest use for a food processor would be grinding homemade nut butter, or some other task that requires power food processing and extended use.
If you're routinely serving extended family, a football team or are considering starting a catering or food truck operation, the Magimix 4200XL is a professional-grade food processor with a price tag just above that of your largest home models. This is a serious food processor that carries a serious footprint -- the box weighs nearly 25 pounds -- and while the processor itself isn't above average in size for food processors of similar volume, the additional slicing and shredding discs and kneading paddle come in their own separate carrying case.
At 14 cups, it's at the large end of the large spectrum, but also includes a separate mini bowl for smaller jobs and a medium bowl for dough. Despite all the bells and whistles, getting past the packaging was the most difficult part, and the mechanism itself was extremely intuitive, resembling the classic Cuisinart Custom with just three bar-shaped buttons: auto, off, and pulse. Given its 720 watts of power, it's no surprise that this machine churned out restaurant-quality hummus in less than a minute, and did so with just an average whir. A built-in bowl-scraping mechanism is also included, which is worth the price tag here alone.
Other food processors we tested
In addition to the three recommended above, we also tested these food processors in the $100 to $400 range.
- Cuisinart Elemental FP-11GMP1: There's no reason for this model not to have a place on this list, as I really liked its overall ease of use, features and function. But in a head-to-head matchup with the similarly priced, sized and weighted KitchenAid model, the KitchenAid won out for its storage-friendly design. That said, if you're a Cuisinart brand loyalist and prefer something more lightweight than the Cuisinart Custom model, consider this my stamp of approval.
- Hamilton Beach Stack & Snap 70725A: Hamilton Beach consistently makes small appliances that overdeliver for their price point, and this Stack and Snap food processor model is another good budget buy. It's perhaps on the louder side among food processors but several features, besides its $60 price, make this an excellent option for those who might consider themselves merely food processor-curious. The stacking feature, similar to the KitchenAid, prevents the novice from undue swearing during assembly.
- Ninja Smart Screen Blender and Food Processor: We tested this hybrid model in a separate round of testing. The Ninja kit comes with a blending bowl, processor bowl and travel cup. With a smaller (5-cup) bowl capacity, results were inconsistent. The Ninja Smart Screen blender and food processor is one to avoid if your priority is food processing.
How we test food processors
As a culinary school-trained home cook, I've logged countless hours using these handy kitchen sidekicks. To find the best food processors available in 2023, I tested eight popular models in terms of their ease of setup and use, as well as efficiency and efficacy in their two primary functions. There are also many blender-food processors hybrids available, but for this list, I was focused on single-purpose food processors.
The list of food processor models I chose to test was assembled based on a combination of previous CNET food processor picks and those that have also been well-vetted and appear on multiple review sites' best lists. I also considered best-selling and consistently highly rated models at major retailer sites such as Amazon, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Williams-Sonoma.
I was primarily concerned with each food processor's chop and puree functions, and tested the same pico de gallo and hummus recipe on each of them, looking for ease and intuitiveness of use, and consistency in the end product: whether the veggies were uniformly chopped and the hummus consistently smooth. I tested the shred and slice capabilities, where applicable, with carrots, looking again for ease of use and uniformity. (If I am honest, while I found the shredding feature of a food processor to be well worth it, especially where shred-heavy recipes like carrot cake or latkes are concerned, I'd probably pass on any of these food processors for a mandoline when it came to slicing.) I also considered other factors such as noise level while operating, ease of setup and storage capabilities.
I repeated each recipe twice using each machine, with the same ingredients in the same amounts across all brands.
Food processors compared
||KitchenAid KFP1318CU||Hamilton Beach 70725A||Cuisinart Custom DFP-14BCNY||Hamilton Beach 70730||Magimix 4200XL||Ninja Professional BN601||KitchenAid Food Chopper KFC3516|
|Capacity||13 cups||12 cups||14 cups||10 cups||13 cups||9 cups||3.5 cups|
|Dimensions (D x W x H)||8.7 x 10.25 x 17.43||10.63 x 11.81 x 15.94||9.38 x 12.5 x 15||8.43 x 10.25 x 15.47||10.24 x 8.27 x 15.35||7.76 x 9.88 x 16.02||5.6 x 7 x 8.7|
|Power||500 watts||450 watts||720 watts||450 watts||950 watts||1,000 watts||240 watts|
|Slice/Shred||2 discs||Double-sided disc||2 discs||Double-sided disc||4 discs||Double-sided disc||Not available|
|Weight||9.7 lbs||6.57 lbs||18 lbs||4.7 lbs||23.8 lbs||7.65 lbs||2.7 lbs|
Food processor buying guide: What to look for
While all the food processors I tested can basically get the job done when it comes to chopping, pureeing, shredding and slicing, they come in various sizes and bowl volumes with a range of additional features and price points. If size or price are limiting factors for you, the decision is going to become very easy as you'll be able to quickly narrow the field to smaller and less expensive models. If price doesn't matter much, and you have unlimited cabinet space for storage, a good place to begin might be by considering what sort of use you imagine you have for a food processor on a regular basis.
Food processor size and weight
There are no standard sizes for food processors, but they are typically categorized based on their bowl volumes: small models in the 3- to 6-cup range, medium in the 7- to 10-cup range, and large in the 10- to 13-cup range. Lightweight models weigh between 5 and 10 pounds, whereas heavier-duty models can be 15 pounds and above. The lighter models tend to have suction feet on the base, to prevent movement while the food processor is operating.
Food processor functions
Food processors are primarily used to chop or dice and puree, with an S-shaped, rotating blade doing the work. Shredding and slicing are other typical uses, but different food processors may include two-sided discs for these functions, or separate discs for each, and may include a separate anchor pin that holds these discs in place, where the main S-blade is removed. Short doughs such as pie crusts can be made in a food processor, but kneaded doughs are also possible, with several of the models here offering separate, plastic S-blades for this purpose.
Most recipes involving food processors specify mixing or chopping at either a high or low speed and for that reason, you'll want a processor with at least two speeds and a powerful motor. The most common configuration is a low, high and pulse option. There are some food processors with just one speed, but that's extremely limiting, so look for a food processor with at least some range of speeds.
While your food processor is primarily two spinning blades, there are plenty of other attachments that can expand your processor's capabilities. Some come with multiple attachments like discs for grating, shredding and slicing, dough blades for kneading bread dough, and attachments for whipping cream, chopping nuts, juicing fruits or dicing vegetables. If you know what tasks you'll do most often, be sure to check that your processor includes the blades and attachments you'll need, such as the right mixing blade, chopping blade, slicing blade or citrus juicer. Some food processor models, like the Magimix, come with a lot of these attachments, while for others they must be purchased separately. So depending on your food processing needs, this may be something to consider. Remember, attachments shouldn't be difficult to clean, and you should definitely check whether they can go in the dishwasher.
Food processor FAQs
Is a food processor worth it?
Food processors help save you time more than money with their typical functions: chop, puree, shred, and slice. Unlike something like a bread machine, a food processor has no cooking element to it, and is more usually employed for prepping than completing a recipe. That being said, if you are a frequent consumer of pureed foods like hummus, soup, or nut butter, a food processor can definitely save you money if it makes the difference in your willingness to routinely make these items from scratch. A quick Instacart search, for example, reveals that raw almonds are about half the price of the same volume of almond butter, as are whole potatoes compared to the same amount of frozen shredded potatoes.
How do I know what size food processor to buy?
What size food processor you need depends largely on how many people you're frequently cooking for. There are no standard size volumes where food processor bowls are concerned, but small models tend to be in the 3- to 6-cup range, medium models in the 7- to 10-cup range, and large models in the 11- to 14-cup range. Even the smallest model I tested here, at 3.5 cups, was just as capable of producing a pint of hummus in one batch as the larger models, so unless you know you're regularly taking on large gatherings, less is probably more with food processors, especially as they require less storage space, and 8 to 12 cups will serve most people most of the time.
How do you clean a food processor?
Very. Carefully. But seriously, you'll need to consult your particular model's manual for best practices offered by the manufacturer, but many food processor parts such as the bowl and food chute are dishwasher safe. Again, consult your food processor's manual as to whether or not the manufacturer recommends putting the S-blade or the shredding and slicing discs in the dishwasher. Otherwise, you can run the food processor with a small amount of water and soap to help with caked-on ingredients, and all of the non-electrical parts can be hand-washed with care. The base can be wiped down with a paper towel or cloth after each use.
How much do food processors cost?
Food processors can be relatively inexpensive as efficiency-improving kitchen appliances go, with many small to medium models costing between $50 and $100. Larger bowl volumes and more powerful motors can drive up the price, but most food processors for home use of any size cost under $200. At the top of the category, you'll find professional-grade food processors that can cost anywhere from $300 to $600.
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