One of the most versatileis a high-quality food processor. Depending on the attachment, a good processor with a powerful motor can easily shred hard or soft cheeses, grind nuts into powder, knead bread dough or pizza dough, make a pie crust, dice and slice fruits and vegetables or make butter and spreads. You can even make emulsions, soups and baby food right in the working bowl.
That said, not every food processor is created equal -- as with anything, there are stark differences in motor performance, the overall durability and the cost of the machine. It can also be a challenge to figure out the best food processor for your chopping, grinding, dicing andneeds. From motor power to capacity, attachments and overall value, we're here to help you find the best available options and show you that the best food processors aren't always the ones with the biggest price tag.
The other factor you might want to consider -- beyond power and price tag -- is how easy to clean the food processor is. Some or all of its components may be dishwasher-safe. Even if you have to hand-wash the chopping blade, being able to toss the feed chute or main container in the dishwasher may be a boon.
I tested seven, representing major brands and best sellers according to Amazon, Target and Walmart food processor buyer reviews. You can pick a food processor up for as little as $25 or splurge big on an expensive pro model for upward of $600. The food processors I tested are in the middle, mostly in the $100 to $200 range made for general home use. There are also mini models and extra-large food processors but the ones I tested are all average in size -- between 10- and 14-cup capacities.
How we test food processors
While food processors can perform many different tasks, I chose tests that represented the core functions of a food processor. Most people use these kitchen appliances to blend, chop, puree and shred.
Having narrowed it down to these key kitchen tasks, I chose making hummus, pico de gallo, almond butter and shredded parmesan for the test recipes. Those recipes involve a mix of blending, chopping, shredding and pureeing that would give me a feel for the performance of each model.
Hummus was a good indicator of how powerful a food processor's motor was and thus how well the appliance could blend ingredients together into one smooth substance. Pico de gallo tested how easy it was for the chopping blade to create a uniformly chopped dish made up of ingredients in varying textures and hardnesses.
Almond butter allowed me to test the food processor's ability to puree something like a hard almond into a nut butter consistency. It also required me to run the processor for an extended period of time to see if there were problems with overheating or noise and vibration. I used 16 ounces of almonds in each test.
The shredding test called for a nice big block of parmesan, one of the hardest cheeses. This tests the grating disc performance as well as the usability of the mouth's width and the food processor's food pusher.
I repeated each recipe twice using each machine, with the same ingredients in the same amounts across all brands. Here's how it all shook out and my recommendation for the three best food processors available, which we update periodically.
It isn't pretty (not even a little), but this German food processor from Braun's Tribute Collection gave the best results by far when it came to blending and chopping. The hummus from the Braun food processor was the smoothest of any I made in my testing. When I used the Braun FP3020 as a food chopper to make pico de gallo, it came out uniform and finely chopped without too much juice pooled in the bottom of the bowl.
The 12-cup bowl is large enough for families and with 15 speeds you'll have plenty of control over your processing. The ability to fine-tune the speed came in extra handy when I grated a hard block of parmesan. On high, the cheese was uncontrollable in most food processors, but with the speed at, say, a 6 or 8 out of 15 in the Braun, I could steady the cheese and guide it better through the feed tube while still grating it thoroughly.
You'll also get seven attachments to help make being a home chef easy. The attachments are helpful for slicing vegetables, kneading dough, shredding, whipping, juicing and mixing. The price of $420 is on the upper end of our range (currently out of stock at Walmart), but the Sam Stores price at the time of this posting put it at a reasonable $142 -- not too shabby for a kitchen appliance that helps in all kinds of cooking and food prep.
We tested multiple Cuisinart models and this one wins for its balance of performance, value and features.
Hummus with the Cuisinart FP-11SV was smooth and well-blended. Four pulses was enough to chop up my pico de gallo ingredients well and although getting almonds to a butter consistency took significantly longer in this model (about 10 minutes on average), the result was smooth and well-mixed.
Shredding cheese was a bit tricky since the mouth of this processor's food chute is small compared with other models. I had to trim down my wedge of parmesan quite a bit to fit in the chute. However, you do get thoughtful extras like a disc with two shredding size options (fine or medium) and suction cups on the bottom of the processor to help it stay steady on your countertop.
KitchenAid is a classic brand and while its stand mixers are beloved, I can't say the same for the company's food processor options. This 11-cup KitchenAid food processor model worked well, but it wasn't the best performer at blending and chopping. However, you will get a lot of attachments and it's a good food processor for shredding and slicing since it comes with multiple discs for different shred and slice sizes.
Hummus made with this model hada smooth, well-blended consistency with even flavor. Five pulses of the chopping blade did the trick as a food chopper for my pico de gallo vegetables and it easily processed almond butter, though the machine did heat up in the 18 minutes it took to process the almonds into nut butter, leaving me with questions about the motor. This KitchenAid model does have an automatic shut-off to prevent motor burnout, but that heat still made me nervous.
Shredding and slicing are where KitchenAid really shines. It has a reversible shredding disc option and an externally adjustable slicing disc that corresponds to a slider on the front of the base, so you can get really specific slice sizes.
There's also a nice storage case included, so you don't end up throwing all those blades into your bowl when it's not in use. It has a classic style and like any good KitchenAid appliance, it comes in multiple finishes. The price varies depending on which finish you choose. The silver model I tested has a suggested retail of $250, but it's currently on sale at Walmart for $206.
Other food processors we tested
In addition to the three recommended above, we tested four other food processors in the $100 to $200 range.
Worth considering, but not as good as the top picks above:
- : I was impressed by the design of the Hamilton Beach processor, but it wasn't the winner in performance and I found the button labels and noise level to be a bit bothersome. At $200, I can't recommend the Hamilton Beach Professional Food Processor over better-performing models.
- : This Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor model performed well enough, but you'll only get one speed option and just one size of shredding disc. The food processors recommended above offer more for your money than this Cuisinart food processor model.
- : This food processor just didn't perform well. Hummus had multiple unchopped chickpeas in it and the gusty airflow out of the front of the machine was enough to blow around items on my countertop. Another food processor I would avoid.
What to look for when buying a food processor
Picking the best food processor for you means considering all the features you'll need for your favorite recipes and common home chef kitchen tasks.
Food processors come in many different sizes and volumes. The size of the food processor is based on the size of the work bowl. I tested models ranging from 11- to 14-cup capacity, but you can get food processors that come with mini bowl and mini chopper options and bowls as small as 3 cups. For a household with two or more people, I'd recommend at least an 8-cup model and, if you have the storage space, spring for a large food processor, just in case.
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.
My top food processor pick, the Braun FP3020, has 15 individual speeds on one dial. That's many more than most people will ever need, but it permits real precision.
While your food processor is primarily two spinning blades, there are a host 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 Braun, 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.
You may also want to consider the materials from which the food processor is made. If you plan to use it often and are perhaps not the most careful chef in the kitchen, consider a sturdy stainless-steel food processor, instead of one with a plastic base that may be less expensive but more prone to breakage. Most food processor bowls are made from a hard plastic that's easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, but some are sturdier than others. If you have the opportunity to touch and hold the food processor before buying it, make sure the plastic bowl and its lid are tough enough to handle being knocked around without cracking.
Top food processors compared
|Braun FP3020 12-cup food processor||Cuisinart FP-11SV Elemental food processor||KitchenAid KFP1133CU 11-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice System|
Dimensions (depth, width, height)
Number of speeds