So, unless you are an old-school chef refusing to move on, food processor is an obvious choice and a must have. Life is too short to chop and grate, unless you really love it and have all the time in the world.
But with all the production outsourcing, it’s hard to make a solid, informed decision about what to spend your money on. That’s where I come in.
I used to be a Quality Assurance Manager for one of the bigger names in the US home appliances industry (can’t name names here for legal reasons) and I know my stuff.
This website will help you understand what’s a good investments and what’s a waste of money when buying a food processor.
Let me get into more depth here and explain some of the basic criteria I use when I rate and review a food processor. I will try not to get technical and keep things simple.
But before we move any further, let’s clear the field. The words food processors are broad and can mean a range of things, starting from a manual chopper to a full-on multipractic food processor that can replace half of the stuff you might have in your kitchen right now.
If you want to see all of the top models compared side-by-side you can see my updated comparison chart here, but if you are in a hurry the following are the absolute best models in each category:
My top pick in multipractic processors:
My top pick in commercial food processor:
My top pick in blenders:
My top pick in juicers:
My top pick in electric choppers:
The multipractic food processor
These are those monsters with various functions that make you think that robots might indeed take over the world at some point. This is actually what most people picture when they say “food processor”.
They cover anything from chopping to making Bread Dough. I have one of these in my home (I’ll tell you which one later on) and I can’t imagine my life without it any more. It’s common sense – why would you have 5 different things in your kitchen when you can have one of these babies. It helps more than my husband.
The sizes and functions of a multipractic
They comes in a range of sizes, anywhere from 5-12 cups.
The smaller ones will be more of a chopper than anything else, they will usually be limited in terms of heavy-duty food processing.
Most of the time, they will include one disc.
The volume will be somewhere in the range of 5-8 cups, but don’t get fooled, even these smaller rascals pack some serious “heath”. They will do a fine job for most of your shredding, grating and slicing needs. The prices will be influenced mostly by power, variety of functions and the quality of the materials used.
The bigger ones, the one that I like :), will have several discs, a small work bowl and a hook for the dough. These will be priced higher, but if you do the math, will actually be much cheaper than getting separate pieces.
How to know the multipractic functions just by looking at an image of it.
Let’s learn something important here, so that you don’t get a product and only then realize that it doesn’t include one of the features that’s important to you. Look at design and the accessories included.
Most of the time, one that only chops will not have a feeding tube where the foods for chopping and shredding need to go. If you see that a product has limited accessories, you might want to take a better look, because it’s often the case that you’ll have the option to add some functions by adding accessories.
First things first – a brief historic overview of a food processor
A food processor as we know it today entered the culinary scene back in the 60s, but back then it was only used commercially. They were first brought to the market by Robot Coupe (Ro-B-Koo) which is an active brand to date.
It was not before the 70s that they were introduced to the homes, 1972 for UK consumers (brought by Robot Coupe) and 1973 for US (by Cuisinart).
What do I look at when I write my reviews?
- High quality materials used on the blades. That make the chassis heavier which will result in quicker and more consistent processing of your food. A heavier chassis will also keep the food from “walking” (you know, that pieces of food that stick to the side of the bowl and you have to stop and scrape them back in).
- Micro serrations on the blade are a big plus and most of the high end models have them – the serrated blades will hold their edge much longer. If the blades get dull, you will see your food being pulverized instead of chopped.
- Capacity – now, there’s no unique formula here, but if it was my choice I would never go for anything that’s under 9 cups. One thing to keep in mind is that if you plan to process liquid that effectively cuts the capacity in half.
- Power – generally, the issue of a processor not having enough power for it’s capacity is almost non-existent these days. The companies simply know better. One thing to stay away from are the models with the side-mounted motors. In these models, the motors drives the blades via a belt. With this design the number of things that can go wrong inside at least doubles. That’s why they fail more frequently than the ones with the regular design (base-mounted motor).
- One more thing – just because you see the higher wattage on the label doesn’t mean that the processor will be better at tackling heavy duty tasks. Let me explain – power of the motor is one thing and the efficiency is something else. That’s why you can compare product of same wattage side by side and get completely different results. But how could you know how efficient the motor is? No way to know really before you get it. I know companies and I don’t even bother reviewing products that I know have a problem in this crucial area. So, you will not find any of that junk here. You can make this the first rule of thumb.
- If you don’t like any of the food processors I review here and want to go with another one, make another rule of thumb – just go with reputable company. All of the big names stopped using low efficiency motors on any of their models way back in the late 90s.
- A feed tube that is wide enough – forcing stuff in is really frustrating
- Quality of the other materials, like the materials used for the handles and the bowls. It’s not very likely that you’ll see somebody talking about how good the plastic is, but I know products and products and brands that use cheap imported stuff and you won’t be seeing these products reviewed on this website.
- Design of the bowl – apart from width of the tube, I tend to like bowl with slopping sides than the ones that just straight meet the base. the difference that this makes is that in models with slopping sides, the food is evenly distributed instead of getting stuck in the corners of the orthogonal or square bowl.
- Safety – I check whether the best practices of the safety designed are in place. I look for 3 main things: the bowl locking securely to the base, the top locking to the bowl and a the “ability” of the processor to recognize whether these two are in place and not start unless they are.
- I stay away from complicated controls. All you really need is On, Pulse and Off. Most of the time, everything else is just make up that makes the product much more expensive.
- Added attachments – I look for processors that have an S shaped attachment for mincing and pureeing, a dough blade (plastic) and a slicer disc.
These are the main features that make or break a product. All the other things that can be there or not, can be a nice touch but are neither define the product nor can be a deal breaker.
The other features I’m talking about here are:
- those smaller nifty cups
- touch controls – I know, know, it looks fancy, but let me debunk the myth that these are somehow better. This is how they’re designed – they have the same buttons, with less “walk” (this means they react to less pressure). Then these buttons are covered with plastic just to add that “wow” effect. The only real positive side to these is that they are easier to clean.
- Slicer that can work continuously. Let me simplify – this is a special attachment that allows you to slice or shred as much vegetables as you want without stopping to empty the bowl. the food is directed into a separate bowl as it’s being processed. I think I’ve used that thing once or twice.
- Continuous feed slicer/shredder. This is an extra attachment that allows you to slice or shred as many vegetables or as much cheese as you want without having to stop and empty the bowl. A chute directs the processed food into another bowl instead of depositing it in the integrated work bowl.
What if my blades wear out in time – there’s no “if” here, they will wear out. Any good good processor will outlast the edges of it’s blades. When you see signs of low performance in you processor, just get new blades. They carry them in kitchen shops or you can order them from a manufacturer. To date I am surprised at the number of people that actually think that the end of the blades is the end of the food processor.
Maintenance of your food processor
Just don’t overdo it. Chances are that this will not be the case unless you are a high end chef in a busy restaurant. I wash mine under the shower using cold water, because any heat affects the edges. If you’ve been processing something that sticks to the bottom and even a shower spout is not doing the trick, wash it in your dish washing machine using minimum temperature settings. If you don’t own one, just leave if filled with water for a while and then use the shower.
What doesn’t it do?
One those things that you would expect it to do well and it doesn’t are mashed potatoes. It does mash them but in a way that gives them a certain gluey quality – no good. Also, I don’ like to use the food processor to make cakes that depend on some air getting into the batter, like sponge cake or anything with egg whites snow. It seems like the space inside is too confined to let enough air in – again, not very good.
So, let us take a step back and regroup. I’ve told you what to look for in a food processor, at least what I look at in my reviews.
Now, to simplify things, let me propose 3 simple questions you need to ask yourself before you get a food processor:
- What do you really need? A multi-function? Just a chopper? Just a bender?
- Have you got the room in your kitchen for the one you have your eye on
- How much are you prepared to spend?
Personally, I firmly believe that investing in a quality appliance is the best way to go. Believe me, I know how the cheap ones are made and I know for a fact that, with a jungle that is the internet, there are cheap knock offs posing as the real thing. So, if something seems like it’s to good to be true, it probably is.
Again, you will see no such products on this website. I know the industry inside out and I’ll never review or recommend any shady products.
I hope I helped somewhat with your decision…
I’ll let you process the information 🙂