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Small Appliances Buying Guide - Food Processors

A food processor is a kitchen staple. Use our Food Processors Buying Guide and ensure you get the one that’s right for you.

 

A food processor is a kitchen appliance designed to make repetitive activities quick and easy. Whether you’re chopping, mincing, grinding, pureeing, slicing or shredding, a food processor will make the job easier.

For those wondering if you can simply use a blender to double as a food processor, the easy answer is “no”. Quite simply, blenders blend your foods and usually change them from solids to liquids. In fact, blenders need liquids to keep food moving, whereas a food processor requires no added liquid. The opposite is actually true - watery foods can result in a messy, less-than-ideal result when put in food processors.

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Food Processors

There are only a few elements to keep in mind when deciding what food processor to buy, but when you do, you’ll get an invaluable kitchen tool that will make the most tedious cutting or chopping job into a breeze.


Capacity

The capacity can vary in size greatly, from 4 to 16 cups, so choose the one that best fits your needs. If you regularly cook for crowds or like to cook large batches to freeze or share, you’ll appreciate a bigger unit. A larger food processor will obviously be more expensive, heavier and take up more counter space. You’ll probably want at least 9 cups, though, for optimal versatility. It’s important to keep in mind that if you primarily process liquid ingredients, the bowl capacity is basically cut in half.


Safety Features

Safety features are an important element to keep in mind when purchasing a food processor. You’ll want to look for a locking lid, which ensures that the blades won’t move until the lid is securely in place. Another important element is on-board blade storage which will ensure that the blades don’t have to be left loose in a drawer (which can cut your hands). And finally, you’ll want a bowl that locks onto the base to ensure that it won’t fly off if knocked, which will also help keep your kitchen clean.


Speeds

For the most part, food processors will have two speed settings: “On” and “Pulse” (which runs the processor in brief bursts for precise control). In some instances, choppers can have high and low pulse settings which can provide added control. Three to four speeds is all you really need. Some may have extra speeds (such as a dough setting) but for most people’s needs, that would be extraneous.


Attachments

Sometimes, food processors will include attachments that you won’t use, so be sure you know what is included and that you’ll use most of the attachments. There are many different types of basic blades that may be included with your processor (and which you are likely to use). These include grater, shredder, chopper and mixer. Additional blades and attachments allow you to slice, dice, chop, mix, grate, shred and blend just about anything you can think of. Other attachments may include dough blades, discs for slicing, shredding and julienning, an egg whisk, a juicer and ice or cheese graters. Some models might even include a small 2-4 cup mini bowl for processing small amounts of food.


Cleanup

As with any kitchen appliance, you’ll want to look for dishwasher safe parts like blades and bowls that are also easy to remove. It’s also safer to clean sharp blades in a dishwasher than by hand.


Touchpad Controls

Touchpads are easy to wipe clean because the buttons are behind a sheet of plastic so it keeps food out of cracks, thus making it easier to clean. Touchpad controls are also very simple to control and are fairly standard these days.