If you are pressed for time in the kitchen, a food processor can go a long ways towards speeding up the time it takes you to produce healthy and nutritious meals or whipping up your next superfoods drink.
With so many options out there, however, it can be tough to find the best one. No worries–our research team looked in-depth at the top models on the market and ranked the ten best food processors that you can get.
1. Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef
For true top of the line technology Breville’s BF800XL is the way to go. The capacity of the bowl is gigantic, at 16 cups. That’s an entire gallon of food processing capacity.
As you’d expect from a top-notch product, all the specs are great. The bowl is made of plastic that’s free of the organic contaminant bisphenol A (BPA), and the business end comes with five discs and three blades to chop up whatever you need.
The chute is much bigger than many other competitors, at 5.5 inches in width. No more pre-cutting fruit and vegetables to fit down the chute. Depending on your affinity for automation, you might find the sophistication endearing or absurd: it’s got a digital timer with a programmable countdown function, meaning you can “set it and forget it.”
It’s probably a bit much for the casual cook, but if you want the very best technology has to offer, or if you want cutting-edge kitchen efficiency, this is undoubtedly your best option.
2. Braun FP3020
You might call this the BMW of food processors. The German-engineered 12 cup food processor left nothing out of the design equation, which is why it has seven different blade and disk attachments, and eleven different speed settings.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, it’s got a citrus fruit juicer to boot. The Braun FP3020 uses several clever design tricks to minimize its counter space footprint, even though it has a hefty capacity.
This makes it better-suited for people who have small kitchens but like to cook up large meals, and because of the precise speed control and versatility in blade attachments, it’s an excellent choice if you like to exert the greatest degree of control possible over your food preparation devices.
3. KitchenAid KFP1466CU
Simple but sophisticated–that’s the appropriate analysis for this KitchenAid food processor. It’s got the technological specs of all the other top of the line food processors, but it doesn’t get overcomplicated.
It’s got just three modes, low, high, and pulse. It has two disks and three blades for slicing and dicing, as well as grating and shredding. It actually comes with two bowls; one small one, with just a 4 cup capacity, and a full-sized 14 cup bowl for larger dishes and prep work.
The base is plastic, so it’s a little more lightweight than stainless-steel footed models, but it’s still got a reputation for durability. Do note that this is a seriously big appliance in terms of footprint: it takes up nearly a square foot of countertop space, so it’s not the best choice for an efficiency kitchen. However, if big, straight, and simple is what you want, the KitchenAid KFP1466CU is what you need.
CuisinArt has a reputation for extremely popular and well-liked food processors, and it is well-deserved. Their best model right now is the DFP-14NRY, which combines pure simplicity with a large capacity and sturdy construction.
It doesn’t have all the fancy options and extensions as some other competitors–it has just two discs and one blade, but using it is dead-easy. It has two settings, on and pulse. The brushed stainless steel base is sturdy enough to keep it from tipping over, even when it’s loaded up to its capacity, which is an impressive 14 cups.
Users looking for more options and control over how they process their food will want to look elsewhere, but if you find hyper-customizable settings and a full array of blades overwhelming, the CuisinArt DFP-14NRY is the perfect option for you.
5. Oster Pro 1200
This is really a blender-food processor combo, which is great if you do a lot of blending, or want to branch out into smoothies and green drinks at some point. The device comes with a stout glass jar, which is a step up from the flexible plastic on competitor models.
The sheer number of blending and processing options can seem overwhelming, but it’s a necessary evil when the food processor doubles as a blender. The major downside of the Oster Pro 1200 is that the actual food processing attachment is quite small, at only five cups.
But if you live in a small apartment with limited counter space, getting two kitchen appliances in the counter footprint of one is often worth the sacrifice. It’s a no-go if you plan on whipping up big meals for dinner parties, but it’s fine if you plan to cook for one or two.
6. BLACK + DECKER FP1600B
Though known more for power tools, BLACK + DECKER branches out into the kitchen appliance market fairly well with the FP1600B. It’s no super-appliance, to be sure: it’s got a lightweight plastic construction, a relatively small motor, and a medium sized capacity of 8 cups.
The selection of blades isn’t incredible, but it will get the job done most of the time. The product is very well-reviewed, and it’s one of the best economy-grade food processors out there.
Users praise its versatility, but note that it can be quite loud. That’s not usually a problem, given that you’ll only be using it for a few minutes at a time, but if you have sensitive ears, it could be grating.
7. Ninja Master QB1004
Ninja Master takes a very unusual approach to food processing, but the result is pretty successful. Gone is the standard chute opening to the bowl, with the motor driving the blades on the bottom.
Instead, the motor unit sits on top, and you load the bowl before you snap the motorized lid into place. Like a few other competitors, the Ninja Master QB1004 comes with another pitcher that functions as a blender, making it great if you want to get into making smoothies and shakes.
It comes with a third pitcher that’s specially designed for chopping, giving it extra versatility at the expense of taking up more space. The Ninja Master is very well-loved by its users, though the unconventional design does limit its range of uses in the kitchen.
While it can blend when other food processors can’t, the absence of a grating and chopping disc is a real limitation if you want to grate a lot of cheese or shred garlic to just the right consistency.
8. Hamilton Beach 70730
This economy model from Hamilton Beach has several clever design elements to make food processing life easier. To avoid processed food riding up the edges of the processing bowl, it incorporates a plastic spatula that runs around the inner rim of the bowl, even while the processor is functioning.
You do have to turn this spatula manually, and its plastic construction makes it prone to breaking, but it’s still a nice solution to a common problem.
As an economy model, the processor’s bowl is made out of clear plastic, but the capacity is pretty good for such a small model, at 10 cups.
With only one cutting disc and one blade, it does not have nearly the versatility of better models, and the motor control doesn’t offer the precision functioning that many advanced chefs might like. Still, it’s a good efficiency option.
9. KitchenAid KFC3516BY
This miniature food processor from KitchenAid is right for a very select crowd. If you yearn for a food processor, but can’t spare the counter space for a full-sized model, this is what you want.
Its capacity is absolutely tiny, at 3.5 cups, so you can forget about shredding a whole head of cabbage, and it’s only got one cutting blade (and no cutting discs) so it’s pretty subpar when it comes to things like shredding cheese, too.
Still, if you have no countertop space, this tiny food processor can fit just about anywhere when not in use. For small studio apartments and older houses with a high premium on appliance space, it might be a better choice than no food processor at all.
10. Hamilton Beach 58149
With the 58149 model, Hamilton Beach caters to people who want a blender as well as a food processor. That combo is difficult to get right to begin with, and unfortunately, with this product in particular, the attempt falls especially flat.
This kitchen appliance is really mostly a blender; the functionality of the food processing attachment is very poor. Without a true chute and a pushing aid, it’s not well-suited for grinding or shredding much of anything, and you won’t be able to cook up much with the tiny 3-cup chopping bowl.
Users find that food gets stuck around and below the blades, leaving an irritating buildup of un-processed food. The motor is fairly loud, and has a tendency to break down.
With so many better options out there, it’s hard to recommend the Hamilton Beach 58149 any higher, despite how popular it is.
Who should buy a food processor?
A food processor is an easy way to multiply your productivity in the kitchen. A well-equipped food processor allows you to dice, chop, shred, blend, or grate a wide variety of foods.
Some dishes, like riced cauliflower, pesto, or zucchini noodles would be an incredible pain to make without a food processor, but can be made in just a few minutes with a good processor.
If your kitchen suffers from a lack of counter space, a food processor can be a good way to keep your meal preparations contained to a small area, too.
As one of the most versatile countertop kitchen appliances, a food processor is a good investment for anyone who prepares most of their own meals—and can be particularly useful if you are trying to eat healthier.
How we ranked
To make our food processor rankings, our primary considerations were food processor capacity, reliability, and versatility.
Capacity is pretty straightforward: How much food can a food processor handle? This is traditionally measured in cups, with most food processors falling in the 8 to 12 cup range.
If you are prepping big meals, more capacity is definitely better, and some dishes practically require a 12 cup or more capacity. However, there is a tradeoff: bigger capacity generally means a larger footprint; i.e. the food processor takes up more counter space.
If you live in a small apartment or have a lot of other kitchen appliances that take up space, this can be a problem. At the far extremes, people who live in efficiency or studio apartments might want something even smaller than 8 cups.
For this reason, while we had a preference for higher capacity food processors, we made sure to retain some of the best small capacity food processors for this niche market.
To evaluate reliability, our research team looked through reports and reviews of problems with all of the major brands and models of food processors.
With cut-throat competition to produce less and less expensive appliances, there’s always a temptation to cut corners.
We found many products that used cheap plastic parts that were too thin and prone to breaking, or blades with a tendency to get mis-aligned and scratch up the interior of the appliance. Other food processors had a tendency to overheat and shut down—definitely not something you want happening with an electric appliance.
We eliminated all of these products, focusing only on food processors with a consistent track record of quality. On this topic, we also considered the warranty: if your food processor does break, you want a reputable manufacturer that is going to replace it. Again, brands with shady reputations for honoring warranties got eliminated.
We kept an eye on the type of plastic used in the food-contacting components, too: specifically, we wanted to avoid products that had bisphenol A (BPA) in the primary food container.
This endocrine-disrupting chemical should be avoided, and given that many food processors proudly advertise themselves as BPA-free, there’s no reason to be using a food processor with BPA in it.
Finally, when it comes to versatility, the two biggest considerations were the number of processing modes and the number of different attachments. High-quality food processors like the Breville Sous Chef BFP800XL and the Braun FP3020 come with many different blades and attachments, not to mention numerous different settings (and in one case, even a programmable timer).
To take full advantage of the benefits of a food processor, you’ll want to be able to use the right attachment for the right job. A food processor without the right attachments is just a glorified blender.
Our final rankings are a weighted scoring of these capacity, reliability, and versatility scores. We’re confident that these food processors represent the very best options on the market right now, and range from high-capacity goliaths that are great for meal prep to tiny economy-sized processors that are perfect for a tiny kitchen.
Once you have a food processor, how can you use it to maximize convenience and time. Do you want to save time and cook up healthy meals? That’s a matter of understanding the benefits and limitations of a food processor, plus knowing how to use it effectively and safely.
A good food processor can automate just about any manual task you have in the kitchen. Whether it is grating cheese, slicing and dicing vegetables, or functioning as a blender to chop blueberry and other superfoods, a good food processor is more than capable of the task.
The biggest and most obvious benefit of a food processor is being able to rapidly shred, cut, or dice a large volume of food. But the maximum volume of food you can process is going to be directly related to the capacity of your food processor.
Models range from miniscule 3.5 cup bowls all the way up to huge 16 cup bowls that are ready for the biggest families and largest dinner parties.
In addition to the capacity of your food processor bowl, you should always consider the number and style of the cutting blades and discs that come with the product.
Cutting blades are for dicing and shredding, and pretty much any model will have at least one cutting blade. The real distinguishing factor comes in the discs. Without at least one good disc, it’s very hard to shred cheese or get garlic to the right consistency.
Some models have special slicing discs which can cut perfect dough, meat, or cheese slices every time. Think about the kind of food prep work you do now, as well as the food prep work you might do in the future, when choosing a model with the right accessories.
Some foods are incredibly difficult to make without a food processor. Anything designed to be mixed dry, or anything that’s extremely viscous, is extremely hard to make any other way.
This includes foods like nut butters, herb purees, meat purees, cheese sauces, and pesto. While it’s certainly possible to make foods like pesto without a food processor, doing so involves a tremendous amount of manual labor: you need a mortar and pestle, a rolling pin, and a huge amount of elbow grease to accomplish what a food processor can do in just a minute or two.
Even if you have a blender or immersion blender, purees and thick sauces are a nightmare: they’re just too thick and viscous, or there isn’t enough liquid to turn the solution over in the blending container.
You’ll burn out your blender motor before you finish a meat puree. While a blender is occasionally suited better for things like making smoothies, and can be easier to clean, there are still a lot of things that even a high-quality blender cannot do.
When used properly, a food processor is a great tool for the kitchen. But it can’t do everything. Models without a cutting disk will not be able to shred cheese or grate garlic with much precision, and overloading a food processor that’s too small for the task at hand is never a good idea either.
A major factor limiting food processor performance is something electrical engineers refer to as the “duty cycle”–this is essentially how much “rest” an electric motor needs to cool down after a period of prolonged use.
Many people who opt for a cheaper or low-quality food processor are surprised when the motor burns out or even melts the plastic blade housing after they use the food processor almost non-stop during a long cooking session.
Keeping this in mind is critical when selecting a food processor–for casual use, like cooking for one or two, an economy model can manage just fine.
But if you are cooking big meals for a large family, or if you like to throw large dinner parties or prep several nights’ worth of food at once, it’s well worth your money to get a more expensive model with a higher-quality motor that can handle prolonged use.
Using your food processor the right way is pretty straightforward. After you’ve assembled it with the right blade or disk for the task at hand, add the foods you need processed.
Keep an eye on the “fill” line on the side of the food processor’s primary container, as this fill limit is often smaller than the cull capacity of the container. If you fill beyond this level, it’s likely that you’ll get chunks of food that are not processed how you want them to be.
After snapping the lid into place (make sure it’s on correctly!) select the mode or program you need. Different products have different settings, so a quick glance at the user manual should tell you what mode suits your recipe best.
After you’ve processed your food, make sure you disassemble your food processor and clean it out. It’s far easier to avoid stains and dried food buildup if you clean a food processor right after you finish, versus waiting for a few hours to clean it out.
Q: Is a food processor better than a blender?
A: Food processors are certainly more versatile than a blender: you can slice, grate, puree, and chop foods, even as a dry mix. There’s no way you can do that with a blender.
Blenders can also handle ingredients like ice a little better: some food processors (albeit not high-quality ones) can get damaged, or have their blades dulled, by something very hard like ice or frozen fruit.
Blenders tend to have a lot fewer parts, so cleanup tends to be easier after using them. While it’s great to have both, if you had to pick one or the other, a food processor is probably the way to go.
A high quality food processor can make a decent shake or smoothie, and offers a much wider range of features than a blender would.
Q: What is a good affordable food processor?
A: If you want an affordable food processor, a good strategy is to choose a smaller capacity model from one of the top-flight manufacturers.
As you might imagine, there’s a substantial price mark-up for the 12 and 16 cup models from a leading manufacturer like Oster, CuisinArt, Braun, or Breville. However, many of the features and engineering expertise that goes into the top-flight models trickles down to the smaller 8 and 10 cup models, which are far cheaper.
If you are really strapped for cash, you can opt for an economy brand with a good reputation, like Ninja or Hamilton Beach. While you won’t get the versatility or capacity that you’d get from one of the high-end products, it will still make your life in the kitchen a lot easier than it would otherwise be if you didn’t have a food processor at all.
Q: What healthy foods can you make with a food processor?
A: If you are trying to up your intake of healthy foods, a food processor is a great way to help accomplish this. Many healthy dishes, like pesto, salsas, and hummus, are incredibly easy to make with a food processor.
Moreover, these same kinds of dishes are quite a pain if you don’t have one. Food processors also make it easy to slice vegetables as a side dish, or to make your own healthy nut butters like almond butter or peanut butter that have no added sodium or sugar.
While a blender is often the tool of choice for smoothies and shakes, a good food processor can whip these up as well.
Q: What is a food processor used for?
A: Food processors are used for automating many kitchen tasks that would otherwise take much longer to do by hand. Chopping, slicing, shredding, grating, mincing, and pureeing are all possible to do by hand, but can be accomplished much faster and easier using a food processor with the right attachments.
Food processors originated in large-scale kitchens in France, but thanks to the American love of efficiency, came to wider use and eventually become seen as one of the essential kitchen appliances.
A high quality food processor has several different attachments, which allow it to serve a variety of roles in your kitchen.
One day, you could be rapidly slicing vegetables, while another, you could be mincing garlic—in far less time and with far less mess than you’d require if you did these tasks by hand.
Q: What can you use instead of a food processor?
A: While a food processor makes a lot of different culinary tasks a cinch, there are a few workarounds if you are stuck without one.
For dicing or pureeing foods, you can use a blender, especially if you set it to a “pulse” setting. For chopping, there’s always the slower and old-fashioned way: with a knife and a cutting board.
If you need to grate or shred foods, many manual food graters have blades that are suited for everything from fine zests to coarse grating, as well as thin blades to shred vegetables like cabbage.
The strength of a food processor is to make these tasks fast and easy, with a minimum amount of cleanup. Nevertheless, it’s possible to improvise using these techniques if the situation calls for it.
Q: What should you look for in a food processor?
A: If you’re looking for a food processor, we recommend using the same criteria that our research team used when formulating our own rankings: capacity, reliability, and versatility.
The first thing you should figure out is how much volume of food you need to be able to process at once. If you are cooking for a big family, a 12 or 16 cup food processor might be right for you.
In contrast, if all you make is small side dishes, a smaller capacity food processor might be the right choice. Likewise, if you don’t have much kitchen space to work with, a smaller processor with a smaller footprint might be a better choice, even if it means you have to split up your cooking tasks into smaller chunks.
Second, make sure you look into the reliability of the candidate model that you are about to buy. Do other users report the same kinds of problems, like motor burnout or chipping plastic?
These could be signs of a poor quality product. Make sure you check the warranty information, too: if the food processor does break, you’ll want a reputable brand that will replace or refund it.
Finally, make sure the food processor you are getting has the attachments and settings to support all of the different tasks (grating, slicing, pureeing, etc.) that you want to get out of it.
Even a very powerful food processor without many attachments is pretty useless if you want to take full advantage of the benefits that a food processor offers.
If you are finding manually chopping, dicing, and shredding food in the kitchen to be a major time sink, a food processor is a worthy investment.
When selecting the right food processor for you needs, you should keep in mind not just your capacity needs (bigger meals demand a larger processor) but the versatility and usage duration that you need out of your food processor.
In general, it’s best to get the largest and sturdiest food processor that you can spare the counter and storage space for, especially if you think you’ll be cooking big meals once in a while. However, even if you can only manage a small efficiency model, you’ll likely find that a food processor makes your cooking prep work much easier.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 food processor recommendation, click here.