Versatile and efficient, a good food processor can be an indispensable help in the kitchen. You can use it to shred cheese, chop vegetables, puree baby food, and grind spices, to name but a few of its uses.
But before you dash out and buy one, consider the factors below to ensure that you choose the best food processor for your needs.
The Difference Between a Food Processor and a Blender
The differences between a food processor and a blender can sometimes be difficult to see because their functionality overlaps. What makes them two different devices is what you can use them for.
Blenders are good at some things, while food processors are much better at others. To begin with, you can not use liquids in a food processor. Of course, you can prepare food by tearing, chopping, mixing and more, but you can not mix water, ice or fruit in most food processors. You need to use a blender for that. Conversely, a blender is not for chopping, tearing or grinding.
In some food processor tests, you will see that many food processors can do almost anything a blender can. Some can now crush ice, for example. However, the rule still applies that blenders are designed for liquids and food processors for solid food.
Why Food Processors Are So Good
Depending on the brand, and the type of accessories you have, a food processor can make the cooking process easier and more fun! Food processors can help prepare ingredients for a meal much faster than doing it by hand.
Depending on the accessories, they can, for example:
- Slice vegetables and fruits
- Chop vegetables and fruits
- Chop and slice meat
- Grind nuts, seeds, dried fruit, spices and meat
- Shred and grate cheese, vegetables and fruit
- Puree, mash, pulp, baby food
- Mix and knead bread and other dough with certain models
Most models offer blades and mounts for grating cheese, kneading dough, finely chopping, whisking and so on. When preparing to buy a food processor for the first time, it is essential to consider what tasks you need the most help with. For example, if you are interested in mixing smoothies and soups, an included mixing jug may be useful, or you may just want to buy a blender instead.
Some more expensive models combine several devices into one, and they can do much more than a regular food processor can.
Some users swear by their multifunction machines. A multifunctional food processor with a mixer, hand mixer, meat grinder, stand mixer, etc., means you get an all-in-one machine.
Buying these combined appliances can save you money instead of purchasing a separate unit for each purpose. However, multifunctional food processors are often large, awkward and heavy, and all the accessories require storage when not in use.
The Most Important Features of Your Food Processor
It is essential to research all the features before buying it, based on what you intend to use it for.
However, the motor is the base component of all these kitchen appliances, and you need to check that first.
When choosing a food processor, check the power rating. The motor must be strong enough to chop solid foods such as raw vegetables easily. The number of watts on the motor determines the food processor’s power.
Weaker models may struggle to chop harder foods. These models also tend to have a shorter lifespan.
Ensure that the machine you choose is powerful enough to handle any tough jobs you throw at it: kneading dough or grating or shredding cheese and root vegetables such as carrot or swede.
Otherwise, you risk having a food processor unable to do the job doing and spending its life in a kitchen cupboard. Or even worse, the motor burns out mid-chop. Look for a motor that is at least 600 watts.
Bowl capacity is usually measured in liters. The largest models can have a bowl capacity of over 4 liters.
However, a 4-liter bowl does not mean that you can put 4 liters of food in it. The amount of food you can prepare in it is somewhat smaller.
The dry capacity is usually greater than it is for wetter ingredients. By dry capacity, we mean the processing of dry ingredients, such as nuts or cheese.
All bowls are marked with a “Max” capacity level. Don’t be tempted to exceed it.
Number of portions
The number of servings you want to prepare at once or the number of people you are going to cook for is also a factor.
Be sure to choose the size of both the bowl and the feed tube that makes sense for you and your family. If space is an issue, and you just want something small and practical to help with preparatory tasks, a mini chopper and a stick blender are all you need.
Stainless steel versus plastic can be one of the most important decisions you make. There is a reason why food processors with stainless steel are more expensive. The material is simply more durable and can withstand the dishwasher better than plastic.
Plastic wears out faster, and the food processor will thus wear out faster as well. This is not to say that plastic is terrible. Just be sure to choose a machine with BPA-free plastic to avoid getting unnecessary substances in you with the food.
Most food processors have a minimum of two speed settings. In addition, some food processors may have a pulse setting. For some of the most expensive models, there may be more speed settings. But the extra speed settings are not necessary, as the pulse function allows you to fine-tune your chopping or grinding.
It is, therefore, unnecessary to buy a model that has many speed settings. Instead, focus more on other features.
It may be a good idea to research this feature before purchasing a device. No one wants a loud noise when a food processor is used. However, there are few food processor suppliers that specify the sound in decibels. Therefore, check user reviews before you buy. The sound is also affected by how powerful the motor in the machine is.
Most advanced models have strong stainless steel blades that guarantee many years of service, but it is worth checking what they are made of and if you can hone them.
The sharpness of the blades is critical for the machine to be able to chop your ingredients. If the material is not strong or sharp enough, the blades will struggle and start to “tear” your raw materials, which can destroy the motor.
Performance is measured by how evenly the food processor grinds, chops, etc. This is determined, in parts, by the power of the motor and the quality of the blades, but also the type of food you run in your food processor.
Most food processors have a lid for the bowl with a feed tube where you insert what is to be chopped. An extra-large feed tube makes it possible for you to process larger foods or more significant portions of foods such as meat.
A large feed tube means the food preparation is even faster as there’s less pre-chopping.
Food processors also usually have a “pusher” that fits into the tube and helps to feed larger objects and protect the fingers.
Never put your fingers in the feed tube. If something gets stuck, turn off the machine and remove the entire cover before removing the jammed item. Never use sharp tools such as knives. They can damage the parts. Use wooden tools to remove what is stuck.
Ease of Use
The food processor needs to be easy to use for both right-handed and left-handed people. Check that the food processor has a good handle and that it is stable so that you do not risk it “wandering away” on the kitchen counter. Many food processors also have rubber feet to stand more firmly.
Each unit used regularly should be simple enough to attach quickly and effortlessly. The food processor’s lid and bowl must have a simple locking mechanism, and it must be easy to assemble and disassemble the parts. The best way to know if a specific model has these benefits is to read product reviews and look at what other users say about the product.
Dishwasher Safe Parts
Food processors make our lives in the kitchen easier. But if you have to spend hours assembling it, disassembling it, cleaning it and storing it, is it really that useful?
Always look for food processors that have dishwasher-safe parts and simple locking and unlocking mechanisms. This feature is a must. It saves time and means that accessories and blades are always clean and hygienic
All machines in the kitchen tend to take up a lot of space. Some storage functions in the food processor can really help.
If, for example, the cable storage is built-in so that you can avoid a trailing mess on the kitchen counter. In addition, you do not have to carry the cord when it goes into the cabinet.
Also really convenient is a storage bag for all accessories or a food processor that fits all the accessories in the bowl.
Safe use is essential with all electrical products. Be sure to check that the machine is UL listed and follow the advice below;
- Always be careful when pouring food or liquid into or out of the food processor so that the power cord and socket remain dry.
- Clean and dry the food processor well after each use, as water can collect on the power cord and can cause an electric shock when connected.
- Although parts of the food processor are probably dishwasher safe, the base is electric and should only be wiped with a damp cloth.
- Always switch off the appliance when not in use.
Food processors usually have more than one attachable blade. Chopping blades, dough kneaders, reversible shredding blades and other types of cutters or discs are typically included.
Some models even have other accessories such as a blender or juicer to handle different jobs. However, most models come with the standard grating blades, dough hook or kneader, slicers and bowls.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Food Processor
Some food processors are more advanced than others, and although not all functions are essential to everyone, some can be useful for some users.
Timer: The timer can count up or down and stop the food processor when the time has been reached in the countdown mode.
Different bowls: bowls in various sizes are always helpful.
Mini bowl: A mini bowl for smaller amounts of ingredients and fine grinding spices or coffee beans.
Citrus press: Although some models come with a citrus press, it may make sense to buy a separate juicer if it is just juice you want to make.
Mixing jug: If you want to make smoothies, soups and baby food, look for one that comes with a mixing jug.
In addition to the motor and blades, many other things are good to think about before buying a food processor.
Food processors vary enormously in size and weight. Make sure you have enough space on the kitchen counter for the appliance you choose. Think about the height of any cabinets above where you place the food processor that can obstruct the feed tube or lid.
Will it fit in your cupboard, and can you lift it easily? Some are pretty substantial and weigh as much as 25lb.
The food processor must have a stable base so that it does not move when used. This usually includes non-slip feet and a wide, heavy bottom. The motor is usually the heaviest component of the food processor and is located in the base to ensure a low center of gravity to aid stability.
Choose a processor that you can buy spare parts for if any of them break down. Check what the warranty applies to and what parts of the machine. In addition, it may make sense to check that the guarantee applies even if you sharpen your cutter blades, for example.
Flat Controller Buttons
It is not super important to have flat control buttons on a food processor, but the advantage is that they are easier to clean. Buttons that protrude or knobs that you turn will always be a little harder to clean, and food will stick more easily.
Common Mistakes When Using a Food Processor
You can use some clever tricks to avoid the most common mistakes and some that are worth knowing BEFORE you start using your food processor.
Here are some “Don’ts” you need to remember:
Don’t throw in the whole onion or other hard vegetables: Food processors are powerful machines, but they usually need help. So before you throw food in the processor bowl, chop it. The easiest way is to cut it into equal pieces small enough to fit down the feed tube.
Don’t ignore the Pulse control: The Pulse control causes the ingredients in the food processor to move in pulsations. This shakes the contents up in the bowl, so they’re mixed and chopped evenly.
Don’t use it as a blender: The food processor is more powerful than a blender, so avoid jobs that involve extra liquid. Bowl one has a liquid “max” line, and if liquid gets over it, it can cause leakage.
Don’t mix ice: Your food processor may be able to mix ice, but check this BEFORE you put ice in it and break the motor.
Don’t process hot foods: You should not place any hot food in your food processor. Doing so may impair the quality of the appliance or damage it.
Don’t overwork foodstuffs: Remember not to run the food processor continuously for too long, as it may overheat the motor.
Care and Maintenance
To avoid problems with your food processor, it is a good idea to follow the instructions below;
- Before cleaning the machine: make sure that it is completely disconnected and switched off.
- Do not sharpen the blades if they are made of titanium or if the manufacturer states that they are sharp throughout their life. If they become dull, despite this, you can get replacements.
- Wash the blade immediately after use. It helps keep it sharp. The easiest way is to flush it clean under the tap.
- If you wash dishes by hand: Rinse the parts, add a few drops of detergent and then wash by hand. Finally, rinse with clean water.
- Rinse all parts before putting them in a dishwasher.
- Be sure to dry all parts thoroughly, immediately after cleaning, to prevent bacterial growth or damage.
- Do not immerse the base in water. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth and dry thoroughly.
- Store the machine in the storage box when not in use.
Washing a food processor by hand can be a real pain. If you have a dishwasher, look for a model with dishwasher-safe accessories so cleaning will be less of a headache—don’t forget to check the instructions before putting them on a hot wash. Some manufacturers warn against washing in temperatures above 40° C (104° F) and completely avoid the drying cycle, which can lead to the plastic splitting. If you do not have a dishwasher, use our reviews to find models that are easy to clean by hand.
Here are 5 of the Top models of food processor currently available:
Can a food processor dice food?
Yes, it can. Just make sure you use the pulse setting for a few seconds at a time until you get the dice size you need
How do you hone a food processor’s blades?
When your food processor’s blades become too dull, you can sharpen them with a knife sharpener or hand them in at a professional knife sharpener.
Are food processors dishwasher safe?
Not all parts can be placed in the dishwasher—for example, the motor. However, most removable parts can. Always check the manufacturer’s manual that comes with the machine when you buy it.
A food processor is a useful helper in the kitchen that ensures that you can expand your repertoire of preparation skills to more than just chopping and cutting. In addition, it makes cooking significantly faster.
It is also ideal for anyone who struggles or wants to avoid tearing, slicing, chopping and mixing ingredients by hand.
Before you buy a food processor, it is important to think about what you want to use it for, check the motor power and its functions and, not least, the accessories.
Read our guide and search for reviews from users before making a decision.