After spending 50 hours researching food processors, interviewing experts, and conducting nearly four years of long-term testing, we still think the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is the best choice for most home cooks. Its simple, pared-down design makes it easier to use and clean than models with more settings or multiple bowls, and we found it to be built more solidly than other processors at this price range. In our tests, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor tackled a multitude of chopping and shredding tasks exceptionally well.
If you want a mini food processor to make small batches of mayonnaise or mirepoix, we recommend the affordably priced KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Mini Food Processor. It chopped vegetables more evenly than the other mini models we tested. On top of that, its handled jar with push-button activation was the most convenient to use. And it’s a great option for people who can’t or don’t want to invest in a $200 machine. You can’t knead bread dough or shred ingredients in it, but you can grind or chop small portions of vegetables or nuts, which would be more tedious by hand.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $360.
The 16-cup Breville Sous Chef is more powerful than our main pick, so it’s the machine you’ll want when cooking for large groups or for processing foods several times a week. Its 1,200-watt motor and smart design save you time in use and cleaning; in fact, despite its many accessories, it was one of the easiest models to clean. That said, if you use a food processor only occasionally, the Breville’s high cost probably outweighs its benefits. And given that it’s huge—over 18 inches tall and nearly 20 pounds—you’d need a big kitchen to keep it on the counter.
To suss out the features to look for in a great food processor, we turned to two best-selling authors of food processing cookbooks: Jean Anderson, the James Beard Award-winning author of Process This, and Norene Gilletz, author of The New Food Processor Bible. Both authors were early adopters, purchasing their first Cuisinarts shortly after the company introduced the appliances in the 1970s. Combined, they’ve logged thousands of hours on many machines.
We also scoured reviews by America’s Test Kitchen, Consumer Reports, and Serious Eats, and we examined user reviews on Amazon, Macy’s, and other sites in our efforts to figure out which models to test.
Michael Sullivan, who contributed to our 2016 and 2017 updates, has reviewed immersion blenders and spiralizers as well as other kitchen gadgets for The Sweethome. For this guide, he spent dozens of hours shredding cheese, chopping vegetables, mixing doughs, and whipping up mayonnaise. This guide builds on work by Sweethome senior editor Christine Cyr Clisset.
A food processor is the best tool for quickly performing a variety of chopping, slicing, and shredding tasks—such as chopping nuts, slicing vegetables, and shredding cheese—that would be more tedious and time consuming by hand. Food processors are also handy for blending wet ingredients (like tomatoes for pasta sauce) or for preparing homemade mayonnaise and vinaigrettes. However, if you want to puree velvety soups or to crush ice for smoothies, you’ll need a blender. (For details on the differences between blenders, processors, and mixers, we’ve covered the subject in some depth.)
For processing small batches of ingredients, you might want to consider getting a mini food processor—even if you have a full-size version. A mini model will process smaller quantities more efficiently, and its diminutive size means it’s easier to move around a counter, store, and clean.
If you have an older machine that still works well, stick with it. But if your current machine’s motor base is so lightweight that the appliance stutters across the counter when in use, you should consider upgrading to model with a heavier build. And if your processor is 11 cups or smaller but you cook for more than two people, you might want to switch to a model with a larger bowl for blending wet ingredients or making bigger batches of shredded veggies or grated cheese.
At its most basic, a food processor consists of a work bowl that sits on a motorized drive shaft. The bowl’s lid has a feed tube for inserting food to be chopped, diced, sliced, ground, or even kneaded (in the case of dough). Most food processors come with S-shaped blades and various disks for grating and slicing, but a host of other attachments—such as julienne disks and citrus juicers—are also available.
Anderson and Gilletz agreed that an 11-to-14-cup processor is most useful for most cooks. “It’s always better to go a little bigger than a little smaller,” Gilletz said. “It’s one investment that’s going to last you a lot of years. You’ll regret getting one that isn’t big enough.” If you cook for a family, or simply cook a lot, a bigger machine makes more sense.
Mini food processors—also called mini choppers—have bowls ranging in size from around 1½ cups to 6 cups, but the highest-rated ones hover around three cups. These machines are most useful for small jobs, such as chopping up one onion, making a curry paste, preparing salad dressing, or doing small batch of pesto. They are much smaller and lighter than a full-size food processor, so they’re easier to tuck into a cupboard and bring out when needed.
The best models should chop vegetables and herbs evenly (without pulverizing them), grate cheese uniformly, slice cleanly, and finely grind bread crumbs, nuts, and other dry ingredients. That means the blades and grating disks need to be sharp out of the box and must remain sharp over years of use.
High-quality food processors have strong motors and heavy bases that anchor them to the counter so that they can mix sturdy yeast doughs. Low-quality machines, which also happen to be lighter, will often skid across the counter when processing dough, or the motor might even seize up.
Some processors come with a specific dough speed for preparing bread or pizza dough. We asked Norene Gilletz if investing in one of these is worth the cost. “If you’re making a lot of bread, maybe. But if you don’t have that speed, just do a little dough and pulse, and you won’t need the dough speed,” she said. Gilletz said it’s more important that the machine have a pulse speed, which gives more control than just on and off buttons. Some food processors come with a dough blade that’s often made of plastic. However, we didn’t notice a difference when mixing doughs using a standard metal blade versus a plastic one in our tests, so we don’t think dough blades are a necessary attachment.
Most companies have wide feed tubes to accommodate blocks of cheese, potatoes, and other hunks of food. Models usually come with two food pressers: a larger one that fits in the wide feed tube, and a smaller one nested inside that will keep carrots and other thin objects upright during slicing.
Various models come with nesting bowls, so you can attach a smaller bowl that essentially acts as a mini chopper. (Both cookbook authors we spoke with for this guide use mini food processors in their kitchens.) A few machines, such as those in the Cuisinart Elite series, come with a gasket on the lid of the mixing bowl to prevent leaks. Other models have adjustable disks so you can control the thickness of slices; most of these you adjust manually on the disk.
Beyond the main blade and disks for shredding and slicing, you don’t need much else. Although you can purchase everything from a juicing attachment to an egg-white-beating attachment, such extras often go unused. Both cookbook authors we spoke with essentially said these add-ons were a waste of money.
For our 2017 update, we chopped carrots, onions, tomatoes, parsley, and whole almonds in each food processor to gauge evenness of texture. For the processors that came with a disk for grating, we used them to shred soft mozzarella cheese. We tested each full-size processor to see if their motors could withstand the rigors of kneading pizza dough. We also made a 1-cup batch of mayonnaise in the processors to see how quickly and evenly they could produce a stable emulsification. Finally, we cleaned the bowls, lids, disks, and food pressers of each model by hand eight times—a test that proved more revealing than we’d expected.
For the fourth year in a row, we think the reasonably priced Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is best for most people. It excelled at every chopping and shredding task we attempted. In fact, the Cuisinart Custom does everything that a great food processor should without any unnecessary extras—yet it works as well as or better than costly machines with multiple bowls and more attachments. Unlike some other models we tested, the Cuisinart Custom’s base remained in place while running, even when processing double batches of dough. The Cuisinart Custom comes with just the right number of blades and disks, too, all of which can conveniently stow inside the mixing bowl. And the Cuisinart Custom was among the easiest models to clean.
The Cuisinart Custom chopped vegetables and herbs just as skillfully as more expensive models. In our tests, it evenly chopped tomatoes and shredded soft mozzarella cheese. It was also able to make a firmer, more stable mayonnaise than other full-sized models we tested.
The Cuisinart Custom’s base is very stable and never wiggled across the counter while operating. Though its 750-watt motor is less powerful than the 1,000-watt Cuisinart Elite motor or the 1,200-watt Breville Sous Chef motor, it didn’t negatively affect its performance. Pizza dough was our most motor-intensive test, and the Custom kneaded it effortlessly. At roughly 18 pounds, including the bowl, its base remained securely in place.
We also appreciate the Cuisinart Custom’s 14-cup work bowl, which offers a lot of room for grating cheese or shredding big batches of coleslaw ingredients. We found that the 11-cup Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus was a little too small, particularly when processing wet ingredients. (Liquid tended to leak out of the Prep’s bowl.)
At first the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Processor seemed a little puny next to the other models, which boasted nesting bowls, taller bases, and big boxes of attachments. But after four years of long-term testing, its simplicity continues to win us over. We love that it only comes with one bowl and two operating buttons: pulse and on. It also comes with only the most useful attachments: a stainless-steel chopping blade and disks for shredding and slicing. Earlier versions of the Cuisinart Custom included a dough blade, and you can still purchase it through the Cuisinart website, but our testers find dough blades unnecessary and have successfully prepared doughs using regular chopping blades for years.
With some careful layering, you can store all of the Cuisinart Custom’s blades and disks in its work bowl with the lid on, which saves a bit of storage space (and keeps you from gouging a hand on a loose blade in a drawer). By contrast, our upgrade pick, the Breville Sous Chef, comes with a plethora of disks and accessories that require more storage space.
Finally, we found cleaning the Cuisinart Custom’s work bowl an easier task than doing so on most of the other models. After eight rounds of cleaning, we were achingly familiar with the gunk that can get trapped in overly complicated lids. We appreciate the hollow handle on the Cuisinart Custom, which doesn’t trap food particles and moisture as much as the enclosed handle on the Breville Sous Chef.
The Cuisinart Custom’s three-year limited warranty (five years on the motor) isn’t the best among the models we tested but is still pretty good. We also like the slightly retro, sleek design. And at only 15 inches tall, it should fit under most cupboards.
We read a few reviews that dislike how the Cuisinart Custom’s lid locks with the feed tube in the back rather in the front (standard for most models). However, we think it’s actually easier to see the ingredients in the bowl when the feed tube is positioned in the back of the lid.
The Cuisinart Custom’s shredding disk isn’t adjustable like Breville Sous Chef’s, which has multiple settings similar to a mandoline. That said, you can still buy additional slicing disks through Cuisinart. The included slicing disk makes approximately five-millimeter slices, which is fine for most tasks, but you’d probably want the 2 mm slicing disk for making homemade potato chips.
The only task the Cuisinart Custom didn’t excel at was chopping nuts. Most were evenly chopped, but there were a handful of nuts that remained in large pieces. But since the Cuisinart Custom mastered every other task, we don’t think this is a dealbreaker.
The Custom doesn’t come with a storage case for its attachments. If you don’t want to store the attachments in the bowl, purchasing a case for about $20 would be worthwhile.
After four years of long-term testing, we’ve consistently liked using the Cuisinart Custom. We’ve made slaws, grated cheese, blended dips, and kneaded pizza dough in it, and it has worked well. The 14-cup bowl doesn’t leak, and the controls are exactly what you need.
The bowl has scratched a bit (because we’ve stored the sharp blades inside the bowl). We’ve also noticed on other Cuisinart models that the plastic on the S-blade attachment discolors slightly with prolonged use. However, we haven’t tested the Cuisinart Custom long enough for this to happen. Overall, we still really like using this machine.
Conair recalled some Cuisinart food processor blades from certain models in 2016, but our pick is not affected by the recall. (You will see some DFP-14 models on the CPSC’s recall list, but the version we currently link to has a model name that ends in the letter “Y” and is not affected.) For older Cuisinarts, check the model number and then look to see if the blade has exposed rivets. If you have one of these recalled blades, contact Cuisinart for a free replacement or call 877-339-2534. (Note: according to our reader feedback, this may take some time.)
For small chopping tasks, the affordably priced KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Mini Food Processor offers the best value and performance we’ve found in a mini chopper. It evenly chops a range of ingredients, including tough jumbo carrots. The Mini-Prep Plus makes a good addition to a full-size model (or a great alternative if you don’t want to spend $200). In our tests, it even performed better than the mini bowl attachments that come with some of the larger processors. Since it’s so compact and doesn’t come with any accessories, the KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Mini Processor is easy to clean. The Mini Food Processor will not make bread dough or shred cheese, but we think it’s best for completing basic tasks quickly.
The KitchenAid produced more even textures than the other mini processors we tested and did so quickly. It chopped onions better than our former pick, the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus. (We recommend cutting a whole onion into eighths prior to pulsing for best results.) It also chopped a quartered tomato very evenly; we had to cut a tomato into smaller pieces to get the same results using the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus. The KitchenAid also cleanly cut parsley, whereas the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus tore it, causing it to oxidize faster.
Both the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus and the KitchenAid Mini Food Processor made perfect batches of mayonnaise. However, the KitchenAid excelled at dicing carrots while the Cuisinart struggled to chop a tough jumbo carrot and took nearly three times as long. The residual carrot juice also dyed the white plastic parts on the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus and discolored the bowl. Neither model excelled at chopping whole almonds, however; we think full-sized processors are best for this task.
The Mini Food Processor looks almost identical to a full-size processor, except that it has a knob that can be adjusted for chopping and pureeing. The chop setting moves the blade at a slower rpm, while the puree button operates at a faster rpm.
And, of course, the KitchenAid 3.5 Mini Processor is quite a bit smaller and easier to move around than bigger machines. Most mini choppers don’t have hefty bases like a full-size processor, and the KitchenAid is no exception. However, at just under 2 pounds, it has a slightly heavier base compared to our previous pick, the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus. We didn’t notice any straining or stuttering of the KitchenAid 3.5 Mini Food Processor’s 240-watt motor, even when chopping a tough jumbo carrot. Since you won’t use it for heavy tasks such as making bread dough, we don’t think there’s much risk of burning out the motor.
The KitchenAid 3.5 Mini Food Processor excels at emulsifications. In fact, of all the food processors, blenders, and immersion blenders we’ve tested for various guides, we found making mayo easiest in a mini food processor. That’s because its lid has a small indent to hold oil and a small hole that allows the oil to pour directly onto the blades so you have a consistent, measured stream. With this method, the mayonnaise comes together without your having to control the flow of oil.
Our testers preferred the handle on the bowl of the KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Mini Processor. Other mini models, such as those sold by KitchenAid and Farberware, lack this feature. We struggled to remove the bowl on models that didn’t have a handle, especially when working with greasy hands. We also love the push-button activation on the KitchenAid, where the lid meets the handle. We found it easier to operate than holding down buttons on the base of the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus. The plastic ring around the lid can also be removed for easy cleaning.
The KitchenAid 3.5 Mini Food Processor comes with a one-year warranty. If you experience problems under normal household use, contact KitchenAid for support.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $360.
The pricy Breville Sous Chef was hands down the best performer in our testing. It offers extra power, a bigger blending bowl, and nicer features. It chopped vegetables, kneaded dough, and shredded mozzarella as well as the Cuisinart Custom did, and it excelled at slicing. The Sous Chef powered through an entire russet potato in less than a second—noticeably faster than any of the other models. And despite its power, it was the quietest of the bunch at kneading dough. That said, we still think our main pick, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor, is more than enough machine for most people.
The Breville Sous Chef evenly chopped nuts and shredded soft mozzarella cheese. Tomatoes and onions were diced consistently, too. And though we’re not huge fans of the mini bowls on most of the big processors, we liked the Sous Chef’s 2½-cup bowl better than those of the Cuisinart Elite and KitchenAid ExactSlice. Deeper than the others, this bowl’s design seemed to make it easier to mince fresh parsley uniformly.
It was the Sous Chef’s thoughtful design that really sold us. We love how the bowl fits flat on the motor base because that enables you to put it on a kitchen scale for cooking by ratio. Instead of the standard shank that you place the work bowl on with other models, the Sous Chef has a flat attachment, with the shank attached to the inside of the work bowl. This design means you can measure ingredients into the bowl with the blade attached and then seamlessly connect the bowl to the motor base. If you’ve ever struggled to fit a blade over a pile of flour in a processor bowl, you’ll appreciate this feature.
We also like how the work bowl is removable with the lid attached; the KitchenAid ExactSlice and Cuisinart Elite also have this handy feature, but most models (including the Cuisinart Custom and Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus) require that you loosen the lid before removing the bowl.
Breville clearly put a lot of thought into other design elements as well. For one thing, the buttons are easy to press. The Sous Chef is also the only model we tested with an LCD timer (which counts up and down), and it has retractable cord storage. In addition to the standard blades, the Sous Chef comes with a reversible shredding disk and an adjustable slicing disk that goes from a whisper-thin .33 millimeters to a generous 8 millimeters. It’s a true alternative to using a mandoline. We didn’t try the machine’s french fry disk, julienne disk, or emulsifying disk attachments, but the handy cleaning brush did a great job of getting trapped bits out of the slicing disk. The machine’s seamless food pushers also make for easy cleanup, since they have no crevices to trap food. The pressers aren’t dishwasher-safe (water can get stuck inside them), but they are easy enough to rinse off in the sink.
The Sous Chef is the top choice in reviews from Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping. Cook’s Illustrated also recommended this model and says it “excelled at chopping, slicing, and shredding.” In our tests, the main drawback to the Sous Chef was that it made a slightly looser mayonnaise than the Cuisinart Custom and mini processors we tested. Also, its mini bowl insert did not chop almonds evenly, so we recommend using its 16-cup bowl for this task.
The Sous Chef is solidly built, with a hefty base that weighs about 15.5 pounds (excluding the bowl). It also comes with a limited one-year product warranty and has a 25-year warranty on the motor—by far the longest of any of the models we tested. Contact Breville if you encounter problems under normal household use.
Food processor blades are not designed to be sharpened. They should last you a long time, but as Cuisinart told us, if a “consumer is using it more aggressively or more frequently than the average consumer it can become dull. They can always order a replacement through the cuisinart.com website.”
As for cleaning, Gilletz recommends putting water and a few drops of dish soap in the work bowl and running the machine. A bottle brush is handy for cleaning around the feed tube, inside the food pressers, and along the sharp blades. Never submerge the base of a food processor in water; you should only wipe it down with a damp cloth or sponge.
After testing models with storage boxes, we found that such boxes are convenient for keeping attachments organized, and they’re worth investing in if your model doesn’t come with one. You can also organize blades and disks in a designated Tupperware-style container, basket, or other receptacle. We store the Cuisinart Custom’s extra blades and disks inside the processor’s work bowl (but be advised that this can scratch the bowl).
Most brands sell replacement parts, which may come in handy after the limited warranty on parts expires. You’ll find replacement bowls, food pushers, blades, and various other attachments for the Cuisinart Custom and the Breville Sous Chef.
The Breville BFP660SIL Sous Chef 12 Food Processor did well in our tests, but it didn’t outperform the 16-cup Breville Sous Chef or our top pick, the Cuisinart Custom. In our tests, the Breville BFP660SIL Sous Chef wasn’t able to chop tomatoes or almonds as evenly as the 16-cup Breville Sous Chef. Its smaller 12-cup capacity was also more limiting than the Cuisinart Custom’s 14-cup bowl.
We were not impressed with the Magimix by Robot-Coupe 14-Cup Food Processor. In our tests, it wasn’t able to produce as even a chop as the Breville Sous Chef or Cuisinart Custom. The feed tube on the Magimix is very wide, so thin items like carrots fall to the side and produce an uneven grate. The rounded lid also creates a wide gap around the perimeter of the slicing blade, which allows large pieces of food to slip through into the bowl. The machine also seized up while preparing pizza dough and was noisier than other models we tested.
The Cuisinart FP-13DGM Elemental 13 Cup Food Processor and Dicing Kit was not able to chop as evenly as our picks. Our testers were impressed with the dicing kit, which chopped firm vegetables like potatoes and carrots into even cubes. However, since this was the only task it excelled at, we don’t think it’s best for most people. The motor on this model was noisy and the base is very lightweight.
We decided not to test the Braun FP3020 12-Cup Food Processor since it’s the same price as our top pick with a smaller capacity. We can’t justify paying more for a smaller machine. The Braun FP3020 is also only 600 watts versus the 720 watts of our main pick.
In our tests, the Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus didn’t mix big batches of dough as well as the Cuisinart Custom due to its smaller bowl. It also struggled to grind bread crumbs and leaked around the shank at the center of the bowl when processing wet ingredients.
The KitchenAid 13-Cup ExactSlice was our least favorite of the large processors. The base shook and the motor eventually seized when processing pizza dough.
The KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper was easy to use, and the bowl capacity is perfect for making small batches of bread crumbs, vinaigrettes, and the like. It didn’t make mayonnaise as nicely as the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus, however. In addition, half of the KitchenAid’s lid is covered in black push pads for the buttons, and we noticed that water and soap got under those pads; washing the soap out was difficult.
The Cuisinart Elite FP-12DCN performed well in our tests, but it comes with a gasket on the lid that frequently trapped flour and sticky ingredients. Our testers also preferred the Cuisinart Custom Pro’s 14-cup capacity over the Elite’s 12-cup capacity.
In our tests, we found that a 14-cup capacity food processor bowl is ideal for most people. For this reason, and based on other reviews on the web, we were able to rule out many models from Cuisinart, Breville, Braun, Hamilton Beach, Magimix, Procter Silex, KitchenAid, Oster, and Black+Decker with bowls under 14 cups.
Additionally, we looked into blender/food processor hybrids by Cuisinart, De’Longhi, and Ninja. We like the idea that you could get two machines in one, but according to reviews, they don’t stack up to our top picks in food-processing ability alone.
The Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus was our former mini chopper pick. We still think it’s a powerful machine, considering its diminutive size, but it wasn’t able to chop as evenly as the KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Mini Food Processor. In our tests, it moved across the counter as it struggled to chop a tough jumbo carrot. It also tore the parsley we chopped, whereas the KitchenAid produced a clean, even cut.
The Farberware 3-Cup Mini Chopper lacks a handle on the bowl, which made it difficult to remove from the base, especially when working with greasy hands. Also, this chopper left behind an entire piece of onion after pulsing and produced the most unevenly chopped almonds out of all the models we tested. And it doesn’t have holes in the lid for making mayo.
Our testers found the base of the VonShef Food Processor to be too large for a mini-chopper. However, the biggest problem with this processor is the wide gap between the top of the slicing/grating disk and the bottom of the feed tube, which caused onions and cheese to roll around and create irregular slices. Also, this model couldn’t make mayo; the gap between the blade and the bowl was too large to create an effective emulsion.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)
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