The best food processor can make cooking so much easier in 2021. These versatile machines can chop onions, shred cheese, slice cucumbers, knead dough, and blend smooth baby food. Not all food processors are created equal, though, so we put the very best from Ninja, Cuisinart, Breville, and Hamilton Beach to the test.
While the best blenders will create smooth and healthy smoothies, food processors are designed to tackle more solid foods that don’t necessarily need to be pulverized. These large capacity food processors can tackle far more produce than the average blender, and create delicately sliced or finely shredded food for salads, sandwiches, and more. Some even come with preset soup buttons, and can create chunky or smooth hot soups.
You should always consider ease of cleaning when buying because food processors are one of the most fiddly things to clean thanks to their hard-to-reach and sharp blades. While not all are dishwasher safe, we made sure to note which of the best food processors in our guide can and cannot be washed in a dishwasher. We also noted important information such as the warranty and the capacity of each processor.
We’ve covered everything you need to know if you’re weighing up the decision between food processor vs blender: what is the difference? This largely lies in the shape and design of the pitcher - one of which is designed to tackle liquids, whereas food processors are flatter, and more capable of incorporating dry ingredients. Of course, there are also food processor blender combos that give you everything you’re looking for in one machine. We’ve included the best food processor blender combo right here - the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup. For this and more of the best food processors, keep reading.
1. Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup: Best food processor overall
For excellent performance, we love the Cuisinart 14-Cup food processor. During our testing, we got uniform slices of foods such as potatoes and mushrooms, and it’s easy to adjust this appliance to get thinner or thicker slices.
Unlike nearly all the competitors we tested, the Cuisinart grated Parmesan cheese beautifully. It also performed well with softer cheese, did a fine job pureeing cauliflower into a smooth consistency and was great for kneading dough so that both wet and dry ingredients were thoroughly incorporated.
This machine is equipped with a big food chute that can handle whole potatoes as long as they are not overwhelmingly large, and you can continuously feed quite a lot of food items into the processor. The big 14-cup bowl comes in handy when making big batches of any particular food. The Cuisinart is quite easy to use and fairly easy to clean, although there are a lot of parts to wash. It comes with a generous five-year warranty on the motor and three years of coverage for the processor itself.
This is a loud machine and it also has the bowl handle facing frontwards, which some people might dislike since it presents a barrier between them and the food chute. But this doesn’t present a hazard due to Cuisinart’s excellent design, and the distance also doesn’t interfere with getting consistent slicing and shredding.
2. Hamilton Beach 8-Cup: Best budget food processor
The affordable Hamilton Beach 8-Cup food processor worked like a charm with cookie dough, whipping up a batch of dry ingredients, softened butter and an egg in less than a minute.
The dough turned out smooth and resilient, which is exactly what we wanted. Our testing showed its motor is powerful and fast. This economical machine can produce smooth, even pieces when slicing such things as potatoes. However, we did get mixed results when chopping, slicing or shredding other foods, including spinach and onions that were worked over too much resulting in torn and bruised spinach and onions that resembled a puree rather than a pile of neatly chopped foods.
You get some real help using this food processor from a strong suction cup on the bottom located near the back of the machine that helps it really stick to the counter or table. It also does not leak fluids, unlike some food processors we tested. It’s easy to clean the food processor by hand, and the parts can go into the dishwasher’s top rack.
This machine lacks buttons, however, which seemed awkward when we were using it. Instead, you switch a knob on and off, which seems old-fashioned – and a bit annoying when you simply want to pulse something.
3. Ninja Precision Processor: Best small food processor
This little food processor is small and affordable. The Ninja Precision Processor NN310 chops vegetables well, but as long as they’re in small pieces before you toss them into the machine. In our tests it chopped soft foods well and even pureed cauliflower, it’s just not always consistent. For instance, it worked well with potatoes, but the resulting pieces weren't all the same size. This isn’t a big problem though if you're making salsas or other dishes where you have a little leeway when it comes to your chopped ingredients. Some food processors cost hundreds, but this model is incredibly affordable, making it an ideal first step into the food processor world if you're in college or moving into a small apartment. To top it off it also makes excellent veggie noodles.
4. Cuisinart Elite Collection: Best food processor for dough
The Cuisinart Elite 14-Cup food processor has a ton of power to cut through the toughest of ingredients. The 1,300 watt motor has the most power of the processors we tested and comes with three blades and two discs to tackle any ingredient. This machine produces consistent chopped ingredients, though it wasn't perfect and sometimes sliced things to varying thicknesses.
Overall, this machine fared well, and the high-powered motor works quickly and efficiently. The buttons are easy-to-use and it's also simple to take apart and clean. In our tests we were done cleaning in a mere 10 minutes. This food processor definitely speeds up your meal prep time so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with family.
5. Breville Sous Chef: Best food processor for baby food
The Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef is a high-power blender with an induction motor to power through whatever food you want to shred. It comes with a space saving storage box and a mini bowl for smaller tasks. The motor even has a 25-year guarantee warranty. However, in our tests, the Breville Sous Chef BFP800XL was a little too powerful. It had no trouble creating blitzed floured almonds but struggled to cut cheese into finely shredded pieces. If you want a food processor to create dough and baby food then this model will meet your every need and work fast to have it done in as little time as possible. However, it lacks the gentle touch you’ll need if you tackle softer foods.
6. Kitchen-Aid 14-Cup: Best food processor for slicing
If you cook lots of foods that require slicing first, the KitchenAid 14-Cup food processor quickly becomes your favorite kitchen helper.
This hefty and powerful machine gives you a lever that you can adjust to get just the right thickness. Our slicing test with potatoes produced near-perfect slices, which can go a long way as far as getting even cooking or baking results since all the pieces are so uniform in size.
In our testing, this KitchenAid model also got fine results with slicing mushrooms, onions and spinach, and we got beautifully shredded, even-sized cheddar cheese when we ran it through this machine. However, not all results were great. This machine did not fare so well chopping almonds, which ended up in big chunks and lots of dust; it didn’t do a great job on cookie dough; and we found less than stellar results with attempting to puree cauliflower.
This wasn’t the quietest model we tested, but it came in at a reasonable 81.8 decibels, which is not too bad for a food processor. This is about the same noise level as an average garbage disposal. The set comes with a 14-cup bowl and a smaller 4-cup bowl, which is handy for many food preparation tasks.
Why Trust Us?
We tackled 120 hours of hands-on testing for 15 name-brand appliances to find the best food processors. We used the same ingredients with each food processor and graded each appliance according to rigorous testing standards that most cooks would appreciate.
As a testing team, we not only relied on our combined years of experience in our home kitchens, but read cooking blogs, examined each product’s website, checked competing products on the internet and looked for consumer reviews in various areas. We took careful note of the data we found and factored it into our side-by-side comparison.
We evaluated the processors for their performance doing everything from slicing to kneading to shredding, and much more. We also examined their size and took note of how easy (or hard) they were to both use and to clean. We also looked at the design including such things as noise levels, speeds, the number of blades and disks that come with each. Another important factor in our grading was the length of the warranty for the machine itself and its motor, and how easily you can get help if anything goes wrong.
What to Look for in a Food Processor
Food processors can save you plenty of time in the kitchen and make cooking even the most elaborate dishes easy and fun. The best food processors need the following characteristics.
We looked for food processors that consistently chop food down to evenly sized pieces. We also looked for the same kind of consistency in slicing, shredding, grating, and pureeing different foods. Having pieces of food all the same size gives you an advantage in cooking since all the chunks of chopped potato or sliced carrots will cook evenly, which is not the case if you’re cooking unevenly cut items. It also is important to get a food processor that kneads well so that all the ingredients are completely incorporated into whatever kind of dough you are making. Otherwise, you could end up with bread that has an unpleasant and unappetizing texture.
We evaluated the food processors we tested to see how long it took to clean each one after we were finished using it. We also scored each for ease of use and noted whether parts are dishwasher safe, which saves time and gives you sanitary food processor parts due to the high heat of the dishwasher’s drying cycle.
We looked for machines that offer powerful wattage, multiple speed levels, different numbers of blades and disks that you can insert into the machine to do different kinds of chopping or slicing tasks, and reasonably low noise levels. These can provide considerable convenience and give you more flexibility when using your food processor.
How much does a food processor cost?
There are more affordable food processors available for about $30, but they’re less reliable and don’t cut as consistently. More expensive food processors can cost as much as $400 and usually have a more powerful motor, extra blades and numerous settings.
Can a blender replace a food processor?
Blenders and food processors seem very similar – after all, they both have a central metal blade that spins to break down food into smaller pieces. Also, they perform some of the same functions. For instance, you can use both to make pesto, salad dressing, soup, hummus, and sauces and gravy. That said, each machine has its strengths and weaknesses.
A blender's main strength is its powerful motor, which can handle hard foods like ice. However, its blades are not necessarily razor-sharp. As such, it struggles with shredding and chopping things like carrots and potatoes.
A food processor's biggest asset is its razor-sharp blades, which can chop and shred just about anything. However, food processors are smaller than blenders – you can use one to make foods like soup, but you will have to split it into multiple batches.