Kelly Howard

The Best Food Processors for 2021

Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro
Best Overall
Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro
Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack and Snap Food Processor
For most kitchens
Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food Processor
Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food Processor
Budget pick
Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack and Snap Food Processor
Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food ProcessorCuisinart DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food ProcessorHamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack and Snap Food Processor
The bestBest OverallFor most kitchensBudget pick
Capacity (cups)161412
Wattage1200720450
Weight23 lbs18 lbs6.5 lbs
Number of settings223
Number of blades211
BPA freeYesYesYes
Warranty1-Year Limited Product Warranty and 25-Year Induction Motor Guarantee3 year product 5 year motor5 year limited

A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance used to prepare ingredients by quickly chopping, kneading, shredding, slicing, or blending. An essential kitchen appliance for all cooks, a food processor is similar to a blender, except it doesn’t require liquids to be effective. We consulted experts and gathered top-rated food processors, then put them through tests to determine their strength, efficiency, and user-friendliness. In the end, we found three machines we could rely on, whether cooking for one or for the whole family.

Best Overall: Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor

Pros

  • Design quality
  • Liquid capacity

Cons

  • Somewhat heavy

Why We Chose It

Design Quality

What truly makes the Breville a stand-out kitchen appliance is its design quality. The Sous Chef 16 features a die-cast metal base, stainless steel blades, and a BPA-free bowl. It features multiple chute options, a quick S-blade system, and eight accessories.

The super-wide 5.5-inch chute allows you to process more food at the same time, saving you time and energy. With the wide chute, you can also process larger ingredients like potatoes. The 1.5-inch chute that is included with the Breville is great for long, thin ingredients. 

Another impressive design feature of the Breville Sous Chef 16 is the wall plug with a retractable cord and easy-pull ring on the plug head. The Sous Chef also features arrows that indicate how to properly align and lock the lid onto the bowl. No more fumbling around trying to align the lid and secure it into place. 

Liquid Capacity

The Breville Sous Chef 16 has the largest liquid capacity of our top picks. It comes with a 16-cup bowl and a removable 2.5-cup mini processing bowl. Both bowls have a silicone seal that prevents leakage when processing liquids. This feature is especially useful if you plan on whipping up large batches of soup or sauce.

Points to Consider

More Expensive Than Other Options

The Breville Sous Chef 16 isn’t a budget-friendly kitchen appliance. It retails for just below $400 which puts it at the high-end of the price range for countertop food processors. However, it does have an impressively high capacity and you’ll find its power and versatility provide a significant return on your investment. 

Somewhat Heavy

The Breville Sous Chef 16 is much heavier than the Cuisinart (18lbs) and Hamilton (8lbs). If you plan on keeping the 16-cup food processor on your countertop, its weight shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Where you might struggle is with transporting and storing the Breville if you prefer to keep it out of sight when you’re not using it. Fortunately, the Breville’s sleek design makes it an aesthetically pleasing addition to any kitchen counter and its weight ensures that it is sturdy enough to work through tough ingredients with ease. 

Best for Most Kitchens: Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food Processor

Pros

  • Quality results
  • Compact
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Tricky assembly
  • Heavy

Why we chose it

Quality results

The best food processors can give us high-quality results — finely minced vegetables, and ready-to-go pizza sauce — in seconds. And while the BLACK+DECKER, Oster, and Hamilton Beach models were all speedy, only the Cuisinart and the Breville prepared our food at chef-level quality, neatly chopping through a pound of vegetables in 10 seconds.

The Cuisinart particularly excelled because it came closest to actually kneading the pizza dough instead of dragging it around the top of the bowl. In our chop test, after a quick pause to scrape the inside of the pitcher, the Cuisinart gave us even, fine, textured vegetables with only a few fast taps of the “pulse” button. This efficiency meant we were ready to move on with our recipe in seconds — unlike the KitchenAid, which still needed more chopping time after we leaned on the pulse button for 30 seconds.

When we put our top picks through one last test to see how well they sliced ripe tomato and shredded mozzarella, the Cuisinart demonstrated that its attachments weren’t just for show. We received thin slices of tomato and a very fine shredding of cheese within seconds.

Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY Processor from the top with tomatoes inside

Compact

At first, we liked the BLACK+DECKER’s and KitchenAid’s extra storage boxes for their discs and blades, but they take up almost as much space as the machine itself. We ended up preferring how compact the Cuisinart is: All of its attachments fit inside the bowl easily, so its accessories don’t clutter up our countertop or get lost in the depths of a cupboard.

Easy to clean

If you don’t have a dishwasher, the Cuisinart’s bowl and lid are smooth, making cleanup as easy as scraping off the food — there are no hiding spots for scraps and bacteria.

Points to consider

Tricky assembly

The only drawback to the Cuisinart is that it can be a little tricky to assemble. If you put food in the pitcher before the blade is on the base, sometimes the blade won’t set properly, and you’ll need to manually rotate it into position. The lid also locks the pitcher onto the base, and you won’t be able to remove the pitcher unless you take off the lid first.

Heavy

The Cuisinart is the next heaviest of our top picks, weighing a formidable 18lbs. — 5 pounds lighter than the Breville and 10 pounds heavier than the Hamilton. The weight of the Cuisinart could be a burden for those who are unable to keep it squatting on the counter, however, the extra weight does provide for a sturdy, reliable unit capable of heavy-duty tasks without budging or sliding.

Best Budget Pick: Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack and Snap Food Processor

Pros

  • Admirable performance
  • Easy assembly

Cons

  • Lackluster results
  • Hard to clean

Why we chose it

Admirable performance

While the Hamilton Beach can’t quite compete with the Breville and the Cuisinart, we were impressed by how well it did compared to many of our other test processors. It performed admirably in the pizza dough and chopping tests, with only a brief second of struggle as it powered through the dense dough ball.

During the chop test, we found all three settings — Slice/Shred, Puree/Mix, and Pulse to Chop — were fairly aggressive. A short tap was enough to send the blades spinning in a way that felt much faster than the Cuisinart or the Breville. The result was a slightly louder and shriller food processor, but it made short work of turning our vegetables into a fine mince.

Easy assembly

Hamilton Beach also resolves one of the most common frustrations of owning a food processor: the frequent battle to lock in each piece perfectly. As advertised, the bowl stacks and the lid snaps into place without the fumbling assembly that seems to be a rite of passage for beginner users.

Points to consider

Lackluster results

Hamilton’s cheaper price shows up in the quality of its results. We had to cut the chopping test short to prevent the nicely minced onion from becoming mashed onion, but somehow we were still left with large slices of garlic. Of our three top picks, we were least impressed by the Hamilton Beach’s dual-sided shredding and slicing disc, with some of the results making us wish we’d done it by hand instead.

When we used the Hamilton Beach attachments, our tomato came out mostly smashed, and nearly half of our mozzarella ball failed to make it through the shredder, getting stuck between the disc and the lid.

Hard to clean

All of our top picks are dishwasher-safe, but if you need to hand-wash or quickly wipe clean between different types of food, Hamilton Beach takes a little more work. It hosts a few ridges that trap food, making it the hardest of our picks to clean.

How We Chose the Best Food Processors

Large capacity

As we set out to find the best food processor, we turned to Norene Gilletz, author of The New Food Processor Bible, for advice. Gilletz has been cooking with and writing about food processors for almost 40 years — about as long as they’ve been on the market. She recommended starting with an 11- or 12-cup food processor to ensure that you have enough capacity for the food you’re making.

Reputable

From there, we collected user reviews from Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond and compared highly rated food processors from other review websites. This gave us seven of the most commonly praised food processors. These food processors come from respected brands and largely range from 11 cups to 14 cups, large enough to handle cooking for a family without taking up too much real estate on our countertop. And while that fell in the range Gilletz suggested, we also decided to include the 9-cup Ninja Food Processor because of its popularity and high ratings. We ordered seven food processors and put them to work chopping and kneading.

Strong build

We set up our first test to find out if our food processor motors were strong enough to handle the bulky weight of kneading pizza dough. If any of the food processors slowed down under the pressure or stopped entirely, we started to question whether they could handle other dense foods. On the other hand, food processors that could work this extra-dense dough without a struggle could be trusted to handle tough ingredients.

The best food processors pulsed the mixture of flour, salt, and yeast mixture into a ball in less than a minute and spent the rest of the prep time whirling the dough ball around the pitcher. The Cuisinart outshone the competition by repeatedly dropping the dough into the blades, resulting in a nice, even mixture. Most food processors simply chopped off the bottom of the dough ball and spun those pieces back up to be mixed in again.

Dough test in a food processor

Dynamic capabilities

Next, we tested how well the sharp blades of each food processor handled common foods. Would it chop evenly, or would we have large carrot chunks mixed with mashed onions? Would we have to pull out our spatulas a dozen times to scrape the bowl as food climbed the sides, or did the bowl design make it fall back in naturally? To find this out, we took garlic cloves, onion, bell pepper, and a large broken-up carrot to each bowl, then pulsed the blades in hopes of achieving a finely minced texture.

We also used this test to look into how easy it was to add ingredients into the bowl. A larger chute meant we could drop in entire onion halves, where a smaller chute meant additional prep work just to use our prep-work machine.

Easy to clean

Food processors are known for doing prep work quickly without complaint, but they’re not exactly known for being easy to clean. If you have a dishwasher, feel free to run any of our tested picks through without worry; they’re all dishwasher safe.

We found that ridges on the inside of a pitcher made it hard to scrape clean, making us get a little more creative with our spatulas to avoid leaving food behind. Getting in between blades is also more difficult than it looks, so we gave props to the food processors that eliminated most of that hassle (and hazard).

Guide to Food Processors

How to make the most of your food processor

Adjust your slice size

Gilletz told us that getting a thinner or thicker slice, or a finer or coarser shred, is less about the blade and more about how much pressure you use on the feeding tube. Rather than purchasing more accessories, practice applying different levels of pressure as you input the food.

Freeze the cheese

If you’re using your food processor to tackle a cheese-related recipe, try freezing the cheese first. Placing soft cheeses (like mozzarella) in the freezer for 15 minutes or so to firm up makes them easier to shred.

Avoid starches and egg whites

Our expert only called out two foods that she would not recommend trying out in your food processor: starches and egg whites. Mashed potatoes will still have to be done by hand, as they turn gluey under the blade, and while there are egg-whisk attachments you can buy for your food processor, Gilletz recommends sticking to your hand mixer to get a better result.

Spin with some soap

Gilletz told us the secret to a faster cleanup: Once the food processor is scraped clean, put water and a drop of soap into the bowl, then press “On.” You can also run most food processors through the dishwasher, but you’ll want to avoid leaving on stickier food (like pizza dough).

Kelly Howard
© 2021 Dishcrawl. All rights reserved.
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