September 23, 2020
Best food processor of 2020: KitchenAid, Cuisinart and more compared

Best food processor of 2020: KitchenAid, Cuisinart and more compared


Deciding which food processor will suit your chopping, dicing, grinding and food prep needs can be confusing. Add a wide range of price points, and it’s not easy to navigate. From motor power to capacity, attachments and overall value, we’re here to help find the best options on the market. Turns out, the best food processors aren’t always the most expensive.

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When it comes to kitchen countertop appliances, a high-quality food processor is one of the most versatile, designed to accomplish specialized tasks quickly in the kitchen. A high-performance food processor can feel like your own personal sous chef, saving you on effort and time spent laboring over a given recipe. And it doesn’t even have to be big: Small and even mini food processor options need only a sharp blade to get the job done.

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Chowhound

Depending on the attachment, a good processor with a powerful motor can easily shred hard or soft cheeses, grind nuts into powder, knead bread dough or pizza dough, make pie crust, dice and slice fruits and vegetables or make butter and spreads. You can even make emulsions and soups right in the working bowl with the help of a quality food processor in your kitchen. As with anything, there are stark differences in motor performance, the overall durability and, of course, the cost of a machine.

You also want to keep in mind how easy to clean the food processor is. Some or all of its components may be dishwasher safe. Even if you have to hand-wash the blade, being able to toss the feed chute or main container in the dishwasher may be a boon.

I tested seven, representing major brands and best sellers according to Amazon, Target and Walmart food processor reviews. You can pick a food processor up for as little as $25 or splurge big on an expensive pro model for upward of $600. The food processors I tested fall squarely in the middle, in the $100 to $200 range made for general home use. There are also mini models and extra-large food processors but these are all average in size — between 10- and 14-cup capacities. 

How I tested each food processor

While food processors can perform many different tasks, I chose tests that represented the core functions of a food processor. Most people use these kitchen appliances to blend, chop, puree and shred. 

Narrowed down to these key functions, I chose hummus, pico de gallo, almond butter and shredding parmesan for the test kitchen tasks. Those recipes offer a mix of blending, chopping, shredding and pureeing to give me a feel for the performance of each model. 


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Hummus is a good indicator of how powerful the food processor’s motor is and thus how well the appliance can blend ingredients together into one smooth dish. Pico illustrated how easy it is for the chopping blade to get a uniformly chopped dish made up of ingredients in varying textures and hardnesses. 

Almond butter allows me to test the food processor’s ability to puree something like a hard almond into a nut butter consistency. It also allows me to run the processor for an extended period of time to see if there are overheating issues or noise and vibration complaints. I used 16 ounces of almonds in each test. 

A shredding test calls for a nice big block of parmesan, one of the hardest cheeses. This tests the grating disc performance as well as the usability of the mouth’s width and the food processor’s food pusher.

I tried my hand at performing each of these in each of these food processors. Each recipe was repeated twice in each machine using the same ingredients in the same amounts across all brands. Here’s how it all shook out and my recommendation for the three best food processors available in 2020.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It isn’t pretty (not even a little), but this $180 German food processor from Braun’s Tribute Collection had the best results by far when it came to blending and chopping. The hummus from the Braun food processor was the smoothest of any I made in my testing. Pico de gallo pulsed in the Braun FP3020 was uniform and finely chopped without leaving too much juice pooled in the bottom of the bowl.

The 12-cup bowl is large enough for families and with 15 speeds you’ll have plenty of control over your processing. The ability to fine-tune the speed came in extra handy when I grated a hard block of parmesan. On high, it was uncontrollable in most food processors, but with the speed at, say, a 6 or 8 out of 15 in the Braun, I could steady the cheese and guide it better through the feed tube while still getting a good grate.

You’ll also get seven attachments to help make being a home chef easy. The attachments are perfect for slicing vegetables, kneading dough, shredding, whipping, juicing and mixing. $180 is on the upper end of our price range, but the Amazon price at the time of this posting put it at a reasonable $164 — not too shabby for a kitchen appliance that helps in all kinds of cooking and food prep.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We tested multiple Cuisinart models and this one wins for its balance of performance, value and features. The $130 price (currently $108 on Amazon) makes this Cuisinart food processor a reasonably priced, midrange processor that performed well in our food processor review tests. 

Hummus with the Cuisinart FP-11SV was smooth and well-blended. Four pulses worked for chopping up my pico de gallo ingredients well and although getting almonds to a butter consistency took significantly longer in this model (about 10 minutes on average compared to other models), the result was a smooth and well-mixed. 

Shredding cheese was a bit tricky since the mouth of this processor’s food chute is small compared to other models. I had to trim down my wedge of parmesan quite a bit to fit in the chute. However, you do get thoughtful extras like a disc with two shredding size options (fine or medium) and suction cups on the bottom of the processors to help it stay steady on your countertop.

Read more: How to make ice cream in your food processor

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

KitchenAid is a classic brand and while its stand mixers are beloved, I can’t say the same for the company’s food processor options. This 11-cup KitchenAid food processor model worked well, but it wasn’t the best performer in blending and chopping. However, you will get a lot of attachments and it’s a good food processor for shredding and slicing since it comes with multiple discs for different shred and slice sizes. 

Hummus in this model was a smooth, well-blended consistency with even flavor. Five pulses did the trick as a food chopper for my pico de gallo vegetables and almond butter was easily processed, though the machine did heat up in the 18 minutes it took to process the almonds into nut butter, leaving me with questions about the motor. This KitchenAid model does have an automatic shut-off to prevent motor burnout, but that heat still made me nervous. 

Shredding and slicing is where KitchenAid really shines. There’s a reversible shredding disc option and an externally adjustable slicing disc that corresponds with a slider on the front of the base, so you can get really specific slice sizes. 

There’s also a nice storage case included, so you don’t end up throwing all those blades into your bowl when it’s not in use. It has a classic style and like any good KitchenAid appliance, it comes in multiple finishes. The price varies depending on which finish you choose. The silver model I tested has a suggested retail of $250 but is currently on sale at Amazon for $199. 

Other food processors tested

In addition to the three recommended above, we tested four other food processors in the $100 to $200 range. 

Worth considering, but not as good as the top picks above:

  • Hamilton Beach Professional Dicing Food Processor: I was impressed by the design of this food processor, but it wasn’t the winner in performance and I found the button labels and noise level to be a bit bothersome. At $200, I can’t recommend it over better-performing models. 
  • Cuisinart DFP-14BKSY Custom 14-Cup Food Processor: This Cuisinart model performed well enough, but you’ll only get one speed option and just one sized shredding disc. The food processors recommended above offer more for your money.

Not recommended:

  • Ninja Smart Screen Blender and Processor: This kit comes with a blending bowl, processing bowl and a travel cup. With a smaller (five-cup) bowl capacity, inconsistent and underperforming results. The Ninja Smart Screen is a unit I would avoid if your priority is food processing.
  • Oster Designed for Life 14-Cup Food Processor: This food processor just didn’t perform well. Hummus had multiple unchopped chickpeas in it and the gusty airflow out of the front of the machine was enough to blow around items on my countertop. Another food processor I would avoid.

Read more: The Best Instant Pots of 2020

What to look for when buying a food processor

Picking the best food processor for you means considering all the features you’ll need for your favorite recipes and common home chef kitchen tasks. 

Capacity

Food processors come in many different sizes and volumes. The size of the food processor is based on the size of the work bowl. I tested models ranging from 11- to 14-cup capacity, but you can get food processors that come with mini bowl and mini chopper options and as small as three cups. For a household with two or more people, I’d recommend at least an 8-cup model and if you have the storage space, spring for a large food processor, just in case. 

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Speeds

Most recipes involving food processors specify mixing or chopping at either a high or low speed and for that reason, you’ll want a processor with at least two speeds and a powerful motor. The most common configuration is a low, high and pulse option. There are some food processors with just one speed, but that’s extremely limiting when it comes to having control over your meals so look for a food processor with at least some range of speeds.

My top food processor pick, the Braun FP3020 has 15 individual speeds on one dial. That’s much more than most people will ever need, but the option to really zero into a specific speed adds the option for precision. 


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Attachments

While your food processor is primarily two spinning blades, there are a host of other attachments that can expand your processor’s abilities. Some come with multiple attachments like discs for grating, shredding and slicing, dough blades for kneading bread dough, whipping cream and attachments for chopping nuts, juicing fruits or dicing vegetables. If you know the tasks you’ll do most often, be sure to check that your processor includes the blades and attachments you’ll need, such as the right mixing blade, chopping blade, slicing blade or citrus juicer. Some food processor models, like the Braun, come with a lot of these attachments while others must be purchased separately so depending on your food processing needs this may be something to consider. Remember, attachments shouldn’t be difficult to clean and you should definitely check if they can go in the dishwasher.

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Materials

You may also want to consider the materials from which the food processor is made. If you plan to use it often and are perhaps not the most careful chef in the kitchen consider a sturdy stainless steel food processor versus one with a plastic base which may be less expensive but more prone to breakage. Most food processor bowls are made from a hard plastic that is easy to clean and dishwasher safe but some are more sturdy than others. If you have the opportunity to touch and hold the food processor make sure the plastic bowl and its lid are tough enough to handle being knocked around without cracking.

Top food processors compared

Capacity

12 cups

11 cups

11 cups

Dimensions (depth, width, height)

14.9×11.3×15.4 inches

8.0×10.5×15.75 inches

10.17×10.04×16 inches

Number of speeds

15

2

2

Weight

9.8 lb

11.5 lb

12.4 lb

Watts

600

550

360

Price

$180

$250

$130

More tips for getting the most from food processors



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