A food processor is a miracle kitchen appliance—one that can reduce ten minutes of grating or chopping to thirty seconds. Its various attachments can slice, chop, grate, grind, mix, and purée foods. Food processors are similar to blenders but far more versatile, since unlike blenders they can handle solids as well as liquids. And in fact they’re better than blenders for creating sauces, since they allow a wider range of consistencies.
Many of the things food processors can do could also be accomplished with a cutting board, a chef’s knife, and a grater—and food processors require more clean-up time than is needed for these hand-tools. But any added cleanup time is more than made up for if you’re processing a lot of food. So the more food you’re preparing at one time, the more sense a food processor makes. If you’re cooking for many people, a food processor can easily halve your food preparation time.
In vegan kitchens, food processors are often used to make hummus, pesto, chopped or grated vegetables, and puddings. If all this isn’t enough, you can use a food processor to grind wheat berries and other whole grains into flour that, if used right away, will produce unbelievably tasty breads—breads made from store-bought flour can’t compete any more than month-old ground coffee can compare to freshly-ground..
Inexpensive yet capable models start in the neighborhood of $30, while prices for high-end units go up to $150 or so. More money gets you a more powerful motor, a more stylish design, and a metal rather than plastic body.
If a food processor is too much horse for you, consider buying a food chopper instead. These can be had for a pittance and can instantly handle small tasks like making salsa or dicing onions for spaghetti sauce. They take up almost no counter space, and cleanup time is nothing compared to a food processor since there are fewer parts to deal with and less to clean.
We’ve got a few great food processor choices below. In particular, the Cuisinart DLC-2ABC is a superb entry-level choice. Its 3-cup capacity is suitable for individuals, couples, and small families. Cooks who regularly prepare larger batches of food should consider models with at least an eight-cup capacity.
For more guidance on kitchen equipment, check out our kitchenware page.