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A food processor helps you chop vegetables, grind meat, shred cheese, and perform other usually time-consuming tasks in seconds. You can also use these fantastic appliances to make mayonnaise and pesto that far surpass — and cost less than — what you'd get at the store.
While testing 7 food processors, I sliced 7 pounds of potatoes, grated a pound of parmesan, made seven batches of basil pesto, ground 10 pounds of beef, shredded 4 pounds of mozzarella cheese, emulsified eight batches of mayonnaise, mixed and kneaded seven batches of pizza dough, and chopped 7 pounds of onion, a pound of celery, and 2 pounds of carrots.
In addition to our top picks, we cover other models we recommend, our testing methodology, and common FAQs at the end of the guide.
Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches kitchen products.
Best food processor overall: Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor, $399.95 on Breville In addition to coming with lots of useful extras, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor has a powerful motor that makes quick work of most tasks and a large feed tube, so you don't always have to precut ingredients.
Best budget food processor: Hamilton Beach Food Processor, $57.99 on Amazon For under $60, the Hamilton Beach Food Processor is simple to use and clean and features a helpful tool for scraping the sides of the bowl without stopping.
Best blender food processor combo: Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment, $161.60 on Amazon If you own an Ascent or Venturist series Vitamix blender or are thinking of buying one, the Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment is your best bet with its exceptional performance and ease of use.
In addition to coming with lots of useful extras, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor has a powerful motor that makes quick work of most tasks and a large feed tube, so you don't always have to precut ingredients.
Pros: Easy to use, operates quietly, dishwasher-safe, long warranty, excellent blade placement, quick-start pulse, large feed tube, many useful accessories that fit in storage case, outstanding job of emulsifying mayo and grinding beef, powerful motor
Cons: Didn't knead dough well, pulse comes to a slow stop, shredding discs are hard to clean
The large-capacity Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor (model BFP800XL) comes with a separate storage case to organize the many attachments. My favorite attachment is the variable slicing disc that has 24 width settings. I also like the 2.5-cup mini bowl and blade that are perfect for smaller jobs.
The Breville BFP800XL is simple to use, and the only food test the Breville Sous Chef didn't do well in was mixing and kneading dough, though it was still usable. The processor's emulsifying attachment made the best mayonnaise.
The Sous Chef was also one of the best at grinding beef, slicing potatoes, and making pesto. It did a good job of chopping mirepoix but left a few large chunks of carrot and celery. Uniformity was also an issue when shredding mozzarella.
The Breville was one of the quietest processors at about 67 decibels, quieter than a shower. Its S-blade came the closest to the sides and bottom of the bowl, allowing it to reach contents easily. All of the Sous Chef elements aside from the base are top-rack dishwasher-safe.
After three months of everyday use, the Sous Chef has essentially become my sous chef as I transition to a healthier, home-cooked diet. I've emulsified countless batches of mayo with great results each time, quickly julienned zucchini and cucumber for a cold Thai salad, pulverized nuts for sugar-free nut butter, and performed several other tasks efficiently.
Read our full review of the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor.
For under $60, the Hamilton Beach Food Processor is simple to use and clean and features a helpful tool for scraping the sides of the bowl without stopping.
Pros: Easy to use and clean, grinds beef well, comes with a helpful bowl scraper, easy to store, quick-starting pulse
Cons: Operates loudly, failed at making mayonnaise, poor job of shredding cheese
The Hamilton Beach Food Processor (model 70730) was the cheapest model we tested, and while its performance was noticeably inferior to our other picks, it performed admirably for a sub-$60 processor. One unique feature was a scraper that sits in the bowl and operates using a lever on the lid. It lets you free ingredients stuck to the sides without stopping the unit.
Operating the Hamilton Beach processor is simple. It did a great job grinding beef, but it struggled shredding mozzarella, producing a mix of shreds and chunks. It also failed to emulsify the mayonnaise. The appliance did an okay job of processing pesto, potatoes, dough, and the carrot, onion, and celery mix.
This processor was the loudest we tested at 98.5 decibels, almost as loud as a chainsaw. On the plus side, the pulse starts at a high speed when you turn the knob. And the chopping blade comes close to the sides of the bowl, though there's a wide gap between the blade and the bowl's bottom. All components are dishwasher-safe and can be stored in the bowl when not in use.
If you own an Ascent or Venturist series Vitamix blender or are thinking of buying one, the Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment is your best bet with its exceptional performance and ease of use.
Pros: Easy to clean and use, large feed tube, comes with disc storage case, 3-year warranty, outstanding job slicing potatoes, passed other food processing tests, great blade placement
Cons: Loud operation, pulse starts and stops slowly, may not fit under above-counter cabinets, only compatible with five Vitamix blender bases
The Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment works with Ascent and Venturist motor bases (sold separately), so you can upgrade an already-great Vitamix blender to be an outstanding food processor. The Vitamix attachment was the best at slicing potatoes producing consistent slices in a split second. And, thanks to its large feed tube, the potatoes required minimal pre-cutting.
The attachment's weakest performance was shredding cheese. The results were not very uniform, and I had to stop and free up chunks that jammed the disc. Yet, with the pesto, ground beef, mirepoix, dough, and mayo, it produced consistent, quality results. One factor that likely helped with performance was the excellent placement of the S-blade that comes within 1.5 millimeters of the sides and 3 millimeters of the bottom of the bowl.
The Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment was loud at 86.9 decibels, similar to a noisy restaurant. Also, when pressing the pulse button, the processor took a beat to ramp up to high speed and slowly twirled to a stop when I released the button. Clean-up was a snap since all of the components are dishwasher-safe. Even when I washed them by hand, the debris came off easily.
We tested seven food processors for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.
What else we recommend and why:
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor, Model DFP-14BCNY ($249.95): If we had a category for the second-best overall food processor, the Cuisinart would be the easy pick. The Breville is the only unit that performed better. The Cuisinart was the best with dough and shredding mozzarella. It was quieter than a normal conversation at 58.8 decibels, and the pulse started and stopped faster than the other units. The Cuisinart just wasn't as easy to use or as clean as the Breville. The lid has a counterintuitive fit with the feed tube at the back of the machine, the shredding discs trapped debris, and the accessories don't store easily with the unit. If these negatives don't bother you, consider saving $150 and going with the Cuisinart over the Breville.
What we don't recommend and why:
Magiccos 7 in 1 Food Processor ($99.99): The Magiccos food processor was easy to clean by hand and in the dishwasher, and it was one of the best at shredding mozzarella. But, those are the only two positives. It comes with many attachments, including a juicer, but no way to store them easily. It was one of the worst at making dough, chopping mirepoix, and slicing potatoes. The pulse wasn't responsive, and the blades didn't come very close to the sides or bottom of the bowl.
Ninja Professional Plus Food Processor, Model BN601 ($89.99): Ninja blenders and processors have a unique four-blade system that's supposed to make quick work of ingredients. It did a good job of grinding beef and chopping mirepoix vegetables. However, it's hard to clean the sharp blades by hand without coming into contact with them. They're dishwasher safe, but machine washing will dull the blades faster. The unit also had a tiny feed tube, poor blade reach, and didn't do well pureeing pesto, shredding cheese, or slicing potatoes.
Ninja Foodi Power Blender & Processor System, Model SS351 ($159.99): This is just a blender masquerading as a food processor. There's no slicing blade or shredding disc. It wasn't good at chopping, leaving lots of large chunks untouched. And, as with other Ninjas, you're going to have a hard time cleaning the blades by hand without cutting yourself.
Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:
Ease of use: When testing the food processors, I focused on what made setting up and using each unit complicated or straightforward. I looked for specific characteristics: a heavy base, whether the base stayed put or slid around, if it was easy to see the contents, and if the base, bowl, and attachments could be stored together effortlessly.
Food processing: I processed the following foods and noted how uniform the results were on a scale of 1 (virtually no uniformity) to 5 (perfectly uniform):
Here are the test results for our top picks:
Noise: I held a sound meter 2 feet from the food processor as it ran at high speed. All but two of the units registered over 85 decibels. The Cuisinart and Breville units were the only two that didn't drown out my speakers as I listened to an audiobook.
Pulse speed: Some tasks require a pulse function that starts and stops quickly to achieve uniform results. I pressed the pulse and observed whether the blade immediately hit top speeds or ramped up. I also looked at how quickly it slowed down. The Cuisinart did the best at starting and stopping, while the Vitamix attachment was the worst.
Blade position: The blades need to be able to reach as much of the bowl's interior as possible, so you don't end up with big, unprocessed pieces. Using pennies, I measured how close the blades got to the sides and bottom of the bowl. A penny is approximately 1.5 millimeters thick. Armed with this information and five cents, I measured the positioning of the blades.
Cleaning: One of the main reasons people shy away from food processors is that they don't want to clean them afterward. I washed all of the food processors in the dishwasher (top rack only) and by hand and assessed how easy the process was.
Nicki Sizemore, the author of "The Food Processor Family Cookbook," said the main difference between blenders and food processors is the circulation of the blade. The wider bowl allows ingredients to circulate easily without the use of liquid.
"With a blender, you need to add liquid to get the food to circulate around the blade," she said. "When you don't need liquid, you're free to chop, dice, and otherwise pulverize solid ingredients."
Sizemore also noted that it's easier to scrape the food out of a food processor's bowl. "When you make something like hummus in a blender, the food gets stuck under the blade," she said. "Whereas you can pull out the food processor blade and scrape it off and get into the corners of the bowl."
Sizemore recommends simpler food processors. Look for a sturdy work bowl and a nice sizeable sharp blade. "The S-blade is the only blade you need to be concerned with as well as the slicing disc and shredding disc attachments," she said.
She warns against being wooed by extra attachments since they're unlikely to work better than the essential components, you're unlikely to use them, and they can add to kitchen clutter.
Sizemore suggested choosing a unit with a heavy base, so it stays put while it operates. But, since it's so heavy, you'll want to devote counter space to it. So, measure the cabinet and shelf clearance where you're likely to keep your appliance and make sure the dimensions of the model you're interested in will fit. You'll also want to choose a finish that matches your decor.
You might also consider a mini food processor. Sizemore has one for small tasks, such as making salad dressings and chopping nuts. Our top pick, the Breville Sous Chef, features a mini bowl that fits into the full-size bowl so you can do small jobs.
The food processors we recommend cost between $55 and $400. We noticed that the more expensive models tended to perform better and operate quieter in our testing. So, if you can afford it, we recommend budgeting at least $200.
However, if you don't mind a loud unit that has trouble making mayonnaise and shredding cheese, our $55 budget pick, the Hamilton Beach 70730, will serve you well for most tasks.
If you're tired of chopping, dicing, slicing, shredding, or mincing ingredients by hand, a food processor may be worth it. It can also grind meat, emulsify ingredients, and knead dough. A good processor can even replace your blender and mixer.
If you rarely cook at home or enjoy performing the above tasks by hand, a food processor may not suit you. For the rest of us, a good processor speeds up prep time in the kitchen.
Since you don't want to be caught with a food processor that's too small for the task you're performing, it's better to go with a larger model. In our testing, a 10-cup capacity was large enough for most jobs.
However, Sizemore also recommends having a mini processor for smaller tasks, such as whipping up salad dressings or chopping nuts. These are relatively inexpensive (under $40). Though, if you don't want to buy two appliances, our top pick, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro, comes with a mini bowl and blade that fit in the main bowl.
A food processor is an indispensable tool if you want to quickly chop large quantities of vegetables or shred a block of cheese in seconds. We also like them for grinding meat, whipping up batches of mayonnaise, slicing potatoes, and kneading pizza dough.
The top food processors have been around for several years. The brands offer deep discounts around the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season to entice new customers. For example, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro was $115 off previously on Black Friday . And, the Hamilton Beach Food Processor was more than half off.
Figuring out what is and is not a deal takes some practice. Fortunately, we've compiled a list of the best deals on the food processors we recommend.
Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.
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