What Should I Look for When Buying a Food Processor?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A food processor's best selling point is its ability to replace a number of other kitchen gadgets. A versatile model with the proper blades and attachments can chop food like a knife, knead bread like a mixer, blend ingredients like a power blender, and extract juices like a commercial juicer. Many home cooks can be overwhelmed by the number of options presented by this kitchen machine.

The most convenient food processors are those that are dishwasher-safe.
The most convenient food processors are those that are dishwasher-safe.

When shopping for a food processor, you should consider power, portability and functionality. These devices range in size from a miniature 2 cup (473 ml) chopper to a 20 cup (4.7 l) professional model for bulk cooking and preparation. The first trick is to buy one that matches your particular cooking needs. Most home cooks could use a medium-size food processor, with an approximately 8 to 10 cup (1.89 to 2.36 l) capacity, for family recipes. Smaller mini-processors could prove handy for quick chopping of a few ingredients, so having two different machines may not be a bad idea. Save the largest sizes for professionals and caterers, unless you anticipate the occasional need for bulk cooking.

A handheld food processor may be used to chop or puree food.
A handheld food processor may be used to chop or puree food.

Another important consideration is power. Larger units naturally require more power to knead bread doughs and break up hard vegetables. Look for at least 400 watts of power for an average machine. Professional units may feature 750 watts or more, which is more than enough power to handle any food preparation.

One consideration which can separate a good food processor from the rest of the pack is the available accessories. An ideal unit should contain blades, cutting disks and whisks. The cutting tools should be well-constructed and fit securely in the machine. A generous feeding tube with a plunging device is also a good feature. Small feeding tubes can cause cooks to spend significant time cutting food down to size before processing. A good machine allows for food to be added while in operation. A blender attachment can save time and shelf space, while a juicer option duplicates the function of a more expensive device.

Because a food processor is designed to replace a number of other appliances, storage and portability may also be a consideration. Some feature retractable cords or a stacking system for blades and accessories. Most of the processing parts should be dishwasher-safe, or at least easy to clean by hand. Cooks with small children may want one with a locking system to prevent accidental start-ups.

Learning which attachments perform specific tasks in a food processor takes time, so study the owner's manual carefully for tips on getting the best results from your new kitchen appliance.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


@bbpuff - I do the exact same thing when I am about to purchase an item I don't really know much about. I think that is a good addition to the information in this article because there is no comparison for real life opinions. I know there are some sites out there that will talk up their own products, but you should always look for the good and the bad. I like Amazon mostly for those kinds of opinions. It will let you know right off if something is worth your time and hard earned money.


@win199 - I bought one of the Magimix food processors and absolutely hated it. I am the kind of person that things that food prep before dinner is kind of fun. Plus my children are older now and can kind of help me out in that department. I still have the processor and use it for things like juicing and heavy prep for times like during the Holidays. Other than that, I don't really use it. It is very sturdy and has lasted a long time, though, and I credit that to the good reviews I saw online before making the purchase.


@WalrusTusk - I have always had a Kitchen Aid food processor and I can not tell you how many times that thing has saved me time and heartache. It is very simple to use and it's one of the best machines out there. I only have one, where as this article mentions that you might want a medium and a small processor, but this one definitely gets the job done.

I love it because I can come home and cook without having to spend hours doing prep steps like cutting veggies or chopping onions and garlic and stuff. It's just really convenient for a working gal like myself. I hope you love yours as much as I love my own.


Definitely some information in this article worth reading. I have never had a mixer or food processor at all, but a couple years ago I thought I would treat myself to something expensive and it was so worth it.

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