You probably don't have the resources to hire your very own sous chef to help you dice and chop vegetables as part of your meal making process. A food processor is a small kitchen appliance that can make food prep much easier and cut down on the total time it takes for you to make a meal for your family.
In this article, we discuss the many different types of food processors along with their features and benefits. Hopefully armed with this information you'll be able to find the best food processor that meets your needs and makes the unenviable kitchen task of food preparation more bearable.
Full-sized food processors typically have a total capacity of 10 cups or more and are the most expensive type of food processor that you can have for home use. Many come with feed chutes and a lot of versatile cutting options (like slicing and grating) that other types of food processors don't have. They're able to save you a lot of labor (unlike hand food processors or choppers) and process your vegetables extremely quickly.
The Elemental 8 Cuisinart Food Processor
They do take up quite a bit of counter space when in use - and under-counter or pantry storage space when you're not actively using your food processor. They're the most capable - and most pricey food processor option.
A mini food processor is a small, portable appliance that can be used to chop or grind small quantities of food. Unlike a full-sized food processor, a mini food processor typically has fewer features and is significantly less powerful.
You're unlikely to have the ability to use multiple blades with a mini food processor. The quantities of food that you'll be able to chop will typically max out at just a few cups with a mini food processor.
A mini food processor has a much less powerful motor than a full-sized food processor. As a result, the motor on a mini food processor is also likely to get hot with much less chopping than a full-sized food processor. They can't be used continuously for long periods of time. If you're just putting together dinner for the family, this probably won't be a major limitation.
On the bright side, mini since mini food processors aren't very large, they won't take up much space on the kitchen counter. Their compact size also makes it much easier to find kitchen storage space for your mini food processor.
If your food processing needs are modest, you may wish to consider a manual food processor. With manual food processors, you're the one supplying the power for the chopping. These manual food processors are most effective at chopping vegetables and nuts.
Some food processors like the Oxo One Stop Chop Manual Food allow you to put items right in the food processor bowl and then use a hand crank to quickly and efficiently do the chopping.
The Oxo One Stop Chop Manual Food Processor
Other food processors have a more vertical shape with a small chopping container that you place on top of a cutting board. To chop, you continuously press up and down on the unit. Blades rotate and do the chopping while rotating.
Hand Operated Food Chopper
Many food processors come with an auto shut-off feature. This will automatically turn the food processor off if the motor is overheating. Many food processors designed for home kitchen use aren't designed for long, continuous operation. While this feature can certainly be annoying when you're preparing dinner, it can prevent serious damage to your food processor.
Wait until your processor cools down before attempting to operate it again. This can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as an hour depending on the food processor.
A food processor batch bowl is a small work bowl that is attached right to the food processor. It is ideal for smaller batches of food, as it allows you to chop or grind ingredients easily. When you're done preparing a batch of food, simply detach the batch bowl and pour out the food.
There are a variety of food processor blades - each with its own distinct purpose. While all food processors come with a standard S blade, many offer different blades for slicing, shredding and grating as described below.
All food processors will come with a single blade that is meant to chop or mix food. This is called an "S blade" and it has two curved blades extending from the center that looks like an "S". Many - especially lower-priced food processors - will come only with an S blade. If your food processing needs go beyond merely chopping food, you may wish to purchase a food processor that allows you to swap out blades.
Slicing Blade Disc
A slicing disk can save you the labor of manually slicing vegetables and provide you with perfectly even cuts. You can cut potatoes, cucumbers, and even tomatoes with a slicing disk.
Shredding Blade Disc (Grating Blade Disc)
If you'd like to quickly and evenly grate cheese, this blade is for you. Swap out your blade with this blade that easily grates and provides you with uniformed size shredded (or grated) cheese. Another big advantage of this blade is being to avoid the painful scrapes that can come with using a manual cheese grater.
The dough blade is a plastic blade that kneads dough (this can include any type of bread dough - even pizza dough). It can be less messy and a faster process to knead dough in your food processor instead of doing so by hand.
Very high-end food processors like the Cookingpal Multo Intelligent Cooking System do much more than just processing your food. Some food processors have the ability to incorporate functions like cooking, steaming, and boiling. These functions are in addition to the mixing, grating, chopping, and grinding that come standard with most food processors.
One of the most important features to consider is the feed tube. A food processor with a feeding tube opens up additional capabilities to your food processor - like slicing and grating. Some continuous feed food processors are even able to slice tomatoes. You're no longer limited to just chopping and grating your vegetables.
Mini Food processors and less expensive food processors don't come equipped with feed tubes.
Feed tubes come in various sizes and you can choose from the one that meets your needs.
Feed Tube Sizes
Fixed feed tubes are found on larger food processors and come in a variety of sizes. You may see designations like large, wide, and ultra-wide for these feed tubes.
Ultra-wide feed tubes can be as large as 5.5" and can accommodate very large pieces of food available for processing. Ultra-wide feed tubes are generally found on higher-end food processors - so expect to pay a bit more for this feature. Large and wide feed tubes don't have nearly as large an opening as ultra-wide feed tubes.
Continuous Feed Tubes
For heavy-duty use, you may wish to consider a food processor with a continuous feed. Continuous feed food processors are typically used in high-volume food production areas like restaurants.
A continuous feed food processor allows you to place your items to be chopped through a tube. This process is oftentimes facilitated by using a "pusher" which you can use to gently guide the item you're processing down the tube. Applying even pressure with the pusher helps to ensure that the processor provides uniform cuts of food.
You'll also need a collection bowl or container at the bottom of the chute to collect the food that has been chopped up.
Video Showcasing an Industrial Grade Kitchen Food Processor
Many food processors come with a locking lid. The locking lid not only ensures that chopped-up food doesn't fly around the kitchen, but it is also a great safety feature. If the food processor is turned on and the lid is not locked in place, the blades can cause serious injury should your hand somehow slip inside should the lid become dislodged. Some models even have a safety switch that will not allow the food processor to turn on if the lid is not locked in place.
Prices for food processors vary widely. Most food processors can be purchased for under $200. There are some food processors like the Cuisinart CompleteChef that have all the bells and whistles. This particular food processor retails for as much as $600.
Food processors come in a variety of finishes and colors. Stainless steel is a popular choice for food processors due to the fact that it is relatively easy to wipe down and keep a stainless steel food processor clean. Many kitchens have stainless steel appliances, making a stainless steel food processor a great match for an existing design scheme.
Black, grey, and silver are also popular colors for food processors, but a variety of color options are available that meet your needs. White, red, green, brown, and even pink food processors are available for purchase.