Few kitchen appliances are as iconic as the Cuisinart food processor, which was introduced 40 years ago at the National Housewares Show in Chicago. The curious contraption was the brainchild of Carl Sontheimer, a retired engineer with a passion for French cooking, who modified a commercial version for home use. Today it’s hard to find a home cook without one. Four of the five food processors recommended by Consumer Reports are Cuisinarts, although the top spot is held by Breville.
With its high price and ungainly appearance, the Cuisinart didn’t catch on at first. But in 1975, Gourmet magazine published an article titled ''The Phenomenal Food Processor'' and suddenly such culinary experts as James Beard, Julia Child, Craig Claiborne, and Jacques Pépin were raving about it. And home cooks were clearing their counters and utensil drawers of all the gadgets they no longer needed because the multitasking Cuisinart did everything except clean up after dinner.
Imitators soon followed from such brands as Farberware, General Electric, Hamilton Beach, and Waring, and most sold for less than the Cuisinart. But while they seemed expensive at the time, today’s Cuisinarts don’t cost much more than the original. The four on our top picks list range in price from $100 to $180. Very good overall, the 11-cup Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB, and the 14-cup Cuisinart DFP-14BCN, both $180, matched each other task for task in our tests for grating, puréeing, shredding, and slicing. At only $100, the 7-cup Cuisinart MFP-107BC was not as good at puréeing but better at shredding and slicing. And the 11-cup Cuisinart Pro Custom II DLC-8S, $170, did best at puréeing and shredding.
Where the top-rated Breville BFP800XL/A, $400, trumped their performance was in chopping onions and almonds. It also aced the shredding and slicing tests. The Breville was also larger than the Cuisinarts in capacity (16 cups) and weight (19 pounds). But not every Cuisinart in our tests lived up to the brand’s vaunted reputation. The Cuisinart FP-14DC, $300, was poor at puréeing and only so-so at chopping and shredding. But we did like the little Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus DLC-2A, $40, which proved to be a good performer for its size.
—Mary H.J. Farrell