How to Make the Most of Your Food Processor

Tips and tricks for realizing this countertop essential's full potential

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person testing food processor with celery on counter with other food processors
CR test engineer Aminata Ndiaye evaluates a food processor in the lab.
Photo: Consumer Reports

Trendy small appliances come and go, but the food processor is one that’s a proven mainstay.

This workhorse can chop, slice, shred, and purée many different ingredients—and probably far faster than you can with a knife and cutting board. Some models can even knead dough and grind meat. It’s definitely a lifesaver when cooking for a crowd or preparing multiple batches of a recipe. In those situations, a bigger model with a capacity of 11 to 16 cups might be ideal.

what it can do
Dice / Chop / Slice / Emulsify / Blend / Knead Dough
What to cook
Sauces / Purées / Salsa / Dough / Ground Meat / Coleslaw / Nut Butter / Breadcrumbs / Hummus
More on Food Processors

If storage space is tight, a 7-cup model is fine for most tasks and is still plenty useful, especially because it can be difficult to process small amounts (say, a few cloves of garlic) in a larger processor.

Noise can be a concern with food processors, and we favor the ones that score Very Good or Excellent in our tests for noise. The high-end models tend to be quieter, while cheaper ones make quite the racket.

In addition to picking a model that performs well in our food processor ratings, consider special features that might come in handy, such as dough hooks and mini bowl inserts.

Tips for Doing It Right

Always insert the blade before adding food. Set the blade in the work bowl and make sure the bowl is fitted on the motor base before putting in ingredients. If the blade isn’t sitting correctly, the appliance could break.

Use the pulse button. This function gets you an even chop without the risk of overprocessing. Otherwise, onions and other foods with a high water content can quickly turn into a purée. Use this for chopping nuts or making salsas.

Let hot liquids cool down. For your safety, bring hot ingredients to room temperature before processing.

Purée soup ingredients without stock. Strain out the cooked vegetables from the stock pot and purée them in the food processor. They’ll blend smoother without liquid. Then whisk the purée back into the strained liquid.

Partially freeze meats and cheeses. Before processing, get the ingredients really cold, but not frozen solid, for the best ground meat and shredded cheese.

Be patient when making nut butters. The longer you process, the softer and silkier the butter will be.

Avoid “mashed” potatoes. Here’s an instance where the food processor won’t come in handy. Cooked potatoes develop a gluey texture when processed with the metal blade. You’d be better off using a stand mixer to make this dish.

Food Processors That Shred the Competition

You’ll see 40 models in our food processor ratings. Here are three that do a great job at chopping, shredding, slicing, and grating. They appear in alphabetical order.

Headshot of Perry Santanachote, editor with the Home editorial team at Consumer Reports

Perry Santanachote

I cover the intersection of people, products, and sustainability, and try to provide humorous but useful advice for everyday living. I love to dive deep into how things work, and debunking myths might be my favorite pastime. But what I aim to be above all else is a guiding voice while you're shopping, telling you what's a value, what's a ripoff, and what's just right for you and your family.