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Food processor attachments explained

By Yvette Fletcher

Make sure your food processor has all the accessories you need - and avoid paying out for those you don't - with our handy guide.

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Food processors can come with a confusing array of attachments and accessories - the more you get, the more you'll end up paying out. But it's only worth investing in a model with a lot of attachments if you can be sure that you'll actually need them, otherwise they'll only take up valuable kitchen space and leave you out of pocket.

Brands like Kenwood, Magimix, Bosch and Philips tend to sell a range of food processors where the basic product is the same, but the number of additional attachments you get increases as you move up the range - as does the price tag. And premium brands like KitchenAid and Sage usually come with an entire boxful of weird and wonderful accessories.

Before spending more on a model that may come with attachments you don't need, use this guide to find out what each attachment does and how likely you really are to use them.

Once you know what you need, head to our food processor reviews to find the best model for you.

Knife blade

A standard attachment that's included with all food processors. The knife blade is used for mixing, mincing, mashing and puréeing as well as chopping. It's sometimes called a multi-purpose blade.

Dough hook or blade

This is for kneading recipes that use yeast, such as sweet or savoury bread doughs. Most food processors will come with a dough blade rather than a hook.

Shredding and slicing blade

These blades come in different sizes, so you can shred and slice to a fine, medium, coarse or thick finish. Some models come with a chipping blade to make homemade chips or French fries. Blades will either be separate or on a single metal reversible disc, with one side used for shredding and one for slicing.

Cheap food processors sometimes have a plastic disc with a metal slicing/grating insert that can be swapped around. Premium models are more likely to come with discs in different sizes (often 2mm and 4mm) for thin/thick slicing. Some, such as KitchenAid and Sage, have blades where you can adjust the thickness to around eight different points, and even do so mid-slice.

Grating blade

Similar to the slicing and shredding blades, a food processor's grating blade can be used for cheese or vegetables, if you want to whip up a quick slaw, for example. It's not uncommon for them to be less effective with one than the other though. When we test food processors, we check how well each model deals with both hard and soft food when chopping, slicing, grating and blending, so you won't be left with disappointing results. Find out more by reading about how we test food processors.

Potato rasp

Can be used for grating hard Parmesan cheese, potatoes, vegetables, coconut and nutmeg - these are less common than standard grating, slicing and shredding attachments but can be handy if you'd like to grate ingredients very finely.

Blender

There are two types of blending accessory - a jug blender, which is an additional jug that fits onto the processor base in place of the food processing bowl (or alongside it), and a blender canopy attachment, which fits inside the bowl, along with the blade, and aids blending.

  • Jug blender - a jug blender attachment gives you more versatility, without having to take up kitchen space with a separate appliance. Handy if you want to purée food, blend smoothies, soups or milkshakes - or even crush ice (not all can do this though - you'll need to check).

  • Blendermix, Maxi Blend or blend canopy - some food processor brands make a special blending tool that can be used in the main food processing bowl. These are used in conjunction with the knife blade to blend soups more effectively. They work by changing the way the processor blends - the idea is that it prevents ingredients from moving to the side or top of the bowl so the final result has a nice smooth consistency. Kenwood calls its attachment a 'Maxi Blend Canopy' while the Magimix equivalent is called the 'Blendermix'. This is a handy way to save space as you don't need to store a separate jug for blending.

Citrus press or juicer

Plenty of food processors include a simple citrus press - handy for quickly juicing citrus fruits and getting your daily fix of fresh orange juice. 

If you want to juice hard fruits or vegetables, you'll need a food processor with a centrifugal juicer attachment. These are less common, although brands such as Braun make them. You may be better off with a dedicated juicer though - read our guide on how to buy the best juicer to find out.

Mill 

This mini processing attachment is for making smaller quantities of purée, grinding coffee beans and spices, and chopping nuts and herbs. Mills are more likely to be supplied with more premium models, although they may have a 'mini bowl' that does the same job instead.

Whisk

This can come in various guises – you might get an emulsifying disc or whisk paddle or beaters. On food processors, twin beaters are the most effective and metal twin beaters give the best results, although these generally don't quite match the results you'd get in a good stand mixer. If you aren't sure what's best for you, check out our guide to baking gadgets.

Mini bowl

A small bowl with its own blade that fits inside the main bowl. More expensive models often have standard, midi and mini bowls that stack inside each other, for increased versatility. 

In a mini bowl, chopping is usually slower because the blade is shorter and therefore less effective at circulating the food, but for small quantities it can be more effective and saves on washing up the main bowl.

Attachment storage box

An attachment storage box can be a handy way of keeping all of your food processor's parts together, and keeping sharp blades safe away from unsuspecting fingers. Use the filters on our food processor reviews to find the models that come with one supplied.

Spatula

Not an essential, as you can pick up a spatula for a few pounds in your local supermarket, but these will help you scrape food away from the sides of the bowl. Included spatulas will often have been especially designed to easily reach down into the food processor bowl. 

An excellent food processor will manage to process ingredients without you needing to scrape down the bowl repeatedly during processing, but not every model achieves this.

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