How to buy the best food processor
By Yvette Fletcher
On the hunt for the perfect food processor? We explain what to look out for, and whether a mini chopper might suit your needs better.
Food processors can take the hard work out of kitchen prep tasks, from chopping and grating to blending, mixing and puréeing. A good food processor will whizz through any kitchen prep job, leaving you with finely sliced veg, creamy houmous and perfectly chopped nuts. It pays to choose wisely though, as some can end up being more of a hindrance than a help in the kitchen.
Food processors come with a diverse array of attachments, so it's important to pick one that'll take care of the key food prep jobs you want help with. And finding one that's easy to use and clean is crucial, otherwise it'll end up gathering dust in your cupboard.
Below, we explain the different types of food processor available, reveal what you'll need to spend to get a good food processor, and list our top tips for buying. You can also head straight to our list of Best Buy food processors to see the models which won't let you down at dinnertime.
Should I get a food processor or mini chopper?
Food processors are designed to make preparing meals and entertaining quick, easy and hassle-free. They can save precious time by tackling fiddly prep jobs that usually require elbow grease – often in seconds. Plus, the results should be more consistent than the average person could achieve by hand. Food processors can be large, bulky beasts, but there are also much smaller versions available, known as mini choppers. We explain the pros and cons below to help you decide what type would suit you.
Pros: Can tackle most cooking and baking prep tasks in one machine.
Cons: They tend to be more expensive than mini choppers, and take up more space on your kitchen worktop or in a cupboard.
If you’re after a hardworking multi-tasker that can help with slicing, grating, chopping and mixing, then a food processor is right for you. Some also come with a blender attachment for making smoothies or blending soup, and others have attachments to help with baking tasks such as whisking, whipping and kneading. This is especially important if you like to bake but don't have space (or the budget) for a separate food mixer.
Pros: Mini choppers tend to be affordable, compact and simple to use.
Cons: They're less versatile than food processors - you're usually limited to chopping and puréeing.
If you only ever need to do small amounts of chopping or puréeing - a few herbs, nuts or onions for example - a mini chopper could be the ideal solution. Mini choppers are smaller, simpler and cheaper versions of food processors. They take up much less space too, so are easier to keep out on a kitchen worktop between uses. We've come across the rare mini chopper that can whip cream, as well as chop and purée, but most stick to basic jobs. They tend to be straightforward to set up and use.
Not sure exactly what you need? Head to our guide on choosing between a food processor, mixer or blender.
How much do I need to spend to get a decent food processor?
This depends on what type of appliance you want. A decent mini chopper doesn’t have to cost more than £20, although they can cost more than twice as much.
Some premium food processors cost more than £400, but we've found brilliant models for less than £100. You can see which cheap food processors impressed in our round-up of Best Buy food processors. If you want a wider range of accessories, including extra slicing discs to make chips, cubes and other chopped veg, you could still get one for less than £100, but you may need to compromise on things such as noise and ease of cleaning.
If you have the budget to spend more than £100, you'll be able to get a model offering better build quality, longer guarantees and a quieter motor. Use the filters on our food processor reviews to compare models by features and price and find your ideal food processor.
Top buying tips for food processors
The key to buying the right food processor for you is knowing what you want to use it for. Use our buying tips below to choose the right model.
Make sure the food processor has the tools for the tasks you need to do. It’s worth buying a food processor with a jug blender attachment if you want the versatility of blending smoothies or soup as well as processing food. If you're buying a food processor, but like to bake, you may want to look out for a model that comes with wire beaters and/or a dough blade.
Don't know your cubing disc from your Blendermix attachment? Find out all about the most popular food processor attachments and accessories in our expert guide.
Make sure you have enough kitchen counter space for the appliance you choose – think about the height of any cabinets above where you’ll put the food processor that may obstruct the feeding tubes or lids.
Large feeding tube
Some food processors come with a lid that has a wider feed tube so you can process larger items, such as potatoes or cucumbers, without having to chop them up first. The image below is of a food processor that comes with a wide variety of attachments, including a lid with a feeding tube large enough to fit whole apples for juicing.
A large-capacity bowl means you'll be able to make bigger batches. Some models come with a mini bowl, too. This sits inside the main bowl and has its own blade. It's useful when you only want to process a small amount of food, such as herbs or nuts. Some models even come with a third midi bowl so you can pick the best size depending on how much food you're processing.
Dishwasher safe attachments and accessories
Washing food processor attachments by hand can be a real pain. If you have a dishwasher, look for a model with dishwasher-safe accessories so cleaning will be less of a headache – but don’t forget to check the instructions before putting them on a hot wash. Some manufacturers warn against washing in temperatures above 40°C, and to avoid the drying cycle altogether, which can also cause the plastic to split.
If you don't have a dishwasher, use our food processor reviews to find models that are easy to clean by hand.
Storage for accessories
Some food processors come with a wide variety of accessories, which can take up a lot of valuable kitchen storage space. If you think this is going to be a problem, look for a model with a storage box or storage compartment included. Use the filters on our food processor reviews to find the models that come with a special storage box if this is important to you.