Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Food Processor

Whether you call it a food processor or food chopper, this handy appliance makes many tough kitchen chores easier.

Tomato in food processor.
An electric food processor can make easy work of all the slicing and dicing you may be doing by hand.Hamilton Beach

Many home chefs don’t think they need a food processor, preferring to do food chopping chores by hand. But once they’ve tried one, many of those naysayers realize the benefits are too irresistible and soon add one to their appliance roster. In reality, food processors make chopping vegetables and other foods much easier, making meal preparation faster and more convenient. When shopping for a food processor, also called a food chopper, consider such factors as power, capacity, and included accessories.

Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel - Silver
Does it all: mixes, chops, slices, shreds, kneads, emulsifies and purees.Cuisinart

While most food processors run off electricity, some smaller choppers operate manually. For large, electric appliances, look for a model with sufficient power to quickly chop the quantity of food it’s holding, efficiently and without burning out the motor after just a few uses. Experts suggest avoiding food processors with less than 300 watts of power, and as devices increase in size (more on this factor, soon), the size and strength of the motor should also increase. Once you get up to food processors that hold nine or more cups, you’ll need at least a 600-watt motor to ensure your processor operates efficiently and lasts a long time. If you want a manual chopper, be sure to get a small one, as a large manual chopper will often require more effort than it’s worth.

KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper, medium, Matte Black
A lightweight and compact option.KitchenAid

The food processor capacity you need largely depends on the number of people you typically cook for on a regular basis. For a person living alone, a small food processor in the three-cup range will suffice. For a couple, a four- or five-cup processor is more likely to fit the bill. For someone who cooks often for a large family, a bigger food processor in the nine- to 10-cup range will make chopping chores fast and convenient. Note that capacity goes hand-in-hand with space, however, and a small food processor might not work as well on larger jobs, it is much easier to store when not in use. Conversely, a large food processor might do a great job and make you feel like a professional chef, but it will be harder to find a place to store it.

Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper with Bowl Scraper, Stainless Steel
One disc shreds and slices; the blade mixes, chops and purees.Hamilton Beach

Food processors with multiple speeds are more versatile and allow you to get a more consistent grind. Also, many include a “pulse” button that chops in quick bursts for rough chopping or kneading dough. Included accessories can also be a reason to pick one model instead of another. Some food processors have a bowl scraper attachment to keep the food close to the blades during chopping. This is handy since you don’t have to open the unit and push the food down as often. Other accessories that will make a food processor more useful include a slicing attachment, a shredding attachment, a grating attachment, and a storage case. Many quality food processors come with those accessories included. Be sure and check before making a purchase so you’ll get the most bang for your buck.