The best food processor will act as your sous-chef. It will crush Ritz crackers or saltines when you make the crust for a cherry lemonade beach pie, and it will transform chickpeas into creamy hummus for a speedy weeknight dinner. While you technically don’t need a food processor (more on that here), many of my colleagues agree that it is one of the most useful countertop kitchen appliances you can own. In fact, food editor Shilpa Uskokovic says, “Ranked on utility and versatility alone, the food processor trumps almost all of your other kitchen gadgets.” Shilpa has owned her Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor for a decade and considers it the best food processor for most home cooks—it’s also the one we keep in the BA test kitchen. Below, learn about why we love it and read about a few of our other top picks.
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
But should you get a food processor if you already have a high-powered blender?
Probably, because they’re designed for different purposes. The biggest difference between food processors and blenders is that food processors have super-sharp blades, where blenders have comparatively blunt blades and rely on their powerful motors to break down ingredients. Having razor-sharp blades makes food processors better suited for chopping tough ingredients like vegetables, garlic, or nuts. Blenders have fixed blades and tall sides, both of which are optimal for blending foods into liquids. Food processors, on the other hand, have ridged, S-shaped blades that can usually be removed. These blades, thanks to their shape and positioning, are more adept at cutting through tough pieces of produce without fully puréeing them and without needing to add liquid.
Food processors are better for making chunky, multi-textured sauces like pesto or muhammara. They flawlessly cut cold butter into flour for flaky pie dough and biscuits. You can even knead pizza dough in your food processor. Think of a food processor more as an efficient tool you’d use in place of a chef’s knife or a mortal and pestle. Your food processor isn’t going to make a creamy puréed soup like your blender will, but it will make quick work of all your chopping, slicing, shredding, and sauce needs. Most come with attachments designed for grating cheese and making dough.
Why is the Cuisinart 14-cup food processor the best food processor?
When it comes to food processors, the Cuisinart 14-cup food processor is the gold standard (the Cuisinart was actually the first-ever food processor made and sold in America). With a large capacity and a simple design, it has everything we want in a food processor and nothing we don’t. This no frills machine is powered by a strong 720-watt motor and a straight-forward two-button interface that includes an on/off button and a pulse button. We appreciate its reassuringly sturdy base and its extra-large feed tube, but mostly, we appreciate that it can handle a variety of tasks, like mincing soft herbs or knocking out tough pasta dough in under a minute.
A few of Shilpa’s favorite things to use this food processor for: crushing ice, making pecan butter, preparing turkey meatballs, and shredding cabbage for coleslaw. It is simply unmatched in ease of use and durability—after 10 years of regular use, Shilpa says her model still works like new. Cuisinart’s food processors range in size from four to 14 cups. We think the 14-cup version is the most versatile: it’s big enough for almost any recipe. This model comes with a chopping, mixing, and dough blade; a medium shredding disc; and a serrated slicing disc, all of which are dishwasher-safe. You’ll be glad to know it comes with a five-year warranty.
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
A bigger, more powerful upgrade: Breville Sous Chef 16-Cup Food Processor
If you’re in the market for an even bigger, more powerful food processor, go for the Breville Sous Chef 16. This behemoth of a machine is equipped with a 1200-watt motor and has a 16-cup bowl, making it one of the largest and most powerful food processors on the market. It has more features and comes with more attachments than the Cuisinart, some of which include: eight different slicing blades and discs, multiple chute options, and a timer that’ll automatically shut off the machine. It also comes with a 2.5-cup mini processor bowl for small-batch processing and a storage box to house all of its attachments. This is the food processor that Food Director Chris Morocco uses at home, and he loves having it on deck: “Just the low powerful thrum of the motor instills unearned confidence in whatever I am doing.” he says.