The Best Food Processor

After spending 25 hours researching food processors, interviewing experts, and conducting nearly two years of long-term testing, we still think the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is the best choice for most home cooks. With its simple, pared-down design, it’s easier to use and clean than models with more settings or multiple bowls, and we found it to be more solidly built than other processors at this price range. The 14-cup bowl is better than smaller versions for blending wet ingredients and for processing big batches of shredded slaws and grated cheese. It even made dough on a par with or better than that of models with a specific dough speed. The Cuisinart Custom isn’t the fanciest machine around, but it does everything you need it to do, consistently well.

Last Updated: June 15, 2015
The Cuisinart Custom is still our pick for full-size food processor. For this year’s update, we decided to test mini food processors, and the 3-cup Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus is our pick if you need something small.
Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor
With just pulse and on buttons plus a single bowl, this is one of Cuisinart’s most basic models, but it consistently chops, slices, and kneads better than any other food processor we’ve found for under $300.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $220.

Also Great
Cuisinart Elite Collection 14-Cup Food Processor
With more work bowls and an extra dough speed, the Elite processed well in our tests but not any better than our main pick, which is nearly $100 less. The Elite is also harder to clean.

If our main pick sells out, we suggest going with the Cuisinart Elite Collection 14-Cup Food Processor. This solidly built model comes with three work bowls (4½, 11, and 14 cups) for processing different quantities. Although the smaller jars can come in handy for chopping an onion, mincing garlic, or making breadcrumbs, the overall design of this processor isn’t notably better than that of the Cuisinart Custom. And even though the Elite comes with a specific dough speed, it didn’t blend or knead dough better than the Custom on its regular “on” cycle.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus
Although it’s too small for making bread dough or coleslaw, this 3-cup processor is the ideal size for chopping one onion or making small batches of mayo or vinaigrette. It blends more-even textures, makes nicer emulsifications, and has a sturdier build than the competition.

If you want a processor for little batches of vinaigrette or soup bases such as mirepoix, we really like the 3-cup Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus. Compared with the KitchenAid we tested it against, it chopped onions more evenly. On top of that, its seamless plastic membrane buttons were easier to keep clean, and its handled jar was more convenient to use. We also think this model is the most convenient, idiot-proof tool we’ve found for making small batches of mayonnaise. And it’s a great option for people who can’t or don’t want to invest in a $200 machine. You couldn’t make bread dough or shredded salads in it, but you could grind or chop small batches of herbs or nuts, or do other tasks that would be more tedious by hand.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $390.

Breville Sous Chef
This is the machine you want if you plan to use it several times a week or need a tough motor when cooking for large groups. But it’s twice the price of our main pick, and it’s more powerful and much bigger than most people need.

The Cuisinart Custom is a great value for the amount of performance it offers, but if you plan to use your food processor several times a week, need a more powerful machine to cook for large groups, or use a scale for most recipes, consider investing in the $400 16-cup Breville Sous Chef. Its 1,200-watt motor and its smart design save you time in use and cleaning; in fact, despite its many accessories, it was the easiest to clean of all the models we tested. That said, if you use a food processor only occasionally, the Breville’s high cost probably outweighs its benefits. And given that it’s huge—over 18 inches tall and nearly 20 pounds—you’d need a big kitchen if you want to keep it on the counter.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

Over the past two years, I’ve written the Sweethome’s guides to blenders and immersion blenders, as well as our original food processor guide. I’ve spent many hours using our top food processor pick in my own kitchen, shredding pounds of cheese, making slaws, slicing veggie chips, and whipping up dips.

To suss out the features to look for in a great food processor, we turned to two best-selling authors of food processing cookbooks: Jean Anderson, the James Beard–award-winning author of Process This, and Norene Gilletz, author of The New Food Processor Bible. Both women were early adopters, purchasing their first Cuisinarts shortly after the company introduced the appliances in the 1970s. Combined, they’ve logged thousands of hours on many machines.

We also scoured reviews by America’s Test Kitchen, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and Serious Eats, and we examined user reviews on Amazon, Macy’s, and other sites in our efforts to figure out which models to test.

Should you upgrade?

Food processor design hasn’t changed all that much since Carl Sontheimer, an MIT-trained engineer, introduced the first Cuisinart model to American cooks in 1973 (poaching the idea from the original French Magimix processor). So if you have an older but quality machine that still works well, stick with it. But we can think of a couple of good reasons to upgrade.

If your current machine’s motor base is so lightweight that the appliance stutters across the counter when in use, you’ll appreciate a model with a heavier build.
If your current machine’s motor base is so lightweight that the appliance stutters across the counter when in use, you’ll appreciate a model with a heavier build. And if your processor is on the smaller side—11 cups or smaller—but you cook for more than two, you might prefer a model with a larger bowl for blending wet ingredients or making bigger batches of shredded veggies or grated cheese. Some newer machines also offer specific dough speeds, which can come in handy if you often make bread and pizza doughs and pie crust (our favorite processor, however, doesn’t have this speed yet aces such recipes).

Food processors will blend wet ingredients (tomatoes for pasta sauce, for instance), but if you’re looking to purée velvety soups or to crush ice for smoothies, you’ll need a blender. “A blender acts like a centrifuge; everything gets sucked into the center and makes a purée more silky,” Norene Gilletz told us. “A food processor has a tendency to fling food outward.”

If you often make things like homemade mayonnaise, vinaigrette, or small batches of bread crumbs, you might want to pick up a mini food processor—even if you have a full-size version. A mini model will process smaller quantities more efficiently, and its diminutive size means it’s easier to move around a counter, to store, and to clean.

How we picked and tested

At its most basic, a food processor consists of a work bowl that sits on a motorized drive shaft. The bowl’s lid has a feed tube for inserting food to be chopped, diced, sliced, ground, or even kneaded (in the case of dough). Most food processors come with S-shaped blades and various disks for grating and slicing, but a host of other attachments—such as julienne disks and citrus juicers—are also available.

cuisinart custom 14 cup

Our winner, the Cuisinart Custom, exemplifies good food processor design. It has a heavy base, a solid 14-cup work bowl, just a few attachments, and simple controls. Marshall Troy

Anderson and Gilletz agreed that an 11- to 14-cup processor is most useful for most cooks. “It’s always better to go a little bigger than a little smaller,” Gilletz said. “It’s one investment that’s going to last you a lot of years. You’ll regret getting one that isn’t big enough.” I informally polled friends who cook, and a lot of them seemed happy with their 7- or 9-cup machines, but most of them cook for only one or two people. If you cook for a family, or if you simply cook a lot, a bigger machine makes more sense.

Mini food processors—also called mini choppers—have bowls ranging in size from around 1½ cups to 6 cups, but the highest-rated ones hover around 3 cups. These machines are most useful for small jobs, such as chopping up one onion, making a curry paste, preparing salad dressing, or a doing small batch of pesto. They are much smaller and lighter than a full-size food processor, so they’re easier to tuck into a cupboard and bring out when needed. Both Anderson and Gilletz keep mini processors, and Gilletz swears by her Cuisinart Mini-Prep (not to be confused with our mini processor pick, the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus).

The best models should chop vegetables and herbs evenly (without pulverizing them), grate veggies and cheese uniformly, slice cleanly, and finely grind bread crumbs, nuts, and other dry ingredients.
The best models should chop vegetables and herbs evenly (without pulverizing them), grate veggies and cheese uniformly, slice cleanly, and finely grind bread crumbs, nuts, and other dry ingredients. That means the blades and grating disks need to be sharp out of the box, and must remain sharp over years of use. The better-quality machines with heavier bases will also grind meat—such as for these mouthwatering ground-sirloin-and-butter-burgers from America’s Test Kitchen (subscription required).

High-quality food processors have strong motors and heavy bases that anchor them to the counter so that they can mix sturdy yeast doughs. Low-quality machines, which also happen to be lighter, will often skid across the counter when processing dough, or the motor might even seize up.

Some processors come with a specific dough speed. I asked Norene Gilletz if investing in one of these is worth the cost. “If you’re making a lot of bread, maybe. But if you don’t have that speed, just do a little dough and pulse, and you won’t need the dough speed,” she said. Gilletz said it’s more important that the machine have a pulse speed, which gives more control than just on and off buttons. The appliances usually come with a dough blade, often made of plastic.

Most companies have redesigned feed tubes, widening them to accommodate blocks of cheese, potatoes, and other hunks of food. Models usually come with two food pressers: a larger one that fits in the wide feed tube, and a smaller one nested inside that will keep carrots and other thin objects upright during slicing.

Various models come with nesting bowls, so you can attach a smaller bowl that essentially acts as a mini chopper. (Both cookbook authors I spoke with for this guide use mini food processors in their kitchens.) A few machines, such as those in the Cuisinart Elite series, come with a gasket on the lid of the mixing bowl to prevent leaks. Other models have adjustable disks so you can control the thickness of slices; most of these you adjust manually on the disk.

Beyond the main blade, a dough blade, and disks for shredding and slicing, you don’t need much else. Although you can purchase everything from a juicing attachment to an egg-white-beating attachment, such extras often go unused. Both cookbook authors I spoke with essentially said these add-ons were a waste of money.

Going by reviews and expert recommendations, we ended up with five full-size food processors in our original testing. For this update we didn’t find any new full-size processors that looked capable of competing with our original picks. Instead, we opted to test mini food processors, which offer a nice alternative for processing small batches and represent an affordable option if you want to make mirepoix, bread crumbs, or mayonnaise but don’t want to spend $200.

cuisinart custom cuisinart elite cuisinart prep 11 plus breville sous chef kitchenaid exactslice

In our original review, we tested five full-size processors: Cuisinart Custom, Cuisinart Elite, Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus, Breville Sous Chef, and KitchenAid ExactSlice. Christine Cyr Clisset

We tested the large processors 10 times each, chopping vegetables and parsley, slicing tomatoes and potatoes, grating soft mozzarella, grinding bread crumbs, puréeing a particularly delicious hummus, and mixing double batches of pizza dough. We also cleaned the bowls, lids, and food pressers of each model 10 times—a test that proved more revealing than we’d expected.

In each mini food processor, we chopped one onion to gauge evenness of texture. We also made a blended salsa, a Thai curry paste, mayonnaise, and ground almonds.

Our pick

Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor
With just pulse and on buttons plus a single bowl, this is one of Cuisinart’s most basic models, but it consistently chops, slices, and kneads better than any other food processor we’ve found for under $300.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $220.

The Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor does everything that a great food processor should, without any unnecessary extras that would boost its price. With one bowl and only on and pulse buttons, it’s simply designed—but it works as well as or better than machines with multiple bowls and more attachments. Unlike some other models in our tests, the Custom’s base never shook while running, even when processing double batches of dough. We also found that its 14-cup work bowl was much better for blending wet ingredients and doughs than smaller jars were. The Cuisinart Custom comes with just the right number of blades and disks, as all of them will stow inside the mixing bowl, so you won’t need to store a big box of attachments. The Custom’s simply designed base and jar were also more easy to clean than most of the competition.

At first the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Processor seemed a little puny next to the other models, which boasted nesting bowls, taller bases, and big boxes of attachments. But after two days of testing, its simplicity won us over. The Custom’s 750-watt motor is less powerful than the 1,000-watt Cuisinart Elite motor or the 1200-watt Breville motor, but that limitation didn’t negatively affect its performance. Pizza dough was our most motor-intensive test, and the Custom kneaded it effortlessly—even without a specific dough speed. It chopped vegetables, ground bread crumbs, and shredded soft mozzarella just as skillfully as the more expensive models did, and it took up less counter space.

cuisinart custom 14 cup buttons interface

With just two buttons, the Custom has one of the simplest-to-use interfaces of the processors we tried. Marshall Troy

While the Custom mixed a satiny dough in about 40 seconds, the KitchenAid’s motor strained, seizing up after about 20 seconds of mixing.
At roughly 18 pounds (including the jar), the Custom never shifted or chattered on the counter, even when blending double batches of dough. While the Custom mixed a satiny dough in about 40 seconds, the KitchenAid’s motor strained, seizing up after about 20 seconds of mixing—and when I started the KitchenAid again, it shook on the counter, bucking like a wild bronco.

We also appreciate the Custom’s 14-cup work bowl, which offers a lot of room for grating cheese or shredding big batches of coleslaw ingredients. Although our experts said a processor with an 11- to 14-cup bowl works best, we found that the 11-cup Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus was a little too small, particularly when processing wet ingredients (liquid tended to leak out of the Prep’s bowl). The other models we tested came with bigger bowls capable of holding 13 cups or more, and we found all of them better for handling wet ingredients than the smaller Cuisinart Prep.

cuisinart custom 14 cup attachments

The Custom also comes with a small but well-chosen set of attachments: slicing and shredding disks, a regular blade, and a plastic dough blade. The food presser (far left) comes in two parts: a larger section for pushing bulkier ingredients such as cheese, and a narrower one for pressing tall, narrow items like carrots and celery. Marshall Troy

The Custom comes with just the most useful attachments: a stainless-steel chopping blade, a dough blade, and shredding and slicing disks. Those attachments cover most of what you’d want to do with a food processor. In contrast, the Breville Sous Chef comes with three blades and five disks, which could be handy for more nuanced slicing tasks but could also gather dust in a cupboard. With some careful layering, you can store all of the Custom’s blades and disks in its work bowl, with the lid on, which saves a bit of storage space (and keeps you from gouging a hand on a loose blade in a drawer).

cuisinart custom 14 cup

You can store the Custom’s attachments in the work bowl if you don’t want to buy a storage case. We have found that the attachments tend to scratch the inside of the bowl. Marshall Troy

Finally, we found cleaning the Custom’s work bowl an easier task than doing so on most of the other models. After 10 rounds of testing and cleaning, we were achingly familiar with the gunk that can get trapped in overly complicated lids. The Custom’s lid doesn’t have many grooves, or extra pieces of plastic for food to wedge into. The Cuisinart Elite, on the other hand, comes with a gasket on the lid that frequently trapped ingredients like flour or sticky tahini in our tests.

I read a few reviews that dislike how the Cuisinart Custom’s lid locks with the feed tube in the back, rather in the front (standard for most models). This feature tripped me up as well, but I think that’s simply because I’m used to working with a processor that locks in front.

Cook’s Illustrated named the Custom as one of its top choices, while Good Housekeeping recommends it, saying it’s “Very good at chopping onions, mincing parsley, grinding Parmesan cheese, cutting julienne strips, kneading dough, and slicing pepperoni and tomatoes.” In our tests the Custom chopped nicely when we used the pulse button. It took a little longer than the Breville or KitchenAid did, but that time difference certainly wasn’t a dealbreaker. In the Consumer Reports review, the Custom placed third after the Breville Sous Chef and the Cuisinart Prep 11, with 67 out of 100 points.

The Custom’s three-year limited warranty (five-year warranty on the motor) isn’t the best among the models we tested, but that’s still pretty good. We also like the slightly retro, sleek design. And at only 15 inches tall, it should fit under most cupboards.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when the Custom’s lid is totally locked; if the lid isn’t locked, it will rattle loose during processing, and the machine will stop. But this is a minimal problem, and probably boils down to user error.

The Custom’s shredding disk isn’t adjustable—we’d prefer one that is, for making thinner or thicker cuts. The shredding disk on the Breville Sous Chef, in comparison, has multiple settings, allowing you to use it as you would a mandoline. If you want to use the Custom like a mandoline, you can buy additional slicing disks. The included slicing disk makes approximately 5-millimeter slices. That’s fine for cutting tomatoes to top pizza, but you’d probably want the 2 mm slicing disk to cut homemade potato chips.

The Custom doesn’t come with a storage case for its attachments. If you don’t want to store the attachments in the jar, purchasing a case for about $20 would be worthwhile.

Long-term test notes

Over two years of long-term testing, we’ve consistently liked using the Cuisinart Custom. We’ve made slaws, grated cheese, blended dips, and kneaded pizza dough in it, and it has worked well. The 14-cup bowl doesn’t leak, and the controls are exactly what you need.

cuisinart custom 14 cup

Over the two years we’ve been using the Custom, the bowl has scratched, probably because we’ve stored the attachments inside the bowl. If that bothers you, consider investing in a storage case for the blades and disks. Marshall Troy

The processor’s base is heavy. We’ve found that keeping it on the counter to use often is the best approach. The jar has scratched a bit (perhaps because we’ve stored the sharp blades inside the jar). But overall we still really like using this machine.

Runner-up

Also Great
Cuisinart Elite Collection 14-Cup Food Processor
With more work bowls and an extra dough speed, the Elite processed well in our tests but not any better than our main pick, which is nearly $100 less. The Elite is also harder to clean.

If our main pick sells out, we recommend the Cuisinart Elite Collection 14-Cup Food Processor—with some reservations. It comes with three work bowls (4½, 11, and 14 cups), a slightly more powerful 1,000-watt motor, an adjustable slicing disk, and a specific dough speed. But despite its added features, this model didn’t perform any better than the Custom in our tests, and it costs nearly $100 more.

We particularly dislike the Elite’s lid. Instead of twisting on in the traditional fashion, the Elite’s lid clips on. In our tests, if we didn’t hook the lid to the bowl’s pour spout perfectly, it wouldn’t attach. The gasket in its lid also trapped flour and bits of vegetables, which made cleanup difficult.

The Elite series has a locking blade, so you can pour from the bowl without risking having the blade tumble out.

The Cuisinart Elite received a B+ in Good Housekeeping’s review, which says that it is “very good at chopping onions, mincing parsley, grinding Parmesan cheese, cutting julienne strips, and slicing pepperoni and tomatoes.” The Good Housekeeping reviewers also note, however, that the Elite “does a poor job kneading dough,” and they also find it “tricky to assemble discs.” The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the 12-cup version, likes that it has six slicing options but says that it’s a pain to use. The Elite has an average score of 4.1 stars (out of five) across 689 Amazon user reviews.

Great for small batches

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus
Although it’s too small for making bread dough or coleslaw, this 3-cup processor is the ideal size for chopping one onion or making small batches of mayo or vinaigrette. It blends more-even textures, makes nicer emulsifications, and has a sturdier build than the competition.

For small chopping tasks, the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus offers the best value and performance we’ve found. The Mini-Prep Plus makes a good addition to a full-size model, and in our tests it performed better than the mini bowl attachments that come with some of the larger processors. We tested the Mini-Prep Plus against the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper, as well as against the chopper attachment of our favorite immersion blender, the Breville Control Grip. In almost every test, the Mini-Prep Plus came out on top.

cuisinart mini prep plus kitchenaid food chopper breville control grip

We tested the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus (center) against the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper (left) and the Breville Control Grip immersion blender chopper attachment (right). Marshall Troy

The Mini-Prep Plus blended more-even textures than the KitchenAid Food Chopper and did so more quickly. It chopped onions in about two seconds, whereas the KitchenAid took six or seven.
In our tests, the Mini-Prep Plus blended more-even textures than the KitchenAid Food Chopper and did so more quickly. It chopped onions in about two seconds, whereas the KitchenAid took six or seven seconds to achieve a similar fine texture. The chopper attachment for the Breville took forever to chop the onions, and it really banged them up in the process, turning them yellow. Onions can quickly turn to mush in a food processor, but the Cuisinart did a good job of retaining the texture of the onions while not creating too much liquid. We think this model would be great for making soffritto/mirepoix. We wouldn’t use the Mini-Prep Plus to make a chunky pico de gallo, but a blended roasted salsa would be fine.

cuisinart mini prep plus kitchenaid food chopper chopped onions

The Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus (left) produced more evenly chopped onions than the KitchenAid Food Chopper (right). Christine Cyr Clisset

The Mini-Prep Plus looks almost identical to a full-size processor, except that it has only the two pulse buttons for chopping and grinding. The chop button moves the blade counterclockwise so that the sharp edge of the blade hits the food; the grind button turns the blade clockwise so that the dull side contacts the food. Its blades are less sharp than those on a full-size processor, which are usually slightly serrated. And, of course, the Mini-Prep Plus is quite a bit smaller and easier to move around than bigger machines. While the 18-pound Cuisinart Custom processor measures 15½ inches tall and has a 7½-by-9¾-inch footprint, the 2¼-pound Mini-Prep Plus reaches only 9½ inches tall and has a 5-by-7½-inch footprint.

We didn’t notice any straining or stuttering of the Mini-Prep Plus’s 250-watt motor, even when blending a thick curry paste. Since you won’t use it for heavy tasks such as making bread dough, we don’t think there’s much risk of burning out the motor.

mini prep plus mayonnaise

Making mayonnaise in the Mini-Prep Plus is exceptionally easy due to a small well and two holes in the lid. This design allows a controlled stream of oil to hit the blades. Marshall Troy

The Mini-Prep Plus excels at emulsifications. In fact, of all the food processors, blenders, and immersion blenders we’ve tested for various guides, we found making mayo easiest in the Mini-Prep Plus. That’s because its lid has a small indent to hold oil, and two small holes that allow the oil to pour directly onto the blades so you have a consistent, measured stream. With this method, the mayonnaise comes together without your having to control the flow of oil. The KitchenAid offers a similar feature but has only one hole in its lid, so in our tests the oil took much longer to drip down—so long, in fact, that I wouldn’t use the KitchenAid for making mayonnaise.

We also think the build of the Mini-Prep Plus is nicer. Its jar has a handle, while the KitchenAid’s doesn’t. And the Cuisinart model has seamless buttons on its motor base, while the KitchenAid has grooved buttons on its lid, where they could trap gunk.

The Mini-Prep Plus will not make bread dough or shred cheese, and its small bowl means it isn’t a great choice for chopping large quantities of anything. You’ll need a full-size machine for any of those tasks, as well as for making shredded salads, pie crust, or multiple servings of blended tomato sauce.

Consumer Reports recommends the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus, and on Amazon this model has an average score of 4.3 stars (out of five) across 1,787 user reviews.

Great for power users

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $390.

Breville Sous Chef
This is the machine you want if you plan to use it several times a week or need a tough motor when cooking for large groups. But it’s twice the price of our main pick, and it’s more powerful and much bigger than most people need.

We think the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is more than enough machine for most people, but if you need extra power or a bigger blending bowl, or if you don’t mind paying twice the price for nicer features, the Breville Sous Chef was the overall best performer in our testing. It chopped vegetables, ground bread crumbs, puréed hummus, and shredded mozzarella about as well as the Custom did, and it excelled at slicing. The Sous Chef powered through an entire russet potato in less than a second—noticeably faster than any of the other models. And despite its power, it was the quietest of the bunch at kneading dough.

Although we weren’t huge fans of the mini bowls on most of the big processors, we liked the Sous Chef’s 2½-cup bowl better than those of the Cuisinart Elite and KitchenAid ExactSlice. Deeper than the others, this bowl’s design seemed to make it easier to mince fresh parsley uniformly.

parsley chopped breville sous chef

Parsley chopped in the Breville’s small bowl. Christine Cyr Clisset

It was the Sous Chef’s thoughtful design that really sold us. We love how the bowl fits flat on the motor base, because that enables you to put it on a scale if you’re into cooking by ratio.
It was the Sous Chef’s thoughtful design that really sold us. We love how the bowl fits flat on the motor base, because that enables you to put it on a scale if you’re into cooking by ratio. Instead of the standard shank that you place the work bowl on with other models, the Sous Chef has a flat attachment, with the shank attached to the inside of the work bowl. This design means you can measure ingredients into the bowl with the blade attached, and then seamlessly connect the bowl to the motor base. If you’ve ever struggled to fit a blade over a pile of flour in a processor bowl, you’ll appreciate this feature.

We also like how the work bowl is removable with the lid attached; the KitchenAid ExactSlice and Cuisinart Elite also have this handy feature, but most models (including the Cuisinart Custom and Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus) require that you loosen the lid before removing the bowl.

Breville clearly put a lot of thought into other design elements as well. For one thing, the buttons are easy to press. The Sous Chef is also the only model we tested with an LCD timer (which counts up and down), and it has retractable cord storage. In addition to the standard blades, the Sous Chef comes with a reversible shredding disk and an adjustable slicing disk that goes from a whisper-thin .33 millimeter to a generous 8 millimeters. It’s a true alternative to using a mandoline. We didn’t try the machine’s french fry disk, julienne disk, or whisk attachments, but the handy cleaning brush did a great job of getting trapped bits out of the slicing disk. The machine’s seamless food pushers also make for easy cleanup, since they have no crevices to trap food. The pressers aren’t dishwasher-safe (water can get stuck inside them), but they are easy enough to rinse off in the sink.

The Sous Chef is the top choice in reviews from Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping. Cook’s Illustrated, however, isn’t convinced that the Sous Chef is worth the money: The reviewers say this model “chopped so fast that it was hard not to make a puree when we wanted diced vegetables.” We had the same problem when chopping carrots, celery, and onions using the “on” setting. In a second test, though, we used the pulse button, and the Sous Chef cut everything to a uniform size in just a few seconds. It has an average grade of 4.8 stars (out of five) across 398 Amazon user reviews.

The Sous Chef comes with a limited one-year product warranty and has a 25-year warranty on the motor—by far the longest of any of the models we tested.

Care and maintenance

Food processor blades are not designed to be sharpened. Generally they should last you a long time, but as Cuisinart told us, if a “consumer is using it more aggressively or more frequently than the average consumer it can become dull. They can always order a replacement through the cuisinart.com website.”

If you have to schlep your processor from a cupboard across the kitchen, you might not use it often. Norene Gilletz recommends buying a processor that will fit on the counter under your cabinets. She keeps her machines on folded dish towels so that they’ll slide out more easily.

Those with limited counter space can get creative, as Jean Anderson did when she lived in New York City. “I had a pop-up, like those old typewriter pop-ups that folded down underneath the desk. My processor pop-up folded down into the base cabinet, and I just swung it up whenever I used the machine.”

A bottle brush is handy for cleaning around the feed tube, inside the food pressers, and along the sharp blades.
As for cleaning, Gilletz recommends putting water and a few drops of dish soap in the work bowl and running the machine. A bottle brush is handy for cleaning around the feed tube, inside the food pressers, and along the sharp blades. Never submerge the base of a food processor in water; you should only wipe it down with a damp cloth or sponge.

After testing models with storage boxes, we found that such boxes are convenient for keeping attachments organized, and they’re worth investing in if your model doesn’t come with one. You can also organize blades and disks in a designated Tupperware-style container, basket, or other receptacle. We store the Cuisinart Custom’s extra blades and disks inside the processor’s work bowl.

Most brands sell replacement parts, which may come in handy after the limited warranty on parts expires. You’ll find replacement bowls, food pushers, blades, and various other attachments for the Cuisinart Custom, the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus, and the Breville Sous Chef.

Recipe tips

For many tasks, a food processor can replace an upright mixer. According to Jean Anderson, you usually need to use specific recipes developed for a food processor. In her book Process This, Anderson employs a variety of techniques for making quick breads, yeasted breads, cookies, and cakes. In one recipe she even allows a yeasted bread dough to rise in the work bowl and then “punches” it down by pulsing the blade.

In a Serious Eats article, J. Kenji López-Alt says that a food processor surpassed a standing mixer at kneading pizza dough. His dough came together in a food processor in a fraction of the time it took in a standing mixer, and rose nearly twice as much—indicating that the food processor made dough with better gluten formation.

You can also make ice cream in a food processor, as shown in this Chow.com video. Given how much space an ice-cream maker can take in a cupboard, this is a particularly nice trick.

The competition

In our tests the Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus didn’t mix big batches of dough as well as the Cuisinart Custom due to its smaller, 11-cup bowl. The Prep 11 Plus struggled to grind bread crumbs, leaving large chunks unprocessed while overprocessing the rest. This model also leaked around the shank at the center of the bowl when processing wet ingredients. Michael Zhao, our associate editor, has had the same issue with his Prep 11 Plus. Good Housekeeping gave it an A- (ranking it above the Cuisinart Custom).

The KitchenAid 13-Cup ExactSlice was our least favorite of the large processors. The base shook and the motor eventually seized when processing pizza dough. And the food presser easily plugged up with mozzarella and sticky tahini from our hummus recipe. In January 2013, Cook’s Illustrated tested this model against the Breville Sous Chef and Cuisinart Custom, and found that “in almost every task, it lagged behind the Cuisinart and the Breville.”

The KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper performed well at most tasks. We felt it was easy to use, and the bowl capacity is perfect for making small batches of bread crumbs, vinaigrettes, and the like. It didn’t make mayonnaise as nicely as the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus, however. We also didn’t like the need to pull up on the KitchenAid’s blade to release it, which could easily cause a cut. In addition, half of the KitchenAid’s lid is covered in black push pads for the buttons, and we noticed that water and soap got under those pads; washing the soap out was difficult.

kitchenaid food chopper

Like the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus, the KitchenAid chopper has a well for oil in the lid, but as it has only one hole, mayonnaise came together excruciatingly slowly. And during washing, soap collected easily under the big black buttons. Marshall Troy

We considered other models, but ultimately didn’t test them for a number of reasons.

Magimix: The is the original French processor made by Robot-Coupe. We saw mixed reviews in Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and The Wall Street Journal for the 11-, 14-, and 16-cup models. Since we didn’t find overwhelming support for any one model, we opted not to test them.

Braun Multiquick 3 Kitchen Machine: Braun no longer makes this machine for the US market.

Cuisinart Pro Custom 11 DLC-8S Food Processor: This model didn’t get better reviews than the Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus, so we opted not to test it.

Hamilton Beach 70579 Big Mouth Duo 14-Cup Food Processor:  This machine did not receive better reviews than the models we opted to test.

Hamilton Beach 70580 Big Mouth Duo Plus 14-Cup Food Processor: Good Housekeeping’s review says that this machine is loud and that it struggled to make dough in trials, so we chose not to test it.

KitchenAid Professional KFP750 12-Cup Food Processor: This was America’s Test Kitchen’s former top pick, but the company has since discontinued it.

Omega Professional Food Processor, 11-Cup: This machine didn’t get better reviews than the models we tested.

Viking VFP Professional Food Processor: A former America’s Test Kitchen pick, this model has since been discontinued.

Black & Decker EHC650B Ergo 3-Cup Food Chopper: This processor didn’t receive better reviews than those we tested.

Black & Decker HC306 1½-Cup One-Touch Electric Chopper: This 1½-cup model seemed less versatile than the 3-cup models we tested.

Bosch Universal Chopper: This model did not receive better user reviews than the mini choppers we tested.

Breville BSB530XL All In One: This machine resembles Breville’s Control Grip immersion blender that we like, but at $130 it’s far more expensive than the mini choppers we tested. We opted instead to include Breville’s immersion blender chopper attachment in our testing.

Cuisinart DLC-1SS Mini-Prep Processor: The mini version of our top full-size processor receives lower Amazon user review scores than the Mini-Prep Plus (a 3.8-star average across 553 reviews versus the Plus’s 4.3 stars across 1,794 reviews), so we elected to skip testing it this round. We may consider testing it for a future update.

Cuisinart DLC-4CHB Mini-Prep Plus 4-Cup: We chose to test the 3-cup version of the Mini-Prep Plus. If you wanted a slightly larger mini chopper, this would likely be a good option.

Food Network 3-Cup Mini Processor/Chopper 70403: Amazon user reviews are mediocre for this model.

Hamilton Beach 70730 Bowl Scraper Food Processor: This model didn’t get better reviews than those we tested.

Hamilton Beach 72600 Fresh Chop 3-Cup Food Chopper: Did not receive better reviews than the models we tested.

Hamilton Beach 72705 Deluxe Food Chopper: Another model that failed to get better reviews than the tested machines.

Hamilton Beach 72900 3-Cup Capacity Food Chopper: Also did not receive better reviews than the models we chose to test.

KitchenAid Chef Series 3-Cup Food Chopper: This mini food processor receives promising user reviews, but it has been discontinued (although models are still available on Amazon).

Ninja Master Prep Professional: We tested this model for our blender guide, and from that experience we concluded that it wouldn’t compete with the Cuisinart and KitchenAid choppers.

Oster 3-Cup Mini Chopper: Receives only mediocre Amazon user reviews.

Proctor Silex 72500RY 1½-Cup Food Chopper: This appliance enjoys positive Amazon user reviews, but its 1½-cup bowl capacity seems to make it less versatile than the 3-cup models we opted to test.

Oster also makes a number of budget models, but none rated all that highly. The only exception is a Food & Wine review that loves the Oster 10-cup processor, but the company has discontinued that model.

Additionally, we looked into blender/food processor hybrids by Cuisinart, DeLonghi, and Ninja. We like the idea that you could get two machines in one, but according to reviews, they don’t stack up to our top picks when it comes to food-processing ability alone.

Wrapping it up

Available at a reasonable price, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor excels at most tasks and even kneads big batches of dough effortlessly. Its simple design and efficiency will satisfy novice and experienced cooks alike.

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Sources

  1. Food Processors, Cook's Illustrated, January 2013
  2. Food Processors, America's Test Kitchen, January 2013
  3. Food Processor Reviews, Good Housekeeping
  4. Food processor & chopper buying guide, Consumer Reports, February 2013
  5. J. Kenji López-Alt, Equipment: Which Food Processor Should I Buy, Serious Eats, May 11, 2010
  6. Jean Anderson, Process This, Interview
  7. Norene Gilletz, The New Food Processor Bible, Interview

Originally published: June 15, 2015

  • Harvey

    Ok, I hear you. I’ll save my money and buy the Breville Sous Chef. Thank you for the great reviews and your section on the Sous Chef made me realize that I don’t want to settle for the Cuisinart Custom.

  • Kurt

    I like the Waring Pro which is the Restaurant version of the cuisinart, even more expensive, but a true beast.

    • Christine Cyr Clisset

      We only looked at consumer-grade processors for this story. I’m sure there are many other options in the commercial-grade category. We’ll keep the Waring in mind!

      • Kurt

        When your over $200 for a counter top appliance the Pro vs Sumer start to merge IMHO. Im not concerned how a product is marketed. I consider function before form, especially in a machine designed for production. I wouldnt consider a commercial toaster for home use but there’s very little visual or size difference btwxt pro level blenders and food processors and the consumer versions. Who cares if the buttons light up.

        • Christine Cyr Clisset

          Visually, you’re right, pro versions do look very similar to consumer-grade ones. However, for the size we’re covering here (11 cups and above), the price is significantly higher for pro machines.

    • Kimberly Young

      I’m considering a warning pro as well. Having a hard time finding reviews. How is it making bread? I make tons with my kitchen aid stand mixer, but need a food processor and wanted something that could make excellent bread also.

  • http://www.picsofcelebrities.net/blog/2012/05/08/voice-season-finale Cromulent

    Little disappointed we didn’t see a test of mayo here.

    • RicardoB

      How much mayo are you making? An immersion blender is my go-to appliance for mayo.

      • http://www.picsofcelebrities.net/blog/2012/05/08/voice-season-finale Cromulent

        Yes, I use an immersion blender too. The model recommended here in fact.

        But I’d like to make bigger batches. The setup I have now is a bit limiting. And of course a food processor would do many other things too.

        • RicardoB

          fwiw, you probably want something that can handle a large liquid volume preferably with sloped sides but you can likely do with a relatively weak motor.

          • http://www.picsofcelebrities.net/blog/2012/05/08/voice-season-finale Cromulent

            Maybe what I need is simply a proper vessel in which to use the immersion blender; something considerably bigger than the one that came with it.

          • RicardoB

            You can use it right in the container you’ll store the mayo in! Unless you’re subdividing it.

          • http://www.picsofcelebrities.net/blog/2012/05/08/voice-season-finale Cromulent

            I think its probably best to have a container with sloped sides. Currently I’m using a container about the same size as a plastic margarine bowl for storage. Wouldn’t work for the mayo making process.

  • Michael

    Also, for those looking for a serious device, I would recommend the Bosch Universal. Incredibly powerful motors, made by a company who knows something about motors and transmissions. My wife uses hers for many things, but mostly for whole wheat bread. The Bosch Universals are well known for lasting a long time.

  • Simon Yu

    The Magixmix food processors seem to be newer to the states and new models are only sold by Williams Sonoma (other places online sell refurbished models) so there’s not as much buzz about them. They seemed to try to spread the word more through various food blogs last year which is where you’ll find most of the reviews out there. They’re kind of where Breville was some years back, a European company popular over their for a while but not yet recognized in the US.

  • kirrabelle lovell

    Brilliant review for me, I’m thinking of buying my first food processor and this is really useful! Haven’t quite decided which one to get but I think one of these two. I’ve looked on the wirecutter before for a food processor review slim glad you’ve done one now. Thanks :)

  • Holly Harrington

    One thing that people neglect to factor in is the cost of replacement
    parts. I’ve owned the Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus for 5 years and their mini
    chopper for about 10. I’ve had to replace bowls for both processors
    almost every year and, sadly, they are very expensive. I could have bought the Breville already and saved myself $$.

  • Sarah

    If you had to choose between the Cuisinart Elite (with it’s smaller inner bowl) or the Cuisinart Custom and an additional mini-chopper thingie… which would you go with? The small inner bowl is something I’ve longed for in a new food processor (now that my wedding-gift model has died after 14 years) but the not-stellar reviews of the Cuisinart Elite has me skiddish. Cleanup isn’t that big a deal for me, functionality is my big thing.

    Would love to hear opinions on the Elite vs two appliances.

    • Christine Cyr Clisset

      Hi Sarah. I think I would personally go with the Custom and a separate mini chopper. I really didn’t love the Elite. I think the Custom was just more functional. Not to push you into an even more expensive option, but if you’re in the market for an immersion blender, I’ve really enjoyed using the mini chopper attachment of the Breville Control Grip. It’s super easy to use. I have also used a Cusinart mini-prep for years and it has also served me well (although, I’ve kind of retired it now that I’m using the immersion blender attachment). Hope this helps!

  • riposter

    this article needs an update. your selection has been replaced with a newer model.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for the heads up!

      • Yvonne

        Regarding riposter’s comment: I spoke with a Cuisinart customer service representative (on August 1, 2014) regarding the availability of the Cusinart Custom 14. The Cuisinart Custom 14 (DFP-14 BCN) has not been replaced; it is still in production, and there are no plans to discontinue it. The DFP-14 BCN has a brushed stainless steel/black finish and comes with a how-to DVD.(However, there were other colors in the Custom 14 line that were discontinued in 2010.)

        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          Thank you for this!!!

  • http://xoxotara.wordpress.com Tara Melissa

    Does anyone know if this comes in a smaller size? Living alone, I feel like 14 cups is huge (and I can’t find anything conclusive about single people and food processor size). I see that there’s a model called the “Cuisinart DLC-8SBC Food Processor, 11 Cup Pro Custom” but the difference in model number makes me worried that I’ll be getting something different.

    • http://xoxotara.wordpress.com Tara Melissa

      I reached out to Cuisinart and got a response! If anyone was wondering:

      “Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, they are pretty close to being the same, except for the size of the unit. The DFP-14BCN is 14 cups and the DLC-8S is 11 cups. Other than that they are the same.” – if anyone is looking for the Custom in a smaller size, this may be an option for you. I believe it also comes with an additional disc – mine has an additional slicing disk, in addition to the slicing and shredding disks the 14-cup comes with. I got mine on sale at Macy’s and so far, so good.

      • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

        Glad they got back to you! Thanks for the feedback!

  • Lisa Amico Kristel

    Would you get the FP 14DC Elite collection? Includes 4, 11, and 14 cup bowls, blades (including adjustable slicer, two sided shredder) and a storage case ?

    • Christine Cyr Clisset

      We tested the 14-cup Cuisinart Elite model for this review and didn’t like it as much as the regular Cuisinart we recommend. Although the different size bowls could come in handy, we found that the model we recommend operated better and more consistently.

  • Lisa Amico Kristel

    By the way, great review…

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks. Our researchers & experts are the best!

  • everytomorrow

    I got the Breville Sous Chef for Christmas. It’s a magnificent beast of a food processor. Almost too big even for my massive kitchen, but it just slips under the cupboards in a corner. Cleaning it for the first time won me over entirely.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Glad you like it!

  • PrairieMom

    I want to get my husband a meat grinder for his upcoming birthday. It just so happens that I’m also in the market for a food processor! Do you (or anyone) recommend any particular machine for this?

    • Christine Cyr Clisset

      Hi PrairieMom, we haven’t tested specific meat grinders here at the Sweethome. But some of our editors really like the meat grinding attachment on their KitchenAid mixers, if that helps!

  • dilu

    Hi I saw that someone had asked about the Cuisinart elite 14 with the nested smaller containers because they were interested in a smaller bowl for smaller food prep (which is what I’d also like) and you still recommended the custom 14 plus a smaller food chopper/processor.

    Unfortunately I live in Australia where there is nobody stocking custom 14 unless I buy it from an American seller on eBay and then need to buy a transformer because our voltages are different here. This option will cost me about $350 (including significant postage) and I’m still interested in a smaller volume alternative and kitchen aid mini is $120 for us.

    There are many Cuisinart elite 14s selling on Australian eBay for $460. Given the fact that the only custom 14 I can find is not suited to australian plugs (but I can get around it), do you still recommend that I get the custom 14 plus a smaller kitchen aid?

    The other thing I was thinking was perhaps getting the vitamix (even 750 if that’s what you might suggest). I’ve read thesweethome’s review on vitamix. And I’m wondering if I could get away without a food processor as the vitamix does chop and mince etc.

    All I’m wanting to do with my food processor is chop onions, garlic and herbs, grate carrots, slice tomatoes and cucumbers and shred cabbage for salads. I’m also interested in making breadcrumbs, grinding spices instead of using a mortar and pestle, and making almond meal. Can the vitamix do all of these? If not, which are possible? I’d only be making small quantities too (hence initially being interested by the question of Cuisinart elite 14 with the smaller volume container)

    The only other thing I wanted from a food processor was make pesto, tomato paste and hummus and mince meats (which the vitamix can do) and perhaps making dough for pastry sheets and dumpling skins (less essential) . Would those be possible with the vitamix?

    I’d absolutely love any input and advice you can give me!! Thank you so much :) :)

  • RicardoB

    According to specs from each manufacturer, the Cuisinart can handle much less liquid volume than the Breville (6 vs 12 cups respectively, and less if it’s thin). How much of an issue is that?

  • Jeremy Lenz

    I just got the Cuisinart Custom 14 and it doesn’t come with a dough blade.

    • Christine Cyr Clisset

      Hi Jeremy, it should come with a dough blade (plastic, white blade). What link did you use to buy it? Ours?

      • Christine Cyr Clisset

        Actually, Jeremy, looks like if you purchased from the Home Depot link, they don’t include the dough blade. The original link we had on Amazon when up significantly in price, but I do believe it had the dough blade included. You can purchase a dough blade for this model from Cuisinart: http://www.cuisinart.com/parts/food_processors/dfp-14bcn.html

        Hope this helps!

        • Jeremy Lenz

          I got it at retail from Bed Bath & Beyond. I don’t really make bread anyway so it’s ok!

  • Jackie

    Hello! Just curious on how this model compares with the newer die cast model: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-FP-14DC-Collection-14-Cup-Processor/dp/B002I5DMU0/ref=dp_ob_title_kitchen?

    Thanks so much!

  • JoeyBill

    Can you provide the dimensions of the Breville Sous Chef? There are numerous comments about it being large, but no WxHxD details that I can find on Breville USA, Breville AU, Amazon, or in the USA instruction manual PDF. Breville USA’s site just lists “NA” under “Dimensions”… really?

  • Chris_irish

    Just bought this last week based on your recommendation, so I’m glad I didn’t get it a week before you replaced it with a new model. 😉

    I will say the Cuisinart 14 cup is impressive. It has that heavy, quiet, powerful combo that is great for a motor, and only two buttons gives it a very clean and classy look. I’m sad that they no longer come with the dough blade it seems (mine didn’t at least), so I’m debating buying one along with the storage case for blades.

  • Bryan

    I bought the Breville Sous Chef about a year ago and it is an absolute pleasure to use.

    It is so true the saying about “forgetting about paying a little extra long after you have bought something that is so good and that gives you so much enjoyment”

  • bikermanlax

    My version of this food processor is now going on twenty five years old and still works well.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      That is awesome to hear!

  • Tom

    I have the Breville Sous Chef. There’s a BIG flaw in the design of that machine: the rounded spindle on top of the blade can get very hot. Hot enough to burn your skin if you accidentally touch it. I’ve had to replace my lid twice now because the spindle got so hot it melted the plastic interior where the spindle fits into the lid, which just exacerbates the problem. As a result, I would never recommend the machine to anyone until Breville fixes that design flaw. Otherwise, it works quite well.

  • Robert Hall

    Will the smaller Breville BFP660SIL Sous Chef 12 Food Processor
    be in the next test? Seems like a fitting unit for many folks..

  • Beaks

    I’ve had the Cuisinart DFP-3 Handy Prep 3-Cup Food Processor for almost ten years, and I’d definitely nominate it as the ideal small apartment food processor for people who like to cook big batches. The chute attachment for continuous slicing and shredding means that the small capacity is only limiting for chopping or kneading- and since I prefer a stand mixer for kneading, the only time I really wish I had a bigger bowl is when I’m making vats of hummus. Would buy it over the Mini Prep every time.