The 7 Best Mini Food Processors for Salsa, Sauces, and Spreads

Dotdash Meredith and Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.

The KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper for its functionality and versatility.

<p>Food &amp; Wine / Kristin Kempa</p>

Food & Wine / Kristin Kempa

Food processors are versatile appliances every home cook should have in their kitchen. While standard food processors have between 8 and 14 cups of capacity, mini food processors offer 2 to 5 cups for small jobs, such as preparing homemade dressings and dips. Though they don’t have grating or slicing attachments, they can chop an onion or whip up a batch of salad dressing in seconds. Plus, they save you the headache of cleaning a large machine without sacrificing too much power.

To help you find a model suitable for your needs, we conducted in-depth research on the breadth of compact food processors on the market, considering each one’s size, design, performance, and ease of cleaning. Keep scrolling to see which models are worth your money, starting with our overall favorite: the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper.

KitchenAid KFC3516BM 3.5-Cup Food Chopper

Best Overall

Pros: This model offers over a dozen colors to pick from and other add-on appliances you can purchase with it, such as an immersion blender.

Cons: The lid can be challenging to lock and clean.

This mini processor by culinary appliance leader KitchenAid is our best overall choice for its high functionality and versatility. Buy it alone, or bundle it with an immersion blender or hand mixer in a matching color. At 3.5 cups, it takes up minimal counter space; even snug kitchens should be able to fit this on the counter without issue.

It features two speeds — chop and puree — so you can prepare anything from pico de gallo and pesto in one compact gadget. We also love that it has a drizzle basin where you can pour liquids in slowly for maximum emulsification and a pour spout for easy serving.

Price at time of publish: $60

  • Power: 240 watts

  • Capacity: 3.5 cups

  • Dimensions: 5.6 x 7 x 8.7 inches

Ninja Express Chop

Best Value

Pros: It features a splash guard to keep things clean and a non-slip base for sturdiness.

Cons: There are lots of nooks and crannies to clean.

The Ninja Express Chop will satisfy all your basic needs and will do so for such a low price, making it worthy of our best value award. The blades' placement makes it particularly efficient: Rather than having both near the bottom, one is positioned close to the top. This means you’ll get a quicker, more even chop or puree, with less time invested. Use the included splash guard to prevent spills, and pour directly through the spout if creating a looser dressing or sauce.

Price at time of publish: $20

  • Power: 200 watts

  • Capacity: 2 cups

  • Dimensions: 10.1 x 5.7 x 5.7 inches

Cuisinart Elite Collection 4-Cup Die-Cast Mini Chopper/Grinder

Best Splurge

Pros: It has dishwasher-safe parts and an included spatula, making it a winner for ease of use.

Cons: The initial setup and lid placement can take a moment to learn.

As a private chef, I can say this brand’s mini food processor is worth the splurge, as I’ve owned one for over two decades. I replaced the bowl once, and beyond that, have used it frequently and it continues to go strong. It has a drizzle basin, which lets oil enter at a perfect speed for Caesar dressing or pesto, as well as a patented auto-reserving blade with a blunt edge suitable for grinding spices. You’ll also appreciate the blade-locking system that secures the blade in place while you remove your mixture.

Price at time of publish: $60

  • Power: 250 watts

  • Capacity: 4 cups

  • Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 6 inches

RELATED: The Best Spice Grinders for Your Kitchen, According to Chefs

Ninja QB1004 Master Prep Professional Blender

Most Versatile

Pros: Puree, blend, and chop with this all-in-one set that has a high convenience factor.

Cons: You’ll want to utilize the dishwasher to avoid washing the extra-sharp blades.

Including three different bowls, this Ninja set allows you to make everything from salsa to smoothies. There is a 6-cup pitcher for smoothies and frozen cocktails, a 5-cup processor bowl for hummus and other dips, and a 2-cup chopper for dicing vegetables. Both the processor bowl and the chopper have four blades as opposed to two, meaning they are more efficient than most models. This set even comes with storage lids, so you can conveniently store leftovers in the fridge — no additional container required. Overall, it’s ideal for individuals who don’t need a large blender and families who want to make medium-sized batches of sauces.

Price at time of publish: $60

  • Power: 450 watts

  • Capacity: 2-cup chopper bowl, 5-cup processor bowl, and 6-cup pitcher

  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 48.7 x 29.5 inches

Hamilton Beach Electric Mini Food Processor

Best for Beginners

Pros: Solid power and a single-press button will make quick work of ingredients.

Cons: Ingredients can get stuck between the blades.

It doesn’t get more straightforward than the Hamilton Beach Mini Processor, which is why we named it our favorite pick for beginners. Simply place your ingredients inside and press the single button to take them anywhere from a rough chop to thoroughly pureed. The drizzle basin will slowly incorporate liquids, and the tall base keeps the contents of the basin closer to eye level than many other mini processors. After each use, you can place all the parts in the dishwasher for a fuss-free cleanup.

Price at time of publish: $28

  • Power: 350 watts

  • Capacity: 3 cups

  • Dimensions: 5.2 x 5.9 x 8.54 inches

KitchenAid KFCB519BM Cordless Chopper

Best Cordless

Pros: The rechargeable battery lasts an impressive amount of time, and the device is compact despite having a 5-cup capacity.

Cons: You have to press quite firmly to get it to start.

With an appearance that’s more similar to a blender than a food processor, this cordless KitchenAid enables you to make larger-than-average batches of foods thanks to its 5-cup capacity. It has two speeds to chop and puree, and since it doesn’t have a cord, it’s great for on-the-go use: Take it camping; keep it in a dorm room with limited power outlets; or place it on your counter, looking clutter-free from cords. In true KitchenAid style, it comes in seven colors, including blue and red.

Price at time of publish: $100

  • Power: Lithium battery-charged

  • Capacity: 5 cups

  • Dimensions: 5.51 x 6.61 x 10.39 inches

Zyliss Easy Pull Manual Food Processor

Best Manual

Pros: An ergonomic design ensures that ingredients are cut cleanly and visible as you work.

Cons: It will require more physical effort than the electric models.

It’s more effort than an electric mini processor but far less than chopping: The Zyliss model operates off of a pulling function. While testing it, we found that it cut very cleanly with no tearing and offered fast cleanup since it has very few moving parts, meaning that isn’t much room for food to get trapped. To use it, place the food inside, and put the lid on top. Once on, pull the large handle to break down the contents inside. There’s no risk of over-processing because the clear container ensures you can see the progress as you go.

Price at time of publish: $40

  • Power: Manual

  • Capacity: 3.13 cups

  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.2 inches

RELATED: The Best Vegetable Choppers for Faster Food Prep

Our Favorite

We chose the  KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper as our best overall pick because it has strong functionality — not to mention comes in various colors, which you can match with an accompanying immersion blender or hand mixer. Featuring a drizzle basin and pour spout, this mini food processor’s design exceeded our expectations.

Factors to Consider

Manual vs Electric

Most food processors are electric, however, there are some quality manual models on the market, such as the Zyliss Easy Pull Food Processor. A manual processor is only ideal if you don’t want to deal with cords or batteries or will be using it in a place where there isn’t electricity. For standard everyday usage, an electric model with motors between 200 and 400 watts is your best option.

Ease of Cleaning

The blades of food processors are sharp! That’s worth keeping in mind when removing the contents and hand-washing. Most have dishwasher-safe parts, but you’ll want to confirm that before making your purchase. Additionally, the blade placement makes all the difference in how easily bits of food can get stuck inside. Ninja, KitchenAid, and Cuisinart are usually dishwasher-safe and easy to clean.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you use a mini food processor for?

<p>Mini food processors can mix, chop, and puree a variety of foods, such as vegetables (think onions), chickpeas, and nuts. When making smaller batches of salad dressings, salsas, sauces, and spreads, you’ll find that compact food processors are more suitable than larger models. </p>

How do you clean a mini food processor?

<p>Most mini food processors have dishwasher-safe parts. To wash them by hand, remove the bowl and the blade from the base and wash them in hot, soapy water, being extra careful with the sharp edges. The base of the processor cannot go into the water, so you should wipe it down with a cleaning spray or damp cloth instead. For optimal care, always refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.</p>

Is a mini chopper the same as a food processor?

<p>No, they’re not the same. A chopper that isn’t also a food processor can’t break down solids into a more liquid form, and it can’t be used to make sauces. It’s purely for chopping ingredients such as produce or nuts. A food processor, even a mini one, has more functionality than a mini chopper does.</p>

Our Expertise

Contributor Ariane Resnick is a special diet chef, certified nutritionist, bestselling author, and lifelong devotee of her Cuisinart mini food processor. She used market research and her expertise to determine the best mini food processors for every home cook.