The Best Food Processor (2021) for All Your Kitchen Prep Tasks

Sarah Karnasiewicz, Lukas Volger, Kendra Vaculin
·10 min read

The best food processor is full of promise. It slices! It dices! It shreds! It makes pie dough and hummus! But depending on which model you choose, the large base can weigh as much as a small child and come with such a dizzying array of attachments that ingredient prep feels less like cooking and more like an IQ test. That’s why it’s so important to find the best food processor for your needs—with all of the features you need and none that you don’t. For a kitchen appliance purchase at this price point, it’s all in the details.

We first reviewed food processors in 2018, putting a small fleet of the beloved appliance to the test to measure efficiency, versatility, and ease of cleaning and storage. Every year since then, we’ve added to the review, pitting past winners against new models to ensure we always have the highest-performing machines listed as our top picks. Scroll down for the best food processors of 2021, plus details on how we tested and the other models we put to work.

Table of contents

The best food processor (2021): Breville Sous Chef 12
The upgrade pick: Cuisinart Elite Collection 2.0 14-Cup Food Processor
How we tested
Factors we evaluated
Other food processors we tested
The takeaway

The best food processor (2021): Breville Sous Chef 12

With a sturdy build, simple controls, and useful array of attachments, the Breville Sous Chef 12-cup food processor is a high-quality appliance that lives up to its name: it’s the right-hand man you’ve always wanted in the kitchen. This food processor has a 1,000-watt motor and 12-cup dry capacity (8½ cups for liquid). It readily handled every test we threw at it, and the included blades and shredder served us well (additional attachments are available for individual purchase).

Though Breville is not as big a name in food processing as Cuisinart, the Australian kitchen appliance company is known for being a leader in intelligent design—and indeed, beyond the Sous Chef 12’s mere power, its assortment of thoughtful, user-driven design tweaks made it stand out from the pack. Sitting snug on the base like a blender, the work bowl is very easy to attach and detach, never leaks, and doesn’t require the latching, turning, and locking that’s common with other models. Also, from a purely tactile standpoint, all the Sous Chef 12 components feel great in the hand, especially the smooth ergonomic handle on the work bowl and the lid. We also liked how the work bowl is clearly marked with measurements in both cups and milliliters, and how the neat pour spout makes it feel like a nice big measuring cup when maneuvering it from the base to the counter.

The Breville sports a wider “feed chute”—the opening in the top of the lid that you push ingredients through—than many of the other food processors we tried, which makes the acts of shredding and slicing easier because you don’t have to precut the components into smaller pieces. It’s the quietest machine we tested, and its slicing disc is adjustable from 0.3 mm to 8 mm, upping its versatility. But the base is quite heavy (about 16 pounds), and the bowl, lid, and attachments can deteriorate if regularly cleaned in the dishwasher. Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to hand-wash due to its streamlined design. If you’re looking for a straightforward but powerful food processor from a brand that’s known to last, the Breville Sous Chef 12 is right for you.

Breville Sous Chef 12-Cup Food Processor

$300.00, Amazon


The upgrade pick: Cuisinart Elite Collection 2.0 14-Cup Food Processor

Cuisinart is the Kleenex of the food processor market; in a lot of cooks’ minds, the name Cuisinart means food processor, and one of the brand’s many models tops reviews across the internet. In our test, the Elite model really blew the competition out of the water in terms of versatility and effectiveness. For $50 more than the Breville Sous Chef 12, you get two more cups of bowl capacity and a whole ton of extras, which we consider worth the splurge—especially for a machine that’s sure to last you a very long time.

A 14-cup bowl capacity means that just about any food prep task you throw at the Elite, it can handle. Triple batches of soffritto for pasta sauce? Quadrupled pie crusts for Thanksgiving? This machine is made for the challenge. We loved the light-up display and that, like the Breville Sous Chef 12, the pieces click into place rather than turning and locking. This model comes with a special case for holding all of the attachments (a benefit if you’ve ever reached into a kitchen drawer and cut yourself on a loose shredded blade) and a nifty cord that retracts into the base, eliminating the need to rubber-band an unruly plug. Best of all, it includes a smaller stainless-steel blade and 4.5-cup bowl insert for when you have smaller projects to complete and don’t want to make a mess of the whole machine. In that way, it’s a bit like a full-size and mini food processor in one.

The downsides: The Elite is quite heavy. At 20 pounds, it’s a beast to lug out onto the countertop and despite the case’s neatness, you’ll have to find a large storage space for it as well. In our opinion, these drawbacks were well outweighed by the benefits; we would be willing to shell out the extra money in order to have an appliance this versatile, easy to use, and durable.

Cuisinart Elite Collection 2.0 14-Cup Food Processor

$350.00, Amazon


How we tested

We focused our testing on three of the most commonly used food processor functions: chopping, shredding, and processing. For the first, we used the chopping blade to chop two onions on the pulse function and examined the results for consistency and quality; points were deducted for uneven pieces or watery, pulverized results. For the second, we used the shredding disc to dispatch a large block of sharp cheddar cheese, taking note of the texture and consistency of the shred and how much (if any) waste was left over. We also considered how hard it was to wash and clean the shredding blade. To test the processing power, we prepared a batch of hummus and our favorite pie dough in each machine, swapping out the metal blade for the dough blade when included. We kept an eye on the performance of the motor, the efficiency of the sharp blade, the ease of use and cleaning, and the quality of the finished product.

<h1 class="title">Best Food Processors 2</h1><cite class="credit">Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Laura Rege</cite>

Best Food Processors 2

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Laura Rege

Factors we evaluated

Besides examining the results of the individual prep tests explained above, we considered the following for all food processors we tested:

How powerful is the motor and how large is the capacity of the bowl?

The whole point of a large food processor is to make daunting prep tasks more manageable, so we were looking for models that could easily accommodate generous batches of dough, small mountains of shredded cheese, and an oversized Dutch oven’s worth of stew ingredients. We also paid attention to the strength and smoothness of the motor: Did it strain when working at high speeds or processing thick and sticky mixtures? When chopping, were its pulses firm and even?

Is it intuitive to assemble and use? Does it have any notable attachments or design features?

Most food processors have similar standard parts: a motorized base to which a work bowl attaches and a small selection of blades and shredders that rotate from a spindle inside of the bowl. We made note of extras like dedicated dough blades, components that doubled as measuring cups, and adjustable slicing discs that went the extra mile.

Does it feel well built? Does the construction and ease of use seem to justify the price?

Food processors get moving at quite a clip, and we can all agree that you don’t want to mess around with low-quality materials when you’re dealing with sharp, spinning blades.

Other food processors we tested

The Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor ($230) is the newer model of the iconic food processor, once called the Classic Series. We found this to be a totally workable processor at a more affordable price point for people who want a straightforward machine with no extras. The Breville was simpler to set up, quieter, and came with a wider range of attachments, so ultimately this model lost the top spot.

The Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup Food Processor ($200) is even simpler than the Custom 14-cup model above and comes at a reduced price. It’s noticeably flimsier than its more expensive siblings, which we noticed is called out in a significant number of Amazon user reviews. Additionally, the machine’s pulsing function allows for less precision than other models because the blade doesn’t stop spinning abruptly; after the motor stops, it continues spinning for a few split seconds until it loses momentum on its own.

The Breville Sous Chef Pro 16-Cup Food Processor ($400) is our 2021 winner’s big sister; it comes with a number of additional attachments and four extra cups of bowl capacity, making it the largest processor we tested by two whole cups. It was also the heaviest (at 26 pounds) and tied for the most expensive. We found the Cuisinart Elite 2.0 lighter, more streamlined, and easier to use, so it won out in the luxe category.

The Ninja Professional Plus 9-Cup Food Processor ($90) was the least expensive model we tested and also the smallest—though the 9-cup capacity was more than enough for a batch of hummus or single pie crust. Each of the two included blade attachments (one for chopping, one for dough) came with two layers of blades, which was unique and helped integrate all the ingredients without stopping and scraping them down with a spatula. But the reversible slicing blades weren’t as effective as some of the other models we tested, leaving large unsliced chunks of onion and hunks of cheese.

The Magimix by Robocoupe 14-Cup Food Processor ($400) didn’t live up to its promise. The volume and violence of the motor while processing onions was off-putting, it leaked flour into the base when prepping pie dough, and left large chunks of cheese untouched when shredding cheddar. And the whole thing—a giant base and huge battery of attachments—took up so much counter space it seemed impractical for all but the most zealous home cooks with enormous kitchens.

The KitchenAid 13-Cup Exact Slice ($260) fell to the bottom of our list in terms of both aesthetics and user-experience. We found the base and accessory box needlessly bulky, and the performance, though satisfactory for basic chopping tasks, inconsistent for shredding and pastry.

The takeaway

If you’re a serious cook who regularly tackles recipes that require significant prep, the Breville Sous Chef 12 is a great investment, a joy to use, and can help seriously cut down on tedious prep tasks. If you’re willing to spend $50 more for a few additional bells and whistles, you can do no better than the Cuisinart Elite Collection 2.0. It’s a hefty appliance, but has a larger bowl capacity and tons of extra attachments, including a bowl insert that turns it into a mini chopper for smaller projects.

Originally Appeared on Epicurious