Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored

A food processor can be the next best thing to a personal sous chef. Simple-to-operate masters of chopping, slicing, mincing, shredding and even kneading dough, these culinary workhorses simplify many meal prep tasks, offering pleasingly uniform results time and time again.

To help you find the best food processor for your kitchen, we tested nine full-size food processors, along with three space-saving mini versions made for smaller jobs. We found two clear standouts and gave props to a mini model we recommend keeping close at hand.

Best food processor overall

This simple but excellent food processor comes with a large 14-cup bowl, high-quality blades and an easy-to-use design. And while it may be no-frills, it’s anything but basic, besting or matching its competition in every test we threw at it.

Best food processor runner-up

Sleek, modern and highly efficient, Breville’s food processor aced our tests and comes with some handy tools, including a mini bowl and blade perfect for smaller jobs. It’s priced higher than our winner, but still a standout.

Best food processor mini

Maybe you have a small kitchen or are short on space. Or you just need to chop herbs or a small amount of veggies or nuts, or you want to make a few servings of salsa, salad dressing or the like. This mini version has you covered. Easy to use with great results, it earned a permanent spot in our kitchen repertoire.

Best food processor overall: Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor ($249.95; food52.com)

Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor
Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored
Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor

Lots of bells and whistles can be fun, but when it comes to testing food processors, high quality, simple craftsmanship and a tried-and-true design win out in the end. The Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is basic in design and doesn’t include a ton of accessories (it comes with a stainless steel 4mm slicing disc, shredding disc and chopping S-blade, plus a recipe book and spatula) ⁠but it outperformed the other machines we tested by leaps and bounds.

We especially appreciated the powerful 750-watt motor and a brushed stainless steel base, which doesn’t budge no matter how much you put it to work. Yes, it’s a sturdy 18 1/2-pounds, but it chops, minces, slices and shreds with precision and speed.

The 14-cup bowl was the largest capacity of any model we tested, allowing you to make extra-large batches of sauces, soups, and more. The recipes we tested came together quickly and beautifully with the touch of just two wide paddle buttons (on and off/pulse). The machine doesn’t come with a separate dough blade, as many of its competitors did, but we used the chopping S-blade to make the fastest and best pizza dough of the bunch nonetheless.

Another thing that set the Cuisinart Classic apart was the rear placement of the food chute; we liked this better than the front placement common to the other models we tested, since it makes it much easier to see what is going on inside without having to peer around the chute.

The Cuisinart also comes with large and small feed tubes and pushers, which helps to process different size foods.The wide tube, at 4 1/2 inches, is important for larger items, such as whole bricks of cheese, onions or potatoes — meaning you won’t have to spend time pre-chopping before sending them through the chute. But the smaller tube allows you to keep long, thin veggies, like carrots or celery, straight as they go through, which maintains a uniform slice.

All the parts on the Cuisinart Classic are dishwasher-safe (and the manual recommends dishwasher cleaning) and they fit into the bowl for easier storage, making cleaning up and putting everything away a breeze.

Of course, it’s not perfect: We preferred the Breville’s adjustable slicing disc for paper thin to thick cuts and we wish Cuisinart included a mini work bowl for smaller jobs. And while the warranty is good ⁠— a full five years on the motor and limited three years on the entire unit ⁠— the Breville offers a 10-year motor warranty. (Though here, we must add, an earlier version of this model we received as a wedding gift 21 years ago still works wonderfully with no replacement parts needed). If you’re looking for a food processor that does a great job and should last decades, this is it.

Best food processor runner-up: Breville Sous Chef 12 12-Cup Food Processor ($299.95, originally $449.95; wayfair.com)

Breville Sous Chef 12 12-Cup Food Processor
Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored
Breville Sous Chef 12 12-Cup Food Processor

We loved this food processor. With its sleek, silver stainless-steel base and black feed chute parts, it looks ultra-modern on the countertop. And when it came to our tests ⁠— chopping and slicing veggies, shredding cheese and making salsa, pesto and mayonnaise ⁠— it, along with the Cuisinart, made mincemeat of the competition, with uniform results in our tests.

The Breville boasts a 1,000-watt motor, the most powerful of those tested, and comes with some well-thought-out accessories. We appreciated the adjustable slicing disc that comes with a whopping 24 settings, from paper-thin to thick, and three food chute options: 5-inch, 2 3/4-inch and 1 1/2-inch. It also comes with a reversible shredding disc for coarse or fine grating, a dough blade, a micro-serrated chopping S-blade, a mini 2 1/2-cup work bowl, spatula, cleaning brush and storage box.

At about 16 1/2 pounds, the processor was sturdy and stayed put while in use. We also liked the retractable cord, which makes for cleaner storage. And, like all the food processors we tested, the Breville’s parts are dishwasher-safe, but hand-washing is recommended by the company.

So, why did it only take runner-up honors? It was incredibly close, but the Breville didn’t do quite as well kneading pizza dough, has a smaller 12-cup bowl capacity (there is a 16-cup version of the Sous Chef as well, but it’s much more expensive) and, while it has a better motor warranty, it only has a 1-year limited warranty on parts. And, while the black food chute looks chic, it means you can’t see as easily into the bowl, which is important for checking the progress on things like  mayonnaise. Finally, it costs $70 more than the Cuisinart Classic.

But if aesthetics and the flexibility of an included mini bowl are important to you, you can’t go wrong with the Breville Sous Chef.

Best mini food processor: KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper ($34.88, originally $49.88; walmart.com)

KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper
Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored
KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper

While full-size food processors are serious time-savers for chopping and shredding large amounts of food or making big-batch recipes, they’re not always useful with small amounts. This is where the Kitchen Aid Food Chopper comes in. A perfect supplement to a full-size machine, it has a stainless steel S-blade that stays locked in place. It’s small, light and easily stored away in a cupboard for easy access.

This model stood above its competitors in all the chopping and recipe tests we put it through. Nuts were reduced to uniform pieces, salsa ingredients were chopped evenly and fast with just a few quick pulses and pesto came together with lightning speed, with a thick and creamy consistency incorporating all the oil.

The 240-watt motor is slightly less powerful than its competitors, but we didn’t notice a difference, and the 3 1/2-cup bowl was a perfect size for smaller needs. We also liked the bowl’s small pour spout for serving. A switch toggles between two speeds ⁠— chop and puree ⁠— and an ample basin in the lid made it easy to drizzle in oil without having to worry about any messy overflow.

Another thing we liked: The pulse control is located in the lid handle and works by simply pressing down on it with your thumb. The 36-inch cord also wraps around a groove inside the base, allowing you to tuck it away when not in use.

Available in more than a dozen colors, it will fit right in with any kitchen decor.

How to choose a food processor

Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored

A full-size food processor can transform your meal prep routine, but it will also take up coveted space in your kitchen. So before you toss those graters, knife sets, garlic presses, mandolines and other savvy tools, you’ll want to consider how often you might need it, how how much food you plan to process and whether you’ll be storing it away in a cabinet or leaving it on the countertop.

Food processors can make incredibly quick work of many food prep tasks. A block of cheese? Shred it in seconds. Need an onion chopped? Get tear-free, perfectly uniform slices in no time. Chopping up Brussels sprouts, carrots or celery? Just send them through the chute and you’re one and done.

If recipes such as salsas, pestos, tapenades, chimichurris and nut butters are in frequent rotation in your home, a food processor will return fast, homemade results in seconds. The same goes for recipes that involve breadcrumbs and lots of mincing, chopping, dicing and slicing. For those who make a lot of soups, ragouts and stews, a food processor could quickly become your new BFF. The machines also make quick work of doughs ⁠— see how fast you can whip together a basic pizza dough and you’ll never opt for a store-bought crust again.

Make sure to ask yourself how much chopping, slicing and shredding you’re likely to do on a regular basis. If you’re planning to make use of a food processor to handle all the prep for large meals and you think you might use it for doughs or other heavyweight tasks, you’ll probably want to get a full-size machine. If you have other tools for those things or prefer to do a lot of prep by hand, a mini version, made for simple chopping, will handle nuts, small-batch sauces and spreads.

How we tested

Our testing pool included full-size and mini food processors that came with a variety of attachments. Yes, all were able to chop and slice. But ease of use, consistency and uniformity, as well as recipe results, varied quite a bit. We tested 11 food processors, ranging in price from $40 to $350, with bowl capacities as small as 3 cups and as large as 14 cups. In addition to noting the machines’ performances when it came to chopping and slicing a variety of vegetables, grating cheese and chopping nuts, we tested four recipes: salsa, pesto, mayonnaise and pizza dough, if applicable. We also assessed the selection and quality of accessories and attachments, size of the feed tube, ease of storage and cleaning, motor power and warranty.

We focused on the following criteria when testing each model.

Performance

  • Chopping nuts: As this is a common job for many food processors, we measured the same amount of pecans in each machine, noting how much time it took to achieve a fine chop and evaluating the consistency and uniformity of the results.
  • Slicing onions and carrots: Using the slicing blade when provided, we tested the ease of slicing half an onion at a time, as well as whole carrots. If slicing blades were adjustable, we tested different widths and recorded how uniform the slices were.
  • Chopping vegetables: Using each food processor’s chopping blade, we tested performance on a variety of veggies, including carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, celery and tomatoes, assessing consistency, ease and time to chop, also noting any issues that arose.
  • Grating cheese: When a grater/shredded blade was provided, we tested each processor’s effectiveness shredding mozzarella and cheddar cheese, taking notes of ease and uniformity of shreds.
  • Salsa: Using the same recipe, we recorded how well the machines made a simple salsa, noting consistency, efficiency and uniformity.
  • Pesto: Again, using the same recipe, we made pesto in each food processor, assessing texture, efficiency and chopping consistency.
  • Mayonnaise: For each applicable food processor, we made the same mayonnaise recipe, noting how quickly it emulsified, as well as its creaminess and texture.
  • Pizza dough: For processors that came with a dough blade or a chopping blade capable of mixing dough, we tested the same recipe for pizza dough, again noting how much time each machine took to mix the dough and how easily the dough came together.

Build and design

  • Selection and quality of attachments and accessories: What attachments and accessories were included? Were they made using quality materials? Were they all necessary/useful?
  • Size of the feed tube: How many inches is it across? Are multiple sizes available?
  • Storage: We noted the size and weight of each food processor, as well as the size of any other additional storage cases and whether attachments, including sharp blades, could be stored within the processor’s bowl.
  • Motor power: We assessed the number of watts in each food processor’s motor and noted whether that motor power was reflected in each machine’s performance.
  • Bowl capacity: How many cups could each bowl hold? Was it too much or too little? Were multiple bowl sizes available?

Care

  • Ease of cleanup: The parts of all of the food processors tested were deemed dishwasher-safe by the manufacturers, but we also hand-washed each machine. How much elbow grease did it take to remove food from all the nooks and crannies of the attachments and lids?
  • Warranty: Does it come with a warranty? If so, how long?

Other food processors we tested

Magimix 12-Cup Food Processor (starting at $299.95; williams-sonoma.com)

The company behind the original food processor, Magimix machines have been made in France since 1971. This model finished third in motor power, behind our winner and runner-up, with 650 watts, and did a good job on our slicing, shredding and chopping tests — though it didn’t hold up to the Cuisinart Classic and Breville. And while the pizza dough eventually came together, the machine labored to get there. With a 12-cup capacity, it earned points for its 30-year motor warranty and three-year warranty on parts, and we appreciate that it comes with three bowl sizes to accommodate a variety of needs.

But while its extra-large feed tube was great for whole bricks of cheese, onions and other larger food, we wish it had a smaller feed tube for skinnier veggies like carrots and celery that tended to fall to the side when sent through the processor. In addition to the S-blade, this model also includes two 2mm and 4mm stainless steel slicing and grating discs, a dough blade, blendermix, egg whisk, spatula and recipe book and comes with a handy storage box. Also of note, at about 24 pounds, it’s extremely heavy, and between the machine, bowl and storage box, you’ll need extra cabinet space to store it.

Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup Food Processor and Dicing Kit (starting at $169.80; walmart.com)

There was a lot we liked about this Cuisinart model. With its 550-watt motor and light base, it wasn’t as powerful or consistent as the 14-cup version, but it did a commendable job on most tests and a fair job on the pizza dough. If you’re looking for all sorts of bells and whistles, this model may interest you: It comes with both large and small bowl, chopping blade, dough blade, reversible shredding disc for fine and medium shreds, adjustable slicing disc and touchpad controls. It also comes with a dicing kit, which other models did not include, complete with a dicing disc with a 10mm grid and a cleaning tool. We tested it with carrots, celery and onions and all three turned out uniform dices, working surprisingly well. Even with the included tool, the grid was a pain to clean by hand, but all the parts are dishwasher-safe so it wasn’t much of a problem..

KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor ($199.99, originally $249.99; kitchenaid.com)

KitchenAid’s food processor fell in the middle of the pack. It worked well on basic chopping, slicing and shredding, though it required more time to get the results we wanted. Mayonnaise, for instance, took significantly longer than in our winners to hit the right creamy consistency, and the machine labored while kneading pizza dough. We appreciated that the included caddy fits inside the bowl for a smaller storage footprint and liked that the bowl snaps straight onto the base, unlike other models which must be twist into place. A big complaint was the attached, hinged lid. While it can be snapped off the bowl, it often got in the way, and food got stuck in the many nooks and crannies.

Oster 2-Speed 10-Cup Food Processor ($54.84; amazon.com)

With a 10-cup bowl, this model was smaller and lighter than many of the full-size food processors tested. With a 500-watt motor and plastic housing, it uses suction cups to stay put while working, though ours still jumped around the counter. When it came to slicing, the results were uneven — some pieces were pulverized while others were left in fairly large chunks. The large feed tube means carrots tip over as they go through the blade, leaving odd-shaped pieces. And while the Oster did an OK job shredding cheddar, it struggled with mozzarella as the machine whirred and turned much of the soft cheese into coils, rather than shreds. Recipe results were similar: The salsa was soupier, pesto chunkier, dough didn’t come together well and the mayonnaise didn’t cream at all. It was also extremely loud.

Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Duo Plus 12-Cup Food Processor ($59.99, originally $64.99; wayfair.com)

Priced under $60 and featuring a 12-cup bowl, along with a handy 4-cup mini bowl and touchpad controls, the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth has a 500-watt motor and comes with a reversible slicing/shredding disc, chopping S-blade and a 3-inch feed tube. But it labored hard while performing simple vegetable chopping and slicing and couldn’t handle shredding mozzarella, spitting out coils rather than shredded pieces before the motor overheated and stunk up the whole kitchen. We ended testing there.

Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Food Processor ($68.10; walmart.com)
We had better luck with this Hamilton Beach model, but it still fell toward the bottom of our rankings. The 450-watt motor allowed it to chop and slice, but unevenly, with some pieces of food left sticking above the disc. Really loud, it labored even on cheddar, eventually spitting out an uneven shred and leaving a huge chunk of cheese above the disc. It took longer than the other machines to mix salsa and pesto, with soupy, uneven results. Mayonnaise didn’t come together at all, leaving a fully liquid mess. One thing we did like was the included bowl scraper attachment — a plastic tool that worked well to get all the extra food off the bowl.

Cuisinart Elite Collection 4-Cup Chopper ($59.95; amazon.com)

When you’re simply looking to chop an onion or make a fast cup of pesto, this petite food processor is a decent choice. The results were less consistent than the KitchenAid, but the Cuisinart Elite, with a 4-cup bowl and 250-watt motor, did a fine job chopping veggies and nuts. The salsa took longer to make than the winner, and left some big jalapeno chunks, but the pesto came to a nice consistency. We also like that the machine comes with a recipe booklet and handy plastic spatula.

Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor ($39.99; bestbuy.com)

Available in several colors, this mini chopper did a good job on simple chopping tasks, but did the least uniform job of the three mini models tested. Smaller than the others with a 3-cup bowl, like the Cuisinart Elite, it has a 250-watt motor and comes with a recipe book and mini spatula, but took longer to finish the job, leaving some nuts and veggies pulverized while others stayed in bigger chunks.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing