Buying a Food Processor

What It Can Do for You

A food processor is a must-have for anyone who wants to spend more time at the dinner table and less time manually chopping, slicing, dicing and mixing. These machines make quick work of chopping vegetables for salsa, creating a creamy pesto, mincing herbs for custom seasonings, or even pureeing fruits and vegetables into baby food. While there is some overlap between mixers and food processors, each machine performs different functions. Mixers are designed to use blade attachments with a bowl to mix ingredients for baking, while a food processor's blades handle a wide variety of other food prep.

Food Processor Blades and Attachments

Metal blades hold their sharpness longer than other materials, and don't need to be replaced as often. An S-shaped blade, also known as a Sabatier blade, is a standard attachment for chopping and mincing food, and consists of two small, curved blades arranged on opposite sides of the central pillar. Shredding discs include specialized features that let you perfectly shred an array of vegetables. Slicing discs are specialized blades that allow food like carrots or cucumbers to pass through while slicing them into consistent sizes. A dough blade is made of plastic or metal, with straight paddles for bread and pizza doughs. Other attachments include egg whips, Julienne and French fry discs, and citrus juicers.

Choosing a Food Processor

The best food processor for you will be determined by a number of factors. Weight: Make sure to choose a design that features a heavy chassis that won't "walk" on the counter when the blades are spinning. Feed tube: If you have to stop and cut up food to because the feed tube isn't large enough to handle it, you're not getting the time savings that made the food processor a good idea in the first place. Safety features: Make sure the bowl of the unit locks into the base, the cover locks securely to the top of the bowl, and the blades cannot turn until the entire processor is locked into place. Versatility: Check that the food processor either comes with extra blades of different sizes and styles, or that it will accept them. Capacity: Food processors range in capacity from small three-cup units intended for chopping small amounts of food, to large 20-cup professional-grade units with additional speeds, functions and attachments. A small food processor might be big enough if you cook for only one to three people. For families of four to six people, look for a medium-sized, six to eight cup capacity unit. And if you cook for groups of seven or more, you'll want to consider a larger unit with 10 or more cups of capacity. Speeds: Most food processors have one, two or three speeds, as well as a very helpful pulse speed function. It's helpful to read food processor reviews from customers who have purchased each food processor to help you determine which features will be most important for you.