Food processors are electric devices that aim to take the hard work out of kitchen preparation. Chopping, pureeing, grinding, emulsifying and kneading: a good food processor will be able to do all these, although some will be better at certain tasks than others.
In the field of kitchen appliances – a market with a bewildering variety of niche and specialist devices – the humble yet versatile food processor is a contender for the top slot.
When it comes to brands, you’re spoiled for choice: Ninja, KitchenAid and Cuisinart are three of the best, and produce a variety of food processors for a range of culinary needs.
If you’re looking to cut down the amount of time you need to spend in the kitchen, investing in a food processor is a great way to do just that.
Below are the best mini food processors that you can buy.
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|Name||Capacity (cups)||Our Rating|
|Nutri Ninja 2-in-1 QB3005||5||9.4 / 10|
|Ninja Express Chop NJ110GR0||3||9.4 / 10|
|KitchenAid Mini KFC3516ER||3.5||9.4 / 10|
|Cuisinart Pro Classic DLC-10SY||7||9.2 / 10|
|Hamilton Beach 70740||8||9 / 10|
|Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus DCL-2ABC||3||9 / 10|
Food processors are relatively recent newcomers to the world of kitchen appliances, with commercial models appearing in the 1960’s and the first home food processor – from Cuisinart – going on the American market in the early 1970’s.
Since then, food processors have become commonplace in commercial kitchens, and are a worthwhile investment for even the casual home cook. The main reason for this is their efficiency as a labor-saving device.
By transforming chopping and pureeing (among other tasks) from time-consuming chores to jobs that can be done with the push of a button, food processors free up your time and energy. How you spend that free time is up to you: you might want to try taking on more complex recipes, or just put your feet up while dinner’s cooking.
Food processors, it should be said, are not choppers or blenders. They can chop, and they can blend, but anything sold as a “chopper” or a “blender” will be limited to just those tasks.
The food processor’s strength lies in its versatility: besides chopping and blending, a good food processor should have the capability and the attachments to help you perform a number of other kitchen tasks. Most common are grinding, forming emulsions, and kneading dough, but even more unusual culinary jobs will be able to find a food processor up to task.
This is the essential difference between a small food processor and an item sold as a “mini-chopper” or “mini-blender” – while the mini-models will likely be cheaper than any size of food processor, you’re giving up both versatility and power in exchange for that smaller price tag. That’s before you get into the numerous peripherals and attachments, packaged as standard with most food processors, which further extend their utility and flexibility.
As in many areas of life, when it comes to food processors, size matters. Whether it’s your first model, or you’re replacing something that’s given you years of service, the most important decision to make when buying a new food processor is how large you want to go.
Food processors range from tiny hand-held models to vast, counter-dominating behemoths that wouldn’t look out of place in a restaurant kitchen; and with the power and versatility to match. As with any important purchase, your choice here should be shaped not only by your budget, but by your needs.
How often will you make use of the food processor when you’re cooking? How many people do you usually cook for? What do you usually cook? These are some of the questions you can ask to start to narrow down which type of food processor would be best for you.
One key point to remember, whatever your needs, is that size doesn’t have to equate to quality or even efficiency: if you do your homework and a buy a reputable, well-reviewed model, a small food processor can do its job every bit as well as a larger, more expensive model.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both larger and smaller food processors, so it really is worth taking your time to consider which would be more suitable for your home before researching individual models.
Large food processors are impressive pieces of technology, boasting the most power and the most flexibility. This flexibility is often tied to the wide range of attachments which either come as standard or can be purchased to extend the processor’s capabilities.
These extensions range from simple juicers and beaters to feed tubes, which make processing large quantities of food a more streamlined and less messy chore. You pay a real cost for the versatile power of a large food processor, however, and not only the large financial cost of buying one: their size and weight may make them unsuitable for small kitchens, or for anyone who expects to make use of their processor in more than one location.
Given the quality of the smaller food processors available on the market, power alone isn’t enough of a reason to opt for a larger model: the main reason to consider a large food processor is volume. If you’re going to be regularly processing large quantities of food, a small food processor will make only a minor difference compared to a large processor with a feed tube.
While small food processors may not be able to handle the same volume as their larger cousins, it’s no longer the case – as it was when the first small models entered the market – that their chopping and processing capability is also inferior.
In fact, given their small size, the ability of some small food processors to make short work of hard ingredients is doubly impressive. Many mini food processors are sold with a similar range of extensions as larger processors, so going small doesn’t have to mean a loss of versatility, either.
Smaller models are also significantly lighter, which is a real boon for storage and transportation: if you like to move your food processor around, plan to use it across multiple addresses, or don’t have the counter space to leave it out between uses, then a small food processor will meet your needs far better than a larger model.
Ultimately, whether you opt for a small or large food processor will depend on your needs, as well as your cooking style and preferred recipes. As mentioned, quantity is the one area where small food processors can’t match up to large ones; but unless you frequently host banquets, it’s worth giving serious consideration to purchasing a smaller machine.
In terms of capability and flexibility, downsizing doesn’t have to mean downgrading; and that’s before covering an important factor in any purchase – the price. Small food processors are usually markedly cheaper than their larger cousins, so if budget is a concern, you’re best starting small.
Even if money is no object, however, a small food processor offers significant savings in terms of time and labor, in a package which can be easily stowed away when not in use.
If you’ve decided a small food processor is the right choice for you, there are a number of factors to consider when comparing individual models.
The most important warning when it comes to using a food processor is hopefully one that most people don’t need to be told: sharp blades are very dangerous. When those sharp blades are electrically-powered and capable of lightning-fast rotation, they’re even more dangerous: never put your hand inside an assembled food processor when it’s plugged in, even if it’s turned off.
Be sure to remove watches and jewellery before using your food processor: if anything metal gets caught in the machinery, the end result could be the end of the food processor, along with whatever got caught in it.
Because of the danger inherent in a food processor, it’s also important to make sure it’s securely in place before switching it on. This gets more important as the power of your food processor increases: if it’s on an uneven or slippery surface, the vibration of the motor may send the processor toppling over.
It’s also worth bearing in mind – especially if you use your food processor to make soups or smoothies – that water and electricity don’t mix: be extra careful to avoid getting any moisture anywhere near the machine’s wiring.
A final point should be made here that most modern food processors – large or small – are advertised as being made with BPA-free plastic. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a chemical found in some consumer plastics which has been linked with an increased risk of cancer. It’s worth noting that this link has yet to be backed up by peer-reviewed science, but consumers and manufacturers alike have paid attention. If you’re wary about the synthetic chemicals in some consumer products, look out for BPA-free plastic.