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|
1. Nutri Ninja 2-in-1 QB3005
The Nutri Ninja is probably the best-known product in the Ninja line-up of kitchen appliances, and for good reason. While most small food processors tend to be more suitable for some tasks than others, the Nutri Ninja 2-in-1 aims to handle all of your food preparation with aplomb.
Boasting a 700-watt power pack which puts most other small food processors to shame, it comes with a 5-cup capacity work bowl as well as three smaller 2-cup Ninja Cups.
Either the larger work bowl or the smaller Ninja Cups can be affixed to the power pack, giving greater flexibility to your food preparation and allowing you to chop and blend multiple ingredients with ease.
- The Nutri Ninja 2-in-1 is something of a flagship product for Ninja, and it proudly bears their trademarks: this is a powerful food processor with a hefty 700-watt motor and a multi-blade setup, to chop and grind with ease through any food you care to put in it.
- The 5-cup work bowl is comfortably in the middle of the pack in terms of capacity for small food processors, and should be large enough to handle food preparation for a typical family. With the dough hook attachments (included), Ninja boast that this processor can make a pound of dough in 30 seconds!
- The Ninja Cups, which can affixed to the power pack if you don’t need to make use of the larger work bowl, give the Nutri Ninja 2-in-1 an added degree of flexibility. The Sip & Seal lids which turn the Ninja Cups into drinking cups can also be a big time-saver: simply make your smoothie, swap the power head for a Sip & Seal lid, and you’re ready to go – no additional cleaning needed.
- The free recipe book included with the Nutri Ninja 2-in-1 is great for new food processor owners, packed as it is with recipes and ideas tailored for using your new product.
- 700 watts is a significant amount of power for a small food processor, which means that this processor is quite noisy when operated.
2. Ninja Express Chop NJ110GR0
Ninja are a relatively young brand who’ve quickly made a name for themselves as the manufacturers of high-quality kitchen appliances which are built to last and attractive to look at.
The Ninja Express Chop is no exception, boasting an ergonomic design in which the main body of the processor is also its carry handle. With a one-touch pulse function and a dangerously sharp blade – be careful when it’s cleaning time – the Ninja Express Chop is poised to make short work of whatever you can get into the 3-cup capacity work bowl.
It’s also worth remembering that Ninja products can often be used together, which means you won’t need to put the Ninja Express Chop aside if you upgrade to a larger version down the road.
- Like the ninjas of history and legend, Ninja are known for their sharp blades, and the Express Chop is no exception. Mincing, chopping, grinding and blending are all well within the Express Chop’s reach.
- This small food processor has an attractive and ergonomic design, with the power head inside the Express Chop’s handle. As well as making it easier to use, the design cuts down on space for when it’s time to store it away.
- Ninja products are typically designed to be used together where appropriate, making this a great choice for someone looking for their first food processor. When it’s time to upgrade, you won’t need to throw the Express Chop away!
- All of the plastic in the Ninja Express Chop is BPA-free and dishwasher-safe, removing health concerns and cleaning woes.
- This is an inexpensive product from a well-known manufacturer. The Ninja Express Chop is available at a price point some might find surprising.
- Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect seal over the Express Chop’s inner workings, which means repeated or intensive use can lead to food getting stuck inside the machinery. Once it’s inside, it’s hard to get out because the power head can’t be submerged in water.
3. KitchenAid Mini KFC3516ER
KitchenAid are known for making all sorts of useful kitchen appliances – the clue’s in their name – and their entry in the world of small food processors is aiming to be a contender, in terms of style and substance.
For such a small food processor – the work bowl has a 3.5-cup capacity – the KitchenAid Mini comes with an impressive number of features and attachments, including a drizzle bowl to simplify adding liquids and a pulse function to help you chop food to the consistency you want.
Aesthetically, the KitchenAid Mini is an attractive machine that looks more expensive than it is, and what’s even more appealing is the choice when it comes to color: from glossy white to onyx black by way of green apple and watermelon, there’s a KitchenAid Mini to match any kitchen.
- The KitchenAid Mini makes your food preparation even easier with a variable speed control and a pulse function, letting you chop, grind and puree to the consistency you want.
- All of the plastic components in this food processor are BPA-free and dishwasher-safe. If you don’t have a dishwasher, the KitchenAid Mini is simple to take apart and clean by hand.
- This is a compact and light food processor, which can be easily carried to wherever you want to use it. It won’t take up much space when it’s not in use, either.
- KitchenAid can’t be accused of style over substance, but there’s no denying that their Mini is an attractive bit of kit. Despite the fact it’s small enough to be stowed away, you might end up leaving it out on the counter to give your kitchen a little charm.
- The 3.5-cup work bowl isn’t the smallest you can find, but it’s not big enough to cope with preparing large quantities. Large ingredients may also prove difficult: if you chop a lot of cauliflower, for example, you might have some work to do to get the florets small enough for the KitchenAid Mini to process.
- The KitchenAid Mini doesn’t have a fixed “on” setting, meaning you can’t set it to chop for a short period while you’re doing something else.
4. Cuisinart Pro Classic DLC-10SY
Cuisinart’s Pro Classic aims to bring the efficiency of the commercial kitchen to the home. Its solid, almost austere, no-nonsense design makes clear that this small food processor means business.
With a 7-cup work bowl, this is one of the larger small food processors on the market, and it comes with features and attachments to match: alternative chopping discs and blades, pushers, a spatula and an extra-large feed tube are all included as standard to make sure the Cuisinart Pro Classic is up to any culinary task you can throw at it.
This is one of the more expensive small food processors out there, but Cuisinart haven’t skimped on effort to give you the best bang for your buck.
- Unless you’ve got a particularly large family, the Pro Classic’s 7-cup capacity will be ample for your home food preparation; and the combination of quality blades and efficient design mean it’s seriously powerful, too.
- The Pro Classic is sturdy and well-made: all of the plastic is BPA-free and dishwasher-safe, and when assembled and used the food processor feels reassuringly solid.
- Cuisinart have gone all-out with the features and attachments on the Pro Classic: variable speeds, a pulse function, a choice of chopping discs and blades, pushers and spatulas, and an extra-large feed tube are all included straight out of the box and allow you to customise your Pro Classic to meet your needs.
- Considering the size and strength of this small food processor, it’s surprisingly quiet: you’re unlikely to upset your pets or neighbours when using it.
- Unavoidably given the size of the work bowl, the Cuisinart Pro Classic is bigger and heavier than many other small food processors on the market. If size and storage were what sparked your interest in small food processors, the Pro Classic may not be the choice for you.
5. Hamilton Beach 70740
Hamilton Beach may not be as well-known as Cuisinart or Ninja when it comes to food processors, but the Hamilton Beach 70740 is aiming to change that, by offering a quality small food processor at a decidedly affordable price point.
What’s particularly impressive, given that this is very much a budget offering, is the 70740’s capacity: with an 8-cup work bowl, this is about as big as small food processors get.
Although it does have a rather utilitarian look, sporting a black body with a clear plastic work bowl, Hamilton Beach certainly haven’t skimped on features. With a 450-watt motor that’s larger than most comparable processors, variable speeds and pulse control, you should be able to do more with this food processor than you can with similarly priced food processors.
- Price: this is one of the most affordable small food processors covered here.
- For a product with such a small price tag, this food processor isn’t without features: you can choose between two different speeds in addition to the pulse control, and the feed tube that’s included makes filling the work bowl even simpler than it already is.
- The Hamilton Beach 70740 is dishwasher-safe and easy to clean.
- The capacity and size of this food processor is much larger than other models classified as “small”. If size and storage space are a concern, you may want to opt for another model.
6. Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus DCL-2ABC
Cuisinart released the first home food processor to the American market in the 1970’s, and they’re still renowned as a reliable and high-quality brand for kitchen appliances today.
The Mini-Prep Plus isn’t exaggerating about the “mini” part: the plastic work bowl has a 3-cup capacity, so this isn’t the food processor for feeding multitudes, but Cuisinart’s patented reversible stainless steel blade – and the fact that this processor can be set to chop or grind – means you’re getting an impressive amount of processing power for such a small package.
The Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus has a clear plastic work bowl and lid, and a solid body which is available in a choice of various colors.
- An added bonus to the small size of this food processor is the low weight: one of the lightest models on the market, the Mini-Prep Plus can be easily carried from place to place, and is simple to stow away, even in small cubby holes.
- Price: perhaps surprisingly given Cuisinart’s reputation, the Mini-Prep Plus is a small food processor with a small price tag.
- All the plastic components of the Mini-Prep Plus are BPA-free. What’s more, they’re easy to detach and just as easy to clean, being entirely dishwasher-safe. The clear plastic of the work bowl is better than some plastic at resisting discoloration, which can make a big difference if the aesthetic of your kitchen appliances matters to you.
- The small size of the Mini-Prep Plus – and the small size of the motor inside it – becomes more noticeable when it’s used to process high-density foods. Chopping onion and blending fruit smoothies are jobs it can do with ease, but if you’re more interested in mashing potatoes or chopping cashews, you’ll probably be better served by a machine with more oomph.
- The small work bowl won’t be an issue if you only cook for one or two people, but if you’re feeding a family it’s unlikely that the Mini-Prep Plus will be up to handling the loads you need to process. If you don’t mind doing your food processing over two or three stages, this will be less of an issue.
What are small food processors?
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.
Why buy a small food processor?
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.
Things to consider
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.
- Capabilities. What can the food processor do, right out of the box and without any extensions or attachments? Attachments can be lost, and tend to break more quickly than the machine itself, so knowing you’ve got a machine that can do the basic tasks you need doing is important.
- Capacity. As volume is the main area where small food processors lose out to larger ones, you shouldn’t expect the best capacity if small is the way you want to go. That’s no reason to settle for a capacity that’s insufficient for your needs; the smaller models should still be able to process at least 3 cups of ingredients, while the largest of the small models can process up to roughly 8 cups at once.
- Size and weight. While some large processors will take up most, if not all, of your counter space, small food processors can be carried by hand and are easily stored in cupboards when not in use. Everyone’s kitchen size and storage capacity will vary, so look for something that you know will be a comfortable fit in yours.
- Attachments. Food processors are sold with a variety of extensions and attachments: preparation bowls, blender jugs, beaters, whisks, juicers, feed tubes and storage cases are some of the more common peripherals you might see. How useful a particular attachment will be depends entirely on how you plan to use your food processor, so don’t be duped by a host of ‘free’ attachments you’ll never use.
- Power. How much power does the food processor generate? This will depend largely on the size of the machine’s motor, but also on the quality and efficiency of its design: the best way to gauge this is to try for yourself, or to read up on other consumers’ experiences with the product.
- Design quality. How well-made is the food processor? In particular, poor quality blades and electronics will turn even the sturdiest food processor into an unusable device that creates more problems than it solves. Durability matters here too: if the blades cut well initially but dull quickly, you’ll be looking for a replacement model sooner than you’d like.
- Design features. It’s not only the quality of the design that matters, but the substance: in other words, what features are included straight out of the box? Even simple features can make a big difference: if the processor’s work bowl doesn’t have a liquid max line, for example, you risk overfilling it, which may lead to poor results and a potentially damaged machine. Other features to look for include touch controls, variable speed, locking parts, a pulse function and rubber feet (for stability).
- Ease of cleaning. The most important question here is likely to be whether or not the processor’s constituent parts are dishwasher-friendly. This will almost always be the case for the blades, but the work bowl – usually plastic in modern models – may or may not need to be washed by hand. If you don’t have a dishwasher, this won’t make a difference: if you do, it depends on how much (or how little) you enjoy washing up by hand.
- Your needs. As with any purchase, the usefulness of a certain model depends entirely on how you’re going to use it. In particular, think about the kitchen tasks you’d most like help with, and the volume of ingredients you’ll need to process. If you often make soup, find a small food processor that does well with liquids – if you enjoy making nut butters, look for one that makes short work of nuts. Know what you’re looking for before you start looking, and you’ll have an easier time finding the processor that’s right for you and your kitchen.
Risks and warnings
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.