Do you love cooking, but sometimes wish you could have an assistant to do all the boring stuff like chopping veggies and mashing potatoes. If this is you, then a food processor may be just what you need. It makes chopping, dicing and slicing tasks a breeze.
Video: How to find the best food processor
A food processor really does make cooking easier
...as long as you actually take it out of the cupboard and use it. A food processor is about as close as it gets to the Holy Grail of kitchen appliances (the Holy Grail being the pricey Thermomix, of course). With a food processor you can do just about anything - slice, dice, chop, shred, grate, zest, mash, puree, mix, knead, grind and emulsify. Add a blender and you can chop nuts and spices, and crush ice.
Food processor, or blender, or both?
A stand alone food processor is a good choice if you have limited bench space or you already have a blender. Otherwise you might want to consider a combination food processor and blender, but they are a bit bulkier and can be hard to store.
Don't forget they can be very noisy
There's no denying that a food processor is a noisy appliance. If you're looking for one that's quiet it's unlikely you'll find one you're completely happy with. We've taken noise measurements of the models we've tested and found that they range from 68dB to 90dB. For comparison, a typical conversation is carried out at roughly 60dB, while city traffic is measured at around 80dB. The quietest models we tested will still require you to raise your voice if you're having a conversation. Listening to the loudest models would be like hearing a motorcycle only eight metres away.
OK, I need one of these Holy Grail thingies. What should I look for?
Storage for all the extra bits and pieces
An internal storage drawer or separate storage box keeps all the attachments together – a good way to protect the blades, and your fingers. But we found it strange that some models aren't big enough to store all the blades and attachments included with the appliance.
The size of the food processor bowl varies from model to model, so think about what you'll be using it for and the amount of food you'll need to process. A mini-processor bowl that sits inside the main food processor bowl is great for working with small quantities, making pesto and mayonnaise and grinding nuts. A separate grinder unit can do much the same thing.
A pulse function gives short bursts of power, which helps to distribute the load more evenly and create an even consistency, especially when blending smaller amounts.
A reversible blade has a grating blade on one side and a slicing blade on the other — it's useful as it cuts down the number of separate blades you need to store.
Double feed chute
This is a standard chute with a smaller chute insert that allows for smaller or thinner foods to be guided into the food processor for better control when slicing or shredding.
Rubber feet on the motor unit can help keep it stable while the machine is in use.
You'll need this if you want to make chips or vegetable strips.
Beater and whisk disc attachments
You'll need these if you want to whip cream or beat egg whites.
A number of models come with a citrus juicer. Some come with a press juice extractor for juicing other types of fruit and vegetables.
$40 (for a mini food processor) to $1000.