Food processors are a great all-rounder – perfect if you like to do lots of cooking and don’t want one specialised gadget. They’re made up of a large motor inside the base, a removable bowl and interchangeable blades or accessories.
These multi-purpose appliances come with a variety of accessories that allow you to chop, slice, mix, grate, knead, purée, whip and break food into smaller pieces. Although they’re capable of a multitude of functions, they’re not as efficient as dedicated function machines, such as blenders. They help to cut down time and effort involved in cooking, create less washing up and can often produce a better overall consistency.
Usually, food processors are smaller than stand mixers, but they still take up a fair amount of room. So, if you struggle for kitchen counter space, then a smaller appliance may be better suited – however, they do combine many of the same functions as other kitchen appliances. You might find it easier to have one larger processor rather than a range of other machines. Keep counter space in mind when shopping too – more expensive models are often larger and have a wider range of accessories.
They combine many of the same functions as other kitchen
appliances, so you might find it easier to have one larger
processor rather than a range of other machines.
Food processors usually come with a standard selection of attachments:
- A knife blade – Often known as a multipurpose blade, it can be used for mixing, mincing, mashing and chopping.
- A dough hook or blade – Used for kneading sweet and savoury dough.
- Shredding and slicing discs – Exactly as the name suggests, these can shred food such as vegetables to make coleslaw or salad. They can come in different sizes for fine, medium or thick finishes.
- Jug blender – This is a great attachment for pureeing foods, making mayonnaise and blending milkshakes.
- Grating blade – Useful for grating large quantities of cheese or vegetables.
- Potato rasp – Similar to the grating blade, but designed especially for harder substances like parmesan cheese, potatoes and nutmeg.
- Fruit press or juicer – Ideal for creating fresh fruit juices. It also combines a cone and sieve to catch unwanted bits.
- Grinding mill – Good at grinding spices.
- Spatula – Helpful for scraping the mixture off the sides of the bowl.
- Whisk – The form of the whisk can vary, so you could get a whisk paddle, emulsifying disc or beaters.
Other attachments can be bought separately, and some come included with higher spec models. Keep in mind, though – if there’s a separate kitchen appliance with a designated function, it will probably do a better job than your attachment.
Some higher-end models have an integrated weighing function: you can add and mix ingredients while being shown their weight via a digital display. This cuts out the separate weighing stage of cooking.
Prices range depending on the brand, model
and number of accessories included. You can
pick up a basic processor for around £30-£100,
but be aware that the motor may be quite
loud and not particularly powerful. If the noise
doesn’t bother you, then you can easily find a
decent model with a range of accessories for
Middle band models can cost around £100-
£200, and you’re likely to have a more powerful,
quieter motor, with a high-quality build. A
bigger range of accessories and blades can be
included, but it does depend on the brand.
The most expensive models can go up to £350 with really powerful motors and sharp blades. They’ll make easy work of more difficult kitchen tasks, such as kneading dough.
Prices range depending on the brand, model and number of accessories included.
Controls and Speeds
Controls usually involve an on/off switch, and a dial to control the speed setting. Most models have one to three speed options, but higher-end versions can go up to an impressive eight! A pulse mode is usually included, which helps to blitz all the ingredients. Some models also have a sliding control to determine the thickness of food slices.
Depending on the size and model, most food processor bowls have a 1-3.5 litres capacity. If a jug blender is included, it can have a capacity of 1-2 litres. However, the stated capacity usually refers to how much actual food can be held, rather than the working capacity (which is often lower).
Feeding tubes are included with appliances, used for pushing food into the processor. They make sure your fingers don’t get caught on the blades.
An anti-slip base gives improved stability, reduces vibrations and ensures that the processor doesn’t move across your counter top during use.
A safety lock will stop the processor being activated until the parts are all securely in place so that nothing can fly off unexpectedly.
Dishwashers might not be able to get into all the nooks and crevices of the parts, which can be helped by a quick rinse before washing.
Nearly all food processor parts are now dishwasher-safe, but after a while, they can become scratched or cloudy looking. Plus, dishwashers might not get into all the nooks and crevices of the parts, which can be helped by a quick rinse before washing.
If you do choose to wash them by hand, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the sharp blades.