Food processors can be super handy in the kitchen, but they are often expensive. Some food processors are fairly large, too, making them impractical for smaller kitchens. Fortunately, there are actually several options when it comes to food processors, with some lesser-known (but still highly rated) models available to save you some money. Additionally, food choppers make excellent alternatives to food processors for many home cooks.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the differences between food processors and choppers. We’ll also review some of our favorite models for different kitchen needs and at different price points. Finally, we’ll tell you what to look for in food processors and choppers.
Food Processor vs. Food Chopper: Which one fits your needs?
Many home cooks think they need a food processor, but actually a food chopper would fit their needs just fine. That’s because a food chopper has the ability to do a lot of the prep work and chopping that cooks need. A food processor, on the other hand, has some additional functionality that accounts for the higher price point.
Here are the main differences between a chopper and a food processor:
- Size: Food processors tend to be much larger than food choppers.
- Features: Food processors can typically do more, like knead, grate, and more.
- Price: As a general rule, food processors cost more than choppers.
While these are the typical differences, there are exceptions, of course! However, the main thing to know is this: If you want a device that will do more than just chop food, you’ll want a processor. A food processor is best for things like hummus and nut butters (though some blenders can prepare those things), and it will have more options for food prep.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of our favorites, starting with Food Processors.
Best Overall: Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
There’s really not much to say about this food processor that hasn’t been said before. It tops nearly anyone’s “Best of” list because it’s sturdy, reliable, and has the functionality and size most home cooks need from a processor.
At just under $200, it’s definitely a bit of an investment, but it should last a long time and be a trusty appliance in the kitchen. The Cuisinart 14-cup processor includes an extra-large feeding tube as well as three attachments – a slicing disc, shredding disc, and chopping blade.
Best under $100: Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack and Snap Food Processor
Hamilton Beach does a nice job creating kitchen products that are super affordable but also perform well. In the food processor category they are no exception. We like this 12 cup option both for its low price and its easy assembly. It’s also easy to use and includes all the features and functions of more expensive processors.
The list price of the Hamilton Beach 12 Cup is well under $100, so it’s an excellent option for those who want to use a food processor every so often, but don’t want to pay the higher price.
Best for Hummus and Nut Butters: Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
Many consumers want to know the best food processor for nut butters or for making hummus. We are sticking to our best overall pick for this category. Many cooks find that blenders are actually better suited to hummus preparation, but a good food processor can do the job well. The Cuisinart is great for creating delicious nut butters, too – many home cooks recommend roasting the nuts beforehand.
Best Choppers and Mini Food Processors
Smaller food processors and food choppers are often used interchangeably. We’re considering all small food processors (around 3-4 cups) to be “mini;” choppers are usually labeled as such. In this category, you’ll find both motorized and non-motorized options, smaller appliances that are easy to store, and very affordable prices.
Here are some of our top picks for food choppers and mini food processors.
Cuisinart Elite 4-Cup Chopper/Grinder: Top Pick
Cuisinart makes the list again with this cutesy mini version of the larger processor. But don’t let its small stature fool you – this chopper is powerful and versatile. The motor is even strong enough to make pesto or hummus in smaller batches. For small families or smaller jobs, the Cuisinart Elite is perfect. It takes up very little room in the kitchen, and the setup and cleanup is super easy.
It’s no surprise that the KitchenAid mini food processor is well-designed and highly rated – you really can’t go wrong with KitchenAid appliances in general. This mini offers cooks plenty of options for food prep and an easy to clean and store design. Whether you want to emulsify or chop, this is a great addition to your kitchen. The only drawback to this product is that it sometimes chops unevenly because of the serrated blade.
Chef’n VeggiChop Hand-Powered Food Chopper: Budget Pick
If you just need a chopper without any bells and whistles and you want to spend under $20, look no further than the Chef’n VeggiChop. This manual food chopper is easy to use and great for smaller kitchens. It also makes a great option for camping gear or to keep in your trailer. Overall it does a great job chopping, but the capacity is disappointing for some.
Ninja Master Prep Professional Chopper, Blender, Food Processor: Best Chopper Combo
This versatile device excels at chopping, but it can do so much more than that. It includes a 2 cup chopper bowl, 5 cup processor bowl, and a 6 cup blender pitcher. In addition, it comes with lids to fit the cups so you can easily store your food or liquids for later. This is such a great bargain and would be an excellent addition to your kitchen.
How to Shop for a Food Processor or Chopper
When shopping for a food processor or chopper, there are a number of factors you’ll probably take into account. While your budget is probably a key part of your decision making, do remember that in some cases you might be better off saving up for a more expensive brand. This is something we recommend if the higher priced product fits your needs better, or if you want to make an investment into equipment that will last you a long time.
Before you begin your search, we recommend doing a bit of brainstorming about what you want to get out of your food processor. For example, do you want to be able to make homemade nut butter? Knead dough? Chop veggies for salsa? Getting specific about your needs can help you narrow the selection, even before you set a budget.
Once you have an idea about what you want the food processor to do and you’ve got a price range to look within, here are a few other considerations.
How big should the capacity be? Keep in mind that choppers and minis are going to be 3-4 cups – not very large if you’re trying to make a big batch of something or prepare meal for a family of four. While smaller sizes are useful for plenty of uses, it can sometimes be limiting.
Outside of choppers and minis, you’ll see a range of capacity sizes: 8 cups, 10-12 cups, even 14 or 16 cups at the max end. Professionals, bread bakers, and larger families will probably need a larger size. For this part of your decision, you’ll definitely want to have an idea of what you want to get out of your food processor and what you’ll use it for primarily in order to know what size to buy.
If you’re investing money and storage space to a larger capacity processor, you probably want to use the food processor as much as possible. Therefore, it’s important to understand what the appliance can and cannot do. Some models come with several different attachments and blades, which might be appealing, or might not be useful to you (in which case maybe save a bit of money and look for a different model).
Many food processors have available attachments and blades you can purchase separately. This can be very useful in maximizing your use of the device. Another component that affects function is the feed tube – a wide tube lets you insert larger items easily.
Speed & Power
Electric choppers usually function by pulse; food processors typically have different settings and speeds for various jobs. The main point for you here is this: be sure the appliance you choose has the power and speed required for the jobs you need it to do. If it isn’t powerful enough to, say, shred a block of hard cheese, the engine could burn out and ruin the processor. A good rule of thumb for larger processors is at least 700 watts.
The majority of blades on food processors and choppers are stainless steel. This is because stainless steel is rust resistant and less likely to corrode over time. Other blade types can be used for specific purposes, such as a blunt blade meant for kneading dough. Many manufacturers say their blades are dishwasher safe, but you can always hand wash them to ensure they don’t dull too quickly.
Manual vs. Electric
Choosing manual or electric is really only relevant to choppers. There are advantages to both, so it just depends on what you need the chopper for and where you’ll use it. Manual choppers are great additions to camp trailers, but their lightweight design and compact features also make them a good option for small kitchens.
Brands and Pricing
There is a pretty broad range of prices on choppers and food processors. You can easily find choppers for well under $50, and the maximum you’ll need to pay for a good at-home food processor is $200. Popular brands to look for include Cuisinart, KitchenAid, and Hamilton Beach. These are our favorite brands in this category, and you can be sure you’re getting a good product. Hamilton Beach is well known for less expensive options while also having consistently solid products. However, plenty of their models are better than others, so be sure to do a little research and read customer reviews first.