Food processors, choppers can be kitchen magicians
Food processors are jacks-of-all-trades that can chop, slice, shred and puree many different ingredients -- sometimes in great quantities -- plus tackle heavier jobs like kneading dough. Mini-choppers are good for lighter work and smaller jobs -- especially useful when you need to prep only a handful of basil or chop some nuts.
Consumer Reports offers this overview.
If you regularly cook for a crowd or like to prepare multiple batches of a recipe, you might appreciate a bigger, 11-to16-cup processor. But they tend to cost more, sometimes weigh more and hog counter space. A capacity of 7 cups or so is fine for most tasks.
Choppers make more sense for small jobs, such as dicing half an onion or mincing a handful of parsley -- plus they’re easier to clean.
Lower-priced models Consumer Reports tested tended to deliver subpar performance in at least one processing task.
Chop shop: the major types
Full-sized processors are usually more versatile – able to chop
and slice foods and knead dough. Mini-choppers look like little food processors, but they’re for small jobs like chopping half a cup of nuts or a couple of shallots. Here are the types of food processors to consider.
• Food Processors. Most easily chop vegetables for soups or stews, slice salad fixings and shred cheese for tacos. Some models can knead bread dough; just know that these models are generally the more expensive ones.
• Food Choppers. The difference between food processors and choppers: power, capacity and function. Smaller, lighter and less expensive choppers make quick work of cutting up small batches of nuts and herbs that would get lost in a food processor’s large bowl. Choppers typically don’t have shredding and slicing blades.
Slice of life: Features to consider
Standard equipment includes a clear plastic mixing bowl and lid, an S-shaped metal chopping blade (and sometimes a blunt blade for kneading dough), a plastic food pusher to safely prod food through the feed tube and a safety lock.
Consumer Reports suggests considering these additional features:
• Speeds. Food processors typically have two settings: on/off and pulse. The latter setting runs the machine in brief bursts for more precise control. Choppers typically have one or two pulse settings, high and low. Those are all the speeds you really need.
• Touchpad controls. Now a common feature, touchpads are easy to wipe clean.
• Multifunction accessories. A shredding and slicing disk is standard on full-sized processors. Some models come with a juicer attachment or interchangeable blades to handle a variety of jobs.
• Dough blade. A blunt blade that improves performance in kneading dough.
• Liquid “max” line. A line or marking on the mixing bowl that shows how much liquid the processor can hold. This helps prevent overfilling, which can cause leaks.
• Storage case. Some food processors include a storage case, though many do not, even at $200 or more.
• Feed tube. A wide feed tube saves you the trouble of cutting up potatoes, cucumbers and other large items.
To learn more, visit ConsumerReports.org.