Are Food Processors Worth It? 5 Chefs Weigh In!

My ex-wife and I have owned a food processor for many years and we use it often. But it was a wedding gift so we didn’t actually pay for it. This begs the question if we did have to buy one, “are food processors worth it?”

A food processor is worth it given that a food processor can replace a mixer, a hand chopper, a blender & dice vegetables much faster than cutting by hand. In addition, a food processor means fast & easy cleanup & all parts are dishwasher safe. 

But there’s more to know about food processors than just the opinions of 5 chefs and myself.

So let’s explore the topic a little more thoroughly so you can decide for yourself if buying a food processor is worth it for you.

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

What are food processors good for?

Food processors are good for dicing, shredding, blending, chopping, mixing, and grating, taking care of everything from sauces & dressings to kneading bread dough, to chopping nuts, to making hummus. In addition, they are perfect for grating cheese, or grinding meat.

When trying to decide if a food processor is worth it, it’s important to look at the most common features, how often you’re likely to use those features and what the cost is on the most popular models.

Here are some of the top ways that food processors are used:

1. Shredding – Great for shredding blocks of cheese in large amounts, but it also works for chicken or pork or anything else you want small pieces of. It’s also great for quick and easy homemade coleslaw by dropping blocks of cabbage down the spout for perfectly shredded slaw.

2. Chopping – Awesome for chopping, mincing or dicing onions, garlic or nuts quickly and easily (and a bit loudly if you’re chopping nuts). But not only can it chop nuts, but it also works for making homemade peanut or almond butter. Let’s face it. Storebought almond butter is expensive and storebought peanut butter often has a ton of sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oils (none of which are necessary for a great tasting peanut butter. Just grind longer than for chopping and it helps to toast them first (if they are raw).

3. Perfect sauces – if you make homemade mayo, salad dressings, or any kind of sauce, the food processor is your best friend. You can place the bulk of the ingredients into the hopper and then drizzle your EVOO or other oil down the spout of the food processor for perfectly emulsified sauces and dressings every time.

4. Kneading bread dough – Of course, if you have a KitchenAid mixer, you’ll probably prefer that for the size of the bowl. But your food processor, with the dough blade instead of the sharp blade, can perfectly knead your dough for virtually any bread.

5. Hummus – Who doesn’t love hummus? But store-bought hummus often has excessive lemon juice or vinegar to preserve it, and also often uses cheap oils instead of extra virgin olive oil. Just drop in a can of garbanzo beans, a few tablespoons of tahini, a few garlic cloves, and squeeze the juice of a lemon and start blending! Make sure to add a pinch of salt to taste, ground pepper and I love a sprinkle of cumin and smoked paprika in mine. Blend until perfectly smooth.

Food processors are also essential in Indian kitchens too. So if you love fresh chutneys, naan bread, or korma sauce as much as I do, take a moment and check out my article on the many Uses of a Food Processor in Indian Cooking (click to read on my site).

But that’s just the beginning of all the ways my wife and I use our food processor.

So in deciding if a food processor is worth it, you just have to ask if you currently make any of those things. If you don’t, would you if you had a way to do it faster and easier? If the answer is yes, then a food processor is SO worth it!

Do chefs use food processors?

Yes. Most chefs and professional restaurant kitchens have at least 1 food processor in them. Most often they will have a Robot Coupe (pronounced robo-koo) professional food processor.

Having worked with a number of fantastic chefs during my 20+ years with Whole Foods Market, the answer is definitely yes. Chef’s use food processors all the time.

The chef and the cooks in a restaurant kitchen have to crank out top quality food in record time. The goal is to make the food so amazing that guests come back again and again, and tell their friends. But the other goals are to keep food costs down and to work as efficiently as possible.

So the food processor is indispensable in terms of getting that efficiency.

Now Gordon Ramsey doesn’t have a small Cuisinart food processor in his Michelin starred kitchens. Instead, you’re more likely to find a Robot Coupe (pronounced robo-koo) professional food processor.

These are similar to what you and I might have at home but are much larger and more heavy-duty. That way they can crank out a ton of food prep night after night without wearing out.

Robot Coupe products are pricey and are out of reach for most of us, myself included.

But if you’re interested, check out all the Robot Coupe Products on Amazon and see why they’re in the kitchens of all your favorite restaurants.

Now let’s check in with the 5 expert chef’s opinions on food processors.

JULIA CHILD (Iconic and Beloved American Chef)

Julia Child, of course, is perhaps the most iconic American chef, TV show host, cookbook author, and beloved chef to many. She also was the subject of the Golden Globe-winning film Julie & Julia.

Child passed away in 2004 at the age of 91.

Julia Child was well known to quickly embrace technology and new kitchen gadgets, going so far as to label herself a “gadget and knife ‘freak’”.

In fact, the food processor was an important part of her kitchen. She actually brought an early version of the Robot Coupe in the 1960s.

At the time no such gadget really existing in the US, and certainly not for home chefs.

Later, as she helped popularize it, brands started popping up in the US. Cuisinart and KitchenAid were among the first and most notable.

In fact, Child’s very own KitchenAid food processor she used at home now appears in the Smithsonian Museum. It was one of 2 food processors she had in her home kitchen.

Says Child: “This thing is one of the greatest breakthroughs since the mixer”.

TOM COLICCHIO (Top Chef host, Restauranteur, and Cookbook Author)

Tom Colicchio is one of the best-known chefs in America.

He’s also the host of the long-running show Top Chef, chef-owner of the Craft Restaurant chain, and one-time co-owner and Executive Chef at New York’s renowned Gramercy Tavern.

I had the pleasure of eating there during his reign and it was amazing!

While food processors are often the center of the action on Top Chef, and I’m sure you’ll find a Robot Coupe in all his restaurant kitchens, Colicchio says: “You don’t need a whole lot of gadgets, you need a sharp knife.”

In fact, when asked what his 3 favorite kitchen gadgets were, Colicchio says “Ten-inch chef’s knife, peppermill, kitchen scissors”, although he has recently fallen in love with pressure cookers.

He goes on to also say “You don’t need to have a Rolls-Royce kitchen to make a great meal.”

By that, he means that all the fanciest gadgets in the world don’t mean anything if you don’t have some basic techniques down, have a passion for food, and the right ingredients.

But with those things, a food processor can definitely make cooking more enjoyable.

LANCE NITAHARA (Culinary Institute of America Instructor)

The Culinary Institute of America, also, perhaps tongue in cheekily known as the CIA, is America’s premier culinary school.

Alumni of the school include Anthony Bourdain, Michael Chiarello, Richard Blais, Alfred Portale, and Roy Yamaguchi just to name a few of my favorites.

Lance Nitahara is an Assistant Professor in the Culinary Arts and has numerous awards behind him including Iron Chef.

Nitahara considers a food processor to be an “essential” part of any home kitchen. He goes on to elaborate that “The regular food processor with attachments for grating and mixing are essential.”

While he loves his blender too, Nitahara ultimately would pick his food processor for its ability “to chop things coarsely” and notes that (using a food processor to improve efficiency) “won’t change the quality and it’s the same amount of cleanup.”

NICKI SIZEMORE (Food Writer, Recipe Developer, Video Host, and Cookbook Author)

Nicki Sizemore of From Scratch Fast is a trained chef with a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute (now called the International Culinary Center). But she’s also a cookbook author, food writer, video host, and educator.

You’ve probably seen her on NBC, PBS or read her articles in Parents or Fine Cooking.

When it comes to food processors, Sizemore is, perhaps, their biggest fan, noting after she had her first child (which parents know means less time) “It became my sous-chef, and I use my food processor more than any other tool in my kitchen.”

In fact, not only does Sizemore love her food processor, she uses hers to “shave my prep time, streamline recipes, and knock out from-scratch meals nearly every evening.”

THOMAS KELLER (Multi-Michelin-Starred Chef, Restaurateur, and Cookbook Author)

Thomas Keller might just be the best chef in America.

His signature restaurant, The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley is celebrating 20+ years and has 3, yes 3, Michelin stars. He also has a signature cookbook (click to see it on Amazon) named after that restaurant in addition to other cookbooks.

But he didn’t stop there.

He also has the restaurant Per Se in New York which also garnered an amazing 3 Michelin stars. In addition, he also has the Bouchon Bakery and Bistro chains throughout the US.

When asked what he considered to be the 4 most important small kitchen appliances any home chef should have, he quickly responded with the following, calling them “essential countertop appliances”:

  • vita-mix
  • stand mixer
  • scale
  • food processor

But he also embraces simplicity, so he cautions against going with the largest, fanciest, or most feature-laden food processors out there, saying “Size doesn’t always yield improved functionality. Additional steps slow you down.”

He’s also not a fan of having 1 of every cool tool available, saying “In terms of tools, don’t clutter your drawers with things you don’t need . . . Take stock and eliminate the gadgets or one-purpose tools.”

What are the benefits of a food processor?

The primary benefits of a food processor include:

  • Saving time on preparation
  • Easy cleanup – since all parts except the base are dishwasher safe
  • Makes it easy to prep large quantities of food for big gatherings
  • Easy to get dinner prepped quickly
  • It replaces many other small kitchen appliances – saving on counter or storage space

Ultimately, it saves a TON of time compared to chopping, dicing, grating, blending, and mixing things by hand. Sure if you’re a Top Chef winner you probably have some pretty awesome knife and food prep skills.

But for the rest of us, a food processor saves a lot of time.

But beyond time, there are also plenty of other benefits a food processor gives us too, such as:

  • Easy cleanup – 1 surface, 1 blade, and all is dishwasher friendly
  • Prepares large quantities – Need to mince a dozen garlic cloves? Easily done in 5 seconds, Need a quart of salsa? No problem! Want to quickly finely chop 2 bunches of cilantro for Taco Tuesday night? Easy peasy!
  • 1 Device to rule them all – Sure you could have a hand chopper, a blender, a KitchenAid mixer, and an immersion blender, but a good food processor can do almost everything all of them do taking up just 1 space in your kitchen
  • Grate large quantities of cheese without finger scraping – Let’s face it. Grating blocks of cheese is time-consuming, a little tiring on the forearm and it’s easy to scrape our fingertips on the grater when we get down to the end of the cheese. A food processor makes super quick work of it with no flying cheese bits and no scraped fingers

Trust me. Once you own a food processor and get used to using it, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it!

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand-select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line items, as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

Should I get a blender or a food processor?

If you have to pick between a blender and a food processor, choose the food processor. A blender cannot chop, dice, or grate, but a food processor can do most tasks normally completed with a blender.

Ultimately they specialize in different things.

So if money and kitchen storage space is no object, I would get both. If you do have to choose 1 small kitchen appliance though, it’s no question I would get the food processor.

The reason for that is that a good food processor can do a lot of what the blender can do, but the same is NOT true in reverse.

By that I mean that a food processor CAN:

  • Make smoothies
  • Blend or mix anything
  • Make puréed soups

But a blender CANNOT:

  • Grind nuts
  • Mince garlic
  • Dice onions
  • Chop fresh herbs
  • Make bread dough

What I would do on a tight budget is get a decent food processor and an inexpensive immersion blender as that would definitely cover almost all uses that both a food processor and blender would be used for.

But if you’re just starting out in your kitchen, it’s tough to know what to buy and what is a waste of money.

So if that’s where you are, take a moment and review my article on the 11 Essential Small Kitchen Appliances (click to read on my site) EVERY home needs.

What can I use if I don’t have a food processor?

If you don’t have a food processor and need to dice or chop vegetables, use a hand chopper or a kitchen knife. To mix, blend, chop nuts, or puree, use a blender.

A hand chopper works fairly well for processing small batches of dicing onions or garlic. It’s probably not strong enough though for something as dense as carrots.

A potato masher or ricer is probably good for taking something like canned garbanzo beans and making hummus.

Your hand grater can handle all your grated cheese needs. And a small, inexpensive rotary cheese grater (the kind you turn a handle on as you press down on the cheese) works well for grating smaller pieces of hard cheese (does not work well for softer cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella).

And your chef’s knife can probably handle any chopping of fresh herbs, dicing of carrots, etc.

Lastly, a hand mixer or KitchenAid-style mixer can handle all your mixing and dough needs. But as you can see here, it takes several different devices to handle what 1 food processor can do.

So where it makes sense in your budget, a good food processor is well worth the investment if you do any amount of regular cooking and meal preparation.

As is said repeatedly throughout my article, while you SHOULD get a food processor, EVERY kitchen needs a great chef’s knife.

While some are pricey, they don’t have to be and you can get a great chef’s knife for under $50 bucks.

If you don’t have one, take a moment and review my article that breaks down everything you need to know about Chef Knives (click to read on my site).

I cover everything from what size is best, how to sharpen them, how to use them safely, whether you need multiple knives, and MUCH more.

Can a food processor be used as a mixer?

Yes. You can mix with a food processor. Food processors typically come with multiple attachments including a plastic paddle which is perfect for kneading dough or mixing ingredients when a sharp metal blade would not achieve the correct results.

A food processor, typically with the dough blade (which isn’t sharp) instead of the normal sharp blade, works great for mixing.

I’ve made bread dough in mine, but it’s also great for mixing different flours to make something like cornbread which would typically blend cornmeal, white flour, and baking powder.

If I Google “uses of a mixer” I see the following come up, ALL of which can be done with a food processor:

  • Coleslaw (use the grater attachment and place chunks of cabbage down the chute)
  • Aioli (basically fancy mayonnaise and easily made with any food processor)
  • Shredded cheese (again, easily done with the grater attachment of your food processor)
  • Apple sauce (easily blend cooked apples, cinnamon, and sweetener (if desired) in your food processor
  • Dough (while it’s true a KitchenAid can make larger quantities than most sizes of food processors, a food processor can make virtually any bread dough
  • Pesto (again, easily done in a food processor in less than a minute)

What I would use a stand mixer for over a food processor is if I had to make a large quantity of bread. A stand mixer is also great for kneading dough for a long time at a slow speed since a food processor often just has 1-speed plus the pulse button.

But otherwise, there are almost no mixing needs you can’t take care of with your food processor.

Which is the best food processor?

The Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef 16 Cup Food Processor is the best food processor. It comes with 5 multi-function discs and 3 blades, an extra-wide chute,  2 BPA-free bowls, an LCD display, and a built-in timer.

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon.

But the word “best” means a lot of different things to a lot of people.

But when I’m buying any small kitchen appliance, especially a food processor, I’m looking for the following:

  • Plenty of power
  • Awesome reviews
  • A large capacity
  • Different blades for different uses
  • A great warranty

Applying that criteria, it makes it easy to narrow things down.

When I review a product and especially if I recommend it, I like to list items that have 4.5 stars (or better) with at least 100-reviews and, most importantly, with 5% or fewer of the reviews being 1 star.

That way, you can trust that it’s a GREAT product.

When I factor in all of that on Amazon, it actually only leaves us with 1 brand (Breville), being the “best food processor”.

So again, my pick for the best food processor is the Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef 16 Cup Food Processor. (click to see the current price on Amazon).

The Breville features:

  • Free shipping
  • 16 cup capacity (most are only 8 or 12)
  • 5 discs & 3 blades included
  • 2 16-cup bowls (great for 2 unrelated jobs without having to clean in between)
  • 1 small bowl for quick, smaller jobs
  • BPA-free plastic
  • An LCD display with count-up & count-down auto timer
  • A 5″ cutting chute (so you don’t have to precut large foods to fit them in)
  • 1200 watt motor (most are only 500 watts)
  • It comes with a space-saving storage box
  • It’s an Amazon’s Choice product with over 1,000 reviews

Of course, the Breville also has standard food processor features like a pulse button and the safety feature of stopping the motor if the lid isn’t secured to the base.

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon.

Breville Sous Chef Food Processor

Final thoughts

In this post, we took a deep dive into the world of food processors.

We examined features, cost, reliability, and compared them to blenders. We also explored what you can do to perform some of the tasks without a food processor.

More importantly, we checked in with 9 home chefs to get their input on how they use theirs, how often they use them, and if they think buying a food processor was worth it.

Are food processors worth it?

For me, the answer is definitely yes, but for you and your needs, the answer could be different, but this article hopefully got you enough info to make the right choice!

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand-select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

Photo credits which require attribution:

Julia Child by Kaitlin is licensed under CC2.0

TEDxManhattan 2015 (Tom Colicchio) by TEDx Manhattan is licensed under CC2.0

Thomas Keller and bouchon bakery by flippinyank is licensed under CC2.0

The Culinary Institute of America by Shinya Suzuki is licensed under CC2.0

Nicki Sizemore courtesy of From Scratch Fast

Preparing cauliflower crust pizza dough by sunny momma is licensed under CC2.0

Cuisinart food processor (hero image) by Your Best Digs is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with 3 daughters, practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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