There are a number of different kitchen gadgets that sit under the umbrella term “food processor” these days, from mini-choppers to stand mixers. If you need a device to help you with food preparation, you should decide what tasks you are most likely to use it for before you buy.
So what are the differences between the various types of food processor?
These are small food processors with bowls that can chop relatively small amounts of herbs or breadcrumbs. They can be useful for making limited volumes of sauces, such as pesto, but a mini chopper is unlikely to be able to grate or slice food.
Bear in mind that the size of the bowl can vary considerably between models, so make sure the one you choose is big enough. A mini chopper may also come with a stick blender attachment that can help you liquidise soups, for example, while they are still in the pan. Expect to pay at least £20.
This term refers to more substantial and powerful machines which have a large bowl and numerous attachments that allow it to chop, slice, grate, juice and mix.
Processors normally have a feed tube that allows you to add ingredients as you mix – this can be especially useful when making cakes, for example.
Typically, the food processor bowl sits on a large motor unit: as well as taking up a lot of space, this can be particularly heavy in some models so check before you buy. Food processors vary widely in price, from as little as £30 for very basic models to several hundred pounds.
Also known as food mixers, these heavy-duty machines consist of a bowl with an overhead mixer attachment. You can swap between a whisk, a beater and perhaps also a hook for mixing dough. As such, these machines are ideal for people who do a lot of baking, and they also allow ingredients to be added while they are in operation.
Stand mixers tend to be expensive, starting at around £60 – but also running into hundreds of pounds.
Features to look for:
- Size is one of the most important attributes, both in terms of the capacity of the bowl and how much storage or worktop space the processor takes up. Weight is also a factor: some models can be very heavy and hard to manoeuvre around the kitchen.
- Is it dishwasher safe? Check whether the bowl and any attachments need to be washed by hand or not.
- Has it got the right accessories? Some, but not all, processors will allow you to juice fruit and vegetables, for example – so check what features are available before you buy.