Best food processors 2020: dice, slice and chop with ease
UPDATED: Blend, knead, slice and chop with the best food processors around
The best food processor should make preparing meals a breeze, and at home on your countertop.
With a food processor keen cooks can blitz their veg in myriad ways, create crushed ice, even whisk your egg whites up for you. The best food processors have variable speeds and the sharpest slicing discs and slicing blades around. In short: they do a lot.
UPDATE: CES 2020 is a big tech expo where we see all the new TVs, laptops and smart gadgets that are lined-up to be released in 2020. But kitchen tech nerds, rejoice! Because there were some cool devices for your worktop unveiled too. One of our favourites was the Julia Cooking Pal. This device can cook, knead, whisk, weigh, chop, blend, mix and steam your food. Oh and it can also clean itself - just add washing-up liquid and water!
After considering 50 products, we've spent the the past month, chopping, slicing, kneading, baking and blending using 10 of the best-selling processors from established brands – Magimix, Kenwood, KitchenAid – and more obscure makes such as LINKChef.
But which should you buy? Our in-depth testing is below, but here's an at-a-glance look at our results and which food processor is right for you.
Magimix’s 5200 XL achieved the highest score in tests, despite dropping points for its high price and bulky design, because it can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. The £33.49 Kenwood Compact is our best value choice because what it lacks in style it makes up for in substance, offering great performance at a decent price.
Best food processors tested: Best buys
It isn’t the most stylish of food processors but the Kenwood Compact is a pleasant surprise. It made light work of chopping swede, blending smoothies and grating cheese while being small enough for most kitchens and incredibly easy to clean. All of this at one of the lowest prices of the group.
There is no denying Magimix’s dominance. Achieving near-on perfect marks in the majority of tests, the Cuisine 5200XL is a versatile piece of kit from a long-standing master of the food processing industry. Small touches, like a handy storage box and multiple bowls, finished it off nicely.
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Best food processors: the Shortlist
1. Magimix Cuisine 5200XL
This all-singing, all-dancing food processor offers three different sized bowls and blades as well as a box full of attachments to help you chop, blend, slice, shred, and knead dough. There’s even a citrus press, a recipe book and an app to help inspire you in the kitchen. It has a single speed and a pulse function. Available in black, white, cream, red and grey.
2. Fearne by Swan 3L
Dual bowls, different-sized slicing and grating discs, an egg whisk, dough blade, multipurpose blade and a spatula make the Fearne by Swan 3L processor a versatile machine for a wide range of kitchen tasks. It features a single speed and pulse button and is part of a set of matching kitchen gadgets. Available in pastel purple, cream, blue and grey.
3. LINKChef Mini Chopper
No bells, no whistles. The LinkChef comes with a just small, single metal bowl, a dual blade and a splash guard. The motor is powered by pressing and holding a large button and the multipurpose blade can be used for chopping, blending and mixing ingredients.
4. Ninja Smart Screen
Ninja’s Smart Screen machine offers a food processor bowl with a separate blending pitcher and cups for chopping, slicing, dicing and making smoothies and soup. I recognises which of the containers is attached and brings up the appropriate options on its touch display. While its FreshVac system pumps oxygen from the bowls to give you a fresh blend. Available in black only.
5. Vitamix Ascent 2500i
More a blender than a traditional food processor, the Vitamix is a premium machine with so-called self-detect technology that knows what size jar is attached to determine the amount of power needed. It has a staggering 10 speeds, three presets for smoothies, frozen desserts and soups, and a digital timer to help handle recipes with precision.
6. Tower T18004
The Tower T18004 offers both processing and blending jugs, with an emulsifying disc, slicer and shredder disc, and two blades – one multipurpose metal blade, and one for kneading dough. It has two speed settings and a pulse function. Available in black only.
7. Haden Chester Champion 6-in-1
As its name suggests, Haden’s Chester Champion 6-in-1 offers six functions in a single processor – grinding, shredding, chopping, slicing, dough kneading and emulsifying. It offers two speeds plus a pulse function and is tall, compact machine. Available in white only.
8. KitchenAid 2.1L
The KitchenAid 2.1L comes with a selection of slicing and shredding discs offering different size options alongside a multipurpose metal blade and a plastic blade for kneading dough. All the attachments fit inside the food processor’s bowl and this neat machine has two speeds and a pulse button. Available in black, cream and red.
9. Tefal DoubleForce Compact
The Tefal DoubleForce Compact gets its name from its dual motors designed to deliver a combination of speed and spinning force for easy processing and blending. It comes with a processor bowl and pitching jug plus a slicing, and grating disc and is controlled with two speeds plus a pulse option. Available in white only.
10. Kenwood Compact
A break away from its tall processors rivals, the Kenwood Compact has a flatter, wider design to suit small kitchens. It offers a single speed and a pulse function, and comes with interchangeable slicing and grating blades, as well as a whisk. Available in white only.
The expert's view
We have good news. You don't have to spend hundreds of pounds to get a great food processor. There are solid options under £50 from brands like Kenwood and LinkChef.
What do you miss out on? A little style here, some accessory flexibility there. But if you simply want to get your food processing jobs done quickly and reliably, you don't have to spend big on the models used in the kitchens of TV shows.
Read on to discover what paying more offers. We put our 10 food processors through several real-life tests, including the prep of baking, soup-making and cooking flatbreads.
How we selected the best food processors to test
Not all food processors are created equal. Some only chop, others blend, knead, slice and dice. Some weigh more than a small child, others can be packed away in a cupboard. Some are so expensive you buy them on credit, others cost less than a magazine subscription.
To guarantee we were putting the best food processors to the test, we scoured online reviews to build a shortlist of 50 of the highest-rated, most popular food processors across Amazon, Robert Dyas, Argos and John Lewis. As there is a wide variety of machine types – from blenders to blender mixers and choppers – each offering slight variations on features, we included any product labelled as a food processor.
The rationale is this will include machines with enough features to satisfy most people’s needs, even if one type performed better at some tasks (i.e blending) than others. We also devised tasks that would cover a wide range of uses to make sure all the machines’ strengths, and weaknesses, were tested.
From this list of 50, we narrowed down the top-rated processors from individual brands; selected the highest-scoring model from each; and handpicked our top 10 based on features and price. Our feature criteria was that each machine should easily fit on a countertop and have the capacity to chop, blend and knead dough – the three jobs likely to be most popular among people looking for the best food processor.
Machines built to blend, for example, have the capacity to chop and knead dough, and even choppers can blend. We also wanted to cover a range of prices, from low-end to mid-range and premium.
The types of slicing, dicing and grating attachments varied wildly. Some machines offered multiple slice sizes, shredders, whisks and spatulas whereas others didn’t offer attachments at all. This wasn’t, therefore, used as part of our selection criteria in an attempt to create a more level playing field. We have highlighted where machines offer these extras, and tested them where appropriate.
The final top 10 list shows where the machines rank based on the scores from all tests. However, we also ranked how the top 10 looks when the scores from the attachment tests have been removed. The top and bottom two food processors remained in the same positions.
There was a little bit of movement among the middle machines but the scores didn’t jump wildly enough to make a significant difference to the order of things. Ultimately, when choosing the best food processor, it will come down to what you need it to do and we’ve detailed it all to help you make this choice.
How we tested the best food processors
Each of the food processors were scored out of 10 for price, capacity, power, the number of speeds, and their size and weight. They were also judged on how easy they were to use and clean, and their design. The cheapest model, the LINKChef Mini Chopper, achieved a price score of 10, for example. The Magimix, scored 10 for having the highest total capacity, but lost points for being the heaviest.
The food processors were then individually tested for their chopping, blending and kneading prowess. For the chopping tests, hazelnuts were placed in the largest capacity bowl and processed on the lowest power setting for a minute. As the nuts were chopped, noise readings were taken using an app.
Next up, swede was chopped using the same bowl and blade. We chose Swede because of how difficult it is to cut with a knife. We chopped onions, as these are a popular hard food item used in recipes, and parsley as a soft food item. The bowls and blades were cleaned and dried after every trial and we weighed each food item to make the tests consistent.
This process was repeated to test the attachments. We sliced and grated hard food (potatoes and carrots) followed by soft food (bananas and cheese) and placed all the chopped, sliced and grated items into bowls.
The name of each machine was written on the underside of the bowls and they were judged blindly before being scored from best to worst. We were looking for an even consistency across the tests; no lumps of food or stalks leftover, no squashed cheese or banana left in the processor and so on.
Chopped vegetables were boiled and then blended in each machine to make soup. If machines offered a separate blending pitcher, these were used. If they didn’t, the main bowl and blade was used. The same amount of liquid and veg were blended in each machine for two minutes and the soup was again transferred to bowls for blind judging.
This time we were looking for soup that wasn’t too thick or thin and had a smooth consistency. Following the soup test, the chopped banana was combined with raspberries, strawberries and orange juice in each processor to make smoothies. Like with the soup, we were looking for a smooth finish that was easy to drink and had retained the vibrant colour of the fruit.
The final tests involved using each processor to mix chocolate and pear muffin mix, and make dough for flatbreads. If a plastic dough blade was available, this was used. If it wasn’t the main metal blade was used.
We scored each machine on how well it combined the ingredients, as well as blindly judging the final baked result.
For the muffins we were looking for the pear to be evenly chopped and an even spread of chocolate chips as well as a light and fluffy texture. The muffins were all processed and baked at the same time. Similarly, the dough was processed at the same time to avoid a change in room temperature skewing the results. The total scores from all 25 food and specification tests were combined to reveal the winners and losers.
Food processor reviews: The test results
Across our tests, the Magimix Cuisine 5200XL rarely faltered; scoring either full marks or coming in the top three in almost every category. This was the case even when the slicing and grating scores were omitted. It was also one of the quietest machines.
Following a close second was the KitchenAid 2.1L. It looks similar to the Magimix, albeit it in a more compact design, and matches its rival in terms of how quiet it is. It performed particularly well for kneading, slicing, and chopping onions but its smoothie and soup were poor.
In third place was the Ninja Smart Screen food processor. It is the only machine in the top three to include a dedicated food processor and separate blending jug, and it scored just a point behind the KitchenAid. The touchscreen is a nice break from buttons and dials and it certainly looks the part, although is noisy.
Whereas its rivals are tall, fourth place Kenwood Compact has a wider, more ugly design. But what it lacks in style it makes up for in substance. It performed fantastically well at chopping and blending. In fact, it handled the swede better than any other processor and outperformed blenders that are almost 14 times the price when making soups and smoothies.
In the middle of the pack is the Tefal DoubleForce Compact. It was the best at slicing potatoes and was almost as good as the Ninja at chopping nuts. It placed top three for combining the muffin mix and dough but the rest of its mid-range scores match its mid-range price.
With its pastel colour look, the Fearne by Swan processor's design is understated. And it was one of the quietest machines on test, next to the Magimix and KitchenAid. It’s a heavy machine and performed poorly across multiple trials including chopping onions and nuts, combining the muffin mix and blending the smoothie and soup. It was the only machine to feature full lumps of banana, and potato after blending.
Approaching the bottom of the pile is the LINKChef Mini Chopper. Despite this position, credit has to be given to LINKChef. For such a small, cheap, food processor, it more than held its own against its expensive rivals. It ranked seventh overall because it doesn’t have any attachments, effectively scoring zero in these tests. However, when the scores involving attachments were removed, the LINKChef outperformed every machine bar the Magimix and KitchenAid.
In a similar boat to the LINKChef in terms of a lack of attachments was the Vitamix Ascent 2500i. But unlike the LINKChef the Vitamix didn’t perform as well in the rest of the tests. It’s a blender at heart, with tools that can be used for food processing and, despite its eye-watering £549 price tag, didn’t even score top marks for blending. It came behind the half-the-price Ninja for soups and smoothies.
One of the cheapest food processors on the list, the Tower failed to chop the swede, simply cutting into the slices before giving up. Similarly, it didn’t have the power to mix the muffins, leaving the ingredients in-tact. A small silver lining is that it is fantastic at grating and looks stylish.
The Haden Chester Champion 6-in-1 was a standout winner in the muffin mixing category but that’s where its successes ended. It scored among the lowest marks for nearly every other test, has a cheap-looking design and was the loudest machine we tested.
The best food processor overall reviewed:
Magimix Cuisine 5200XL, £399.99
It’s a beast of a machine, in size, height and weight, and this makes the Magimix 5200XL a powerhouse of a food processor. It offers everything you could need a food processor to do, and performs the majority of those tasks with ease. This goes some way towards justifying its £400 price tag.
In our tests, we used the largest capacity bowl on each food processor to keep the results consistent, yet the Magimix additionally offers a small “midi”, and mini bowl with smaller blades. The mini bowl is for small quantities, such as herbs; the midi bowl is recommended for slicing and grating. The large bowl can be used for all of the above but is best used for large quantities.
This bowl choice not only gives the Magimix the highest capacity of the food processors tested, it makes it a highly versatile machine. The ability to stack the bowls and blades on top of each other in the machine also lets you carry out multiple tasks simultaneously. You can complete three separate tasks without having to clean and dry a single bowl between uses.
The downside is that the Magimix doesn’t have a separate blending jug, and while this didn’t dramatically hinder its performance when blending soup (coming in third), its smoothie-making skills left a lot to be desired. Even with its BlenderMix attachment.
Its chopping skills were only beaten by the LINKChef Mini Chopper, and it gave the most consistent slices of potatoes and grated carrots. It was also fantastic at kneading bread, coming only second to the KitchenAid, and all of its many attachments can be stored neatly and easily in a tidy storage box. We didn’t test this particular tool, but it can also be used for whisking eggs and cream.
Where the Magimix lost points was on its size and weight, as the largest, heaviest of the lot. It won’t suit smaller kitchens and we just about managed to get it to fit under our cupboards. Its chunky design certainly makes a statement but seems a bit much when other machines cram in similar motors and features into smaller frames.
The Magimix Cuisine 5200XL is also a little fiddly to use, due to its many moving parts, which adds to the time it takes to clean. If you can afford it, the 5200XL is a worthwhile investment that should last for years to come. If you can’t, it’s worth considering buying one of its older or more compact siblings. They offer the same motor, and similar features meaning they should offer similar performance while in smaller packages. Plus they can cost up to £300 cheaper.
The best food processor for value reviewed:
Kenwood Compact, £39.99
If style is less important than price when choosing the best food processor, you can’t go wrong with the Kenwood Compact. Any misconceptions we had about this somewhat ugly machine vanished once the tests started. Plus, at £40, the way it performed against its much more expensive rivals was even more impressive.
Its chopping skills, for instance, were second to none, handling both soft and hard food with the same consistency and speed. Despite not having a dedicated blending jug, it scored top marks for making smoothies, ahead of the Ninja and Vitamix, which are both marketed on their blending expertise. Elsewhere, the Kenwood Compact excelled at grating cheese.
As its name suggests, the Kenwood Compactweighs very little and takes up a small amount of space. Its design means it fits easily under or inside cupboards and you don’t have to pull it out to use it.
That said, it’s far from perfect and does have a number of touches that reveal its cheaper price. The safety connection between the bowl and the unit, which is used to stop all of the processors from being used if the bowls aren’t locked into place, is weak. When chopping large, hard items, the bowl had a tendency to move and unlock itself and turn off, meaning we had to hold it in place.
It does offer a decent range of attachments, but the slicing and grating discs in particular need to be swapped in and out of the plastic plate between uses. This is fiddly, time consuming, not to mention a little nerve wracking having to manhandle the sharp corners and blades.
There is also no storage box for these sharp discs, nor do they sit comfortably in the bowl when not being used. The plus side to this is that they’re easier to clean and there are fewer plates and discs to wash.
The cheaper price was also apparent in the other food tests, with the Kenwood Compact achieving average scores for mixing muffins and kneading bread dough. It’s also not the quietest of machines, but then neither is it the loudest.
There is a lot to love about the Kenwood Compact and while, yes, you can get a more consistent performance across the board with a wider range of tools in more expensive models, the performance you get versus the price is brilliant.
Comparing the rest on test
If it’s an all-rounder you’re after; one that ticks many of the Magimix boxes without the hefty size and price, we recommend the KitchenAid 2.1L. It’s our favourite when it comes to design and swaps the Magimix’s storage box for a clever system of being able to store all the attachments within the main bowl when not in use.
It was the quietest machine we tested, was the best at kneading bread, and it sliced bananas and chopped hard foods effortlessly. It fell a little when chopping softer, smaller items and lacked the blending skills of its more expensive rivals but all-in-all it’s a worthy contender against the Magimix, while costing half the price.
At the opposite end of the scale is Amazon best-seller, the LINKChef Mini Chopper. If all you want is a fast and easy way to chop ingredients for sauces and recipes, it’s a fantastic little machine. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles, but this makes it extremely easy to use, easy to clean and easy to store. All for just £19.99. It didn’t perform badly at blending either.
Results from top left: Ninja nuts, Kenwood Compact parsley, Kenwood compact swede, Haden nuts, Vitamix parsley, Tower swede
The best of the blenders award goes to the Ninja Smart Screen food processor. It uses a so-called FreshVac system that sucks oxygen out of the cups and pitcher before blending to help maintain the goodness and vibrancy of the fruit and vegetables. This may seem like a gimmick but the proof is in the pudding. The touchscreen additionally makes it easy to switch between tasks. It’s not cheap but it outperformed its closest blending rival, the Vitamix, in nearly every like-for-like category.
Ninja's nuts, from our testing
Speaking of the Vitamix, we had high hopes given its price and the swathes of positive online reviews yet found it to be lacking. It was strong at blending, but not as strong as the Ninja, plus it’s not as attractive and compact as its nearest rival.
The Vitamix is easier to clean, and the smaller sizes of its blending cups make it easy to transport smoothies and soups to work, but at this price we would struggle to justify buying it just for that. We found the digital timer a fantastic addition, but rarely used all 10 of its speed settings.
In a sea of monochrome food processors, the pastel colours, cursive font and chrome detailing makes the Fearne by Swan range, endorsed by presenter Fearne Cotton, standout. If design is key when choosing a food processor, this is the one for you. Sadly, the performance made it also stand out for the wrong reasons. Large slices of banana in smoothies and lumps of veg in soups are far from ideal. It sat at the bottom end of the pile for chopping, kneading bread and mixing muffins.
The Tefal DoubleForce was similarly mid-range in terms of performance, but at a lower price. As the tests were carried out blind, this price didn’t influence the results. But with hindsight, it’s a little easier to forgive the Tefal’s misgivings given its cost. The best way to describe the Tefal is jack of all trades, master of none, and if you want a machine to carry out most of the popular food prep tasks without paying through the nose for them, it’s a decent candidate.
While the Magimix excelled in almost every test, the Tower T18004 struggled. It looks the part from a distance, but feels cheap up close and was the second loudest machine we tested, behind the Haden. For all but two of the tests – grating cheese and carrots – it ranked in the bottom half and it failed to chop the swede or mix the muffins.
Any food processors to avoid?
At the very bottom of the pile was the Haden 6-in-1 Champion. Firstly, it’s loud. The loudest machine on test. It’s tall, curved, white design is ugly and cheap-looking, with attachments to match.
We cut ourselves numerous times attempting to swap the slicing and grating blades in and out of the plastic plate, and the main blade wobbled during use and gathered food underneath.
You call those processed nuts, Haden?
If that’s a little too nitpicky for you, the test scores should be enough to convince you of its poor performance. It scored zero, or just a single point for four of the tests, and scored lower than five for the majority of the rest. When blending the smoothie, for example, the liquid managed to split and was almost frothy water by the time it had finished blending.
Very little separated the Haden and the Tower – just 2.6 points to be precise – but the poor design and how difficult the Haden was to use and clean was enough to land it in last place.