When it comes to speedy weeknight dinners, my routine usually involves using a mini food processor to turn sad, miscellaneous ingredients into meals I’m actually excited to eat. If I’ve got a couple slices of toast, I’ll layer them with airy whipped ricotta and fruit compote for a sweet breakfast-for-dinner situation. If I’ve got cukes and carrots languishing in the fridge, I’ll pair them with tinned fish and an herby yogurt sauce. When I have half a box of dry spaghetti in the pantry (which is always), I’ll make some kind of pesto—whether it’s green, white, or red—for a quick noodle dish. As you can see, my Wednesday night pantry dinners are centered around sauces, dips, and spreads done on the fly. And they’re all possible thanks to my Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus, the best mini food processor for getting the job done.
Why is the Cuisinart Mini Prep the best small food processor?
I should start by saying that I do own a full-size 12-cup food processor. I just never use it. It’s heavy, bulky, and annoying to clean and store. Sure, it works wonders for making big batches of cauliflower rice or cutting butter into flour for flaky pie dough, but I’m not doing those things on a nightly basis. What I am doing on most nights is preparing dinner for one or two. While standard, full-size food processors typically have a 10-to-14 cup capacity, the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus holds a humble three cups. It’s the perfect size for most of my meal prep needs, like quickly dicing a single onion or blending a small batch of salsa verde for my weekly intake of tacos. It’s compact enough that I can conveniently leave it on the countertop for ease of use.
This tiny food processor has a small but strong 250-watt motor, stainless-steel blades, and just two buttons—one for chopping, one for grinding—which makes it really easy to use. Its construction also means easy cleanup: There’s no messy splatter because the lid must be securely locked in place before it will power up, and the work bowl has a handle for easy, spill-free pouring. Plus, the bowl, blades, and lid are all dishwasher-safe.
So whether you have a big food processor you rarely use or you’re on the fence about whether or not you should get a food processor—you should consider this mini food chopper.
What can you make in a mini food processor?
A mini food processor can do (almost) anything a full-size food processor can do—you know, aside from big-batch food prep. Make aioli or hummus or a lentil purée in a flash. Blitz together a walnut-anchovy dressing for the week. Make nut butter customized to your liking. Whip up your own Better Butter. Any task that requires chopping, slicing, or shredding can be tackled with a mini food processor, whose ridged and razor-sharp blades cut through ingredients as a chef’s knife would—but a lot faster.
Prefer something slightly larger but still small?
Slightly bigger than the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus, the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper has two speeds and a pulse function for achieving coarse or fine results. The work bowl features a locking blade, a handle, and a pour spout—and the bowl, blades, and lid are dishwasher-safe. But more important, this mini chopper has something the Cuisinart Mini Prep does not: a drizzle basin which acts as a funnel so you can slowly add in liquids like EVOO while processing for perfectly emulsified sauces and dressings.
And if you want something even bigger but still suitable for small kitchens, consider this scaled down version of our favorite full-size food processor. The Cuisinart Elite 4-Cup Chopper uses a SmartPower blade that auto-reverses so you can switch between using the blade’s sharp edge or blunt edge: The sharp edge is ideal for chopping delicate ingredients and puréeing soft foods, while the blunt edge is ideal for grinding spices and harder foods. The blade locks into the bowl so you don’t have to remove it as you pour out the contents, and like the KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Food Chopper, this one has holes in the lid so you stream in oil for a perfect mayonnaise. If you’re looking for something more akin to a full-size processor that doesn’t take up as much counter space (or cost as much money), this is the kitchen appliance for you.
The best food processors can do it all—even if they’re mini. And if you’re in the market for both a food processor and a blender, you’ll appreciate the versatile Ninja Master Prep. It’s a great appliance for starter kitchens because it boasts a powerful motor (450 watts) and comes with three different work bowls: a 2-cup chopping bowl, a 5-cup food processing bowl, and a 6-cup pitcher. It also comes with two special blade attachments, one with four blades and another with six. Whether you’re mincing veggies or blending soups and smoothies, you can consider this all-in-one gadget your sous-chef.