One of the first food processors, in the early 1960s, was an expensive, large, heavy-duty machine known as the Robot-Coupe. Used in commercial kitchens and restaurants then and now, it helped to ease the burden of preparing high volumes of food. In 1971, inventor Pierre Verdon introduced a smaller, more home-friendly version. Soon afterward, many different makes and models of the food processor were produced and sold around the world to professional chefs and home cooks alike.
A key attribute of the food processor is its ability to perform numerous tasks, such as chopping, kneading, pulverizing and puréeing, all in one countertop machine. Aside from easing food prep, food processors can be used to make complex recipes or dishes without a kitchen full of cooking tools or equipment.
Food processors come in a variety of sizes, from the mini chopper, which holds about 1.5 cups, to an extra-large bowl with a capacity of up to 20 cups. Most home cooks and families do well with a 7- to 9-cup or 11- to 13-cup capacity size.
Many food processors have two settings, such as pulse and continuous motion, while some models have additional options. The pulse setting is best for chopping foods such as vegetables for salsa, while continuous motion is ideal for puréeing foods such as chickpeas for hummus.
In addition to bowl sizes, multiple blade and attachment options are available for the food processor, each with its own specific uses and advantages. Among the most popular:
S Blade: Designed with two curved, metal blades that sit inside the bowl, it is used for chopping on the pulse setting or puréeing on continuous motion.
Dough Blade: Much like the S blade but often made of plastic, it is designed for kneading bread or pastry doughs.
Shredding Disc: A circular disc with smaller blades like a food grater, it fits on top of a mixing bowl and works best for shredding cheeses or vegetables, such as carrots or cabbage.
Slicing Disc: The same design as the shredding disc but with two larger blades, it can be used to thinly slice fruits and vegetables, such as apples or potatoes.
Julienne Disc: Sharp teeth-like blades protrude from the top of the disc to cut vegetables into matchsticks.
Most food processor bowls and blades are dishwasher-safe, making cleanup easy. The base of the machine can be cleaned with a soft cloth as needed. Storing blades together in a heavy-duty resealable bag or storage container can make finding the correct one quick and easy.