There is a huge range of options to choose from for food preparation machines, from the simple hand-held mixers and blenders to the multi-purpose food processors with multiple attachments. It is difficult to categorise these appliances into distinct categories as many appliances have additional attachments which will allow them to perform the function of another. For example a blender may have additional attachments for whisking.
Apart from budget, the main criteria will be how often you will be using it, the quantities of food involved and the types of jobs involved.
This is a small appliance with two whisk attachments suitable for light tasks such as whipping cream. They are not suitable for heavy duty mixing.
Some have dough hooks as extra attachments and some may have up to 5 or more power speeds
The power of a hand-held mixer may vary from between 200 to 400 watts depending on the model.
This performs the same task as a hand mixer but is mounted on a base and sits on the worktop. They have an integral bowl for the food which locks when in use and they are able to handle a larger quantity of food than a hand mixer. They are also far more powerful.
Many have several attachments for different types of mixing such as a wire whisk for creams and eggs, a flat beater and a dough hook.
Unless the machine is required to make cakes and bread on a regular basis, or is for commercial use, it might be better to consider a multi-purpose machine, or food processor, which will also handle other types of food preparation such as chopping and liquidising.
There are some smaller freestanding mixers on the market which have a removable mixer so that it can also be used as a hand mixer for additional flexibility.
The power of a hand-held mixer may vary from between 380 to 550 watts depending on the model. The bowl capacity is usually 2 litres although other sizes are available.
These can range from mini food processors suitable for pureeing baby food or making sauces to ones which are suitable for large-scale food preparation.
Although they are similar to a blender they are more flexible as they use attachments for different types of food preparation. They are however, usually more expensive than a blender.
The food processor is made up of the
main unit with the motor, a spindle to power the attachment, a lidded
bowl in which the food is prepared and the attachment.
The capacity can range from 1 litre
to almost 4 litres. Most food processors can perform various functions
depending on the different attachments that they have, such as:
- Blending e.g. soups
- Mixing e.g. cakes
- Whisking e.g. eggs or cream
- Liquidising e.g. baby food
- Grinding e.g. nuts or spices
- Chopping e.g. vegetables
- Grating e.g. cheese
- Shredding e.g. carrots
- Dough making
Some also come with additional bowls
which sit inside of the main bowl to enable the user to process small
quantities of food.
The majority of food processors have
a safety lock to ensure that the machine will only function when the
lid is on correctly and most food processors have an opening in the
lid so that additional food can be added to the food processor while
Some food processors also have a blender
jug included as standard or an option as well as the processor bowl.
With some models the blender jug replaces the processor bowl and in
others it sits along-side it which takes up more space.
Other features may include:
- Integral cord storage
- Shatter resistant bowl
- Built-in weighing scale
The power of a food processor may vary
from between 400 to 1100 watts depending on the model.
Also called a liquidiser, this is a
powerful appliance used to blend, mix or puree food. Whilst many are
worktop appliances, hand-held versions are also available.
Although primarily for blending food,
some models have additional attachments for whisking or other functions.
Worktop units are generally made up
of the main unit, which contains the motor, and a lidded container (usually
made of glass, plastic or stainless steel) with blades inside. The blades
are usually fixed although some models have removable ones for easier
cleaning. It is often not possible, unlike food processors, to add food
to a blender while it is in action, although some blenders do have a
2-piece lid for this purpose.
The capacity of a freestanding blender
is usually from 1 litre to 1.6 litres depending on the model.
Hand-held blenders are smaller, more
lightweight versions with the blades attached to a main unit which is
held by the user. They often come with lidded beakers to blend the food
in and for easier storage. Some people prefer hand-held blenders when
liquidising hot items such as soup. Although not as powerful as full
sized blenders, some have to ability to crush ice.
The power of a hand-held or freestanding
blender may vary from between 400 to 800 watts depending on the model.
This is a small hand held or worktop
machine suitable for grinding small quantities of food such as coffee
beans or nuts.
This is a small hand held or worktop machine suitable for chopping small quantities of food.
This is specifically designed for grinding meat for, for example, mince and burgers.
This is a type of blender especially designed for pureeing fruit (and usually ice) to make smoothies.
This can be an important factor as
the prices of mixers, blenders and food processors can vary widely from
a few pounds for the simplest hand held models to hundreds of pounds
for the top of the range professional food processors with a full range
It is unlikely that the very cheapest
models are going to be as good at chopping or mixing as the more expensive
ones, although it does not necessarily follow that the most expensive
ones are the best or most efficient.
If you are looking for a single function
machine for either mixing, chopping, grinding or blending then there
are machines designed just to handle that one function.
However, if you are likely to need
the appliance for several functions then consider a food processor which
comes with different attachments. Many food processors also have additional
optional attachments and some have special storage containers to house
If your requirements for a chopping
or mixing appliance are fairly limited then a hand-held machine may
be sufficient but if you are likely to use it on a regular basis and/or
use it for larger quantities of food then consider a food processor.
Depending on the appliance, there
may be several speed settings plus a pulse button for short bursts of
speed and/or a soft start button for clean blending. Some also have
special settings for crushing ice.
Some of the more advanced blenders
and food processors have pre-set settings for certain functions.
A small hand-held chopper or mixer
will of course take up less space than a worktop food processor and
can easily be stored in a drawer. If you do need a multi-purpose machine
though, a single food processor might ultimately take up less space
(and be less expensive!) than several smaller machines.
Weight may also be important in choosing
a food processor or blender as some machines can weigh several kilos
The size of the bowl or jug will be
a factor to consider, and the capacity can range from 1 litre to 4 litres
on a food processor. Those machines with a smaller bowl are suitable
for mixing or chopping small quantities of food, but if you are going
to need to mix or chop large quantities of food in one go then go for
a machine with a larger capacity.
Adversely, do not go for a machine
with a bowl that is larger than you need - if there are small
quantities of food in it the machine may not chop/mix at maximum efficiency
as the blades will spin around the food rather than through it. You
will also end up with more washing than necessary if you use a bowl
larger than your requirements.
Check which parts can be removed for easy cleaning and which parts are suitable for dishwasher use. Check that it is easy to access the entire main unit for easy cleaning.
The power of a mixer or food processor is measured in watts and the higher the watts the more powerful the machine.
This can be very important if certain harder foods are to be used such as crushed ice.