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January/February 2016

High-End Professional-Style Food Processors

We tested two high-end food processors to see whether they offered any extra features that made them worth nearly two to three times the price of an ordinary food processor.

How We Tested

We tested two high-end food processors, the 16-Cup KitchenAid ProLine Series ($699.95) and the Waring Commercial 3.5-Quart Pro Food Processor ($426.93), running them through the same tests as our average-priced models to see whether their “professional” designation made any difference to their performance and sturdiness, and whether they offered any extra features that made them worth nearly two to three times the price of an ordinary food processor.

Our conclusion? The Waring is nice; a souped-up version of our winning model, the Cuisinart Custom 14 ($161.99), made by its sister company. They share the same compact shape and simple design, and the Waring’s quiet motor and extra blade options were a pleasure to use. However, its performance in a few key areas, including chopping and slicing, actually fell short of our winner. The KitchenAid ProLine is a space-hogging behemoth at more than 16 pounds, 18 inches high, and 12 inches wide, and includes an equally enormous accessories box (including a successful dicing attachment). Like the Waring, its motor was powerful and quiet, but its performance also fell short of the top average-priced models. For nearly $700, the flimsy-feeling plastic dial that controls this machine is disappointing. While the performance of both models was not bad, we can’t recommend spending this much for less-than-stellar results. We’ll be sticking with the practical, affordable workhorse that is our winner.

Methodology

CHOPPING: Testers chopped onion, carrot, and celery into mirepoix; ground whole almonds; minced fresh parsley; and ground beef chunks and butter into hamburger. This category was weighted most highly in our ratings.

SLICING: We sliced ripe plum tomatoes and russet potatoes, giving highest marks to models that cut crisply and neatly, rendering little to no juice, which
would indicate that food was sliced, not crushed.

SHREDDING: We shredded carrots and cheddar cheese, rating models highest if pieces were crisp and uniform with little to no unprocessed, trapped food.

MIXING: We mixed pie dough and a double batch of heavy pizza dough, made mayonnaise (in small workbowls where available), and conducted a timed test using drops of blue and yellow food coloring in yogurt to show how efficiently machines made a uniformly green mixture.

PUREEING: We processed large cans of whole tomatoes in each machine until smooth; high-rated models made velvety puree.

EASE OF USE: We rated each machine throughout testing on its handling, intuitiveness of assembly and controls, shape of workbowl and lid, weight and stability, quality of construction, noise, and other factors relating to its design and ergonomics, including the convenience of any included accessory boxes or other extra features.

LEAKING: We filled each machine to its “maximum liquid fill” line and compared actual to stated capacity; we then ran machines on high for 1 minute, checking for leaks.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.