Even cooks who own the biggest, finest food processors money can buy love these little food choppers. They’re an excellent alternative when all you need to do is chop an onion and don’t want to have to wash your large processor. On major cooking days when you’re preparing lots of dishes you may even use both.
Of course, these small units are also a great choice for singles or anyone who has a small kitchen or wouldn’t really use all the bells and whistles on the bigger models. In fact, there are actually a few tasks that don’t work well at all in those big machines. That’s when you really need a little chopper.
You can see all the top selling models on our Comparison Chart that shows features and prices side by side for easy reference. As for the best small food processor, read on to find out why the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus is so highly rated by so many satisfied owners.
Best Small Food Processor: Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Review
4.4 Reviewed by SusanRating:
Pictured at right is the Cuisinart DLC-2ABC Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor in Brushed Chrome. It might be the smallest and least expensive Cuisinart you can buy, but this little chopper does an excellent job on the tasks it’s designed for.
Note: That “4.4” rating is a little deceiving. It should actually be higher, which is explained below in Customer Reviews.
This 3 cup food processor has a 250 Watt motor that gives you lots of power, and a “Smart Power Blade” that reverses for either grinding or chopping. Unlike large processors it does not have a feed chute, but its lid does have a drizzle hole for adding liquids during processing. This model is available in 4 colors – brushed chrome, brushed stainless, metallic red, and white.
At the time of this writing the Brushed Chrome model is selling for right at $30. All of the other color choices are priced slightly higher.
Table of Contents
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- Simple, push-button controls
- 3 cup plastic work bowl
- Stainless steel chopping/grinding blade
- Dishwasher safe bowl, lid and blade (top rack)
- 250 Watt motor
- BPA free
- Limited 18-month warranty
The Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus is designed to chop, grind, pureé, and emulsify. For dicing vegetables and a lot of other basic tasks, it can do as well as some larger food processors. You can also make small batches of all sorts of dishes, including hummus, applesauce, mayonnaise, herb butters, cheese spreads, salad dressings, pesto, and baby food.
Operating this processor couldn’t be simpler. It has two buttons, chop and grind. To pulse, you simply push the button and let go quickly. To run continuously you have to hold the button down. Just keep in mind that this is a small chopper for small jobs. It isn’t designed for heavy duty processing. According to the instruction manual, you should not hold the button down for continuous processing for more than one minute at a time.
The chop function is used to chop, pureé or mix, and it woks best with foods such as onions, garlic, parsley and other herbs, most types of cheese, and nuts (when you want chopped nuts). The grind function is used to grind harder foods such as spices, seeds, peppercorns, and nuts when you want them finely ground.
If there is a learning curve it’s in knowing how long to hold down the buttons – or how quickly you better let go! I think one reviewer nailed it in saying that the good is that it’s really good at finely chopping foods, and the bad is that it’s really good at finely chopping foods. The key is in remembering that despite its size, this little processor is very fast and might be more powerful than you expect. You’ll definitely want to start with short pulses until you get the hang of it. Sometimes there’s a fine line between just enough and way too much.
One reason the Cuisinart performs better than its competitors is the reversible blade. The chop function spins the blade one way, and the grind function spins it the other way. When you have a few chunks at the top of the work bowl that need to be processed, sometimes a quick pulse in the opposite direction will help bring that food down to the blade.
There are also some design features that make it handy to use. The blade simply drops in place with no complicated twisting or locking mechanisms. For “clean” cooking, the blade has a long stem on top so you can remove it without sticking your fingers down into the food.
There are a couple of things to note before you buy. One is that because this is such a small work bowl, it requires a little prep time. The recommendation is that for the most even chopping results, food should be cut into 3/4 inch pieces before processing.
The other thing to be aware of is about grinding very hard foods. These are jobs that this unit is designed to do, but the manufacturer adds a caveat. That is, if you grind grains or hard spices like nutmeg or cinnamon sticks, you can scratch the work bowl and lid. This will not affect performance, and I didn’t find a single complaint about it from online customers.
Size & Capacity
Outer dimensions of this unit are 9.8″ by 8.2″ by 5.6″, so it doesn’t take up a lot of room on your counter or in your cabinet. Since it weighs only 3 pounds, it’s also very easy to move around or store away.
The total capacity of the work bowl is 3 cups, and that’s an excellent size. A couple of the competing models have a 1.5 cup capacity, and that sounds fine until you realize that with any food processor of any size, you can almost never use the complete capacity. That is, you don’t want to fill the bowl more than about two-thirds full, or foods won’t be processed evenly. When you over fill it, food at the bottom can get pulverized before that at the top has even been touched. When you consider the actual usable capacity of these small food choppers, 3 cups is about as small as most people want to go.
Also, as with any food processor of any capacity, the amount of very liquid foods you can process is very small. They are all designed in a way that allows liquids to leak out onto the counter if the bowl is overfilled. If you plan to process a lot of liquids, you really should look into buying a blender instead.
One obvious advantage of the Mini Prep Plus is that it’s great for small jobs when you don’t want to dirty up your big machine. Another benefit is that there are a few tasks that just don’t work in big processors. For instance, you can’t chop a few pods of garlic or a small amount of herbs in a larger machine because the bowl is too big. The blade of a food processor slings foods outward, so if the bowl is too large, the food just won’t get processed. When your recipe calls for a half cup of chopped celery, a mini food chopper is what you need.
You’ve surely heard the old cliché that the best things come in small packages. Well, those big food processors are certainly awesome, but in a few cases the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus outshines them because of it’s compact size.
- 3 cup work bowl and lid
- Stainless steel chopping/mixing blade, reversible
- Instruction manual and recipe booklet
There are no accessories available for this model. It doesn’t do anything fancy like making julienne strips. It’s designed for basic chopping and mixing jobs, and it comes with everything you need for those tasks.
The vast majority of complaints about this model appear to be cases of unrealistic expectations, inexperience, or misuse. If you overload it, you’ll burn up the motor. If you process continuously for long periods of time, you’ll burn up the motor.
Common sense comes into play as well. For instance, the manufacturer says the parts are dishwasher safe, but it’s reasonable to expect that a dishwasher with an extremely hot drying cycle could warp the plastic work bowl.
To avoid disappointment, you might want to read the manual before you buy. (see it here) It’s very short, but it will give you a better understanding of exactly what this unit will and will not do. Even the recipes will help you learn about the proper amounts and processing times for getting the best results.
Customers who gave this unit a poor rating are definitely in the minority. Out of almost 1,400 well over 3,000 (as of 11/24/16) online reviews, over 80% of consumers gave the Mini-Prep a 4 or 5 star rating. In fact, it should actually have a much higher overall (average) rating because the vast majority of those who gave it only 4 stars didn’t have a single bad thing to say about it. Go figure!
The overwhelming consensus is that this model does exactly what it claims it will do, and does it very well. Favorite features include the long stem on the blade for easy removal, the reversible blade for more consistent processing, the beautiful colors, and the fact that you sacrifice very little counter space for a unit that will perform a wide variety of food prep tasks.
As for what kinds of cooking jobs it does well, some of the foods and dishes customers mention most often include homemade hummus, pesto, chopped nuts, minced herbs, ground flaxseed, guacamole, applesauce, breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, pureéd tomatoes, and of course, diced celery & onions.
A customer approval rating of over 80% is pretty impressive, and this Cuisinart model is currently the best selling small food chopper online
- Performs well on a variety of prep tasks
- Powerful enough to do jobs it’s designed to do
- Simple to use and easy to clean
- Requires very little counter or storage space
- Requires prep time to cut food in chunks before processing
- Grinding very hard grains or spices may scratch bowl and lid
Best Small Food Processor: Summary(Pictured at right in “Metallic Red”)
The Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus is an attractive little food chopper that has a reputation for performing well on all the tasks it’s designed to do. It’s simple to use and easy to clean, and it includes some thoughtful design features like the tall stem on the blade that lets you keep your fingers out of your food. For a very small investment, you can speed up your food prep jobs without taking up a big chunk of space on your counter. The compact size makes it a perfect choice for singles, small kitchens, apartments or vacation homes, and it might be the only food chopper you ever need. But then, it can also serve as a nice complement to your large food processor – it’s really handy for doing quick little jobs without all the cleanup!
Not sure whether a small food chopper will meet your needs?
For more help with making a smart choice please see our Food Processor Reviews and Buying Guide.