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High-End Professional-Style Food Processors

Published January 2016

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

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.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*