Vegetable choppers offer the tantalizing possibility of slicing and dicing a big pile of produce with minimal effort and mess. We bring in eleven of the most popular choppers, slicers, manual food processors, and all-in-one wonder systems to see which ones save you time and effort in your kitchen. Click here to skip down to the winners and losers.
This sort of kitchen gadget has been a punchline for as long as I’ve been alive. But do they deserve it? It’s easy to be snobby about knife skills (it’s fun too), but a good cook uses the right tools for the job. It’s not hard to prep strawberries with a paring knife, but if you’re doing a few pounds, a strawberry huller is the better choice. If I’m making once batch of salsa for myself, I use a chef’s knife. If I’m making a quintuple batch for a big party, I use the food processor.
So, the big question here is, what category do veggie choppers fall into?
Are they a valuable addition to your toolbox to be pulled out judiciously for the right job, or are they junk fit only for carnival hawkers and late-night infomercials? We’ve gathered up a big stack of the most popular models and spent a day testing them out to find the answers.
|Manual Food Processor
|3. Once for All
|5. Fullstar Master
|6. Ultra Chef Express
|7. OXO Good Grips
|8. Müeller Ultra
|Manual Food Processor
|9. Brieftons Express
|Manual Food Processor
|10. Black & Decker
|Electric Food Processor
|11. Sedhoom 23 in 1
|Grid Chopper/Mandoline /Spiralizer
Types of Vegetable ChoppersThis is a very popular field, and a lot of manufacturers have IDEAS about how to make vegetable prep easier. For this review, we looked at three styles, but there’s more out there.
This is the most classic style of vegetable slicer. A blade is mounted to a board with an adjustable height in-run table in front. You slide the vegetable down the in-run table into the blade, which cuts a precise slice out the bottom as the rest of the veggie slides down the out-run table. You can adjust the thickness of the slices by changing the height of the table and change the shape of the cut by swapping in a different blade. Add extra vertical blades, and the slices turn into strips.
Mandolines (the ‘e’ is optional, BTW) get a lot of use in professional kitchens, where they’re used to make perfectly even slices for presentation and for consistent cooking. If you want to, say, make potato chips, they need to be very consistent if you’re going to cook them evenly.
Now, you might think that having all these blades right next to your hands might be dangerous, and you’d be right! A New York Times article says 21,699 people got sent to the emergency room from slicers and choppers in 2011, and quotes Nan Strait, executive producer of Top Chef as saying, “Got to watch out for the mandolin… It’s got to be one of the most dangerous home tools. It will cut your hand in a heartbeat.” To use one of these safely, you’re going to need to use the included hand guard and/or a cut-proof glove.
Manual Food Processors
A full-sized electric food processor does a pretty good job at chopping vegetables, but they’re not cheap. Several manufacturers have tried to make the smaller, low-tech version that doesn’t require a big wad of cash. All of them have a bowl with a scary multi-blade thing on a rotating shaft. You put your food in the bowl, cover, and then use some mechanism to spin the blades. We’ve got cranks, a spring-loaded pump like a salad spinner, and a pull-cord like a kid’s toy. We’ve also got an electric mini-version of the standard food processor with a reasonable price tag.
If there’s a well established name for this sort of thing, I haven’t been able to find it. These things have a grid of blades on a plate set over a catch-pan. A hinged pusher plate connects to one end. You set your food on the blades, then push down on the free end, forcing your food through the blade-grid into the catch-pan. Most of the models we tried have different sizes of grid for different cuts.
What Makes a Good Chopper?
There are a lot of variations here, so it’s tough to give a definitive set of qualifications. Starting with the generic bits, there’s build quality. You’re looking for a device going to last, not one that’s going to fall apart after a few rounds. If you’re going to actually use these things and not just let them gather dust on the shelf, they need to be easy to set up and easy to use. That ease needs to extend to one of the toughest tests for any of these choppers: cleaning. For food safety, you need to be able to get your veggie chopper clean with reasonable effort. Look for devices that don’t have a lot of weird nooks and crannies that you’ll have to laboriously clean. Finally, a good veggie chopper should be easy to store. Look for manufacturers that keep small easy-to-lose parts to a minimum and make the device fit into a compact and contained volume.
Now, you’ll note that none of that last paragraph addressed the actual function of the veggie chopper. For that, you’ll need to consider exactly what jobs you want your device to do, then look at the individual reviews to see how well each chopper performed at that task. Generically, you want to see clean, even cuts that prep all of your food in one pass and don’t need extra attention by hand.
Test Kitchen Methodology
We used the food processors and grid choppers to dice half an onion. After prepping the onions as directed by the manuals, we ran them through the machines. We’re looking for a consistent dice without too much trouble or effort.
Where the onions tested the ability of our choppers to power through a tough vegetable, the tomato tests whether they can dice a delicate one without destroying it. Once again, we’re looking for a consistent dice without too much trouble.
We broke out the mandolines for this test, where we ran a half tomato through on a 5 mm (or closest equivalent) setting. We’re looking for clean, even slices that don’t make a mess.
We added the julienne blades to the mandolines and tried some peeled russet potatoes. We’re looking for nice even French fries without too much effort. While we looked for safety issues in every test, this was the one where issues came to the fore.
This one was just for the food processors. We threw in three cloves of peeled garlic to each one and tried to get an evenly minced texture.
We were going to do two more tests and chop up the chiles and cilantro for our salsa with these choppers, but by this point, we were satisfied that we’d learned enough and just did those with a knife. It was a welcome relief.
The most difficult test of all was the cleanup. We washed everything we’d used and rated the cleaning process on difficulty and safety. We made a note of any particularly difficult items.
This one looked like a joke, but actually worked! I’m almost lost for words to describe something genuinely good. The Chef’n is smaller than the other models in the test, but that probably helps keep the food engaged to the blades. It operates with a pull string like starting a lawnmower, then mows through veggies.
Enough vague praise. The Chef’n needed about 8 pulls to get through half an onion, producing something pretty close to hand-chopped, though with a few big stragglers. It overworked the tomato, and while it was better than the other manual food processors, it wasn’t that good. The garlic came out virtually perfect. One small thing worth noting is that the manual was conspicuously good.
Cleanup was easy enough, though getting safely between the small blades was tricky. Everything except the mechanism can go in the dishwasher, so that might be the better route. The whole thing stores compactly, and seems to be well-built. The pull-string requires some force, so I question how many pulls it has in its life. We’ll have to see on that part.
The Chef’n is genuinely good, easy to clean and store, and cheap. The only downside is a lack of capacity. I recommend it for small jobs.
Other Attachments: Cleaning Comb, Drain Basket, Storage Lid
Where the other Fullstar tries to be the all-everything device, the Onion Chopper simplifies it down to just the grid chopper. They do some really smart things with the design that make me really want to like it. The catch bin is an ordinary glass baking pan that you can use in the oven. Instead of putting rubber feet on the pan to get lost, it includes a small nonslip silicone mat. I like the drain basket that nests in the glass container — the idea is that you chop veggies into the basket, then dump the basket into your pan without having to maneuver the whole thing around. The whole thing stores in the catch bin, and everything feels solid and fits as close as the walrus and me.
The onion diced pretty easily without undue effort, and came out reasonably consistent. There were the usual oversized pieces from the edges, but it worked as well as any in the test. The tomato squirted juice out the side on me when cutting, but the parts that didn’t get crushed were acceptably diced, and there wasn’t too much loss.
Cleanup was where the problems hit. Like the other grid choppers, cleaning out the grids is an exercise in frustration. With so many surfaces, there’s a lot of cleaning to do, and it feels like there’s always another piece of gunk on the grid, no matter how many times you wash it. The fingers on the pusher plate are, once again, the biggest problem. Bits of onion lodge in between the fingers and have to be laborious picked out with the cleaning comb. The manual says the unit is top-rack dishwasher safe, so that’s the way to go, but I think it still needs too much prep.
Overall, this is probably the best of the grid choppers. It does its job, and the price is right, especially considering that you get a baking dish included. I find the cleanup prohibitively difficult, though, so I won’t be keeping this around.
With the safety issues attached to the standard mandoline, I was excited to try the Once for All, which bills itself as the safe modern version. Where the normal mandoline has you move the food into a stationary blade, this unit has you put the food into a feed chute, then you push the blade through the food with a spring-loaded plunger. Adjustment dials on the back let you dial in slices between 0.5 mm and 8 mm thick, and there are two sets of julienne blades for thin and thick cuts.
Loading up the tomato for slicing revealed the first problem. You are limited by the size of the chute, about 2.75”×3.5”, so you have to cut down even pretty medium vegetables. Even the half-tomato we started with needed a little trim. Once it got going, though, the tomato sliced nice and clean. Loading up the potato took more trimming. Since it has to go in longwise, the Once for All can only make short stubby fries. But wow, what stubby fries! The blades blew right through the potato with ease, making perfect fries. I swear, this was the high point of the whole test day.
The low point might have been trying to clean this thing. To get access to the blades, you’ve got to partially depress the plunger and hold it there against the spring, then get in there with the cleaning brush using your other hand. It is not pretty. And there are a lot of bits to clean, most of which require maneuvering the mechanism around while you wash. The (excellent) manual says the main unit is not dishwasher safe, so this is your only option.
So how do we add all this up? It cuts so well, but it cleans so badly. As the person who usually gets hurt in our test kitchen, I appreciate the safety features while chopping, but it doesn’t feel safe while cleaning. The fries were the best part of the test day, and I thought about breaking the Once for All out again for another batch the other day. Then I remembered the cleanup, and decided to just use a knife. I think that says it all.
Other Attachments: Blade Storage Case
We threw in a dedicated mandoline as a control group for the all-in-ones. I had high hopes for this one. Setup is easy, with one dial controlling thickness and another controlling the two spacings of julienne blades. The main unit folds up and all the blades fit into the case for easy storage. Build quality is solid.
The tomato sliced nice and easy without any effort. The tracks on the handguard did a good job of keeping the tomato running straight and easy. The potato is the closest I came all day to getting really hurt. It took a lot of force to get the potato through the julienne blades, and the grip-spikes on the handguard did not do enough to keep a good grip. In the end, the potato jammed up completely, and I was stuck trying to figure out how to get my hand into the blade zone get it out. I had to retract the julienne blades through the cuts to get it out. It was pretty ugly, though the fries were first-class.
Cleanup was nontrivial. The main blade is very sharp, but easy enough to access and treat with care. The julienne blades need careful attention, and they’re hard to get into safely. I think if you had this, you’d want to keep a toothbrush with your cleaning gear for getting in and scrubbing the blades.
Overall, the Müeller wasn’t good enough for the money. It wasn’t conspicuously better than the competition, but did less. I know there are really great mandolines out there, but this isn’t it.
Other Attachments: Egg Slicer, Egg Separator, Juicer, Peeler, Cleaning Comb, Blade Organizer, Safety Glove
So here’s the all-everything machine. To store it all, you need to fill up the catch bin and use the entire organizer tray, with extra bits hanging off the sides, but it does fit. I’m impressed with Fullstar’s attention to detail, but this feels like the physical embodiment of “But wait! There’s more!” All the pieces seem well-built, and they fit together tightly and well.
We started with the ¼” grid on the onion. I had to put some weight on it to get the onion though, but it did its job pretty well. The fundamental weakness of these grid choppers is that they only cut in two dimensions, so there are some long pieces from the outside of the onion, but everything else was nicely cut. Next was the tomato on the ½” grid, and while I got squirted with tomato juice, the end cut was solid.
After switching the lid from chopper to mandoline, I tried some tomato slices. I appreciate the inclusion of both a plastic guard and a safety glove. The blade was not up to the task of cutting tomato slices. They ripped more than they cut, and just left a mess of ragged tomato bits. Switching to the julienne blade, I tried a potato. While I’d describe the cut more as a shoestring grater than a julienned fry, the result was pretty good. It took a fair amount of force to push the potato through with control, and I can’t say it was worth it.
For cleanup, it seems like the pieces never end. The slicer plates clean up better than most and offer enough room to hold them safely without having to be right on top of the blade. The grid chopper bits are hard to clean. Every time we thought the grids were done, we’d find another piece of tomato on one of the many surfaces. The fingers on the pusher plate were the worst. Even carefully picking through them with the cleaning comb, we kept coming up with big pieces of onion stuck in there tight. It’s all top rack dishwasher-safe, but you need to prep those grid bits a lot to get them dishwasher-ready.
So is it worth it? I’d say no. There’s too much stuff, and it doesn’t work well enough to justify the cleanup. By the time you’re done cleaning onion out of the pusher, you’ve lost whatever time and effort you might have saved on hand-dicing. Still, the grid chopper does what it claims, even if the mandoline is not that good.
Other Attachments: Juicer, Dasher Blade, Egg Separator
This is an oddball combination. The Ultra Chef is built around a core bowl with a handle. One lid has a crank handle for running the food processor, the other accepts the different slicer inserts. And then there’s the third one for the juicer. It doesn’t rotate or anything, it’s just a reamer that sits over the bowl. Let’s start with the most obvious problem — there is no consideration for storage with this thing. You’re going to have to disassemble it and keep it in its box, or buy a separate tote to keep it together on its own shelf. It’s basically unstorable.
As a manual food processor, it works about as well as the other models, which is not well at all. The onion was tough to get started, but once I got the blades moving, they cut well enough. I did like the handle, which made it easy to keep a good grip on the unit so it doesn’t run away while working the crank. The onions it produced were pretty good. They were relatively even in size, with just a few over and under-chopped bits. The tomato was not nearly as good, producing a mix of big unchopped pieces, tiny shards, and mush. The garlic was a little better, but still had giant pieces mixed with little flecks.
Switching over to the slicer, I was surprised to find it worked pretty well. The tomatoes didn’t slice perfectly, but they were reasonably good. I had to really work for the fries, though. Even with the handguard, I had to apply a lot of force right next to a whole lot of blades to get the cut right. The end result was excellent shoestring fries. One problem here was getting the slicer lid off the bowl. There’s no obvious way to do it that doesn’t involve basically grabbing some blades. I wound up taking the slicer insert out, then using the receiver to get the lid off.
Cleanup was a bit tough, with a few tricky spots on the mandolin pusher. The slicer and julienne inserts are hard to safely hold while cleaning as they’re a bit small with lots of sharp bits. Cleaning the processor blade is a bit sketchy too, and requires you maneuver your cloth between the blade bits. The overall build quality is pretty sketchy too, and I don’t think you can count on this for the long haul.
To sum up, the Ultra Chef Express is reasonably good as a slicer, not good as a food processor, and not that good as an overall product. It’s not awful, but it’s got no place in my kitchen, even if I could store it.
Other Attachments: Cleaning Grid
How do I own so many nice things from OXO, yet review so many bad ones? Every time I step into the test kitchen, my opinion of them goes down. The OXO tries to make the simple and effective version of the grid chopper here. The grid is built into the chopper mechanism and sits over a plastic catch-bin. The catch bin has an open back, so the idea is that you chop into the bin, then can dump it right out into your bowl or pan.
The problems start with cutting the onion. I had to put my full (and significant) weight on the handle to chop the onion. It was straightforward, but not at all easy. The onion came out OK, but there were a lot of pieces about 1¼” long mixed in with the well-diced ones. The tomato cut easily, though only some diced bits wound up in the bin. Some bits got crushed and squirted out the back and sides. Other bits stayed stuck in the grid. The bits that did get cut properly looked pretty good.
The OXO’s best feature is the cleaning grid. See, the hardest spot to clean on all these grid choppers is the fingers on the pusher plate. The OXO has a plastic grid that fits between the fingers while you cut, then when you’re done, you pull the grid out, which pulls out the macro-scale veggie bits. With that excellent feature to get things started, cleanup was easy enough. Even better, it’s dishwasher-safe, so you can pop the grid out to get things started, then finish it in the dishwasher.
The OXO deals with the safety issues that veggie choppers raise with an unsatisfying solution: they don’t use sharp blades. I can’t tell the difference between the top and bottom of the OXO’s blade, so it’s no wonder I’ve got to use entirely too much force. The overall build quality is good, but I have doubts about whether the plastic hinges can stand up to the amount of force this thing needs. With no extraneous parts, it’s easy to set up and easy to store.
Overall, the OXO does a lot of things right. It’s simple, well-thought out, and easy to clean. If it was actually good at chopping vegetables, it might have won this test kitchen. As it stands, I don’t recommend it.
Other Attachments: Egg Separator, Dasher Blade
The Müeller is clearly well built and has a lot of thought put into making it work smoothly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that well. The Müeller’s base sticks to the countertop with four powerful suction cups, then the workbowl latches onto that. The blade operates with a crank on top of the lid.
The Müeller powered right through the onion with reasonable effort, but the results were very uneven, featuring a lot of big chunks mixed in the otherwise good bits. The tomato was about the same, but with more overworked bits reduced to mush. It seems like there are parts of the bowl where stuff gets away from the blades and never works back in. The solid base helps the crank operate smoothly, but hurts the consistency of the cut by preventing you from shaking the food back into the cut zone. The garlic wasn’t the worst in the test, but it made the tomato look good. The sticky garlic immediately escaped the blades all but unscathed.
Cleanup was easy enough, with the same tricky bit of washing the blade as the other manual food processors. Build quality is extremely good, and the handle comes off for easy one-piece storage in the container.
Overall, the Müeller doesn’t work well enough to bother with. Good design doesn’t overcome bad performance.
With all the devices in this test that try to be everything all at once, there’s something promising about a device that tries to do just one thing right. Too bad it can’t deliver on that promise.
Starting off with the good stuff, I think the pump drive on the Brieftons is the best drive on all of these manual food processors. When you press down on the pump, it pushes the bowl down onto the counter which helps keep it nice and stable. It’s solidly built, and the pump comes off to fit in the bowl, so the whole thing stores in one unit. It’s easy to clean, with the small caveat that getting a cloth in between the blades safely is not automatic.
Now for the bad part: cutting vegetables. The onions came out as a big pile of pieces that are too big mixed with pieces that are too small. There’s no consistency at all. The tomato was even worse, with most of it reduced to pulp, with the rest all but untouched. The garlic sprayed all over the bowl to get away from the blades, and mostly succeeded, with most of the garlic in big chunks.
There’s a worthy effort in the design of the Briefton, but none of it extended to the vegetable chopping ability. Skip this one for sure.
Other Attachments: None
I turn to a full-size food processor when I need to chop a lot of vegetables, so I had hopes for this inexpensive mini model as something that could do the same job on a smaller scale for cheap. We tested the 1.5-cup model, but they’ve also got a 3-cup version that looks like the same thing, only taller.
It certainly did a job on our onion, reducing it to a fine mince faster than I expected. I had a better handle on how to cut the tomato, but it didn’t help. Some parts got completely pulped, while others were untouched. The blade only covers a pretty small part of the container, so the Black and Decker really depends on good circulation to work. The tomato bits just clung to the outside walls and never got to the blades. The garlic mincing was the Black and Decker’s event to shine, but it didn’t even glow. The garlic was able to run away from the blades all but perfectly, leaving a few bits of well-minced garlic in with big chunks that cling to the walls.
Cleanup was easy, but that blade is seriously sharp and deserves your respect. Build quality is a little iffy. The motor has some real zip, but it starts by pushing down a tab on the lid. It’s really easy to start it by accident with the lid only partially on. I also really question the ‘oil holes’ in the top. Theoretically, you can use these little vent holes to add oil to a dressing, but I can’t even picture how you would do that without making a gigantic mess.
Overall, the Black and Decker is a cheap and easy way to do nothing of great value. Skip it, and put the money towards a real food processor.
Other Attachments: Peeler, Cleaning Comb, Cleaning Brush
So here’s the Fullstar’s competitor as the all-everything machine. It’s got a lot of the same functions and concepts, but lacks the attention to detail. With perfect packing, all the pieces do fit into the catch bin, so you can store this a little better, but it feels like there are sharp bits poking out everywhere. The Sedhoom accomplishes a lot of its compactness by shrinking the size of the plates, so there’s a lot more cutting edge and less handroom. The build quality is not very good. There’s a good amount of flex in all of these pieces, and I don’t imagine they’ll hold up to the long haul.
Starting with the grid chopper, we ran into a problem with the onion. This grid is smaller than the other models in the test, so I had to trim a little slice off the side so it fit the grid. It took a lot of force to chop the onion, and I heard something crack while pushing it. The top layer of the onion stayed stuck to the grid, but the part that did chop came out OK, with the usual size variations. The tomato half had to be trimmed down too before it could go in the chopper, then we got as much tomato juice as tomato dice, mostly delivered through all the sides. Half the tomato was left stuck to the blades. The small part that actually got diced was acceptable.
Things got worse switching to the mandoline lid. What it did to the tomato doesn’t even qualify as cutting. Switching to the julienne blade was pretty hairy, since there’s nowhere to grab on the small blade plate. Once I got it on there, it was a struggle to cut the fries. There’s not enough length on the out-run table to hold the potato, so I had to awkwardly pick up the front end of the spud while the back side was still cutting. The handguard is equally undersized, and lacks protection for the heel of the hand, which comes perilously close to the blades. After getting through all of that, we did get quality shoestring fries in the end.
Cleanup was awful. Cleaning the slicer and julienne plates is tough since there’s no place to safely hold onto them while washing. The tomato managed to stain the slicer plate. Considering how little the slicer did to it, I think the judges score that round 10-8 to the tomato. The massive amounts of food that stuck to the grid wanted to stay there, and washing it was difficult. The fingers on the pusher plate got more food stuck in them than any of the choppers in the test, and needed lots of work with the comb to get clean.
The Sedhoom has basically no redeeming qualities, except for the peeler, which was adequate.
OUR FINAL TAKES
I’ve spent 5,000 words trying to be judicious and see the veggie choppers in their best light, but now it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Unless you have an extremely specific need, there is no reason to buy a veggie chopper when you have a perfectly good knife. If you don’t have a perfectly good knife, maybe take a look at our article on knife sets. Here are the big problems.
Problem #1: You Have to Prep the Vegetables First
This is the absolute deal-breaker for me. To dice or slice an onion on one of these machines, you need to get out a knife and cutting board, cut off the ends, half the onion, then peel it. At this point, you’ve already got the knife in your hand — why not just finish the job? Pretty much any vegetable you want to chop needs some knife-based prep, so the chopper adds time and mess without replacing your knife work. Why bother?
Problem #2: Cleanup Is Rough
I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than one minute cleaning a knife. It’s easy, and there’s a nice handle to hold while you wash it. These veggie choppers, though, are a major pain to clean. There are a lot of parts, most of which have to get laboriously cleaned out, sometimes with special tools. To add insult to injury, as per Problem #1, you still have to wash the knife too! Speaking of injury, there’s plenty of opportunities for that cleaning these blade-covered machines.
Problem #3: You Don’t Save Any Time
Counted versus a knife, prep time is a wash, since you’d have to do it either way. It doesn’t take long to dice a prepped onion, so you’d save maybe 30 seconds per onion using a chopper. Add the extra time to wash the chopper, and you’d need to be doing a wagon-load of vegetables to actually save time over cutting by hand.
Problem #4: Storage
I don’t have room for small hand tools in my kitchen drawer, much less a big all-in-one set that takes up two slots in a cabinet. These things have got to be great to earn their spot, and they’re not even good.
I don’t want to be all negative here. You know what a really good vegetable tool looks like? How about the OXO Garlic Press? You don’t need to prep the garlic, just throw it in skin-on. Squeeze the handles for ready-to-use garlic, then pop the skins out the back. The pusher plate on the back of the press mucks out the holes on the press, so it just needs a quick scrub. It saves time, it’s easy to store, it cleans up easy, and it’s a noticeable step better than using a knife.
So, I think it just comes down to improving your knife skills. I don’t want to be a snob about it (I always seem to get there), but a knife works. There are some really good YouTube videos out there to give you the moves, then it’s just a question of practice. I think there’s a meditative quality to vegetable prep that I really enjoy.
Besides don’t bother? OK.
The Once for All is limited and a pain to clean, but it is super-effective. If you want perfect (but relatively small) cuts, this is the device for you. If you want to do some small prep jobs with a manual food processor, the Chef’n is pretty effective, even though the capacity is limited. If you’ve got your heart set on a grid chopper, the Fullstar Glass Onion Chopper is the best of the lot, and you get a baking dish and non-slip mat you can keep after you’re done dealing with the chopper.
It was a long day in the test kitchen to get here, but I wave goodbye to you with ten uninjured fingers. You be safe out there too.