Checking out mini choppers

Test Kitchen

March 07, 2007|By Renee Enna and Lisa Schumacher | Renee Enna and Lisa Schumacher,Chicago Tribune

OK, so you've got a food processor, blender, hand mixer and / or stand mixer -- and knives -- in your kitchen. Why add an electric mini chopper?

Sometimes all you need is a little power -- to finely chop a cup of nuts, puree a small amount of homemade mayonnaise or baby food, mix up a bit of pesto. Mini choppers are not for everyone. But if you're constantly processing just a little of this or that, these mighty mites can come in handy. Note, though, that larger foods still may have to be chopped into 1-inch pieces for best results.

We tested three mini choppers that were easy on the budget (we set a $30 limit) and widely available. In each case, the dish, lid and blade are dishwasher-safe.

Renee Enna and Lisa Schumacher write for the Chicago Tribune.

HOW THEY FARED

BEST CHOPPER

CUISINART MINI PREP

(Model DLC-1SS; $30)

11 / 2-cup bowl. 2 pulse speeds.

Plus: Produced the best pesto and mayonnaise, partly because of the small feed hole at the top that regulated the oil flow but also because of its powerful motor. It did a great job chopping garlic. Foldaway cord keeps the counter tidy. The excellent instruction booklet proved very helpful; it includes 15 recipes.

Minus: It didn't chop onions or walnuts with great consistency. The two-sided blade -- one side for chopping and pureeing, the other for grinding -- can be tricky, even dangerous, to flip.

Consensus: We liked this model best because of how well it emulsified and pureed.

ALSO TESTED

BLACK & DECKER ONE-TOUCH CHOPPER

(Model HC306; $9.85)

11 / 2-cup bowl. 1 pulse speed.

Plus: It's the least expensive of the three we tested. It chopped the walnuts into a fairly consistent size. Pureed fairly well.

Minus: It did not chop the onions or garlic to a uniform dice. The lack of a feed hole meant the mayonnaise could not emulsify. A smooth pesto could not be produced, either. The one-speed function also limits its uses, and this chopper was loud. The instructions were brief and did not include recipes.

Consensus: This machine will chop and puree, but we much preferred the other two.

ALSO TESTED

PROCTOR SILEX DELUXE CHOPPER

(Model 72440; $14.90)

3-cup bowl. 2 pulse speeds.

Plus: Has the largest capacity of the three we tested. It did the best job chopping walnuts; the garlic turned out OK. It produced mayonnaise that was fine if slightly thin. Cord can be tucked into the base for storage.

Minus: Onions did not chop to a uniform size. The feed tube is shallow so it was tricky pouring in oil when making the mayo. The pesto wasn't as smooth as desired. The instructions are on the curt side; a few recipes are included.

Consensus: If price is a consideration, this machine will get the job done.

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