The second, and deciding, round of the food processor battle is over. I'll announce my winner at the end, but first let's review how each competitor fared. The task I tackled next was making a puree. I chose hummus bi tahini, because the texture change is substantial moving from nearly crunchy chickpeas to an almost smooth puree. I like to leave my hummus a bit coarse so it doesn't lay like a paste on the tongue.
The KitchenAid took less time to achieve the consistency I was after. After the same amount of processing time, you can see the difference:
The KitchenAid is on the left and the Cuisinart on the right. You'll notice that the KA puree is finer, although it left a little oil unincorporated. The Cuisinart still has larger chunks of chickpeas, but all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. These photos are after 20 seconds of processing. It took another 10 seconds in the Cuisinart for it to achieve the same texture as the KA, but it eventually got the same results. The KA wins the puree contest.
Next I moved on to more vegetable preparation and grated cabbage and carrots for slaw. I had to cut the cabbage wedge down more to fit in the KA's narrow feed tube, and that may have been the cause of the noticeable difference in texture between the two units. But, it may have been the distribution of the grating holes - the KA has holes that are more evenly distributed, while the Cuisinart has a cluster of holes near the center and then fewer at the edges. Below, on the left, is the KA cabbage. It almost looks chopped rather than grated or shredded. I preferred the texture achieved by the Cuisinart - that's what I think shredded cabbage should look like.
The knife shown in the photo on the right was to chop up the "angel's share" of cabbage each processor left whirling helplessly around the top of the blade:
One thing that confused me when I was setting up the processors to do the grating and slicing is that the KA blade is upside down compared to the Cuisinart. The lip is on the top side instead of the bottom. I thought it might cause more problems with food catching and such but it doesn't seem to make any difference.
The carrot test was not as conclusive. They both grated them well, although the Cuisinart's may have been a hair thinner. The KA shreds seemed more three-dimensional, but the difference was very slight. I don't know that one was better than the other but they were slightly different. Both were acceptable to me.
For what proved to be the final task I was willing to do, I did a liquid leaking test. I made a large batch of marinara, which called for 56 ounces of whole tomatoes that needed to be pureed. It was first cooked down, so it probably was only about 40 ounces by the time I put it in the processors. I put it in the Cuisinart first and spun it for two pulses. The amount of liquid went over the recommended liquid line, so I was expecting the worst. However, it didn't seem to leak. There was a little liquid on the stem of the processor, but no drips or puddles under the bowl. I transferred the contents to the KA, where the liquid just reached the liquid limit line. Two pulses later, and I had slight leakage. Again, the KA is the photo on the left:
While the KA supposedly has a higher liquid capacity if you go by the line indicated on the bowl, in reality the capacities are very close to the same in both models. It still beats my 7-cup, though, which leaked with a single 28-ounce can of tomatoes in it!
I hate to harp on a subject, but I have to go back to the sturdiness factor again. Looking at the blades of both units, it appears that the Cuisinart is again the winner. Cuisinart uses rivets more than KitchenAid, and where KA does use rivets they appear to be smaller. Again, there is no way of knowing for sure without doing destructive testing, but if I had to guess, I'd say the Cuisinart blades will hold up better.
I decided not to make a dough with the machines because I don't use a food processor for dough. But repeated tests have shown that the Cuisinart is a bit better for making dough, but that the KA will perform more than adequately in this task.
A couple of points I didn't mention before and I will wrap up this comparison. The Cuisinart motor is quieter than the KitchenAid; however, the bowl of the KA is thicker and therefore masks some of the noise from ingredients hitting the sides of the bowl, so neither one is a clear winner in this area. It's tough to make a silent food processor that actually works. But neither of these is jarring in its noise level.
Both have motors that are close to one another in stated wattage. I don't know how much difference 20 more watts will make when you are already at 700 watts. That is nearly 3/4 horsepower! Of course, the actual performance will depend on the current reaching the outlet. Although the electric company may claim otherwise, your household current probably varies between 90 and 130 volts throughout the day. The condition of the wiring in your house affects the outlet voltage as well. Our usually runs between 110 and 118. So we aren't getting quite the performance out of the motors that we could - the rating is for 120 volts. But both these puppies are pretty stout
I had some trouble getting the bowl off the KitchenAid. The indents on the base are longer than on the Cuisinart so you have to turn the bowl just right to lift it off. I'm sure I'd get better at it with practice but it annoyed the shit out of me during the testing. Also, I much prefer the paddle controls of the Cuisinart, because the buttons on the KA are fairly small and I always had to look down to make sure I was pressing the right one. So I am going to rate the Cuisinart higher on ease of use with a caveat that I previously owned a Cuisinart so my comfort level is greater with that brand.
In the end, both of these machines are great food processors, and are superior to the Black & Decker/Oster/Hamilton Beach models. You really can't go wrong with either of them, so base your choice on how well each one performs in the tasks you will be doing in your food processor.
Here's a summary of the results:
Looks: in the eye of the beholder
Size of unit: Cuisinart (it fits under my cabinets)
Dry ingredient capacity: Cuisinart
Liquid ingredient capacity: Tie
Smooth puree: KitchenAid
Slicing: KitchenAid (two slicing blades)
Accessories: KitchenAid (extra slicing blade; mini bowl/blade)
Sturdiness (perceived): Cuisinart
Noise: Tie (I don't have a decibel meter to measure precisely)
Ease of use: Cuisinart (caveat - I was a previous Cuisinart user)
Neither of these units clearly outshone the other, so I can't say one is a much better product. It depends on the criteria that are important to you. If you want an all around machine and don't care if it fits under your cabinets, I'd choose the KitchenAid because it has more accessories and, if you like black, it's cheaper. If capacity and sturdiness are what you're after, choose the Cuisinart. I am keeping the Cuisinart, based on the following criteria:
- The dry capacity is larger - it will handle a double batch of cookie dough (you could say 'it had me at double dough' - groan)
- It appears to be more sturdily constructed
- It fits under my cabinets - if I have to put it in a cabinet, I'll never use it
- My comfort level is greater due to my previous Cuisinart ownership
Even though I had to spend an extra $70, I'm happy with my Cuisinart. I'm looking forward to many years of processing bliss.