Food processors are kitchen appliances that one uses instead of graters, microplanes and mandolins to slice, grate and chop foods before further cooking. Mini food processors are small versions that perform some, but not all, of the functions of a full-size food processor. They also hold a smaller volume of food and require less counter space.
The volume of a mini food processor can range from 1 cup (237 milliliters) up to 4 cups (948 milliliters), while full-size food processors average 8 cups (1.9 liters) or more. Manufacturers intend for one to use these mini versions as introductory-level kitchen tools or for simple food preparation tasks. If one has no food processor at all, then purchasing a miniature version can reduce the effort required for labor-intensive food preparation chores such as dicing and chopping food without slicing too far into one's budget.
Along with being smaller, a mini food processor also has fewer capabilities. While full-size food processors can slice vegetables, puree foods and mix dough, few mini food processors have the volume capacity required to make bread. One rarely finds food slicing blades on mini food processors.
Food preparation functions for which a mini food processor is best suited include chopping, dicing and shredding small quantities of vegetables and hard cheeses. Some models have a blade design that makes them useful for making breadcrumbs and crushing crackers. When these appliances have a pulse feature, one can chop or grate foods in short bursts and with more precision. Models that only have an on and off switch can clog easily and stop, or they may process foods too much, turning them into purees.
One can buy mini food processors that are stand-alone appliances with their own power cord. Retailers also sell mini food processor attachments that one can use with a blender. These have no power cord and one must use an adapter that lets the unit fit on the blender's power base. Both types often are small enough to store in a kitchen cabinet or drawer.
A mini food processor is not a substitute for a blender with an ice crusher or a food processor intended for preparation of family-size dishes. When purchasing a mini food processor, one should look for features that make the unit more versatile. Slotted covers allow precise control of liquids when pureeing. Dishwasher-safe bowls and blades reduce cleanup time. A cover that fits the unit’s processing bowl also lets one store the contents in the refrigerator for short periods.