A view with all three bowls stacked inside each other. Right now, the food processor is ready to be used, using just the small bowl and smaller blade.
Item: Magimix by Robot-Coupe 12-Cup Food Processor (Compact 3200 XL)
Price: $299.95 to $349.95
Overall Impression: A well-built, powerful food processor with smart, cook-friendly design and easy cleanup. On the high end pricewise, but a value if you expect to use it frequently.
In my opinion, the best food processors are the ones that keep the lowest profile. No jumping and diving, no burning motors, no array of buttons. No drama, mama. It might not seem good to define a tool by its negative (here's what it isn't) but I think that in this case, this is exactly the right way to describe the Magimix 12-Cup Food Processor — it's pretty dreamy to use, but this really just means one major thing: No fuss, no hassle. It just works.
Robot-Coupe is a French company that has been making food processors for over 40 years. In fact, their founder invented one of the very first food processors, the electric model which very much set the style for food processors from then until now. Their tools have a reputation for being solid and well-built; you'll find Robot-Coupe processors in many restaurant kitchens. Their food processors are made in France, and the motors come with a 12-year-guarantee. Many of their fans are rabidly devoted; I have heard from people who have been using their Magimix for 20 years or more.
But they have been quite expensive and sometimes hard to find here in the States. Now, though, Williams-Sonoma is carrying a very sensibly-priced model of the Magimix, a 12-cup basic food processor.
Characteristics and Specs
This food processor comes with three bowls, 12-cup, 10-cup, and 6-cup. It includes two blades, one for the large and medium bowls, and one smaller one for the smallest bowl. There are also two grating discs, two slicing discs, a dough blade, egg whisk, and spatula. All together, it weighs about 21 pounds.
Favorite details: This food processor, compared to others I've tested and tried, just feels solid. Even when making heavy doughs, it doesn't hop and skip across the counter. The motor is very powerful, and very quiet. It just does its job; you don't even have to scrape the bowl down between adding ingredients.
I love how the bowls stack inside each other, too. When you are using the smallest bowl to process something (herbs, nuts, pesto, for instance), you stack it right inside the large bowl. This makes changing out bowls very quick, and it lets the processor work without an extra spindle; it just works with any bowl that's on at the moment. It's like Russian dolls — food processor-style!
Also, there are only three buttons here: Off, On, Pulse. If you turn it ON the motor runs until you hit OFF. Pulse just pulses the blade while you're holding the button down. Easy peasy; no decisions to make about speed and power.
I was also struck by how easy it is to clean this food processor. The bowl washes out easily, without too many nooks and crannies for food to get stuck in. The handle is often the stickiest spot (literally) as the spring in the handle, which controls operation when the lid is on, can get gummy or wet. I thought it was smart here how the handle is pierced by a lot of large holes (see above), letting it be rinsed out and air-dry more easily.
Potential problems: The elephant in the room with any food processor is a large one: Size. How much space will this thing take up, and is it worth lugging it in and out of the cupboards every time I want to shred some carrots? The Magimix is in a similar league with its Cuisinart and KitchenAid cousins here; it's a substantial tool. But the blades do come in a handy storage case, and the bowls stack inside each other, so it has a slightly smaller footprint than the other food processor I am currently testing. Still, though — the sheer size of this food processor, or any full-sized food processor, will make many cooks in small kitchens think twice.
This issue only multiplies if you get any of their (admittedly very fine) attachments, like one that will turn the Magimix into a juicer, or the additional grating blades.
Also, another quibble is that I don't think the small bowl is quite small enough; I had trouble using it to make banana ice cream in small batches, for instance. I'd prefer to have this replace my little chopper, with its three-cup bowl.
Splurge-worthy? Perhaps. Buying a food processor is a very personal decision, and it depends a great deal on what kind of cooking you do every day. For years I got by easily with a 3-cup small food processor, finding it easier to pull out and clean up. I used it for small batches of pastry, grinding nuts, and for making sauces and salsas. A bigger food processor just seemed cumbersome.
Now, though, I have been making bigger batches of bread dough and pastry in this machine, and using it for spice pastes, grinding meat, and quickly shredding cabbage for slaw. Some others might use this food processor every day, for convenience and for speed. Others of you might never touch it. It really depends on your style of cooking, your time, and the size of your household.
If you are indeed in the market, though, for a workhorse food processor, in my opinion I don't think you can do much better than this one!
Good for small kitchens? If you do want and need a full-sized food processor, then yes, this one will be just as good for a small kitchen as any of the others on the market, especially given its nicely stacking bowls.
Find It! Magimix by Robot-Coupe Food Processor, 12-Cup, $299.95 ($349.95 for the chrome version) at Williams-Sonoma
Related: Product Review: Cuisinart Elite Die-Cast Food Processor
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Faith Durand)