When I was young, poor, and just starting to cook, I dreamed about one day owning a food processor, just like the chefs I saw on TV, who used them to make big batches of pesto, silky-smooth hummus, and perfect pie crust in a flash. But dropping over $100 on a kitchen appliance wasn't a priority — or even a possibility — especially when I could use my clunky old blender or even (gasp!) my hands to do what the food processor could do, albeit more slowly and inconveniently.
Still, I was happy when my mom gave me a 3.5-cup mini food chopper for my birthday one year, and figured it would be a good placeholder until the day I got the real thing. Little did I know this little food chopper would become one of my most-used, essential kitchen appliances, and that — even years after finally getting a full-size food processor — I would love it even more than its bigger, more expensive older sibling.
1. It takes up less space in a small kitchen.
I don't like keeping much on my kitchen counters, as I hate clutter and prefer to have the prep space, so adding a full-size food processor and its accompanying blades, lids, and bowl to my kitchen required some serious cabinet Tetris. Even now that I have a slighter larger kitchen, I still find all the food processor accessories slightly annoying to store. The mini food chopper, in contrast, just has the body, bowl, blade, and lid, and has a very small footprint when assembled.
2. I use it all the time.
I use my full-size food processor to make big batches of hummus and pesto about once a month, shred a lot of vegetables once every two or three months, and make pie dough about once a year. That's about it.
But my mini food chopper gets used at least a couple times per week and sometimes a couple times a day. I use it most often for the following tasks:
- Making vinaigrettes and other sauces for salads and grain bowls.
- Chopping up onions, garlic, and herbs to mix into meatballs.
- Puréeing ginger, garlic, and onions for Indian curries.
- Whipping up a small batch of one-ingredient ice cream.
I also occasionally use it to grind spices, whip cream, and make small amounts of hummus and pesto. Whatever task it takes on is easier, quicker, and often generates fewer dishes than alternative methods.
3. It is more convenient to pull out of the cupboard and easier to clean.
My full-size food processor is heavy and bulky. It takes two hands to pull it from its spot in my kitchen cabinet, and when it's dirty, the bowl and lid take up half my sink. Because of this, I usually stop and ask, Is it worth it? before using it. Much of the time, it is not.
But my mini food chopper is small; I can grab it and move it around the kitchen with one hand. It fits neatly in the top rack of my dishwasher or can quickly be washed by hand. Its appearance doesn't elicit groans from my husband — aka the reluctant dishwasher — the way the food processor does.
Isn't it funny how the least fancy tools are the ones that you come to love the most? I still appreciate the big tasks my food processor can take on, but my mini food chopper and I spend so much quality time together, it's the one that has my heart.
Do you have any essential kitchen tools you didn't expect to love as much as you do?