Well thought out food preparation can make cooking much smoother – especially when you’re cooking for lots of people or planning a 3-course meal. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours chopping, mixing and blending. This guide will help you choose the gadgets to help make all types of food prep quicker and easier.
Everything you need for whipping up sweet and savoury treats
Stand mixers take all the arm ache out of manual mixing, whipping, and kneading, and make getting that perfect consistency as easy as the flick of a switch. Look out for ‘food mixers’ too, they do the same thing, but just have a different name.
A smaller version of a stand mixer, these are great for those smaller baking jobs like beating eggs, mixing icing, or forming batter. And because these ones come without a bowl, you can use them with any mixing bowl you have – big or small.
If you like to bake big, (we’re talking around two cakes at once) you’ll need a bowl with at least a 500ml capacity. Stand mixers can be quite big pieces of kit, so make sure you have enough room on your kitchen counter or in your cupboards too.
If you do a variety of different baking, you’ll want different speed settings for different tasks. Slow speeds are generally better for mixing dry ingredients… go too fast and you could get a cloud of flour in your face. While a bit of speed can be handy for creaming butter and making frosting.
How it looks in your kitchen is a big deal. You could add a pop of colour with a classic red or go for a cool grey – the choice is yours. You can even choose your preferred metal finish, whether that’s brushed or polished.
Most stand mixers will come with a beater for mixing, a dough hook for kneading, and a whisk for… well, whisking. Look out for added extras you might want, like a splashguard. This will cover the mixing bowl when it’s in use and stop ingredients from flying out over the sides.
The more speed settings that your hand mixer has, the more control and flexibility you have over your creations. The pace of your mixer can make all the difference when it comes to finding the right consistency.
This is all about getting the balance between a mixer that’s heavy enough to stand up on its end without falling over, and one that’s light enough to fluff frosting for 5 minutes without your arm feeling like it’s going to fall off. Anything 700-900g should be good.
Some mixers come with a pulse function that uses a small burst of power whenever you need it, so you’ll never over-egg the pudding! Perfectionists should look out for this little added extra.
A storage stand is a really useful addition to a hand mixer. It keeps all of the accessories and attachments close by when you’re mixing. So, if you need to turn that blend into a chop or a slice, you’ll never need to scramble around to find the right attachments.
Must-have essentials for everyday meal preparation
A food processor is the jack of all trades in the cooking world. Standard processors will come with kit to slice and dice, dough hooks, and julienne blades – great for cutting veg into shapes the kids might eat. Some models include even more attachments; there’s more on that below.
With a chopper, all your ingredients are taken care of in a flash, so you can wave goodbye to those tears you shed when you prepare onions by hand. Smaller than a standard food processor, these are better for working with reduced quantities and spaces with little storage.
If you want to join the homemade burger revolution or love to make your own salsas, or even baby food, then a grinder is perfect. They’re ideal for meats, fish and veg. You could even whip up your own spice mixes.
It’s important to consider how much space you have on the worktop for your new kitchen assistant. Some models are designed to be compact, but be sure to check that these smaller models still have the power you want. You’ll also find that some models come with integrated storage - like the Kenwood MultiPro Excel – great for keeping track of all the attachments.
Food processors have different speed levels, which are perfect for different ingredients. Lower speeds are ideal for chopping and slicing fruit and veg while those higher settings are sure to crack any tough nuts!
In addition to basics for chopping, slicing, and mixing, some models come with lots of additional attachments for different things, including easily grinding up nuts, herbs and spices. You can easily find out what tools and accessories each food processor comes with - just check out the 'What's In The Box' section when you're looking at a product.
We’ve got a wide variety of different styles and colours, so you can pick one that’s easy on the eye, from classically retro to sleek and modern. Plus, there’s a whole palette of amazing colours, like eye-popping reds to pastel pinks.
Good quality stainless steel blades will be found on most appliances. Stainless steel will perform well for most tasks and is easy to clean. Plastic ones are better for some tasks though, like kneading dough.
After making nut butters, sauces and all kinds of different dishes in a food processor, cleaning each part can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, plenty of food processors are dishwasher safe, so it’ll be a breeze to get every last bit squeaky clean.
A range of speed settings allow you to control how fast or slow the appliance works to break down your ingredients. The more speeds you have to choose from, the more flexibility you have over the size, consistency and shape of what you’re chopping or grinding. If you like your veg chunky, go slow and for a fine grind of nuts, simply pick up the pace.
Choppers and grinders have quite modest capacities compared to food mixers or processors, and this makes them ideal if you only plan on using them to mix up a small amount of ingredients - a handful of vegetables or some herbs or nuts for example.
Choppers tend to come with an S-shape blade, while grinders will have more propellers to achieve the finer consistency needed. With fewer attachments and accessories than a food processor, it’s much easier to find room on your kitchen counter or inside the cupboard.
Most choppers and grinders are really easy to take apart, with most bits able to go straight in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. It means you don’t have to worry about making mess with the mixer, and can just focus on getting all the right flavours together.
Everything you need for those hearty winter warmers
Stand blenders come with a blade at the bottom, making them the perfect all-in-one blender and a great ice crusher. Hand blenders have a small blade at the bottom of the ‘wand’, so you can blend straight into a pan or a bowl. It’s also good for just quickly blending small quantities.
Just like a blender, but with an additional heat feature, a soup maker will blend all your ingredients together and heat it at the same time. You can cook a warming tomato soup or a classic leek and potato in about 20-30 minutes, and all you have to do is add the ingredients. Easy.
When it comes to blending, power is everything. The higher the wattage, the harder your blender will work to break down ingredients quickly and efficiently. If you’re looking to break down tougher foods like seeds and nuts, you’re better off with a model that has a wattage of 1000 or more.
More speed settings give you more control over your blend. Some softer fruits only need a gentle pulse, while other tougher ingredients will need breaking down with a blast of speed. Most blenders have at least 2 pace settings and this can go up to as many as 15.
Hand blenders are super easy to clean with most wands disconnecting from the motor and power cord, so you can pop it straight in the dishwasher or hand wash safely. Similarly, most blenders can be taken apart for easy cleaning too.
With most blenders you get a range of accessories included with the product. Some of the most common additions are whisks and mashers – that’s your main course and dessert taken care of! There are even some that come with choppers, slicing discs and shredders that make preparing vegetables and meats quick and simple.
Soup makers come in lots of different sizes, from compact 1 litre options to over double that size. If you like to make soup in big batches of around 6 to 8 portions, look for a soup maker that’s around 2 litres. Or if a couple of servings will suit you just fine, a 1 litre option will be perfect – and easier to fit in the cupboard too.
Everyone has a preference when it comes to the perfect soup, but whether you like it chunky and rustic or silky smooth, most soup makers come with both settings for you to choose from. Keep an eye out for additional features, like sautéing for cooking your ingredients for added flavour, and juicing that’ll blend without heat for making fruity drinks.
If you need to cook up a soup from scratch in your lunch hour, some models can have a soup ready in just 10 minutes! However, most will cook the ingredients first, which can result in a better flavour, and this will still only take around 20 or 30 minutes.
Speedy soup making is all well and good, but not if it takes you double the time to clean up afterwards. Many soup makers come with parts that you can pop straight in the dishwasher for ease. If you’re hand washing, a non-stick coating or a pre-cleaning setting to loosen any stubborn bits stuck to the sides can make all the difference.
What you need to make your own juices, shakes and smoothies
Whether you want to make a classic apple juice or an exotic mango and pineapple, a juicer will extract the pulp and skin, leaving you with fresh, tasty juice. There are fast juicers, which can juice ingredients quickly, but use a lot of heat to do so, which can make your juices warm. Slow juicers use a different technique which takes a little longer.
A smoothie maker blends fruit and veg into a tasty drink. They work a bit like jug blenders, except they dispense the blended drink into a single portion. If you want to crush ice as part of your recipes - you might want to look at high powered smoothie makers and blenders.
Fast juicers – or centrifugal juicers – use powerful blades to slice and dice your fruit and veg with no fuss. The ingredients are quickly shredded and separated from any pulp, leaving you with a delicious drink in no time. So even if you’re in a rush before you head to work, you’ll always have time to get your 5-a-day off to a great start.
Sometimes called cold-press or masticating juicers, these are proof that good things take time. They squeeze and press the juice out of your fruit and veg to get every last bit of goodness out. Perfect for small fruits or berries, they’re also really handy with tougher ingredients like spinach, kale and wheatgrass.
Our juicers come in a variety of sizes, starting at around 1 litre. Larger models, up to 5 litres in size, have more room for ingredients to create delicious fruit juices. Keep an eye out for wide feed chutes too, as these can easily juice larger fruit and veg with ease. Plus, it saves chopping time.
Making juices can get messy, there’s lots of waste and usually lots of parts too. That’s why you want a juicer that makes pulp easy to empty and ideally parts that go in the dishwasher. If you’re hand washing keep an eye out for juicers that come with fewer parts.
Our range of smoothie makers come in a variety of sizes, so there’s something perfect for every mealtime. If your model has a few different jugs, a 0.3 litre one is a great way to start the day, while a 0.7 litres portion makes for a perfect lunchtime smoothie.
The higher the power, the harder your smoothie maker will work to crush, mix and blend those fruits and veggies. Smoothie makers vary a great deal; in power with models from around 250 watts right up to 1000. Look out for ice crushing features on higher power models.
Whether you’re starting a new health routine or replacing an old smoothie maker, you need one that reflects your taste. We’ve got models in classic black or white, a nice green to match your healthy lifestyle, or products with a sleek metallic finish that’ll sit nicely in a modern kitchen.
Many smoothie makers come with cups for drinking your concoctions straight away, as well as storage containers or additional bottles too, which is great for making a pre and post-workout smoothie in one go. Some also come with additional features like ice-crushing modes or pre-set blending patterns so you can get the perfect consistency every time.
Because food prep can mean everything from grating garlic and cutting veg to making a juice to go with your meal, there are some appliances designed to do more. The Sage Bluicer blends and juices. Simply switch attachments depending on which function you want to use.
A food processor will typically have more functions than a blender. A blender is great for mixing wet and dry ingredients, while a food processor will come with a number of attachments for tasks like cutting, slicing and grating.
This depends on what type of food prep you do most. Food mixers or stand mixers are great for baking prep, while food processors are better for fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.
With a 1200 watt power output, the Ninja Blender with 2 accessories is one of our most powerful. This means it’ll work harder to get the results in the fastest possible time.
Food processors are great for tasks using ingredients like meat, fish, fruit and vegetables because they include lots of attachments.
Most plastic or glass blender jugs are dishwasher safe for convenience. Check each individual listing for specific product information.
A twin gear juicer is another name for a cold press/masticating or slow juicer. They squeeze and press the juice out of your fruit and veg to get every last bit of goodness out.
Most food processor attachments are dishwasher safe for convenience. Check each individual listing for specific product information.
The Bosch Compact 2.3 Litre Food Processor is our Best Buy. It has a large capacity and lots of attachments. It also has lots of speed settings and a pulse function, so you’re always in complete control.
The rotating blade on an electric meat grinder will chop and partially mix the meat – great for making burgers, meatballs and sausages.
Smoothie makers often come with storage cups and drinking bottles included. Blenders tend to be more for general use mixing to combine wet and dry ingredients. Blenders also tend to be more powerful, so we’d recommend a blender for making smoothies if you want to crush ice.
If you do a lot of cooking or often cook for a lot of people a food processor can save you a lot of time in the kitchen. Equally, if you hate cooking, a food processor is a great way to speed up the process.
The Morphy Richards Sauté and Soup 1.6 Litre Soup Maker has a large capacity, multiple consistency settings and a sauté feature that can really help to get the best flavours out of your soup.
A mini chopper great for chopping fruit and veg, and perfect if you make a lot of salads or salsas and dips. A food processor is much larger with lots more attachments, which makes it better suited to a wider variety of tasks, like grating, shredding and slicing.