The Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup is a standard food processor that has a middle-of-the-pack score and a price range to match. While this Cuisinart kitchen appliance didn't deliver any amazing results in our rating metrics, it also didn't disappoint. It scored particularly well in the mixing and shredding metrics of our food processor testing and only had a few minor drawbacks when it came to ease of cleaning.Editor's Note: This product review was updated on May 12, 2022, with further product recommendations.
Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup Review
Pros: Good at mixing and shredding
Cons: Average at chopping, little harder to clean
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Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup
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|Pros||Good at mixing and shredding||Great for pizza dough, pureeing perfection, easy to clean, mostly even slicing, little to no leakage||Great at pureeing and slicing||Great for shredding, slicing, good at chopping||Great at pureeing, good at chopping, inexpensive|
|Cons||Average at chopping, little harder to clean||Not great for applesauce, average chopping and shredding||No adjustability of shredding or slicing||Little more difficult to clean||Leaky, not the best at mixing, loud|
|Bottom Line||An excellent model if you are planning on frequently making dough or mayo||A food processor especially great for pizza, but you'll need to own a Vitamix motor||One of the best food processors you can get on a budget without sacrificing too much performance||Offering all-around excellent performance given its price tag, this is one of our favorite recommendations to those on a budget||For those trying to save some dough, this inexpensive model will get the job done, especially when it comes to pureeing and chopping|
|Rating Categories||Cuisinart Elemental...||Vitamix 12-Cup Atta...||Cuisinart Custom 14||Ninja Professional||Hamilton Beach 10-Cup|
|Specs||Cuisinart Elemental...||Vitamix 12-Cup Atta...||Cuisinart Custom 14||Ninja Professional||Hamilton Beach 10-Cup|
|Bowl Size||13 cup and 4 cup mini bowl||12 cup||14 cup||9 cup||10 cup|
H: 12.8" (no base)
H: 19.6" (on tested base)
|Measured Weight of Base||5 pounds, 9 ounces||8 pounds, 12 ounces. Varies, tested with Vitamix A2300 blender base||12 pounds, 6 ounces||4 pounds, 8 ounces||3 pounds, 1 ounce|
|Motor||550 Watt||Varies, tested with Vitamix A2300 blender base||720 Watt||850 Watt||450 Watt|
|Speed Control||High/Low/Pulse/Off||Pulse/(On/Off), varies, tested with Vitamix A2300 blender base||On/(Pulse/Off)||Chop/Puree/Dough/Disc/Low/High/Pulse||High/Low/Pulse/Off|
|Cord Storage||Internal||Underside cord wrap; varies, tested with Vitamix A2300 blender base||None||External Cord Wrap||Internal|
|Feet||Smooth Rubber||Varies, tested with Vitamix A2300 blender base||Smooth Rubber||Suction Cups||Suction Cups|
|Decibels at 3ft||79||80.5, varies, tested with Vitamix A2300 blender base||61.5||80||96|
|Mini Bowl Blade||Yes||N/A||Yes||N/A||N/A|
|Accessory Storage Case||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Slicing Disc||Adjustable to 8mm||2 discs large and small; Non adjustable||Non adjustable||Non adjustable||Non adjustable|
|Shredding Disc||Fine and Medium||2 discs large and small; Non adjustable||Medium||Non adjustable||Medium|
|Dicing Kit||Yes, with a cleaning tool||No||No||No||No|
|Build in Bowl Scraper||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|French Fry Disc||No||No||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Elemental ranked about average in our chopping metric. In our test kitchen, we chopped carrots, almonds, and onions to assess its performance, comparing the final product to the other food processors. We also evaluated how long it took for the blade to stop spinning when the "Pulse" button was released, demonstrating the level of control you had. It did very well at chopping onions, earning the second-highest score of the group.
Unfortunately, performance plummeted when chopping carrots, with this model tying for the lowest score. The carrots weren't very uniform, and we could not chop the large residual pieces without over-processing a significant portion of the carrots.
The Elemental was about average at chopping almonds, similar to the Black+Decker 8-Cup in chop quality, but created much, much less pulverized almond dust. This model took a brief moment for the blade to cease spinning when the button was released.
The Elemental did better in our mixing metric, tying for the second-highest score of the group. We compared the quality of the mayonnaise, pie crust dough, and pizza dough produced by the machines to come up with a final score, particularly looking for consistency and any signs of struggle. It successfully made our one cup mayo recipe without difficulty and produced a high-quality finished product, earning it full marks. This model also did a great job making pizza dough, only shaking a tiny bit while mixing. It did well at making pie crust, though not quite as well as pizza dough. The pie crust actually got thrown against the side of the bowl and stuck there, resulting in a dough that had some dry spots and some overly sticky spots when we rolled it out.
The Elemental's performance dropped slightly on our pureeing tests. We had a panel of tasters rate and rank the hummus, applesauce, tomato sauce, and nut butter produced by each food processor. We also tested whether or not each bowl leaked when filled with water to the maximum fill line, and the motor was run. The hummus tied for the third-best of the group with the Cuisinart Elite. The applesauce produced by this model featured some large chunks and was overall coarser than that of other models.
The tomato sauce wasn't great and was chunkier than other sauces we made. The Elemental also had a less than stellar performance grinding nut butter, taking around 25 minutes and receiving the second-lowest score.
Shredding was another one of the metrics that the Elemental scored very well in. We did a careful shred analysis of the potatoes, cheese, and carrots that were sent through each machine to determine scores, as well as looking at whether or not you could adjust the size of the shreds. This model has both fine and medium shred settings. It performed well at shredding cheese, with a finished product that had very few crumbles and was primarily cheese strands.
We had to do some minor trimming to the two-pound block of cheese to get it to fit in the feeding tube, and no chunks were left behind in the gap between the lid and shredding disc. The Elemental continued its solid performance when it came to shredding potatoes, producing some of the highest quality shreds we saw during testing.
The shredded carrots weren't too shabby either, and we were impressed during this test.
The carrots didn't have any large chunks in them, but they weren't as crisp and as structurally sound as the shreds made by some of the higher performers.
Delivering an above-average performance, the Elemental earned an above-average score. We sliced zucchini, potatoes, and tomatoes to assess the aptitude of each model, as well as if it was possible to adjust the thickness of the slice on the slicing disc. The slicing blade was easy to adjust, with the numbers corresponding to the desired thickness in millimeters. It did a fantastic job slicing tomatoes, though the feed tube wouldn't fit the largest tomato we had.
Quality dropped when it came to potatoes and zucchini, both ranking about average. There was a small degree of taper on all of the potato slices. The zucchini slices exhibited a wide variation in size, and there was some tapering, but it did alright.
This model was one of the more difficult to clean. The discs, blade, bowl, and lid are all dishwasher safe, though recommended for the top shelf only. The blade was easy enough to clean, especially helped by its longer length, making it easier to hold on to when washing manually. The bowl had some small raised points to act as stops for the smaller bowl that would catch food and be very problematic to clean. The lid was even worse, with some even smaller spaces that would trap food and cause endless frustration to clean.
Should You Buy the Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup?
All in all, you probably wouldn't be disappointed in this model, but you might not be thrilled. It comes with a dicing attachment, which is a nice perk unique to this model. All in all, though, we think most people will be better served by models that scored similarly but were significantly less expensive.
What Other Food Processors Should You Consider?
This model scored on par with a couple much cheaper processors. The Hamilton Beach 10-Cup is our favorite inexpensive model, if you're hoping to stretch your dollars but maintain good performance. In the same price range as the Elemental, you can get the Cuisinart Custom 14, a higher performer. And if money is no object, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro takes the cake as the best overall food processor we tested.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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