Cuisinart Elemental 13-Cup Review
Pros: Good at mixing and shredding
Cons: Average at chopping, little harder to clean
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cuisinart Elemental did an acceptable job overall in our tests, performing slightly above average in some metrics, and slightly below in others, averaging out to a score in the middle of the group. The list price for this model won't break the bank, and this model shouldn't disappoint. However, there are other models that scored comparably and cost less.
After spending countless hours comparing these products side-by-side and ranking their performances on different tests, we determined overall scores.
We conducted over 25 different tests, grouping them into the following six weighted metrics: chopping, mixing, pureeing, shredding, slicing, and cleaning. The sections below detail exactly how the Elemental stood up to the competition and what it scored.
The Elemental ranked about average in our chopping metric, earning a 5 out of 10. 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.
The Elemental actually did very well at chopping onions, earning the second-highest score of the group. It wasn't quite as uniform as the onions produced by the Breville, but it was close.
Unfortunately, performance plummeted when it came to chopping carrots, with this model tying for the lowest score. The carrots weren't very uniform, and we were unable to chop the residual large pieces of carrots without over-processing a significant portion of the carrots.
The Elemental did recover slightly, doing about average at chopping almonds, about equivalent to the BLACK+DECKER in chop quality, but created much, much less pulverized almond dust.
This model did take a brief moment for the blade to cease spinning when the button was released, affording you less control than the Cuisinart Elite or the Cuisinart Custom.
The Elemental did better in our mixing metric, earning an 8 out of 10, tying for the second-highest score of the group with the Braun. 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 signs of struggle and consistency.
This model successfully made our 1-Cup mayo recipe without any difficulty and had a high-quality finished product, earning it full marks. This model also did a great job at making pizza dough, only shaking a tiny bit while it was mixing.
The Elemental 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 a little on our pureeing tests, earning a 6 out of 10. 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 made by the Elemental tied for the third-best of the group with the Cuisinart Elite. The quality dropped a little when it came to applesauce, leaving some large chunks remaining and a product that was overall coarser than other models.
It did even worse with the tomato sauce, creating a chunkier product that was comparable to the sauce made by the BLACK+DECKER. 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, earning a 7 out of 10. This was tied for the second-highest score of the group with the Braun. 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 a fine and medium shred settings. This model did well at shredding cheese, producing the second-best of the group, with a finished product that had very few crumbles and primarily cheese strands.
We did have to do some minor trimming to the 2lb 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, on the same level as the Braun.
The shredded carrots weren't too shabby either, earning the third-highest score of the group.
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 the Cuisinart Elite or the Cuisinart Custom.
Delivering an above average performance, the Cuisinart Elemental earned a 6 out of 10 for this metric. 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. The Elemental 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, earning it a 4 out of 10. 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.
This model is of an average value. It scored fine and we didn't balk at the price.
All in all, you probably wouldn't be disappointed in this model, but you might not be thrilled. It does come with the dicing attachment, which we did not test as we wouldn't be able to compare its performance to its peers, but is an interesting addition to this food processor. You may be better served by other models that scored the same but were noticeably less expensive, but this might be one to consider, especially if it's on sale somewhere and you can get it at a discounted price.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer