Food choppers are designed to do exactly as their name suggests—chop food so that you don't have to. If you're making a dish that requires lots of chopping, such as salsa, chutney, or soup, then a chopper can make quick work of these ingredients, leaving you with more free time. Food choppers are also handy for slicing up hard-to-chop ingredients like nuts, herbs, and cooked meat.
Whether electric or manual, a food chopper can cut your food preparation time and help you get to the serving stage sooner. Options range from hand-slap, spring-blade choppers to fancy electric models.
Types of Food Choppers
There are a number of different types of food choppers to suit your needs and budget. They all fit into two categories:
Manual: Manual food choppers are powered by you rather than electricity. They tend to be more affordable than electric models and don't require plugging in. Basic models often to use a hand-slap design that requires the user to press, or slap, on a top mechanism to force the spring blades down.
Other manual models use turning mechanisms, lever press, or a pull-cord similar to a lawnmower. The most basic models are simply a serrated metal ring with a handle attached. Choose the chopper that is most comfortable for you ergonomically.
Electric: Electric food choppers work similarly to a food processor, but are much smaller in size and more specialized in their functionality. These models use electricity to spin the central blade and chop food—all you have to do is push a button. Electric choppers tend to be more expensive than manual choppers, with their price ranging depending on the brand and model.
Using a Food Chopper
Since food choppers are small, you often have to downsize vegetable portions accordingly before chopping. Larger veggies like onions should be cut into quarters for best results before chopping.
Food choppers come in different styles and sizes, but they all have a similar function—to chop, coarse or fine. For a coarser chop for dishes like stews, chop or pulse for a short amount of time. To get finely chopped results, you need to pulse or process longer.
Food choppers can be used anytime a recipe calls for chopped, diced, or minced ingredients. However, you should always read the manual first to avoid inserting any foods that are not recommended with your unit. Foods that are too hard can damage or bend the blades in your chopper.
Food choppers are a handy device when you want to cut down on using a knife and shorten your prep. Some common uses for a food chopper include:
- Chopping onions, celery, garlic, and carrots for soups, stews, and other dishes
- Dicing fresh herbs for sauces and dips
- Making salsas, condiments, and dressings
- Chopping nuts for baking or garnish
- Making breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs
Cleaning and Maintenance
It's important to read the manual for your specific food chopper and follow the guidelines for maintenance. Choppers tend to be easiest to clean right after use, and most are at least partly dishwasher safe. Make sure the unit is completely dry before putting away to resist any rust.
If your chopper breaks, check the warranty. You may be able to send it to the manufacturer for repair for little or no cost.