The Cuisinart baby food maker is the best all-in-one option we tested in this review.
Cuisinart introduced its first food processor to America is 1973 and was made popular by Julia Child felt the processor was a "revolutionary Kitchen appliance." Cuisinart's late founder, Carl Sontheimer appreciated Child's support and pitch that the food processor was a quick and easy way to make "fine food and healthy dishes." Now under the management of the Conair Corporation Cuisinart continues to be a popular name in kitchen appliances and strives in their mission to help you "Savor the Good Life®."
This comparison chart shows the overall scores for each food maker tested in this review including the Cuisinart (in blue). You can see at a glance that the Cuisinart is the top scoring steamer and blender, with the only higher scoring product being puree only options.
The information below includes details on how the Cuisinart performed during testing compared to the competition.
The Cuisinart offered relatively consistent quality in puree with the majority of food types we tested.
The Cuisinart earned an 8 of 10 for puree quality tying with the Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend, an Editors' Choice winner.
Given that baby's first food should be smooth throughout and devoid of chunks and pieces we tested a variety of foods and compared them to other product results while also looking for larger pieces or failure to blend.
Whole grains of rice can be seen in the Cuisinart puree of rice. This was a common occurrence in the all-in-one options with rice.
The Cuisinart has the most consistent puree smoothness of any of the steam/blender combos leaving fewer chunks and larger pieces than the competition. The only real hiccups in the puree process came with bananas and avocado that took longer to reach smooth consistency than the competition and rice and pasta that didn't blend very smooth and still had intact whole grains of rice visible.
Sweet potatoes blended smooth in the Cuisinart with no chunks making it perfect for baby's first foods.
The blending of Kale was really more like a chopping or what you'd expect from a general food processor, but the remainder of the food items we tested, 21 in all had a nice smooth consistency that we were able to consistently achieve.
The Cuisinart is easy to use earning a second place score for the ease of use metric thanks in part to an intuitive, simple, one knob design.
Ease of Use
The Cuisinart earned a 7 of 10 for ease of use, which is one point below the high for the group.
Ease of use impacts your out of the box and daily experience. If a product isn't easy to use or requires constant manual reference we think parents will eventually give up and forget making baby food in favor of ready made food in a jar.
With only one knob and two clearly defined settings, it is hard to go wrong with the Cuisinart's user interface.
The user interface on the Cuisinart is fairly intuitive, and many parents will be able to operate it with only a quick overview of the instructions. However, the Sage Spoonfuls Puree and Blend and the Baby Bullet are both simpler and can probably be operated without instructions.
The Cuisinart is a self-contained unit where everything stores onboard so there are no parts to lose.
The Cuisinart has three settings, steam, blend, and bottle warmer which means you can use it before baby moves on to pureed food, which might make the higher price more tolerable. The unit has seven parts to assemble before use, but cooking and pureeing food is relatively quick compared to the competition. It has a four cup capacity, which is the second largest container capacity for the products we tested.
The steam water tank and the bottle warmer are the same compartment. The switch on the front has two options of steam or chop which means parents only need help with how much water is required and how long to blend. The bottle warmer won't fit short, squat bottles, so parents will want to check their bottle size, before relying on this unit for heating liquids.
This product has a similar problem as many of the other all-in-one options that the blending feature has a time limit to avoid overheating the motor. However, the limit for the Cuisinart is better than most. It is not recommended to run the chopping feature continuously for more than one minute at a time. For best results, the manual suggests a 20-30 seconds rest time between cycles; something parents will have to count on their own. We aren't sure why so many of the food makers require a rest or intermittent blending when many blenders can be run continuously for several minutes, but it feels like a design flaw to us and not that useful for busy parents juggling multiple things at once.
The Cuisinart suffered in health and safety being made almost entirely of plastic components that contact baby's food. Studies indicate that even BPA-free plastic can potentially leach into food products, which gives us pause on any cooking vessel made of plastic.
Health and Safety
The Cuisinart earned a 4 of 10 for health and safety. This score is the lowest in the group and hurt the Cuisinart's overall score significantly.
The Cuisinart has plastic components that hold, heat, and blend your baby's food. We have concerns about plastic (even BPA-free plastic) that it could potentially leach chemicals into the food as indicated in some studies. This potential is increased when plastic and food are heated. In our tests, the first several uses of the Cuisinart resulted in food with a strange metallic taste. We ran it multiple times both with and without food items, and while the taste decreased, it was still present after five complete cycles. We would prefer the work bowl be made of glass so that the major plastic component was eliminated from the equation.
We also have concerns over the water tank used for steaming. The tank itself is difficult to see into and near impossible to clean. Amazon user comment that the tank gets gross over time no matter how you attempt to clean it and this could lead to mold, rust or other bacteria build up that could affect baby's food. We prefer tank designs that are open, visible and easy to clean without nooks and crannies where things can grow and hide.
The bottle warmer component of the Cuisinart baby food maker is the same as the steam tank.
The Cuisinart has some nice safety features designed to prevent steam related burns and coming in contact with moving blade parts. This product has a "bladelock" system that locks the blade in place when the work bowl is not locked onto the base, and the cover has a release button that must be used to remove the work bowl which prevents the unit from turning on. Also, cooking and blending take place in the same bowl so there is no potential for burns that can happen when transferring food from one container to another like some of the other all-in-one products we tested.
The Cuisinart parts are easy to clean and dishwasher safe. We recommend hand washing to prolong the life of the plastic and limit potential degradation from repeatedly heating plastic.
Ease of Cleaning
The Cuisinart earned a 7 of 10 for ease of cleaning. There are two components to cleaning including daily after use clean up and regular maintenance of the steam tank for descaling of mineral deposits. This is something you don't need to do when using the blend only style of baby food maker.
The components that come into contact with food are all dishwasher safe. BabyGearLab recommends you hand wash the parts anyway to avoid possible degradation that can happen over time with the heat involved in dishwasher cleaning. This can prolong the life of the unit and help prevent possible chemical leaching.
The manual also outlines descaling of the tank with vinegar and water on a monthly basis or more often if necessary. Once again, we'd feel better if we could actually see inside the tank and long term users on Amazon report the tank can get "gross" over time because you can't see into it or properly clean it with any kind of utensil. This product should also be run through a complete cook cycle without food after cleaning with vinegar to limit the taste of vinegar in baby's food.