A good processor is an essential ingredient in effortless cooking. Jenni Muir whisks up some unbeatable options

BEST BUY - KitchenAid: Artisan mixer


Although the guarantee on this machine is five years, the typical lifespan of a KitchenAid mixer is an impressive 30 years. Made from enamelled cast zinc, and weighing a hefty 22lbs, it comes in a range of eight colours plus fun limited-edition shades. The dough hook, included as standard, is particularly good. Fourteen optional accessories are also available.

Call 0845 450 0099 for stockists

Home-Tek: Do It All three-in-one food preparation system


Want to keep kitchen equipment to a minimum? This 250-watt model includes beaters and dough hooks. It's powerful enough to crush ice and the large glass jug can be used as a chopping bowl or storage jar.

QVC (0800 504030; www.qvcuk.com)

BEST BUDGET BUY - Bosch: MFQ2000 hand mixer


With a 350-watt motor, this nifty little three-speed hand mixer is strong enough to tackle dough and has the hooks to do it. It is ergonomically designed for comfort and features a non-slip, soft-grip handle, plus a wrap-around cable for easy storage.

John Lewis (0845 604 9049; www.johnlewis.com)

Kenwood: KM400 Chef Classic food mixer


Ideal for baking enthusiasts, the Classic Kenwood Chef may not be as large or powerful as its big brother, but its dimensions and price are just right for smaller kitchens. It comes with a 4.6 litre stainless steel bowl, an acrylic blender attachment, and the option to buy more than 20 extra attachments.

John Lewis (0845 604 9049; www.johnlewis.com)

Morphy Richards: Kitchen Hardware Professional Kitchen Machine


Morphy Richards aim to bring professional-standard machines into home kitchens. This stylish mixer with die-cast metal body, 700-watt motor, and variable speed control, comes with a stainless steel bowl and glass blender attachment.

Morphy Richards (0870 060 2614; www.morphyrichards.co.uk)

Wahl: James Martin Collection bench mixer


Two stainless steel mixing bowls are included with this machine: one a modest 1.4 litres in capacity and the other a roomy 3.8 litres. A "power feedback" facility increases the revs when tackling stiff mixtures, but the beaters stop automatically if any ingredients can't be broken down. New on the market, it remains to be seen if this machine is as popular with the ladies as the television chef, James Martin.

Wahl (01227 740066; www.wahl.co.uk)

Morphy Richards: silver hand mixer


One of the best-looking hand mixers on the market, this new machine is finished in stylish silver and features stainless steel beaters, dough hooks, and a rubberised handle. Features include a 250-watt motor, five speed settings and turbo power switch.

Morphy Richards (0870 060 2614; www.morphyrichards.co.uk)

Antony Worrall Thompson by Breville: KM1 stand mixer


Push-button controls and digital display are included in the high-tech metallic styling of this machine. Should you happen to overload it, there is a safety reset mechanism. The mixer comes with a recipe booklet featuring AWT's recipes and advice on appropriate speed settings.

Breville (0800 525089; www.breville.co.uk)

BEST LUXURY BUY - Kenwood: KM005 Chef Major mixer


Powered by a beefy, 1200-watt, motor, this new, top-of-the-range version of the world famous Kenwood Chef is comparatively quiet. The mixing bowl is a huge 6.7 litres. In addition to the usual beater, dough hook, and whisk tools that come with it, there is a wide range of attachments, including a grain mill and, even, a potato-peeler.

John Lewis (0845 604 9049; www.johnlewis.com)

Braun: MR5550 MCA three-in-one hand blender


These days, some hand blenders come with so many extra food-processing attachments that you begin to wonder where you're going to put them all and if you'll ever use them. However, you're unlikely to regret buying this heavy-duty 600-watt stick blender with metal balloon whisk for beating and whipping. The stainless steel shaft is another welcome detail and, like the whisk, is dishwasher safe.

Argos (0870 600 8784; www.argos.co.uk)