The best mandolines are more than just sharp slicers. Experts say fast cleanup, convenient height adjustments and a comfortable hand guard that grips food securely are all important features. Bulky or overcomplicated units negate the usefulness of a fast slicer; many owners say they would rather switch to a chef's knife than struggle with a cumbersome mandoline. For easy handling, experts frequently recommend Japanese-style mandolines, which eliminate the space-hogging stand. "The handheld Japanese mandoline might just be the most underrated tool in your kitchen," write editors at MarthaStewart.com. "It's lighter and less expensive than a French mandoline and turns raw vegetables into paper-thin wisps."
The Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer ((Est. $25)) is one of the few mandolines to receive top reviews from both professionals and experts alike, and its user-friendly design is a major reason why. An adjustable knob changes blade height quickly and precisely, and the slim hand-held body style stores easily in most kitchen drawers or cabinets.
The Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer's performance is first-class; reviews say it slices thinner than most. In their comparison, editors of TheKitchn.com report, "Running four fennel bulbs over this produced lightning-fast, perfectly shaved slices that I could see through." The Benriner can also perform julienne cuts, which one expert source believes it does best. The mandoline doesn't include a blade for crinkle or waffle cuts, but it can be purchased with a collection tray for about $50. Nevertheless, KitchenAuditions.com calls it "an incredible value" (as well as "an outstanding slicer").
For a larger, French-style mandoline with a built-in stand, reviews say the Oxo Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer (Est. $40) is an excellent pick. One expert source selects it as the best mandoline in their comparison test, where it receives top scores for straight, julienne and waffle cuts. A clearly marked dial on the side changes the blade to one of four pre-set cutting heights. Users also say the hand guard feels very safe, thanks to the wide, comfortable handle that protects your fingers from the blade.
However, owner opinions are mixed on the V-Blade's ease of use; a complicated partial disassembly sequence is required each time you change the blades or clean the unit. Overall, users think the Oxo is a good value, with four steel blades that store on-board, a dishwasher-safe body and a lifetime warranty.
Kitchen experts say you don't have to spend a lot of money to pick up a respectable mandoline. Good Housekeeping recommends several inexpensive models since "it's probably not a tool you'd use every day." Some of the best cheap mandolines have top slicing performance but fewer features than more expensive options. Most use a built-in blade for straight cuts, which can't be removed for sharpening or replaced to create julienne, crinkle or waffle slices.
Many reviewers say the inexpensive Kyocera Adjustable Mandoline Slicer ((Est. $20)) is a great value and easy to use. "For most slicing tasks, the compact Kyocera performs as well as any mandoline we have tested, hand held, or otherwise," report editors of KitchenAudition.com. The sharp ceramic blade excels at paper-thin slivers, and users find it handles both soft and firm vegetables with ease. An easy-to-use bar rotates underneath the blade to adjust cutting height. The thickest setting is a half-inch: "It's the perfect mandoline for slicing tomatoes to bake into margarita pizza or tuck into hero sandwiches …" recommends Good Housekeeping. Some reviews report the lightweight plastic surface can flex under pressure, producing uneven cuts and occasionally breaking. The hand guard is also difficult to grip for some; experts recommend replacing the Kyocera's guard with a well-designed one from another brand.
The Chef'n SleekSlice Collapsible Hand-Held Mandoline (Est. $20) is another smart budget choice. Its unique handle has three positions: flat for storage, straight out for users to hold, or at a 90-degree angle to create a stand. "With its thin slicing surface and skinny, rubberized handle, this model is compact, easy to store, and fits easily in a tote for a picnic at the park," writes Good Housekeeping. The Chef'n SleekSlice sets up quickly and is dishwasher-safe for easy clean up. Performance doesn't quite match the Kyocera mandoline; the serrated blade on the SleekSlice is excellent for tomatoes but requires extra effort on potatoes. Chef'n covers the SleekSlice with a limited lifetime warranty.
The best professional mandolines have solid construction that can withstand daily use, come with extra blades to make a wide range of cuts and deliver uniform slices for a flawless presentation. Most are French mandolines, with a stand that holds the mandoline at a 45-degree angle. Prices start around $100 but can reach close to $400 for some brands. Few expert comparisons include professional-grade mandolines and owner reviews are sparse, so selecting the best can be challenging.
Combining great performance with exceptional safety features, the Oxo Good Grips Mandoline Slicer (Est. $70) is the best professional-grade mandoline, according to users and experts alike. It's easy to change the blades, which come with a safety cover for storage, and adjust the cutting height, even for amateur chefs. Corey Greenberg with the "Today Show" describes his satisfaction the first time he used the Good Grips Mandoline, "I was doing complex and gorgeous slices of potatoes, cukes, carrots, you name it -- the vegetables looked perfectly uniform."
Experts say the Oxo excels at slicing with its julienne and waffle blades. It handles most produce well but can leave thin tomato slices uneven and jagged. Owners find the Oxo is durable enough for heavy-duty use in commercial kitchens. The stainless-steel body is durable and features rubber feet to hold it firmly in place. Oxo's lifetime warranty is possibly the best for mandolines.
Another viable option for those seeking a tough mandoline that can handle heavy use is the de Buyer Mandoline Swing (Est. $100) . According to reviewers, the de Buyer is well-built with a durable stainless-steel and polymer composite body and non-slip feet. Epicurious.com picks the de Buyer Mandoline Swing as one of the 10 most important kitchen gadgets, saying it's "indispensable for thinly slicing, crinkle-cutting or waffle-cutting vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and cukes (it's also handy for producing matchsticks and julienne cuts)." Other experts have mixed results, saying the Mandoline Swing struggles on firm produce and isn't as user-friendly as some models. Blade height is adjusted using two side-mounted knobs; "but without measured markings, you have to guess as you adjust for thickness," notes Maryellen Driscoll with FineCooking.com.