Spiralizing vegetables is a growing trend for home cooks. Spiralizers turn vegetables like zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes and lots of other produce items into long (or short) spirals. These spirals can be used to garnish a salad, as an attractive addition to any dish, or as faux noodles for those who are trying to cut back on carbs. Spiralizers are particularly popular with those who follow a low-carb or Paleo lifestyle as well as those who are gluten intolerant.
Fans of spiralizing say it doesn't get any better than the Paderno Tri-Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer (Est. $30). It includes three sets of blades: 1/8-inch spacing, 1/4-inch spacing, and straight blade for ribbon cuts. It comes out on top in one professional test, and the editors there note that the crank-style handle works well, turning "almost all of the produce into even, consistent noodles and ribbons." They also say it's stable and very easy to use, transforming vegetables and fruit into something special.
Owners also love the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer, and it's one of Amazon.com's best-selling spiralizers. Owner reviewers say it's super easy and even fun to use. We saw many comments about how they love making their own curly fries at home, and those who have given up noodles say this has enabled them to find an alternative that looks like pasta, but is more suited to their dietary choices. Many note, however, that the Paderno is made for right-handed people -- you're meant to turn the crank with your right hand and push the feeder with your left, so if you're a southpaw, that's something to consider.
The Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer is reported as easy to clean, but reviewers warn: you're dealing with sharp blades, so be careful. It is not dishwasher safe.
Like the Paderno, the Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer (Est. $30) is a horizontally loaded spiralizing machine, so it's easier for right-handed people to use. Thousands of reviewers praise its performance, saying it spiralizes even hard vegetables quickly and easily. With five blades, it's more versatile than the Paderno, but a number of users remark that it's difficult to get the machine to anchor to a countertop using the suction cups -- some say they have to get someone else to hold the spiralizer in place. This spiralizer is dishwasher safe. As with the Paderno, be sure to watch out for the sharp blades.
The Müeller Spiral-Ultra 4-Blade Spiralizer (Est. $30) is another consumer favorite and has garnered thousands of reviews on Amazon.com. It comes with four blade sizes, and it's meant to be a thoroughly versatile kitchen gadget -- it also works as a cheese grater, a citrus juicer and a mandoline. Users are enthusiastic about the product's performance, although one professional test found the machine did not perform any of its many functions particularly well, and also claimed it rocked back and forth dangerously while spiralizing, as the suction cups offer poor stability. However, lefties can rejoice: this spiralizer loads vegetables vertically, so it's an ambidextrous appliance. Users say it's easy to clean and store, although some expressed safety concerns, since many of the blades are exposed without safety guards.
If you want to try spiralizing vegetables but you don't have room to store a large contraption like the Paderno or the other full-sized spiralizers listed above, consider a compact, handheld option like the Kitchen Active Spiralizer Spiral Slicer (Est. $8). It receives great reviews on Amazon.com, although some dissatisfied customers point out that many of those reviews are incentivized (the authors received the product at a discounted rate in exchange for the review). However, even the underwhelmed owner reviewers generally agree that the product gets the job done at an extremely affordable price. Users say this spiralizer works best for making noodles out of carrots or zucchini, and it features two options for thickness. The Kitchen Active is dishwasher-safe, so it's easy to clean; it also comes with a cleaning brush. Watch out for the blades, as they're quite sharp.
It's unlikely that a handheld product will offer you the versatility and performance of a full-sized spiralizing machine. But if you're curious about the spiralizing trend and you want to experiment with making some vegetable noodles without committing to a larger appliance, the Kitchen Active Spiralizer is worth trying out.