What the best mandoline has

  • Sturdy construction. Top mandolines are durable enough to withstand pressure on the body as you slide produce down the slicing plane and stay firmly in place. The blade should stay sharp for several years.
  • Comfortable, safe cutting guard. Essential for safety, the hand guard grips the food and presses it against the slicer, keeping your fingers away from the sharp blade. In their review, America's Test Kitchen says, "The safest guards were broad and ran smoothly along the slicing track." They found those shaped like derby hats with brims wider than the slicing plane felt far safer.
  • Razor-sharp slicing. Whether it's ceramic or stainless steel, the blade should cleanly slice produce without having to push hard against the mandoline. The best mandolines deliver precise cuts on both soft tomatoes and firm potatoes. Models with V-shaped or diagonally slanted blades perform much better than the horizontal style.
  • Convenient height settings. The thickness setting (blade height) should be easy to adjust and lock firmly in place. Mandolines with pre-set increments are fast to set up but limiting. Most experts prefer dials that let you select any cutting height and make fine adjustments as you go.
  • Easy cleanup. The best mandolines have a body that washes easily and doesn't trap food in its crevices. Look for dishwasher-safe models for fast cleanup, though some manufacturers recommend hand-washing removable blades to prevent dulling.

Know before you go

What types of dishes are you creating? If you need only an occasional slicer, consider a simple mandoline with a fixed straight blade. For more complex dishes -- such as fries, chips, stir fry meals and ornamental salads -- select a mandoline with replaceable straight, julienne and crinkle blades.

How much cabinet space do you have? French-style mandolines tend be bulky and take considerable space to store. They often measure 16 inches or more in length, though some have folding legs for flatter storage. The most compact mandolines are hand-held models, which have slimmer profiles and can fit in a drawer.

Expect some scraps. Hand guards limit slicing the entire vegetable because of their design. "Don't worry about waste when using a mandoline. It's better to have a little left over than to run the risk of cutting yourself," says a guide to mandolines at Williams-Sonoma.com. Some chefs switch to a sharp knife to finish the remaining stubs.

Mandolines are extremely sharp. Owners frequently are caught off guard when using this tool for the first time; learning to clean and switch blades can be difficult without cutting yourself if you're not careful. "One essential accessory to slicers of all kinds should be the cut-resistant glove. Get in the habit of using one, if you happen to value your fingertips," says Louisa Chu at Chow.com.

Back to top