What the best mandolines and spiralizers have
- Sturdy construction. The best
mandoline slicers are durable enough to withstand the pressure of sliding
produce down the slicing plane without wobbling or flexing. Spiral slicers
should cut long, unbroken ribbons without clogging.
- Comfortable, safe cutting guard. Essential for
safety on a mandoline, the hand guard grips the food and presses it against the
slicer, keeping your fingers away from the sharp blade. The safest guards are
at least as broad as the base of the mandoline slicer, and run smoothly along
the slicing track without catching or jittering. Those shaped like derby hats
with brims wider than the slicing plane feel the sturdiest and are considered
safest. Spiralizers are safe to use because of the way the blades are set into
the plastic housing; however, great care should be taken in cleaning them --
some experts recommend a soft brush to clean the blades so you don't have to
get your fingers near them. At the very least, wear a good pair of rubber
- 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 mandoline slicers deliver
precise cuts on a wide range of produce, from soft tomatoes to firm potatoes.
Some experts fee that models with V-shaped or diagonally slanted blades perform
much better than the horizontal style. Blades are constructed of either ceramic
or stainless steel. Both are equally sharp, but stainless steel can be
sharpened, ceramic can't. However, the blade should stay sharp for several
- Several height settings. The more
height settings, the more versatile your slicer will be; enabling you to cut
deli-thin slices of cucumbers or thick tomato slices. The thickness setting
(blade height) should be easy to adjust and lock firmly in place. Mandolines
with pre-set increments are faster to set up but limiting. Most experts prefer
dials that let you select any cutting height and make fine adjustments as you
- An assortment of blades. Many people
just need a basic mandoline for slicing and making julienne cuts, but, some
mandolines come with blades you can swap out to make waffle cuts, dice, shred
or even cube. Spiralizers should have a variety of blades you can change out
for various thicknesses and shapes.
- Easy-to-swap accessories. A key to
safety with any slicer is blades or cutting tools that can be swapped out
without having to dig out the blades or fumble with them to put them in place.
- Easy cleanup. The best
slicers 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 you want to create? 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.
scraps. The hand guards on mandolines limit slicing the entire vegetable
because of their design, but it's much better to have a bit left over than to remove
the hand guard and risk cutting off a fingertip. Some chefs use a knife to
finish that last bit, or just save it for stew.
All slicers are extremely sharp. Owners
frequently are caught off guard when using specialized slicing tools for the
first time; learning to clean and switch blades can be difficult without
cutting yourself if you're not careful.
Invest in an extra measure of safety? Whether you're using a mandoline, spiralizer or a knife, you may want
to look into investing in a pair of cut-resistant gloves. They've long been
available for people who work with cutting tools in the shop, now they're being
redesigned for the home cook, and they can help you avoid a nasty cut.
Maybe you just need a knife. If you
almost never slice anything, or maybe just slice the occasional potato or
carrot, a mandoline or spiralizer is probably overkill. But everyone needs at
least one good knife. If that's you, head on over to our separate report on kitchen knives for the best chef's knife, paring knife, knife set and steak knives.