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Best Vacuum Sealers

By: Lisa Maloney on October 19, 2017

Editor's note:
Vacuum sealers from Weston and VacMaster continue to dominate in this year's update, but we also found a strong entry in the chamber vacuum sealer category, the Polyscience 300 Series. New models from FoodSaver, Nesco and Seal-a-Meal make worthy showings in the field of affordable countertop vacuum sealers.

Weston Professional Advantage Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Motor: 210 watts Bag width: 11" Bag price: $37 for 100 8"x12"

Best external vacuum sealer

For sealing large, bulky packages of food, owners love the Weston Professional Advantage countertop vacuum sealer. The Professional Advantage can take a little force to get the lid closed, but delivers a powerful suction and a solid seal. Like most external sealers, the Professional Advantage struggles with moist cuts of meat -- but users say it handles everything else beautifully, with a fan-cooled motor that won't overheat. An optional accessory hose lets you seal vacuum canisters, too.

Buy for $264.95
FoodSaver FM2100 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Motor: 120 watts Bag width: 11 inches Bag price: $20 for 44 quarts

Best cheap external vacuum sealer

Users love the FoodSaver FM2100 for its practical balance between features, durability and value. This inexpensive countertop vacuum sealer has a built-in bagger cutter and room for storing the roll of uncut bags, plus a dry/moist setting for packaging different foods. Durability is generally good for light to moderate use, and users like having manual control over the sealing process and the external accessory port that can seal canisters or jars with liquid in them.

Buy for $106.83
VacMaster VP210 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Motor: 660 watts Bag width: 10"x13" Bag price: $37 for 100 10"x13"

Best chamber vacuum sealer

For those who vacuum seal frequently or in large batches, or who want to seal soup, marinades or other messy foods, the VacMaster VP210 is a top pick. Although the versatile controls have a bit of a learning curve, owners love being able to adjust variables like vacuum speed, power, and the temperature of the heat sealer bar. The VacMaster VP210 will seal anything that fits into the internal chamber, including canning jars, vacuum canisters and pouches full of liquid.

Buy for $749.95
FoodSaver FreshSaver Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Motor: N/A Bag width: Valve bags Bag price: $12 for 26 quarts

Best handheld vacuum sealer

The convenience of the FoodSaver FreshSaver handheld vacuum sealing system is a big hit with experts and owners; just press the valve tip to specially designed valve bags or canisters and press one button to start the sealing process. Users love having something this small -- about the size of your hand -- around for occasional use, and say that as long as you follow the manufacturer's directions, a single charge of the battery can last for months of sporadic sealing.

Buy for $21.90

Vacuum food sealers help preserve food and prevent waste

Shopping the bulk aisle, visiting farmer's markets, or hunting, gardening and gathering your own produce are all great ways to procure a real bounty of food. But what happens when you end up with more than you can eat? Vacuum food sealers offer a quick, easy and ultimately inexpensive way of preserving that extra food. Whether you're packaging meat to prevent freezer burn, sealing in fresh veggies to prolong their life or vacuum-sealing pantry goods, you can expect properly vacuum-sealed food to last three to five times longer than unsealed food. A vacuum sealer is also a must for preparing food via the sous vide method.

A word about food safety

Vacuum sealing doesn't eliminate the need to refrigerate perishable goods (or freeze them for long-term storage). See our report on freezers to find out which models do the best job of preserving your carefully packaged food. We also have reports on other popular countertop appliances like pressure cookers and slow cookers; the report on pressure cookers includes a section on pressure canners, another economical option for long-term food preservation.

Remember to consider the price of plastic bags

Vacuum food sealers are meant for use with specially designed bags, usually made of tough polyethylene. The optimal bag type depends on which type of sealer you're using: Handheld sealers require bags with a zip closure and a one-way valve. External vacuum sealers work best with bags that have textured air channels molded into one side of the plastic. Because an external sealer's clamps hold the bag more or less closed as the vacuum works, those air channels give the air a way to move out of the bag. Some external sealers also have built-in cutters to help you slice your own bags from long sheets of plastic (which can save you quite a bit of money), and internal storage for the rolls of uncut bags. The bags for chamber vacuum sealers, meanwhile, are the most economical option; when purchased in bulk, their pre-made pouches cost just a few pennies apiece.

No matter what type of vacuum food sealer you choose, it has just two jobs: Sucking all the air out of the food bag, then sealing it shut. The best models evacuate the air completely, but also offer manual controls to keep the powerful vacuum motor from crushing soft or delicate foods. Once sealed, food should last at least three months in the freezer without showing frosting or freezer burn, and pantry goods should come out of the bags still tasting fresh.

The best countertop vacuum food sealers

External vacuum sealers are the most ubiquitous type. These rectangular, countertop appliances clamp down on the neck of a specially designed plastic bag from the outside, vacuum all the air out, and use a heated sealing bar to melt the neck of the bag shut. Because you don't have to fit whatever's being packaged into the body of the vacuum sealer, this type of machine excels at packaging large cuts of meat and filets of fish. On the downside, the sealer bar sometimes needs to "rest" for 10 or 15 seconds between uses.

For several years running, our pick for top-of-the-line external vacuum sealer has been (and remains) the stainless steel Weston Professional Advantage (Est. $270). This vacuum sealer earns a top pick designation from a well-known test kitchen, too. Those expert testers praise the Weston Professional Advantage for its compact size, powerful motor and intuitive controls, which include both automatic and manual control of the vacuum motor. Users love how the Professional Advantage's fan-cooled motor keeps it from overheating when you seal multiple bags, the nice wide seal it melts into the bag, and the fact that it has a built-in cutter and accommodates bag rolls. The Weston Professional Advantage can seal bags up to 11 inches wide, and if you're having trouble establishing a good seal, a little pressure on the lid is usually all it takes to solve the problem.

The Professional Advantage has an angled vacuum chamber that's supposed to keep liquids from getting sucked out of the bag and into the sealer, but users voice mixed opinions about how well that actually works. We also see mixed reviews on how well the Professional Advantage works with non-Weston bags, but the Weston bags are competitively priced at about $40 for 200 bags. You can also purchase vacuum canisters and an accessory hose, which connects to the Professional Advantage so it can suck the air out of the canisters. Like most external vacuum sealers, this one is reported as quite loud.

The Weston Professional Advantage can handle just about anything a typical household throws at it, and users agree that it's a big step up from light-duty vacuum sealers. But if you're a frequent, heavy user, consider the Weston Pro 2300 (Est. $400), also made of stainless steel. It has the same manual/automatic control and intuitive LED display that shows its vacuum progress, but seals bags up to 15 inches wide -- or two narrower bags at once -- and packs a powerful 935-watt motor for frequent, continuous use. That's almost five times more powerful than the motor on the Weston Professional Advantage. Users also love the way this machine melts a wide seal into the bag, ensuring that the contents won't leak.

On the downside, the Weston Pro 2300 doesn't have a built-in cutter for making your own custom bag sizes, and although it does well with oily foods, it can't seal liquids. Both Weston units are also relatively big and heavy -- great qualities when it comes to durability, but problematic when it comes time to store them.

The Weston Professional Advantage is covered by a one-year warranty, and the Weston Pro 2300 is covered by a two-year warranty. This brand used to have great reviews for its customer service, but more recent customer comments are mixed.

If you need a vacuum sealer that packs enough oomph to seal large quantities in a single session but is still portable, consider the FoodSaver GameSaver Big Game GM710 (Est. $200). This vacuum sealer weighs just six pounds and is built for portability, with a large carry handle and a 12v converter that lets you plug it into a DC power source like a car, pickup, boat, RV and even some generators.

The GameSaver GM710 is a little large for storing in most kitchens, but that's not a big deal because it's truly built for use in the field, although you'll still have to protect it from rain, dust and all the other hazards that wreak havoc with any electronic device. Users say it lives up to the promise of being able to seal up to 80 consecutive bags, or about 240 pounds of meat, without overheating. The GM710's sealing bar can accommodate bags that are slightly more than 12 inches wide, although most premade bags only come in an 11-inch width.

We did find a few concerns about durability, indicating that if this unit is going to fail, it'll usually do so within the first few uses. But for the most part, owners say this vacuum sealer will stand up to at least several years of heavy use, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Users also like that you have manual control over when the seal kicks in, which they say makes it possible to seal some wet foods -- if you're very careful.

If you need to seal even larger cuts or higher quantities of meat, check out the FoodSaver Titanium Game Saver (Est. $300). The Titanium accommodates bags up to 15 inches wide, offers a "dual seal" setting for extra security, and can seal up to 100 bags in a row without overheating. One user says he used it to seal a full side of beef without stopping.

FoodSaver's premade bags are more expensive than Weston's; a bag of just 13 gallon-size vacuum-seal bags costs about $12. That said, you can save money by purchasing rolls of vacuum seal material and cutting them down to bag size yourself (the GameSaver has a built-in slicer), and you get a discount for purchasing either the pre-made bags or the rolls in bulk quantities.

Inexpensive countertop vacuum sealers

Both the Weston vacuum sealers just referenced are great deals if you plan to use them frequently, and the FoodSaver GameSaver is a great choice for frequent use outside the home. However, if your vacuum sealer use is light to moderate, a price tag of as close to $100 becomes a real selling point. That brings us to our best-reviewed inexpensive countertop vacuum sealer, the FoodSaver FM2100 (Est. $100).

Many users say that the FoodSaver FM2100 strikes the best possible balance between features, value and dependability. It has a built-in bag cutter and space to store the roll of uncut bags, an accessory port and external hose for vacuum-sealing canisters, and a dry/moist setting for sealing different types of foods. Just don't mistake that for the capability to seal bags of liquids like soup -- for that, you have to use external canisters or a chamber vacuum sealer.

The FoodSaver has a manual latch lever and must be triggered by pushing a button -- both departures from the fully automatic models that have often graced this price range in the FoodSaver lineup, and sometimes drew criticism for their inefficient use of bags. Users who've switched from an automatic model to the FM2100 say they like having full control over what their sealer does. Another very popular feature is the ability to seal close to the edge of the bag, further reducing waste.

On the downside, the FoodSaver FM2100 does have some quality control issues and draws its fair share of durability concerns. But, given the price range, many users looking for a light- to moderate-use vacuum food sealer are very happy with what they get. Premade FoodSaver bags typically run about $20 for a box of 44 quart-size bags, or $12 for 13 gallon-size bags, with discounts for bulk purchases.

Historically, FoodSaver has dominated this category; but this year we've identified two great alternatives in this price range. The first is the Nesco VS-02 (Est. $60), which features one-touch operation with automatic shutoff, and a manual seal-only option to help you seal delicate foods without crushing them. The VS-02 also features extra seal time for dealing with moist foods, although users point out that, like all external vacuum sealers, it still can't seal truly wet foods.

Like most vacuum sealers in this price range, the Nesco VS-02 isn't built for the sort of repeated, consecutive use you'd need if you regularly seal fresh fish or game or other large quantities of food. But for a simple, light-use machine that lets you put away excess from the occasional bulk food purchase, many users say this type of purchase is the perfect value. The Nesco VS-02 vacuum sealer accommodates bags or rolls up to 11.8 inches wide. Users say the sealing bar is a little on the thin side -- unsurprising, given the price range -- but still works well. Pre-cut Nesco bags are also very competitively priced, at about $14 for 50 quart bags, or $21 for 50 gallon-size bags.

Heads up: The Nesco VS-02 and the very similar VS-01 are sometimes listed together as alternate color options (the VS-02 is black and silver, while the VS-01 is white), but they're actually different models. The VS-02 has a built-in roll holder and bag cutter, while the VS-01 does not; also, users say it takes extra pressure to get the lid of the VS-01 unit into place for sealing.

If price is truly your bottom-line consideration, it's almost impossible to beat the bargain-priced Seal-A-Meal FSSMSI0160-000 (Est. $40). It doesn't have a roll holder or a bag cutter, its performance is sometimes a little inconsistent, and it's louder than a lot of other models. But users say that for the price, this little Seal-A-Meal is pretty good at the two things it does do -- vacuuming out air and sealing bags shut. The Seal-A-Meal FSSMSI0160-000 even draws a recommendation from a notoriously picky test kitchen, albeit with some reservations because you have to press gently on the lid while it seals, and it'll crush fragile foods like pretzels. If you're cutting your own bags out of bulk rolls, users say that being careful to keep the cuts straight results in a better vacuum and seal.

Chamber vacuum food sealers

Once found only in professional kitchens, chamber vacuum food sealers are becoming increasingly popular for home use. With these cube-shaped countertop appliances you put the food into the chamber, the vacuum sealer evacuates all the air from the chamber -- establishing a vacuum without squashing anything out of the bag -- and then seals the bag shut. You are limited only by the amount of food that can fit in the chamber. If you deal with messy foods frequently, or if you tend to vacuum seal large batches at a time, it's worth investing in a chamber vacuum food sealer.

If you're serious about your vacuum sealing, or best-reviewed pick, the VacMaster VP210 (Est. $700), is the very top of the line. Its internal chamber measures 11.25 by 15.25 by 5 inches and can accommodate flexible pouches that measure up to 10 by 13 inches, and its controls let you fine-tune the vacuum strength, vacuum time and temperature for the sealer bar.

If you only vacuum seal a few items a week, a machine like this may be overkill -- but when it comes to heavy use and sealing soup, flour, or the juicy cuts of meat that often cause problems for external vacuum sealers, owners are uniformly thrilled about having made the investment in a chamber sealer, and the learning curve of mastering its diverse controls is well worth the effort.

Another perk of chamber vacuum sealers is that you don't need accessories for sealing jars or canisters, as long as they fit into the machine's chamber. The VacMaster VP210's deep, flat bottom works especially well for this type of use. It also works very well for sous vide cooking, and has a maintenance-free pump.

One quick heads up about this machine: the VacMaster VP210 weighs 72 pounds, so most users either make it into a permanent fixture on the countertop or place it on a wheeled cart.

If you want a serious vacuum sealer with a slightly lower profile, the VacMaster VP112S (Est. $530) is a nice compromise. Its domed chamber measures 12 by 11 by 5 inches and actually holds a slightly larger pouch than the VP210: 12 inches by 14 inches. And at 46 pounds, the VacMaster VP112S is downright portable -- for a chamber vacuum sealer, anyway. Like the VacMaster VP210, it has versatile controls that let you tweak settings for both vacuum and sealing.

However, it's worth noting a user complaint that the lid is drawn down during the suction process, so pint-size mason jars won't quite fit inside for sealing. At 30 to 60 seconds, the per-seal cycle time on the VP112S runs a little longer than the VP210's 20 to 60 seconds; something that you're only likely to notice if you frequently seal large quantities of food. We also found a few more concerns about durability with this model than with the top-rated VP210, although both have excellent service records when compared to inexpensive vacuum sealers. Both VacMaster models are covered by a one-year warranty.

No matter which VacMaster model you choose, the bags are a real bargain, coming in about $37 for 250 10-by-13-inch bags, with boxes of up to 1,000 bags available. Also, users say that VacMaster offers excellent customer service.

New in this report, the PolyScience 300 Series (Est. $1,000) makes a strong showing. Like the VacMaster models, the PolyScience 300 Series features versatile controls that let you fine-tune vacuum level and seal time -- and of course it comes with a learning curve, too. The internal chamber measures 13.8 by 12 by 4.3 inches. That's too small for standard pint jars, but the PolyScience 300 Series comes with an external vacuum port that can be used for jars or canisters.

There isn't quite enough feedback on this model for it to hit the top of our rankings yet -- but users do say that they love its three programmable preset buttons that let you quickly access favorite settings without fiddling. It also has a built-in marinate cycle and can be used for sous vide cooking or to seal everything that fits inside the chamber, from liquids to flour. The PolyScience 300 Series' bombproof stainless steel construction weighs almost 51 pounds, and it's covered by a one-year warranty. Customer service used to be a problem for this company, but users say that when Breville took over a few years ago, they brought with them excellent service and warranty coverage.

Handheld vacuum sealers are best for occasional use

Handheld food sealers offer a good balance between convenience and usability. They're a great choice if you want to have a vacuum sealer on hand to use only occasionally, or if storage space is at a premium.  These petite appliances either draw the air out through a one-way valve in specially designed bags, or draw the air out through a small puncture in the bag, then seal all the way around the puncture. However, some caution is advised before purchasing a handheld vacuum sealer. Motor size usually correlates to vacuum power, so they're best reserved for sealing small packages. Expert tests also found that handheld models don't always create a lasting seal, so consider opting for a larger model if you need to store food for long periods or seal medium to large batches.

Our best-reviewed pick in this category is the FoodSaver FreshSaver (Est. $20). Although we did find plenty of concerns about this little gadget's durability, users love that something this small -- about the size of your hand -- is such a great bargain for occasional use. The FreshSaver works with valve bags and rigid, valved containers from both Ziploc and FoodSaver: Just make sure the bag's zip closure is securely fastened, place the suction area against the valve and press the button to begin.

When it comes to bags, replacements typically cost about $12 for 26 quart-sized bags. And as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions, users say a single charge of the FoodSaver FreshSaver's rechargeable battery can last for months of sporadic use. The FreshSaver is covered by a one-year warranty, and it's so inexpensive that if the battery stops holding an effective charge after that period, you might as well just replace it.

If you'd like a more versatile option, consider the Boday-Care Cordless Mini Vacuum Sealer (Est. $25) which users say works well with every brand of zip-close vacuum sealer bag they've tried, including FoodSaver bags and Zip-Lock brand. Just place it over the valve in a vacuum-ready zip-close bag, press the single button, and wait for it to draw the air out. An indicator light shows that it's working.

Although the Boday-Care Cordless Mini Vacuum Sealer hasn't amassed enough reviews to take the top spot in this category, early indications are that it will be a strong challenger. Users love its USB-rechargeable battery and say that at just 3.3 inches tall and 2 inches wide, it's great for travel applications or road trips.

On the other hand, we also see mixed reviews for durability and how thoroughly this little vacuum sealer evacuates air from the bags and, although operation is easy, it's not always quick; one user says it takes about 15 seconds to get the air completely out of a vacuum bag.

Expert & User Review Sources

Although few experts review vacuum food sealers, they're fair game for the expert cooks in the Cook's Illustrated test kitchen. Subscribers can access the test results on all seven models the cooks tested, two of which are recommended without reservations. User reviews at sites such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Costco.com, and JCPenney.com are invaluable at gauging how easy the sealers are to use, and how well they operate under real-world conditions.

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