Kristen Hicks on February 17, 2016 1 Comment Sure, a good knife will get the job done if you have to settle, but investing in a meat slicer for your home will vastly simplify the process of cutting all sorts of foods. From meats, cheeses, breads, fruits or vegetables, a food slicer is a great investment for large families. For families that regularly eat sandwiches, make jerky, or have the need to slice any number of types of food, a food slicer can save you both time and money. Table of Contents Benefits of Food & Meat Slicers Types of Slicers Factors to Consider While Shopping Popular Brands of Slicers 5 Benefits of a Food & Meat Slicer If it’s not yet self evident to you that a food slicer can make a difference in your life, here are some of the main benefits we found regularly touted in customer reviews by those who have already made the investment Efficiency: Food slicers are powerful and significantly faster than slicing foods by hand. If you’re tired of having to devote time every day or week to cutting up the breads, meats, and cheeses for your family’s lunch sandwiches, you can cut down the time investment considerable by turning to the food slicer to help. Uniformity: If you have a hard time getting all those cheese slices to be just the right level of thickness, a food slicer will help you ensure that every slice is at the right thickness for your liking. Ease of Use: This point pretty much speaks for itself. It’s just easier automating a process like food slicing with a machine than it is trying to do it all by hand. Thinner Slices Possible: While the most obvious uses for a food slicer are meats and cheeses, many people love their slicers for helping them cut foods that they like especially thin, like onions, potato chips, and cabbage for sauerkraut. Saves Money: Buying pre-sliced foods at the grocery store is always going to cost you more than slicing them yourself. If you currently find yourself filling your basket with sliced meats, cheeses, and breads, you can quickly make back your investment in a food slicer. Not every kitchen needs a meat slicer, but most people who invest in one are happy they did. If you think your family could benefit from adding one to your supply of appliances, here are some of main things you need to know to find the right one for you. Types of Food Slicers There are two main types of food slicers, but one really dominates the market. Electric Food Slicer Click Here to View All Electric Food Slicers Electric food slicers, often referred to as automatic food slicers, will make up almost all the food slicers you come across in your search. They’re easy to use, usually affordable, and by far the most popular option. As the name suggests, automatic food slicers let electricity do much of the work for you. They include an electric motor that moves the carriage for you so all you need to do is set the item you want sliced on the machine and turn it on. Most electric food slicers can also be switched to manual mode if you prefer to occasionally slice some food that way in order to have more control. Manual Food Slicer Manual food slicers require someone to move the food or carriage manually in order to complete the slicing. They therefore require much more work and are slower to use than automatic models. For anyone likely to use their food slicer for a high volume of food, they wouldn’t be very practical. They used to be the norm for meat slicing, but since automatic food slicers have become available, they’re much less common. Nonetheless, some people do prefer the extra control they provide and feel that the meat slices come out with an improved texture and flavor when using manual models than with automatic ones. Manual food slicers can be a bit harder to find than electric models, but you can certainly find one available for purchase if you’d like to give the old fashioned way a try. Factors to Consider When Buying a Meat Slicer When you’re trying to pin down which food slicer is the best buy for you, there are a few main factors you should keep in mind. Cost You can easily find a food slicer for under a $100, but many models fall into the $100-$400 range. Commercial meat slicers can easily get into the thousands in cost, but for customers looking for a slicer for home use, these are usually overkill. Costlier models often offer either higher-powered motors that can work faster and for longer periods of time or are larger and therefore able to accommodate more types of food. Sometimes the higher costs will get you extra features like precision control or simply a product made of sturdier materials that you can count on to last longer. If you plan to use your slicer frequently or for items that require a heavy-duty slicer, paying more can often pay off in the long run. For many customers with simpler needs the lower-end models will easily satisfy the main uses you need to get out of a home food slicer. Power and Speed Many meat slicers include higher wattage motors that slice food faster and more efficiently. The power of the motor also influences how long you’ll be able to slice food for. Some food slicers will quickly become overheated and need a break to cool down before you can continue. If you just need a slicer for making a few sandwiches each week, that may never become an issue. If you ever aim to do a lot of slicing at one time, it will quickly become an inconvenience. Higher-powered units are especially useful for anyone who intends to slice a lot of cheese or frozen meats. These are two of the toughest tasks for a food slicer to pull off. If either of these will be a primary use you put your slicer to, consider investing in a model with a lot of power. Uses Being that the term “meat slicer” is often used interchangeably with food slicer, many people consider meat slicing the first and foremost use of any food slicer. That’s far from the only use a food slicer can be put to though. Customers actually use their food slicers for a wide range of things. Meats, cheeses and breads are just the start. Some find their slicers most useful for foods that require especially thin slicing like potato chips or sauerkraut, or getting the sliced onions for a salad just right. Consider what you’ll want to use your food slicer for in advance of making a purchase. This will help you figure out what kind of thickness options you require, how big the carriage on your machine needs to be, and whether or not you need a machine with a lot of power. Whether you simply want your food slicer for jerky every once in a while or expect to turn to it every day for a wide range of uses, it’s important to know what you want it for in order to find the best model for your needs. Durability Nobody wants to purchase a meat slicer that only lasts a few months, or that needs new parts or repairs to last longer than a couple of years. One of the appeals of going with a higher-end model is that it’s likely to be made of more durable parts that can withstand a lot of use for a longer period of time before needing to be replaced. A higher price tag won’t always translate to a food slicer that lasts longer, so it’s important to take a look at both the materials the model you choose to go with is made from and the reviews to see what customers are saying about its durability. In general, metal parts will last longer than plastic ones (particularly when it comes to the motor’s gears) and stainless steel is the most reliable metal for meat slicers to be made with. A meat slicer that delivers a dependable performance for years to come will turn out to be a much better investment than one that needs to be replaced within a year or two. Size There are several factors you need to consider when it comes to the size of the meat slicer you choose. The first is counter space. How much room do you have available in your kitchen? If you have nowhere to put your food slicer, you won’t get much use out of it. If you have limited counter space and plan to only bring out your food slicer in the moments when you need it, then you should also consider its weight and how willing you are to regularly lift and move an appliance of its heft. The size of your food slicer’s blade and carriage will also have a lot to do with the functional uses you can put it to. If you plan to buy large cuts of meat and blocks of cheese to slice, then you need to be able to fit them on the carriage of the slicer you purchase and know the blade will be long enough to cut them fully from one end to another. Most slicers will clearly list the blade length in their product specs, the most typical lengths range from 9 to 14 inches. Ease of Use One of the big reasons to buy a food slicer to begin with is that it makes the process of slicing foods easier. While pretty much all food slicers will be an improvement over your typical knife and cutting board, some are designed in ways that enhance the ease of use further. Higher powered models that allow you to do all (or most) of the slicing you need without having to take a break for the machine to cool down will be more convenient for big slicing projects. A meat slicer with a small carriage may require you to do some trimming of your items in advance of slicing them with your machine, which adds more work to the process. Many models also come with a serving tray, which adds some extra convenience for users as well. The biggest component to how easy your meat slicer will be to use is how easy it is to clean. But that’s a big enough category for its own section. Ease of Cleaning Keeping your food slicer clean and sterile is imperative. Skimping on the cleaning step can lead to foodborne illnesses, which no one wants to deal with. All food slicers will require some cleanup time, but some require more work and time than others. Most models will need to be taken apart to clean, so you want to be aware how involved assembly and disassembly will be after each use. A food slicer that doesn’t have many removable parts will leave you trying to clean spots in tricky crevices and corners, which is both no fun and will mean you have a much harder time getting it fully clean Many models have parts you can throw in the dishwasher. The more parts of the machine you can wash in your dishwasher, the easier a time you’ll have with cleaning it, so pay attention to what parts of the machine are listed as dishwasher safe in the product specs. Safety Food slicers all come equipped with large, sharp blades that move at fast speeds to do their job. Naturally, that makes safety an important concern. Models that are heavy or difficult to take apart for cleaning after each use will provide more opportunities for cutting yourself while handling the machine if you’re not very careful, unless they have an easy-to-remove blade. Some food slicers come with non-slip feet on the bottom to make sure they stay firmly in place during use. Protective blade guards can help further reduce the risk of a user cutting themselves. And a safety lock will help ensure the blade stops spinning any time the slicer isn’t in use. These safety features can go a long way to helping protect users, but it’s also crucial that customers take steps to maintain safety on their own end. Make sure you read the manual before use so you don’t risk misusing your food slicer in a way that increases your risk. You can also purchase cut-resistant gloves to wear while using your meat slicer to further protect yourself. Noise Many meat slicers can get very loud. If you or someone in your home is sensitive to the sound of noisy appliances, you can find models that work more quietly than others. They’ll often cost more, but the difference in noise levels is worth it for many buyers. Popular Food Slicer Brands The brand behind your meat slicer can tell you a lot about the kind of quality to expect from it. To provide you with a picture of the reputation of the main brands selling food slicers, we gave a look to the reviews of different models offered by each. Chef’s Choice Chef’s Choice makes a number of extremely popular food slicers. Customers are pretty uniformly happy with their purchases, praising their slicers for being easy to use, easy to clean, and slicing a wide array of foods at varying levels of thickness. Several mentioned using their slicer for dishes that require especially thin slicing like potato chips. Reviewers also say their slicers look nice and offer a great value for the price. For any food slicing needs you have, a Chef’s Choice food slicer appears to be the gold standard. Continental Continental sells a deli slicer that earns solid reviews from customers. Reviewers predominantly mention using their slicer to cut meats and are pretty happy with its performance for that purpose. Some did complain that they weren’t able to adjust thickness to their preference or that the slicer would overheat if you try to use it for too long at a time. MaxiMatic MaxiMatic offers a couple of food slicers as part of their Elite series of products that get mostly positive reviews. Customers stress that the products are a good value for the price and look nice. Some reviewers say their food slicer is easy to clean, while others argue that it’s a pain, so that point appears to be up for debate. There were a few complaints about durability and some customers cautioning that the machine can’t slice very quickly. On the whole, customers seem to feel that the limitations are a reasonable tradeoff for the affordability of their food slicers. Nesco Nesco makes several food slicers that get solid reviews from customers in general, although some of their products fare better than others in customers’ estimation so take a minute to check the reviews of the particular product you’re considering before purchasing. Most praise the power of their food slicers, are happy with the value for the price, and say they’re easy to use and clean. Conclusion A food slicer is the kind of appliance that you might not know you’re missing until you try one. Once you have a slicer that vastly simplifies many of your regular kitchen prep tasks, it’s hard to live without it. The right food slicer can save you time, money, and effort for years to come.