The Best Meat Slicers For Home Use
Now home meat slicers are one kitchen gadget that folks can find themselves unsure about and rightly so. Do or don’t I? Are meat and food slicers for home use worth the investment and counter space or a waste of both? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these home food slicers over a sharp knife?
My guess would be that it’s mostly people with smaller families and therefore less food preparation to do, that are the folks up there sitting on the fence, trying to work out if the cost, space and cleanup of a home meat slicer are worth the potential benefits.
Well I’m not going to try and convince you one way or the other, but what I will do is give you the pros and cons of firstly having one at all, and secondly which are good reliable brands and models for use in a home kitchen – and of course what represents good value for money. There’s a lot to cover so let’s get started by looking at the main feature distinguishing home meat slicers use from their commercial cousins. mostly it’s all about the blade size.
Meat Slicer Blades
These come in varying sizes according to the machine and most food slicers for home use come with a 7 or 7.5 inch blade, going up to 11 inches plus for commercial models such as Hobart or Globe.
If this is one of the issues – you didn’t know whether to go for a commercial slicers or not, the following rule of thumb should help.
For the majority of home cooks, even those with big families, the 7 inch should be more than big enough, but keep it in your mind if you want to regularly slice whole boned cooked turkey or very big joints of meat.
Home Meat Slicers – Pros
- Save money on buying pre-sliced food
If you regularly buy pre-sliced meats or cheeses at the deli counter, then no two ways about it, you’ll save a lot of money over a year, possibly even enough to pay for the machine.
- Buy roasts and easily cut it into steaks
Buying four or six sliced up and pre-packed steaks carries two prices, the meat is more expensive and unless you are lucky one pack never has enough so you buy two. But if you have a meat slicer you can buy for example, a leg of lamb and bone it (or sweet talk your butcher) then chill in the freezer for an hour or so before slicing into steaks – it works out about half the price and we always have steaks in the freezer. (Tip – add a marinade first then freeze for wonderfully aromatic meat)
- Real time & effort saver if prepping food to freeze or dehydrate
We grow our own vegetables and always get a glut to either freeze or dehydrate for use in the winter. Without a meat slicer I’d be there for days – even the mandoline isn’t up to this job – or rather my arm isn’t!
- Ditto the time & effort if cooking for a big family every day
Need I say more here? No, didn’t think so…
- Shaves food like ham and potatoes absolutely transparent wafer thin
A really good mandoline will give you very thin slices, thin enough for potato crisps, but even the best mandoline slicer won’t take it this thin, parma ham can be literally shaved into gossamer thin translucent pink slivers.
- Replaces a knife for folks with arthritis or compromised hand and arm movements
My Mom bought one years ago to replace knives, or I never would have even thought about one for my own kitchen.
She has arthritis in her hands and wrists so finds using a knife and applying enough pressure to cut through raw meat and of course cheese, very painful. Is a slicer the solution? Yes, absolutely, but as I expand on below, not necessarily if you buy a really low end budget model.
Please don’t ask me which one she has – I don’t think they make them like this anymore. It came from an auction, originally out of a butchers shop or deli I reckon and they were updating their equipment. When it finally packs up, which it’s showing no signs of doing yet, we’ll need a few strong men to lift it out!
Home Meat Slicers – Cons
- You need to spend out or risk disappointment if you expect deli quality slicing
For me and I’d suggest for most of us, the whole beauty about having a meat slicer for using at home, is the minimal physical effort needed to get the job done.
However, to slice with the ease you’d like, the motor has to man up to the job – and the brutal truth is that not all budget models will cope. Additionally the bigger the motor the heavier the machine, which just for once is a good thing – you really do not want this slipping when slicing!
There are several good solid budget models and they slice food very well, but they don’t look or feel like a professional machine and don’t pretend to either.
- Cleanup can be a bore depending on make and model
If you tend to have big food prep sessions as I do, then cleaning a meat slicer at the end is no worse than cleaning a juicer. Between times, if just slicing a little ham for example, then a wipe over with anti-bacterial liquid on a cloth (being exceptionally careful with the blade) is good enough.
However it’s still true some are more awkward than others – but you won’t find any of the really difficult to cleanse ones on this page okay? Cleaning gadgets after use is one of my biggest dislikes!
You’ll also find cleaning a serrated blade way more temper tantrum inducing than the smooth blade. Actually I have no idea why they don’t all come with both and have done with it.
Have you noticed there’s no mention of slicing bread so far? Well crumbs is my only reply to that one – lots of crumbs to clean up, so I quickly reverted to a bread slicer guide and bread knife. In short yes they do cut bread very well indeed, just not without crumbs.
- These are heavy and take up counter space
There’s not much point beating about the bush here, they are big and bulky and heavy! Professional meat slicers – you know, the ones used on a deli counter – are mega heavy, to heavy for putting away and getting out again.
Home use slicers are smaller and lighter than this, so where possible I’d advise leaving a slicer out on the counter if you can. In a cupboard it’s much less likely to get used, out on the counter it’ll become your best buddy when prepping food – the more you use it the more you’ll want to use it.
- You need to buy food grade machine oil as well
Yep, absolutely true, you do need food grade oil and you’ll use it every time you breakdown the machine for cleaning. Don’t skimp on this and try anything other than food grade, or you’ll be tasting oil for days on everything you put through it – did I try it? Course I did, sewing machine oil tastes awful by the way!
- Not all meat slicers come with a smooth blade (it’ll cost you more to buy one)
Again absolutely true. Also keep in mind the more expensive the slicer, the more expensive the blade and it all begins to add to the total.
And Finally…On The Subject Of Plastic Or Nylon Gears
I’m the first to be suspicious of plastic in the kitchen, which is an unforgiving environment for anything which melts easily! However, there are appliances which benefit hugely from using them and meat slicers are one of them.
Firstly they allow the gears to slide over each other more efficiently and secondly they are much lighter weight, making these machines suitable for use in our home kitchens. Used and tested now for more than twenty years you can rest easy that buying a meat slicer with non-metal components is a good idea – seriously, with careful use even cheap food slicing machines will last you for years.
Meat Slicer Reviews
Chef’s Choice 632 International Gourmet VariTilt
At the original price of well over $400 several years ago, we baulked at the Chef’s Choice 632 – and then bought it anyway, hoping I’d not made a mistake, hoping we didn’t need something more powerful.
Well, I’ve had it for more than five years now, use it three or four times a week and would buy the same model again like a shot. Currently on offer at $300 this is superb value and will do everything asked of it without straining, not ever!
With a couple of friends who have these appliances, plus Mom’s, I’ve had the chance to use a few meat and food slicers over the years and would say of those I’ve tried out, this comes closest to a professional appliance with the exception of Mom’s which new and updated would be priced in the $3000 region.
I said I wouldn’t be convincing you to do anything, so won’t wax lyrical about the cantilever design and tilted food carriage which makes slicing so easy… Go read the reviews, this has almost gotten a fan club – but it has more features and costs more than many of you folks want or need, and there is another very good slicer at half the price.
For The Best Value, check out this next model, because it outperforms even mine in the clean-up contest and slices food beautifully. Actually for the price, I think the Chef’s Choice 610 meat slicer represents by far the best value for money – and it’s what I’d advise my best friend to go for.
EdgeCraft 610 Chef’s Choice Premium
Unbelievably reasonable in price at $130 or thereabouts, the Chefs Choice 610 Meat Slicer has a star rating of 4.5 and plenty of positive reviews – it’s also the model a colleague and friend has in her kitchen so I’ve used this one quite a few times too.
What does she love about it? Performance is outstanding for the money and cleaning is a real breeze, I’ve cleaned it several times and it beats any of the others for ease and speed by quite a bit.
Actually thinking about it, this model is still made and is still very popular, yet the 610 first came out around 2004/5, now that’s not a bad review in itself is it?
If you’re looking for a slicer for average family use the 610 comes highly recommended, as one reviewer says, it isn’t a commercial appliance but thinks it is!
Size wise it has a medium space requirement – these home meat slicers all come in roughly the same size bracket at around 18 inches at the largest point – this one is 16 x 12.4 x 11.9 inches.
Weighing in at 12lb you can carry this model easily enough, yet it’s just heavy enough to be immobile in use. But you may as well bite the bullet early and get a smooth blade because you’re going to end up having to anyway – this one comes with the serrated version and they don’t slide through ham or cooked chicken, more like mash it – then you try cleaning the blade!
Anyone who burns out the motor is probably forcing produce through faster than the machine is able to take it. These are after all home meat slicers, not big commercial machines, so treat them with care and slice your food patiently, if you do they’ll last you for years.
Why so cheap? I’d guess because several newer models like the 615 have ousted it from the top promotion spot, but does that lessen it as an awesome deal? Nope, just brings the price down.
CE North America Professional Series PS77711
Though this qualifies as a budget model, my neighbor has one and rates it highly enough, though it does have one or two quirks. Heavy and solid it doesn’t move around in use and slices freely through cooked meats and cheeses, it does the same with bigger tasks but the 150 watt motor is slower and quite noisy in use when placed under a load.
Though it boasts itself as a Professional Deli Slicer, in my honest opinion this is optimistic at best – at the price would you really expect it?
Funnily enough her main grumbles aren’t about performance which is pretty good. One irritation is that it doesn’t break apart for storage which in turn uses up more shelf space as she hasn’t room to keep it out when not in use.
Her second moan is the cleaning. As it doesn’t come apart the dreaded job is more time consuming.
Overall however and certainly for the price of $58.99 (at the time of writing) the PS77711 is the best budget option I’ve used and does the job well enough, but it isn’t going to replicate a heavy duty deli slicer anytime soon and you will have to work harder to get it clean! .
Kalorik Meat Slicer
Currently reduced from $150 to $99, the Kalorik Meat Slicer feels flimsy but isn’t! As with the others it comes fitted with a serrated blade and has one year warranty. Though I like the red oxide color, it does come in a black and brushed steel look too.
With a 200 watt motor the Kaloric has a bigger motor than the PS77711 – making slightly less hard work of things, it’s quieter too. Small in size at less than 16 inches, the Kalorik still has enough weight (plus non-slip feet) to hold it in place when used.
With a smooth blade bought and fitted, I found it slow to cut through well chilled raw meat, but it did slice through very cleanly provided the pressure was even and I didn’t try to rush with it.
This one gets good reviews on the whole and represents terrific value if you intend to use it for home cooking only – anything more and this model struggles, but again, it isn’t designed for professional use.
If I wanted to slice cooked ham or maybe cheeses and the occasional bigger joint of meat for freezing, then this would definitely be worth giving a go at the price – for smaller households, it really should serve you very well, as it has for a friend for three years now..
Meat Slicers Home Use – Conclusion
Meat slicers for domestic use in a home kitchen are awesome labor savers and a fantastic help if you have the space and will get good use out of one. If you use a kitchen mandoline for vegetables and have the bad habit of trying to get things through it that you shouldn’t, a small home meat slicer will probably save you a trip to the ER at some point. Yep, I used to do that too!
You don’t need to spend a fortune and currently the best value in my opinion, is the Chef’s Choice brand. Why? Because they come close to the feel of a pro deli machine, are very well made with a solid feel, plus they are very competitively priced. As I said, it’s what I’d buy for or recommend to my best friend, though it isn’t the one I have in my own kitchen.
I really hope this is useful and clears up any questions you arrived with, but if you have more queries or a comment to make, then drop it below and I’ll get back to you within a day or so, usually faster.
Just as a last thought, I know many people are unsure of food safety – hardly any wonder as it’s so easy to make a mistake – and deli slicers can cross contaminate – this link goes to a US food producers site, and a pdf you can download on deli slicers plus other food safety tips – very useful indeed!