Choosing the Best Mandoline Slicer
Jeff StultzHow many of you want to:
a.) Save money
b.) Lose those excess pounds you are lugging around (If airlines would only start charging for those! Talk about added incentive.)
c.) Get your family to eat more vegetables without making the dinner table a battlefield.
One tool that can help you achieve all of the above goals is a handheld slicer, or mandoline -- a fabulous piece of equipment that's migrated from professional restaurant kitchens to cookware shops and even supermarkets. It works like a grater in that you move the food over a shredding or cutting surface, but you'll find it is much more precise. It's evolved from a formidable machine to a handy gadget, and it can make a big difference in how you cook.
Start with homemade potato chips, then branch out into sweet potato chips, turnip chips and beet chips. (Compare the price of one sweet potato to that of a bag of Terra Chips, and you'll get the picture.)
But that is just the beginning. Being able to cut vegetables into uniform slices or long strips is all about economy -- there is very little waste, and all those pieces will cook quickly and evenly -- but it is also about finesse, the "wow" quotient that can make the difference between boredom and the "Clean Your Plate" Club. Carrots, yellow squash or zucchini cut this way and then steamed, for instance, will look enticing and be delicious.
The Best Mandolines and Handheld Slicers Under $25A nonslip handle and foot help make the OXO Good-Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer ($14.99 from bedbathandbeyond.com) easy and safe to use. It's adjustable for slices in three thicknesses, and you can either hold it on a angle and slice on a cutting board or hook it over a bowl and slice directly into it. Because of the relative smallness of the cutting surface (compared to any of the more expensive options below), though, large foods such as onions or fennel bulbs must be cut to fit. Brightly colored vegetables such as beets stain the white plastic body.
Available in basic black or cheerful red (take that, beet stains!), the Kyocera CSN-202-BK Adjustable Mandolin Slicer (about $22 from amazon.com) looks too cute to be efficient, but its ceramic blade is ultra-sharp, and is easy to adjust.
The Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer (about $22 from amazon.com) is less user-friendly than the above options, but you will find this workhorse in kitchens around the world. The height of the blade and julienne cutters is adjustable by screws.
The Best Mandolines and Slicers Over $25The Zyliss Easy Slice (about $36 from amazon.com) lives up to its name, although installing the finger guard proved baffling. Although you can't get truly paper-thin slices, they are thin enough, and it juliennes like a charm. Very nice cleanup and storage.
The performance of the Super Benriner Slicer (about $47 from amazon.com) is identical to that of the above model, but the wider blade makes it even more versatile.
The OXO Good Grips Mandoline Slicer (about $60 from amazon.com) is absolutely terrific. The wide blade makes slicing sweet potatoes and other large vegetables a snap, and it includes a wondrous waffle cutter. After cleanup, fold it flat for storage. Easy breezy.
The Bron-Coucke (about $94 from amazon.com) is the most professional model here, although it might well be overkill for many home cooks. Easy to use, it excels at extra-wide slices, extra-thin slices, and fantastic waffle slices. The finger guard is top-notch.
Speaking of fingers, you will want to treat a handheld slicer-or any gadget with sharp blades, for that matter-with the greatest respect. Up your comfort level and self confidence with Microplane's 34007 Cut-Resistant Glove (about $14 from amazon.com). It's lightweight, breathable, and fits both righties and southpaws.
A note from Jane Lear: I don't accept free products or consider products for inclusion in these columns on the basis of press releases or marketing campaigns. My suggestions are based on my years as a food writer and home cook.
More on Kitchen Equipment and Cooking
- Watch our video on how to use a mandoline.
- Get Jane Lear's advice on more kitchen equipment, including chef's knives, vegetable peelers and graters.
- Learn about lighter cooking techniques, including steaming and stir-frying.
- Read about more good-for-you cooking gear at That's Fit.