Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Meat Slicer
Buying any type of home appliance calls for some careful research, and meat slicers are definitely no exception. In fact, meat slicers can call for even more attention to detail so that you don’t end up sinking a lot of money into a model that just doesn’t meet your needs. If you want to know what questions you should be asking during your meat slicer search, check out the information in this guide.
How Adjustable Is the Thickness?
This is probably the first question you’re going to be asking when you start looking at meat slicers; if it’s not, it should be. An adjustable thickness mechanism is one of the best features of a meat slicer, since it allows you to fully control how thick or thin your slices come out. If the model doesn’t offer it then you should skip over it right away. Once you’ve weeded out those static size modes, it’s time to start thinking about your needs and preferences when it comes to meat thickness.
Most slicers represent the thickness as a fraction of the inch, with smaller fractions meaning a thinner slice. If you want deli-style thin slices of meats such as turkey breast or roast beef, then you should look for a slicer that has as small a fraction (i.e. 1/16 inch) on the lower end as possible. If you’d like to make yourself some thick ham steaks or cut other types of meats for grilling, then you want a bigger fraction (i.e. closer to a whole inch). Most slicers will have a maximum thickness of around ½ inch, though some can reach a thickness of up to ¾ inch.
What’s It Made Of?
Understanding the materials used for the body and components is an incredibly important aspect of finding the best meat slicer, because it directly impacts how effective it is at slicing and how long it will last. It’s best to avoid any slicers that have a predominantly plastic body, since these just won’t be able to withstand the amount of wear that comes with slicing meats. Focus on slicers with a metal frame for the longest lifespan, with stainless steel helping to prevent against harmful rust that can develop during cleanings or through general use.
You’re likely going to find models that use plastic for safety guards or aspects of the carriage, which is generally fine for home use. However, if you do plan on using your slicer extensively, or if you know you’re going to be cutting large and heavy meats, then try to keep the plastic to a minimum as best you can. Strong metal will ensure that you get even, smooth cuts by better supporting the meat during use and preventing any operation issues.
Is It Easy to Use?
Never underestimate the importance of ease of use when it comes to a meat slicer, as even the smallest detail can improve the overall experience and help you achieve perfect slices. For example, some models angle the carriage so that your meat can rest comfortably in the cradle it creates. This way, you don’t have to try to hold the meat steady while you move it past the blade, and instead you can focus on keeping a slow and steady motion to ensure a smooth cut.
A sliding carriage is also a great feature that enhances usability, since it makes the actual slicing process a simple procedure. The exact process will vary between models, but most allow you to press inward on the end opposite the blade to slide the entire tray and the meat into the cutting area. Remember to think about how often you plan to use the slicer to determine how important these features are and if they’re worth any increase in price.
What’s the Blade Size
Blade size determines how big of a piece of meat you can cut, as well how much of any meat or food product you can cut at one time. Most home-use meat slicers will have a blade with a diameter of around 7 inches, which is more than enough to be able to cut most sandwich meats and some types of vegetables or breads. If you’re only planning on cutting basic food types and don’t plan on putting your slicer through too much labor each day, then you can definitely focus on models with a blade around this size.
However, if you do plan on working with tougher meats or foods that are much bigger in size, then you’re going to want to step the blade size up a bit. A blade with a diameter (which is the distance across the center, end to end) of around 8-9 inches will give you the ability to work with a much broader range of meats and foods. You won’t need to go with a 10 inch or larger blade unless you know you’re going to be slicing on a near-commercial level.
What Type of Motor Does It Have?
There are two general types of motors that you’re going to see in meat slicers – gear-driven and belt-driven. In some cases, you might find that belt-driven motors give you a higher output (measured in watts), but that’s not always going to be the case. The main issue you should be aware of is that gear-driven motors may be more prone to breaking down because the teeth on the gear get stripped over time, preventing it from turning the other mechanisms, particularly if the gears are made of plastic.
Belt-driven motors don’t have this issue because the internal components use a belt to move the components and power the spinning of the blade, thus there are no teeth that can wear down and complicate the process. That’s not to say belt-driven motors aren’t prone to their own issues or guaranteed to never break down. It’s just something to consider when you take your potential usage schedule into account.
How Safe Is It?
Meat slicers are not a toy, and even though nearly all models are designed with features to decrease the risk factor, there are still several factors to look for depending on your needs and comfort level. You should always look for a model that provides some sort of blade covering, so that it is not fully exposed when it’s in motion or not in use. Some models offer greater levels of coverage on the blade, even allowing you to put it into a “resting” mode where it is completely protected.
Other important safety features relate to how the actual slicing occurs, as they help prevent accidental cuts or harm to you. Some models place thumb guards and safety shields on the end where you would slide the carriage towards the blade. You never want to purchase a slicer that requires you to place your hands anywhere near the actual blade. It may also help to find a model that has slip resistant feet, as this will help minimize unexpected movement during slicing.
Can It Cut More Than Meat?
Most of you are going to be purchasing your meat slicer to slice meat, but there are actually many models out there that can cut other types of food as well. If you know that you’re only going to cut meat, then this isn’t going to be a must-have feature. However, if you would like the option to slice your own breads, cheeses, and produce, then it’s worth looking into. You will usually want a slicer that has a smooth blade, as opposed to a serrated one, as these are less likely to harm the foods that you will slice.
A Final Word on Size
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but you should always take some measurements of the space where you plan to place your slicer before you actually make your purchase. This helps you ensure that you actually have enough space in your kitchen for the slicer. Trying to fit a large machine like this into too small of a space can lead to safety issues or reduce the quality of your slices, as you won’t have enough room to operate it properly.