Slicing vegetables using a standard kitchen knife is so 1990s. These days, jazzing up everything from vegetables to pasta to fruits enhances the presentation. Presentation matters equally to chefs and homemakers who want to bring a little extra pizzazz to the dinner plate.
Spiral slicers (also known as spiralizers) are either hand-held slicers or spiral slicing machines with interchangeable stainless steel blade attachments. A solid base with a suction-based design to ensure the device won’t slip while cutting produce is required, along with a level countertop.
The most advanced spiral slicers come with up to five blades. For example, the blades within a spiral slicer product might include a spiral slicer, a shredder, a terrine maker, a curly fry cutter, and an angel-hair thin blade. Each blade attachment performs a role and produces a different result for an exceptional looking side dish.
Along with cutting up food to make it more attractively presented, a spiralizer also speeds up manual preparation time. Cooking times are also reduced because water and heat reach all parts of the heavily sliced produce at the same time, cooking evenly, thoroughly, and faster.
When trying out something new like a raw, paleo, gluten-free, vegan, low carb or keto diet plan, it pays to mix things up. When creating interesting vegetable noodle, ribbons of carrots and thinly sliced zucchini pasta that cooks in mere minutes, a spiral slicer is a good time-saving device.
Types of Spiral Slicers
There are two types of spiral slicers to choose between, and each offers different benefits. Beyond these types, there’s also specialist kitchen tools that offer single spiral cuts if that’s all the chef requires.
Hand-held Spiral Slicers
A hand-held spiral slicer is a convenient, quick way to add some culinary flare to food preparation and prepared meals. The ability to slice up fruits and vegetables into attractive curls, spirals, and other shapes in different areas of the kitchen is a useful kitchen tool to have.
Where the hand-held spiralizer falls short is its ability to create many different shapes from the food items, the manual turning process, slow cutting rate, and lack of automation. Hand-held spiral slicers certainly have their place in terms of convenience, portability, and price, yet they give up a lot of new options that advanced stand spiral slicers do not.
One possible upside with a hand-held model is that it’s inexpensive compared to the standing variety. Because of the affordability, for skeptics it’s easier to make the leap to try a spiral slicer. When sufficiently convinced of its usefulness in the kitchen, a stand spiral slicer beckons.
Stand Spiral Slicers
A stand spiral slicer is a spiralizer that has a solid base which sits on an even kitchen surface ready to churn through vegetables, fruits, and other food items in record time.
Various blade attachments provide options to cut produce in different shapes and sizes. Want to cut potatoes into curly fries just like the frozen variety? Can do. Turn a whole onion into a series of spiral cut circles? No problem at all. There is virtually nothing that cannot be achieved to make basic food items more attractive when using a stand spiral slicer. The advanced models also make short work of shredding cheese and chopping through other produce to be used as a stuffing in an elegant dish.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Spiral Slicer
There are several factors to consider when looking at spiral slicers.
Vegetables Suitable for Spiralizing
Are the types of produce most appropriate for spiral slicing the ones that you most enjoy eating? It’s a good starting point and a great question to ask.
Root vegetables have the hardest texture and take the longest time to cook. These attributes make them ideal for spiralizing using a spiral slicer. It is also possible to use softer vegetables like squash, cucumbers, and pumpkin, or fruits like pears and apples.
Carrots – A slicing blade can create ribbons of raw carrots that add crunch and texture to a slaw or mixed salad. Adding them to a stir fry is also an option.
Zucchini – Thinly spiralize zucchini to turn it into a spaghetti-like shape that boils up in seconds. Add some pasta sauce, and your lightweight dish is served.
Apples – Remove the stalk and core, then slice up some apples to create noodles. Add some lemon juice, and you’re all set for a visually satisfying snack.
Sweet potatoes – Healthier than regular potatoes with natural sweetness, a blade designed to produce thick curls can create curly fries ready to bake or fry up. Add to some healthy oil, and heat until crispy.
Cucumbers – Turn a long cucumber into a single green and white stack that fans up and down. Add color and edible decoration to heavy dishes.
Eating Raw vs. Cooking
Cooking raw vegetables often takes many of the nutrients out of the produce, lost in the water they’re cooked in. Steaming vegetables is a much better way of retaining the nutrients within the vegetables.
Some vegetables that have been spiral cut don’t hold up as well to vigorous cooking methods. Eggplant, for instance, tends to break into smaller pieces and is best added to a stir fry or lightly boiled for best results.
When eating raw food, or sticking to the paleo diet, cutting up vegetables, fruits, and other items into interesting shapes helps to make the dining experience more memorable. Vegetables like broccoli offer a greater number of nutrients when eaten raw, but other veggies like tomatoes deliver more goodness when cooked up. Therefore, one can use a spiral slicer to vary up prepared meals rather than lose creativity in the kitchen.
Stainless steel blades with quality spiral slicers ensure the sustainability of each model. A handle that wobbles slightly or a blade that doesn’t fit into place properly won’t cut just right. In some products, well respected Japanese steel or Japanese cutting blades are used to improve the cutting edge and sustainability of the spiral shapes the stand spiral slicer can produce.
Ease of Cleaning
Is the hand-held spiral slicer or stand spiral slicer able to break down into smaller pieces to fit into the dishwasher or to wash by hand? Without being able to get access to all parts of the product easily, it’s simple to create problems with a bacterial build-up that will travel onto the food.
Easy of Use
With hand-held spiral slicers, they need to be easy to add fruit or vegetables, hold in position, and use the lever or a twisting motion to do the cutting for you. With hand-held spiralizers that require too much force to operate well, getting consistent results is difficult.
Stand spiral slicers need a substantial base and perhaps suction cups to keep the main body in position. The operation needs to be easy to understand and use. When a tool is too complicated, chefs give up on it because it’s too much of a pain. Simplicity matters with kitchen tools.
Think about storage options when wanting to break down the spiralizer to put it in the cupboard. Where will it fit? Is there space in the kitchen cabinets or will it have to stay out taking up space on the countertop even when it’s not needed? A little forward thinking does the whirl of good.
Some of the plastic used in products including spiral slicers can contain BPA. BPA which stands for bisphenol-a is a base component of polycarbonate which is a clear plastic sometimes found in contact lenses, water bottles, food storage houseware, and other hard plastic products.
Plastic products often have a triangle logo with arrows for borders with a number inside the image. The identifier confirms that the plastic is BPA when the number “7” is shown inside the triangle.
Buyers of spiral slicers need to look for products that are BPA-free. The presence of BPA in plastics is linked to diabetes, types of cancer, fertility issues, and congenital disabilities. The evidence is in dispute, but several major national retailers no longer stock products that have BPA in plastic as a precautionary measure.
A stand spiral slicer comes with a selection of blade attachments each designed to perform differently. Generally speaking, the more blade attachments, the better.
Attachments are able to act like shredders, cut apples into strips, create noodles out of vegetables, and work wonders with zucchini.
The stand spiral slicer needs to have some weight and heft to it. Otherwise, even with the suction cups placed on the underside of the unit, it won’t stay in place for long. As such, a heavier product is likely to remain in place more while it’s slicing produce.
Features of Spiral Slicers
There are a few functions that are critical to the satisfactory operation of a spiral slicer to achieve the intended results. Other features come under the “nice to have” category. We run through the relevant ones below.
Make sure that all the ABS plastic is BPA-free. The BPA-free logo confirms that the plastic in the product is not harmful for the home. When marked on the product with a triangle logo and a “7” inside it, that means it uses BPA which is believed in many circles to be a danger to health.
Weight & Sturdiness
While weight might not sound like a feature of a spiralizer, with a stand spiralizer, the heftiness of the product helps it stay in one place while cutting vegetables and fruits. A lighter stand spiralizer even with suction cups underneath is likely to slip and slide all over the place. Also, when the plastic parts aren’t fitting together just right, or the blade doesn’t slot in perfectly, then the lack of precision manufacturing, sturdiness and bulk of the spiral slicing body directly impacts performance (and safety too).
Whether using a hand-held spiral slicer or a stand spiral slicer, both are likely to be hand operated. A handle turns the vegetable or fruit that is attached to the spiral slicer and helps it make contact with the sharp cutting blades. Because of the hand operation, there is no electrical use and the cutting action can be continuous until all slicing is completed.
With either a single blade hand-held spiralizer or a multi-blade stand spiralizer, the blade truly matters. For multi-blade stand models, there are tri-blade, quad-blade, and five blade spiralizers. In general, other than cherry-picking the model and blade types wanted, it is best to pick a spiralizer product with as many blades as possible. Having more options is good.
The switchable blades, made from stainless steel (sometimes Japanese steel, sometimes not), allow the cutting of noodle-like shapes, curly fries, delicate spirals, and other unusual shapes that make eating raw, paleo or low-fat diet a little more fun than it otherwise would be.
An integrated storage compartment for several blades is often found under the cutting level. Using this space avoids anyone accidentally cutting themselves on a blade left out on the countertop ready to use and keeps blades cleaner between uses too.
A storage bag is a standard inclusion with a stand spiral slicer. There are a few parts that come with the stand version of this product, so it’s useful to bag them up together.
A cleaning brush is often included with the package. Just like with a toothbrush, a cleaning brush helps to get to the parts of the slicer that are tough or impossible to reach without taking it apart piece by piece. Don’t discount the usefulness of a cleaning brush made especially for the product; a slicer, after all, sends tiny pieces of food flying in all directions. Some get stuck and create bacteria if not removed properly.
Which parts of the product are dishwasher safe and which are not? A greater number of parts that are safe to use in the dishwasher, the faster the cleanup after a cooking session.
A recipe book is often included to help people new to using a spiralizer and those who have owned one before learn some better tricks. The fruit and vegetable combinations and which items go best with which cutting blade is useful information.
Best Spiral Slicers Brands
There are only a few brands of hand-held spiral slicers and stand spiral slicers on the market that stand out from the crowd. Here we provide some information about the brands.
Spiralizer was one of the early entrants into the spiral slicing market. The company continues to innovate with their latest 3rd generation of spiralizer that boasts stronger carbon, stainless steel and reinforced BPA-free ABS hard plastic. Extra blades conveniently tuck away beneath the business end of their Spiralizer to keep them accessible but out of the way. The company is also confident enough in the durability of their products that they go beyond the typical 1-year or less warranty protection.
Paderno World Cuisine
Paderno claims to be the original creator of the Spiralizer. Originally the company was founded in 1925 as Alluminio Paderno. A subsequent acquisition in 2007 saw the company merge part of the names of the acquiring company, World Cuisine, and their own company name, to become Paderno World Cuisine. The combined company produce an extensive range of cookware, utensils, cooking tools, bakeware, and cutlery too.
Kitchen Supreme is a young brand that began life in 2013. The brand produces a hand-held spiralizer, chalkboard labels, liquid chalk market, and a French press. Their products are sold through Amazon.com.
Brieftons is deeply involved all aspects of spiralizing, food chopping, salad spinning, mandoline slicing, and potato chipping. They also offer several free online How-To guides on their website to help buyers get the most out of their products. What’s appealing about their product range is that there are several spiralizers available with a different number of blades, design choices, and options, to pick exactly what is required. As such, unlike some other brands, the buyer is not restricted to a single Brieftons’ spiralizer product.
Native Spring Essentials
Native Spring offers a broad range of home and garden, holiday, health, and outdoors products. Their full range is sold through Amazon.com. Their spiral slicer is a useful hand-held model that requires two hands to operate properly. It is available in several color choices.
What Consumers Say
Handles on Stand Spiral Slicers for Left-handed People
With stand spiral slicers, usually one hand holds down the base, and the other turns the handle to rotate the food item through the cutting blade. It depends on the brand whether it works well left-handed as well as right-handed. Some products do, and some don’t.
Thin Blade Issues
Thin blades may cut finely, but often lack the strength of a thicker blade. This comes into play when trying to cut harder root vegetables using a thin blade and hitting resistance. Beware of blades that are promoted as “angel-hair” because they may not be tough enough to slice through all vegetables.
Zucchini spaghetti, the cutting of long green zucchinis into strings of veggies that resemble spaghetti is a good way to avoid pasta when told to set Italian food aside. Add some vegetable-based fresh pasta sauce, and you’ll be surprised how good it tastes, especially with a portion of crumbled tofu added for both protein and texture.