Three best spiral slicers
There is little doubt that noodle and pasta dishes are extremely popular, but there are some dietary challenges when it comes to flour-based pasta. It is dense with carbohydrates, and it may also contain high levels of gluten. One healthy alternative to traditional pasta has become increasingly popular in recent years: vegetable-based "pasta" ribbons.
Creating these guilt-free, gluten-free noodles involves the use of a special kitchen gadget known as a spiral slicer, or spiralizer. The user places vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, or squash into the spiral slicer, and special blades trim it into flat ribbons of varying sizes. These ribbons can be steamed, boiled, or even served raw with an appropriate sauce. It is possible to duplicate such popular dishes as lasagna, spaghetti, or ramen without worrying about gluten sensitivity or the effects of dense carbohydrates on blood sugar.
There are essentially two types of spiral slicers on the market today: crank-style and handheld. Our favorite, the Spiralizer with five blades, is a crank-style slicer that creates delightful noodles and ribbons for a healthy alternative to pasta.
Considerations when choosing spiral slicers
There are several important elements to consider when shopping for a spiral slicer. We have put together a few to help get you on your way.
Ease of use
Many shoppers find that a crank-style spiralizer mounted on a secure base is easier to use than a handheld model with no support. Each model poses challenges, but creating a long, unbroken strand or ribbon can involve a learning curve, especially with a handheld model. It is helpful to find a model where mounting the vegetable or fruit is intuitive and only requires minimal prep work.
Cleaning and maintenance
Some spiral slicers may contain five or more extremely sharp blades, which need to be carefully cleaned and stored between uses. Handheld models should include protective covers, and crank-style models should have a good onboard blade storage system.
Handheld spiralizers can usually handle fruits and vegetables of any size due to an open-ended design, but crank-style models may have some size limitations. Some can handle 10-inch long cucumbers or zucchini, while others require users to trim the produce down before processing.
Most spiral slicers offer a choice between thin strands for noodle dishes and thicker ribbons for pastas and lasagnas. However, the better models also offer blades for more specialized slices, such as a continuous ribbon or stylized garnish.
Suction cup stabilizers
While handheld spiral slicers do not include any stabilizers, crank-style models usually feature a suction cup system that keeps the unit securely attached to the table or cutting board. This can be a very important safety feature, especially when working with larger batches.
Most handheld spiral slicers hover around the $10 to $15 price point; these are generally limited to two-blade options. Crank-style spiralizers with multiple blade options can run as much as $20 to $25, but they do not require as much of a learning curve as basic handheld models.
Q. Are there recipes available for spiralized fruits and vegetables?
A. Many spiral slicing systems include a basic recipe book containing common dishes you can make with spiralized foods. Many home cooks use ribbon or flat-cut vegetables as substitutes for wheat-based pastas if gluten is an issue. Spiralized fruits and vegetable also work well in cold salads and as garnishes.
Q. Are spiral slicers safe for my older children to use? I let my 12-year-old daughter use a vegetable peeler sometimes.
A. The blades of a spiral slicer can be extremely sharp, and at least part of the blade is exposed during normal operation. However, an adult can set up the machine, attach the blade, and position the food before allowing an older child to turn the crank and produce the ribbons. We would not recommend allowing a child to clean the machine, however.
Q. Which type of spiral slicer is best for a beginner like me?
A. Handheld spiral slicers may be more affordable than crank-style models, but we recommend a sturdier crank-style slicer for inexperienced cooks. Using a handheld spiral slicer requires more of a learning curve, and the results may not be as consistent as those created by a crank-style model.
Spiral slicers we recommend
Best of the best: Spiralizer Five-Blade Vegetable Slicer
Our take: The Spiralizer includes five exceptionally sharp blades for all sorts of vegetable and fruit slicing projects. Very versatile and well-constructed.
What we like: Strong suction cups provide stability. All blades are stored in the unit. Durable construction. Most foods require minimal prep.
What we dislike: Requires good eye/hand coordination for consistent results. Some unexpected slippage reported.
Best bang for your buck: Original SpiraLife Spiralizer Vegetable Slicer by Lifestyle Dynamics
Our take: The Original SpiraLife is ideal for home cooks who only plan on serving an occasional spiralized dish with minimal slicing options.
What we like: Instructional video and storage bag included. Affordable price point. Easy to clean. Compact design.
What we dislike: Larger vegetables must be trimmed to fit. Blades only provide "spaghetti" or "wide ribbon" slices.
Our take: The Paderno World Cuisine slicer/spiralizer is comparable in performance to models twice its price. It's a good all-around choice for experienced home cooks.
What we like: Extremely sharp stainless steel blades. Straightforward, intuitive operation. Minimal prep work required. Dishwasher safe.
What we dislike: Minimal instructions included. Creating long, unbroken strands requires practice.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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