How to Choose a Meat Grinder
The top performers in our review are the STX Turboforce 3000, the Gold Award winner; the Sunmile SM-G31, the Silver Award winner; and the Best Choice Products Meat Grinder, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a meat grinder to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
The advantages of using a meat grinder are numerous enough to win over casual and hardcore cooks alike. While they add an extra step to your food preparation, these devices allow you to create safe, fresh meals. Preprocessed meat often contains pieces from hundreds of different animals, and these aren't always the choicest bits. Chances of contamination are much higher when your ground meat comes from a factory, which makes cooking burgers medium-rare unsafe.
This is why many serious cooks have meat grinders for home use. You can ensure the meat you eat is what you want it to be. In addition to a cleaner grinding process, you have greater control over the flavor and texture of your meat. You aren’t constrained by only what is available at your local grocery store and the questionable way in which it’s prepared, instead being able to pick the bits you want and then grind them to the desired consistency.
If instead of grinding your own meats, you simply want to slice cuts of meat you purchase from your local deli, you should consider a meat slicer. These machines help you achieve an ideal thickness when preparing meat for sandwiches or other recipes, utilizing a circulating blade to expedite the process of cutting meat and maintain a consistent thickness between slices. You can learn more in our articles about meat grinders.
Food Grinders: Picking Electric or Manual
Meat grinders are available in two main styles: manual meat grinders and electric grinders. Manual grinders have a crank handle that you rotate manually to turn a screw and blade to grind up meat, whereas electric grinders operate at the flip of a switch. For some homes, an electric meat grinder may prove too much of a financial commitment as these devices are better suited to regular users concerned with their diet, or avid hunters who want to process their own meat. If you regularly serve ground meat, this device can prove an invaluable addition to your kitchen.
Though manual grinders are a less costly investment, electric grinders are more popular since they can process meat faster and easier. When using a manual crank, you have to twist the lever while steadying the grinder and feeding meat continuously into it. In comparison, electric grinders require only a continuous feeding of meat; they do the rest of the work while you watch.
Meat Grinders: What We Evaluated, What We Found
We evaluated some of the best meat grinders and compared them based on key attributes, including grinding performance, safety, design and warranty. Though the speed and effectiveness of a home meat grinder are arguably the most important elements, it's also important to factor in ease of use and cleaning, safety during assembly and disassembly, and warranty protection.
Grinding Performance: Speed and Volume Matter
The amount of meat you intend to grind is important to factor in when choosing a grinder. If you’re a more casual user and only plan on making occasional batches of hamburger meat, you can pick a simpler model. However, if you hunt often or prepare large amounts of sausages and other ground meats, you’ll need something powerful enough to handle that quantity without taking all day. Meat mincers with larger motors with plenty of horsepower will often deliver the best results in terms of meat ground per minute.
Safety: Adequately Cleaning the Grinder is Critical
When you use a meat grinder, it's vital to properly maintain the individual pieces. The safest grinders are those that allow for easy disassembly and are machine-washable. The key to keeping the device sanitary is effective and regular cleaning, which means the hopper and all other parts should be designed to facilitate the flow of water to clean out meat residue. When cleaning a meat grinder, disassembly should be easy, with pieces disengaging without requiring you to yank at parts and potentially slice yourself on the cutting blade. Some grinders may not completely disassemble, which will require you to manually clean certain parts of the device.
Design: Some Are More Durable Than Others
Besides the obvious addition of a motor, electric meat grinders contain the same basic components as manual units. The hopper holds the cubes of meat before they're ground. You use the pusher to force meat down the feed tube to keep everything moving. At the bottom of the feed is a screw that pushes meat into the blade where the actual grinding takes place. At the end of the blade is a plate with holes to push the meat through. The blades finely mince the meat, whereas the plate gives the end product its shape. Additional pieces are included in various models for greater ease of use and power in grinding meat.
When purchasing a meat grinder, you should find one that is made of quality parts that will last. Some units are made out of high-impact plastic, which does cut down on the cost. But when it comes to the plates and blade, these should be made of a high-durability material like stainless steel that will last through countless uses. Stainless steel meat grinders are worth the higher price tag if you want a truly long-lasting machine.
Warranty: One-Year Minimum
As with any home appliance, you should make sure the warranty offers adequate protection from mechanical defects. The typical warranty period for grinders is a year, and it should cover the main components such as the screw, the hopper and the cutting plates. Some grinders may offer additional warranties that cover the motor of the device for a longer period as this is the most important component of any electric grinder.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate and research all products and services to simulate the consumer experience as closely as possible. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else is Important in Selecting a Meat Grinder?
Meat grinders are basic in purpose and usage, though understanding the nuances of the cutting plates can help you achieve an ideal texture and blend of meats. Beyond considering the grinding performance, design and warranty of the unit, you should also factor in the accessories that come with the blender.
Meat Grinders: Accessories Expand Potential Usage
Meat grinders come with a variety of accessories to extend the types of grinding jobs they can perform. For example, most grinders come with an average of three grinding plates to create fine, medium and coarse textures. Some units come with additional accessories such as a sausage attachment that allows you to feed meat into sausage skins. In addition, a grinder may come with a kibbe attachment to finely dice food and assist in stuffing it into a dough shell.
Meat Grinders: Our Verdict and Recommendations
Finding the right meat grinder is a matter of identifying your needs for the types of meat you’ll regularly grind, how much meat you need to process and the texture you hope to achieve. The STX Turboforce 3000 is the best grinder that we evaluated, offering incredible levels of power with multiple accessories for achieving a variety of grinding textures with minimal jamming. Sunmile SM-G31 came in second, overcoming its age on the market by delivering reliable levels of performance for consistent workloads. The Best Choice Products Meat Grinder came in third due to the high power level outputs it achieved when running chunks of meat.
Our reviews and side-by-side comparison can help you choose the right meat grinder for your kitchen. You can find the right balance of power, accessories and design quality for a price you're comfortable with.