After considering more than 60 models and spending over 40 hours in research and testing, we found that the KitchenAid V-Slicer is the best mandoline. It offers razor-sharpness, a decent hand guard, easy storage, and durability, all with a friendly price tag. It doesn’t come with any additional blades, but we think most people need to make only straight cuts most of the time anyway. Although the hand guard is small, it’s very effective and easy to grip. The V-Slicer may not look like much, but trust us when we say that this small slicer delivers some serious results.
Let me share a quick story. Many years ago, I applied for a position at a prestigious restaurant in San Francisco. As part of the hiring process, I had to “trail” for a 10-hour day.
About two hours into my trail, they put me on garde manger, the cold-food station, out of which the salads and cold appetizers come. They gave me a mandoline to use for prep work. Like most in-house mandolines, this one was dull and old. (That’s why most cooks carry their own.)
I was shaving something on this busted mandoline when I rammed my thumb onto the blade. Eight hours later, I finished the trail with a bloody ball of gauze on the end of my thumb.
Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
Since then, I’ve worked (more successfully) with mandolines of all shapes and sizes throughout the span of my 18-year career in restaurants, catering, test-kitchen work, and food styling. I now have a pretty good handle on what makes a good mandoline and what will put my thumb at risk.
Aside from my personal experience, we looked at reviews from Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) and Good Housekeeping. We also took recommendations from other publications like Saveur and Fine Cooking. After we exhausted our editorial research, we consulted experts Brendan McDermott, chef instructor at Kendall College; Harry Rosenblum, owner of kitchen-supply shop The Brooklyn Kitchen; and David Ritter, culinary expert at Williams-Sonoma. We then looked at the highest-rated mandoline slicers on Amazon, reading reviews from customers about ease of use, safety, and convenience.
You may already have a mandoline that you like to use and feels comfortable. If you’re happy with what you have and are satisfied with its safety and usability, keep it. If the blade on your current mandoline has dulled, or if it’s an older, outdated design that feels precarious to use, upgrading is a good idea.
Mandolines need to be sharp and able to make even slices. A single diagonal blade or a V-shaped blade is best for maintaining control and producing clean cuts. The tool also needs to be safe so you don’t send yourself to the ER. That means it has a sturdy hand guard, a big handle so you can grip it securely, and a smooth cutting action to keep your fingertips safe. Price is also an important factor. You don’t want to spend too much money on a mandoline—save that paper for a nice chef’s knife.
You can choose either a no-frills, handheld model for straight cuts or a mandoline with interchangeable blades that allow for julienne (matchsticks), dicing, french fries, and even waffle cuts in addition to the standard thin slices. Taking into account my own use and asking my peers who cook professionally, I’ve found that most mandoline usage is for straight cuts, like making paper-thin rounds of radishes and cucumbers for salads, or thinly slicing potatoes for gratins. If you know that you’ll be making french fries on the regular, you might want a fancier slicer with interchangeable blades. But all that said, it’s most important to get even slices so that your food cooks evenly.
Generally you can find three types of mandolines:
French: This style is what most students in culinary school learn on. The stainless-steel body is sturdy and heavy, with a straight-across blade. Such tools have interchangeable blades that make julienne, baton, and ridge shapes, and the thickness options can vary from paper thin to up to ½ inch. Each blade is removable so that you can hone it on a steel or even sharpen it on a stone, but the blades are thick and prone to dulling quite quickly, and the action is rough. We think these things can be dangerous, and chef instructor Brendan McDermott agrees—when we talked with him, he called French-style mandolines “medieval.”
Japanese: Made popular by Benriner, this style is a favorite in professional kitchens. Such tools are inexpensive, lightweight (in higher-end kitchens, a mandoline is usually part of a cook’s personal arsenal and goes in the knife roll), and very sharp. Its innovation is a diagonal blade, which offers more control and a cleaner cut. Its handheld, compact design is also great for storage.
V-slicers: Mandolines with V-shaped blades are very popular now. Cook’s Illustrated and Good Housekeeping highly favor this style. Instead of pushing your food onto one blade, the design slices your food on two diagonal blades, so you have two entry points for slicing instead of just one. As Harry Rosenblum, owner of The Brooklyn Kitchen, told us, “The V-blade is great if you’re dealing with a vegetable that’s big and round.”
Hand guards are an important feature, especially if you are new to mandolines. Even professional cooks cut themselves quite often on mandolines, so safety is nothing to be casual about. A great hand guard offers protection while fitting comfortably in your hand. The best ones don’t leave a large knob of the vegetable unsliced. Also, if the hand guard has a too-narrow opening, it will limit the length of your cuts, which makes for some really stumpy fries. Ultimately you want the freedom to make cuts as long as you desire, like carrot ribbons or long shoestrings.
A solid, smooth platform provides smooth action. The platform should be free of obstacles that vegetables can get caught on, which contributes to uniformity and safety. Ample width is important for slicing large, round vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, onions, fennel, and large potatoes—you shouldn’t have to trim down vegetables before slicing them. The tool shouldn’t feel rickety or flex too much under applied pressure.
You have no need to spend more than $50 on a mandoline these days. Prices have come down over the years. The big $150 French mandolines, although still available, are no longer the best tools available for the job, and they definitely aren’t the greatest value. Several of the best models we tested cost just over $20.
When we first tackled this subject in 2014, I asked Sweethome writer Christine Cyr Clisset to join me for testing because I wanted the opinion and advice of an advanced home cook who might not be as cavalier about using a mandoline as I would be. For 2016, we asked fellow Sweethome and Wirecutter NYC staff, regardless of experience level, to use our test models and give their opinions. A common theme among their remarks was that they wanted a safe-feeling slicer that was sharp and easy to use.
In both rounds of testing, we started with potatoes to see how thinly and evenly each mandoline made straight cuts, as well as any additional cuts each model could provide. We also shaved medium-size heads of fennel to make sure the platforms of the mandolines could accommodate the whole head without our having to trim it down. Tough, hard beets can pose a challenge to lesser mandolines, so we sliced them into paper-thin rounds. Long, skinny carrots can be challenging for hand guards, so we tried shaving them into long ribbons. We razored lemons into thin wheels to see if the blades would cut through the seeds or get caught on them, mangling the flesh. After all of that, we ran a tomato on the mandolines to see if the tools could make perfect, untorn rounds on such a delicate item.
For a basic mandoline, the KitchenAid V-Slicer is the best value. A favorite of Good Housekeeping, it yields perfectly even slices, has a dial with clearly marked thickness settings, and offers a smooth platform for great slicing action. It’s compact enough to fit in most kitchen drawers, too. In our group test with Sweethome and Wirecutter staffers, those who were less experienced with using mandolines said the KitchenAid V-Slicer felt more manageable and safer to use than the competition.
While the KitchenAid’s hand guard isn’t as substantial as our runner-up’s, it has a big, comfortable handle and small spikes that securely hold the food in place. The sharp V-shaped blade made shaved fennel thin enough to read text through. It also created clean tomato and lemon slices, and consistent potato rounds. Even though this basic mandoline doesn’t come with extra attachments to make different cuts, we think it has enough functionality for most people. (If you need a slicer that makes julienne and baton cuts, our runner-up might be right for you.)
The most important thing for a mandoline to do is to make even slices, which helps your food cook evenly and look better. Pommes Anna or gratin dauphinois requires thin, even slices of potato for those two reasons. While the KitchenAid V-Slicer wasn’t the only mandoline we tested that could achieve this result, it performed better than other, much more expensive models like the Progressive PL8 and de Buyer mandolines, which made drastically uneven slices.
The thickness settings on the KitchenAid V-Slicer are clearly marked to eliminate guesswork, thanks to a dial on the side that gives actual measurements ranging from 1/32 inch to ¼ inch. Even though I really like our “Also great” pick, the Super Benriner, it lacks measurement markings, so it requires a few passes and some adjustment to produce slices with the right thickness.
The V-Slicer has a smooth slicing platform with fast slicing action. Slicers with uneven platforms or gaps, like the OXO Good Grips V-Blade slicer, are more difficult to use because the food can get caught and cause your hand to slip.
We also like that the KitchenAid V-Slicer is small and thin enough to fit in a kitchen drawer. Last year’s top pick, the Börner VPower, is pretty bulky and a bit of a pain to store. At home I found myself using the KitchenAid model more out of sheer convenience. I kept the Börner VPower in my food-styling kit, along with the Super Benriner, to use on photo shoots, but the KitchenAid stayed in a drawer right under my workstation.
The hand guard, while small, does a fine job of keeping digits away from blades. This simple component doesn’t require the plunger and spikes that most of the bigger mandolines do, so it helps to make the KitchenAid V-Slicer easy to use right out of the package.
As I stated above, this mandoline makes only straight slices. I don’t think this is a problem for most people; for example, I use my mandoline only for making paper-thin slices of potatoes, radishes, fennel, and the like. But if you must have a slicer that can turn out mountains of french fries, I recommend our runner-up, the Börner VPower.
I’ve been using all three of our picks for the past 18 months, but I primarily use the KitchenAid V-Slicer at home since it stores well in a drawer. It’s easy to use in a pinch and requires no setup. It isn’t a pain to pull out for a couple of radishes yet is equally helpful with 5 pounds of potatoes. The blades are still sharp after moderate use, and I don’t see needing to replace it anytime soon.
The Swissmar Börner VPower is a good, sharp mandoline for the money. It produces even slices, offers great slicing action, comes with blades for making baton (french fry) and julienne (matchstick) cuts, and has a relatively simple-to-use hand guard that keeps hands away from sharp blades. It’s a lot of mandoline, both in functionality and size, and after a year of using it, we realized it might be too much and too big for most people. That being said, for the money you’d be hard-pressed to find a sharper, better-performing slicer.
In our tests, straight slices came out perfectly even, regardless of the food’s texture. The carrot ribbons were even and thin enough to have a bit of a curl to them. Potatoes were even from beginning to end, and sliced tomatoes and lemons came out as cleanly as root vegetables. To change the thickness of the cut, you merely adjust a button on the side of the mandoline and pull the panel or push forward—it’s really easy, and your fingers are never in danger.
We were impressed by how fast and uniform the dice, julienne, and baton results were. Although they weren’t perfectly geometrical and even, they were all the same size. If you’re looking to make a perfect dice, you’re better off with a chef’s knife, but if you want only to make even-size dice for a hash, this tool will do the trick.
The hand guard was the second best among all the models we tried. It has five prongs that grab the vegetable. When you initially push the guard onto the vegetable, a red plunger pops up. As you slice, you push on the plunger to get the prongs out of the way of the slicing blade, but it retains a secure grip on the bulk of what you’re slicing, leaving only a ¼-inch piece at the end. We always felt like we had control, no matter what insert we were using, because of the roomy handle and the large, rubberized feet.
The whole unit snaps together for storage. It can’t stand upright on the counter like the Börner V-Slicer Plus can, but that doesn’t bother us. It’s easy to put together and take apart. Swapping out the inserts can take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of the process, it’s easy. The tool is pretty bulky, though, and if you have limited space you might find storage a chore.
A small note on the “VPower” name: When searching Amazon, you might run across a listing for “Börner V-5 Power.” This is the same mandoline, as the company rebranded that model. If you can find a V-5 for less, you should snap it up!
The Börner VPower carries a five-year warranty. One Amazon reviewer raves about how they had a Börner for 20 years before upgrading to a VPower. Even better, the VPower offers a bigger variety of cuts for about the same price as the V-Slicer Plus.
This wouldn’t be a complete mandoline review without our mentioning the Super Benriner, the preferred mandoline of many pro cooks and chefs. The Super Benriner combines razor sharpness with a no-frills, austere design, and it has a comfortable handle that provides control for the user.
The incredibly sharp diagonal blade provides smooth action. Its especially simple design incorporates screws to adjust thickness. You can swap in any of three blades for super-fine shreds, thin julienne, or wider batons. The Super Benriner is the only mandoline we tested that has a removable blade that you can hone or sharpen. You can even replace the blade for about $20.
This mandoline aced all of our tests. It’s versatile, too: Instead of working with preset thicknesses, you can adjust the platform with screws to fine-tune your cut to the exact thickness you desire. Changing out the inserts feels secure because you screw them in from the back of the mandoline while holding the flat side of the comb-like blade. Since the tool has a simple, sturdy construction, the platform can endure years of use without warping. I’ve been using this mandoline for many years, and I’ve never seen one break.
The reason we think this model is more suitable for experienced cooks is that it’s incredibly sharp but its hand guard is a complete joke. Christine called it “an afterthought.” It’s a rectangular piece of plastic with a couple of minuscule spikes and no ergonomics. Even the charming instructional videos on the company website make using the hand guard look awkward. In a professional kitchen, the hand guard either goes in the garbage or immediately gets lost behind the workbench. Even Christine, an advanced home cook, said this mandoline “scared” her because of its lack of safeguards.
If you are a pro, you already know how valuable this mandoline is. If you are a novice and you really want to purchase this model, please review our safety section before getting all Edward Scissorhands on a 5-pound bag of potatoes. One drawback to this model is that the baton blade is 8 millimeters, which comes out to about one-third of an inch. Since the mandoline won’t slice thicker than 3/16 of an inch, your fries won’t have a perfectly square shaft. It’s a small gripe, but one worth mentioning.
Chef instructor Brendan McDermott and Brooklyn Kitchen owner Harry Rosenblum both told us that they prefer this petite style. “I think that the smaller, lighter mandolines like the OXO V-Blade or the Benriner [are better] because they have a much thinner blade and the blade technology has gotten a lot better,” Rosenblum said. “Having a super-sharp blade is the point of a mandoline, otherwise you’d just use a knife.”
Although we’ve mentioned safety before, it really needs mentioning again. “It’s basically a guillotine blade facing your hands,” Brendan McDermott said. While he is right to a certain extent, you can take some safety precautions to up your chances of walking away from your dinner preparation without injury and a trip to the ER.
What makes cutting yourself with a mandoline different from cutting yourself with a sharp knife? When you cut yourself with a knife, more often than not, your guiding (nondominant) hand is what you end up slicing. With a mandoline, you can do serious damage to your dominant hand.
Use that hand guard. I’m not kidding. If you are a novice, you need to develop a finesse with the machine, and that takes practice. In far too many reviews on Amazon, people give mandolines a one-star rating because they ended up going to the emergency room with a partially lopped-off fingertip. A good hand guard will greatly decrease your chances of injury, so please use it. If you happen to lose your hand guard, a tightly folded kitchen towel can provide some protection as well.
You can also get yourself a cut glove, which we highly recommend. This one is inexpensive and comes in three sizes. You could also use a latex glove, which is a trick that restaurant-kitchen staff use. Since the Super Benriner doesn’t have a great hand guard (and to be honest, if someone on the prep line busted one of those out, they’d be the target of endless ridicule until the end of their tenure), our only protection was to double up on latex gloves. If you happen to catch your fingertip on the blade, the latex will take the brunt of it. This doesn’t mean you can completely throw caution to the wind, though. Use the hand guard as well, please.
A dull blade is extremely dangerous. If you have an old mandoline that requires a lot of force to push the vegetable through, buy a new mandoline. Think of all that pressure pushing your fingertip against a blade—that’s what will happen if you slip. (I shudder just thinking about it.) Alternatively, if you have an old Benriner, you can replace the blade for about half the cost of a whole new mandoline.
Progressive put out two new offerings in 2015 under the PL8 moniker, one being the Professional tabletop model and the other being the handheld Gourmet Slicer. Even though the extra blade options and dials were simple to use in our tests, the cutting action on both of these models was jerky and quite precarious. The prongs on the hand guard kept ramming into the blade, making knicks and dents. In a short time, the blade turned dull and the mandoline became dangerous to use.
The Swissmar Börner V-Slicer Plus is a step down from the VPower, but it’s about the same price on Amazon. This model is the current top pick at Cook’s Illustrated. It has only two thickness settings, for which you have to remove and flip the insert. In addition, the handle isn’t as roomy, and the tool isn’t versatile at all, offering only julienne and baton. The company says it can dice, but to allow that to happen, you have to make cross-cuts on the vegetable before running it on the machine—that’s totally cheating. It does store standing upright, though, and that’s a plus.
The two French-style de Buyer mandolines we tested had cumbersome hand guards that made each tool difficult to use and left a lot of waste. The V-blade Viper tabletop-style model wasn’t very intuitive. We had quite a time just trying to set it up properly. Once you do set it up, whatever you’re cutting has to fit in a 3-inch hole, which limits the lengths of cuts. In our tests, things constantly got stuck in the blade, and although the tool does have dicing capabilities, it wasn’t as smooth as our pick. The good points were that it made consistent beet, fennel, and potato cuts, though it performed less well with the carrots and lemon slices. The Kobra handheld model was difficult to use all around: The blade’s micro-serrations hindered rather than helped, and the action was not smooth at all.
The offerings from Progressive were adequate. The Folding Mandoline Slicer was fine enough in our tests, but switching between thicknesses required changing out plates on the platform. Christine actually cut herself on this one, even after reading the instructions. Despite this snafu, its performance pleasantly surprised us. The tabletop model made clean, even cuts, though the hand guard was quite cumbersome. The thinnest cuts were still pretty thick, while the fennel was far from “shaved” and definitely not food-magazine worthy. The lemons and tomatoes were mangled. The potatoes and beets cut well, but the hand guard wouldn’t even grab the carrot. As for the Progressive Julienne and Slicer handheld mandoline, which came recommended by Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required), it mangled soft lemons and tomatoes but sliced the harder roots evenly. We liked the thumb control for changing thickness, as well as the dial on the side for switching between straight and julienne cuts.
The OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer tabletop mandoline was difficult to use and felt flimsy and unstable. The hand guard left a lot of waste (1¼ inch), and the tool had a hard time making carrot ribbons. Swapping out julienne blades was precarious because the point where you press onto the insert to snap it into place is very close to the sharp blades. Christine felt like her fingers were in peril, and it made her nervous due to the fact that she had to pick up the vegetable after every pass, or it would get caught in a gap and lose its footing. A plus with the V-Blade Mandoline Slicer is the convenient dial on the side that controls thickness. Measurements are color-coded to correspond with different inserts, taking the guesswork out of which thickness setting will give you the perfect baton or julienne. In our tests the ridge-cut insert made perfect ridged potatoes, but waffle cuts were less successful.
The Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer was a disappointment. The blade felt dull. It barely cut carrots and tore up lemons and tomatoes. With pressure, the platform would tilt to one side, yielding cuts that were drastically uneven. Even simple tasks like slicing potato rounds and beets were difficult.
While sharp, the handheld Kyocera Adjustable Slicer flexed a lot with pressure. It felt like whatever I was slicing would get caught on a gap below the blade. That said, this tool made beautiful, paper-thin slices of fennel on its single ceramic blade. Potatoes, lemons, and tomatoes came out even.
Originally published: January 22, 2016