The Best Mandoline
After seriously considering more than 40 models and spending over 30 hours in research and testing, we found that the Swissmar Börner V-Power is the best mandoline for those who are looking for razor-sharpness, a secure hand guard, and durability with a friendly price tag.
Mandolines are a little intimidating, and nobody wants a bloody gratin, so we chose our pick with your fingers’ safety in mind. In addition to our research, we also interviewed culinary experts and consulted reviews from trusted editorial sources. We then whittled down the list to 11 models and used them to slice, dice, shave, and ribbon roots and fruits while still keeping hands (mostly) wound-free. In tests, our favorite mandoline totally outperformed one that cost nearly four times its price. The V-Power felt the safest to use, even for novices, and produced mountains of perfectly uniform rounds, symmetrical batons, and fine brunoise in no time.
If you’re an experienced cook who’s willing to throw caution to the wind, the $39 Super Benriner is another great option to consider. It’s the preferred mandoline of many pro chefs due to its razor sharpness with a no-frills, austere design, though the hand guard is pretty much useless, which is why we don’t recommend it for everyone.
Or, if you’re looking for a more basic (and cheaper) option, the $19 KitchenAid V-slicer is the best compact mandoline we’ve found for simple, straight cuts. It won’t be able to dice or julienne, but it’s a good option for those who want to keep it simple. And the hand guard is the best we’ve found among the smaller handheld mandolines.
Why you should trust me
Let me share a quick story. Many years ago, I applied for a position at a very 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. I was given 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. 8 hours later, I finished out 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 one and what will put my thumb tip at risk.
How we picked which mandolines to test
We looked at reviews from Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) and Good Housekeeping. We also took recommendations from other editorial 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.
Mandolines need to be able to handle everything from soft, pulpy fruit to fibrous, oddly-shaped roots without putting your digits in danger. 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.
We started with potatoes to see how thinly and evenly the straight cuts were made by each mandoline, and any additional cuts the mandolines provided. We also shaved medium-sized heads of fennel to make sure the platforms of the mandolines could accommodate the whole head without having to be trimmed 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 each mandoline to see if they would make perfect, untorn rounds on such a delicate item.
The $50 Swissmar Börner V-Power mandoline is dead simple to use right out of the box and aced all of our tests effortlessly. Unlike the popular V-Plus model, the V-Power gives you four thickness settings (1 mm, 3 mm, 5 mm, and 7 mm) as opposed to the two offered by the Plus. There are three insert options for straight cuts, julienne, and batonnet (thicker batons). With a twist of the hand guard, you can also get brunoise and small dice cuts.
Straight slices came out perfectly even, regardless of the food’s texture. With lesser mandolines, it’s common to get a “fat” side and a “thin” side to a cut, but this was not the case with the V-Power. The carrot ribbons were even and thin enough to have a bit of a curl to them. To change the thickness of the cut, you just adjust a button on the side of the mandoline and pull the panel or push forward—it’s super easy, and fingers are never in danger.
Christine and I were both very impressed by how fast and uniform the dice, julienne, and batons were. Although they weren’t perfectly geometrical and even, they were all the same size, which is what’s important for even cooking. With a lot of mandolines, the optional julienne and baton blades can make the action turn jerky and precarious; that wasn’t so with the V-Power. We always felt like we had control, no matter what insert we were using, thanks to the roomy handle and large rubberized feet.
The hand guard was the best of 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 still has a secure grip on the bulk of what you’re slicing, leaving only a ¼-inch piece over. Potato batons were the perfect French fry shape. The smooth, long platform ensures that any long cutting will not be obstructed by gaps in the plastic.
The whole unit snaps together for compact storage and can be stored on its side or flat on its face. It cannot stand upright on the counter like the Börner V-Plus, but this 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 it, it’s super easy. While it’s not the most compact mandoline in out testing lineup, it was not the bulkiest, either.
Upon seeing the Börner V-Power in person, Michael Zhao, Associate Editor at the Wirecutter, commented that it looked like a “clown shoe”, probably because of the white and red color scheme. If that’s not your thing, it also comes in green, orange, and red.
A small note on the name “V-Power.” When searching Amazon, you might run across “Börner V-5 Power.” This is the same mandoline, as the company had recently rebranded that model. If you can find a V-5 for less, you should snap it up! The Börner V-Power carries a five-year warranty. This Amazon reviewer raved about how they had a Börner for 20 years before upgrading to a V-Power. Even better, the V-Power offers a bigger variety of cuts for about the same price as the V-Plus.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
In testing, the only task the V-power didn’t surpass the others on was shaved fennel. The step-down KitchenAid V-Slicer made the thinnest intact fennel; the ceramic Kyocera was runner up. This is not in the least a dealbreaker, but it’s something worth mentioning.
This mandoline is also not dishwasher-safe, so it must be washed by hand. Good Housekeeping listed this as a con, but I wouldn’t put a mandoline in the dishwasher anyway, as the heat from a dishwasher will dull a blade, and a sharp blade is essential for making smooth, thin cuts.
Longterm test notes
One thing to note about the tomato test: I was on the fence about testing tomatoes because on a new mandoline, you’re really just measuring how sharp the factory edge is. I think it’s unrealistic to expect a mandoline to make perfect slices of ripe tomato after 6 months or a year of repeated use. While the Börner V-Power aced the tomato test brand new, we’ll hang onto it to find out if it still performs as well in the long run.
The incredibly sharp diagonal blade provides smooth action. Its super simple design uses screws to adjust thickness. Three blades can be swapped in for super fine shreds, thin julienne, or wider batons. The Super Benriner is the only mandoline we tested that has a removable blade that can be honed or sharpened. You can even replace the blade for $25.
This mandoline aced all of our tests. It’s versatile, too; instead of preset thicknesses, you can adjust the platform with screws to fine tune your cut to the exact thickness desired. 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 Benriner has a simple, sturdy construction, the platform can endure years of use and not warp. I’ve been using this mandoline for many years, and I have never seen one break.
The reason we think this is more suited for experienced cooks is that it’s incredibly sharp, and the hand guard is a complete joke. Christine even called it “an afterthought.” It’s a rectangular piece of plastic with a couple of miniscule spikes and no ergonomics. Even the charming instructional videos on the company website make using and hand guard look awkward. In a professional kitchen, the hand guard either goes in the garbage or is immediately 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 mm, which comes out to about ⅓ 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 Harry Rosenblum and Brendan McDermott both prefer this petite style. Harry told us, “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. Having a super-sharp blade is the point of a mandoline, otherwise you’d just use a knife.”
The Benriner is also not recommended for the dishwasher. It has a flat design that makes storage in a drawer or on a hook easy. It doesn’t seem to carry a warranty.
Long-term test notes
I have been using all three mandolines that we recommend pretty frequently over the past 8 months, and I stand by them wholeheartedly. I take them with me on shoots and they get plenty mileage at home as well. I like the KitchenAid for its compact design and the fact that I can stash it in a drawer. The Borner V-Power is big and comfortable to use when I have a lot of slicing to do, like potatoes for fries or gratin. The Super Benriner is incredibly sharp; I even used it to make perfect paper-thin slices of ginger for a shoot where precision and intact lengthwise sections of vegetables were very important, and it delivered.
Types of mandolines
There are a few types of mandolines on the market these days: French-style with a straight blade, Japanese-style with a diagonal blade, and a V-shaped blade model.
The original, all-metal French mandoline is what most students in culinary school learn on. Its stainless steel body is sturdy and heavy, with a straight-across blade. They have interchangeable parts that make julienne, baton, and ridge shapes, and the thickness options can vary from paper thin to up to ½”. The blade is removable so that it can be honed on steel or even sharpened on a stone.
However, the blades are thick, and because of that, they can dull quite quickly. The action is rough; if you think about it, a diagonal blade mimics a slicing motion, whereas a straight-across blade is like putting a knife on a vegetable and pushing straight down. Even with my many years of experience, it usually takes me a few minutes to catch my bearings with these machines. I think they are dangerous, and Chef Instructor Brendan McDermott agrees. He called French-style mandolines “medieval.”
The Japanese-style mandoline was made popular by Benriner, and it is a favorite in professional kitchens. It’s inexpensive, lightweight (usually in higher-end kitchens, a mandoline is part of a cook’s personal arsenal and goes in the knife roll) and very sharp. Its innovation was a diagonal blade, which offers more control and a cleaner cut. The thickest a Benriner will slice is about 3/16″, but I don’t think a mandoline needs to slice any thicker than that. For thicker slices, a chef’s knife or serrated knife is appropriate.
V-shaped blades are very popular now. Cook’s Illustrated and Good Housekeeping highly favor this design. Instead of pushing your food into one blade, the food is sliced on two diagonal blades, so you have two entry points for slicing instead of just one. The Brooklyn Kitchen owner Harry Rosenblum noted, “The V-blade is great if you’re dealing with a vegetable that’s big and round.”
Mandolines can either stand free on a tabletop or be held in hand. This is really a matter of personal preference. Brendan McDermott, and Harry Rosenblum say that they personally prefer the handheld type because they feel that if you’re holding the mandoline, you have control over the stability.
What to look for in a mandoline
The most important thing to take into account is being realistic about how you will use the mandoline.
You can choose either a no-frills, handheld model for straight cuts, or a mandoline with interchangeable blades that allow for julienne, dicing, French fries, and even waffle cuts in addition to the standard thin slices.
Ease of use and intuitiveness are what separates the good from the bad. Also, the ability to change out blades as safely as possible is very important, as poorly-designed inserts can put fingertips in peril.
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’re definitely not the greatest value. The popular Benriner starts at $23, and that’s the choice of professional chefs. Our top pick is available for $50 and it’s one of the best mandolines I’ve ever used. There’s no need to spend over $50 on a mandoline these days.
Hand guards are an important feature, especially if you are new to mandolines. A great hand guard offers protection while fitting comfortably in your hand. It can’t be too bulky or too small. The best ones don’t leave a large knob of the vegetable unsliced. Even professional cooks cut themselves quite often on mandolines, so safety is nothing to be casual about. 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. You ultimately 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 up on, which helps uniformity and safety. Ample width is very important for doing tasks like 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 platform shouldn’t feel rickety or flex too much under applied pressure.
Safety, care, and maintenance
While we’ve mentioned safety before, it really needs to mentioned again. Brendan McDermott says, “It’s basically a guillotine blade facing your hands.” While he is right to a certain extent, there are some safety precautions that will up your chances of walking away from your dinner preparation without injury or a trip to the ER.
What makes cutting yourself with a mandoline different than cutting yourself with a sharp knife? When you cut yourself with a knife, more often than not, your guiding (non-dominant) hand is what gets sliced into. With a mandoline, serious damage can happen 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. There are too many reviews on Amazon where people give mandolines a 1-star rating because they went 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.
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 happen to 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.
We don’t recommend running these through the dishwasher—as stated earlier, the heat can dull the blades. Hand wash and dry completely before storing.
Should I upgrade?
You may already have a mandoline that you like to use and feels comfortable. If you’re happy with what you have and are comfortable with the safety and usability, keep it. It would be a good idea to upgrade, though, if the blade on your current mandoline has gone dull, or if you have an older, outdated design that feels precarious to use.
Börner V-Plus ($42) is the step-down from of the V-power, but it’s about the same price on Amazon. This model is the current top pick at Cook’s Illustrated. There are only 2 thickness settings, for which you have to remove and flip the insert; the handle wasn’t as roomy; and it’s not very versatile at all, offering only julienne and baton. It says it can dice, but you have to make cross-cuts on the vegetable before running it on the machine. That’s totally cheating. But it does store standing upright, and that’s a plus.
The two French-style mandolines from De Buyer had cumbersome hand guards that made it difficult to use and left a lot of waste. The V-blade Viper ($150) tabletop-style model wasn’t very intuitive. We had quite a time just trying to get it set up properly. Once set up, whatever you’re cutting has to fit in a 3-inch hole, making lengths of cuts very limiting. Things constantly got stuck in the blade. Although it 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. It performed less well with the carrots and lemon slices. The Kobra ($50) hand-held model was difficult to use all around. The blade has micro serrations, which hinder rather than help, and the action is not smooth at all.
The offerings from Progressive were adequate. The Folding Mandoline Slicer ($46) was fine enough, but to switch between thicknesses, you have to change out plates on the platform. Christine actually cut herself on this one, even after reading the instructions. Despite this snafu, we were pleasantly surprised by its performance. The tabletop model made clean, even cuts. The hand guard was quite cumbersome. The thinnest cuts were still pretty thick. 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. The Progressive Julienne and Slicer ($23) handheld mandoline came recommended by Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required). It mangled soft lemons and tomatoes, but the harder roots sliced evenly. We liked the thumb control for changing thickness and the dial on the side for switching between straight and julienne cuts.
The OXO Good Grips V-Slicer ($40) tabletop mandoline was difficult to use and felt flimsy. The hand guard left a lot of waste (1¼”) and it had a hard time making carrot ribbons. It was precarious to swap out julienne blades 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. A plus with the V-Slicer is the convenient dial on the side that controls thickness. Measurements are color coded to correspond with different inserts, taking the guessing out of which thickness setting will give you the perfect baton or julienne. The ridge-cut insert made perfect ridged potatoes, but waffle cuts were less successful.
The Good Grips Hand Held Mandoline Slicer ($15) 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 hand held Kyocera Ceramic Slicer ($20) flexed a lot with pressure. It felt like whatever I was slicing would caught on a gap below the blade. That said, it made beautiful, paper-thin slices of fennel on its single ceramic blade. Potatoes, lemons and tomatoes were even.
Wrapping it up
You don’t need to spend a lot of money or sacrifice safety for a quality, sharp mandoline. The Borner V-Power is intuitive, user-friendly, razor sharp, and good for novices and pros alike. It cuts perfect fries, juliennes, and flat slices. The dicing feature makes quick work out of potatoes or even mirepoix. We stand by this mandoline, and are excited to use it for years to come.
Mandolines, Cook's Illustrated , May/June 2014
Best Mandoline Slicer, Good Housekeeping
Slice of a Lifetime, Saveur, May 3rd, 2013,
Test Drive: Mandolines, Fine Cooking,
Chef Instructor at Kendall College, Interview,
Culinary Expert at Williams-Sonoma, Interview,
Great slicer, Amazon review, March 21st, 2013,
KitchenAid V-Slicer Hand Held Mandoline, Good Housekeeping
Originally published: May 1, 2014