The Best Vegetable Peeler
If you're in the market for a new vegetable peeler, you won't beat the performance of the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler.
When it comes to peeling, people generally fall into two camps: those who prefer a Y (or harp) shaped peeler and those who like a straight swivel peeler. Both styles can be used to peel toward or away from yourself, yet the range of motion you use for each is slightly different. For a Y peeler, your wrist will generally rotate more (basically in a 180 degree range). Holding a swivel peeler, on the other hand, is more like using a traditional paring knife, where your wrist just moves back or forth. In fact, peeling toward yourself with a swivel peeler mimics the traditional European style (which is done with a paring knife). If you’re vacillating over which style to buy, it really comes down to which movement you’re more comfortable with.
Some swivel peelers are made specifically for left or right handers, although many—like the OXO Good Grips—have a rotating blade that works for either. Due to symmetrical design, Y peelers can be used by both righties and lefties.
Several reviews I read mentioned that Y peelers work better for large, round fruits and vegetables (such as potatoes and apples) while swivel peelers handle thinner carrots and asparagus best. However, in my testing of both styles of peelers, I didn’t find this held true.
Culinary professionals, for the most part, seem to like Y peelers. Yet, the swivel peelers I tested have distinct advantages for the home cook: most come with potato eyers (Y peelers often don’t), and these models also tend to be a little sturdier than many of the top-rated Y peelers.
What to look for
Regardless of the style you prefer, any good peeler will have a comfortable handle, a well-angled blade (so it won’t cut too deeply or shallowly), and it should handle bumps and irregularities with ease.
America’s Test Kitchen did the most thorough review of peelers I could find, and in their article they discuss exactly why some peelers cut too deep, too shallow or just right. Every peeler has two parallel blades; the first blade (which leads when you push or pull it across the vegetable’s surface) acts as a guide to position the second blade, which actually cuts. The entire peeler blade rotates with the curve of the food, so it cuts consistently. If that first “guide” blade is angled too steeply, the peeler will cut too deeply, wasting food by slicing away the underlying flesh; if the blade is too shallow, it won’t cut deep enough and you’ll have to repeatedly go over the same spot.
I found that most blades are made of stainless steel whereas a few outliers are made of carbon steel or ceramic. I was confused by what different reviews were saying about these materials; some said that stainless tends to dull faster, others said ceramic dulls faster, and I read bad reviews on Amazon about the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler’s carbon-steel blade rusting. To gain a little clarity, I called David Barry, an associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, where he teaches culinary basics. He has literally peeled thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables in his 22-year culinary career.
Barry told me that he prefers stainless steel blades because you can hone them just as you would a knife. Ceramic blades can be very sharp (and stay that way) but they’re not as durable. (If you drop the peeler, or something drops on it, the blade might break.) Carbon steel makes very sharp blades, but these can rust if exposed to acidic foods or if not dried after use.
Another issue to consider is that the blades of some peelers tend to clog easily. According to America’s Test Kitchen, this happens when there’s not enough space between the peeler’s blade and bridge (the piece that connects the handle to the top of the blade). America’s Test Kitchen found that the optimal distance between the blade and the bridge of the peeler at its highest point should be about 1 inch. Any less, and reviewers found that peels piled up. Peelers with a wider aperture didn’t clog, but suffered in leverage and control. (However, in my testing, I came up with slightly different results.)
Finally, I was intrigued by a number of peelers with serrated blades. These can be good for peeling very thin-skinned items, like tomatoes. Yet they also leave the serrated mark on the vegetable or fruit. Barry says that if you’re going to invest in just one peeler, go for the regular edge. It won’t leave the lines, and a sharp regular blade should work on everything you peel. Similarly, some peelers have specific blades that will julienne. Barry says he hasn’t been satisfied with the results of these. Better to just use a mandolin.
Narrowing the choices
Vegetable peelers may be one of the humblest kitchen tools around, but there are literally hundreds to choose from. You’ll find everything from those basic old stainless-steel peelers your grandparents probably used to new high-tech models with rotating blades and ergonomic handles. I read up on dozens of top-reviewed models in America’s Test Kitchen, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and various other publications to help narrow my choices.
After reading ten reviews, it was clear that the Y-shaped Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler ($4) was a top contender. America’s Test Kitchen highly recommends it, while Saveur, KitchenDaily.com, and TheKitchn.com also gave it high marks.
The high-end, Y-shaped Rosle Crosswire Swivel Peeler also intrigued me. At $27.95, it’s no bargain, but the all stainless-steel construction seemed of much higher quality than the plastic Rikon (and most other peelers I’d seen, for that matter). It also came highly recommended in a Good Housekeeping video.
Both the Kuhn Rikon and Rosle received good user reviews, as well. Of the Rosle, one experienced cook said “this peeler literally peels vegetables like it’s cutting butter,” while another said of the Kuhn Rikon, “Nothing works better on a winter squash than this peeler! Everyone ought to have one.”
Several swivel peelers also topped editorial lists. Good Housekeeping, Chow.com, and KitchenDaily.com all gave top points to OXO Good Grips’s Pro Swivel Peeler ($13), which has a hefty die-cast zinc bridge. America’s Test Kitchen highly recommends the Messermeister Pro-Touch Fine Edge Swivel Peeler ($8.05). The more basic OXO Good Grips Peeler ($8.95) is the best selling and top reviewed peeler on Amazon, although America’s Test Kitchen only recommends it with reservations. All three of these models look very similar—with easy-grip handles—and they all received a high rating (above 4.4 out of 5) on Amazon.
I also read reviews about more unusual peelers, such as the Kyocera Perfect Peeler ($17.90) and its adjustable blade, the Chef’n Palm Vibe Hand Peeler ($9) that fits in the palm and several models with serrated blades. There were also promising Amazon reviews for several all stainless-steel, straight models that don’t come with a bridge at all, such as the Rada Cutlery Vegetable Peeler ($9), the WMF Profi Plus Vegetable Peeler ($13), and the Rosle Peeler ($23). Yet none of these came as highly-recommended as the five peelers I’ve already mentioned.
After testing review models of both OXO swivel peelers, the Messermeister swivel peeler, and the Kuhn Rikon and Rosle Y peelers, the clear winner was the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler.
I tried each peeler on a range of foods, including tough-skinned butternut squash, gnarly ginger, lemons, apples, carrots, mangos and persnickety celery. For good measure, I threw in a wedge of parmesan to see if each peeler could make smooth cheese shavings.
They all peeled nicely, but the OXO Pro did it with just a bit more ease. It glided smoothly over the gnarly parts of ginger, peeled lemons with just a tiny bit of pith, easily sliced the skin off an apple, made nice peels of parmesan, and the eyer popped out imperfections without a hitch. Even though the distance between the blade and bridge is only ½ inch, the OXO Pro didn’t clog (besides on celery, where all the peelers tangled with wispy strands).
Yet where the OXO Pro really excels beyond the other models is in comfort and durability. The die-cast zinc bridge gives the peeler a wonderful weight, and the smooth silicone handle feels nicer in the hand than any of the others. After a while, I found I didn’t want to set this peeler down.
I also found that the blades of the competing peelers all rattle slightly, giving them a cheap feeling. Even when shaken, the OXO Pro doesn’t make a peep. (I even had my husband hold all the peelers to guess which one was the $28 one; he actually picked the OXO Pro because it felt weightier and more substantial than even the Rosle.)
An added bonus to the OXO Pro is that you can replace the blade (a pack of three blades costs $11.95). When I spoke with David Barry, the associate professor at the CIA, he didn’t recommend using peelers with replacement blades, because they might be more apt to come loose after a while. He recommended just honing your peeler as you would a knife.
However, I found the OXO removable blade didn’t feel like it would come loose, and it was easy to use the replacement feature. I also think most home cooks are more likely to replace a blade than sharpen one.
OXO also offers a “satisfaction guarantee” for all of its equipment. The Rosle and Messermeister peelers each come with a lifetime warranty, while the Kuhn Rikon doesn’t have a warranty (it’s so cheap, though, you wouldn’t really need one). If you buy the OXO peeler and aren’t happy with it or it breaks, just send it back for a replacement or refund. I consider that even better than an official warranty.
The pick of the pros
I asked Kuhn Rikon about the Amazon complaints I’d read of rust forming on the carbon-steel blade, and received a straightforward email: “It is always recommended that these particular peelers be towel dried immediately after use and washing to avoid rust build-up…You can clean the rust off the blade by taking a sponge that has an abrasive side to it. This will clean the rust but won’t damage the blade.” A chef friend confirmed that she does just this if she sees any rust on her peeler, and she sometimes even brushes the blade with a little vegetable oil for added protection.
I was also concerned by some Amazon reviews that said the Kuhn Rikon’s plastic handle and casing breaks easily. Yet, when I spoke with Jennifer Aaronson, Editorial Director of Food and Entertaining at Martha Stewart Living, she said, “this is the peeler I like. I would highly recommend it. We use them constantly and have never had a handle break or a blade dull.” When I spoke with David Barry, he said that many of his co-workers and students at the CIA also like this peeler.
If you’re looking for a Y peeler (or a dirt-cheap model) get the Kuhn Rikon. At only $4, it’s not a big deal to replace if it actually does break.
Wrapping it up
For efficiency, ease of use and sturdy construction, I can confidently say you won’t find a better vegetable peeler than the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler. With its solid build and replacement blades, you could easily use this peeler for a decade.
"Vegetable Peelers", America's Test Kitchen“A good peeler should be fast and smooth, shaving off just enough of the skin to avoid the need for repeat trips over the same section but not so much that the blade digs deeply into the flesh and wastes food. Whatever the task, the peeler should handle bumps and curves with ease and without clogging or losing its edge. And when the work is done, your hand shouldn’t feel worse for the wear.”
"The Best Vegetable Peelers", kitchendaily.com“You'll be stunned at the assortment peelers you'll find in a kitchenware shop or online. Don't panic or over-think. The first choice - are you a vertical swivel-bladed peeler sort of person or a Y-shaped "harp-style" sort of person - really isn't that big a deal. It all depends on what you are used to! In general, if you are going to use a peeler mainly for big round things like potatoes or apples, then you will find a Y-blade, the hands-down favorite of professional chefs, more efficient. If you peel lots of carrots or asparagus, then a narrower, swivel-bladed peeler might make more sense. What the heck, get both. In terms of expense, a peeler is one of a cook's most inexpensive indispensables”.
"10 vegetable peelers to try and maybe buy", Consumer Reports, 11 January 2012“The right peeler can make life a whole lot easier, especially if you're partial to mashed potatoes, apple pie, and any other dishes that call for skinless fruits and vegetables. Consumer Reports evaluated 10 peelers on comfort and competence and found some real differences.”
Originally published: June 6, 2013