How to Use a Mandoline Slicer (and Keep All Your Fingers!)

The best mandoline slicers can drastically trim down prep time. But kitchen mandolines are also often one of the sharpest kitchen tools, so it's important to master how to use a mandoline slicer safely. Here, our Test Kitchen experts explain exactly how to use a mandoline to make quick work out of produce prep (while protecting your digits), plus we'll share some delicious recipes using a mandoline.

With their super-sharp blades that cut in many shapes and sizes, mandoline slicers can seem intimidating for many home cooks. But they are also one of the most efficient ways to slice apples for pies, shave sprouts for salads, and cut spuds for perfect potato gratins. So study up and fear not; these handy tools can be safe once you're well-versed in mandoline slicer 101. In this complete guide for how to use a mandoline slicer, we'll share our Test Kitchen's techniques and safety tips for using kitchen mandolines, show you the best mandoline slicers you can buy, plus dish about recipes using a mandoline.

mandoline slicing zucchini cutting board hands
Andy Lyons

What Is a Kitchen Mandoline, and What Is a Mandoline Used For?

Mandoline slicers (which you might also see spelled "mandolin" outside of the U.S.) are kitchen tools designed to finely slice or grate foods. Kitchen mandolines can quickly, cleanly, and uniformly cut firm fruits and vegetables into thin, bite-size strips (julienne), slices, and beyond, and they can even slice firm cheeses.

Most mandoline slicers can be adjusted to cut as thin as paper or up to ½-inch thick, and some models come with an interchangeable blade with a cross-hatch pattern to cut fry-like shapes or waffle patterns.

The safest and best mandoline slicers feature a rubber base to prevent slipping, plus a food holder or guard of some kind to separate your hands from the very sharp blade.

How to Use a Mandoline Slicer Safely

Regardless of the kitchen mandoline model you choose, it will be easy and safe if you follow these steps:

  • Place the mandoline slicer perpendicular to your body to allow for ample control, with the slant facing away from you. (Slicing forward and back is safer than sideways in most cases.)
  • If the item you're cutting doesn't have a flat surface, use a sharp knife to cut an even surface for even more stability.
  • Secure the food in the guard or holder that came with the mandoline.
  • Position the food in the holder over the blade.
  • Keep even pressure on the food as you run it up and down the kitchen slicer until you've sliced all of the pieces you need.

If your kitchen mandoline didn't come with a guard, you can buy a cut-resistant glove ($11, Amazon) or a separate kitchen mandoline guard ($14, Amazon), if desired. Otherwise, be very careful as you slice:

  1. Keep your palm flat and fingers lifted while slicing long strips.
  2. Keep your knuckles bent and fingers tucked if slicing round pieces.

As you near the nub of the food you're slicing, grab a knife and finish it that way or compost the excess rather than putting your fingers at risk.

The Best Mandoline Slicers You Can Buy

If you want to invest in a mandoline slicer but don't have a lot of storage space, a hand-held mandoline ($30, Amazon) is your best bet. Just be sure to look for one with a rubber base of some sort to keep it stable as you cut.

V-blade mandoline slicers ($46, Bed Bath & Beyond) are ideal to up the ante; they can slice, of course, and also create wavy cuts, crinkle cuts, French fries, and julienne.

For a professional-level mandoline slicer, try a model like this upscale OXO mandoline ($113, Bed Bath & Beyond). It has 21 settings to dial in the perfect thickness, and it can do all that a V-blade mandoline can do and more—including slice over 100 pounds of potatoes far quicker than any other OXO mandoline, according to the brand.

And for the safest kitchen mandoline of them all (but also the largest to store), try a spring-loaded stand-up style like this Dash Safe Slice ($50, Bed Bath & Beyond). This features 30 preset cuts of varying thickness, a food catch container to keep all slices secure and your counter clean, and a shoot to keep fingers far from the blade.

Simply Scalloped Potatoes
Jason Donnelly

Recipes Using a Mandoline

Now that you're an expert at how to use a mandoline slicer and which are the best mandoline slicers for every job, let's dive into some recipes using a mandoline. Beyond using a mandoline to make fries, did you know that it's the key tool to make homemade apple chips? You can also use a kitchen mandoline for a wide variety of salads and slaws (Shaved Celery and Mushroom Salad with Pecorino, Broiled Swordfish with Fennel-Caper Slaw, Shaved Fennel and Fingerling Potato Salad, Raw Artichoke Salad with Manchego Cheese, for example). Or use your mandoline slicer for side dishes like potatoes au gratin or ratatouille. Then keep it handy for dessert! You'll never want to make an Old-Fashioned Apple Pie without this cool tool again.

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