Best Meat Grinders of 2018
A meat grinder lets you control the freshness and fat content of your ground meat. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best meat grinder to provide your family with the freshest meat possible.
Your Guide to the Best Meat Grinders
Ground beef is readily available at the supermarket. It's neatly packaged and affordable. Best of all, the hard work has been done for you. All you have to do is buy it and cook it. So why would you want to complicate your life by grinding your own meat at home?
There are many advantages to using a meat grinder. Grinding your own meat means knowing everything that is going into the finished product. You choose what kind of meat to use. You pick the seasonings. You control the freshness, the fat content, and the amount. With a meat grinder, you can elevate everything from burgers to meatloaf to pet food. But which meat grinder is right for your kitchen?
At BestReviews, our goal is to bring you unbiased product reviews. We never accept free samples from manufacturers. Instead, we buy the products we test off the shelf, just like you do. We analyze expert opinion and feedback from actual consumers when making our recommendations. For this shopping guide, we looked at more than 70 different meat grinders to make sure we identified best.
If you're ready to purchase a meat grinder, scroll up for BestReviews' favorites. For all there is to know about choosing and using a meat grinder, you've come to the right place.
Manual Meat Grinders vs. Electric Meat Grinders
When buying a meat grinder, you have two options to consider: manual or electric. Each style of meat grinder has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Manual Meat Grinders
For those of you looking for a workout, a manual meat grinder is the way to go. Manual meat grinders feature a chamber to put the meat in and a crank that pulls the meat through the blades and pushes it out through a hole plate. The key here is the crank. It can be hard work to turn a manual meat grinder's crank over and over if you're grinding a large amount of meat.
Manual meat grinders do have their advantages, though. They're typically lighter and smaller than electric meat grinders, making them easier to store and move. Manual meat grinders are also inexpensive, so if you plan on grinding your own meat only occasionally, a manual meat grinder might be right for you.
Electric Meat Grinders
Electric meat grinders are quicker and more efficient than manual meat grinders. They also offer more grinding options. For instance, electric meat grinders can easily take on wild game and can even grind bones.
It takes much less time and effort to use an electric meat grinder. They're also safer than manual meat grinders. Because meat moves faster through an electric meat grinder, there's less chance of the meat's temperature rising to the point where bacteria can grow.
On the downside, electric meat grinders are almost always more expensive than their manual counterparts. Electric meat grinders are also much heavier and take up more space.
Fine Grind: What to Look for When Buying Meat Grinders
Manual or electric is just the first decision you have to make when buying a meat grinder. There are plenty of other features to take into consideration.
Grinder Plate Material
The grinder plate is the part of the meat grinder where the meat passes through small holes. There are really only two options when it comes to a grinder plate material: carbon steel or stainless steel. The one you choose will impact the price and shelf life of your meat grinder.
- Carbon Steel: Carbon steel makes for durable yet lightweight grinder plates. They work well, but they can rust. Carbon steel plates won't last as long as stainless-steel plates.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless-steel grinder plates last longer, but they're much heavier. In fact, some meat grinders made completely of stainless steel weigh more than 40 pounds.
Grinder Plate Size
All grinder plates are numbered, and that number reflects the plate's size. The higher the number, the more meat can pass through the plate. The size of the grinder plate also influences the type of meat and the size of the pieces that can be ground. For grinding domestic meat, a size 5 or 8 plate will do. For grinding wild game or a large amount of domestic meat, look for plate sizes 12 and up.
Tray and Feed Tube
When using a meat grinder, the meat is placed in the tray before being forced down into the feed tube. The higher the grinder plate number, the larger the tray and feed tube. Again, for large quantities of meat or for wild game, look for grinder plates with higher numbers. The tray and the feed tube will be more accommodating.
Accessories and Attachments
Some meat grinders come with extra attachments that transform your meat grinder into a pasta maker or a vegetable grinder. There are also attachments that allow you to make sausage. Some of the more expensive meat grinders come with more than one grinder plate and different sizes of blades. Of course, you'll pay more for all these extras.
How Much Do High-Quality Meat Grinders Cost?
- Inexpensive: Meat grinders under $50 are almost always manual. Many are made from plastic, but you can find some steel meat grinders—or at least with steel components—in this price range. You'll also find many meat grinders that you clamp onto the side of a flat surface rather than sit on a countertop.
- Mid-Range: For $50 to $150, expect to find manual meat grinders made completely of stainless steel. You'll also come across some small electric meat grinders with stainless-steel or aluminum components. However, the casing on these lower-priced electric meat grinders is almost always plastic.
- Expensive: Electric meat grinders for $150 to $250 are worth the price if you need a large grinding plate. This level is also where you find meat grinders with attachments and accessories like changeable blades and add-ons for sausage making.
- Premium: For $250 and above, you'll find top-of-the-line, commercial-grade meat grinders. Some of these high-powered meat grinders can grind up to 480 pounds of meat in an hour. Besides being expensive, these meat grinders are also heavy, weighing 40 pounds or more.
Tips for Using a Meat Grinder
- Grinder blades don't need to be sharpened very often. If you use your meat grinder moderately, plan on sharpening them once a year.
- Dry your meat grinder thoroughly with a towel before storing it to prevent rust.
- When you're grinding a large batch of meat, you'll probably have to pause to clean the meat grinder to prevent it from clogging.
- Consult your meat grinder's manual before putting bones through it; not all grinders can handle them.
Q. Should I cut meat into pieces before putting it in a meat grinder?
A. It depends on the size of the grinder plate. If you're working with a small size like a 5 or 8, you're going to need to break the meat down so it can pass through the feed tube. Larger grinder plates—size 22 and up—should be able to handle the meat without any additional effort on your part.
Q. Can all meat grinders grind bones?
A. No. Always check your meat grinder's manual before attempting to grind bones. Typically, a size 32 grinder plate is ideal for grinding bones.
Q. If I only want to grind meat a couple times a year for hamburgers and meatloaf, which meat grinder is best for me?
A. A small manual meat grinder would best suit your needs. But if you don't want to put in the elbow grease, try a small electric meat grinder or a grinder that fits onto a mixer.