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Mandolin recs?

Can anyone recommend a reasonably priced mandolin for slicing veggies in my home? I've never used one before so the $60 to $100 range seems steep for a novice.

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  1. I just got a $16 Japanese Benriner at an Asian grocery. Besides making slices, it can make shreds using interchangable vertical knife blades.

    1. If you've never used one, you might consider getting one with a good guard that protects your fingers. The Benriner ones aren't really designed that way. You could try, for example, the OXO or Zyliss ones that have big guards that you grab. These are about $30 to $50, not on sale.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lergnom

        I got the OXO "good grips" mandoline for Christmas and I have to say I found the guard unusable. I mean, it accomplishes the purpose of holding the food in place, but with those little pins that push it down, it mangles most of the food so that you can only slice half of it before having perforated eggplant or zuchini or whatever. I read the suggestion below to get a glove so I got one for about $20 at BB&B and it's terrific. You can move fast with a flat palm and not worry that if your finger dips down that you'll slice it off. And I can go almost all the way through the skinny eggplant or whatever before I chicken out.

        1. re: lergnom

          I like the cut-resistant gloves. I can slice more of the vegetable, and I have more control.

        2. My personal experience is that the wide Benriner is the way to go. It is cheap, effective, and easy to clean and store. (The narrow Benriner is too narrow to be useful.)

          I suggest that you forget about the safety guard altogether and get a Kevlar glove. While most cookware stores sell them, it seems you can get the same glove for a fraction of the cost at outdoor stores and some hardware stores.

          While some others, such as the Oxo, let you do more sophisticated things, they don't work nearly as well for the basics and have a learning curve.

          1 Reply
          1. re: embee

            The Benriner guard seems work perfectly well when it comes to protecting fingers. The question is, does it grip the food well enough? I just made a fennel salad. There was no need for the guard when cutting a few inches off a large fennel bulb. The guard couldn't grip the bell pepper pieces, narrow edge to the board. I didn't try to use the guard with the grapes - but I only sliced about half of each grape, so as to keep my fingers safe. It is probably impossible to design a guard that works with all food, and holds it to the last bit.

          2. America's Test Kitchen just reviewed these on the last show and said that for the price and for the user friendly tools, the Oxo was the best option for about $50. Aside from that they recommended the Kyocera ceramic Japanese hand held mandoline... for I think about $20.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Squirrels

              I've got to disagree with ATK on this. The Oxo mandoline I tried was cleverly designed and had a good guard, but it didn't work all that well. CI said it couldn't slice soft things, like tomatoes. They were right. Their recommended Oxo v-slicer wasn't much better. It also had trouble with tomatoes and was not intuitive to assemble.

              1. re: embee

                You're correct to clarify, it was the V slicer. As I remember though, the Oxo was the one that COULD slice the tomatoes. All the other straight blade versions could not. It seems like you're confusing the 2...?

                1. re: Squirrels

                  No, I tried both. Neither one does soft things very well. The mandoline was easier to assemble and clean than the v-slicer, but the v-slicer is a bit more stable in use. Though I kept the v-slicer, and use it occasionally, I typically reach for the Benriner.

                  1. re: Squirrels

                    If you read their review, they clearly stated that the OXO V slicer did a fantastic job on tomatoes.

                    1. re: bnemes3343

                      That was my understanding as well. Results may vary, I suppose...

                      1. re: bnemes3343

                        All I can say is that, for me, it only slices tomatoes that are hard. When I try to slice a perfectly ripe home grown tomato, both Oxo products fail (though in different ways). I have no idea whether they have redesigned the product since I got mine last year. My Benriner, or a good knife, can do the job.

                    2. re: embee

                      I like the OXO madoline, but those out the worthless guards and use a Kevlar fishmongers from from a sporting goods store. A OVE glove also works if you have it.

                  2. Americas Test Kitchen did a rating of Mandoline's just a week or so ago. Their winner was the OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer, that retails for roughly $50. The V shaped blade was actually a big part of why they liked it - it is much better for slicing soft things (e.g. tomatoes) than a straight blade. The extra blades are stored under the frame (so they don't get misplaced)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bnemes3343

                      Does OXO not rate high on all the things they test.

                      You can't beat the Benriner for ease of use. It's cheap and works well. They are used a lot in professional kitchens. The blade is easily removed for sharpening on a stone if needed. It's a single edged blade as most all mandoline blades are.

                    2. I'd recommend against the expensive ones. In the early 1990s I paid $150 or so for a Matfer professional, and for my purposes it doesn't have any huge advantage over the much less expensive models.

                      As embee said, the hand guard that comes with any mandoline is marginally useful. Throw it away and buy a kevlar glove. They're ~$15 online or at your local sporting goods store. It will keep your digits intact when using the mandoline, and is also useful when shucking oysters, fileting fish, or doing anything else that involves sharp tools and stubborn or irregular surfaces.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Untrue. The grip on the OXO v-slicer one is very protective.

                        And I disagree with the thrust of the glove argument. My point is, I think, quite simple: if a person has never used a mandolin, will he or she like it and use it? I keep one out, right behind the knife block in the corner, so it's used all the time, but most people get one and toss it in the drawer. If you have to take out a glove to use it and you're not proficient with the mandolin, then that's not only an extra step but you're asking a person to give up the normal feel of cutting for doing it inside a glove. My experience is that most people won't do it, so now they'll have a mandolin and a glove in a drawer. In other words, the point for a beginner with these things is to find one that let's you learn how to use it safely so you integrate using it into your normal routine and it doesn't sit in a drawer.

                        1. re: lergnom

                          I have to agree with alanbarnes. I have a Matfer and it's quite good, but dollar for dollar, I might have done better for general use with a Benriner. I've never had good luck with the guard, and as he recommends, I now use a Kevlar glove. The Matfer does some good tricks like making waffle cuts.

                          1. re: lergnom

                            I think we're on the same page.

                            My complaint with the hand guards isn't that they aren't protective, it's that they make the tool hard to use. Since I've never used an OXO v-slicer, I can't speak as to its guard, but my mandoline lived in a drawer for a long time because it was nearly impossible to use with the guard.

                            For me, at least, the glove is a lot easier. Ease of use tends to lead to more use, which leads to proficiency, which leads to even more use. But my advice was based on my experience; sounds like yours has been quite different. Which is what makes these discussions endlessly interesting...

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              The Oxo guards are more usable than the Benriner guards. However, a glove is even easier to use, and also more protective.

                        2. I was gonna get a mandolin once, but I'm glad I didn't now. I worked on my knife skills a bit, and since I really relish any chance to use it, everything is hunky-dory.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Soop

                            I think good knife skills and the use of a mandoline are complimentary, not just substitutes for each other. I think I might have decent knife skills, but there's no way I could, for example, shave fennel for a salad as thinly, uniformly or quickly as I could as with a mandoline. Same with julienning a large amount of veggies, making a potato gratin, etc.

                            1. re: markabauman

                              ITA with markabauman. I get out my OXO mandolin when doing quantity slicing like for scalloped potatoes, or julienne fries. Otherwise it's knife or food processor time.

                              1. re: markabauman

                                While I've owned a couple of so-so mandolines, the first time I heard of the Japanese version (Benriner), or at least paid attention to it, was when a chef on Chef's Story (PBS CreateTV) used one to make an Apple Risotto. He used the vertical shredding capabilities of this to produce a very fine apple dice, fine enough to given an impression of rice when cooked.

                                http://www.chefsstory.com/recipe18.html
                                Note that he uses both a knife and the Benriner with the medium julienne blade.

                                1. re: markabauman

                                  Yeah, it would be way quicker with a mandoline, but I can slice anything thin enough to be transparent, and I only cook for two.

                                  Incidentally, I tried to do this before I had a good knife, and it was far far harder. Also, the fact that it's a doubled bevelled blade makes it trickier sometimes.

                              2. I'm looking into getting a mandoline/slicer and am considering the de Buyer Kobra Adjustable Slicer - http://tinyurl.com/23yxuck - does anyone have experience with this particular item?

                                Also wondering about blade replacement, since you can't really sharpen the blades yourself on a slicer or a mandoline - do you mandoline-users find the blade is good enough to not need replacing? Or have you had to go through the manufacturer to get new blades?