Don't Have a Mandoline in the Kitchen? Here's Why You're Missing Out

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

A mandoline will get you through thick and paper-thin.

You don’t have to be a restaurant chef to appreciate a good mandoline. These tools can thin-slice, julienne, and (in some cases) waffle-cut produce far faster than a skilled cook wielding a sharp knife can—and with utter precision, at that. The uniformity the mandoline promises is at least as valuable as the time it saves, and not just for cosmetic reasons. When cuts are uneven, so is cooking.

However, for the uninitiated, mandolines can be a bit daunting. We recently conducted a testing to find the best mandoline available and in doing so came up with a few helpful tips when it comes to slicing thinly and safely.


FOR ADDED SAFETY, GET A GLOVE

Even though we found the guard on our winning mandoline (available on Amazon) very effective and safe, nicking the tips of your fingers on the blades might still be a fear. For the nervous (or for those who own another mandoline with a less-safe guard), we recommend investing in the winner of our protective glove testing (available on Amazon) for an extra level of protection.

HALVE LARGE OR AWKWARD FOODS FIRST

It’s difficult to get the prongs of the guard to insert evenly into big, round foods like potatoes or onions. Because of this, food won’t feel securely gripped. It not only makes the task more difficult but also will likely produce uneven slices. Halving food first and then starting with the cut side down on the mandoline will ensure it sits steady, giving you even slices and better efficiency.

PUT THE GUARD ON THE FOOD, NOT VICE VERSA

Whenever possible, put food on the cutting board and push the guard down onto it to attach it to the guard’s prongs, rather than holding the guard with prongs upward and pushing the food onto it. This guarantees that the guard goes on straight, fits snugly, and holds food level with the blade.

USE IT TO DICE, NOT JUST SLICE

We’ve always thought of the mandoline as a slicing tool, but we recently discovered a clever trick that allows you to make perfect dice on our winning mandoline. Here's how.



1. Remove the julienne blade from the mandoline and place it flat on a cutting board. Holding the blade panel with one hand, use your other hand to run the vegetable, attached to the guard, across the blade once, making parallel scores in one direction.


2. Replace the julienne blade. Turn the vegetable 90 degrees and run it across the blades to make crosswise cuts, giving you a dice.


RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Fresh Corn Salsa and Peach and Radishes

Want to put your sharp and handy mandoline to work? Our fresh corn salad featuring thinly sliced radishes is the perfect side dish for summertime meals.

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