At its best, a mandoline allows you to slice fruit and vegetables much more precisely, consistently, and quickly than you could with a chef’s knife. Most models operate similarly. You hold food in one hand and slide it down the mandoline’s platform and across a blade or blades, thereby slicing it; by adjusting the height of the platform, you can control how thickly the mandoline cuts. Some models have attachments that allow you to julienne foods or make waffle cuts as well. Used properly—and safely—the mandoline can be a magical device, turning out produce that looks like it’s been cut by a chef from a three-star restaurant, and in record time. But all too often, these tools disappoint us; they cut poorly, skid around, or are just plain dangerous to use. We wanted to know which mandolines were best, so we bought eight models, priced from about $24 to about $200, and put them to the test, using them to slice tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, beets, and eggplant and (where applicable) to julienne celeriac, carrots, and daikon.
Some mandolines were easier to use straight out of the box than others. We preferred models that were intuitive to set up and operate and had accurate measurement settings clearly marked in increments of inches and/or millimeters.
All the mandolines came with blades for slicing, the task we use a mandoline for most frequently. The ability to slice in different thicknesses was our top priority, so we privileged it above other functions in our review. We liked models that could slice everything from paper-thin shavings of fennel to thick slabs of eggplant; few models could produce both very thick and very thin slices. Range was important; two models, including our previous winner, were capable of cutting in only two or four different thicknesses, and those thicknesses were not always the ones we were most likely to use. Our two highest-rated models can produce slices from about half a millimeter thin to 7.5 to 9.5 millimeters thick (or from about 0.02 to 0.4 inches); testers particularly liked one of these models precisely because it had no preset thickness settings, allowing for infinitely customizable slice thickness.
We also liked models that came with extra blades for other cuts, though these were less essential. Most models came with blades for making julienne, or thin strips of vegetable; we found these useful for salads and slaw; as vegetable noodles; and, if thick enough, for french fries. It wasn’t a deal breaker if a mandoline couldn’t make crinkle or waffle cuts, though it was a nice bonus—we’d enjoy using them for chips or waffle fries.
When it came to cutting, the results weren’t pretty; very few of the mandolines were capable of cutting every food easily. Most mandoline blades can’t be removed for sharpening; not all users will be willing to sharpen those that can be, either. So if the blade isn’t sharp from the outset, it’s never going to be. A few of the models we tested had dull blades that failed to slice the fibrous celeriac and dense carrots properly; the foods just rammed into the blades and got stuck there, requiring us to pry them off as carefully as we could. (The old adage about a sharp knife being a safe knife is particularly true here; the only times we truly feared for our fingers were when the food jammed into dull blades, as we had to be vigilant to keep the momentum of the stroke from sending our hand into the blades, too.) For better or worse, we didn’t notice any changes to how sharp the blades were over the course of extended testing.
The style of the blade also determined how easily we could cut food with the mandolines. Most of the mandolines had single slicing blades that ran either diagonally or horizontally across the body of the machine. But two models, including our former winner, were V-slicers, meaning that they had two blades that connected in a V-shape near the center of the mandoline. We really struggled to get many of the vegetables through the V-slicers. Why? With V-slicers, the food encounters two blades simultaneously, on either side of the V. The more blade the food touches at the same time, the more friction and resistance it has to overcome and the more force must be applied to push the food through. Mandolines with single blades had less blade for food to fight against, making slicing easier.
Even when the mandolines managed to slice through the food, they didn’t always do so evenly—and evenness is essential for uniform cooking and attractive presentation. While user error can sometimes be to blame for variations in thickness, two other features can also be responsible. If either the blade or the platform—the area of the mandoline the food passes over before getting to the blade—isn’t stiff and rigid as food passes over it, the mandoline can sag under the pressure, making the food slice unevenly as a result. Here again, V-slicers performed poorly, often turning out slices of food with wavy, V-shaped indents because their platforms or blades slumped at the base of their Vs, where they were the least supported. The best models had platforms and blades that were well braced underneath by support beams or several sets of screws, so they stayed perfectly still as food passed over, ensuring nice, even slices.
Mandolines are somewhat notorious for being dangerous, and the combination of blades and moving food can indeed be risky if you don’t handle them properly. But to be fair, the same could be said of any bladed tool, whether it’s a knife or a grater. And as with knives and graters, we think that any mandoline can be used safely as long as its blade is sharp, facilitating easy slicing, and as long as you exercise caution and good sense while using it (see How to Use a Mandoline).
That said, most of the mandolines came with some additional safety features to help minimize risk. Some were more effective than others. We liked models that came with kickstands on either end; they helped position the mandolines at a fixed, comfortable angle for slicing and stabilized the mandolines during use. We especially liked those that were lined with rubbery material, as these helped anchor the mandolines to the counter. We had more flexibility to position mandolines without kickstands or feet (using them vertically, at an angle, or over a bowl), but we often had to work harder to keep them there during slicing, as they slipped around more.
All the mandolines came with hand guards—separate accessories used to hold and push the food and provide a barrier between your hand and the blade. Unfortunately, most of the hand guards were next to useless. Several were simple rectangular shields with prongs that were too short to spear food securely, so produce simply fell off whenever we lifted the guard to make the next pass over the blade. Others had prongs that were long enough to hold the food for a time, but once the food had been sliced down far enough that the blade started hitting the prongs, we were expected to push it forward with a plunger-like mechanism on top of the guard, a dicey maneuver that often ended with the food popping off the prongs entirely. Try as we might, we couldn’t slice food on these guards completely, resulting in waste.
We didn’t rule out models that lacked good hand guards; with these, we were happy to use our favorite cut-resistant glove, which can protect your hands just as well as any guard. But we did appreciate the two mandolines that actually had effective guards. With these models, you place the food on the platform and then press down on it with the spring-loaded guard; there’s no need to attach the food to the pusher itself. As you swipe the food over the blade, you progressively push down more on the guard to keep the pressure on the food. Your hands stay safe and the food gets cut with no waste. The only downside is that it can be fatiguing to maintain tension on the pusher for extended periods (say, while slicing 2 pounds of potatoes for gratin).
As with any bladed tool, we also recommend taking care when washing these mandolines. While some have parts that can be thrown in the dishwasher, any components with blades must be hand-washed so that the blades maintain their edge.
We also considered the size of each mandoline. In general, we liked mandolines with platforms that were wide enough to accommodate large produce such as eggplant but still relatively compact overall, since they were easier to clean and store; 3.5 to 4 inches wide was best. Some of the littlest mandolines couldn’t handle large produce; on the model with the smallest platform, we had to cut nearly every food down into smaller chunks—not ideal when you’re looking for presentation-perfect beet slices or long carrot ribbons. And while bigger, bulkier mandolines sometimes sat a touch more securely on the counter due to their heavier weight, they were more cumbersome and required more storage space.
In the end, we had a few favorites, each with different advantages. The Super Benriner Mandoline Slicer was our top performer; it had the sharpest blade we tested, slicing through even the toughest foods as if they were butter. It’s also capable of slicing evenly and consistently; three julienne blades provide versatility. Better still, it slices in an incredibly wide range of thicknesses; a dial allows you to adjust the platform to the precise thickness that you want. (There are no fixed thickness settings, but most testers saw this as a positive trait, since it allowed them to customize their slice size so exactly.) Simple and fairly compact, it’s easy to set up, clean, and store; it’s also about half the price of our other winner. It’s fairly stable; while its rubber bumper isn’t quite as good at securing it on the counter as the rubber kickstands that other models had, its sharp blade ensured that we didn’t have to use much force to slice, so the mandoline itself rarely budged. The main problem? It lacks a serviceable hand guard, so you should invest in a cut-resistant glove if you buy it.
We also loved the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0; it was the easiest to use of all the models. Heavier, and with a grippy kickstand, it sat very securely on the countertop, and it had one of the best hand guards. It sliced foods evenly and in many thicknesses; a clearly marked, accurate dial made it exceptionally easy to set just how thin or thick we wanted our food to be. It’s just not quite as sharp as the Super Benriner, so it sometimes choked on fibrous produce, and it can julienne in only two preset widths and thicknesses. It’s also more expensive and bulkier to store.
Finally, for those who want to dip their toe into the world of mandolines without investing too heavily, the inexpensive Kyocera Soft Grip Adjustable Mandoline Ceramic Slicer is a good option. It’s much more limited than our favorites: It can do only thin slices, it can’t make julienne, and it’s too small to accommodate large produce such as eggplants. But its size and simplicity make it easy to use, clean, and store. And we think its lower price justifies its limited functionality somewhat; it still performs the difficult task of making even, paper-thin slices better than most of us can muster with a chef’s knife. If all you want is a tool that can shave vegetables or fruit into salads or make potato or other vegetable chips, this might be the mandoline for you.