How we tested
Spiral vegetable cutters, or spiralizers, cut fruits and vegetables into long noodles and ribbons for “pastas,” salads, and side dishes. Since we last tested these devices, many more models have come on the market, and the manufacturer of our favorite machine released a more advanced version. Deciding that it was time to revisit these gadgets, we tested six countertop models (handheld models tanked in our previous testing) priced from $24.99 to $48.46, plus a spiralizing attachment for KitchenAid stand mixers ($99.95).
The countertop spiralizers are constructed like old-fashioned apple peelers: one end has a vertical slot to hold the blade, and the other has a pronged food holder with a crank handle. With one hand you turn the crank to feed the produce through the blade while you push a lever to exert pressure on the produce with your other hand. Every machine comes with blades to make 1/4-inch-thick noodles, 1/8-inch-thick noodles, and accordion-pleated “ribbon slices.” Some of the machines had additional blades for grating or for making even thinner noodles, which we appreciated but found inessential.
We knew we wanted a spiralizer that could accommodate fruits and vegetables of different sizes, shapes, and densities and that would be stable and easy to set up, use, and clean. A good spiralizer should also create long, unbroken noodles and generate little waste. We spiralized zucchini, apples, beets, potatoes, and butternut squash, weighing each item before and after spiralizing to calculate how much was wasted and how much was turned into long noodles.
None of these machines worked perfectly. A few of them mashed softer apples into pulp, and most of them struggled to cut the butternut squash; for those that could produce noodles from the hard squash, we had to choke up on the turning handle to muster the requisite power. After three rounds of cutting squash, even our top model developed a stress fracture on its handle from the extra exertion. Although none of the manufacturers say to avoid winter squash, we recommend caution when attempting to spiralize hard, dense vegetables.
With the zucchini, beets, and potatoes, only one machine consistently produced long, even noodles and ribbons. The reason for its success: stability. The base of the machine had a low profile, keeping it relatively grounded over the suction cups that anchored it to the table and preventing it from slipping forward quite as frequently as with other models. More important, it had a large food holder that allowed us to attach the produce more securely and a long pusher handle that let us provide the steady, constant pressure necessary to create consistent, unbroken noodles.
We did have two quibbles with these gadgets: One, left-handed cooks are at a bit of a disadvantage. Older spiralizers were built for righties; newer models, like the Müeller Spiral-Ultra, the KitchenAid attachment, and the Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer Pro, are ambidextrous but have other issues that make them less efficient than our righty-oriented winners. And two, none of the spiralizers (save the KitchenAid attachment) were easy to clean, as they must be hand washed—little shreds of produce get everywhere, forcing us to dismantle the machine to get all the loose bits.
Our top performer turned out to be our old favorite, the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer ($33.24). It is simple to set up and intuitive to use. It produced even, consistent noodles and ribbons out of the greatest variety of produce, with very few short or broken strands. But if you’re a lefty, we suggest buying our third-place spiralizer, the slightly more expensive (and less stable) Paderno 4-Blade.