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Spiralizers

Published May 2016

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.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*