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Handheld Spiralizers

Published September 2017

How we tested

Handheld spiralizers promise to cut ribbons and noodles from a variety of produce without taking up as much room as tabletop models. They’re simple tools that operate like pepper mills or pencil sharpeners: Holding the canister-like base with one hand, you use your other hand (or a pronged holder) to twist a piece of produce over a series of blades set into the spiralizer’s top, and noodles or ribbons come out the other side. We wanted to know if any of them could compete with our favorite tabletop spiralizer, the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer ($33.24). So we tested four models, priced from $14.95 to $24.99, and compared them with the Tri-Blade, using each to spiralize zucchini, beets, apples, carrots, and butternut squashes.

Testers appreciated the smaller footprint and uncomplicated design of the handheld models; they’re easier than the tabletop models to set up and clean and more intuitive to use. But the admiration largely ended there. Most of the handheld models had sharp blades and were capable of making nice-looking ribbons and noodles from all the produce we threw at them, but they took about six times as long as the Tri-Blade to do so: The handheld models processed a single 8-ounce zucchini in an average of about 2 minutes, while our favorite tabletop model breezed through it in 30 seconds.

Worse, the handheld versions took a lot of effort to operate—it’s hard on the wrists to twist a zucchini around and around for 2 minutes, let alone a chunk of dense butternut squash. It’s even more difficult for left-handed cooks: Because of the positions of the blades, produce can only be twisted clockwise, a direction that lefties found particularly awkward. And while a few of the models came with rubbery bands to make the bases more secure, most were made of slippery, hard-to-grip plastic. If you’re cooking for more than yourself—for example, spiralizing the six zucchini needed to feed four people—the time (12 minutes) and labor can add up.

Moreover, the handheld models required users to trim the sides and sometimes the lengths of longer, wider produce before it could be spiralized—an annoying extra step that isn’t necessary when you spiralize on the Tri-Blade. We preferred models with canisters at least 2.5 inches in diameter, as these allowed us to trim less off the sides of wider pieces of produce. We also preferred models that didn’t make us cut long produce in half in order to fit inside the canisters, as two of the models did.

We’ll take a faster, more efficient tabletop spiralizer over a slower, more labor-intensive handheld model any day. Still, if you have limited storage space and plan to use your spiralizer only occasionally, some models are better than others. We liked models that came with three different blades because they were more versatile. While all of them came with a ribbon blade, two of the models included only a single noodle blade—either a ⅛-inch spaghetti blade or a ¼-inch linguine blade­—limiting our options.

A fair option exists: With a rubbery grip and a relatively wide mouth, the OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Handheld Spiralizer ($24.99) was the easiest and most comfortable to use of the handheld models. And because it comes with three blades, it’s one of the more versatile versions on the market.

Methodology

We tested four handheld spiralizers priced from $14.95 to $24.99, pitting them against our winning tabletop spiralizer and using each to produce noodles and ribbons from zucchini, beets, apples, carrots, and butternut squashes. All models were purchased online and appear in order of preference.

Ease of Use: We evaluated the spiralizers on how intuitive they were to operative and how much work was required to prepare produce for spiralizing.

Comfort: We evaluated the spiralizers on how comfortable they were to hold.

Versatility: We evaluated the spiralizers on the number and type of spiralizing options they offered.

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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*