The best meat grinder
Many home cooks purchase their meats pre-ground from the grocery store's meat department, but creating specialty meat blends at home is a growing trend. Different cuts of beef, for example, can be ground together to create a gourmet hamburger. Hunters often like to grind wild game, such as boar or deer, into more manageable pieces, but commercial meat processing services can be very expensive.
The solution is an affordable home meat grinder, whether it is electric, manual, or an accessory. Some higher-end meat grinders can process hundreds of pounds of meat per session, while others fit neatly under a counter until needed for small-batch grinding.
If you're considering grinding your own cuts of meat to create sausages, meatloaf, crumbles, or hamburgers, read our buying guide. At the top of our list is LEM Products' Stainless Steel Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder, a powerful workhorse that can process hundreds of pounds of bone, sinew, and muscle at a phenomenally fast rate.
Considerations when choosing meat grinders
Manual vs. electric
Grinding whole cuts of wild game or sides of beef is a daunting chore for anyone. Meat grinders with powerful electric motors can usually handle the job of grinding muscle, bones, and sinew with ease, but less expensive models may not be able to process bones, and occasionally the motor can overheat.
A manual meat grinder or an unpowered attachment eliminates the risk of overheating, but also demands more effort from the user. Most manual grinders are used to blend different meat cuts for hamburgers or meatloaf, not process meat in bulk. A home cook with minimal grinding needs might be satisfied with a manual grinder, but an electric model is better for wholesale meat grinding.
Commercial-grade meat grinders are designed to process hundreds of pounds per hour. They feature larger holding trays, deeper feed tubes, and stronger grinding plates. For home cooks who want to create a family-size ground meat entrée, a smaller electric or manual grinder can usually handle a few pounds of meat cuts at a time. Commercial grade meat grinders also take up a lot of real estate and can be challenging to clean.
Grinding cuts of meat into hamburger or meatloaf is not the only function of a meat grinder. Many home cooks also like to mix various cuts of pork or beef with spices to create sausages. A comprehensive meat grinding kit should offer several different sizes of grinder plates for different grind sizes, along with an attachment that holds sausage casing in place. Pasta and vegetable slicing blades are also good features to look for.
Ease of use
A large meat grinder can be very heavy and challenging to move. Tabletop models address that issue, but the trade-off is capacity. Small manual grinders can be stored easily in a kitchen drawer or cupboard, but the grinder plates are not as durable. Cleaning and sanitizing a meat grinder between uses often requires dismantling the entire unit and reassembling it later. Consider ease of use and ease of cleaning when choosing a meat grinder.
The cost of a consumer-grade meat grinder depends largely on its power source and capacity. A manual grinder or mixer attachment for occasional home kitchen use can cost less than $50, while an electric meat grinder used for bulk processing can easily cost $200 or more.
Q. I want to make my own raw dog food for my pet. Can a meat grinder handle bones?
A. It really depends on the size and design of the grinder. Larger electric models with powerful motors, long feed tubes, and heavy-duty plates can usually grind bone and sinew, but you need to make sure your particular model is rated for that level of grinding.
Q. What kind of grinder works best for making the occasional meatloaf or fresh hamburgers? I don't really need a commercial-grade model.
A. Some stand mixers have a meat grinding accessory that can be attached to the main unit for small batch grinding. A hand-cranked meat grinder attached to a counter will work. There are also affordably priced electric meat grinders on the market.
Meat grinders we recommend
Best of the best: LEM Products' Stainless Steel Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder
Our take: This heavy-duty meat grinder is ideal for those who need to process whole cuts of game or beef in bulk.
What we like: Powerful enough to grind bones and sinew. Can process up to 360 pounds of raw meat per hour. Stainless steel construction, easy to clean.
What we dislike: Very heavy, takes up a lot of space. Only a few parts are dishwasher-safe.
Best bang for your buck: STX's Megaforce Classic 3000 Series Air-Cooled Electric Meat Grinder
Our take: For most home users, this air-cooled machine has the capacity and the accessories to take care of common meat processing jobs.
What we like: Processes up to 175 pounds of meat per hour. Blades are high-grade steel. Includes a generous supply of specialized grinding and dicing plates.
What we dislike: Not powerful enough to grind bones. Motor runs hot, requires long cooling off period. Challenging to clean.
Our take: This manual model from Norpro is perfect for home cooks with only occasional meat grinding needs, such as hamburgers or meatloaf.
What we like: Very versatile, also minces vegetables and creates pasta. Stainless steel blades are easy to clean. No power source required.
What we dislike: Manual operation, handle requires significant force to grind. Contains small parts that can get lost easily.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.