Meat Slicer Buying Guide: How to choose the right meat slicer

Meat Slicer Buying Guide: How to choose the right meat slicer

The Basics

What are you slicing and how often?

Light Duty
  • > 1 hour of slicing
  • Deli meats and vegetables
  • $300 - $1,300
Standard Duty
  • 1-4 hours of slicing
  • Deli meats, vegetables and sometimes cheese
  • $1,200 - $2,500
Heavy Duty
  • Continuous slicing
  • Raw, frozen, and deli meats, vegetables, and cheese
  • $3,000 - $9,000 and beyond

What else is important to you?

Investing in a meat slicer could save you and your employees hours of repetitive, tiring, and sometimes dangerous manual labour. Meticulously slicing meat, cheese, and vegetables by hand is time consuming and often difficult to achieve thin, uniform slices. As a result, injuries and wasted product occur more often, which don’t help your business grow and thrive.

With a meat slicer, you’ll be able to spend less time slicing products by hand while helping more customers and being able to provide fast service with exceptional results.

The 3 types of meat slicers

Not all meat slicers are the same and it’s very important to choose the right kind that will benefit your business rather than slow it down or put your finances in the red.

Meat slicers are categorized based on the amount of work they’ll be used for. They’re categorized based on light, standard, and heavy duty applications.

Light Duty

Light duty slicers are designed for smaller businesses like restaurants and bars that would only need it for the occasional menu item or for slicing up to an hour a day. These slicers are the most economical choice and you’ll typically be able to find them in the price range of $300-$1,300.

Light duty slicers are designed for slicing a variety of deli, smoked, or cooked meats as well as vegetables for sandwiches, antipasto plates, or pizza toppings. They’re not recommended for slicing cheese or raw or frozen meats and pushing this type of slicer beyond its limits will likely result in a burnout.

Standard Duty

Standard duty slicers are designed for heavier, more prolonged use than light duty slicers and would suit small delis or pizzerias that only need to slice for around 1-4 hours every day. Standard duty slicers typically fall in the price range of $1,200-$2,500.

Some standard duty models are able to handle a small amount of cheese slicing per day but they’re primarily recommended for slicing deli meats and vegetables. These slicers can also burn out if too much strain is put on the blade so it’s important to only use it within its limits.

Heavy Duty

Heavy duty slicers are the best and most reliable of slicers. They’re capable of operating continuously without the chance of a burnout making them the ideal appliance for busy restaurants, delis, and supermarkets. Heavy duty slicers can range in price from $3,000-$9,000 and beyond.

These slicers can handle large hunks of meat, cheese, and other frozen products with ease and are designed to run all day.

Other important factors to consider

Once you’ve narrowed down what you’ll be slicing and how often your slicer will be running for, you’ll need to then consider the following characteristics before making your purchase.

The anatomy of a meat slicer

1 - Thickness Knob | 2 - Product Tray Handle | 3 - Product Tray & Pusher | 4 - Blade Sharpener | 5 - Blade

Blade Size

The size of the blade is an important consideration. Blades range in diameters between 8 and 14 inches with the smaller 8 or 9-inch blades found on light duty slicers and the 13 or 14-inch blades found on heavy duty models. The larger the blade, the easier and faster it’s going to be to cut through the meat. Larger blades are also more equipped to handle products like cheese and frozen meats or vegetables.

Horsepower & Torque

The power behind the blade also determines how frequently the meat slicer can be used. Slicers with a higher horsepower are able to run for longer periods of time, which means you’re more likely to find them on the heavy duty models.

Product Tray Size

The tray size determines how large the slab of meat can be in order for the slicer to function. Product trays vary in sizes anywhere from 5” x 6” for smaller models to 13” x 15” or larger for heavy-duty slicers.

Be sure to keep in mind the size of products you’ll be cutting in order to choose a slicer that will be able to hold it and handle its weight as well.

Manual vs. Automatic

Another factor you’ll want to consider is whether your business would benefit more from an automatic meat slicer versus a manual one. Automatic slicers have the power to move the product tray back and forth without any assistance, meaning you or your employees could multitask and help out more customers while the machine does all the work. Automatic slicers can be used manually as well. This kind of slicer would benefit large and busy supermarkets and delis with heavy traffic and a lot of slicing to keep up with.

Manual slicers are much more economical so if your business doesn’t require constant slicing, this option would be a better suit.

Belt vs. Gear Drives

Many manufacturers offer both belt and gear driven meat slicers, which is another characteristic you need to consider. Belt driven slicers are less expensive and can be found on any type of slicer from light duty to heavy duty. They’re quiet to run but also require regular maintenance tightening or replacing belts as needed.

Gear driven slicers are a more expensive option and are more often found on standard to heavy duty models. Gear driven transmissions tend to be more reliable and durable with slicers that are in constant use cutting hard or frozen meats and cheese. Though they do require less regular maintenance than belt driven slicers, if something does go wrong the service bill will be a lot more substantial than a broken belt.

Cleaning & Maintenance

The possibility of cross-contamination is very high with blade slicers that are used to cut both raw and frozen meat in addition to cheese and vegetables. It’s extremely important to keep your machine clean and sanitized in order to keep your customers safe as well as comply with strict food-safe regulations.

Choosing a meat slicer that’s easy to clean is another factor to consider. Removable parts, large gaps in between components, and the absence of small spaces or cracks that trap bacteria are all features you should look for in a meat slicer. Some even come with a convenient “kickstand” leg that lets you easily clean under and around your meat slicer.

Safety

Keeping you and your employees safe while operating a meat slicer is a necessity. The sharp and fast moving blade can do a lot of damage to a misplaced hand or finger, so in addition to proper training, it’s very important to find a meat slicer that offers safeguards against common and serious injuries.

Many slicers come with knife guards that cover as much of the blade as possible. Some models even have it permanently attached so the blade stays covered even when removed from the slicer for cleaning. Some slicers have specific start positions that the tray needs to be in for it to turn on, ensuring hands and fingers are kept away from the blade. Auto shut-offs are also included on some models that help prevent accidents.

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  • Jamie Bertolini
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