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Follow these tips for how to use a meat slicer safely and carefully in order to produce perfectly sliced deli meat, roast beef, lamb, and even vegetables for your sandwiches, party platters, and many other uses.
We’ll discuss these topics along with safety tips, blade considerations, and proper cleaning.
How to Use a Meat Slicer
In this article you’ll learn important tips for how to use a meat slicer such as:
- What foods can you slice with your meat slicer?
- Does it matter if the meat is frozen?
- Should the meat be raw or cooked?
- Is a serrated blade better than a fine-edge blade?
- Can a meat slicer cut vegetables?
We’ll cover all that and more in order to provide you with the information you need to know how to use a meat slicer and how to find a meat and food slicer that is worth the time, effort, and of course fits the budget.
Let’s first dive into what foods not to use with a slicer (food slicer and meat slicers are used interchangeably in this article):
Food Slicer Uses
If you want to know how to use a meat slicer, you need to first understand what foods or meats can be used.
Although in general meats and vegetables make the list, but it’s not as simple as that. You need to understand what can and cannot be used.
To do this, it’s easier to know what foods you cannot use in a slicer. Using foods not intended for meat slicers can not only lead to damage to the slicer but can also cause personal injury or harm.
Food Slicers Can Be Used for Vegetables
Often associated with meat slicing, food slicers can be used for more than meat.
It’s common for slicers to be used for vegetables, such as tomatoes and lettuce.
However, it’s important to avoid any vegetable or fruit that contain hard seeds or pits.
The seeds and pits of fruits such as peaches, avocados, apples, etc. can cause damage to your food slicer and should not be used.
You want to avoid any foods with seeds or pits.
Food Slicers Can be Used for Meats
The terms food slicers and meat slicers can be used interchangeably, so yes, meats can be sliced using “food slicers”.
Food or meat slicers should never be used for slicing cooked meat right after slicing raw meat. You should always clean the machine and blades before transitioning between slicing raw meats to cooked meats or raw vegetables.
Meat Slicer Uses to Avoid
So we’ve just gone over what food items are okay to use, but there are still some food slicer uses to avoid that you need to be aware of.
Do not use meat slicers to cut through bone
You do not want to use your slicer to ever slice through bone, ever.
It is important to only slice foods which do not contain bone, otherwise this can cause damage to the slicer blade and the machine itself.
Your meats should be prepared ahead of time to be ready to be used in the meat slicer.
Do not use meat slicers for frozen meats
We store meats in our freezer for long-term preservation so it’s natural to wonder if you can slice frozen meat with a meat slicer.
The answer is no, you cannot use a meat slicer to cut through frozen meat or other frozen food items such a fish.
You will need to remove your frozen meat and let it thaw prior to using it in the meat slicer.
Do not slice cooked food right after Using raw meat
This falls under safety tips as well, but it’s worth mentioning a few times.
When slicing raw meat with a food slicer you need to make sure you clean the blades and machine before and after use.
Never use your food slicer to slice cooked food of any kind when you just used the slicer to cut raw meat, unless everything has been thoroughly cleaned and de-sanitized.
This breeds serious contamination and causes severe food born illnesses such as E.coli. The CDC reports that about 5-10% of people diagnosed with STEC 0157 infection develop a life-threatening complication.
STEC 0157 is a type of E.coli
How Wide Can You Slice Meat Using a Slicer?
Cut your food to size first.
If you find you need to slice some bread or other food, such as a roast or leg of lamb, but the item extends over the slicer, then cut the food item down to a better more suitable size.
Not following this rule can cause damage to the equipment and will not give you the desired cut that you are looking for.
Can You Slice Frozen Meat with a Meat Slicer?
As I mentioned above, the answer is no, you cannot slice frozen meat with a meat slicer.
There is also no such thing as a raw meat slicer. It’s just a slicer that can be used to slice raw meats.
While a meat slicer can be used for slicing raw or cooked meats or foods, frozen is a no-no and so I rank this a big meat slicer tip.
However, the best texture is one which is firm, but not frozen.
Frozen solid foods are difficult to cut and using a machine isn’t going to do you any favors. These machines are not designed for slicing frozen beef or other rock hard foods.
Not only will it ultimately damage the equipment, by improperly using the slicer, you risk serious personal injury or harm to yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you’re cutting frozen meat, frozen cheese, or frozen anything, it isn’t worth it.
If you are slicing raw meat and you need it firmer in order to get a good cut, then put it in the freezer for ten minutes to firm it up.
What You Can Use a Food Slicer For
We already discussed what foods not to use with your food slicer, so let’s talk in more detail about what foods you can use besides meats.
Vegetables for Sandwiches and Party Trays
It is not unusual to slice your favorite veggies with your home food slicer.
You’ll want to make sure you are using the best blade for your slicer (I talk about this next) and you’ll be able to slice items such as:
You can also slice breads with your slicer giving a nice even cut eat time. It’s perfect for your batches of homemade bread (like my authentic Italian bread, or your homemade sandwich bread.
Yes, you can also use a slicer for cheeses, but keep to the firmer cheeses, such as provolone, American, etc.
Thinking you’ll get even slices from a ball of fresh mozzarella just isn’t going to happen.
Meat Slicer Blade Types
Not all food slicers come with a fine edge blade and a serrated edge blade. There are different meat slicer blade types – primarily two – fine edge blades and serrated.
So it may be that if you purchase a meat slicer (can be purchased online) and it comes with only one type of blade, you’ll want to buy the other.
But the question remains, how do you know which one you really need?
Fine Edge Blades
Fine edge blades have a smooth edge obviously. But it’s that smooth edge that allows you to get very thin slices without tearing the meat or food item accidentally.
The best example is using a fine edge blade for something like prosciutto which is paper thin slices of cured ham.
This is extremely popular in Italian cuisine, and all you have to do is go to the store and check out the prices on prepackaged prosciutto.
This type of sliced meat is not cheap either, so using a good meat slicer is key.
Fine edge blades are also good for things like sushi, vegetables or cheese. The thinner of a cut you want, the more you are going to need a fine edge blade.
Can you imagine slicing sushi with a serrated edge? Yikes!
Serrated Edge Blades
These blades have grooves on the edge just like a bread knife. They are best for cutting through hard crusts without causing damage to the crust itself.
It’s no different in concept to using a regular knife to slice through hard bread.
If you’re not sure, try an experiment by getting some Italian hard crusted bread and try slicing ¼” slices with a fine edge/smooth knife and one that’s serrated.
You’ll see what I mean immediately.
While you’ll probably use smooth edge blades for most meats, you should use a serrated edge for meats that tend to be very touch, such as a lean meats like venison.
So anything that requires a grip to get a nice cut, you’ll want serrated.
How to Slice Roast Beef with a Slicer
One of the most common uses of a slicer is for slicing roast beef.
Whether for sandwiches or for serving at a buffet or a holiday dinner, everyone wants the perfect slice of roast beef.
The reality is, many people like their roast beef differently than you or I.
But with a food slicer, you can use it to slice roast beef in different widths as needed.
So there is no one perfect way for slicing roast beef with a food slicer.
Here are some tips for how to slice roast beef with a slicer:
- Don’t try to slice the roast beef as soon as it’s out of the oven
- You need to let the meat rest first.
- Make sure a roast is at least 145F (62.6C) according to foodsafety.gov.
- Try chilling the meat after it’s rested and cooked for a few hours or even overnight in the fridge. I’ve read on websites such as www.chowhound.com, where people have frozen it for an hour and then in the fridge it goes.
- The problem with freezing it after it’s cooked is that you don’t want it to be so frozen that 1) you have now turned your meat into ice, which upon thawing will change the texture of the meat, and 2) if you enjoy it warm, you don’t want to have to reheat it and lose that fresh warmth and texture of the meat.
Type of Roast Beef Cut for Meat Slicers
It’s recommended by cooking.nytimes.com to use a leaner cut for roast beef sandwiches, such as top loin. More economical cuts would be top or eye round.
I can’t take credit for that insight, it goes to Melissa Clark for a well written article.. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017348-the-best-roast-beef-for-sandwiches
How Wide to Slice Roast Beef?
This is user preference really. Some enjoy thinner cuts for sandwiches, while others prefer thicker cuts. The bottom line is to experiment with your slicer and see what you prefer.
Make sure your food slicer accommodates thinner slicing if that’s the type of width you will be using. Amazon has a number of food slicer that can do this – just read the specifications.
I personally like very thin cuts of roast beef for my sandwiches, but I prefer thicker slices for use on a fresh salad.
Uses for Sliced Roast Beef from a Slicer
Don’t think slicing roast beef however is just for those who are hosting a party for a bunch of people! You can easily get a smaller roast for smaller purposes, such as for your own sandwiches.
Slice the roast beef and then store in a freezer in smaller freezer backs or buy vacuum sealers at Amazon for longer term storage.
Slicers come in all types of sizes (more on this later down the article) so don’t be intimidated or think you can’t have this type of enjoyment in your own kitchen.
I personally love roast beef slices with a mixed salad. I also love roast beef slices with mashed potatoes and gravy or in a nice hoagie bun.
Safety Tips for How to Use a Meat Slicer
It would be wrong of me to talk about food slicers for your home without also mentioning how to use a meat slicer safely.
Only Adults Should use the Meat Slicer
While this may seem obvious, it’s important that any children are strictly forbidden from touching the equipment.
Food slicers can be very heavy, but smaller models can be only 10 lbs. I don’t even want to think what could happen if a young child tried to move or worse yet use it and something were to happen.
Meat Slicer Blade Safety
Blades should have the proper secure attachments to hold in place.
Unlike a food processor where you do not want to store the appliance with the blade attached, a food slicer can store with the main blade on.
There should be safety locks that keep it in place obviously. Just make sure it’s not wet or dirty when you place it back on.
Keep the Slicer Power Button off and the Unit Unplugged when not in Use
Even if you are not ready to clean the food slicer yet, perhaps you have to walk away for a few minutes, it is good practice to keep it unplugged and the power turned off.
Some slicers have the power button inset where it won’t accidentally be turned on with a bump from a nearby object or yourself.
I would recommend that when looking for a meat slicer that you take a good look at the safety features built in to minimize the risk of any accidental mishaps.
Always use a Safety Guard When Slicing Meat
To further minimize risk, look for a food slicer that you aren’t using your hand to push the meat along, you want to make sure there is a handle that you use and that the machine has a safety guard.
Always use the safety guard.
Keep the Dial Control to Zero When Not Using the Meat Slicer
When ever cleaning or if the machine is not in use, set the meat slicer’s dial width to zero to further reduce the possibility of accidentally swiping it and injuring yourself.
These blades show no mercy.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions for How to Use a Meat Slicer
This too seems obvious, but it’s important to follow the instructions as outlined by the manufacturer.
They know their equipment best and it’s important that you know the ins and outs and tips of using the meat slicer in order to reduce the risk of injury.
Different meat slicers may have different functions or features, so when wanting to know how to use a meat slicer properly you should read through the manual.
If you lost the manual, visit the manufacturer’s website and do a search for the model number and manual.
If that doesn’t work, contact them directly and they can send you one via email or provide you a link so you can download and print it out at home.
How to Clean the Meat Slicer after Using
The manual will explain how to clean the slicer and since different slicers are built differently I can’t give you specific how -tos, but here are some tips you need to know.
After Using the Meat Slicer, Turn off and Unplug from the Outlet
Always make sure the machine is turned off and unplugged after each use and before cleaning.
Never clean the machine with it on or plugged in.
Not only are you cleaning the blade, but you are also cleaning all the attachments such as the safety guard and the holder that holds the food, plus the knobs and back, and top, etc.
Don’t take chances!
Don’t Clean the Slicer in the Dishwasher
Do not attempt to cut corners (pun not intended) by placing the blade or any parts in the dishwasher.
The hard detergents are not suitable for these appliances. Just like professional kitchen knives, you need to wash these by hand, very carefully.
Instead use hot soapy water.
Wear tear resistant gloves when cleaning
Using cut resistant gloves are a good thing to use regularly when cleaning and moving around.
Nitrile Powder free/Latex Free gloves
Keep in mind these are cut “resistant”, meaning they won’t protect you 100% all the time in every circumstance. However they are very helpful for preventing accidental cuts while handling very sharp blades.
One simple accidental action of brushing your hand, wrist, or arm against a blade can cause an awful cut and could if deep enough require a fun visit to the ER or doctor’s office.
As a reminder, since different types of slicers are made differently, always refer to the Owner’s Manual for detailed instructions for proper cleaning.
Reassemble when Dry
With food and meat slicers, when the parts including the blade are fully dry, you’ll want to reassemble and make sure everything is locked into place.
Keep it unplugged at all times.
Is Using a Meat Slicer Right For You?
Deciding to buy a food slicer isn’t as easy as it probably first sounds when the idea came into your mind.
There are a wide variety of slicers, and finding the right one, whether for your own home use or as a gift for someone else, use these questions to help you narrow down your options.
How frequently do you plan on using the slicer?
If you do not plan on using your slicer but for a few times a year, a professional grade may not be the right choice. Look for ones that are designed for home use.
On the other hand, if your uses are going to be for large quantities and for large get-togethers, especially for caterers, a professional home food slicer may be what your purpose calls for, just perhaps a smaller version of a professional industrial grade slicer.
It’s important to remember that the more frequently you plan on using the slicer, the stronger you need the motor to be. The heavier-duty motors will cost more because they are for more professional use.
So whether you use it for multiple hours every day or once a week for an hour in your home will determine how powerful you need that motor to be.
Consider the size for storage
If you plan on using the slicer on the counter top in your kitchen, then it is important that you make certain it will fit. Naturally, the larger the size, the more space it will occupy.
In addition, the larger they are, the heavier they will be as well.
If you plan on moving it around quite a bit, you might want to consider looking for a lighter size.
Consider the Material
If you want an all stainless steel, expect to pay more than one that has aluminum parts or even plastic. Yes plastic.
I personally prefer stainless steel food slicers. It’s more durable and will last longer. If this is important to you as well, make sure that most parts are stainless steel including the housing.
You may need to go to more professional or industrial models, the cheaper ones under $100 most likely do not have stainless steel housing.
However prices have come down quite a bit, and even cast aluminum housing versions are durable and affordable.
Sometimes descriptions will say Stainless steel, but they are referring to the blade only, and the housing is aluminum.
So keep this in mind when looking online to buy.
Also, keep in mind the weight of the materials. Some slicers come with suction cups for feet to help keep them stable during use.
How much are you willing to spend?
As with any item you are looking to buy, it is important that you consider your finances. Using a home professional food slicers can range from under $100 to well over $400.
Make sure that your food slicer not only fits on your counter, but also within your budget.
I would not recommend the bottom of the price range for food slicers. They cost less for a reason, usually cheaper parts and warranties that aren’t worth much to begin with.
However, that’s your call and only you know what is the best option for your purposes.
Where to Find More Meat Slicers?
If you are considering purchasing a slicer for home use, or as a gift to someone, I recommend going to Amazon and reading through the reviews and questions other users have had.
You can also ask your own questions and someone may have the answer you’re looking for.
I have a review of a Chef’s Choice meat slicer as well which you can use as a starting point.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the article along with the many meat slicer uses and tips I’ve provided, and I hope you now have a better understanding for how to use your home meat slicer!
***orig post June 2019 updated November 2022***