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tips for how to use a home meat slicer

Follow these tips for how to use a home 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!

Home Meat Slicer Tips about Blade Type, Safety, and Various Food Uses

In this article you’ll learn important meat slicer tips 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 it cut vegetable? 

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 meat slicers are used interchangeably in this article):

Tip 1: Know What Foods not to use with a Meat Slicer

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If you want to know how to use a meat slicer, you need to first understand what foods you cannot slice, regardless of model.

Do not use foods that have seeds

The exception here is for tomatoes. The seeds and pits of other fruits such as peaches, avocados, apples, etc. can cause damage to your appliance.  You want to avoid any foods with seeds. 

Do not cut meats with the bone

You do not want to slice through bone, ever.  It is important to only slice foods which do not contain bone, otherwise his can cause damage to your slicer.

Do not cut frozen meat

This is a common question, and the answer is no, you cannot use a meat slicer to cut frozen meat.   This actually goes beyond meats and includes vegetables, fruits and even fish (more on this later on for how to handle frozen foods with your slicer.)

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Do not slice cooked food right after raw meat

This falls under safety tips as well, but it’s worth mentioning a few times.  

Never use your food slicer to slice cooked food of any kind when you just used the slicer to cut raw meat.  

This breeds serious contamination and cause 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

Do not slice meats that are over-sized for the 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. 

Tip 2: Can You Cut Frozen Meat with a Meat Slicer?

As I mentioned above, the answer is no.  

While a meat slicer can be used for slicing raw and cooked meats or foods, frozen is a no-no and a big meat slicer tip to heed.

However, the best texture is one which is slightly frozen.   Frozen solid foods are difficult to cut and using a machine isn’t going to 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 it will also note provide any cut worth taking the risk.   

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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 get it to where you want it.

 If it’s still not firm enough, do another 10 minutes and so forth.   This is the same principle used when using a meat grinder.   Slightly frozen is best.

Tip 3: Foods you can use with Your Food Slicer

We already discussed what foods not to use with your food slicer, so let’s talk about what foods you can use besides meats!

deli-meat-slicer

Vegetables

It is not unusual to slice your favorite veggies with your 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 tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, onions, and even potatoes.

Breads

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.

Cheeses

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. 

Raw Meat Slicer

I’m adding this here because many people wonder if a meat slicer can be used for raw meat or does the meat need to be cooked?   There is no raw meat slicer because a meat slicer can be used for raw or cooked foods. 

I would recommend that if you plan on using your meat slicer for raw meats, to go with an industrial or professional slicer that is primarily all stainless steel parts.  

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So while your meat slicer can be used for slicing raw meat, however you need to make sure no cross contamination occurs with cooked foods in the area. 

In addition, you want to make sure the raw meat is still firm, not a floppy mess as that makes it more difficult to slice nice and even slices. 

Why not use a Mandoline slicer? 

Mandalines are great slicers for small batches.  But for larger purposes such as catering, hosting parties, or long-term storage prepping, it makes more sense to invest in a home food slicer that can handle the larger quantities faster and with great ease and with greater consistency.

If you decide to go with a mandoline slicer, make sure it’s one that won’t slice your finger tip off!  This happened to a family member, so the extra safety features are well worth the extra dollar.

Tip 4: Should You use a Fine Edge or Serrated Edge Blade for your Meat Slicer?

Not all food slicers come with a fine edge blade and a serrated edge blade.   So it may be that if it comes with one, you’ll want to buy the other.   But the question remains, how do you know which one you really need?

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Fine Edge Blades

fine-edge-meat-slicer-blade

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

serrated-blade-for-meat-slicer

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.

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Tip 5: How to Slice Roast Beef with a Slicer

One of the most common purposes of a meat slicer used at home 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.

slicing-roast-beef-with-a-meat-slicer

The reality is, many people like their roast beef differently than you or I.   I may prefer my roast beef slices near raw and cold, while others like it more warm and pink.   Or maybe rare and pink. 

So there is no one perfect way for slicing roast beef with a food slicer.    But some meat slicer tips for using your slicer to slice roast beef are as follows:

  • Don’t try to slice it 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 raw and warm, you don’t want to have to reheat it and lose that fresh warmth and texture of the meat.

Type of Cut

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

Slice Width

meat-slicer-width-tips

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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.  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

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.  

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. 

Tip 6: Meat Slicer Tips for Safety 

It would be wrong of me to talk about food slicers for your home without also mentioning some safety concerns to be aware of.

Only for adults to use

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.

Blade safety

Blades should have the proper secure attachments to hold in place.  Unlike a food processor where you do not want to store it with the blade attached, a food slicer can keep 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 power button off and the unit unplugged when not in use.

super-deal-power-button

 

 

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Even if you are not ready to clean it 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.  

The SUPER DEAL Premium Stainless Steel Electric Meat Slicer 7.5” inch Blade Home Kitchen Deli Meat Food Vegetable Cheese Cutter is a good example shown above.

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.  

Use gloves that are cut-resistant plus food-grade gloves

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It’s tempting to skip this step especially when in your own home, but using these gloves can make a big difference if God-forbid you were to accidentally mishandle a blade or have a slip when slicing. 

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.  

meat-slicer-safety-guard

Keep the dial which controls the thickness of the meat set to zero

When ever cleaning or if the machine is not in use, set the dial to zero to further reduce the possibility of accidentally swiping it and injuring yourself.   These blades show no mercy.

how to use  a meat slicer tips

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.

 

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Tip 7: How to Clean a Meat Slicer

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.

Turn off and Unplug from the outlet

Always make sure the machine is unplugged when cleaning, and turned off.   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 put 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. 

You can get ones with grips like these Flex Fit gloves

cut-resistant-food-gloves

You can also get food-grade cut-resistant gloves without grips.  You can even use nitrile gloves to fit over top for added protection.

cut-resistant-food-gloves-without-grips

cut-resistant-food-gloves-without-grips-reviews

Nitrile Powder free/Latex Free gloves

nitrile-powder-free-food-grade-gloves

nitrile-powder-free-food-grade-gloves-reviews

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.

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Tip 8: Ask These Questions Before You Buy

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 use or as a gift for someone else, these tips will 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, 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 use it, 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 will determine how powerful you need that motor to be.

Consider the size for storage

If you plan on keeping it 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. 

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How much are you willing to spend?

As with any item you are looking to buy, it is important that you consider your finances. 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.

Tip 9: 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 hope you’ve enjoyed the article along with the many meat slicer tips I’ve provided, and I hope you now have a better understanding for how to use your home meat slicer! 

Cheers!

***Original post from May 2016.  Updated June 2019***

These are the must-know tips for how to use a home meat slicer to maximize your investment in your kitchen food equipment.  Make wonderful dishes at home with the help of a slicer.  #meatslicer #foodslicer #homefoodslicer #homemeatslicer #foodslicertips #meatslicertips