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Grinding and packaging meat at home has grown in popularity as more people want better control over the food they eat. When you grind your own meat, you know every ingredient that goes into the mix.
Meat grinders come in all sizes, from small manual grinders to large commercials models that weigh over 40 pounds.
The needs of a hunter who routinely bags two to three deer per season are vastly different from those of a home cook who wants to grind hamburger for meatloaf.
The kind and quantity of meat you intend to grind can make a big difference in your decision. But how do you decide?
That’s where we come in!
At BestReviews, our goal is simple: to bring you honest, unbiased reviews. We never accept free samples from manufacturers, which means we buy products off the shelves just like you.
We do the research, ask the experts, and survey existing customers, so you can make the most informed shopping decisions.
If you’re ready to purchase a meat grinder, check out the matrix above for our top five picks.
But if you want to know more before you buy, including our expert’s tips, keep reading.
Currently Executive Chef at Bon Appétit Management Company, Steve began his tenure with Bon Apetit as Chef de Partie. He has over ten years of experience, including tenures at two- and three-Michelin star restaurants. Steve is passionate about all things cooking – products, supply chain, management, menu design, and budgeting.
Manual meat grinders are simply designed. They have a handle crank that pulls meat through the blades. Their small size makes them easy to use, carry, and store. In general, manual meat grinders weigh less than electric models.
However, manual meat grinders made of stainless steel can weigh as much as similarly sized electric grinders. You need good muscle strength to use a manual grinder. Keep in mind the type of meat you’ll be grinding, since wild game is tougher to grind than domestic meat.
Manual meat grinders are relatively inexpensive. If you occasionally grind a small amount of domestic meat, a manual meat grinder is an excellent choice.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
LEM Products Electric Meat Grinder
A Serious Workhorse
The LEM Products Electric Meat Grinder is a true workhorse designed to meet serious meat-processing needs. The .75-horsepower motor is strong enough to grind bones, sinew, and cartilage — three ingredients that can cause other meat grinders to clog up or overheat. With an estimated 360 pounds-per-hour processing rate, the LEM could definitely grind an entire deer or side of beef into manageable portions within a day or so. At 47 pounds, this is a major appliance that, if possible, should get its own dedicated kitchen space. The LEM arrives with a set of three grinding blades (a stuffing blade, a fine 3/16-inch blade, and a coarse 3/8-inch blade), which should meet just about every meat grinding need there is.
Electric meat grinders offer more options than their manual counterparts. Electric grinders offer exceptional speed and efficiency. Meat can be ground in half the time and effort it takes with a manual grinder. Many can handle wild game and some can grind bones as well. It also takes little physical effort to put meat through an electric grinder compared to a manual model. Sanitation is easier with an electric model, too.
Manual grinders take longer to grind meat, and when the temperature of meat rises, there is more opportunity for bacteria to grow. Electric models quickly move through large quantities of meat, decreasing the possibility of contamination.
Electric models are more expensive, and they can be heavy, especially if made of stainless steel.
If you’re grinding a large amount of meat — two to three pounds or more — make sure you keep it on ice to prevent bacterial growth.
The material used to make the grinder plate affects price and durability.
Carbon steel grinder plates are tough and durable yet lightweight in comparison to stainless steel. The downside is they don’t last as long and can rust if not cared for properly.
Stainless steel grinder plates last longer and don’t rust as easily. Though stainless steel can be placed in a dishwasher, many meat grinder manufacturers do not recommend doing so. Keep in mind that the more stainless steel components in the meat grinder, the heavier it will be. There are meat grinders made entirely of stainless steel that weigh more than 40 pounds.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
STX INTERNATIONAL STX-3000-MF Megaforce Electric Meat Grinder
Efficient, Quality Accessories
The STX INTERNATIONAL STX-3000-MF Megaforce Electric Meat Grinder’s housing and grinding head are polished aluminum, but the blades and tubular parts are made from either stainless steel or carbon steel. This grinder can process at least 175 pounds of meat per hour at high speed and 110 pounds of meat at low speed. Efficiency also depends on matching the right cutting blade to the appropriately sized grinder plate. The meat holding tray is spacious enough to hold a few pounds of meat in position over the feed tube, which also helps the job go faster. The STX-3000-MF arrives with a number of useful accessories, including three grinding plates and three sausage-stuffing tubes.
Meat grinders are given a number — 5, 8, 12, 22, 32, 42, and up — that indicates the size of the grinder plate.
The size of the grinder plate greatly affects the type of meat, the piece size, and the amount of meat that can be ground. The larger the number, the larger the meat grinder and grinder plate.
A size 5 or 8 grinder plate meets the needs of those who occasionally grind domestic meat. Larger sizes are for those who do large quantities or wild game.
Grinders are labeled based on the grinder plate, or head where the meat passes through. The larger the plate, the larger the number.
If you plan to grind meat a couple times a year, a meat grinder with less than .5 horsepower will work fine.
Hunters and those who process high volumes of meat should look for a grinder on the commercial scale, which starts at .5 horsepower and above.
Running bread through your grinder will help remove fat, gristle, and tendons that get stuck in the auger.
The tray holds the meat before it is placed in the feed tube, which feeds the meat to the blades. Tray and feed tube size correspond to the grinder plate number.
Those processing wild game or who use a grinder for large quantities of meat should look for a grinder with a large tray and feed tube.
A bigger feed tube opening also means you don’t have to cut up the meat into as many pieces to fit it in the tube, saving you time in the end.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Norpro Meat Grinder, Mincer and Pasta Maker
Ideal For Home Cooks
The Norpro Meat Grinder, Mincer, and Pasta Maker is, as the names says, also a pasta maker that can handle the light-duty meat grinding and vegetable mincing chores of the home cook. The grinding plates are a high-grade plastic, but the cutting blades are stainless steel. The unit’s feeder cup holds approximately one cup of any food product a home cook would want to grind, mince, or mix. The Norpro will take care of small grinding chores, but users should expect to put in some work cutting meat into small enough pieces. Because the Norpro is constructed from food-grade plastic, routine maintenance is easy.
It’s important to consider what’s included in the price of a meat grinder.
Some meat grinders with hefty price tags also include three or more grinder plates and blade sizes for more versatility and use.
Extra attachments allow you to grind vegetables or make pasta. If you want to make sausage, there are sausage accessories that come with some grinders.
Salt the meat for sausage before grinding, and the meat for burgers after forming the burgers.
Inexpensive: For under $50, you’ll find many different kinds of manual meat grinders, from stainless steel models that attach to the counter to all-plastic standalones. You’ll also find meat grinding attachments that work with various types of mixers. What you won’t find at this price range is all-stainless-steel construction. You may find a grinder with a few components made of stainless steel but not throughout.
Mid-Range: In the $50 to $150 range are manual meat grinders made entirely of stainless steel, along with small electric models. The manual grinders at this price range have excellent construction and durability. Small electric meat grinders at this price point have some components made of stainless steel or aluminum, but the housing is usually plastic.
Expensive: At $150 to $250 are larger grinders, size 12 and up, that come with multiple grinding plates, blades, and sausage-stuffing accessories. You’ll also find some commercial-grade grinders with some stainless steel and aluminum components.
Premium: At $250 and up, you’ll find commercial-grade meat grinders made of all-metal components, either aluminum or stainless steel. While some are as small as size 5, these grinders are high quality and durable. Many have .75 horsepower or more and can grind around 480 pounds of meat in an hour. This is where you’ll find meat grinders that weigh 40 pounds or more.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Kitchen Basics Meat Grinder and Vegetable Grinder/Mincer
A Versatile Multi-Tasker
The Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 Meat Grinder and Vegetable Grinder/Mincer is a manually operated, multi-tasking kitchen appliance that grinds meat, minces vegetables, and makes pasta. This grinder is constructed from food-grade plastic, but the handle is solid metal. The stainless steel mincer plates can deliver a coarse or fine grind. The Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 has a very limited capacity in terms of the feed tube and meat tray. We estimate the machine’s holding capacity to be one or two cups. Most of the Kitchen Basics’ external parts can be put in a dishwasher, but we do recommend washing the stainless steel cutting blades by hand to prevent dulling.
You will occasionally need to get your blades sharpened if they’ve gotten dull. Once a year or so for a moderately well-used grinder is more than enough.
At least once during the grinding process, you will need to stop and clean the grinder of fat, gristle, and skin. Be sure the grinder is unplugged first.
Only put bones through your grinder if the manual specifically states the grinder is intended for that purpose. The warranty can be voided if the grinder is used for purposes not outlined in the manual.
Make sure you have completely dried your grinder before storing it. Standing water can cause the grinder to rust.
Q. I want to feed my pet a raw diet. Are there meat grinders that can grind bones?
A. There are meat grinders that can grind bones. But you shouldn’t grind bones unless the grinder is intended for that purpose as you could void the warranty. All meat grinders that can handle bones are at least a size 12, with size 22 or 32 being ideal for grinding bones because of their larger trays and feed tubes.
Q. Do I have to cut the meat into pieces before putting it in the grinder?
A. The short answer — it depends. Size 22 or 32 grinders won’t require you to cut most meat unless you are doing wild game. Smaller sizes, like 5 and 8, will require the extra work to make the pieces small enough for the feed tube.
Q. I want to make ground meat a few times a year to make my own meatloaf and hamburger patties. What kind of grinder would work best for me?
A. Since you won’t be doing a large quantity of meat or wild game, you can use a manual meat grinder, a model that attaches to a mixer, or an inexpensive electric model. Any of these choices would meet your needs. However, consider if you have the arm strength to use a manual grinder. If not, an attachment or small electric model would be best.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.