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Many outdoorsmen and home cooks seek to cut expenses by grinding their own meat instead of sending it out for processing. Some commercial-grade mixers offer meat-grinding attachments, but the capacity and quality may be variable.
A dedicated meat grinder is often a good solution, but high-capacity professional models can cost thousands of dollars.
There are hundreds of meat grinders available on the consumer market, so how do you tell which is the right one? That's where we come in! At BestReviews, we want to help you pick the perfect meat grinder for your kitchen.
We're dedicated to writing the most honest and unbiased reviews out there. We never accept free products from manufacturers. Instead, we buy products off of store shelves, test them in our labs, consult experts, and examine feedback from product owners. Our ultimate goal: to become your go-to source for trustworthy product recommendations whenever you’re faced with a buying decision.
We examined dozens of meat grinders and have created a shortlist of the top five contenders. If you want to create your own sausage, hamburger, ground meats, or even pet food at home, consider the models presented here.
High-volume meat grinding calls for a rugged appliance that can handle challenges such as sinew, gristle, and bones. The feed chute should be sizable enough to accept larger chunks of fully or semi-frozen meat without clogging or jamming. If the meat grinder is electric, the motor should be powerful enough to force meat through an auger feeder and into a choice of different grinder blades. There is some disagreement among meat grinder owners about construction materials. Some favor stainless steel. Others believe that aluminum makes a better housing. Still others are satisfied with manual grinders constructed from industrial-strength plastic. In this section, we take all of these different elements into consideration.
The needs of a hunter who routinely bags two to three deer per season are vastly different from the needs of a home cook who wants to grind hamburger for meatloaf. Some of our top contenders are capable of processing at least 100 pounds of meat per hour; others are better suited for occasional sausage prep or other lightweight grinding tasks. We note the relative capacities of each contender in this section so potential buyers can gauge which machine would best meet their needs.
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.
Meat grinders, with their hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, have a reputation for being nearly impossible to keep clean and sanitized between uses. Hand-washing in soapy water and sanitizing in diluted bleach are standard operating procedures in meat grinder maintenance. It is vitally important for owners to understand and implement proper food safety practices when dealing with a product as potentially hazardous as a meat grinder. In this section of our ratings, we examine each contender's ability to break down for routine cleaning.
Some of our contenders perform one task very well, and that is to grind large slabs of meat into much smaller pieces of meat. Other contenders are capable of performing other tasks, such as processing sausage, creating homemade pet food (with bone meal), and making pasta. In this section, we discuss each meat grinder's additional features in detail.
The LEM .75 HP meat grinder is a true workhorse designed to meet serious meat-processing needs. Virtually every major element of the LEM -- from the "Big Bite" auger to the grinding blades to the holding tray -- is made of rugged stainless steel. 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. Casual cooks may not need this much power to make hamburgers or meatloaf, but hunters and restaurant meat cutters will definitely appreciate it. At 47 pounds, the LEM meat grinder is a major appliance that, if possible, should get its own dedicated kitchen space.
If you like the deluxe LEM — but it's out of your price range — we recommend the STX-3000 Turboforce electric meat grinder as an affordable alternative. The STX-3000's housing and grinding head are polished aluminum, but the blades and tubular parts are made from either stainless or hardened steel. A strong motor generates up to 3,000 watts of power, but the grinder itself is not capable of grinding bones into meal for homemade pet food. Unlike some other meat grinders in its price range, the STX-3000 offers three speed selections: "High," "Low," and "Reverse."
You will occasionally need to get your blades sharpened if they've gotten too dull. Once a year or so for a moderately well-used grinder is more than enough.
The Waring MG-105 meat grinder is not designed to compete with workhorse models like the LEM or STX-3000, but it is a definite improvement over traditional manual meat grinders used by home cooks. The Waring MG-105's motor only delivers 500 watts of power, which means it's not ideal for grinding bones or converting an entire side of beef into hamburger. The housing is brushed stainless steel, but the feed tube and meat tray are polished aluminum, and the grinder plates and cutting blade are hardened steel. It has the power to grind six pounds of lean pork, beef, and veal into meatloaf, but we wouldn't recommend it for heavier duties. The internal gears are made of plastic and have a tendency to strip after extended or heavy use.
The NorPro meat grinder is also a mincer and pasta maker. It is a multi-tasking kitchen gadget made out of plastic, but that doesn't mean it's flimsy or disposable. It can handle most of the light-duty meat grinding and vegetable mincing chores a home cook would encounter. Suction cups hold the NorPro's base to most kitchen counter surfaces, but because the handle is longer than the unit, location near an edge is vital. The grinding plates may be a high-grade plastic, but the cutting blades are stainless steel. The handle can require a surprising amount of force to turn during grinding sessions, but the base should be secure enough to handle the extra pressure.
The Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 Meat Grinder is a manually operated, multi-tasking kitchen appliance that will grind meat, mince vegetables, and make pasta. We can make a number of comparisons, both favorable and unfavorable, between this model and our other manual meat grinding contender, the NorPro. The Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 is constructed from food-grade plastic, but the handle is solid metal. The base locks onto most work surfaces with a suction cup mechanism, but finding a proper surface is important for security. The stainless steel mincer plates can deliver a coarse or fine grind; the cutting blades are also stainless steel. We are satisfied with the machine's ability to grind lean, boneless meats, but some owners do have concerns about its overall durability.
Running bread through your grinder will help remove all fat, gristle, and tendons that are stuck in the auger.
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. The so-called "Big Bite" auger feed gets its name from the extra-large gap near the vertical feed tube. Chunks of frozen or semi-frozen meat will fall into that gap and be quickly drawn to the selected grinding blade. Many users tell us they have difficulty keeping the LEM's feed tube filled to capacity because it processes meat chunks so fast. Most electric meat grinders require some down time to cool off, but the LEM can go for hours without overheating.
The STX-3000 may not have the same capacity as the LEM meat grinder, but it can still process at least 175 pounds of meat per hour at high speed and 110 pounds of meat at low speed. Since the STX-3000's motor is not air-cooled, there can be some down time between grinding sessions. We find that the auger tends to work best with semi-frozen meat chunks that contain very little sinew or gristle. 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. Although the STX-3000 may not be designed to handle bones, it can still process an entire deer or side of beef in a matter of hours.
Grinders are labeled based on the size of their head (the area where meat passes through). The larger the head, the larger the number.
The capacity of commercial-grade meat grinders is often measured by the amount of meat they can grind in an hour. When it comes to a smaller kitchen appliance such as the Waring MG-105, however, we'd like to consider its practical capabilities instead. This meat grinder is capable of grinding an entire rump roast into hamburger -- as long as the individual meat pieces will fit the feeder tube. It will also grind pork into a coarse, medium, or fine grind and then blend seasonings into the mix to make sausage. We have noted some owner concerns about the plastic gears and the relatively low torque of the motor. Some cuts of meat, especially those containing sinew and gristle, can overwhelm the MG-105 fine grinding plate, making frequent reversals necessary. We like the Waring MG-105 for what it is: a decent, kitchen-level meat grinder designed for occasional use.
Few NorPro meat grinder users will ever confuse it with a behemoth like the LEM or the STX-3000. Processing anything more than a five-pound slab of chuck roast or an entire pork shoulder would be challenging enough. The unit's feeder cup only holds approximately one cup of any food product a home cook would want to grind, mince, or mix. The meat should ideally be partially frozen to reduce blood loss during the grinding process, and it should also be pre-sliced into finger-sized strips or chunks before starting the job. This manual meat grinder will definitely not grind bones into meal for homemade pet food. Some users report the NorPro is prone to jam if the meat contains too much gristle, so limiting its use to extremely lean meats is advised. Overall, the NorPro meat grinder, vegetable mincer, and pasta maker will take care of small grinding chores, but users should expect to put some work and time into it.
Much like its counterpart, the NorPro, the Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 has a very limited capacity in terms of a feed tube and meat tray. We estimate the machine's holding capacity is perhaps one or two cups. However, many users will pre-slice their meat into manageable strips and use a separate container to hold them until grinding. The most efficient way to grind meat in a small appliance like the Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 is to feed a few strips into the hopper and grind them before returning to the main supply. Feeding too many pieces of meat into the hopper can cause the cutting blades and mincing plates to jam. We recommend limiting meat grinding sessions to 10 pounds or less, which is ideal for meatloaf or sausage production.
If you're grinding a large amount of meat — 2 to 3 pounds or more — make sure you keep it on ice to prevent bacteria growth.
The LEM's stainless steel construction is not as porous as cast aluminum, so cleaning up between grinding jobs is relatively straightforward. The manufacturer does not recommend using a dishwasher, but we have heard from some LEM owners that the major parts can survive the process. Others prefer to use a high-power sprayer or brush kit to remove leftover food bits from the tubular parts and blades. We highly recommend purchasing the official LEM brush kit, by the way. The brushes are specifically designed to reach places that could otherwise be easily missed.
The debate between stainless steel, hardened carbon steel, and aluminum becomes an issue when it comes to the maintenance of any meat grinder. In the case of the STX-3000, several parts (including the housing) are aluminum, which means absolutely no commercial dish washing: these parts must be hand- washed in soapy water and sanitized in bleach water. Other parts are stainless steel, which means they could survive a modified trip through a dishwasher, but washing by hand is still preferable. Hardened steel parts, such as the grinding plates, should be brushed out thoroughly with an optional brush kit, then machine or hand-washed. The STX-3000 does break down easily for proper maintenance, but reassembly can come with a learning curve.
Freezing the meat helps it hold its shape better and keeps it firm, so it goes through the grinder more easily.
The Waring MG-105's individual parts are not considered safe for the dishwasher, but the machine is easily disassembled between uses. The grinding blades themselves may need to be brushed out with a small cleaning tool (or even a toothpick or pipe cleaner), but they can be sanitized in a container of bleach water. The base unit itself cannot be immersed in water, but the brushed stainless steel shell can be wiped down with a gentle cleaner. The polished aluminum surface of the meat tray and feed tube helps keep fats and meat particles from sticking. We believe home cooks will not find the Waring MG-105 too intimidating when it comes to assembly and storage.
Because the NorPro is constructed from food-grade plastic, routine maintenance is extremely easy. The grinding plates and other parts can be hand-washed or put through a dishwasher cycle. There is no electric motor housing to worry about, so users can be aggressive when it comes to cleaning out the base between uses. Most of the pieces will snap right back into place after a thorough washing and sanitizing. The NorPro's stainless steel cutting blades will also resist rusting, but we suggest keeping them out of the dishwasher if possible. Because the machine is also a mincer and pasta maker, there are a lot of small parts to keep track of, so we urge users to find a dedicated drawer or large container for storage.
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 in order to prevent them from becoming dull. The mincing plates can be scrubbed with brushes to remove any remaining meat products before hand-washing and sanitizing. All of the accessories are designed for easy assembly and removal, and reassembling the machine is a straightforward process. The unit is not very heavy or bulky, so storage between jobs shouldn't be problematic. We have heard some customer concerns about overall durability. As long as users realize the Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 is designed for light-duty mincing and grinding, it should hold up well for years.
At least once during the grinding process, you will need to stop and clean the grinder of fat, gristle, etc. Make sure the grinder is unplugged while you are doing this.
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 standard meat grinding need there is. We recommend using the LEM's foot-operated switch when processing meat in bulk. Sausage stuffing often requires the purchase of a separate dedicated machine, but the LEM includes three stuffing tubes that users can switch out with the grinding blades in order to stuff natural casings. We appreciate the fact that the auger feed can create emulsified fillings that are ideal for hot dogs or bratwursts.
The STX-3000 arrives with a number of useful accessories, including three grinding plates and three sausage-stuffing tubes. The grinding plates are sized for coarse, medium, and fine grinds, and the sausage stuffers have diameters of 3/4 inch, 5/8 inch, and 1/2 inch. For a grinder, the STX-3000 does a fairly decent job as a sausage stuffer, but owners should remember that the machine's auger continues to emulsify any meat still in the chamber. This means if you want a coarsely ground sausage, you need to work quickly with the casings! We also like the addition of a special stuffing plate for a Middle Eastern dish called "kubbe" or "kibbeh." Not many models offer this option.
Salt meat for sausages before grinding, and meat for burgers after forming your burgers.
The Waring MG-105 arrives with the minimal number of accessories one would expect from a basic, lightweight meat grinder. There are three steel grinder plates capable of coarse, medium, and fine grinds, along with two sausage- stuffing attachments. We could not find any indication that a meat stomper or other tamping tool is included in the package. As such, home cooks may have to improvise with a wooden spoon handle or other tool capable of pushing meat into the feed tube. We're not entirely impressed with the Waring MG-105 sausage-stuffing capabilities, but it will do a good job with mixing and grinding the sausage itself.
Because of its multi-tasking design, the NorPro Meat Grinder, Mincer, and Pasta Maker is chock-full of additional features. Most important for meat grinding purposes are the two grinder plates: one for coarse grinds and one for finer grinds. There is also a special funnel attachment for sausage stuffing, although it is fairly small in diameter. The NorPro can mince chopped vegetables and most kinds of nuts. When used as a pasta maker, the NorPro can produce rigatoni, spaghetti, and linguine through three different pasta plates. As is the case with other multi-tasking kitchen gadgets, however, the NorPro may not perform each individual task as well as a dedicated machine would. We appreciate the NorPro manual grinder for what it is, but potential buyers need to understand its limitations.
The Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 arrives with fewer accessories than the NorPro, but they are just as useful for casual home cooks with minimal meat-grinding needs. There are only two mincing plates for both meat and vegetable applications; one for a coarse mince size and the other for a finer (but perhaps not fine) mince. This is still suitable for most common meat grinding projects, such as homemade hamburger, sausage, and meatloaf. The original package also includes three different sausage stuffing tubes which give home cooks the ability to make small hot dogs, thicker bratwursts, and large Italian or Polish sausages. Because the Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 is also a pasta maker, the manufacturer includes two pasta blades suitable for making rigatoni and spaghetti. The Kitchen Basics 3-in-1 meat grinder/vegetable mincer/pasta maker is, in our opinion, best suited for budget-minded home cooks who want to improve the quality of their ground meat by grinding it themselves.
The LEM is not just an excellent meat grinder. It is also a true sausage stuffer.
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.