There is little doubt that noodle and pasta dishes are extremely popular, but there are some dietary challenges when it comes to flour-based pasta. It is dense with carbohydrates, and it may also contain high levels of gluten. One healthy alternative to traditional pasta has become increasingly popular in recent years: vegetable-based “pasta” ribbons.
Creating these guilt-free, gluten-free noodles involves the use of a special kitchen gadget known as a spiral slicer, or spiralizer. The user places vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, or squash into the spiral slicer, and special blades trim it into flat ribbons of varying sizes. These ribbons can be steamed, boiled, or even served raw with an appropriate sauce. It is possible to duplicate such popular dishes as lasagna, spaghetti or ramen without worrying about gluten sensitivity or the effects of dense carbohydrates on blood sugar.
There are essentially two types of spiral slicers on the market today: crank-style and handheld. Our favorite, the Spiralizer with five blades, is a crank-style slicer that creates ribbons for a healthy alternative to pasta.
There are several important elements to consider when shopping for a spiral slicer.
Many shoppers find that a crank-style spiralizer mounted on a secure base is easier to use than a handheld model with no support. Each model poses challenges, but creating a long, unbroken strand or ribbon can involve a learning curve, especially with a handheld model. It is helpful to find a model where mounting the vegetable or fruit is intuitive and only requires minimal prep work.
Some spiral slicers may contain five or more extremely sharp blades, which need to be carefully cleaned and stored between uses. Handheld models should include protective covers, and crank-style models should have a good onboard blade storage system.
Handheld spiralizers can usually handle fruits and vegetables of any size due to an open-ended design, but crank-style models may have some size limitations. Some can handle 10-inch long cucumbers or zucchini, while others require users to trim the produce down before processing.
Most spiral slicers offer a choice between thin strands for noodle dishes and thicker ribbons for pasta and lasagnas. However, the better models also offer blades for more specialized slices, such as a continuous ribbon or stylized garnish.
While handheld spiral slicers do not include any stabilizers, crank-style models usually feature a suction cup system that keeps the unit securely attached to the table or cutting board. This can be a very important safety feature, especially when working with larger batches.
Most handheld spiral slicers hover around $10-$15; these are generally limited to two-blade options. Crank-style spiralizers with multiple blade options can run as much as $20 to $25, but they do not require as much of a learning curve as basic handheld models.
A. Many spiral slicing systems include a basic recipe book containing common dishes you can make with spiralized foods. Many home cooks use ribbon or flat-cut vegetables as substitutes for wheat-based pasta if gluten is an issue. Spiralized fruits and vegetables also work well in cold salads and as garnishes.
A. The blades of a spiral slicer can be extremely sharp, and at least part of the blade is exposed during normal operation. However, an adult can set up the machine, attach the blade, and position the food before allowing an older child to turn the crank and produce the ribbons. We would not recommend allowing a child to clean the machine, however.
A. Handheld spiral slicers may be more affordable than crank-style models, but we recommend a sturdier crank-style slicer for inexperienced cooks. Using a handheld spiral slicer requires more of a learning curve, and the results may not be as consistent as those created by a crank-style model.
Spiralizer Five-Blade Vegetable Slicer
What you need to know: The Spiralizer includes five exceptionally sharp blades for all sorts of vegetable and fruit slicing projects. It is very versatile and well-constructed.
What you'll love: Strong suction cups provide stability. All blades are stored in the unit. It is made of durable materials. Most food requires minimal prep.
What you should consider: Using it requires good eye/hand coordination for consistent results. Some unexpected slippage was reported.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Original SpiraLife Spiralizer Vegetable Slicer by Lifestyle Dynamics
What you need to know: The Original SpiraLife is ideal for home cooks who only plan on serving an occasional spiralized dish with minimal slicing options.
What you'll love: An instructional video and storage bag is included. At an affordable price point, it is easy to clean and has a compact design.
What you should consider: Larger vegetables must be trimmed to fit. Blades only provide “spaghetti” or “wide ribbon” slices.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Paderno World Cuisine 3-Blade Vegetable Slicer/Spiralizer
What you need to know: The Paderno World Cuisine slicer/spiralizer is comparable in performance to models twice its price. It’s a good all-around choice for experienced home cooks.
What you'll love: It has extremely sharp stainless steel blades and a straightforward, intuitive operation. Minimal prep work is required and it is dishwasher safe.
What you should consider: Minimal instructions are included. Creating long, unbroken strands requires practice.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.