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Having a meat grinder on hand is always good. Sometimes you have something special you want to make, and it’s just not easily available from the store (ground veal or lamb for meatballs, as an example, usually needs to be custom ground by a butcher).
You have your choice after that of an electric or manual model. There are a few reasons why you’d want to take a manual model (which I’ll go over in a moment), but unfortunately finding a good one is…difficult. The construction and usefulness of these units varies immensely between manufacturers, and finding a good one can be tough, especially if you’re not used to pricing these devices.
So, below, I’m going to go over reasons why you might want a manual meat grinder over an electric one, as well as what, exactly, makes one better than others.
Here are the best manual grinders you can buy:
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
Top 7 Best Manual Grinders Reviews
This is a solid stainless steel model, with total 304 stainless steel construction for the frame, and 420 stainless steel for all the inserts.
The suction is fantastic, tying this model down well and making it steady to use for long grinding periods. The versatility isn’t half bad either, coming with a pair of different grinding plates: 8 mm (the average size, used for hamburger meat and such) and 4.5 mm (for more delicate ground meats for things like soups and meat sauces).
The main issue I have is the price. It’s a good meat grinder, but hardly good enough to justify a price point like this, so it’s difficult to recommend picking this up unless it’s on sale (about 30% off at least), especially with it being a model that uses a suction cup instead of a clamp.
Easy to use.
Sturdy stainless steel construction will last a lifetime if well maintained.
Good suction for extra steadiness.
Good versatility with its two commonly used grinder plate sizes.
A little too expensive for what it provides in terms of performance.
As far as plastic manual meat grinders go, this is as good as it gets.
Every component but the blades and grinder plates (which are steel) are made of a very durable, thick, and sturdy plastic which makes for quite a well constructed meat grinder overall.
While it is still plastic, with all the disadvantage that implies (relatively lack of longevity, difficulty in cleaning as it ages, overall less food safe over time material) it sidesteps a lot of those problems a bit by not having a ton of metal internal parts grinding against the plastic bits, making it less prone to scratching on the interior.
As a bonus it’s also dishwasher safe, though I would make sure to give it at least a cursory manual wash first to ensure everything comes loose from the internals before I did so.
Overall with the exceptional price point, this is one of the better manual meat grinders out there, and by far the best plastic one I’ve seen.
Lightweight and easy to store.
Relatively compact, but sizable enough for use.
Easy to use.
Construction is still plastic (even if it is good plastic) which is an inherent flaw.
The overall construction is very solid, with an excellent overall stainless steel construction for both the frame and the inserts. It’s easy to sue and performs well, with a very smooth turning crank that gives you a lot of leverage even when it’s packed full.
The clamp is good, though I’m not a fan of the way it turns to lock into place; it’s an annoying triangular ring that doesn’t quite want to cooperate and hurts the fingers a bit when you’re putting the screw on tight. Not a huge deal if you plan to screw it to the countertop and leave it there forever, but if you want to store it away and bring it back out when you use it (if it’s something you want as an occasionally useful kitchen appliance) then it will likely be an annoyance every time you use this.
For that reason, and for its exorbitant price, this one is in a bit of a pickle as far as justifying its existence, It’s really good and performs well, but not so well (and certainly not outmatching our winner, which this is significantly more than the price of) that you won’t feel the sting of paying such a high price for a fairly middle of the road manual meat grinder.
Very easy to use.
Easy to turn hand crank with good leverage.
Clamps on securely so you can really put your back into it without worry.
Annoying and cheap screw for clamp.
This is a powerfully built and sturdy manual meat grinder from LEM.
You have total stainless steel construction with this one, and pretty good quality at that. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s well built and has a very strong clamp that hooks well to a tabletop.
The construction is good, but plagued with potential issues. When well finished it’s quite excellent, but there are fairly common quality control issues with the proper polishing of the internals, which can burr and catch, ruining the internal operation of the grinder.
Combined with its low price this kind of defect is understandable, and makes it potentially worth the gamble, but be prepared to deal with customer service a lot.
Ultimately it’s up to you on whether to take the chance. If you get one of the good ones, it’s like getting a slightly better version of our winner for half off…but if you’re not lucky, it will break quickly and need replacing. Your call.
Easy to use.
Theoretically well made and sturdy, total stainless steel construction.
Looks nice on a table.
Sturdy clamp screws in easily and clamps tightly.
Good variety of grinder plates and sausage tubes.
Quality control issues make it a complete crapshoot as to whether you’re getting an exceptionally well made manual meat grinder on the cheap, or a defective item you need to return.
This is another decent cheap plastic model, but that’s really all it is. It has decent enough performance but is a fair bit lower capacity than the Gideon model above, with an overall smaller frame and smaller auger, so it pushes through meat slower and needs to be loaded more often.
It also has a significantly less sturdy construction and its stubbier auger means there’s more opportunity for it to get scratched inside; you need to use it longer per session, putting more wear and tear on it with each use than a larger model would take on.
That’s not to say this one is bad, by any means, just a comparison to a larger plastic model.
It still performs well, and has that characteristic inexpensive price point that plastic manual meat grinders tend to share. It also has a really good hand crank, giving you a lot of leverage and better durability than a plastic hand crank would give you.
As far as cheap plastic models go this is a great option, but potentially not as much to your liking a the bigger, overall more durable Gideon hand crank model above.
Easy to use
Decent plastic construction.
Very inexpensive compared to metal models.
Good sturdy stainless steel handle.
Plastic construction is inherently flawed.
Smaller capacity means it’s more tedious to use, and wears down easier.
This one is…all right. There’s nothing in particular that stands out about this manual meat grinder, making the “Simple Being” brand name quite fitting.
It’s a relatively well made plastic, giving it a combination of light weight and sturdiness. It comes with a meat pusher to up the safety, which is nice, and is simple to use. The suction is fine and the overall feel of the grinder is quite good, and great for making small batches of meat.
The main thing is that, even taking into account the cheap price, the plastic construction is worrisome. Plastic is less durable, so this will break down quicker than steel.
More importantly, plastic is easily SCRATCHABLE, meaning this will eventually become a well of bacteria caked into the gouges and nicks that will inevitably crop up inside of it.
Overall, it’s difficult to recommend this model unless you desperately need an extremely cheap meat grinder right now.
Lightweight and portable.
Small and easy to store away.
Easy to use.
Very cheap for even a manual meat grinder.
Plastic construction means less operating lifespan and a danger of bacteria buildup.
This is an interesting plastic one.
As a meat grinder, it’s nothing very special, but the versatility of it is potentially worth a look.
It also acts as a vegetable grinder (as do most meat grinders) and a pasta maker, which is a bit less common. Theoretically all meat grinders can extrude pasta, but it’s a bit spotty as to whether they actually can or just make really bad pasta.
That kicks this up a notch, but unfortunately doesn’t completely make up for the relatively poor plastic construction.
It’s fairly small as well, giving you the same issues as the LHS meat grinder above, which is that the metal parts will slowly scratch and erode the interior of the device, increasing the chance that bacteria build sup since it’s far harder to clean, and eventually breaking down entirely.
Overall even with the low price I’m not entirely sure the tradeoff in versatility is worth it; you’re probably better off just buying a pasta maker instead of relying on this to do it in a pinch.
Easy to use.
Doubles as a pasta extruder.
Good suction cup.
Solid stainless steel turn handle glides smoothly.
Plastic construction make sit likely to get scratched and accumulate bacteria.
Overall the Turntrol model is your best bet in terms of quality, but the Gideon is the best of the cheaper options around.
Manual meat grinders are a bit of a mixed bag in general, with vastly varying levels of performance and inherent flaws compared to their electric cousins, not helped by the price.
In general you’re looking more for raw quality than anything else, and in terms of that the Turntrol and Tre Sade models that’s exactly what you get, for their extremely high price.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, any of the plastic options are your best bet, but be aware that they’ll break down even faster than their stainless steel cousins.
Still, it’s a real toss up between the Turntrol and Gideon meat grinders, given the vast price difference. You basically need to measure up whether you’d prefer a long lasting but very expensive option, or a cheap and “disposable” option you’ll need to replace every year or so.
What Should You Look For in a Manual Meat Grinder?
Before asking yourself what makes a good manual meat grinder, you should first ask yourself: why buy one at all?
Why Buy a Manual Meat Grinder?
There are almost more reasons not to buy a manual meat grinder than to buy one. However, there are two very good ones: if you need one that doesn’t run on electricity for whatever reason, and if you don’t intend to use it very often.
If you want to grind meat on a trip to your log cabin in the winter, for example, a manual meat grinder is a must. If you’re doing historical reenactments or something as well, it’s a good buy.
Likewise, if you don’t plan to use it very often, manual meat grinders are generally much smaller and easier to store away, so that’s a good plus.
What Makes a Good Manual Meat Grinder?
Manual meat grinders live on 2 major features: material and performance.
The material is the largest determiner of price. A plastic meat grinder is going to run somewhere in the ballpark of $30, while a steel meat grinder will run you a minimum of $100, and more commonly around $150.
Steel grinders will last you a lot longer than plastic ones, and perform way better in the meantime, as you’d expect. However plastic ones are, as mentioned, way cheaper so the balance on them being less durable is tilted a bit in their favor.
It’s a matter of whether you prefer raw performance for a greater cost up front, or if you prefer having a much cheaper product that will wear out quickly and need to be replaced.
This is typically going to refer to how many attachments the unit comes with and its overall ability to grind.
More attachments equals more versatility. You get different sizes of ground meat for easy use in a large amount of cooking options, the ability to stuff different sizes of sausage, and all sorts of fun things.
You can even use a few manual meat grinders as a pasta extruder, which is great.
The ability to grind is going to mostly come down to the crank available. A more comfortable well placed crank will lead to more turning power. The internals also need to be sturdily built to stand up to the pressure.
Overall performance is going to be something that’s hard to judge from looks alone, but on average stainless steel meat grinders are better.