If you’re a farmer or hunter butchering your animals is an important skill, and so is having the best meat grinders in your kitchen to grind your meat.
Sandwich spread. Sausages and patties. Chili. Pepperoni. These are but a few dishes that include meat, and not of the slab kind. Sure, you can depend on the supermarket but, what if you could control exactly what goes into the finished product?
A meat grinder is the answer, one no kitchen should be without.
Once you’re done butchering, try this: Best Vacuum Sealer for Meat & Fish to store your meat properly.
Why Have a Meat Grinder in Your Home Kitchen
The stuff that comes off the shelf is made so it can stay there for a while; this means a hefty dose of additives, salts, to say nothing of the fat content most manufacturers can’t be bothered to regulate.
With a meat grinder, you get the final say on what goes into the mix, and what doesn’t. If you or someone close to you is a butcher, or a hunter (or plans to be), a meat grinder becomes much more important: there’s likely to be a high volume of meat to process, and who better to do it than yourself?
A meat grinder doesn’t discriminate: you can process beef, pork, duck, chicken, venison, you name it. A model with appropriate blades can even work with vegetables!
How A Meat Grinder Works
First, you place—in chunks— the food you want processed in the hopper (also known as meat tray). Using the plunger, you push the foodstuffs down the feeding tube, so the auger at the other end can grab onto it and pull it in. The auger forces the food through the cutting blade, which chops it up before it comes out through the grinder plates.
Their Defining Features
When shopping around, you should keep in mind the sort of volume you’ll be handling. Although this review will be focusing on units capable of heavier workloads, we’ll be covering features and notes for the entire category.
Another factor for you to think of, is what you intend to do with the meat (patties, chili, pepperoni, and so on). Once you have these two answers, you can focus on the following points:
Many grinders will disclose—either in their marketing materials, the user’s manual, or on the unit itself—a hashtag followed by a number (#12, for example).
Depending on this number, the grinder will be compatible with a specific range of grinding plates. Numbers range between 5 and 52, but the most common numbers for a home setting are 5, 8, 12, 22, and 32 (the latter two can also be found sometimes in commercial settings); any higher than that is so massive, it’s pointless for a home.
Should this number be difficult to find, you can glean it by measuring the diameter of one of the plates, and also one of the plate’s hole, and finding out the number that corresponds with said diameters. There are several charts available online, but here’s a primer on the number range for home use, to help you out:
#5: Due to its reduced size, it often requires that the meat be cut into small (about 1″) chunks before being put into the hopper. Hole diameter, ¼”; admits a 2 1/8″ plate. Good for sausages and snack sticks.
#8: 2 3/8″ plate, hole can be between 3/16 and 3/8″. Suitable for textures such as chili and chorizo (first grind), and also for patties and conventional sausages (second grind).
#12: Plate is 2 ¾”, hole measuring 3/8″. A good choice for chorizo and similar.
#22: 3 ¼” plate, with hole ranging between 1/8″ and ½”. The smaller holes can work fine for making patties and hot dogs, whereas bigger holes are better for chili, stewed meats and the like.
#32: Plate’s diameter is 3 7/8″, hole is a mere 1/8″, which makes it better for finer-ground foods like patties and hot dogs.
A meat grinder will work in either of two ways:
Mechanical: These must be cranked by hand, and by design can only handle about 3 pounds of meat per minute, tops. Best for casual use.
Electrical: capable of processing larger volumes with little to no effort on your part. Most of these come with a feature that allows you to reverse the motor in case there’s a clog. In this case, it is usually necessary to remove the plate and the knife (careful—they’re very sharp!) to clear the obstruction.
Plates & Knives
The wider variety of plates the better (although it will depend on the grinder’s size number), as it will allow you to obtain more textures on your meat. In some cases, a grinder will come with additional types of blade that will allow it to, for example, slice vegetables.
Odds & Ends
Some grinders will come with more specialized attachments for sausage; some others will be dishwasher safe to a certain degree. Reverse function, safety switch, are other perks you may find depending on the model.
Our Picks: Best Meat Grinders For Butchering Animals
As mentioned above, we’re focusing on appliances that can tackle several pounds and process them with little delay. Here is our selection:
LEM Products Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder
It doesn’t get bigger than this—or rather, it does, but it’d be too much for a home. The motor in this #32 unit packs a hefty 1.5HP, which enables it to handle just about any workload you could have in store.
Its power is not the only way in which it saves you effort, either, as its hopper is rather capacious so you can place more meat in one go; the head’s rifling pattern also assists in pushing the meat through, to take strain off of you. Finish is brushed steel, includes 2 plates and 2 tubes.
- Finish is fingerprint resistant.
- Designed to require as little effort from user as possible.
- 5 year warranty.
- Prone to overheating.
2. STX Turboforce 3000
The meat hopper on this #12 is large enough to hold 3lbs of (chunks or strips of) meat, and overall it will go through 180-240lbs in one hour, depending on type and consistency of the meat being processed. It’s so strong, several consumers report it can even grind bones, although manufacturer stresses that the unit is not designed for such a task; similarly, users should not attempt to grind anything that is not meat, such as tendons, plants, fruits, nuts and the like.
Although the name may imply otherwise, this unit runs on 800-1200W while working.
- Includes a good amount and variety of accessories (plates, attachments, cutting blades and so on).
- Inexpensive for its size.
- Not the most solid unit out there.
3. Altra Electric Grinder
If you’re looking for something that will tackle several tasks in the kitchen and save you space, then this might be the one for you: not only will it grind meat, it can also mince it, it can slice and shred vegetables, make sliders and also stuff sausages, depending on the accessories you attach at a given time.
Aside from blades and complements, it comes with two meat claws to help you shred cooked meat, and also to hold it in place while cutting. You don’t have to worry about misplacing the accessories either: just pop open the back section of the top, and store them right there.
In terms of power for grinding meat specifically, consumer experiences point to it working through whole loads of venison without issue. Plates included are 2, 5 and 7mm.
- Fairly versatile.
- Per manufacturer, unit cannot work for longer than 10 minutes at a time.
4. AAOBOSI Electric Grinder
Plate is 65mm in diameter, putting this one in the #8 ballpark, but it is still strong enough to do its job adequately; in fact, it will reportedly handle chicken ones just fine—although this may cause some overheating. Capable of pulling a maximum of 2000W, it will draw 800 while working, for an output ratio of 2lbs a minute, per manufacturer. Housing is stainless steel, with a brushed finish. 4 suction cups at the bottom providing additional stability for when the unit is active. Sausage and kubbe attachments included.
- Solid and powerful for its size and cost.
- Small loading tube.
- Remarkably noisy.
- Unconventional plate size makes it difficult to procure additional ones from external sources.
Built in metal down to its gears, this #12 one comes with a 1.3HP motor, and will go through 200lbs of meat in about an hour; the hopper is spacious, so you can place larger loads for processing. Control panel is fairly simple: one button turns it on, the other shuts it off or engages reverse, and a third button handles the built-in circuit breaker that prevents overheating. 3 plates and 1 sausage maker are included.
Although it has been known to handle bones just fine, it is not recommended for such a task.
- Easy to operate.
- Overheating protection.
- Supbar materials on certain parts: plates reportedly likely to rust.
Our Pick: LEM Products Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder
With a motor that runs at 1.5HP, there’s no question as to its potency. It’s solid, too, all stainless steel from top to bottom, and with a finish that makes it harder to stain it. The hopper is spacious, so you can place more meat in one go, and the rifling pattern in the head reduces the effort you need to push the meat through. The auger is extended, to pull more meat in.
Chicken bones? Yes—but with caution. And there’s no need to worry about misplacing the unit’s knives and plates, as it’s got a tray just for storing them.
As if that weren’t enough, you can get the same appliance in smaller sizes. Let’s be frank, though—why would you?