The Best Meat Grinders

The best ground meat is the meat you grind yourself.

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a group of meat grinders on a wooden butcher block surface

Vicky Wasik

The best burgers and sausages are made with freshly ground meat. We’ve been saying this for years, and we've run plenty of kitchen experiments to back up the claim. Burgers made from freshly ground beef have better texture and flavor than ones made with the pre-ground stuff available in most grocery stores. Plus, grinding meat at home gives you more control; you can dial in on a preferred lean meat-to-fat ratio, the texture of the grind, and you get to pick the quality and cut(s) of the meat.

A meat grinder isn’t an essential piece of equipment, but if you are looking to make the best meatballs, meatloaf, chorizo, or smash burgers, it’s a worthy and affordable investment. We tested eight different grinders to find the best options for home cooks, from hand-cranked models and stand mixer attachments to countertop electric grinders. 

Our Favorites, at a Glance

The Best Meat Grinder Attachment for Stand Mixers: KitchenAid KSMMGA Metal Food Grinder Attachment

For people who already own a stand mixer, purchasing a food grinder attachment is the best option. The meat-grinding attachment akes advantage of a stand mixer’s powerful motor, and its performance will satisfy the meat-grinding needs of most home cooks without taking up a lot of storage space.

Best Features: 

  • This grinder's metal parts are sturdy.
  • The large food tray makes it easier to grind bigger batches at once.
  • The stand mixer’s powerful motor and variable speeds allow for more control over grinding rate.
  • You can grind your meat directly into the stand mixer bowl.

Drawbacks:

  • The height of the grinder mouth in relation to your counter can make sausage-stuffing unwieldy.
  • There's no reverse function.
kitchenaid-metal-attachment

The Best Electric Meat Grinder: Weston #5 Electric Meat Grinder & Sausage Stuffer

This entry-level electric grinder features a compact design and delivers solid results at a very reasonable price.

Best Features: 

  • Straightforward to operate.
  • It offers a reasonably sized meat tray despite boasting a compact design.
  • There's a reverse function.

Drawbacks:

  • The machine only offers one speed and it’s a little too lively, particularly for stuffing sausage.

The Electric Meat Grinder Upgrade: The Sausage Maker 8-Speed Electronic Kitchen Meat Grinder

This is a professional-quality grinder with multiple speeds and plenty of additional features, like an auto-reverse function. Of all the grinders tested, this one produced the best, most consistently ground meat.

Best Features: 

  • This machine produces an exceptionally consistent grind with perfect texture.
  • There are multiple speeds with a reverse function.
  • The large food tray makes it easier to grind bigger batches at once.

Drawbacks:

  • Its bulky size takes up a lot of counter and storage space.
  • The user manual isn't very comprehensive. If you’re new to meat-grinding, you’ll have to look elsewhere for how-tos. 
The Sausagemaker

The Best Manual Meat Grinder: Chop-Rite #5 Clamp-Down Meat Grinder

A manual meat grinder is as old-school and no-frills as it gets. This model excels at its job and is built to last.

Best Features: 

  • The motorless design allows for a very compact footprint and quiet operation, and you won’t run into electric or wiring issues.
  • It offer smooth grinding with minimal resistance.
  • It's easy to assemble and clean.

Drawbacks:

  • Manual grinding requires some physical dexterity and strength; it's not a viable option for all people.
  • The grinder can’t be mounted on all counters and the height of the counter can affect how easy it is to operate it.
  • It only comes with one grinding plate.
  • There isn't much clearance between the mouth of the grinder and the counter.
Lehman Model 5 Clamp Down Meat Grinder

The Criteria: What We Look for in a Great Meat Grinder

grinding meat

Vicky Wasik

A good meat grinder will work through pounds of meat in minutes, extruding uniform cylinders of ground meat that have clearly distinct bits of ground lean muscle and fat, at a steady clip. It should be easy to set up, use, and clean, so that you look forward to using it. 

All meat grinders come with the same basic parts, but to produce high quality results, good meat grinders should have the following:

  • Sturdy construction with a compact footprint. A grinder should be able to process pounds of meat easily, without causing the machine or the person operating it any undue stress. The grinder should run smoothly without being too loud. And because it’s a piece of equipment that home cooks won’t be using every day, it shouldn’t be so bulky that it eats up lots of storage and counter space, or be so cumbersome that it makes people think twice about pulling it out of their cabinets when they do have a chance to use it.
  • Metal grinder parts. Keeping meat cold is of utmost importance during the grinding process, in order to avoid fat-smearing. A big part of the temperature control equation is ensuring that the main components of the grinder (the hopper, screw, blade, and plate) don’t overheat when operating, and this is easier to manage when the hopper and screw are made of metal rather than plastic. Metal parts can be chilled in the freezer prior to grinding (it is worth noting that famed butcher Pat La Frieda argues against this practice, claiming that over time it can make grinder pieces brittle, but we haven’t experienced this issue over the years), and they don’t get as slick as plastic ones when smudged with fat, so they are easier to take apart and clean. 
  • Reliable motor or hand-crank. Whether you're using a motorized or old-fashioned manual model, a good meat grinder should operate smoothly and at a steady clip as pieces of meat are worked through the machine. An electric motor or hand-crank is responsible for powering the screw, which pushes meat through the chamber toward the blade and plate, and therefore the speed of grinding. Strong motors and easy-to-operate hand cranks allow you to grind at a consistent speed and with fewer jamming issues, which in turn produces high quality ground meat with a consistent grind size and no fat smear.
  • Sharp blade and plates. None of the qualities mentioned above matter much if the grinder’s blade and plates are dull; the smearing that you diligently worked to avoid is just delayed until the last second as meat is mashed into a paste by the dull blade and pushed through the die. As with chef knives, grinder blades should be sharp right out of the box, and with moderate use they should need to be sharpened once a year at most. Most grinders come with at least two plates (also known as dies), for coarse and fine grinds. 

The Differences Between Electric and Manual Meat Grinders

an electric meat grinder vs a manual meat grinder

Vicky Wasik

For this review, we tested both motorized and hand-cranked meat grinders. Electric grinders don’t require much effort on the part of the user: Turn on the machine, feed meat into the food tray and hopper, and other than having to coax more meat down through the hopper with a pusher, the motor takes care of the rest. Sure, if the meat isn’t well-trimmed before grinding, you may encounter the occasional jam if sinew gets caught on the screw or blade. But that’s generally an easy fix, especially for electric grinders that have a reverse function, which should undo a jam without you having to disassemble the grinder.

Because they don’t require any elbow grease to operate, electric grinders get the job done faster and at a more easily controlled speed than manual models, especially if you are grinding large batches (five pounds or more) at a time. They’re also the best option for anyone with limited mobility.

A motor takes care of most of the grunt work of meat grinding, but it also takes up space, draws power, and makes noise. Stand-alone electric grinders are bulky unitaskers that often end up gathering dust in the depths of above-refrigerator cabinets. Before purchasing a niche countertop kitchen appliance, it’s always worth making an honest assessment of your cooking needs. For this reason, we have long recommended the grinder attachment for people who already own a stand mixer; you get the core qualities of an electric grinder, without having to find room for a big, new piece of equipment.

However, hand-cranked grinders shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. With no motor to house, they have a much smaller footprint, and they're consequently easier to store when not in use; they are also much quieter when operating. They’re easy to set up—our favorite manual grinder uses a clamp mechanism similar to that of a manual pasta roller—and straightforward to use and clean. A good hand-cranked grinder doesn’t require much strength to use. Grinding meat for four burgers is a breeze, and can be done faster than with an electric grinder once you factor in set-up and cleanup time. 

Does Motor Power Matter For Electric Meat Grinders?

Yes and no. On one hand, a motor is only as good as the money you pay for it. Cheap electric grinders perform similarly to a stand mixer fitted with a grinding attachment, which is more than enough juice for the needs of most home cooks. The benefits of a more powerful and expensive machine really only pay off for dedicated hunters or charcuterie enthusiasts who do a lot of grinding frequently.

What About Adjustable Speeds and Reverse Functions?

Being able to adjust the speed of grinding is a plus, but not a must. For grinding, consistent speed is more important than variability. Multiple speeds are more helpful for sausage-stuffing, which requires a good amount of force to push a mix into casings. A reverse function is useful for resolving minor jams during grinding, saving you time as you won’t have to disassemble the grinder every time a piece of troublesome meat gets caught on the blade. Most stand-alone electric grinders come with a reverse function, and with a hand-crank grinder you can reverse course just by turning the crank in the opposite direction.

How Useful Are Sausage-Stuffing Attachments?

Meat grinders are made for grinding meat, not stuffing sausage. Grinders often come with sausage-stuffing attachments that work in a pinch, but are far from ideal. You end up having to feed a seasoned ground sausage mix back through the hopper, and it gets pushed through the grinder by the screw and into a length of casing fitted over a plastic attachment that is fitted onto the mouth of the grinder in place of the blade and plate. Even for grinders with adjustable speeds, this process takes a lot longer than it would with a piston-based sausage stuffer. People who make a lot of cased sausages should invest in a sausage stuffer. The good news for everyone else is that uncased sausage patties taste just as good as links.

Why You Should Trust Us

We have been using meat grinders for years, both in restaurant kitchens and in the Serious Eats test kitchen. We’ve come up with various methods for grinding meat at home, from using food processors to chopping meat by hand. We’ve run experiments with meat grinders, developed recipes with them, and written extensively about their virtues. My love of ground meat and charcuterie is deep enough that my Instagram handle is @sausagetarian. 

The Testing 

Grinding Beef Chuck

grinding beef chuck in the chop-rite meat grinder

Vicky Wasik

If given the choice of a single cut of beef to grind for burgers, chuck is the way to go. It’s affordable, has great flavor, and has a natural distribution of lean meat to fat that comes very close to the 80:20 gold standard ratio for juicy burgers.

For this test we cut chuck into two sizes for grinding: 1 1/2-inch cubes and 1- by 3-inch strips. The meat was chilled in the fridge and the grinder parts were chilled in the freezer for one hour prior to grinding. We then ran 1-pound batches of both the cubes and strips of beef through the medium plate of each grinder, noting speed and ease of operation, consistency of grind, and overall quality of the grind, paying particular attention to any fat smearing.

Every single grinder performed acceptably here, producing ground beef that we’d be happy to use for burgers, meatballs, or meatloaf, but some grinders were much more pleasant to use than others. The Sausage Maker had the most consistent grind, easily cranking through the pound and putting out ground beef that looked like it came from a well-run meat counter. The hand-cranked Chop-Rite produced ground beef that was charmingly rustic in comparison (turns out there’s no standard diameter for the holes on a medium plate), but took only a minute longer than The Sausage Maker to grind from start to finish. Meanwhile, the LEM #8 575 Watt Countertop Grinder (a contender but not a final pick) was serviceable in this test but loud and clunky in a manner that didn’t encourage future meat-grinding sessions.

Grinding Pork Butt

grinding pork butt in the Sausage Maker meat grinder

Vicky Wasik

Pork butt is another well-marbled cut of meat, with an approximate 75:25 lean meat-to-fat ratio, that makes it a popular choice for grinding for fresh and cured sausages. It also features a good amount of connective tissue and sinew, both of which can cause jams during the grinding process if they wind themselves around the blade or auger.  Basically it’s the perfect cut for testing the mettle of a meat grinder.

As with the beef chuck, we trimmed the meat into 1 1/2-inch cubes and 1- by 3-inch strips and chilled them in the fridge. Grinder parts were chilled in the freezer for one hour.

This test separated the contenders from the pretenders. A few grinders struggled with speed, and jammed during this test, which led to the dreaded fat smear. The heat from the friction of the jammed grinder caused fat to to render, producing a soft, squishy paste rather than the ground meat we were looking for. Along with these poor results, the jams that couldn’t be resolved by hitting a reverse button also forced us to take apart the grinders, in order to pick out the offending bits of sinew, and then put them back together. This is a messy and frustrating process that could easily turn people off of grinding their own meat.

Grinding Mirepoix 

ground mirepoix from the Weston meat grinder

Vicky Wasik

While grinders are essentially unitaskers, they can be used to grind more than just meat (they’re often marketed as “food grinders”). They can be used to grind sourdough into breadcrumbs, chickpeas for falafel, or mirepoix for soffritto. In light of these other uses, we ran a vegetable grinding test, passing onions, carrots, and celery through each grinder, using all the available sizes of grinding plates.

Fibrous vegetables gave some of the grinders a heavy workout, but none of them jammed. This test was easier to carry out with electric grinders with food trays that don’t require you to constantly feed ingredients into the hopper by hand. The logistics of this test proved more difficult with hand-cranked grinders that keep both of your hands occupied at all times, making it harder to troubleshoot any issues during the grinding process.  

If you need to have a lot of finely chopped mirepoix and your grinder is handy, it makes quick work of the task, so you can do things like grind veg and meat for classic ragù alla bolognese in one shot. Even so, this is a bonus use, not a selling point. Vegetarians or people who don’t have an interest in grinding meat at home are better off investing in a food processor, which is a more versatile appliance.

Stuffing Sausages 

Finally, we tested the sausage-stuffing attachments for the models that came with them. As mentioned earlier, meat grinders are not going to blow you away with their sausage-stuffing capabilities. Models with variable speeds did perform better than those with just one speed setting. Pushing sausage farce into casings requires a good deal of force, and single-speed grinders take forever to get the job done, which increases the likelihood of fat breaking and renderings as the farce gets pushed through the chamber by the screw. 

How We Chose Our Winners 

There isn't one grinder that fits every home cook’s needs, which is why we've chosen a number of solid options. What the top picks share is their dependability: they all ground beef chuck and pork butt with no issues, they aren’t prone to jamming, and they were easy to operate. 

The Best Meat Grinder Attachment for Stand Mixers: KitchenAid KSMMGA Metal Food Grinder Attachment

The KitchenAid stand mixer meat grinder attachment

Vicky Wasik

If you already own a stand mixer, purchasing a grinder attachment is most likely your best and simplest choice, especially if you are tight on storage space. It allows you to take advantage of the powerful motor of an appliance you already have, and means you won’t need to find a home for another bulky piece of equipment in the depths of your kitchen cabinets. You’re stuck buying attachments for the brand of stand mixer you have, but if you own our favorite stand mixer, then this metal grinder attachment is the one you want to get.

This grinder produced textbook ground beef and pork, and it also performed well for the vegetable grinding test. The one caveat we had about vegetable grinding is that it can get messy when grinding juicy ingredients; the attachment fixes to the top of the stand mixer, so food comes out of the grinder mouth a good six inches higher up from the counter compared to other electric grinder models.

KitchenAid stand mixer meat grinder attachment features: all metal parts; plate for meat; grinding beef; close up of ground beef

Vicky Wasik

Over and over, this grinder’s major drawback was its height. Once you attach the grinder to the mixer and place it on a kitchen counter, the machine operates at an awkward height, which gives the grinding process a disjointed flow. I’m 5’7”, so this would be even more of an issue for someone shorter. The high profile of the grinder also makes it hard to fit on countertops with overhanging cabinets.

Keep in mind the motor of this grinder varies depending on the model of KitchenAid you attach it to. They’re all easily strong enough to do the job, but it can be tricky to find the ideal speed; at times the screw was spinning rapidly in the chamber and the meat itself was struggling to keep up.

This grinder attachment does work well for making sausage, but not stuffing them. You can easily grind meat directly into the stand mixer bowl, then add seasonings, pop the bowl onto the mixer with the paddle attachment, and work the mix until tacky (a key part of sausage-making). But when it comes to stuffing the mix into casings, the elevated height makes it difficult to manage feeding uncased sausage into the hopper with one hand while controlling the casing process at the other end. However, the multiple speeds built into the stand mixer are a boon for sausage stuffing. It comes with the sausage funnel accessory, three grinding plates (coarse, medium, and fine), a very useful cleaning brush, and a case for easy storage. 

We highly recommend this metal attachment option over the cheaper plastic model. The parts are sturdier, and can be more thoroughly chilled before using. The blade on this model is far better than the one that comes with the KitchenAid plastic meat grinding attachment.

kitchenaid-metal-attachment

The Best Electric Meat Grinder: Weston #5 Electric Meat Grinder & Sausage Stuffer 

Weston meat grinder

Vicky Wasik

If you want a reasonably priced electric grinder for grinding meat on a regular basis, this trusty Weston model is a little workhorse. It’s got a simple and compact design, it works quickly and efficiently, and it’s easy to assemble and clean.

It ground both pork and beef with no issues whatsoever. The meat looked like standard-issue quality ground meat, and cooked up the same way. The main drawback for this model is its lack of finesse; it has a single, somewhat aggressive speed, and it’s very loud. But if you’re just grinding meat for a few burgers the process will be over quickly, the noise will be gone, and you can move on with your life. Foods go into the hopper with no fuss (the food tray can hold about a pound of meat at a time). If the grinder does jam up (it happens sometimes with any grinder), there’s a reverse button, which can help resolve some issues without the inconvenience of taking the grinder apart. 

Weston meat grinder features: metal parts; grinding meat; ground pork; grinding mirepoix

Vicky Wasik

This grinder comes with two stainless steel grinding plates, fine and coarse. Meat ground well on both, with no fat smear. The tray jiggles just a bit, but everything happens swiftly enough that it’s not much of an issue. 

This Weston model does come with a sausage funnel, but it proved tricky to use because the single speed made the sausage-stuffing process hard to control. We recommend this grinder primarily for basic meat and food grinding. 

The Best Electric Meat Grinder Upgrade: The Sausage Maker 8-Speed Electronic Kitchen Meat Grinder

The Sausage Maker meat grinder and sausage maker

Vicky Wasik

If you’re looking for a pull-out-all-the-stops electric meat grinder that’s still budget-friendly, this is the one. You get a lot with the ginder for the price. Of all the grinders we tested, this one produced the best ground meat, and it was effortless. After initial testing, I went and got more meat to grind for this model, just because it’s so pleasurable to use. The ground meat had a remarkably consistent texture that looked like it could have been ground to order at a specialty butcher shop. Instead of being extruded out of the plate in long, worm-like stands, the meat comes out of the grinder in short cylinders.

It features variables speeds, which is an asset when stuffing sausage, and comes with an auto-reverse that helps resolve any troublesome jams. The buttons were easy to operate, even with messy fingers, and the motor switched between speeds with ease.

The Sausage Maker meat grinder features: metal parts; close up of assembled grinder attachment; a plunger pushing meat down; grinding beef

Vicky Wasik

The main drawback of this grinder is its size. It takes up lots of countertop real estate and eats up a lot of storage space when not in use. If you only grind meat occasionally, it’s best to consider another grinder. This is a grinder for hunters and serious sausage-makers. It comes with a stomper, and three grinding plates. Sausage-stuffing attachments are sold separately, and you can also add on juicer and slicer attachments if you want a grinder that can shed its unitasker label. 

The Sausagemaker

The Best Manual Meat Grinder: Chop-Rite #5 Clamp-Down Meat Grinder

the chop-rite manual meat grinder

Vicky Wasik

If you’re a hands-on type and enjoy getting a little exercise in the kitchen, the Chop-Rite manual grinder may be the one for you. Can you develop a crush on a meat grinder? I did. The Chop-Rite was so fun to use, I made up excuses to bust it out when testing was completed. Setting it up and cleaning it is easy enough to make you want to use it on a whim. 

At $100 with no accessories, this hand-crank grinder is not cheap, but its quality craftsmanship is evident from the moment you start using it. It requires very little effort to operate the crank, and it grinds meat with surprisingly little resistance. It’s a smooth operator, especially compared to the other manual grinders we tested. I ground five pounds of food in less than five minutes without tiring out.

Chop-rite manual meat grinder features: cast iron and metal parts; cranking a piece of celery through; a close up of celery being ground; ground beef

Vicky Wasik

The body of the grinder is cast iron that's treated with a nonstick coating to keep it from corroding and rusting. The biggest drawback of the Chop-Rite is that you need a table or counter with a good amount of overhang clearance to clamp it down. The clearance between the mouth of the grinder and the counter is also very small, so only a small bowl (no more than 2 1/2 inches high) can fit under the grinder mouth to catch food. (For those who’d like a permanent relationship with a grinder, there are Chop-Rite models that mount onto tabletops with screws.) In terms of accessories, it’s as bare-bones as it gets; it comes with only a medium grinding plate, and no sausage-stuffing attachments. You can order other size plates separately, but that seems like a stretch for an already expensive piece of equipment.

It produced ground meat that was a little coarser and more rustic than the meat ground by other grinders, but the meat certainly wasn't overworked and produced a mighty fine burger. And with no motor, it’s got a very compact footprint and operates very quietly.

Note: Shipping is currently delayed for this grinder. While you can order it now, it might be a little while until it arrives.

Lehman Model 5 Clamp Down Meat Grinder

The Competition 

LEM #8 575 Watt Countertop Grinder: This model did a good job of grinding meat, but it was unpleasantly loud, and the opening to feed meat into the grinder was narrow enough that it made the grinding process fussy.

LEM #10 Stainless Steel Clamp On Hand Grinder: This handsome stainless steel ginder was utterly serviceable in grinding meat, but it didn’t operate as smoothly as the Chop-Rite, and made grinding by hand feel more like work. 

KitchenAid KSMFGA Food Grinder Attachment: Don’t think of this as a more affordable plastic version of the metal KitchenAid grinder we endorse above; the blade is cheaper and not nearly as sharp. I’ve owned one for years and have learned the hard way it clogs every single time you grind any meat that’s not lean beef. Sadly, that’s still the case. 

Guideon Hand Crank Manual Meat Grinder: A few years ago, we recommended this grinder as a budget pick, but I found it frustratingly prone to jamming. It is also difficult to secure to a counter, so it has the tendency to move around when in use.