Andy Baraghani remembers the exact moment he was introduced to the Benriner mandoline slicer, a.k.a. the kitchen tool that changed the way he cooked. He was 16, working on the line alongside a seasoned cook named Tamar Adler, who went on to write An Everlasting Meal. “She had just spooned warm brandade onto toast,” he recalls, “and she braced a plastic mint-green mandoline against her cutting board and slid a fennel bulb against the stainless-steel blade.” The bulb gave way immediately into feathery, sheer wisps—the visual and textural topper Andy didn’t even know the dish needed.
A decade, five restaurants, and three test kitchens later, Baraghani can say without a doubt that, after his chef’s knife, the mandoline is the tool he reaches for most. If you’ve picked up his new cookbook, The Cook You Want To Be, you will see its handiwork throughout the pages. With a swipe against the sharp blade, veggies that are otherwise a pain to prep turn easily into uniform, thin slices. Raw fibrous beets are transformed into translucent disks. Cucumbers become paper-thin ribbons. For Baraghani, a mandoline can take cooking to a whole new aesthetic level.
Which mandoline is the best mandoline?
Benriner, which has been making mandoline slicers since the 1940s, is Baraghani’s top pick. “This Japanese mandoline isn’t just more efficient than a knife; it does things no knife can do,” he asserts. Benriner updated its design in 2018 and, although the new iteration is a little flashier than the one Adler kept in her kit, Baraghani says it’s still easy to use even for beginner home cooks and sharp as hell. It comes in three widths—Classic, Super, and Jumbo. Our pick is the Super, which at nearly 6 inches wide is big enough to handle bulky eggplants and heirloom tomatoes.
The Super Benriner handheld mandoline has an adjustable straight blade and, with a twist of a knob on the underside, you can tweak the thickness setting depending on whether you want razor-thin garlic or thicker potato rounds for a gratin. Also included are three julienne blades of different thicknesses so you can slice carrots into delicate matchsticks for gado-gado rolls or potatoes for french fries. When the blades gets dull, just unscrew the knobs on either side to remove and swap them out—a nice money-saving feature compared to other vegetable slicers with non-replaceable blades.
The classic option
Slightly less expensive is the O.G. Benriner adjustable mandoline, beloved by professional chefs and still available if you poke around online. It’s got the same high-quality razor sharpness and replaceable straight blade, but it adjusts with a small metal screw rather than the new model’s large plastic knob. The hand guard on the old model, which in theory grips food on one side and protects your fingers on the other, is not incredibly functional. We recommend discarding it and using a pair of cut-resistant gloves instead. If you’re not using a guard or gloves, make sure you hold whatever you’re slicing in your palm with your fingertips out of the way. Mandoline blades are no joke.
The budget option
Epicurious cooking and SEO editor Joe Sevier used to own an Oxo Good Grips mandoline slicer, but, he says, “It was clunky, took up a lot of room in a cabinet, and, because I hated it so much, I never used it.” About two years ago, he traded in the behemoth Oxo for a cheery chartreuse Kyocera and hasn’t looked back. This ergonomic handheld model is the perfect size—small enough for compact storage in the single drawer he uses for all his kitchen gadgets but wide enough (3.6 inches) to slice a sweet potato or radish. He’s also found that the Kyocera’s ceramic blade is much less prone to sticking than stainless steel and stays super sharp, just like Kyocera’s ceramic knives. In fact, Sevier hasn’t had to purchase any additional blades since he bought his Kyocera mandoline two years ago.
The compact option
The best mandoline slicer for petite produce is this versatile Microplane ginger grater-and-slicer. “This is the only tool you should be grating and slicing ginger with, but I also use it for breakfast radishes and carrots,” Sevier says. While it doesn’t have an adjustable blade like a mandoline does, Sevier appreciates its compactness and its ability to tackle fibrous roots.
3 ways to use a mandoline:
The average mandoline typically comes with a standard straight blade, the thickness of which can be adjusted depending on the recipe and personal preference. Some mandolines, like the Benriner, also come with interchangeable blades with teeth-like prongs that can be used for fine, medium, and coarse matchstick cuts. The thickness of your blade and the kind of blade you use will inform the shape of cut you get.
Rounds: Circles of cukes, beets, kohlrabi, or radishes make a crunchy salad base or chic garnish, depending on what slice thickness you select. If you want to attempt homemade potato chips, this is your cut.
Ribbons: Anything oblong—carrots, zucchini—goes from unwieldy to elegant faster than a makeover montage.
Matchsticks: Use the fine-toothed blade for shredding and making julienne cuts—and if you lose those extra blades, you can always just shave your veg into slices, stack, turn, and slice again with a knife.
The other tool Andy can’t live without?
This piece was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2022.
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit