A mandoline is a kitchen tool that slices food easily and quickly. Dice, waffle cut, and julienne any vegetable or fruit or cut thicker slices to add heartiness to soups and stews. Mandoline slicers come in a range of styles that are either handheld and countertop-mounted. When you discover everything that you can do with a mandoline, you’ll see why it’s a must-have kitchen tool.
For the budget-conscious, plastic mandolines can be more accessible and are a lower financial risk for first-time buyers. If you have more money to play with, you may wish to consider higher-end stainless-steel models because they offer more durability than their plastic counterparts. In any case, think about the time you're willing to invest in taking care of your mandoline. A plastic mandoline may be appealing to someone who wants to quickly put it in a dishwasher and let it dry without too much fuss, while a stainless steel mandoline should be carefully washed and thoroughly dried — and sometimes even oiled — to avoid rusting.
When using a mandoline, you need the right type of blade for the job. Some mandolines have a straight blade while others are V-shaped. A mandoline usually comes with at least three blade options: one that creates paper-thin slices, another that cuts thicker slices, and a cross-cut blade that juliennes.
Experiment with different blades to get an idea of their capabilities. You will save time (and food) by practicing with various blades until you get a feel for the different cuts. When you practice using your mandoline, go slow and use caution to avoid cutting yourself.
Removing food debris after every use will keep the blades sharp and help to prevent rust. Most mandolines are easy to clean with a bit of dish soap and water. Make sure you wash the blades carefully by hand and dry them immediately afterward to avoid bacteria from building up and to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Mandolines come with a hand guard designed to protect you from injury, so it's wise to invest in a pair of high-quality, cut-resistant gloves for an extra layer of protection. Keep the mandoline stable when cutting food, using your non-dominant hand to hold it in place — since these kitchen tools slice so quickly, one wrong move could cause injury.
Mandolines make it quick and convenient to create uniform fruit and vegetable slices. As a must-have kitchen tool, it’s a favorite among many professional chefs since it makes quick work of repetitive tasks like cutting potatoes for french fries or julienning carrots. When you use your mandoline, keep the food stable while slicing and make sure it’s easy to hold onto. Before you slice long vegetables like carrots or cucumbers, cut them into shorter pieces so they are easier to control. Cut the ends off round foods like potatoes so they lie flat on the mandoline and don’t wobble around.
Whether you're using a mandoline to create paper-thin cucumber slices for an elegant salad or thin discs of potatoes for a delicate scalloped potato dish, it can be frustrating — and dangerous — to have the item you're slicing catch in the mechanism instead of moving smoothly and quickly. Make the process easier, safer, and more efficient by wetting the blades and the runway of the mandoline.
Always use a mandoline on a stable, steady surface, and prevent the mandoline from sliding around by placing it over a damp kitchen towel on top of your cutting board or countertop. Use the hand you’re not slicing with to hold the mandoline in place for better stability. Always use a mandoline on a sturdy surface that won’t move around while you’re cutting food instead of on carts or cabinets with wheels.
If you’re cooking your food on a sheet pan in the oven or making skewers for the grill, uniform cuts are particularly important. Evenly sliced cuts will keep vegetables tender and cooked to a good consistency. Start by slicing the widest part of the food first so you can determine the average or standard size of the pieces you'll end up with.
Mandoline blades are very sharp and can cause deep cuts. Safety is of the utmost importance when using a mandoline, especially if there are children present. The variety of moving parts and the activity of using this tool can be attractive to children, so protect little fingers by making sure that you store the tool safely out of reach.