7 Best Food Vacuum Sealers 2022


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Jun 25, 2023

7 Best Food Vacuum Sealers 2022

At its core, the purpose of vacuum-sealing is a simple and noble pursuit: Make food last longer. But until I talked to a bunch of experts for this story, the idea of buying and using the actual

At its core, the purpose of vacuum-sealing is a simple and noble pursuit: Make food last longer. But until I talked to a bunch of experts for this story, the idea of buying and using the actual appliance was one I also found overwhelming — especially because they aren’t particularly cheap. They’re such bulky-looking machines with so many buttons, I thought. (Not always, it turns out). How in the world do you use them? (Answer: it doesn’t have to be that complicated.) Are they really worth it? (Yes, they can be.)

If you’re at all interested in buying food in bulk, or even just in bigger portions than you can eat in one sitting — meat, yes, but also dry goods — vacuum sealers extend the life of anything you want to last more than a few days (or even a few months). But they also make super efficient use of storage space, whether in your freezer, fridge, or pantry. They allow you to sous-vide, infuse, cure, and ferment. (You simply have to buy bags or rolls of plastic to use with the machine, and every brand on this list makes their own, so you know they will fit into whichever machine you have.) Many have attachments that seal cans (instead of the usual plastic) for goods like pickles and jam, and many have a wet-seal setting that allows you to marinate in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take. As Kate Kavanaugh, co-owner of Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe in Denver, put it, “If you’re thinking about vacuum-sealing, you’re probably thinking about how you extend the life of something — whether vegetables you’re pickling, or flour you’re storing, or meat you’re freezing. But then they also have all of these fun perks — the stuff that is the fun cooking bonuses.” Here, Kavanaugh and a handful of other pros told me about their favorite models for home use.

There are two types of vacuum sealers: external and chamber. The former makes up the vast majority of ones on this list, as they are specifically designed for regular consumers. You put your food inside a bag, insert the open edge into the machine, secure the lid, and then press a button that suctions air out of the bag and seals it shut. You can watch the whole thing in action: The walls of the bag contract to wrap super tightly around whatever is inside. The latter is the method used in commercial settings, whether a giant factory or a mom-and-pop butcher shop. They’re much bigger and more expensive, fully enclosing your bag with the food inside and sucking the air out with super-heightened power. While most home cooks won’t need such an intense contraption, I’ve included one relatively small and affordable option on this list.

Of course, adding another appliance to your kitchen means you’ll have to consider storage. As such, I’ve written out the dimensions of each.

Type: External | Size: 7.2” x 16.3” x 7.6”

“Vacuum-sealing is a huge part of my job,” explains Kimberly Plafke, production manager at the Meat Hook in Brooklyn. In the shop, when she’s sealing anything that doesn’t get sold immediately, as well as house-made charcuterie, it’s a chamber model that gets that work done. But she also has the FoodSaver at home and pulls it out frequently. “I find it super-helpful,” she says. “It’s a space-saver because you’re taking all the air out. You can organize your fridge and freezer so much better. I’m a crazy coupon lady and if I see a good deal on something at the grocery store, I can divide and then vacuum-seal and save it for ages.” Plafke is also very into canning. If she makes jam, puts it in a jar, and then puts that jar in the fridge, it will only last a couple of weeks. But if she seals it with the FoodSaver’s canning attachment (which nestles in a compartment at the top), the spread will be stable for much longer, up to a few months.

Anthony Accardi, owner of Brooklyn’s Transmitter Brewing, uses his FoodSaver four to seven days a week — “probably as much as my stove,” he told me. “It has long legs outside of straightforward sous-vide use. I use it to make quick pickles, and for fermenting. It takes freezer burn out of the equation. You can marinate something for ten minutes instead of overnight and get the same amount of flavor. I cure pastrami, bacon, and ham in it.” As for the machine itself, Accardi calls it a “well-designed unit.” He particularly likes the view window which helps to manage feeding the bag and to see what’s going on inside. He’s owned his for about four years with, as he noted, very frequent use. “I’m kind of surprised that it’s lasted so long for a home unit,” he says. “I don’t baby it.”

Type: External | Size: 5.8” x 7” x 4.3”

Dave Yasuda, director of marketing at Snake River Farms, likes the Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer Pro. At his job he’s responsible for generating a lot of the photography the company puts out — meaning he cooks a lot, and particularly, he sous-vides a lot to ensure a consistent look of the plated pieces of pork and beef. In the office they have a big, expensive machine. “But I often have to take this show on the road,” he says. For that, he turns to the Anova Pro, the smallest (and cheapest) unit on this list — though he points out that their original is even cheaper and smaller. “I’ve tried a lot of different ones, and sometimes they can be wimpy. This has a lot of suction. It’s powerful,” he says. “It also has a double seal, so there’s no chance of leakage.”

James Peisker, co-founder of Porter Road in Nashville, is another fan. Like Yasuda, he appreciates the Anova for its accessible price point. He uses it for food storage and sous-viding and assures this gets the job done. “There aren’t a lot of buttons or bells and whistles,” he says. “It’s very straightforward — very user friendly.” Even though it’s simple, both experts mentioned that the Anova allows you to control the amount of suction you create on a given bag. “Like, a steak should be sealed as tightly as possible. But if you’re doing dried goods, it doesn’t need to be quite so tight,” Yasuda says.

Finally, they also both like the build of the machine. Peisker says its simplicity makes it easy to clean and its size (the smallest on this list besides the Zwilling below) makes it very lightweight. “Other machines can be bulky and look old-fashioned. This one is sleek. Plus, it’s pretty innocuous space-wise. I turn it on its side and put it behind my pots and pans,” Yasuda says.

Type: External | Size: 18.3” x 5.1” x 11.8”

“When picking out a vacuum sealer, I did a lot of research into affordability,” says Ryan Dolliver, owner of Palmetto in Brooklyn. “I bought it for the bar, and I didn’t know if it was going to work for us, and I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on equipment we might not have ended up using.” But it did indeed work, and he’s been relying on it for more than six months now. He turns to it primarily for infusing and preserving ingredients for cocktails, a practice where “consistency is paramount,” he says. Other methods for flavoring creams or syrups can suffer from variations in temperature and movement, but with vacuum sealing, recipes turn out the exact same every single time. The machine also allows him to keep seasonal produce fresh for months. Finally, because he lives down the street from his bar, he sometimes uses it to seal foods to store in his own freezer or to sous-vide at home. Overall, “it’s a very low cost of entry and does what it says it does every time,” he says. “It’s a consumer-grade product, but I use it in a professional setting, and it still works great.”

Type: External | Size: 16 x 6.3 x 3.5

Russ Flint, owner of Rain Shadow Meats in Seattle, uses Amazon’s in-house brand vacuum sealer to package sausages in his shop because “the simpler, the better for me,” he says. He appreciates that it is fairly lightweight due to its smaller size (though it does still fit standard 11-inch bags) and has an indent at the bottom for the cord to tuck into when not in use. But mostly, he likes that the mechanisms — a regular seal, a vacuum seal, and options for dry and wet foods — are straightforward. “Other ones have all these frills and whatnot, which are just other places for it to fall apart and break,” he says. The price even comes in at slightly less than the Nesco, above.

Type: External | Size: Multiple pieces

The Zwilling Fresh and Save Starter Set is one that doesn’t quite fit the mold of the others, but comes eagerly recommended by recipe developer and cookbook author Jessie Sheehan. If you only plan to vacuum-seal a little bit, just want to try out the process, or simply don’t have the space to accommodate a bulkier machine, this is an easy, approachable starting point. It’s a handheld cylindrical pump that works in conjunction with specific Zwilling bags and storage containers, sucking the air directly through valves on each receptacle. The pump itself is less than a foot tall, making it extra-easy to tuck away. “It’s insanely easy to use,” Sheehan says. “And it really appeals to the make-ahead girl in me. I love that you can prep ingredients — carrots, celery, whatever — and maybe you’re not touching those chopped up veggies for a week, but they stay fresh. I also do it with cookies. And I make a lot of no-churn ice cream which can get weird in the freezer after a while. But these containers can go in the freezer, so if you put it in here, it will last.”

Type: External | Size: 15” x 12” x 6.3”

Aaron Foster, owner of Brooklyn’s Foster Sundry, has been using this VacPak at home for the past five years. For him, its primary benefit is how compact and organized it makes his freezer and pantry. In the former, he stores meat and sauces, which spread thin when sealed and then become stackable. He also uses the vacuum sealer to preserve summer produce like sour cherries and cooked-down Sungold tomatoes to pull out in the winter. For dry storage, the tool tightly closes any unfinished packages of pasta, beans, and grains so you’re not left with “a bunch of open clipped half-bags in your cabinet,” he says. Foster also appreciates that the machine accommodates one continuous roll of plastic, “so if you’re sealing a tiny bag of yeast versus something bigger for a sauce, you can get exactly what you need and cut it off to your specifications,” he explains.

Kavanaugh and her husband — who not only own a butcher shop but are avid homesteaders — also use this machine. (In fact, they have the 16-inch model to accommodate larger cuts of meat but believe the 12-inch should be plenty big for most tasks.) “We use it pretty heavily,” Kavanaugh says. “We raise all of our own meat as well as enough to cover a small share program and have had this one for over two years. It’s never going to be as good as chamber machines, but I can’t imagine a regular consumer needing that. And it is more powerful than the FoodSaver. It has really decent suction power and a decent seal bar.”

Type: Chamber | Size: 13” x 19” x 14”

If for any reason you’re interested in serious vacuum-sealing, this chamber model is somewhat reasonably sized (like a medium moving box) and priced (compared to others that can be massive and upwards of several thousand dollars). Stefano Diaz, owner and head butcher at the Meat Wagon in Kingston, New York, uses a slightly bigger version of it. “We’re doing heavier sealing,” he says, “but it’s also very user-friendly. You have to change the oil, like you do with a lawn mower, but it’s easy. Surprisingly enough, a customer told me the other day they have one. If you do a crazy amount of cooking, it might be worth it. It holds more, and it’s faster.”

For slightly more money (though still quite moderate for a commercial machine), you can get the VacMaster, recommended by Chris Carter, the other co-founder of Porter Road. “If you have the space for it, it’ll be there forever, and you’d be inclined to really use it,” he says. It’s a couple of inches bigger than the VacPak and while “it might look intimidating just because of the size, it’s actually very easy to use,” he says. “You put whatever in the bag, lay the bag across the rail on the inside, close the lid, and turn it on. That’s it.”

• Anthony Accardi, owner of Brooklyn’s Transmitter Brewing• Chris Carter, co-founder of Porter Road• Stefano Diaz, owner of and head butcher at The Meat Wagon• Russ Flint, owner of Rain Shadow Meats• Aaron Foster, owner of Foster Sundry• Kate Kavanaugh, co-owner of Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe• Ryan Dolliver, owner of Palmetto• James Peisker, co-founder of Porter Road• Kimberly Plafke, production manager at The Meat Hook• Jessie Sheehan, recipe developer and cookbook author• Dave Yasuda, director of marketing at Snake River Farms

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