The Best Vacuum Sealer (2022), 9 Tested and Reviewed


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Jul 17, 2023

The Best Vacuum Sealer (2022), 9 Tested and Reviewed

By Danielle Centoni All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

By Danielle Centoni

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Bargain hunters, meal preppers, sous vide enthusiasts: If you fall into any of these categories, then the best vacuum sealer is a must-have. At their most basic, these countertop gadgets remove air from specially made plastic bags or canisters and then sealing them up so whatever is inside is not exposed to it. This process keeps food fresh longer and extends its shelf life. It also prevents frozen stuff from getting freezer burn, crackers and cookies from going stale, and rice and grains from getting buggy.

Vacuum sealers also do wonders for marinating meats and cooking sous vide. Removing the air from the bag pulls the marinade into the meat so it becomes more flavorful in less time. And when you seal the bag up, you can plop it right in the circulating water without worrying about leakage.

Vacuum sealers once had two very basic functions—vacuum and seal—but these days, they have many more settings and features. Some offer specialized functionality for wet ingredients like meats in marinades and dry ones like grains and beans. There are even modes for delicate foods versus sturdy ones, so you don’t crush your cookies by using too much pressure. A few devices have built-in bag holders, bag cutters, or additional handheld sealers for use with specially designed zip-top bags and plastic containers.

More recently a new crop of “prosumer” (that is, more professional-consumer models) has come on to the market. These are countertop chamber sealers that, instead of sucking air directly out of a bag through a narrow channel, like edge sealers do, create an entire vacuum chamber. Though the price tag can be hard to swallow (about $300 to $400 for a noncommercial-grade unit), these appliances can vacuum-seal the same things an edge sealer can, but can also handle liquids—we’ve even sealed a bag filled with water. That’s because the pressure is equalized throughout the chamber rather than directionally, so liquid isn’t pulled out along with the air. They’re often used in commercial kitchens to infuse, marinate, compress, and pickle ingredients in mere minutes, rather than hours, days or weeks.

With a growing number of brands selling vacuum sealers, we wanted to separate the good from the just okay and find out whether the extras were essential improvements or just marketing ploys.

We gathered several of the top-rated vacuum sealers and put them to the test to find out which ones deserve a spot in your kitchen.

Table of Contents

Best vacuum sealer overallBest affordable vacuum sealerBest handheld vacuum sealerBest chamber vacuum sealerWhat we looked forHow we testedOther vacuum sealers we testedThe takeaway

At first this vacuum sealer seemed like it would be annoying to use. It’s quite a bit taller and clunkier in the back than the other models we tried. The lid is canted at an angle, so we had to raise it all the way up or it would fall down. And we had to move the lever on the side into one of three positions, which took getting used to. But once we got the hang of it, we started falling in love.

The best part of this device is its versatility. Like many other models out there, it has a built-in spot to keep a roll of bags along with a bag cutter. But on this model the bag cutter is positioned below the seal bar, almost at the very bottom of the device. This made it a lot easier to judge how big our bag would be. It also made it much more efficient to cut the bags. Every time we cut off a bag, we could seal the bottom of the next one at the same time.

The FoodSaver VS3150 also has a handheld vacuum sealer built in, which we found ourselves using time and again for small jobs like marinating meats or sealing up just a couple chicken breasts at a time. The handheld sealer works with special plastic containers and zip-top bags that have a built-in valve, both of which are easy to find online or at stores like Target. These containers can be washed and reused. They’re also quicker to use than bags on a roll because they’re ready to go, no custom bag making required.

We found the handheld vacuum sealer so essential we could see getting a stand-alone version and skipping the multifunctional device. In a side-by-side tasting, meats marinated in the vacuum-sealed canister and bag were noticeably more moist and flavorful than the meat marinated in a regular zip-top bag. Still, those who want the flexibility of customizing their own bag size won’t be satisfied with just the handheld device.

Like many vacuum sealers these days, this FoodSaver model has modes for wet and dry ingredients, and both worked very well. When using dry mode, it sucked out so much air the bags of rice felt like bricks.

We used the pulse vacuum mode to seal crackers and cookies without crushing them. This mode let us control how much air was removed by pressing and holding the button and releasing when we wanted it to stop.

If we had frozen our salmon fillets and chicken thighs first, we could have used dry mode with them, but instead we vacuumed them fresh on wet mode. The suction power on this mode isn’t quite as strong, so the vacuum doesn’t pull out quite as much air and leaves liquids in the bag, but it still formed a very tight seal around the food. The FoodSaver also has a removable drip tray in the vacuum channel, allowing easy cleaning if any liquid does dribble out in the process.

The vacuum channel on this sealer is deep, so it’s easier to fit the bag in and keep it in place. Also, the gap between the channel and the seal line was narrower than other devices we tried, which meant there was less bag waste.

The motor was relatively quiet compared to others we tried, and the vacuuming was done in a few seconds. Indicator lights on the vacuum and seal buttons pulsed to tell us when they were engaged and turned off when the cycle was done.

Another big plus: Because FoodSaver is the granddaddy of consumer food vacuum sealers, it offers tons of support, from very detailed instructions and tips in the manual, to a library of how-to videos online.

The only real drawback to the FoodSaver VS3150, as we said up at the top, is that it’s a bit bigger and clunkier than other models. But unless you go the handheld-only route every vacuum sealer is a little bit unwieldy.

This vacuum sealer very nearly made our top spot. If it had a built-in handheld sealer, it probably would have. It was almost identical in performance to the FoodSaver, but even quieter. Just like the FoodSaver, it had wet and dry modes as well as pulse for fragile items. It similarly had built-in bag roll storage and a cutter to make it easy to make your own custom bags.

An extra feature we liked was its digital display that counted down, so we knew just how long it the vacuuming and sealing would take. It also gave the option of selecting a double seal for extra protection, and the unit is lower profile than the FoodSaver too.

Overall, it’s a solid machine that performs as well as our top pick. It lacks a few of the FoodSaver’s details but offers others, and it’s quite a bit cheaper. If you can live without the handheld sealer, or would rather purchase one separately, get the Nesco VS-12.

There was really nothing not to like about this one. It lacked a handheld feature, but that’s more of a bonus for the FoodSaver than a drawback of the Nesco.

If your jobs are small and quick as opposed to heavy-duty, a handheld vacuum sealer machine is the way to go, especially if you’re looking to make the most of precious cabinet or counter space. As noted above, handhelds work with special zip-top bags or lidded plastic containers that have a built-in valve. That means you can’t customize your own bags (which can be important if you’re trying to freeze or sous vide a large cut of meat, for example), but the bags are reusable and come in a range of sizes.

We love how small and low-profile FoodSaver’s Cordless version is. It’s about the size of a short pepper grinder, and it has a plug-in base to keep charged while not in use. The manufacturer says the device can seal up to 60 one-quart bags on a full 24-hour charge. (Of course, the handheld version built in to the FoodSaver multiuse device doesn’t have these limits.) We tested this model by vacuum-sealing 10 quart-size bags of rice and it never faltered. The bags were not quite as brick-hard as those sealed with the countertop machine, but very close. We also used it to marinate meats both in bags and containers and to seal cookies and crackers.

Note that there is a new version that includes a marinate function as well as vacuum function that is more expensive than the original single-function sealer.

The handheld sealer doesn’t have an automatic shutoff, so you have to release the seal button when you’ve removed enough air, or when the dimple on the container depresses. That’s not a huge deal, but does make this a manual device where others are automatic. We found one bag inflated with air again, but when we checked it was because we hadn’t closed the zip-top all the way.

Before we explain why we chose the Anova, we need to explain a little about chamber sealers themselves, because while they also remove air and vacuum-seal foods like the other sealers we’ve mentioned so far, that’s where the similarities start to break down. Unlike traditional edge sealers that only enclose a bag’s opening, chamber sealers allow you to place the whole bag of food inside the appliance. A vacuum pump removes air from the entire chamber, including inside the bag, rather than just sucking it out from one direction, which makes it possible to seal liquids without them seeping out of the bag and ruining the seal in the process.

But while chamber sealers offer a number of benefits over edge sealers, they do cost quite a bit more and take up much more space. That’s why their primary audience is avid home cooks who want the best tools for their sous vide habit, or the convenience of a device that allows them to experiment with infusions with nearly instant gratification. The Anova is designed specifically with that sort of experimentation in mind and that’s why love it.

In addition to the basic “strong” and “normal” factory settings for vacuum sealing, which can be adjusted for longer or shorter vacuum and sealing periods, the unit comes preprogrammed with options to infuse or extract (great for flavoring liquids or marinating meats), compress or pickle (ideal for speedy pickles or to make an ingredient’s texture more dense), and dry or cool (a way to extract moisture for quickly cooling baked goods or even riced potatoes for gnocchi).

The Anova website offers recipes for all of the above techniques, as well as additional tips such as using the strong vacuum function to quickly hydrate cookie dough or pasta dough, so there’s no need to let it sit in the fridge for hours before use. Once we began experimenting with these recipes, we had the courage to play around with our own ideas as well and found the process pretty addictive.

In our more basic performance tests, we found the Anova edged out the competition as well. Thanks to the window in the lid, we could see how efficiently the vacuum worked, with liquids bubbling more fervently during the cycle and vegetables like zucchini and cucumbers collapsing into near translucence. Other brands took several cycles to achieve the same results. Bags of sealed liquids that we submerged in water baths sank like rocks, which indicated hardly any air remained in the bag, while the other brands produced much more buoyant bags. We also like that the bag clip, essential to keeping the bag in place during a cycle, seemed durable, whereas other brands we tested felt far flimsier. The chamber is wider than it is long, so it accommodates both narrow and wide bags. No matter what brand of bag you have, it’ll work with the Anova. Another plus? The machine was far quieter than the other brands we tested, and when the cooling fan turned on it was barely noticeable and lasted a short time.

The Anova has a few drawbacks: It doesn’t offer a seal-only function, so if you’re making your own bags from a roll, you’ll have to run the vacuum cycle too, which added about 30 seconds to the process for every bag. Anova does offer precut bags, but those don’t offer the sizing flexibility we’d like to move between very small and very large jobs. The Anova also doesn’t include a port to run an outside air suction hose for sealing canisters or zip-top bags. Finally, we didn’t love that the chamber isn’t very deep, so jars used for infusions and pickles must be quite short, but that was true for the other brands we tested, and it was easy to work around the issue by using rectangular plastic storage containers instead.

Photo by Travis Rainey

To make our list, the edge-style vacuum sealers had to remove air from bags quickly and efficiently—no more than 30 seconds. When using dry mode, there should be no air left after sealing and very little when using wet mode. Seals should be even and robust with no chance of leaking. For chamber vacuum sealers, bonus points went to models that left the least amount of air in the bag when sealing liquids.

We looked for machines that offered more than just one mode so that users could seal delicate foods or moist foods without mess. Chamber sealers that included custom modes, useful presets, and features like external edge vacuum sealing scored higher marks.

A built-in bag storage and a cutter was nice, but not essential, because those additions gave machines a larger footprint. However, if they did have them, the cutters should feel sharp and solid, not flimsy and prone to snagging.

Machines that were excessively loud lost points, as did machines with poor design. We wanted machines that were well-built, intuitive, and came with good supporting materials.

Each vacuum sealer we tested got a thorough workout using moist items, dry foods, and delicate items. During our tests of the sealing process, we made note of any pain points or annoyances.

To test wet mode, we vacuum-sealed salmon filets, chicken thighs, and pork in marinade. We noted how much air, if any, remained, and how tightly the bag fit around the items. In the best food vacuum sealers, the sealed items should not be able to move.

To test dry mode, we used dry basmati rice and dry pinto beans and evaluated how much air remained. Items sealed in dry mode should be so empty of air that the bag feels hard.

We vacuum-sealed multigrain crackers and chocolate chip cookies on pulse mode, for sealers that had it, to determine how effective and easy this mode was to use and how well it worked without crushing the contents.

To test the marinade function, we used meat from the same pork roast and bathed in the same big batch of marinade. We compared the meat in vacuum-sealed bags and regular zipper bags without the air removed.

To test chamber vacuum sealers, we sealed large and small quantities of dry rice, dry beans, crackers, cookies, salmon filets, marinated chicken thighs, and chicken stock. We also performed tests of quick-pickled zucchini, lemon-infused vodka, and compressed watermelon. It should take only two to three cycles to saturate vegetables with brine or infuse vodka with flavor. The bags of marinated meat should sink with minimal buoyancy when placed in a pot of water, as they would need to do when cooking them sous vide.

Not to be confused with the Anova Precision Chamber Vacuum Sealer, the Culinary Precision Pro is an edge sealer. It performed well and had a sleek, low profile look. Plus, it made a double seal. But when we dug deep into the details, it fell a little short. It’s actually not any smaller than the Nesco. And while the Precision vacuum sealer’s handle is more flush, it’s a bit hard to use. It’s also not as fast as the Nesco or FoodSaver, especially the sealing function, and it can be difficult to tell when the process is done. The cutting tool sometimes snagged on the vacuum sealer bags too.

The Mueller Austria has a small footprint and a low price, but we couldn’t recommend it. The Mueller’s lid was hard to lock in place. The machine would run even if it didn’t get locked. It took several minutes to cycle through its vacuum and sealing phases, and it was loud. We also had to wait nearly a minute to let the machine cool down before using it again. No built-in bag cutter meant we had to use scissors, which was a pain.

We had similar issues with the NutriChef PKVS, which seemed nearly identical in basic design to the Mueller. It has tons of Amazon product reviews, a small footprint, and a low price. But the NutriChef vacuum sealer felt cheap, was hard to lock the lid in place, and the buttons were a little touchy. The product manual was very light on information.

The Vesta Chamber Vac Elite was a close runner up to the Anova chamber sealer. It performed nearly as well and had a lower profile too. Best of all, it pulled double duty as an edge sealer for large batches of things that won’t fit in the chamber. It also included a port and vacuum hose to use the device with our vacuum canisters and zip-top bags. It offered great performance and versatility, and, though it didn’t have presets like the Anova, with a little trial and error it could quick-pickle, infuse and marinate. But we really missed having a window in the lid to watch the progress, especially since more novice sealers can get overflow pickling or infusing in open top containers. It also didn’t accommodate wide bags, was louder, took longer to remove air, and the bag clip is plastic and prone to sticking.

The Avid Armor Ultra Series USVX was also a solid chamber sealer option that performed well in all of our tests. It had a similar design to the Anova, with a window in the lid and metal bag clip. Unlike the Anova, it included a vacuum port and hose, and a seal-only function—two things we really wish the Anova had. However, it didn’t seem as well made. The bag clip wasn’t tight so our bags were prone to slipping out and not getting sealed. It was too narrow to accommodate wide bags, and the cycles aren’t customizable. It was also incredibly loud both during the cycle and long after, as the fan runs constantly.

Vacuum food sealers are a great kitchen tool for anyone who wants to keep food in their freezer for the long haul or just preserve their leftovers. And if you’re into sous vide cooking, they make your bags leakproof and worry-free. Just pull them right from the freezer and put into the pot, with no worries about clipping an open bag to the side.

Among the edge-sealer category, the small, bare-bones models of vacuum sealers get the job done, but we found that bigger models were worth the extra storage space they take up. They had more powerful motors, making the process faster and more efficient. And extras like built-in bag storage and cutting tools made the bag-making process easier too. In the end, it was the FoodSaver vacuum sealer’s built-in handheld attachment that was a total game changer, though. It’s a bit bulky, but it offers the best of all worlds and is the most versatile of the bunch.

For those who want a device that goes beyond food storage and offers a fun tool for culinary creativity, chamber sealers are the way to go, as their design opens up a new world of instant infusions. The Anova Precision Chamber Vacuum Sealer leads the pack because it’s clearly designed with this kind of experimentation in mind. Even better, it’s well-built, well-designed, and offers high performance, making it a true kitchen workhorse.

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