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Grilling aficionados can up their burger and sausage game with their own ground meats. Most home cooks rely on store-bought ground meat, which is convenient, but grocery store ground meats are usually made from a blend of cuts and scraps, so you can never be sure exactly what you're getting or eating.
With a dedicated manual or automatic meat grinder, you can grind your own blends from whatever cuts of meat you choose, giving you complete control over the ingredients, amount of fat (aka flavor, juiciness, and nutrition), and quality of your ground meat. "For optimal grinding, pre-cut your meat into relatively small pieces, no thicker than an inch, especially on hand units," says Bryan Flannery, CEO of Flannery Beef. Some meat grinders even come with a variety of features and attachments, such as plates that offer different grind sizes or sausage stuffers.
Best Overall: Gourmia GMG525 Electric Meat Grinder
ETL safety certification
Three cutting blades
Sausage and kibbeh attachments
As loud as a blender
Slightly intricate setup process
This electric meat grinder checks the boxes for power, efficiency, and ease of use. It features 1,000 watts of max power, is easy to assemble and take apart for cleaning, and includes three stainless steel blades of varying sizes so you can get the right cut. It also includes a food pusher, kibbeh attachment, sausage horn, and recipe book to help you get cooking. There's a convenient three-way on, off, and reverse switch that makes operation simple, too.
Gourmia is known for high-quality materials, and this meat grinder features ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories) safety certification. Reviewers say it's a great value machine, but caution that it's important to read the manual and follow all care instructions to keep it working properly for years. As for the cleaning process, all parts must be hand washed in warm, soapy water and dried immediately after use.
Size: 18 x 5 x 15 inches | Power: 500 watts | Accessories Included: 3 stainless steel plates (3, 5, and 7 millimeters), aluminum meat filling pan, plastic sausage and kibbeh attachments, food pusher, recipe book
Best Design: Sunmile SM-G50 Electric Meat Grinder
Large feed tube
Grinds meat quickly
Doesn't come with cleaning tools
Somewhat cheap-looking white plastic finish
The Sunmile Electric Meat Grinder is an elegant-looking machine that can grind large portions of meat quickly and efficiently. Built with a metal gearbox featuring large durable gears and a large capacity tray and grinding head, you’ll be able to feed this continuously—whether you’re grinding meat for burgers or stuffing sausages to stock the freezer.
This includes one cutting blade, three grinding plates, a plastic pusher, and three sausage stuffers so you can make a variety of sausages and ground meats. The grinder head is made from polished aluminum, allowing you to chill it in the refrigerator or freezer before grinding to help keep the meat cold as you work. The cutting blade and grinding plates are made from stainless steel, so they can also be chilled.
This operates with simple switches for on, off/reverse, and to reset the circuit breaker that protects it from overheating. Our tester particularly liked the wide 2-inch tube because she didn't have to chop her meat into small pieces before feeding it into the machine, which saves tons of time when working with large quantities of meat. The manufacturer says this powerful machine can grind up to 200 pounds of meat per hour. It does so relatively quietly, too.
When you're done, cleanup is simple enough (the grinder head must be washed by hand, but you can put the stainless cutting blade and grinding plates into the dishwasher), and the cord tucks neatly inside the machine for compact storage.
While the SM-G50 is a pretty middle-tier option from the brand, other models from Sunmile include the basic, but powerful SM-G31, the leveled-up SM-G33, and the new, heavy-duty SM-G73, a 600-watt stainless steel machine that can grind up to 185 pounds of meat per hour with 20 to 30 minutes of continuous work.
Size: 12.2 x 11 x 15.1 inches | Power: 575 watts | Accessories Included: 3 various stainless steel cutting plates (fine, medium, coarse), plastic food pusher, sausage maker
"With the medium grinding plate, it got through 2.5 pounds of fatty chuck roast in about a minute without clogging." — Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester
Best for Everyday Use: Cuisinart Electric Meat Grinder
Great cord storage
Two grind sizes
Two sausage sizes
Pusher top comes off too easily
If you buy meat in bulk, go hunting, or want to take up sausage-making as a hobby, this grinder can handle pretty much anything you throw into it—and it has the power for frequent use. The powerful 300-watt motor quickly grinds up to 3 pounds per minute, so you'll be done with big projects in no time at all.
The brushed stainless steel housing is durable, and this product includes two cutting plates for medium and coarse thickness, plus two sausage attachments for breakfast links and regular sausages. It also has a reverse feature which makes operation as simple as can be.
Our tester praised this high-quality grinder for being able to make family-sized batches of burgers, meatloaf, sausages, and chili with ease. She also boasted about how easy it is to set up, operate, and clean. The only parts you can expect to wear out over time are the cutter and grinding plates, but they should last quite some time before maintenance is needed.
If you already own the Cuisinart Precision 5.5-Quart Master Stand Mixer (models SM-50 or SM-35) and are interested in using that instead of investing in a dedicated meat grinder, the brand's plastic meat grinder attachment can process meat, poultry, nuts, and vegetables, and make small and large sausages. It includes two grinding plates (fine and coarse), sausage spacer plates, two sausage nozzles, a wrench, and a recipe book. All parts are easy to attach, detach, and clean.
Size: 9.25 x 16.38 x 8.50 inches | Power: 300 watts | Accessories Included: 2 metal cutting plates (medium and coarse), 2 sausage attachments, pusher
"I managed to grind 12 pounds of meat in one session without any issues." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Splurge: LEM 12 Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder
So many compatible accessories
Processes 11 pounds of meat per minute
Approved for grinding raw chicken bone
No reverse option
LEM makes a variety of meat grinders, but it recommends this particular model for frequent use. The brand's "Big Bite" technology allows the auger to handle larger portions of meat at a time, and efficiently move it into the grinder head with fewer clogs. In addition to being able to grind 11 pounds of meat per minute, it boasts quiet operation, an all-stainless steel motor housing, all-metal gears, and a built-in circuit breaker.
It includes a large meat pan, coarse and fine plates, a stuffing plate, a meat stomper, and three stuffing tubes for everything from breakfast links and snack sticks, to brats and smoked sausage, to summer sausage and salami. There's also a convenient tray at the bottom for storage. Not to mention, this machine is compatible with so many LEM accessories, including a jerky slicer/tenderizer; a patty, jerky, and snack stick maker; a handful of different mixers; a juicer; footswitch; and more (all sold separately).
While the 12 model is the brand's middle-tier option for people who grind meat frequently, the lightest option is the 5 (0.35 HP for occasional use at 4 pounds of meat per minute), followed by the 8 (0.5 HP for regular use at 7 pounds per minute). For real heavy-duty grinding, consider the 22 (1 HP for heavy use at 13 pounds per minute) or the top-of-the-line 32 (1.5 HP for professional use at 17 pounds per minute). The latter three (12, 22, and 32) are even approved for grinding raw chicken bone. LEM offers a five-year warranty and lifetime customer support.
Size: 20.24 x 9.13 x 15.98 inches | Power: 0.75 HP (about 559 watts) | Accessories Included: 3 stainless steel grinder plates (3/16-inch fine, 3/8-inch coarse, and stuffing), 3 stuffing tubes (1/2- 1-, and 1 1/8-inch), meat stomper
"For optimal grinding, pre-cut your meat into relatively small pieces, no thicker than an inch, especially on hand units," says Bryan Flannery, CEO of Flannery Beef. "The flavor is generally in the fat, so think about the lean-to-fat ratio. A good baseline for store-bought ground chuck is about 20 percent fat and 80 percent lean," he adds.
Best Budget: F&W Kitchen Basics 3 N 1 Manual Meat and Vegetable Grinder
Great for making baby food
Compact, travels well
Suctions to countertop
Only for small jobs
Plastic housing isn't the sturdiest
If you’re looking for a budget-priced meat grinder, this model is great for smaller batches and is simple to use when you want to grind your own meat, vegetables, garlic, or even make homemade sausage.
The base is plastic, but it has sharp stainless steel blades. When you’re done grinding meat, this can be used for making rigatoni or spaghetti pasta. It can also be used for crushing nuts for garnishes or recipes, so you’ll find plenty of uses for it in your kitchen.
To keep this stable during grinding, it has a suction cup base so it won’t move or wobble while you crank. This includes fine and coarse grinding plates, two stainless steel screens, and three sausage funnels. The base should not be immersed in water, but all other parts are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Size: 7.8 x 5.59 x 5.39 inches | Power: Manual | Accessories Included: 2 stainless steel screens, 2 mincing plates (fine and coarse), sausage funnel (3 sizes)
"For those really adventurous souls, you could up the fat percentage, but remember: The fattier the blend, the more it will shrink during cooking. I don’t think I’d ever go beyond 35 percent fat. You could replicate the flavor of a Wagyu burger if you have access to brisket fat. Blend an 80/20 burger using brisket fat instead of general beef fat, and the flavor profile will be like Wagyu." — Bryan Flannery, CEO of Flannery Beef
Best Manual: Gideon Hand Crank Manual Meat Grinder
Way cheaper than electric options
Suctions to counter
Easy to take apart and clean, transport
Not for heavy-duty jobs
If you aren’t sure if grinding your own meat makes sense, or if you know you’ll only be grinding small amounts, this manual grinder is just what you need. It’s designed to be easier to crank than old-style metal grinders (and it takes less storage space).
This has a suction cup base, so you don’t need to find an edge for a clamp. When you’re done grinding, just turn the knob to release the suction. The grinder comes apart easily for cleaning. Even better, most of the parts are dishwasher safe. Since it’s not electric, you can use it anywhere, even outdoors, when you’re grinding something messy.
This has two stainless steel plates for coarse or fine grinding and can puree vegetables for soups or sauces. The fine plate can even be used for mincing garlic when you need a whole lot of garlic. It also includes a pusher.
Size: 10.91 x 6.69 x 6.1 inches | Power: Manual | Accessories Included: 2 stainless steel plates (fine and coarse)
"Now that places like Costco sell primal meats, they're becoming easier to find—but don't ditch that excess trim. Use it to make burger blends instead," says Katie Flannery, COO and Lead Butcher at Flannery Beef. For example, when cutting a filet from the tenderloin, you have to trim off quite a bit to shape it into an individual portion. Hang on to that and couple it with leftover trimmings from a fattier cut, like ribeye, for a juicy, flavorful blend.
Best Stand Mixer Attachment: KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment
No need to purchase an full-size grinder
Compatible with all KitchenAid mixers
Food tray, sausage stuffer sold separately
Some find pusher design unfavorable
If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, it might make sense to get a meat grinder attachment, rather than buy a standalone grinder. Like other attachments for the stand mixer, this attaches to the power hub and uses the mixer’s power to grind the meat.
This has a fine plate and coarse plate, so it can be used for grinding meats and dried bread, as well as firm fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. Most parts are dishwasher safe, too. It also includes a meat pusher, which has a wrench on the opposite end for unscrewing the ring that holds the plates in place.
While this is all you need for grinding meat, there are compatible add-ons that make it even more useful. An optional food tray expands the surface area for holding food, making it faster and easier to keep feeding ingredients into the grinder. And then there's the sausage stuffer attachment which works with the grinder to feed the prepared sausage mix into casings. It includes both a narrow tube ideal for breakfast sausages, as well as a large tube for bratwurst, Italian sausage, and other large sausages.
KitchenAid also makes a durable metal food grinder attachment, if you prefer that to plastic. It comes with three grinding plates (fine, medium, and coarse), small and large sausage stuffer tubes, a large removable tray, a food pusher, a storage case, and a cleaning brush.
Size: 8 x 7.5 inches | Compatibility: All KitchenAid stand mixer models (bowl lift and tilt head) | Accessories Included: 2 grinding plates (fine and coarse), food pusher
"Not all trim is created equal. Look out for some areas you definitely don’t want to grind, including sinew (tough and fibrous tissue) and silverskin (thin connective tissue impossible to chew)." — Katie Flannery, COO and Lead Butcher at Flannery Beef
Our top pick is the Gourmia GMG525 Meat Grinder (view at Amazon) since it checks the boxes for power, efficiency, and ease of use. If grinding your own meat is an occasional project, we recommend the KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment (view at Amazon), which is easier to store than a stand-alone grinder.
What to Look For in a Meat Grinder
Manual vs. Automatic
Hand-cranked meat grinders are less expensive and tend to be smaller than their electric counterparts, but they require more manual labor to use. If you expect to grind large batches of meat, you might want to upgrade to an electric model, especially considering this tip from Bryan Flannery: Grind twice. This will give an even blend of fat to lean. Avoid grinding more than two times, though, as multiple runs will negatively alter the texture.
Metal vs. Plastic
You’ll get the best results from meat grinding if you keep the meat cold during the entire process. Metal parts will stay chilled if you refrigerate or freeze them prior to grinding, which helps keep the meat cool. Plastic parts won’t retain cold as well, so you may need to grind in smaller batches.
That said, any meat with a high-fat content should be as cold as possible before grinding, says Katie Flannery. Fat gets slimy, so you want that to be chilled well, but not every grinder can handle frozen. It’s ideal to prep, grind, and cook right away to truly appreciate the benefit of freshly ground beef, she adds. Enjoy the day-of when possible; from grinder to grill is a treat.
Stainless steel, in particular, is highly regarded as one of the best options. It's hypoallergenic, rust-resistant, and more likely to stay sharp and last longer than other steels. A grinder of this type will probably cost you more upfront but will be a worthy investment in the long run, as it'll be in tip-top shape years down the road, ultimately saving you money on repairs or replacements a cheaper version might warrant.
Think about what type of food you plan to grind. Do you need multiple grinding plates or a sausage stuffer? Do you want a grinder that can handle more than meat? If you’re only planning on grinding meat for burgers, having options will be less important than if you want to grind other foods, too.
How do you sharpen meat grinder blades?
At one point or another, your meat grinder knife and plates are going to dull (you'll notice when it starts to smear and jam). Here's the good news: It's fairly easy to sharpen them. One of the simplest methods is by way of sharpening stones (view at Amazon). Before use, soak each stone in water for about 10 minutes. Then, use the stone with the square center to replace the knife and sharpen the plate, and the stone with the circular center to replace the plate and sharpen the knife. Lock it into the machine by securing the retaining ring, and then run the meat grinder for about five seconds or 10 to 20 cranks for manual machines. Just make sure you sharpen your knife and plates on the same day to create a fresh surface for optimal cutting performance.
How do you clean a meat grinder?
As you're working with raw meat, it should be no surprise that your grinder should be washed immediately after use to avoid cross-contamination and foodborne illness. To start, run one to two pieces of bread through the feeding tube. This will soak up tiny pieces of meat lurking inside the machine. Next, unplug your machine and carefully disassemble it. While some parts may be dishwasher safe, it's always best to hand wash to preserve the integrity of your tools. Let the feeding tube, knife, grinding plate, and any other gear soak in warm, soapy water for a few minutes to help loosen oils and other residues, and then wash softly with a sponge (just be cautious of the blade's sharp edges). A bottle brush can be used to clean the inside of parts, and a damp cloth is sufficient for wiping down the motor housing. Using a towel, dry all parts immediately to avoid rust and other premature deterioration.
Can you grind poultry in a meat grinder?
You can put chicken or turkey in a meat grinder, but it likely won't be as flavorful as its fattier beef and pork counterparts. Try adding additional fat to the grind and seasoning well before cooking if you plan to take this route.
How do you stuff sausage with a meat grinder?
After you've prepared your casing and ground meat, clean the grinder by feeding a piece of bread through it, remove the grinder attachment, wash and dry it, reassemble, and add the sausage stuffer attachment. Place a sheet pan below the grinder to catch the sausage. Feed a piece of casing onto the sausage stuffer, leaving just an inch or two hanging off the attachment, and tie a knot at the end. With the machine on its slowest speed, begin feeding small balls of ground meat into the hopper of the grinder. You'll get some air first, causing the casing to fill like a balloon, and then the meat will follow. Slowly guide the casing off the sausage stuffer attachment as it fills, and if you see air bubbles, force them out. Leave approximately 4 inches of casing at the end.
Beginning with the knotted end of the casing, measure the desired length of sausage and squeeze to mark the end of the first sausage. Do the same for the second sausage, and then twist between the first and second sausages about three times. Continue to do this for the remainder of sausages, alternating the direction in which you twist. Coil the sausages on a sheet pan and puncture any air bubbles to avoid any splits as they cook, and then (for best results) refrigerate uncovered overnight before cooking.
Can meat grinders grind bones?
Many grinders are capable of grinding "soft bone," from chicken, duck, other small fowl, and rabbit. Turkey is also considered "soft bone," but it's slightly denser and may be extremely difficult (or impossible) for your grinder to handle. Most at-home meat grinders can't process "hard bone" from beef, pork, lamb, venison, and other large animals. Always consult with the manufacturer about what your machine can and cannot grind, and never put frozen bones through a grinder under any circumstance, as they will damage the grinder.
What else can you do with a meat grinder?
Beyond ground meat and sausage, meat grinders can be used to mix homemade cookie dough, juice (although the result will be much pulpier than if you were to use an actual juicer), and grind vegetables for relish, falafel, and plant-based burger patties.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a food writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. A cookbook author and self-professed "kitchen geek," she's written many roundups on a range of essential kitchen items, from the best stand mixers to the best slow cookers. She's also tested over 100 products for The Spruce Eats, including the Cuisinart Electric Meat Grinder, which she included in this roundup.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that makes cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.