Vacuum sealers work by sucking the air out from the space around your food inside a bag or canister and then sealing those containers to prevent air from leaking back inside to spoil your food. Besides extending shelf life and allowing you to buy food in bulk, vacuum sealers are also useful for sous vide cooking, preserving meat, and even keeping valuable metals protected from air exposure.
To help you find the best option for your kitchen, we tested 10 top-rated vacuum sealers side-by-side and rated each model on ease of use, pulse control, suction power, and cleanup. We then sous vide-cooked vacuum-sealed meat to check for broken seals. After vacuum-sealing raw meat, delicate fruits, and irregular-shaped food items like cereal, we compiled this list of the best vacuum sealers for a variety of uses.
Nesco VS-12 Deluxe Vacuum Sealer
Excellent pulse control
Great for fragile foods
Easy to use
No attachment hose for canisters
The Nesco VS-12 Deluxe Vacuum Sealer is intuitive to use, features several settings to ensure the best results for a variety of foods, and its capabilities equaled or surpassed that of models double its price. There are sealing settings for dry foods (like cereal) and moist foods (like raw meat), as well as an option to create a double heat seal on any bag. A double vacuum pump extracts every last bit of air from your sealed package. Even with irregularly shaped items, we saw almost no air pockets or bubbles after sealing.
There are also two vacuum pressures to choose from—normal and gentle—to keep more delicate foods like crackers and other snacks from breaking. The gentle setting, in combination with the pulse feature, offers precise control over the vacuum process so items like buns and pastries don't get crushed. In our tests, the Nesco VS-12 was the only sealer that didn't crush fresh raspberries—the most delicate of foods we tried.
Beyond performance, we loved how user-friendly it was: The latch locks easily, and there's a timer that counts down until it manually seals (although it is a bit slow). An accessory port allows you to attach a hose to the sealer to extract air from jars and vacuum canisters, and a built-in bag roll storage and bag cutter allow you to cut bags to the exact size you need. Two different sized bag rolls are included to get you started, and when you need more, this sealer will work with any brand of vacuum sealer bags.
Price at time of publish: $135
Type: External | Dimensions: 17 x 5 x 9 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: Yes | Sealing Settings: 3 | Power: 130 watts
"The cereal sealed with zero air pockets, the pretzels didn't crack, hardly any juices were released from the strawberries, and—probably most impressively—the raspberries weren't crushed in our tests. Plus, it was really easy to use." — Mary Kate Hoban, Associate Editorial Director
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Mueller Austria Vacuum Sealer Machine
Quick, strong seal
Includes accessory port and hose
No bag cutter or roll storage
Accessory hose doesn't include an adapter
This vacuum sealer from Mueller Austria is a great value. Not only does it create strong seals, but it also boasts an easy-to-use control panel, which gives you complete control over the vacuum-sealing process—and it's compatible with other brands of vacuum sealer bags and rolls.
There are options for gentle or airtight vacuuming, so you don't have to worry about delicate foods like crackers or soft produce getting smashed. We even liked this option for freezing leftover brownies or strawberries and overripe bananas for smoothies. We also used it to keep walnuts fresh.
The Mueller has settings for moist or dry foods to help you customize the perfect vacuum seal. Our tests revealed incredible suction power with good pulse control that allows you to get super-tight seals even on irregularly shaped items. The cereal we sealed had zero crumbs and minimal air pockets.
We loved that this device was small enough to hide away in a cabinet, pantry, or drawer, but the compact design does mean that there's no onboard storage for bag rolls and no integrated bag cutter. Still, neither were dealbreakers for us. It comes with an accessory air suction hose, five medium vacuum seal bags, and a vacuum bag roll.
Price at time of publish: $70
Type: External | Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 5 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: No | Sealing Settings: 2 | Power: 110 watts
"I sealed ground beef that was destined for the freezer. Although it pulled some liquid from the meat, the seal was solid, and the meat froze well with no hints of freezer burn. I also vacuumed-sealed some country pork ribs that I cooked using sous vide. The bags stayed leak-proof throughout the process." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Beginners
Anova Precision Sous Vide Vacuum Sealer
Easy to use
No accessory port for containers
No adjustment for sealing dry/moist foods
This sealer is intended for use with the brand's popular sous vide cooker, but it works well for food saving, too. The super-sleek and simple one-touch Anova is designed to extract air quickly and seal tightly. You can use it with bags of different sizes for serving groups of two or 10. If vacuum sealers with tons of bells and whistles intimidate you, you're in luck—you don't have to be tech-savvy to use this one.
The three buttons on the top—vacuum and seal, seal, and pulse vacuum—are straightforward and get the job done. In fact, we didn't even need to look at the manual to figure this machine out. Plus, unlike a lot of other models we tested, minimal pressure is required to close and latch the sealer. While it didn't achieve the best results with delicate items like raspberries, it worked well for meat and other snacks.
It also has a small countertop footprint, making it ideal for people in apartments or homes with limited cupboard and counter space. However, the tradeoff is that the no-frills model doesn't come with accessories (beyond 10 pre-cut bags) like other options. Even so, we noted that even if you don't have the most evenly cut bags, it will still work. A slightly wavy cut or a bit of an angle doesn’t make any difference at all.
Price at time of publish: $80
Type: External | Dimensions: 14.75 x 7 x 4.3 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: Yes | Sealing Settings: 1 | Power: 110 watts
"While there’s no button for any kind of gentle vacuuming, the pulse vacuum takes care of that while offering complete control of how much vacuum is applied, so it’s possible to package everything from dense meat to fluffy pastry with those three simple buttons." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Small Spaces
FoodSaver FM2000 Vacuum Sealer
Can be stored vertically or horizontally
Easy to use
Good pulse control
With its slim, lightweight design and ability to be stored vertically or horizontally, the FoodSaver FM2000 is a vacuum sealer that's perfect for kitchens with limited space. Despite its moderate price tag, this model is exceptionally easy to use and includes a removable drip tray for easy cleanup.
In our tests of this vacuum sealer's previous model, both the cereal and raspberries stayed almost completely intact, and we were particularly impressed with the machine's ability to vacuum seal strawberries without any juices escaping. Since then, this new model has come out to iron out some minor flaws from the original. Overall, this is a fantastic compact choice, especially for anyone who's just getting started with vacuum sealing.
Price at time of publish: $115
Type: External | Dimensions: 16.3 x 9.2 x 4 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: No | Sealing Settings: 1 | Power: 110 watts
"I loved the control on this one—it was super easy to start and stop with no delay when you hit the button. The slim design is perfect for a tiny kitchen and anyone intimidated by the hefty, professional-looking vacuum sealers." — Mary Kate Hoban, Associate Editorial Director
NESCO VS-02 Food Vacuum Sealing System with Bag Starter Kit
Intuitive control panel
Built-in bag roll compartment
Can be used on opened snack bags
Bulkier than some other models
If you're in the market for an appliance that's efficient and easy to use, but you want to save a few bucks, the Nesco VS-02 Vacuum Sealer may be for you. This vacuum sealer boasts a bag roll compartment (which lifts smoothly and easily), built-in bag slicer, and large, clearly marked buttons, which, combined with the fact that you can customize your bag size, allow for smooth operation. Plus, the Nesco can re-seal snacks, like chips, in their original packaging.
All it takes to operate is the press of one of two buttons, the "Vacuum/Seal" button and the “Seal Only” button, the latter of which will stop the vacuuming process and create a seal. There is also a cancel option. You have to be quick with the controls to ensure you don't crush more delicate items, but once we got the hang of it, we were able to successfully seal pretzels with minimal breakage and very few air pockets.
We had success with a variety of foods, including uncooked bacon, peanut butter sandwich cookies, and half of a peeled banana. There were some air pockets when we sealed ground beef, so this wouldn't be our top choice for large quantities of raw meat (there's also no drip tray, which makes cleaning a little tricky). However, overall performance and convenient features make this a great buy at a great price.
Price at time of publish: $68
Type: External | Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 7 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: Yes | Sealing Settings: 2 | Power: 110 watts
"The bacon looked store-bought for days after the original package was opened, the crackers stayed crunchy without being dried out, and after 24 hours, the banana still hadn’t gone brown." — Karen Tietjen, Product Tester
Runner-Up, Best Budget
Geryon Multi-Use Automatic Vacuum Sealing Machine
Easy to use and clean
Lightweight and compact
Powerful suction good for meat
Not good with delicate items
Overly sensitive touchpad
This compact vacuum sealer doesn’t include some of the fancy features that the higher-end models do, but it performs its primary function—vacuuming and sealing bags for freezing, food storage, and sous vide cooking. It works with any brand of vacuum-sealer bag rolls up to 12 inches wide, or with pre-made quart or gallon-sized bags. The setup can't be beaten—basically, you plug it in and you are ready to seal. To seal bags, place the end into the machine and press down to lock it in place, then press the vacuum button.
A sealing indicator shows the progress, or you can stop the vacuuming at any point to seal the bag before it is fully vacuumed. We like that we can also operate the sealing function without vacuuming first, which is great for making bags. In tests of the previous model, we were impressed with its power and ease of use but did find that it's tough to get a good seal on delicate items without crushing them in the process. The sensitive touchscreen takes some getting used to, as well. When it comes to cleaning, the Geryon is quite convenient: The upper lid detaches completely for easy access to all the nooks and crannies in both halves of the machine.
To get you started, this vacuum sealer comes with five 7.8 x 11.8-inch bags and one 7.8 x 78-inch roll of bag material. It does not have a bag cutter or integrated bag storage.
Price at time of publish: $70
Type: External | Dimensions: 2.6 x 5.5 x 14.4 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: No | Sealing Settings: 2 | Power: 110 watts
"For its price and size, I was honestly shocked at how powerful it was and how well it worked. For anyone looking for a basic model—particularly if you just want to seal meat—this is it." — Mary Kate Hoban, Associate Editorial Director (on the previous model of this vacuum sealer)
FoodSaver V4840 2-in-1 Automatic Vacuum Sealing System
Fully automated and simple to operate
Powerful suction is quick to seal
Easy to clean
Not great for delicate items
FoodSaver makes some of the best-selling vacuum sealers available today. This vacuum sealing system is fully automated: There's bag detection that starts the vacuum-sealing process and moisture detection that selects the correct mode, whether you're sealing fragile pantry snacks or marinated steaks. (Using a vacuum sealer is also the best way to reheat steak, keeping it nice and juicy.) There's an LED light display to indicate progress, and the machine turns itself off when the job is done.
This machine had some of the best suction power of all the vacuum sealers we tested, making it ideal for sealing meat. Plus, it was quick. If you're looking to stock and organize the freezer all at once, the FoodSaver 2-in-1 will tackle your task in no time. It did have the one flaw of being too strong for some items, and there is no pulse control option, so you may have to be more careful with delicate foods.
The price tag is a little steep for the casual user, but the machine comes loaded with some convenient features that help justify the spend. It's easy to clean, thanks to a pull-out drawer that houses a dishwasher-safe drip tray. It has built-in roll storage, a bag cutter, and a retractable handheld sealer that can be used to preserve pantry snacks, cereals, and nuts in FoodSaver zipper bags, containers, and canisters. Plus, it comes with a five-year limited warranty.
Price at time of publish: $240
Type: External | Dimensions: 11 x 20 x 12 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: No | Sealing Settings: 2 | Power: 127 watts
"This one will totally impress you with its power, but take caution when sealing delicate items because it's almost too powerful. Meat eaters looking to stock their freezers will marvel at its suction ability and tight seals." — Mary Kate Hoban, Associate Editorial Director
NutriChef Vacuum Sealer
Incredible pulse control
Compact, lightweight design
Includes hose and wine stopper
Featuring a lightweight design and straightforward interface, the NutriChef vacuum sealer earned top marks for pulse control. Two sealing options—dry and moist—allow you to seal anything from soup to chicken or steak for sous vide. There is also an option for normal or gentle. In our tests, the NutriChef excelled at sealing delicate food items. Strawberries, raspberries, cereal, and pretzels all held up exceedingly well. Some juices were released when we used it to seal raw pork, but there were minimal air pockets.
The one real downside was the fact that the machine felt hot after each use, meaning this might not be the top choice if you're looking to seal in bulk. It's also missing a removable drip tray, which makes cleaning more difficult.
The vacuum sealer comes with five medium-sized vacuum bags and one extra-large vacuum bag roll, both of which are completely waterproof and reusable. If you need more, replacement bags are easy to purchase from NutriChef or other vendors. As a bonus, the kit also includes an air suction hose and wine stopper cork so you can seal any leftover wine.
Price at time of publish: $100
Type: External | Dimensions: 14.1 x 6 x 3 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: No | Sealing Settings: 2 | Power: 110 watts
"This was definitely an above-average pick overall, and it really wowed us when it came to fragile food items. The cereal and pretzels were unscathed in the sealing process." — Mary Kate Hoban, Associate Editorial Director
Anova Precision Chamber Vacuum Sealer
Super easy to use
Extra feature settings work well
Won't leak when storing soups, sauces, or marinades
Chamber limits food size
No accessory port
This isn't your typical vacuum sealer. Instead of simply sucking the air from the bag to seal it, Anova's Precision Chamber removes all of the air inside the chamber, including the pouch your food is in, creating an equally pressurized environment and the perfect seal. This couldn't be easier to use—you just place your food in the pouch and the pouch in the chamber, then press the controls to begin. We sealed everything from fruit to cereal, and the results were consistently good. It even performed flawlessly with soup stock, as the double seal protects from leaks.
The only potential issue with this is that the chamber size can be limiting to the food able to fit inside. For example, you wouldn't be able to vacuum seal a full rack of ribs or roast. While cutting meat into smaller pieces to better fit the pouches is a solution, we also found that we could leave the bag of food outside the chamber and put the open end of the pouch inside because as the vacuum sealer pulls the air out of the chamber, it also pulls the air out of the bag before the final seal. Testing this method on cereal, we didn't get the super-tight seal we got in the chamber, but it was acceptable. This wouldn't be the best option for sous vide cooking, but could be good for very ripe strawberries and other delicate foods at risk of squishing under tremendous pressure.
The Anova Precision Chamber comes with three extra settings beyond standard vacuum sealing: extract/infuse (for oils, alcohols, vinegars), compress/pickle (for, you guessed it, pickling), and dry/cool (this allows you to remove the moist air from hot foods like freshly baked bread to ensure faster cooling as well as a crispier crust). All of these proved sufficient during testing. With 20 included bags to get you started, very little cleaning required (the food remains in the bag, so it doesn't exactly get messy unless something bubbles or spatters during infuse/extract or compress/pickle), and an affordable price tag, this model comes highly recommended, with The Spruce Eats seal of approval.
Price at time of publish: $349
Type: Chamber | Dimensions: 13.6 x 8.9 x 11.2 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: No | Sealing Settings: 4 | Power: 280 watts
"One of the best tricks a chamber vacuum can perform is sealing wet foods and even liquids. I tested that with a soup stock, and the vacuum performed flawlessly, perfect for freezer storage." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
FoodSaver Cordless Handheld Food Vacuum Sealer
Small and very portable
Easy to use
Requires special bags and containers
Even the more "space-saving" countertop models of vacuum sealer are fairly wide; they have to be to accommodate larger bags. That's not the case with this truly portable cordless unit, which is about the size of a salt or pepper shaker and can seal up to 60 quart bags on a single charge. It was able to make a great seal that held well, and we were quite impressed with the performance put out by such a small vacuum sealer. Its paltry 2.5-watt motor took longer than other machines to fully remove the air from containers, but it was absolutely able to create effective seals. In fact, it crushed the Chex cereal we sealed with it.
The FoodSaver handheld's itty-bitty size is a big plus but also the source of a few headaches. For anything with liquid ingredients, you have to use a lidded container (which you have to buy separately). The vacuum nozzle is right next to the electric motor, so if it sucks up any liquid it's likely to sustain fatal damage. This machine can only work with bags or lidded containers that have a built-in valve specially sized for it, which means you're limited to FoodSaver-branded bags (that don't come on a roll). That said, FoodSaver sells an array of compatible containers.
Price at time of publish: $46
Type: Handheld | Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.2 x 2.3 inches | Bag Storage/Cutter: No | Sealing Settings: 1 | Power: 2.5 watts
"The bag sealed around the food tightly, and adhered to its shape very effectively. This was especially impressive considering the small size of the device."
|Overall Rating||Ease of Use||Performance||Suction Power||Ease of Cleaning||Versatility|
Nesco VS-12 Vacuum Sealer
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Mueller Austria Vacuum Sealer
Best for Beginners:
Anova Precision Sous Vide Vacuum Sealer
Best for Small Spaces:
FoodSaver FM2000 Vacuum Sealer
NESCO VS-02 Food Vacuum Sealing System
Runner-Up, Best Budget:
Geryon Vacuum Sealer Machine
FoodSaver 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealing System
NutriChef Vacuum Sealer
Anova Precision Chamber Vacuum Sealer
FoodSaver Cordless Handheld Food Vacuum Sealer
The Nesco VS-12 Deluxe Vacuum Sealer is our top choice because of its ease of use, incredible pulse control, strong suction power, and ease of cleaning. For those on a budget, the Nesco VS-02 is more affordable and earned high marks in testing.
How We Tested
Over the course of several weeks, our editors researched vacuum sealers, developed a standardized methodology to test them side-by-side, and put them to the test in The Lab. We analyzed the data, reviewed insights from our at-home testers, determined ratings, and used our findings to finalize our list.
Each vacuum sealer was judged on its ease of use, pulse control, suction power, and cleanup. To evaluate all of these elements, we used each one to vacuum seal raspberries, strawberries, Life cereal, pretzels, ground beef, and pork. We placed the individually sealed pork into a sous vide bath of 200 degrees Fahrenheit and checked to make sure the seals stayed intact.
Testing Vacuum Sealers for Settings, Storage Size, and Extras
Other Options We Tested
- Weston Pro 2300 Vacuum Sealer: We tested this high-end model in our Lab, and it was also reviewed by a home tester. While its cooling fan and speed make it well-suited for high-volume sealing, it revealed lackluster performance when it came to sealing delicate items. For its extremely high price tag, we would have preferred more options for pulse control and customized settings (like a gentle mode or moist food option). It was also the largest and heaviest vacuum sealer we tested, and it was extremely loud. Unless you're looking to splurge on something that will deliver extreme suction power quickly for high-volume sealing and you have the space for it, we think there are much better options at lower prices.
- Zwilling Fresh & Save 7-Piece Starter Set: Zwilling makes great knives and cookware that you'll find in lots of our roundups, but we were pretty disappointed with the brand's handheld vacuum sealer. The pump was able to remove the air from the included bags and containers, but none of them held their seals. In fact, the avocado half we sealed with this machine was in even worse shape than the unsealed control half after five days.
What to Look for in a Vacuum Sealer
There are essentially three styles of vacuum sealer, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:
External sealers suck the air out of a bag or other vessel that sits outside of the machine itself. This is the most common type, in which you place the open edge of a bag into a clamshell-shaped machine that clamps down over it. Many external devices also incorporate a heat-sealer and cutter that let you create custom bags of any size to fit whatever food you want.
Chamber sealers work by removing all the air from a chamber inside the machine. These are able to create a more effective vacuum seal and hold bigger food items than external sealers, but they also have more powerful motors that make them bulkier, heavier, and much more expensive. You're most likely to find a chamber vacuum sealer in a restaurant kitchen or other professional setting, but there are some smaller models priced for home use.
A handheld sealer is basically a vacuum pump with a rechargeable battery that lets you take the sealer to the food instead of the other way around. This type of sealer is very small and convenient, but it can only use bags and other vessels that have a compatible valve. That means you'll most likely have to buy supplies from the same brand that makes the sealer.
Higher-end machines tend to have special buttons (for things like pulsing or sealing wet foods), and some might also have the ability to seal more than bags (like containers for marinating foods). If you're looking to seal more fragile items like fruits and pastries, you may want to find a model with a "gentle" setting. More basic models come at a lower price point with fewer features, but they tend to take up less space and work well if you don’t need more than the basics.
"For more delicate cuts, like a fresh weisswurst, tender chicken, or turkey sausage, it's recommended to partially cook and then freeze them for 20 to 30 minutes before putting in a vacuum sealer to avoid crushing them during the process. The same can be done for softer vegetables or baked items." — Robert Miller, Butcher and Owner of The Conscious Carnivore
Size and Bag Storage
Do you want a vacuum sealer that stores bag rolls? The rolls will always be on hand, and the machine will cut the bags to length. On the other hand, if the rolls don’t store inside the unit, you’ll have two separate things to keep track of, but the units themselves tend to be more compact. Consider how often you'll be using your vacuum sealer and if you need it to be stowed away easily in a drawer. You can find models that are lightweight—just a few pounds—but more professional, heavy-duty models will probably need to find a more permanent home on the counter.
There’s no doubt that you’ll eventually need to buy extra sealing bags and rolls, but some machines include a variety of both so you can decide which you prefer before you purchase more. Many sealers come with an accessory port so you can attach a suction hose (which may or may not come included) and use it to seal canisters or even unfinished wine. Some starter kits even come with the containers or a cork for your sealed wine.
Can you vacuum seal soup, bread, and lettuce?
Yes, soft foods, like bread and lettuce, and wet foods, like soups and stews, can all be vacuum sealed with a little know-how.
Liquid items can't be vacuum sealed as is without making a big mess or overfilling the sealer's drip tray. The trick is to place soups, stews, and sauces in another container or storage bag and freeze them first. Then, place the frozen dish in a vacuum bag and seal.
Since bread is soft and spongy and will be smashed beyond recognition, you'll want to freeze it until it's firm before vacuum sealing.
Leafy greens and lettuce will likely be crushed too much in a vacuum bag but can be sealed in a vacuum canister. Look for a sealer that has a hose attachment that can be used to vacuum the air out of canisters.
For the best seal, remember to keep an inch or so of room on each side of the item being sealed. The more air the vacuum is able to remove, the longer the food will keep in the fridge or freezer.
What foods should you not vacuum seal?
The point of vacuum sealing food is to preserve it by removing oxygen from the environment, but some foods actually spoil faster under vacuum, and others won't seal properly. Foods that you should not vacuum seal include:
- Raw alliums or brassicas. Plants in the Allium (onion) and Brassica (cabbage) genuses produce gases that can create bubbles in a vacuum bag and make it lose its seal. These include onions, garlic, scallions, shallots, and leeks, as well as cabbage, broccoli, kale, radishes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous veggies. After blanching or any other kind of cooking, any of these ingredients can be sealed with no issues.
- Raw mushrooms or bananas. Mushrooms and bananas both continue to ripen after harvest, and vacuum-sealing actually accelerates this process and makes them spoil faster. Before sealing, you should cook mushrooms and cook or freeze bananas.
- Soft cheeses. Creamy or crumbly textured cheeses like Brie, blue cheese, feta, goat cheese, or fresh mozzarella contain live bacteria and fungi that can thrive in an airless environment. Under a vacuum seal, these cheeses will get moldy as fast as, if not faster than, unsealed cheese. (This does not apply to hard cheeses; vacuum-seal away on your Goudas and parmesans!)
- Hot foods. If you try to vacuum-seal something that's much warmer than room temperature, it'll give off steam that can expand the bag and break the seal. Wait until cooked food has cooled completely to start the process.
How long does vacuum-sealed food last?
Vacuum sealing your food can greatly extend the storage time of food, although precautions should still be taken. Often vacuum sealer brands will list their own guidelines, which you should follow. On average, sealed food placed in the freezer can last several years and sealed food in the refrigerator will last several weeks. According to FoodSaver, vacuum-sealed meat will last about two to three years in the freezer. Fish will last six months in the freezer without sealing, but two to three years in the freezer with vacuum sealing.
Sealed fruit will last one to two weeks in the refrigerator after sealing and two to three years in the freezer. Uncooked rice can be sealed and stored in the pantry for one to two years.
For best results, Robert Miller, butcher and owner of The Conscious Carnivore, recommends taking vacuum-sealed meats from the freezer and putting them directly into a bowl of cool water to thaw as quickly as possible.
Where can you buy vacuum seal bags?
Vacuum seal bags and bag rolls are available at most major retailers that sell kitchen appliances. Most vacuum sealers can use any brand of bag. Some sealers have built-in storage for a bag roll, which lets you create bags of any size.
Can you use Ziploc bags in a vacuum sealer?
It's possible, but we wouldn't recommend it. There's a reason your user manual says to only use special vacuum-sealing bags: They might look and feel like any other plastic bags, but they're specifically designed to make and hold a vacuum seal effectively. The bags typically have textured air channels on the inside that help to get the air out of every last corner, and the material is made to melt and seal at the exact temperature the heat sealer uses. If you use a Ziploc or other standard plastic storage bag in a vacuum sealer, you might not get a good seal and you might ruin your machine with smoking over-melted plastic. If you're going to use it enough to make owning a vacuum sealer worthwhile, it's worthwhile to buy vacuum-sealing bags. (If you're worried about waste, look for reusable vacuum sealing bags! There are many brands out there.)
How do you clean a vacuum sealer?
"The best thing you can do to prolong the life of any sealer is to keep it clean," Miller says. You'll especially want to clean the heat strip that seals that bag, as buildup could lead to a weaker seal that may give out during the freezing and thawing process. Some models offer removable drip trays (and some are dishwasher-safe), which makes cleaning even easier. If you notice ice crystals forming on your frozen foods "like a gentle winter frost, it might be time to look for a new one," Miller says. Similarly, if the vacuum isn't pulling all of the air out of the bag during the sealing process, it may need to be serviced or replaced.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The author of this roundup, Donna Currie, is a product tester and writer for The Spruce Eats. The cookbook author specializes in kitchen tools and gadgets for our site and personally tested one of the vacuum sealers for this roundup.
This piece contains additional reporting by Sharon Lehman, a home cook and registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats; Rachel Werner; Katrina Munichiello, a small appliance expert for The Spruce Eats; Katya Weiss-Andersson, a professional chef and small kitchen appliance editor for the Spruce Eats; and Associate Editorial Director Mary Kate Hoban, who tested the 10 vacuum sealers at The Lab, alongside Review Editor Collier Sutter.
Robert Miller is a butcher and the owner of The Conscious Carnivore.
Food and Drug Administration. "Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart."
FoodSaver. How long can you save it.