Restaurant Equipment Reviews and Advice - What is a Commercial Meat Slicer and How to Choose The Best One for Your Needs

27 Feb.,2023


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If you own a restaurant, delicatessen, hotel, grocery store, or cafe, you could save so much by having the right restaurant equipment. One of the best pieces of equipment you can get for your business is a commercial meat slicer. You could face a significant improvement in your kitchen preparation, cost, and efficiency in general. Plus, having the right equipment can help you cater to many people in one go expanding your business.

Commercial meat slicers are powerhouses that help cut all of your essential meats and cheeses. They save you the tiring job of cutting meat manually and allow you to attend to other areas in your business.

But, these are just a few benefits of meat slicers out of many. To know more about automatic slicers, keep reading, as we're going to tell you everything you need to know about them.

What are commercial meat slicers?

These are tools used by many butchers and delicatessens to help maintain the same texture and size when slicing food.

What does a commercial meat slicer do?

Commercial meat slicers are automatic and manual machines that allow you to slice meats and slice cheese in high volumes. It also allows you to have uniform slices allowing your food to be sliced exactly the same size and shape. Its razor-sharp round stainless steel blades help slice foods with precision.

What are the different parts of a meat slicer?

Commercial slicers have moving parts such as the following:

  • Product tray: This also goes by the name of carriage and product table. This section allows you to place the meat, cheese, or vegetable on the area to be sliced. Most of these products have grooves and are placed at an angle to allow the food to slide towards the blade.
  • Pusher/meat grip: This is attached to the product table and helps keep the food still stationary when slicing. These are also removable on some meat slicer models for easy cleaning.
  • Gauge Plate interlock: The gauge plate interlock surrounds the knife's edges.
  • Sharpener: The best commercial meat slicers have a blade built in to sharpen the knife. Sometimes you can remove them from meat slicers for cleaning.
  • Blade and Blade Guard: The majority of slicers will have a blade permanently protected by a blade guard. Depending on what model you buy, the guard can be removable for cleaning.

What are the different types of commercial meat slicers?

The main types of commercial slicers are light duty, medium duty, and heavy-duty.

Light duty slicer

Light duty slicers are best for bakeries, cafes, delis, and coffee shops. The light-duty slicer can be placed either in the front or back of the house. These manual slicers last up to 2 hours on average, and they're manual. Their blade size is around 9-10 inches on average and has a horsepower of 1/3-1/4. Generally, you can expect to pay $120-$1000 for a manual light duty slicer.

Compared to other meat slicers, they are affordable and compact, making them easy to store. While they can be effective for a deli, they require a lot of energy and need regular, thorough cleaning. However, they can only be used on meat and are not suitable for cheese or frozen items. Plus, these models don't have many safety features compared to other models.

Medium duty slicer

A medium duty slicer is best suited for small delis, universities, and cafeterias. This deli slicer is usually kept in the back of the house. These slicers have larger blades best suited for a commercial kitchen with more horsepower than a light duty slicer.

Most of these slicers are manual; however, some automatic ones are available. They have around a 10-12 inch blade and can cut for 2-3 hours a day. Their horsepower is also around 1/2. Medium duty meat slicers can cost between $500-$12,000.

On the downside, these meat slicers can only cut cheese for a short time frame, around 1-2, and don't slice frozen products. However, they do have slightly more built-in safety features than a light duty meat slicer would.

Heavy-duty slicer

Heavy-duty slicers are best kept for the back of the house in large restaurants. A heavy duty slicer is also an excellent piece of equipment for grocery stores, sandwich shops, and butchers. These are often top of the line and can slice meat for a minimum of 3 hours or longer.

Heavy-duty slicers have a 10-14 inch blade and a horsepower of 1/2.

The majority are automatic slicers and can be used continuously. The average cost of a heavy duty slicer can range between $600-$19,000, depending on the model and features. One of the cons of owning a heavy duty slicer is that it can be expensive to buy and maintain. On the contrary, since they're heavy, you will find several safety features built-in.

What are the main features of a meat slicer?

When buying a meat slicer, you should always look for the following slicer features:

1. Horsepower

Horsepower on a meat slicer helps decide the amount of volume the slicer can handle daily. The more horsepower there is, the longer and faster it will slice.

2. Blade size

The size of a spinning blade can help determine the amount of volume your slicer can cut. A large blade razor can help you manage large volumes of meat each day. The typical blade size for a heavy duty slicer is around 13 inches, and the medium blade is 12 inches.

3. Product tray (carriage)

These allow you to old products ranging from 7.5-12.5 inches in diameter inside the carriage. If you plan to use a blade to cut anything bigger than 12 inches, you must check if the product tray can hold that amount. Often these carriages can be automatic or manual based on the model.

4. Manual vs. Automatic

Some meat slicers have an automatic carriage involving an electric motor moving the tray. It's useful, allowing you to slice large quantities in one go. There's little assistance or staff supervision required to operate an automatic machine. The manual meat slicer needs more supervision as there are fewer safety features.

5. Gravity Feed

This feature enables you to push the meat, cheese, or other food product onto the blade easily. A feeder tray usually works at a 45 degree angle with a clamp. The clamp helps you feed the food onto the slicer and removes any physical effort. It also helps reduce product waste.

6. Kickstand or clean leg

Some meat slicers have a leg that can be kicked out. This is useful as it allows you to position the deli meat slicer high up so you can clean below it.

What can a meat slicer slice?

If you plan on owning a commercial meat slicer, you must know what it can cut so you don't damage the blade. Most slicers are made for slicing cheese and slicing meat. When buying a slicer, always check the product instructions to see what types of meat it can cut.

 Can a commercial meat slicer cut bone?

A commercial slicer is not made to cut through the bone of meat. The best restaurant equipment for this is a bone saw.

Can you cut frozen meat?

Not all meat slicers can cut frozen meat; however, some can. The ones that can often are the higher-end heavy duty slicers. Always check the product information first before buying.

How to use a meat slicer?

If you want to use a meat slicer, simply do the following:

  1. Wash each hand thoroughly and put on gloves.
  2. Lift the weighted arm of the pusher. Then add the meat or cheese onto the product carriage. Next, carefully place the pusher and guide it back into place to keep the food still.
  3. Open the gauge according to your chosen thickness.
  4. Turn on the unit
  5. Carefully move the carriage backward and forwards. You must do this to move the food across the spinning stainless steel blades. Always check the result of the first slice to ensure it matches your thickness.
  6. Keep pushing the carriage in the same motion manually until you've got the desired thickness or quantity. If it's automatic, keep it in the automatic mode until the task is complete.
  7. Switch off the slicer and close the gauge plate. You will want to turn the blade to 0 before removing the food.
  8. Wipe the meat slicer and clean thoroughly.

Safety tips and precautions

Most meat slicers can vary based on their model and purpose—for instance, some slice meat, cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, vegetables, and frozen products. No matter what you slice, always read carefully the operator's instructions that come in the box. Also, never use your hands to push food, always use the guide arm. Plus, always ensure the safety features work properly. You should also wear gloves, a hairnet, and goggles to prevent cross-contamination.

What should I look for in a commercial meat slicer?

If you plan on slicing meats or any other food, then you should consider the following in this equipment before buying:

  1. Stainless steel blades - These blades are essential for any meat slicer as it's difficult for them to rust. They're also easy to clean and can cut food with high precision.
  2. Built-in sharpener - Always look for a slicer that has a built-in sharpener. These will help keep your blades intact, preventing you from buying new ones.
  3. Blade size - Depending on the size of the restaurant or business you own, you'll want to pick the right blade size. In general, 12-inch blades are the most common; 12-14 inches are for premium, and 9-10 inches are for small restaurants.
  4. Guards - It would help if you bought a meat slicer that has a knife guard. These are essential to helping you prevent blade exposure and reducing injuries when cutting meat.

 Should you choose a manual or automatic meat slicer?

Automatic meat slicers are excellent for busy kitchens that require larger volumes of meat to be sliced. On the contrary, manual slicers require workhorse to move the carriage back and forth physically. Therefore automatic or manual is often a personal preference.

What are the best commercial meat slicers?

Regarding the best commercial meat slicers, there is quite a few to pick from, such as:

  • Prep line HBS220 9" blade: This slicer can cut meats and cheeses. It is semi-automatic and has a knife sharpener.
  • KWS MS-12NT premium blade: Low noise commercial meat slicer with a 12" Teflon blade.
  • BASSWOOD 10" premium Chromium-plated blade: This can cut meats, cheeses, and vegetables. It has a 1/3 power meaning it can be powered all day.

How do you sharpen a commercial meat slicer?

If you want to make the blade razor-sharp, then you should do the following:

  1. Make sure the slicer is clean before you sharpen it.
  2. Steadily loosen the bolt.
  3. Turn the blade sharpener 180 degrees so it lies on top of the blade and tighten it.
  4. Turn the slicer on and make sure the blade is spinning.
  5. Press and then hold the rear sharpening button. Briefly sharpen for less than 1 minute at a time. Once sharpened, press the release button.
  6. After this, press the front finishing button briefly. This will help you smooth the edge of the blade.
  7. Turn off the machine.
  8. Restore the sharpening section to its original position and tighten it.
  9. Clean any additional residue leftover from sharpening.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

To ensure the meat slicer is properly cleaned and well maintained, you will want to do the following:

  • Sharpen the slicer every 2 weeks to keep the blade in peak shape.
  • Lubricate all of the moving parts in the feeder tray and carriage. It's best to use a food-grade lubricant to allow your slicer to operate smoothly.
  • Sanitize the machine every day to prevent cross-contamination when slicing meat.


Overall, meat slicers can benefit any small restaurant, deli, grocery store, commercial kitchen, or large-scale restaurant. Ideally, you should aim to buy one with at least one safety feature, if not several. After all, blades are sharp, and you don't want to injure yourself when slicing.

Moreover, you should purchase blades made out of stainless steel to help for easier cleaning. Automatic and manual slicers both have their benefits, depending on the person. Therefore take your time to look at the specifications of each slicer and your requirements to see which one suits you best.

Kitchenall is a major distributor of commercial meat and deli slicers for sale, offering more than 50 high-quality models.

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