Sure, buying pre-ground meat is convenient.
Because you get total control over what goes in, you can experiment with different cuts and combinations of fat and lean meat, creating delicious blends that you can’t get at the store.
You can buy meat grinders of different types and sizes ranging from small hand-operated grinders to almost industrial size grinders for processing large quantities of meat. It all depends on what your needs are.
We think the STX International STX-3000 Turboforce Electric Meat Grinder is the best option for most people, and will easily handle anything you throw at it.
There’s plenty of other good choices depending on your budget so we’ll help you find the best meat grinder for your needs so you can concentrate on creating mouthwatering burger patties, sausages, or meatballs.
The STX-3000 can chew through tough cuts of meat and can handle both fine or coarse grinds easily. The included attachments make this grinder especially versatile.
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How we tested
We purchased each grinder with our own money and then put them through the same rigorous tests.
Each piece of meat was par frozen and cut into 2” x 3” cubes to ensure consistency of results.
Each grinder had to process a 4lb, clean-trimmed brisket flat for a single grind through the coarse plate, and a 6lb Boston pork butt for a double grind: first through the coarse plate, then second through the fine plate.
We’ll go into more detail about each grinder in the next section, but if you want a quick snapshot of the difference in performance this chart shows how much time each grinder took to get through the task.
|Grinder||4lb brisket single grind||6lb pork butt double grind|
|STX International STX-3000||7:27||30:14|
|ALTRA Stainless Steel Electric Meat Grinder||9:41||44:25|
|.5HP LEM Big Bite||3:08||12:20|
The 5 Best Meat Grinders Reviewed for 2021
1. Best Overall Meat Grinder – STX International STX-3000 Turboforce Speed Electric Meat Grinder
OK, we’ll admit it.
Our choice for the best overall meat grinder is probably a little bit overkill for the casual cook.
However, if you want to start grinding your own meat frequently, there’s nothing worse than getting stuck with a cheap grinder.
The STX-3000 grinder is a heavy-duty household machine that can bring a total of 1,200W to bear on any type of meat you feed into its funnel.
You can grind up to 360 pounds of well-trimmed meat per hour, which is more than enough for most people.
The advanced variable intake technology, or AVI, allows the grinder to safely and quickly accept large quantities of meat in short time spans. The grinder is a solid choice when you need to grind a lot of meat for a lot of people in a short time span
Even if you only want to grind a few pounds, it’s nice to be able to get it done quickly without your machine getting stopped up like some cheaper grinders are known to do.
The blades and plates are made of stainless steel and polished aluminum. The electric motor is strong and the rubber feet keep everything stable.
Both are exceptional materials for cleanliness, durability, and reliability.
You can switch between three speeds, one of which is a handy reverse function to help clear up any jams.
What we like:
- Excellent attachments – This grinder comes with a meat pusher attachment. This is really handy for getting larger amounts of meat into the funnel for grinding without getting your hands dirty. There’s also a Kubbe/Kibbe-making attachment, as well as three different sized sausage stuffing tubes.
- Industrial construction quality – Internal components are made of either polished aluminum or stainless steel.
- Speed selection/circuit breaker – Offers high and low speed settings. The addition of a circuit breaker makes this grinder a safer model to use than many other, cheaper kinds.
- Can take a lot of food – This grinder features AVI or Advanced Variable Intake technology which allows for large quantities of meat in short periods.
What we don’t like:
- Loud – There’s no way around it; STX3000 is loud.
- Auger pressure – Auger does not provide a perfectly tight seal, which can make filling sausage casing a bit of a challenge.
- Struggles with larger cuts – The motor can stall when processing larger chunks of meat so for best results, you should cut up your meat beforehand.
The STX-3000 handled the 4lb brisket flat in a little over seven minutes, churning out a coarse grind with no problem or slow down.
Double grinding the pork butt started off well, but the second grind through the fine plate bogged the machine down. The internal silverskin and sinew started getting caught up in the blade and plate.
This took a little over 30 minutes due to having to stop and clean out the particles clogging up the blade and plate.
STX International STX-3000 Test Results
|4lb brisket flat single grind||7:27|
|6lb Boston pork butt double grind||30:14|
The reverse function came in handy here, which helped to pull back some of the meat when it was starting to slow, as did the fact that you can choose between high or low speeds in managing meat flow.
Also, you’ll want to trim your meat of excess silverskin and tendons. That’s tough to do when grinding a whole pork butt or processing game as the blade bogs down and doesn’t wholly cut through sinew. Granted, the company warns not to grind tendons for this reason. Best to have your meat super clean and well trimmed.
If you want something that can grind through anything without slowing down you’ll want to check out the LEM Big Bite that we review below.
Other than those minor issues, the STX-3000 is a great choice. It chews through tough cuts of meat and can handle both fine or coarse grinds easily. Just be sure to trim any tendons, silverskin and sinew that you can get to for fast and efficient grinding.
Note that if you want to grind a lot of sausages, you should also check out the select model options that include a foot pedal for hands-free use.
2. Best budget meat grinder – ALTRA Stainless Steel Electric Meat Grinder
The ALTRA electric grinder is more affordable than many other electric models we’ve tested.
In fact, it’s closer in price to a manual grinder.
Despite that fact, it remains a reliable low-volume meat grinder.
The electric motor can go up to 350W.
Included with the purchase are two cutting blades, one sausage tube, a food pusher, and 2 Kibbeh attachments.
These are used to simplify the preparation of Kibbeh, which is spiced lamb packed inside a wheat shell.
You also get three different cutting plates for varying consistencies or textures.
These are roughly equivalent to coarse, medium or fine grinding.
Many of the most important parts are made of stainless steel. This steel has been layered three times to allow for increased durability and rust resistance.
Other parts are made of aluminum alloy and high-end ABS, a type of durable plastic.
Operation is easy with an on/off/reverse switch, although it lacks a speed variable function.
What we like:
- Easy to disassemble for quick cleaning – Thankfully, this grinder is easy to take apart so that you can clean each major piece individually. Putting everything back together is easy as well. To make things even more convenient, all of the blades, plates and other meat-touching parts can be thrown in the dishwasher.
- Good durability – Most of the grinder is made from high-quality materials such as stainless steel or aluminum alloy. The fact that it comes with a reverse switch should allow you to clean it more easily as well.
- Storage box – The grinder comes with a concealed storage box that you can use to store all of the parts you aren’t using. You can also store any other accessories that you frequently use with your meat grinder.
- Affordable – Compared to many other electric meat grinders, this model is very affordable.
What we don’t like:
- Loading tray and pushing handle are weak – The loading tray for pushing meat into the actual grinding mechanism is a little short and flimsy. It can feel unstable when you’re trying to feed meat into the machine. You’ll have to go a little slower to ensure that everything works properly. In addition, the pushing handle is made of a thin plastic cylinder that isn’t quite tough enough to push meat with any real force. Using another tool or implement is recommended if you need to add some extra force.
- Gets bogged down easily – If you overload the auger or pack down a bunch of meat with the stomper, the engine bogs down and it doesn’t grind effectively.
The Altra performed steadily with the brisket flat, grinding it in a little under ten minutes total through the coarse plate.
It struggled a bit with the pork butt even through the coarse plate. I knew if I continued, the machine would get stuck on the internal silverskin, so I stopped halfway through and trimmed as much of the sinew as I could from the remaining cubed pieces of meat.
Altra Test Results
|4lb brisket flat single grind||9:41|
|6lb Boston pork butt double grind||44:25|
This helped the grinder move along much more efficiently, but still some of the initial tendons that got through in the first grind caused the machine to struggle a bit in the second pass.
All in all, it took about 45 minutes total to double grind the pork butt.
The loading tray wobbled a bit when pushing with the stuffing handle. That Altra best performed when I played slow and steady letting the auger take the meat at its own pace.
This is a great choice if you want the convenience of an electric grinder without having to pay for industrial-price equipment.
It’s a lot lighter than other grinders we’ve looked at but still manages to churn through clean trimmed meat without clogging up.
3. Best High-End Meat Grinder – LEM Products Stainless Steel Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder
LEM is big in the meat and game processing market, and their products reflect that
Out of all the modes we tested the LEM is the most capable, grinding through pounds of meat fast and efficiently.
The LEM Big Bite electric meat grinder has several motors to choose from. You can pick between 0.35 and 1.5 Hp depending on how much meat you plan on grinding. The higher horsepower motors allow for truly fantastic speed and capacity.
This is a great choice for hunters who need to process a lot of raw meat, or if you need to make your own dog food. It doesn’t slow down even with large chunks of meat or if you have some silverskin left untrimmed.
We selected the .50 horsepower model for our review. It can grind about 13 pounds of meat per minute without breaking a sweat.
This motor size is the sweet-spot for most people who casually grind their own meats. Anything larger and you’re getting into the commercial realm.
If you find yourself grinding meat multiple times a week, every week, then by all means splurge on a larger motor.
It’s made from modernized brushed steel to minimize fingerprints and keep it looking great. In addition, the head uses a rifling pattern to push meat forward consistently. It doesn’t need constant prodding or pushing.
A storage drawer is located right beneath the grinder head to let you organize your accessories.
What we like:
- Excellent speed and capacity – The motor, rifling pattern in the head and extender auger all combine to churn meat through the grinder at a phenomenal rate.
- Grind strength – The LEM Big Bite handled any sinew and leftover silverskin that was left on the meat untrimmed without skipping a beat. Whereas other grinders start to slog at the blade, the Bit Bite cuts right through.
- Quiet when in use – With such a high-powered machine, you’d expect it to be relatively loud. But this grinder is relatively quiet and isn’t likely to disturb you once you’ve gotten used to the mild humming.
What we don’t like:
- Expensive – This electric grinder is quite expensive compared to all of the other options we’ve reviewed. While it has an excellent motor and works amazingly well, it’s probably only worth it if you need to grind a lot of meat.
The LEM Products Stainless Steel Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder is by far one of the best meat grinders you can pick if you need a lot of meat ground in a short amount of time.
It flew through the brisket flat in roughly 3 minutes, never skipping a beat. I couldn’t feed the machine fast enough for the coarse plate.
Double grinding the pork butt was equally as easy. It ran through six pounds of pork in 4 minutes for the first grind. Even switching plates I finished double grinding in about 12 minutes.
The feel of the grinder itself is rugged and sturdy, giving a commercial feel in heft and quality of components. It surpassed my expectations and made me wish I had a lot more meat to grind on test day.
This is a no-brainer for game hunters and processors, and a very forgiving grinder if you’re not adept at trimming meat primals.
The .5HP motor never struggled even when the auger and hopper were full. It just kept pulling and grinding meat at a steady pace.
.5HP LEM Big Bite Test Results
|4lb brisket flat single grind||3:08|
|6lb Boston pork butt double grind||12:20|
Don’t be shy on grind day as this machine is made for bulk processing. In total, I did ten pounds of meat in under a half hour, that’s with cleaning parts and switching plates between proteins. You could very easily fly through 50 pounds of meat and not bat an eye.
I have very little criticism for the LEM Big Bite, and if you have the budget it’s a noticeable upgrade in power output than the STX.
4. Best Stand Mixer Attachment – KitchenAid Metal Food Grinder Attachment
You get three different plates which allow you to grind lots of different things. The coarse plate is firm enough to grind, fruits, vegetables, and cheeses in addition to many types of meat.
Also included are two sausage stuffer tubes, a food pusher, and a cleaning brush.
The unit feels sturdy and is made of durable aluminum, while the plates are made of durable steel.
Everything is easy to take apart to clean.
If you want to save a little money you can opt for a plastic version that comes with two grind plates and no sausage stuffer tubes.
The all metal version definitely performs better though.
What we like:
- Easy to Use- Attaching this grinder to any KitchenAid mixer takes only a couple of seconds. Cleaning the grinder is easy since everything pulls apart into easy to wash pieces.
- Three grind plate – Gives you a lot of different grinding options. For burgers, you can use the coarse option, and for sausage, you’ll want to run it through once on coarse, and then once using the fine plate.
- Affordable – If you already have a KitchenAid stand mixer, getting the grinder attachment will be a lot cheaper than buying a stand alone grinder and offers almost as good performance.
What we don’t like:
- Grind Quality is Average – The downside to the low cost is that it has a tendency to struggle with fat and smear meat and clog easily.
If you already have a KitchenAid, the food grinder attachment is definitely tempting.
The results aren’t as good as you would get with a dedicated grinder like the STX-3000, but for the low price it’s a great option to start experimenting with
5. Best Manual Meat Grinder – LEM Products #10 Stainless Steel Clamp-on Hand Grinder
The LEM Products #10 manual grinder is a better choice for occasional or experimental grinding.
It’s much more affordable than electric models but is still built to last.
It boasts a heavy-duty stainless steel construction that makes it both easy to clean and resistant to rust damage.
It comes with a coarse 3/8″ and fine 3/16″ steel plates plus stainless steel knife and three different stuffing tubes, as well as a stuffing star. This helps you get meat through the grinder and onto your plate faster.
The handle turns very smoothly, which helps reduce the muscle fatigue you’ll feel as you grind your meat into the consistency you desire.
What We Like:
Stainless Steel Everywhere – All of it is made with stainless steel: the plates, the outside, the handle. Only the very edge of the handle, where your hand grips it to crank, is made of wood. This ensures that it’ll last for quite some time. It also lets you store it practically anywhere without having to worry about its function or durability degrading. The grinding plates and holes themselves will remain sharp, so your meat can be ground just as well in a few years as when you just bought it.
Wide Mounting Clamp – The grinder uses a mounting clamp that’s been sized for wide surfaces. This allows you to place the grinder on most countertops or tables so you can maintain stability while you turn the crank.
Good Accessories – The grinder comes with two choices of stainless steel plates, coarse or fine. It also has a stainless steel knife, three stuffing tubes, and a stuffing star. All of these are included despite the low asking price. This is fantastic value for money; you get a lot of value and functionality in this manual grinder.
What We Don’t Like:
Clamp Isn’t Deep – While the mounting clamp is fairly wide, especially compared to other manual meat grinders, it’s not very deep. This limits the kinds of services you can safely mount this unit on since the table or countertop needs to be thin enough to be secured.
This grinder is a great choice if you want to dabble in grinding your own meat, but don’t want to invest in (or have the bench space for) an electric grinder.
Everything feels sturdy down to the rubber feet and the handle turns smoothly.
Why you should grind your own meat
Grinding your own meat takes more effort and time than simply buying preground meat at the grocery store.
So why go through all this effort?
There are plenty of great reasons to ditch the store-bought meat and start grinding your own:
- Flavor improvement – Since you control the kind of meat, the cut, and the fat content, you get to decide how every bite tastes once you throw your meat on the grill or in the oven. Once you’ve made your own hot dogs from scratch you won’t want to buy store bought again.
- The texture – Your meat won’t spend a long time sitting in a package oxidizing. Instead, every meal will be fresh and your meat will be kept loose and moist.
- Health – Grinding your own meat is healthier than buying prepackaged stuff a lot of the time. Unlike with store-bought meat, you know exactly where your ground meat came from and can control what kind you eat.
- The cool factor – finally, there’s no denying that it’s simply cool to grind your own meat. It gives all of your cookouts or meals an air of authenticity and self-reliance that most people will envy or admire.
Finally, those of you who hunt your own meat will be able to use a grinder to create all kinds of foods out of your kills.
What’s best – electric vs. manual vs. stand attachment grinders
There are three major types of meat grinders on the market.
Each has there pros and cons, and the best one for you will depend on how you plan on using it.
Electric grinders like the STX 3000 don’t rely on manual power, so they are great when you need to grind a lot of meat in a short amount of time.
If you plan on making your own sausages, then an electric grinder can lets you start and stop the process easily is crucial.
- Can grind a lot of meat at one time
- Excellent for grinding meat quickly
- Can produce meat of different consistencies
- Pricier than the other two options
- May need intense maintenance
- Not good at stuffing sausage casings
Electric grinders can also be used effectively by hunters, since deer, for example, can contain up to 30 pounds of meat easily. Grinding all of that by hand would be tiring for anyone.
Most electric grinders can be set to produce meat of different textures or consistencies by choosing between different plates.
Electric grinders are more expensive than the other two types, most often. They’re also often larger and will take up more space in your kitchen.
As the name implies, manual grinders rely on human labor to do their work.
This means that manual grinders are best used for smaller amounts of meat. Great if you just want to churn out some gourmet burger patties every once in a while.
- Cheaper than electric
- Can be used anywhere
- Easier to maintain
- Grinds less meat less quickly than electric
- Doesn’t anchor well to all surfaces
Since they don’t require electricity, you can use them whenever you desire.
They don’t require as much maintenance, although they still need to be cleaned thoroughly just like electric grinders.
In addition, manual grinders are often cheaper than their electric counterparts.
Finally, if you have a KitchenAid or Cuisinart stand mixer in your kitchen, you might be able to find a stand attachment grinder that fits your mixer.
In this case, you can save space in your kitchen and still grind meat.
They also rely on power from your kitchen mixer, so you shouldn’t need to worry about finding another outlet for it to function.
These stand attachments can’t grind the same quantity of meat as the more expensive electric options, though.
They also rely on power from your kitchen mixer, so you shouldn’t need to worry about finding another outlet for it to function.
Stand attachment meat grinders are also usually cheaper than regular electric grinders.
- Fits in kitchen easily
- Doesn’t need an extra outlet
- Often has consistency settings to choose between
- Can only do a small amount of meat at a time
What to look for in a meat grinder
When searching for an ideal grinder, you should keep these key factors in mind so you can pick the right product for your needs.
How much and what kind of meat do you plan on grinding
Try and think ahead and plan how often you will be using the grinder.
For instance, if you only use the meat grinder once in a while, it’s likely a waste of time to purchase an expensive electric model.
Those models are designed to grind a lot of meat in a short amount of time.
You’d be much better off getting a manual or attachment type. Those models can handle small quantities of meat every night or once in a while depending on your preference.
If you do decide to purchase an electric grinder, you need to choose one with the right motor power.
Higher wattage leads to greater grinding capability. If you need industrial-capacity get a model that has high motor power.
But how do you compare grinders when one is rated in watts and one is rated in horsepower? In ideal settings, 746 watts is the equivalent of 1 horsepower, but take that with a grain of salt. If a motor is 100% efficient, that’s a 1:1 ratio, but when you factor in gears, blade sharpness, and auger size, you lose some power in translation.
That being said, in our testing experience, horsepower rated engines have stronger motors than those with equivalent “max” rating in wattages.
Ease of cleaning
Some meat grinders are easier to clean than others.
No matter which type you end up settling on, they’ll all need to be maintained fairly regularly.
If you don’t have the time or patience to clean and maintain a complex grinder, purchase a simpler machine. It won’t take as long to take apart and wash after each grinding session.
Features and attachments
Grinders can come with a variety of different features and attachments.
You want to make sure the grinder includes multiple plates to select different grind sizes.
I also like to have a grinder with a reverse function to clear any blockages like you get on the STX 3000.
You’ll also find some grinders that include attachments for sausage making, though meat grinders aren’t very good at sausage stuffing.
These can work well for small batches, but if you want to make a lot of sausages, we suggest investing in a dedicated sausage stuffer.
Keep any possible cool features in mind if you’re looking for an all-encompassing machine.
Some grinders are made from hard plastic while others are made from different types of metals.
You should definitely look for meat grinders that have stainless steel blades whenever possible.
This is because stainless steel is a hypoallergenic and rust-resistant material that is likely to retain its sharpness and durability longer than other typical steel types.
In general, grinders that have fewer parts made of durable metal will be cheaper while grinders made of higher-quality steel will be more expensive. For example, some grinders have plastic gears that wear easier over time, while others have all metal gears that last for the long haul.
This initial higher cost may translate to greater savings over time if the steel grinders don’t break as often, or at all.
How to use your meat grinder
Now that you’ve found the ideal meat grinder for your needs, let’s go over how to use it most effectively. For more detailed instructions check out our guide on how to grind your own meat.
1. Before you start grinding
First off, you’ll want to make sure that you keep all of your equipment cold before use.
This includes grinder attachments and the meat you plan on grinding.
Warm meat warm can easily smear the inside of your grinder. In addition, the various compounds inside the meat will start to separate. The fat, for instance, will begin to leak out of the meat and change texture as it dries out.
To avoid this issue, place all of your meat-grinding stuff into the freezer an hour before you’re ready to actually grind. You want that fat to stay cold and to emulsify into the meat mixture during a steady grind.
You can also simply keep it stored there permanently if that’s easier over the long term.
2. Select your meat
Cheap fatty cuts of meat work best for grinding. Chuck is great for beef, although I’m also partial to brisket or tri tip.
You can also use different combinations to get different quantities of fat and lean meat.
3. Trim your meat
Depending on your grinder, you’ll need to trim your meat first.
If you have a cheap electric of manual grinder I would recommend cutting it into one-inch pieces and getting rid of any tough sinew that can catch around the entry hole for your grinder.
If you have a more powerful electric grinder then you might not need to trim at all. This is very helpful when you’re trimming something like a pork butt that has a bunch of muscles and tissues that come together in one area.
4. Start grinding!
Exact instructions will vary depending on your machine so consult your manufacturer instructions.
For hamburgers, you don’t want the meat overworked, so one grind through the medium plate will suffice. If it’s still too coarse for your liking, you can grind through the same plate again, but don’t double grind through the small plate or the meat will start to emulsify.
You don’t want the meat to emulsify like a sausage. You want some space in the beef so juices can run through and spread throughout.
1. For sausage salt before grinding, and for burgers salt after making your patties
Salt dissolves certain proteins once it’s been mixed into the meat. This is fine for sausage, which is generally tighter and springer than burger meat.
But if you want your burger meat to taste the right way, you should hold off on adding salt or other seasonings until after your patties are formed.
2. Grind from large to small
For most meat mixtures, it’s a good idea to grind your meat twice, starting with the large coarse grind before running it through again using the fine plate.
Grinding twice is a great tactic in general for ending up with more tender meat if that’s what you’re after. All of this prevents smearing.
3. Avoid meat smearing
Speaking of smearing, you’ll want to watch your meat as it comes through the grinder.
An easy way to tell whether or not your grinder is smearing your meat is to check how “separate” each tiny piece is. In theory, perfect grinding will have all of your meat come out in tiny chunks with highly visible fat aspects resting alongside the protein.
Smeared meat will look mixed together and come out looking wet and clumpy. This leads to a bad texture, bad consistency, and potentially worse flavor.
To fix smearing, you might need to sharpen your blades, clean the plate, or perform other types of maintenance.
As always, keep everything cold too. Parfrozen meat is less likely to smear and keeps the fat intact.
You can also use a reverse function if your grinder is equipped with it to see if that clears up the trouble.
Meat grinder maintenance
Blade sharpening is no joke. The sharper the better, since dull blades can squish or smear meat pieces around.
You should check your blades at least every few times you use the grinder to see if they are dulling.
Most meat grinders need artificial blade sharpening once a year. The good news is that the blades will technically keep themselves sharp if you use the grinder frequently.
This is because the blades will strike the plate microscopically each time that you use the machine. This will help keep the space between the blades plate small and tight.
However, you’ll still likely need to artificially sharpen the blades every once in a while.
Keeping the plate clean is also important, because the meat that rests on the plate will quickly attract bacteria and germs.
You need to make sure that the plate is thoroughly clean each time you use it. Washing it manually with hot water and plenty of soap is the best way to ensure safety.
Finally, you can also remove the remaining meat chunks or bits from your grinder by grinding a piece of bread or a few wadded up paper towels. The bread will likely pass through and can be disposed of after absorbing some of the meat remnants.
The paper towels won’t manage to come all the way through, instead of absorbing oil and fat remnants left behind. It’ll be easier to clean the inside of the grinder after doing either of these two things.
Wrapping it up
While all of the options we reviewed are great for certain scenarios, the best overall is still the STX International STX-3000 Turboforce Speed Electric Meat Grinder.
Its great capacity for grinding lots of meat in a short time span, excellent selection of attachments, texture and speed variations, and great durability all make it a worthwhile choice for anyone looking for a good all-around meat grinder.
Whatever your choice, remember to keep the parts clean and store your unit in your freezer before use! Happy cooking!