Massively extending the life of your stored food, maximizing your freezer space, allowing you to cook straight from the freezer, getting you some of that sweet sweet sous vide action, is there anything a good vacuum sealer can’t do?
If you find yourself tossing a lot of freezer-burned and out of date food or struggling to cram stuff into your freezer, read on to get the low-down on the best vacuum sealers.
We’ll show you why one deserves pride of place in your kitchen.
The 6 Best Vacuum Sealers Reviewed
1. Foodsaver V4400 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer Machine
The Foodsaver V4400 is easily one of the most convenient vacuum sealers on the market, offering excellent performance and several quality-of-life bells and whistles that make it a doddle to use.
The V4400 is compatible with all pre-made bag sizes and the automatic bag detection means all you need to do is feed the top of your food bag into the machine and let it handle the rest.
The V4400 is also compatible with FoodSaver 8” and 11” vacuum seal rolls and its built-in roll storage and cutter allow you to make custom-sized bags with ease. It even comes with a retractable handheld sealer for jars and canisters.
Inbuilt moisture detection helps to identify moist food, and the V4400 will automatically switch to a separate “moist food” mode to ensure a good vacuum seal. Any moisture that is sucked into the machine is deposited in a dishwasher-safe removable drip tray.
FoodSaver guarantee that the V4400 will reach optimal vacuum level and create an airtight seal, and they back up that confidence in the quality of their workmanship with a 5-year limited warranty.
If that wasn’t enough, the V4400 comes with the option to fit a regular and wide mouth mason jar sealer and a bottle stopper for wine and oil bottles, both sold separately.
What we like:
- The build quality and durability of the V4400 are both backed up by that 5-year limited warranty
- The separate dry/moist food modes that the V4400 automatically switches between to get the best possible seal
- The simplicity and ease of use of the V4400’s one-touch LED button operation
- The convenience of the V4400 being compatible with all pre-made bag sizes and being able to use vacuum seal rolls with built-in cutter and roll storage.
What we don’t like:
- At 11″ x 20″ x 12″, the V4400 is quite large for an external suction vacuum sealer, and at 9.6lbs, it’s too heavy to really be considered portable.
- The V4400 can’t be used to vacuum seal liquids, which, doesn’t make it any different to any other external suction vacuum sealer, but it is still annoying
2. Runner Up – Vacuum Sealer By NutriChef
Where the V4400 is chock full of options and extras, the Vacuum Sealer By NutriChef is as simple as its name.
Light, portable, and just as simple to use as the V4400, the Vacuum Sealer comes five with reusable and waterproof vacuum bags, a complimentary roll of vacuum bags, and an air suction hose and wine stopper cork for resealing wine or oil bottles.
The sealing process is one-touch, and, like the V4400, the Vacuum Sealer has alternate modes for sealing dry or moist food. Unlike the V4400, however, these modes don’t activate automatically.
With dimensions of 14.1” x 6.0” x 3.0” and weighing in at 2.93lbs, the Vacuum Sealer is significantly smaller and lighter than the V4400, making it easy to store and carry, ideal for those who favor portability over bells and whistles.
What we like:
- It comes with complimentary reusable bags and a wine bottle resealer
- Compared to the V4400, the Vacuum Sealer is compact and lightweight
- The Vacuum Sealer has dry and moist food modes
- The ease of the one-touch activation system
What we don’t like:
- The dry and moist food modes don’t activate automatically
- The lack of adjustable sealing settings that would let the Vacuum Sealer work with any kind of vacuum bag
3. Best on a budget – GERYON Vacuum Sealer Machine
For just $54.99, the GERYON Vacuum Sealer Machine is a reliable and straightforward vacuum sealer that works on a variety of sealable containers.
At 2.6” x 5.5” x 14.4” and weighing in at 3.5lbs, the Vacuum Sealer Machine is lightweight and compact enough to be portable and has enough functionality to raise it above other budget vacuum sealer offerings.
Despite its low price, the GERYON machine comes with 6 sealing options, including different settings for moist and dry food and the opportunity to seal, but not vacuum the bag. It also comes with ‘gentle’ and ‘normal’ pressure options for bag sealing.
The Vacuum Sealer Machine ships with a starter kit, including an air suction hose for vacuum sealing compatible containers, 5 reusable heat-seal bags, and a roll of single-use vacuum bags, ideal for people looking to get a cost-effective start in the world of vacuum-sealed food.
What we like
- The GERYON Vacuum Sealer Machine comes at a very competitive price for its number of functions and included accessories
- It’s small enough to be portable and easy to store
- The starter kit comes with everything you need to get vacuuming, so no need to buy extra items
What we don’t like
- The Vacuum Sealer Machine comes pre-set to the ‘gentle’ sealing setting, which doesn’t always result in a great airtight seal, and it’s not apparent that the buttons for changing those settings are on the side, not the top.
4. Best high end – Avid Armor Vacuum Sealer Machine A100
A scaled-down commercial model for home use, the Avid Armor Vacuum Sealer Machine A100 is a must-have for people who are using it for small business purposes or who just really need to vacuum seal a lot of food.
The double piston pump gives the machine some real vacuuming power, and the built-in cooling fan cuts down on the seal cycle time, meaning you can seal multiple bags at a faster rate. It also has a port on the side to attach a vacuum hose that you can use to seal jars and canisters.
One of the standout features of this machine is its impulse bag sealer mode, which seals the bags without the vacuuming step, allowing you to seal up fragile foods like chips, fruit, or bread.
This machine might lack a few of the more convenient functions, but it makes up for that in its robustness and the speed at which is can seal up a lot of food.
What we like:
- The cooling fan and double piston pump to speed up the vacuuming process
- The extra-wide 12” sealing bar for larger bags
- The fact that the Avid Armor Vacuum Sealer Machine A100 is the only machine on this list to come with spare parts
What we don’t like:
- The lack of a dry or moist food setting to help get an optimal seal for high liquid content food
- The fact that is weights 14.5lbs, making it less than easily portable
5. Best handheld – FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer
The ultimate in convenient portability, the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer is just 8.9” x 3” x 4” and only weighs 1lb. This nifty handheld device is designed to be used on the go with FoodSaver FreshSaver vacuum zipper bags and FoodSaver deli containers.
It doesn’t have anywhere near the functionality or the power of any of the other models on this list, but none of those would fit in a pocket like this one does. It might struggle with larger food items, but it is terrific at what it does, extending the life of easily perishable refrigerated foods like deli meats and cheeses.
What we like:
- The small size and light weight for easy portability
- The ability to use it with mason jars that have a compatible vacuum sealing lid
- The smooth, push-down, activation method
What we don’t like:
- The fact that the proprietary FoodSaver FreshSaver vacuum zipper bags are not reusable
- The fact that users report that the battery does not hold a charge for more than a day
6. Best Chamber Sealer – VacMaster VP215 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
Where external suction vacuum sealers have the benefits of being compact, lightweight, and easy to store, a chamber sealer will allow you to do things they just can’t.
If you regularly seal large amounts of food, need to vacuum seal liquids or liquid-rich foods, or you are a hunter looking to store larger cuts, then the VacMaster VP215 Chamber Vacuum Sealer is going to make your life much easier.
As we mention in the buying guide below, a chamber sealer keeps the air pressure inside and outside the storage bag equal until it is sealed. This means it won’t compress liquids, spraying them everywhere, or suck the liquid into the vacuum pump, potentially damaging the mechanism.
This ability to seal liquids allows you to make huge batches of sauce or soup and store them for up to five times longer than normal.
The VP215 uses 10” by 13” bags, perfect for larger cuts of meat or fish and ideal for hunters or anglers looking to store their catch.
Because it uses an oil pump, the VP215 is both powerful and needs little in the way of cooldown time, so you can seal up a lot of food without wasting time.
With dimensions of 20” x 14” x 15” and weighing in at 84lbs, the VP215 is neither light nor portable. However, if you need speed and power and don’t mind the fact that it’s a little bulky, this chamber sealer is the perfect choice.
What we like:
- The 10” by 13” bags are ideal for storing larger food items
- The heavy-duty oil pump makes the vacuuming process quick and cuts down on cooldown
- Unlike external vacuum sealers, the VP215 can be used to seal up liquids and moisture rich foods
What we don’t like:
- The VP215 is heavy, so if you are looking for a portable vacuum sealer, you might need to look elsewhere
- The Vacmaster pouches are sized to the machine and are proprietary
In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know about vacuum sealers, so you’ll know what to look for when you head out to buy one.
How do vacuum sealers work?
All vacuum sealers work by removing the air from a sealable plastic container and then sealing it closed to prevent the air from rushing back in. Most vacuum sealers use proprietary containers to maintain the vacuum or specific types of plastic bags that can be melted shut.
Some vacuum sealers create a vacuum through the use of a pressure chamber and some by using specially designed bags and an internal vacuum pump.
We’ll go over the pros and cons of the different styles of vacuum sealer later in this article.
What are the benefits of using a vacuum sealer?
The benefit of using a vacuum sealer to remove the air from around the food that you are trying to preserve is that, by removing the oxygen, you significantly slow down the rate at which your food oxidizes.
By cutting down on the amount of oxygen around your food, the spoiling process slows, and you can store food for much longer than if they had not been vacuum sealed.
Vacuum sealing also prevents food from losing additional moisture when frozen, which can help to prevent freezer burn, which is dehydration of the surface of frozen food caused by air exposure.
Finally, vacuum-sealed food takes up less space in your fridge and freezer, much like vacuum-sealed bedding in your wardrobe, freeing up some additional storage space.
Types of vacuum sealers
As we mentioned, vacuum sealers generally come in one of two kinds, chamber vacuum sealers and external suction vacuum sealers, each with their own pros and cons.
1. Chamber vacuum sealers
Until recently, chamber vacuum sealers tended to be too bulky to be used anywhere other than in commercial settings.
However, advancements in the vacuum creation technology that they use have allowed chamber vacuum sealers like the VacMaster VP215 to become small enough to be used in the home.
Chamber vacuum sealers work by removing the air from a pressure chamber in which a sealable bag of food has been placed.
Because the air pressure inside and outside of the container remains the same, the bag does not deform, and the food is not disturbed, allowing you to vacuum seal liquids or very moist food.
- Because of the use of a pressure chamber, chamber vacuum sealers can be used to vacuum seal liquids and food with a high liquid content
- Works very quickly and is very effective if you find yourself vacuum sealing large amounts of food
- Some models come with additional features that allow for the vacuum sealing of other containers and the sealing of fragile foods, like chips.
- As a scaled-down industrial applicant, most chamber vacuum sealers tend to be bulky, heavy, and expensive.
2. External suction vacuum sealers
External suction vacuum sealers work by clamping down on a specially designed vacuum bag, that has been filled with food, and then suctioning the air out with a pump before heat sealing the bag.
Compared to chamber sealers, external suction sealers have low vacuum strength, requiring the use of specially grooved vacuum bags to boost their suction power. Most external suction sealers cannot be used to seal liquids or very moist food, as this gets sucked into the pump mechanism.
- External suction vacuum sealers were designed for convenient home use, so they tend to be smaller, lighter, and less bulky than chamber sealers
- External suction sealers are comparatively inexpensive
- Some models can be used to seal proprietary canisters or jars in addition to bags
- Most external suction sealers cannot be used to seal liquids or food with high liquid content
- Because of their low vacuum strength, external suction sealers take much longer than chamber sealers to remove the air from a container, making them less practical if you find yourself vacuum sealing a lot of food on a regular basis.
3. Handheld Vacuum Sealers
Handheld vacuum sealers are a smaller, lightweight, battery-powered option that uses a combination of a compact handset with a pump in it and a special ziplock bag with a non-return valve mounted on it.
Smaller food items can be placed in the bag and then sealed by pushing the pump handset against the non-return valve and sucking out the air.
As you might expect from a handheld option, these small, portable sealers don’t have a lot of power and can’t be used to seal liquids. They work great with smaller perishable food items like cheese or deli meats, but will generally struggle with anything larger. Their main selling point it their portability.
- Most handhelds are small, light and battery powered, which means you can carry your vacuum sealer around with you in a bag or backpack
- Compared to chamber or external pump sealers, handhelds are reasonably inexpensive and less complicated to use
- The non-return valve ziplock bags are generally reusable and washable
- Handheld sealers can’t be used to seal larger food items or liquids
- The vacuum pump uses a fair amount of battery power, which means maintaining power can be a problem if you are sealing a lot of food
What to look for in a vacuum sealer
The best way to find a vacuum sealer that you’ll be happy to use regularly is to invest in one that matches up to your needs. To help you with that, we’ve put together some key utility features you’ll want to look out for when buying a vacuum sealer.
If you are looking for a vacuum sealer for sealing up leftovers and storing them in your fridge freezer, then an external suction sealer should work fine.
The two measurements you’ll need to look at are the length of the sealing bar, which is the section that melts the vacuum bag closed, and the volume of the vacuum bags themselves, especially if the machine you’re looking at uses proprietary bags.
However, if you’re looking to seal up large quantities of food, or bulky foods like ribs, or joins of meat, then you’ll probably be better off investing in a chamber sealer, as they are faster and can vacuum seal large items.
When buying a chamber sealer, remember to check the width of the chamber, which tends to range from 8″ to 13″, and if the model you are looking at has a removable pressure plate or a domed cover to increase its depth.
Manual or auto?
Most vacuum sealers made for the home market automatically seal the vacuum bag based on a specific parameter. For external suction sealers, it is usually a pre-set time after the sealer has been activated, which is called its ” Vacuum Cycle.”
Most chamber sealers and some higher-end external suction sealers use the pressure in the bag or chamber as their cue to seal the bag.
Some vacuum sealers require the user to control when the sealing should begin manually. If you are looking for the greatest ease of use in your vacuum sealer, it’s best to invest in one with automatic sealing controls.
The seal cycle is how long you’ll have to leave your vacuum sealer after each use to allow it to cool down and be ready to operate again. Trying to seal another bag before the seal cycle completes could result in a poor seal or even irreparable damage to the sealer’s heating element.
If you find yourself needing to store a large quantity of food in small individual amounts, it’s probably worth investing in a chamber sealer as they tend to have a faster seal cycle.
As we mentioned earlier, chamber sealers tend to be bulky and heavy. If you are looking for a vacuum sealer for a small kitchen, an RV, or even to take to a cookout with you, then an external suction sealer represents a lighter, more portable option.
Once you’ve picked the basic outline of what you want from a vacuum sealer, it’s time to think about the bells and whistles.
Standard extra features for vacuum sealers include an external vacuum system that can be used to vacuum cans, jars, and canisters, adjustable seal settings that allow you to use different kinds of vacuum pouches and a bag roll cutter that will enable you to create custom-sized pouches that are less expensive than pouch packets.
How much benefit you get for those extra features depends on your individual vacuum sealing needs.
Foods that should not be vacuum sealed
While a vacuum sealer can be used to extend the life of steak leftovers, certain foods do not react well to a vacuum.
If you are sealing liquids using a chamber sealer, make sure the liquid is properly cooled to at least room temperature. Hot liquids exposed to low air pressure will start to boil, potentially exploding and at the least, making a mess of your machine.
Raw mushrooms, garlic, freshly cooked or steamed vegetables, and soft cheeses like blue cheese, brie, camembert, and ricotta all contain anaerobic bacteria. These bacteria do not need air to thrive and will multiply quickly in a vacuum-sealed bag, representing a potential risk to your health.
Additionally, vegetables from the Cruciferae or Brassicaceae family release a gas that will cause them to spoil even when vacuum sealed. To store these vegetables in a vacuum pouch, you first need to blanch them and dry them.
Some common Cruciferae and Brassicaceae vegetables are:
- bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
Wrapping it up
Vacuum sealing! It’s easy, convenient and means less food waste and more fridge space. You can even couple it with your sous-vide machine, providing you have the right kind of vacuum bag, and go straight from freezer to table.
You don’t get much more convenient than that.
For most people, we recommend the Foodsaver V4400 thanks to its simple operation and build quality.
If you’ve got a favorite model of vacuum sealer that had done well by you, or any vacuum sealing trade secrets you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.