There are many vacuum sealers that really suck. Now that we have that pun out of the way, I will not revisit it again. I’ll just say that as a father of two hungry boys and a healthy wife, I have to cook a lot of food. One of the pro tips I’ve learned is that making extra food is only advantageous if the leftovers taste good. My family is notoriously picky when it comes to leftovers.
One way to keep your food fresh is to use a vacuum sealer. Consequently, I’m here to help you find the best vacuum sealer for your needs.
Types of Vacuum Sealers
The most common model of vacuum sealer used for household purposes is the external vacuum sealer. The majority of the vacuum sealers I reviewed were external packers. They have a compact design, can be used to seal any size bag, are easy to use, do not require regular maintenance, and you can hold the bag while it is sealing if you like having control. There are also handheld designs that are usually cheaper and are not as easy to use.
The other option is the chamber vacuum sealers that are generally used for commercial purposes, cost a lot, and are generally not worth the extra price. With a chamber sealer, the filled bag goes into a secret lair where it is subjected to unspeakable tortures. If you plan on vacuum sealing a lot of liquid items, then the chamber sealer might be your best bet.
What to Look for in a Vacuum Sealer
When shopping for a vacuum sealer, there is an endless list of factors to consider. My list, which has an end, includes:
- Look for what materials are included with the device.
- What kind of maintenance is required for the sealer?
- Is there a nice long warranty?
- What handheld attachments or accessories are included?
- Does it include an extra-long sealing bar?
- Are there safety mechanisms built-in? You don’t want to accidentally vacuum seal someone dear to you.
- Is a dishwasher-safe drip tray provided? Or, do you have to make your own from repurposed bottles?
- Will it watch your kids while you run to the liquor store?
Nozzles Are Pretty Cool
When it comes to gross words, “nozzle” ranks right up there with “moist.” Unfortunately, you cannot talk about vacuum sealers without mentioning both of these squeamish words. Some external vacuum sealers feature a nozzle that sneaks into the bag to get rid of all of the moisture and air. It then retracts into its original position before sealing.
These external sealers are cool because they can work with any type of pouch or bag, and therefore, you will save money in the long run. On the down side, you might end up with a bunch of liquid in your sealer, which could shorten its life.
Some vacuum sealers with nozzles will pump nitrogen or other inert gases into the bag. This protects against biological deterioration caused by oxygen and keeps fragile food items – like chips or bread – from being destroyed.
Now that you have graduated from Vacuum Sealer 101 (I’ll email you your certificate), here are my picks for the top 10 best vacuum sealers:
- Comes with built-in retractable handheld sealer for containers, zipper bags, marinating, and canisters
- Has settings for dry and moist food
- Dishwasher-safe drip tray for when you’re drooling while looking at your food
The “2-in-1” in the name of the FoodSaver V4840 refers to the fact that you can do handheld stuff with this device as well as have it sit on your countertop and take up valuable space. Granted, it does have a nice vertical design that keeps it from dominating your kitchen. Anyway, this unit is great because you have complete control. For instance, if you don’t want the vacuum seal to destroy your food, you can stop the vacuum from sucking out air once it appears all of the oxygen is out.
- Instant CrushFree seal keeps the vacuum from pulverizing your pork rinds
- Comes with two vacuum sealer rolls and ten pre-cut bags
- 10-year restricted warranty
The GameSaver Deluxe has a lot going for it. Its selling point is that it was specifically designed for fishers, hunters, and other sportspersons. The GameSaver is kind of cool in that it has a built-in cutter that makes for evenly cut bags. The only complaint is that if you are using this to vacuum seal an entire deer, first of all, you will need to have it butchered. Secondly, every five seals or so, you need to let the unit cool down. It gets pretty hot and bothered when you work it hard.
- Comes with retractable handheld sealer
- Automatic bag detection and vacuum sealing leaves the thinking to the robots
- Has a Rapid Marinate Mode
You may have noticed by now that I’m partial to FoodSaver vacuum sealers. They are inarguably the best vacuum sealer company in the world. You can’t argue with that. The V4440 is just a more affordable step down from the V4840. They say that you’re supposed to use FoodSaver brand bags and rolls with the FoodSaver vacuum sealers, but you’ll be fine without them. However, the FoodSaver bags are sous vide-safe.
- Fully automatic, so you don’t have to keep pulling the trigger
- Comes with everything you need to get started right out of the box
- Auto-detects bag type and moistness of food
Have you ever had to give up on a yummy meat-based recipe because it required hours of marinating, and you needed to start cooking fifteen minutes ago? The V4880 can help you with this problem. The rapid marinate mode seals those flavors in there in a matter of minutes.
- Commercial-grade sealer with two-year warranty
- Excellent for sous vide cooking and marinating foods
- Seals bags up to fifteen inches wide
If you absolutely need something heavy duty and are willing to fork over $400 for it, the Weston Pro-2300 is the way to go. It works quickly using a double piston pump seal bar. The Pro-2300 weighs 22 pounds, which makes it hard for you to bring it to picnics and such, but it does stay put as you seal up your venison or salmon or whatever. This is the highest-rated non-FoodSaver sealer, and I strongly recommend it if you regularly have big vacuum sealing projects.
- Switch for extending seal time for wet foods
- Comes with two vacuum sealer rolls and ten bags
- One-touch operation and automatic shut-off so you don’t get carried away
The Nesco VS-02 is the best vacuum sealer you will find for under $50. It is popular to complain about products coming from China. But, I don’t really buy it. I don’t see anything wrong with taking advantage of the global economy to make things cheaper. That said, there is a right way to make things cheaper and a wrong way. FoodSaver appears to produce superior products to Nesco’s offerings despite both using factories in China. Some manufacturers are better than others, even in China.
- “Starter kit” means you get a manual, a vacuum seal roll, and a few bags
- Has built-in bag cutter and roll holder
- Has settings for dry and moist foods
One of the cool aspects of buying the V3240 or really any vacuum sealer for that matter is that your food stores up to five times longer than if you use ordinary storage (e.g., Zip-Lock freezer bags.) Basically, you can keep that squirrel you shot, skinned, and butchered free from freezer burn for up to three years.
- Uses 40 percent less bag material than other FoodSaver units
- Five-year limited warranty
- Small footprint on your counter so you’ll have more room for appliances you’ll never use
If you don’t like the size or all of the fully-automatic features found with the more expensive FoodSaver models, then the FM2000 should serve you well. This just has a little bit of a learning curve to it.
- Vertical design
- Has two vacuum speeds and is fully automatic
- Comes with built-in retractable nozzle
The V3835 first came out in 2003. Since then, FoodSaver has introduced better machines at a lower or comparable price. I’d only recommend this unit if it fits the precise kitchen space needs you have.
- Best for light-duty pantry and refrigerated foods
- Compact, easy to use, and cordless
- Comes with eighteen quart-sized vacuum zipper bags
If the execs at FoodSaver were smart, they’d talk to Costco about offering the FSFRSH0051 with every membership. If you want an introduction to vacuum sealing and don’t want to spend a ton, this little guy will serve you well.
Do you have a special someone in your life who enjoys bulk buying or sous vide cooking and could benefit from a vacuum packer? Share this article with them before it’s too late!