Kitchn Love Letters

This Restaurant-Grade Amazon Tool Cuts My Meal-Prep Time In Half

published Nov 29, 2022
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someone is grating peeled potatoes with a mandolin
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

As a professional cook, I spend my workday on my feet in a hot kitchen, searing, chopping, and plating food for other people. After eight, 10, and sometimes 12 hours of standing and cooking, you better believe the last thing I want to do after my commute home is stand and cook some more. And, some nights, the call of Uber Eats is too much to resist — but most nights, I cook anyway. My secret weapon for banging out 30 minutes of knife work and prep in half the time is simple: my mandoline slicer

Even though I cook for a living — and a major part of that is doing everything the right way and the long way — when I’m off the clock, that no longer applies. When I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to lug out my cutting board and knife (let alone clean any extra dishes), I turn to my trusty mandoline. If you’re unfamiliar, a mandoline has a plastic or metal body with a gap in the middle lined with a blade. You can adjust how close the blade is to the body, which determines how thick your slices end up. This tool comes in handy for quickly slicing onions and garlic to saute, slicing up some carrots to add some extra veg into a salad, and even slicing up some cheese for a simple sandwich.

Most mandolines also come with accessories that you can attach to shred veggies into matchsticks. At work, I use them to slice potatoes paper thin for house-made potato chips, shred uniform cabbage for huge batches of coleslaw, and slice veggies for pickles — there’s not many tasks they aren’t up to. You can even achieve perfect cubes by using the attachment that slices wide matchsticks and then cross-cutting with a knife. 

Credit: Nick DeSimone

I’ll admit — mandolines can be a bit intimidating. They’re basically tiny reverse guillotines we keep in the kitchen. And, you may have heard a horror story or two about some serious cuts. However, if you use them safely, they’re a tool no home kitchen should be without. This mandoline comes with a safety guard that protects your fingers, but you can also use knife safety gloves when slicing to take any danger out of the situation. With a bit of practice, you’ll wonder how you ever cooked without one! Mandolines can make quick work of arduous cutting for weeknight dinners, but they can also produce show-stopping results when you’re looking for something a little more involved. 

Credit: Nick DeSimone

Beyond the speed and ease this mandoline provides — complete with features including a round edge to fit bowls for stability — a significant benefit lauded in professional kitchens is the tool’s uniformity. I always reach for a mandoline when making my signature potatoes gratin because I want each potato slice to be totally identical. A too-thin piece will cook too fast and become mush, while slices that are too thick will lead to unpleasant bites of undercooked potato. When everything is the same size, they cook at the same rate, and the end result is a pleasant, homogenous texture. Uniformity within the slice is a major advantage as well. When slicing tomatoes and onions for burgers, nothing is worse than a lopsided burger from a slice of tomato that’s razor-thin on one side and thicker than the patty on the other. With a mandoline slicer, that’s a thing of the past.