Monday, 22 June 2015

Vegetable Spiralizers and other gadgets to make vegetable spaghetti or noodles

If you haven't heard of a vegetable spiralizer, then you've almost certainly probably seen food prepared with one somewhere...

...whether in a salad, or in cooked form: Courgettes (aka zucchini) are a common one - so common in spiralized cooked form they even have their own name now, known as 'courgetti' or 'zoodles', as a grain free, low carb, low calorie alternative to traditional spaghetti or noodles. And if you've ever been for sushi, you've quite possibly noticed the pretty spirals of Japanese white radish served alongside slices of sashimi.

Many vegetables (and also some fruits) are excellent candidates for being spiralized to add to salads, stir fries, fritattas, soups etc., or to eat in place of pasta and noodles. With thicker cut strands or plain spiral cut, they can also be tossed in a little oil and roasted, to add to or make delicious warm salads, or as side dishes, snacks or garnishes. Spiralizing vegetables can also make them more appealing to those who aren't keen on conventionally served vegetables or salads - including children!

This blog is primarily about horizontal vegetable spiralizers, as I have almost lost count of the amount of people I've seen wondering which type of spiralizer they should buy, in the current climate of their popularity!

After consulting with the members of my 5:2 recipe group, most people were looking for something within the price bracket of £20-25 pounds, so one of my goals was to find spiralizers within or close to this bracket.

There are other types of spiralizers, and other methods to make vegetable spaghetti / noodles, and I have given you an overview below with approximate current costs for comparison purposes. I have used all of the equipment covered myself, and own at least one type of each myself (mostly two), bar the handheld spiralizers (because I really don't like them!).

If you find this blog useful, please do leave me a little comment below, thank you :)

Overview of vegetable spiralizers and similar equipment
Click on the photo of each type to be taken to an example of a popular choice with customer reviews on Amazon (contains affiliate links*).

Horizontal vegetable spiralizers - probably the most prolific and popular form of vegetable spiralizer. There are quite a few very similar models all doing the same thing, making it harder to choose one. Essentially, there are two basic types - firstly, the plastic white variety which have interchangeable plates that slide in from the top, usually consisting of a plate with a plain blade (for a wide sliced spiral) and  two plates with teeth to cut a medium-sized and a wide 'spaghetti'. The plates generally store under the spiralizer. This type usually has a small round tubular 'blade' to anchor the vegetable on the end where it is sliced, which means a few millimetres wide from the centre of the vegetable is not spiralized. This can come in useful for vegetables with a woody or seeded core which is not desirable, and is ideal for spiralizing fruit such as apples and pears that have pips. The other end of the vegetable is gripped by teeth on a small disc attached to the handle which you turn. Secondly, there is the Japanese-style vegetable spiralizer / slicer which is very similar in appearance and operation, but has a fixed blade within the whole unit, and a set of different interchangeable teeth which are anchored next to the blade. This type generally produces much finer sliced and spiralized vegetables and is slightly smaller overall, but does not disassemble for cleaning, other than the small 'teeth'. These are the largest types of vegetable spiralizers. Costs from around £20 to £90.

Upright / vertical vegetable spiralizers and slicers - there are a few different brands to choose from. Some have containers underneath to catch the vegetables, some are contained units with a handle on the top, and others are open. In all events, you have to cut the vegetable to size, and with some there is only enough room for a few inches at a time, which can be frustrating and mean more overall wastage if you don't use / eat the leftover slice each time you cut a length (although on the other hand, they generally have a spike next to the blade to anchor the vegetable, rather than a tubular blade, like horizontal spiralizers, so you don't lose the very middle part). The fact that the pressure is applied from above can make this easier to work than some horizontal spiralizers, which may require both hands to provide pressure whilst turning at the same time. Vertical spiralizers may also be easier to use for those who are left-handed. They are relatively bulky to store, but generally a little smaller than horizontal spiralizers. Most will have the option of using a plain blade for a long spiralized slice the width of the vegetable, plus one or more sets of teeth / blades for different thicknesses of vegetable 'spaghetti'. Cost around £25 to £35.

Mandolins - there are many different mandolins which vary in price and quality. They are excellent for consistently and/or finely sliced vegetables (usually with a range of widths) and also for julienned vegetables (finely cut, like matchsticks), usually of different widths (however some mandolins only slice, so check what attachments / blades there are). Most mandolins are flat or folding, so generally a reasonable size to store, and in themselves an excellent multifunctional time-saving kitchen gadget. You do need to use the guards provided to avoid slicing off your knuckles (I have the scars to prove this), and to be on the safe side some cut resistant kitchen gloves are a good investment, and also take care when washing / cleaning to avoid cutting yourself. Not something to let the kids loose with. Costs from around £10 to £55.

Handheld spiralizers - the second cheapest option. Like giant pencil sharpeners, you insert the vegetable and turn it by hand. Only really good for small quantities, as also time-consuming, and you are left with a fair bit of waste at the end (and aching hands). Some of the smallest, most compact models only have only one setting, some are double ended (like the one pictured) and you can get more expensive models with different blades. Results can be quite inconsistent depending on the vegetable in question between different models. They can be difficult to clean, and will generally require a long-handled brush. Costs around £5 to 15.

Julienne peelers - this is generally the cheapest option. It's essentially a vegetable peeler with vertical blades as well as horizontal blades which will cut you long thin strips of vegetable (like long matchsticks, which are straight rather than curly / spiral). This takes up the least amount of storage space, but can be more time consuming and quite fiddly to use, especially near the end of the vegetable. Generally only one setting for thickness. Costs around £2 to £10.

Horizontal spiralizer reviews

Firstly, the latest addition to my horizontal spiralizer 'collection', and my absolute favourite. The ProCook Spiralizer. I purchased this spiralizer myself (and I'm not in any way affiliated or associated with ProCook) because I liked the look of it, and preferred the idea of having a metal spiralizer to all of the plastic models available. This spiralizer exceeded all of my expectations in terms of being the most compact of all of the horizontal spiralizers - almost half the size of one of the leading brands of plastic spiralizers (see photo lower down) - yet it can spiralize vegetables of the same width. Just the simplicity of the design means it is much smaller.

I also really liked the size and width of the spiralized vegetables it produces (somewhere between Lurch and Benriner style spiralizers), which are perfect for vegetable 'spaghetti' or noodles, or if made on the plain blade, for roasting (or frying) potatoes or root vegetables, or slicing apples for tarts etc. and the blades were very easy to change, simply clipping in and out. Also, the 'wastage' from the middle of the vegetable was much smaller than with other horizontal spiralizers, as you can see from the tiny tube of sweet potato in the photo to the left.

Size comparison with Spiralite, below
For anyone with limited counter space on the kitchen, or who doesn't like clutter or plastic gadgets, this is perfect. The dimensions are H 11cm x W 3.5cm x L 26cm. Being made of heavy duty stainless steel, it appears to be more durable than the plastic spiralizers, and it certainly felt far sturdier when in use - I find the plastic versions can feel a bit 'rickety' at times with larger / harder vegetables. It is available to buy here from Amazon or directly from ProCook, both are the same price, with a 1 year guarantee. I purchased mine on sale for £19.99, it generally seems to be on sale for £27 (reduced from £39.99) most of the time. I would recommend this above all other spiralizers I have used.

Secondly, the Spiralite Vegetable Spiralizer by Spiralz. Sold by Juiceland, a quick search on Amazon UK for spiralizers will bring up this model, the Lurch model, and the Hemsley + Hemsley model which are *extremely* similar, as the most popular models of this type. All three are rated 4.5 out of 5 stars, the Spiralite has the most ratings (371 at the time of writing), and it has a no quibble 2 year guarantee and "has featured in the Daily Mail and the Huffington Post, Saturday Kitchen, Masterchef and is used by Hemsley & Hemsley and Deliciously Ella".

Examples of vegetables and fruit suggested as appropriate for use with this spiralizer include courgette, cucumber, carrot, sweet potato, yam, potato, butternut squash, beetroot, celeriac, kohlrabi, parsnip, turnip, daikon radish (mooli), pear, apple, onion, cabbage, fennel, aubergine and broccoli stem.

There are three interchangeable slicing plates included with the Spiralite spiralizer: a plain blade which will slice across the width of the vegetable, a medium-sized vegetable spaghetti plate, and a large-sized vegetable spaghetti plate - and the plates store neatly under the bottom of the spiralizer when not in use.

Daikon / mooli spiralized with the Spiralite. Five pence piece for comparison.

Apple 'half moons' on the slicing blade.
The plain blade cuts a relatively thick slice, so as well as using for things like, say, cucumber in salads and slicing onions and cabbage, it was also good for slicing up fruit like apples and pears - and of course, you don't have to just cut a long spiral - if you make two or more cuts to the sides of what you're spiralizing, you'll end up with half-moon shapes - or make one cut and you've got apple rings for the dehydrator, for example, or sliced onions with less tears (if you're quick!). It also means if you want to cook the vegetables you slice, they'll stand up nicely to being roasted with a little oil, or even deep fried if you're being 'naughty' (think potato on a stick!). Make one or more cuts down the side and you have slices perfect to add to stir-fries, soups or stews.

Spiralized carrot, and the leftover centre.
The medium-sized vegetable spaghetti plate is perfect for 'courgetti' (courgette / zucchini cut into lengths the thickness of conventional spaghetti) and any other vegetable you want to spiralize into this size to replace pasta or noodles, or to have raw in salads, or wrap around something before cooking. The larger plate gives you quite thick spiralized vegetables - think french fries width - which might be a little thick for some people to eat raw in salads, but perfect for stir fries, roasted, deep-fried or in soups as a replacement for thick noodles. Really, there are so many things you could do, only your own imagination (or the cookbook you have to hand) is the limit. For really finely sliced and spiralized vegetables see the Japanese Turning Vegetable Slicer below (the spiralized carrots on the left of the above photo are from this).

For a brief sight of it in action, here's a video from Donal Skehan (which also just so happens to be a tasty recipe too) from Juiceland's website. As an added bonus, he's rather easy on the eye too (despite his video being too wide for my blog, nuisance)... Oh, did I say that out loud? Ooops.

The handle part of the spiralizer (which is attached to a sliding platform on the base) slides right off the base easily, which makes for easy cleaning (as do the removable plates), and also means that you can accommodate a good length of vegetable, as it is secured almost all the way to the end - however, obviously the larger, longer vegetable you put on it, the less stable it feels. It has suction pads on all four feet which help keep it anchored whilst in use, and a handy ledge which catches the vegetables, or can hang over a chopping board or plate to scrape them onto as you go. You do need to hold the handle mindfully to avoid catching your knuckles, and some left-handed people may find it slightly more difficult to operate, as there is a lever to help you push the vegetable against the blade on one side only (however, I didn't use this as I found it easier to hold the front part for stability). The plates with blades on are easy to slide into place and remove, and being fully removable makes them easier to clean.

Vegetables from the Spiralite in the foreground (sweet potato, courgette and onion),
vegetables from the Juiceland Japanese Turning Vegetable Slicer in the background.

Side by side results

Results from the Spiralite on the left, and the Japanese Turning Slicer on the right.

Thirdly,  Juiceland's Japanese Turning Vegetable Slicer which also has a no quibble 2 year guarantee. This is very closely based on the Benriner Japanese Turning Slicer which retails at around £90 (and more), with the addition of suction pads on two of the feet to increase stability and made from "virtually unbreakable" ABS plastic. The interchangeable blades on this give you much finer results which are particularly good for raw eating, as well as all of the suggestions above. The difference between the results this style of spiralizer and the Spiralite above can be clearly seen in the photo above comparing the two. Which one suits you better will depend on what kind of things you're looking to make with it (or if you can't decide and have the storage space, get one of each?).

There is a fixed straight blade (which slices the vegetable across the width), plus three sturdy interchangeable blades which are 1mm, 2.5mm and 4mm respectively giving a variety of widths from 'Angel hair' size to a delicate 'tagliatelle' size. As you can see from the photo above, the widest 4mm blade gives you a result which is of a comparable width to the Spiralite, but much flatter/thinner.

The blades are fairly easy to insert and release - you just slot them in (making sure the arrow is pointing upwards) and tighten the screw on the side, then it works on the same principles as the Spiralite, by turning the handle and applying pressure. The main difference in operation is that the handle and sliding plate it attaches to do not slide off the end of the spiralizer, and are not removeable (unless you want to dismantle the whole thing with a screwdriver), and the main blade is fixed, which makes it less easy to clean overall, and means that the vegetables you spiralize in it have a lesser maximum length, although this won't make an awful lot of difference to the end result.

Both spiralizers performed equally well, they just gave different results. The more delicate strands from this spiralizer were perfect raw in salads, and garnishes, and dropped straight into Asian-style broths with no further cooking needed. Harder vegetables withstood light cooking in stirfries, and the straight blade would give you nice crispy chips and shavings if deep fried, although for me the results were a little on the delicate side for roasting on their own (although would make nice crispy toppings on other foods, or pies), but still incredibly versatile for lots of other uses.

Vegetables cut with the Japanese Turning Vegetable Slicer on the right hand side.
If you're planning on spiralizing industrial amounts of vegetables, it may please you to know that there is a small attachment included which allows you connect with a cordless drill or screwdriver (socket included) to provide a motorised vegetable slicer. Unfortunately, I don't own a cordless drill or screwdriver, so I didn't have the opportunity to test this out!

Finely shredded cabbage at the front.
If you're not that keen on vegetables, but you're looking to incorporate more vegetables into your diet (or someone else's), the results you can get using the finest blades are ideal for incorporating them into salads (raw), or lightly cooked until just tender in stir-fries or soups, maybe hidden with noodles or pasta in sauces, without having to cook them into oblivion or puree them. I can remember several years ago (before spiralizers became popular) making carrot 'spaghetti' and allsorts with a  garnish making tool to entice my young children into eating raw vegetables. Funnily enough, it seems to work on grown-ups sometimes too...

***N.B. The discount offer on the above spiralizers have now expired***

What next?

Well, once you get your spiralizer, there are plenty of resources for recipes, you can even just do a straight swap in your existing favourite recipes for pasta or noodles, and I will be posting more recipes myself. In the meantime, why not whip up the skinny version of spaghetti bolognaise for only 240 calories using courgette instead of pasta, with my recipe here?

Good places to find recipes using spiralized vegetables include Inspiralized, Hemsley and Hemsley, plus good old Google will throw up features from various newspapers and other places, along with collections of spiralizer recipes from various blogs.

Disclosure: After selecting the above spiralizers as appropriate to meet the preferences of people in my 5:2 recipe group on Facebook and contacting Juiceland to negotiate potential discounts for group members, I was sent one of each spiralizer to try out and ensure that I was satisfied with their quality and performance before releasing the discount codes. I submitted my blog voluntarily to Juiceland for fact checking, and all views and opinions expressed above are my own.

*Amazon affiliate links. Clicking on the photos of products in the overview above will take you to the products on Amazon via affiliate links. The links will simply take you to view the product on Amazon, and not cost you anything whatsoever. Should you decide to purchase the product from the link above, you will not pay a penny extra, but I may get a minute percentage of the proceeds from Amazon.


  1. Thanks Andrea very comprehensive research, interesting blog & fab negotiating a discount!
    I may have missed it but is there a time period for receiving the discount?
    Thanks ;)

  2. Hi Lindsey - thank you, I hope it was helpful, and no, no time limit as yet on the discount codes :)

  3. Thanks for excellent blog, reviews, recipes, discount codes. Just ordered mine :-)

  4. Thank you for a thorough missive which has cut through the fog and helped me to make my decision on which to buy.

    1. You're welcome JG, glad to be of help and I hope you're happy with your purchase! :)


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