Making the Cut- How to Choose the Right Slicer for Your Restaurant

The question isn’t “should you have a slicer.”  If you own a restaurant the questions is, “which slicer should you have?” A slicer, or “knife” as they are often called, may be one of the most important pieces of equipment you can purchase for your restaurant. Sure, all chefs have a favorite hand held knife they prefer for certain tasks. But, when it comes to food prep, nothing can compare to the speed, ease, and accuracy of a good slicer.

The trouble is, with so many options on the market right now, it can be difficult to know which slicer is right for you. To help you decide, here is a guide to the different features you need to consider before buying a new slicer. In general, there are three major characteristics that distinguish all slicers. We will cover all three in this post.

Read this First!

Before you read any further, this guide will be most beneficial to you if you take a moment to consider your menu. What types of food will you be slicing? How much of it do you need sliced and how quickly? About how many minutes or hours a day do you anticipate using your slicer? All of these will influence which slicer is best for you.

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The first characteristic of slicers to consider is duty, or work capacity. Slicers come in three general work capacities- light, medium, and heavy duty. The difference between light and heavy is often a combination of the hp of the motor, torque of the blade, and the materials used to construct the slicer. It’s important that you don’t buy a slicer that either over or under performs in your kitchen.

Light duty- is ideal for occasional/ intermittent use throughout the day. Their blades are normally around 9 to 10 inches and the motor is around ¼ hp. Light duty slicers are only intended to be used for between 30 minutes to 2 hours total per day. Do you only plan to use the slicer to make one type of sandwich during your lunch rush? This is the ideal work capacity for you.

Medium duty- is intended to run 2 to 4 hours per day. Their blades are normally around 11-12 inches and the motor is 1/3 to ½ hp. This level of work capacity is ideal for most restaurants, sandwich shops, and smaller delis.

Heavy duty- is intended to run 8 to 12 hours a day, and perhaps even longer. They typically feature motors of at least ½ hp, optimize the amperage to increase blade torque (which improves cutting performance), and can have 12 to 14 inch blades. These slicers are normally found in supermarkets, large delis, hotels and casinos, and large restaurants.

The Globe G12 is medium duty slicer The Globe 3600N is a heavy duty slicer


Feed refers to how the product is loaded into the slicer and pushed to the knife for cutting. There are two types of feed options- vertical feed and gravity feed.

Vertical Feed- As the name would imply, the blade is positioned vertically on the slicer. Large vertical feed slicers are typically used to slice raw meat and deli cheeses, hence why these types of slicers are commonly referred to as “meat slicers.”  Also, many kitchens will choose to use a smaller model because they take up less counter space than their gravity feed counterparts.

Gravity feed- features a carriage and blade that is placed between a 25 to 45 degree angle. The angle helps the slicer use the weight of the product to position itself for slicing. This feature is what makes automatic slicing possible. Also, if you are running a manual slicer, gravity feed tends to be easier on the operator.

Operating Style

There are three operating styles for slicers: Manual, Automatic, and Semi-Automatic.

Manual- runs off of good old fashioned human power. This means a chef or cook must actually do the slicing. This is an ideal choice if you only need a limited amount of products sliced per day.

Automatic- can be programmed to do all the slicing by itself, no operator necessary. The chef or cook can simply load the product, set the width of the slice, hit “go,” and walk away while the machine does all the work. This is ideal for kitchens that require large amounts of product sliced. Delis, supermarkets, and large commercial kitchens typically employee automatic slicers.

Semi-Automatic- is the most common slicer type. It combines the best of all worlds. Semi-automatic slicers can be operated manually, but can also be programmed to slice automatically. Restaurants, small delis, and sandwich shops tend to use this type of slicer.

Other Considerations

While duty, feed, and operating style will really help you narrow down which slicer is right for you, there are a few other features you may need to consider before buying your new slicer.

Voltage- Does your restaurant run on 120V or 240V? Make sure your slicer is electrically compatible with your kitchen.

Sharpeners- Most slicers come with sharpeners, but some do not. Be sure to check your new slicer’s sharpener before purchasing.

If you plan on running your slicer a lot, you will need to sharpen your blade frequently. Some large delis will sharpen their blades as much as twice a day. If this is the case for you, be sure your slicer is constructed with easy access to the blade for sharpening.

Space- it does not matter how great your slicer is, if it doesn’t fit in your kitchen you can’t use it. Be sure to measure your available space (including room for the operator), and make sure your slicer fits.

Spokane Restaurant Equipment carries dozens of name brand new and used slicers. If you need help finding a slicer, just ask. We will be happy to help you find the slicer that is right for you.

Expert Tip: Ask A Professional

With so many different options and sizes, finding the right slicer can be difficult. Rather than going it alone, we highly recommend talking to a restaurant equipment professional. You can ask them questions specific to your needs and they will help you find exactly what you are looking for. Most restaurant owners find that working directly with a restaurant equipment specialist helps them make better decisions, save time, and get more for their money.

If you would like help finding a slicer, or any other equipment or supplies for your restaurant, we are here to help. Click here to contact us, or give us a call at 509 534-5500.

Also, we’d love to meet you. We hope you’ll drop by our store, located in the heart of downtown Spokane, WA. We are you’re partner in success.

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