Trying to find the best hand meat grinder these days can be a challenge. The biggest problem is most of them aren’t what they used to be—high quality, durable and easily and cranked. But if you look hard enough you’ll still find a few gems out there (if you know what to look for, and you’re willing to spend the time to search for one). But I know you’d rather save some time, so I’ve take care of that work for you. My answer? The LEM #10 hand grinder is one of those hidden gems. It is in fact—in my opinion—the best you can buy at a reasonable price (under $100).
What Makes a Good Hand Crank Meat Grinder?
How exactly did I come to such a conclusion that this is hands down, the best hand crank meat grinder out there? I looked at and compared a bunch of them using the following list of criteria that I felt really defined a good hand meat grinder:
- Does it grind meat?
- Cost. Must be reasonable; meaning the cost is not more than an electric grinder.
- Durability & life. What’s it made of? Will it hold up and not break after a few uses?
- Clamp. Will it fit the counter/work surface?
- Clean up & care. Is it easy to take apart to clean? Are there any annoying special cleaning requirements to worry about?
Does it Grind Meat?
The first thing we need to check is if it’s able to perform the task we want it to. I tested this out with a 2 lbs. chuck roast. It was pretty fast for a hand grinder. It took less than a few minutes to grind my meat for some might tasty burgers. At the end of it all, I spent more time trimming the meat and cleaning up. It worked out great for such small amount, but I’m willing to bet my arms would get tired out if I had to process more than that. Anything more and one of the other electric meat grinders would have been a better choice.
The Lem #10 hand meat grinder is no doubt a little more expensive than some of the other hand grinders, but it’s for the price, it makes up in quality. For some, the price might be a little too high for a meat grinder that’s hand cranked; especially compared to the other handed crank meat grinders out there like the much cheaper Weston. I, myself, felt it was a little too pricey at first too, until I gave it a closer look. Is there some reason why it’s so much more expensive? Yes there is and it is mostly because of the quality of the material used. It will last way longer than the cheaper alternatives, but I get into more details about it further below in the review.
100% stainless steel housing & plates
The housing & plates are made of 100% stainless steel; making it very resistant to rusting. This is probably the reason why it costs almost 3 times as much as some of the other hand grinders.
Because it is made of 100% stainless steel, you won’t have the problem of plating chipping off like the others. Being free of that potential problem, I firmly believe the LEM will last much longer.
Carbon steel blade
The cutting blade is made from carbon steel. This does make it a little more prone to rust, but that’s about the only downside. Rusting can be easily avoided by maintaining the blade properly. Carbon steel blades, compared to stainless steel, are superior in terms of sharpness. They maintain their edge way longer too. Oh and let’s not forget that carbon steel blades are much cheaper to replace.
How are you supposed to properly maintain it? It’s actually really easy and requires less work than you think. After cleaning the parts, all you have to do is just dry and lightly coat the parts with oil, or food grade silicone.
The clamp on the LEM only opens up to a little more than 1 ¼”—which might be a little less than others that opens up to 1 ½”. This can become a problem if you have thick counter tops. You can’t force it open any wider even if you remove the protective leg pads, so don’t bother trying that. The best thing to do is to measure your work surface first to make sure it fits. Otherwise you’ll have to do a little hack job and clamp the grinder onto a board. Then clamp the board to your counter top/table using c clamps.
Clean up isn’t hard, but it does take a little bit of time. It may seem obvious, but I’ll just mention it anyways. I had to take this thing apart to wash it thoroughly; which was a really simple process. To really get inside and make sure things were clean I used a brush (one of those used for baby bottles). I used only warm water and a little dish detergent. I don’t think you’ll need to use anything more.
I didn’t use the dishwasher because the manufacturer recommends that you avoid it. While I was looking through reviews and user comments, many of them did mention they send it through the dishwasher without any issues. I would recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations to extend the life of the product and to maintain your warranty.
The Lem #10 hand meat grinder does a very good job at grinding a couple pounds of meat once in a while. If durability and longevity is important to you (it should be) then choose the LEM because the others probably won’t last half as long as this one. Look on Amazon.com to see if it’s on sale. If you’re planning to grind a lot of meat, or you see yourself using it more often than 1-2 times a month, hand crank meat grinders may not be the best choice; it’ll be faster and easier to use an electric meat grinder instead. If you do buy the Lem, please come back and let us know what your thoughts are after using it.