A vacuum sealer removes most of the air from food packaging to extend the food’s shelf life while preventing freezer burn. According to manufacturers, when vacuum sealed, food lasts five times longer than it would with traditional storage methods. Home cooks who buy in bulk, hunt, or use a sous vide device can benefit from adding a vacuum sealer to their kitchen arsenal. A vacuum sealer also comes in handy when storing seasonal produce from your garden or the farmers’ market to use over the winter.
Choosing a vacuum sealer might seem like a simple decision, but a number of considerations affect the choice. Before making a purchase, learn about some of the most important features to look for when shopping for a vacuum sealer and discover some of the best options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: FoodSaver V4400 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer
- RUNNER UP: Hamilton Beach NutriFresh Vacuum Sealer
- AFFORDABLE FAVORITE: NutriChef Vacuum Sealer
- BEST CHAMBER: Avid Armor Chamber Vacuum Sealer
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: NESCO VS-02, Food Vacuum Sealing System
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Weston Pro-2300 Commercial Grade Vacuum Sealer
- BEST COMPACT: GERYON Vacuum Sealer
- BEST CORDLESS: VMSTR Rechargeable Vacuum Sealer
- BEST FOR SOUS VIDE: Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Precision Vacuum Sealer
- ALSO CONSIDER: Mueller Austria Vacuum Sealer Machine
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Vacuum Sealer
While it’s easy to assume that all vacuum sealers work the same, a number of factors affect their functionality. The best vacuum sealers are compact, have strong suction, and offer the settings needed for the task at hand. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best vacuum sealer for your kitchen.
Types of Vacuum Sealers
There are several different styles of vacuum sealers, each with advantages and benefits. Some types will work better for specific kitchen needs than others.
- External vacuum sealers comprise the majority of the products on the market. The user places the edge of the bag or plastic roll over an external seal bar where the air is sucked out before the bag is heat sealed. They typically require downtime of between 20 and 60 seconds in between sealings to prevent overheating. External vacuum sealers use special quilted plastic bags and don’t function with standard zip-top bags.
- Chamber vacuum sealers are designed for bulk food processing. They feature an interior chamber that’s large enough to fit pint-size mason jars. Chamber models are significantly more expensive than external vacuum sealers, so they’re typically used only by professionals.
- Handheld sealers use a valve to remove the air from specialty zip-top bags. More portable than countertop models, they’re often cordless, making them convenient for long hunting or fishing trips. Their suction is less powerful than their countertop counterparts, so they’re not the ideal choice for everyday use.
Settings and Suction
A sealer’s suction power is typically measured in inches of mercury (inHg). The higher the number, the stronger the suction. Look for a model with a suction between 13 and 25 inHg.
Some advanced settings increase a vacuum sealer’s functionality.
- A pulse button is useful when vacuum sealing delicate items because it gives the user full control over the amount of air that’s removed.
While all vacuum sealers are designed to process dry foods, some models have a moist mode, which can be used for marinated meats, stews, and other liquid-based foods.
- A gentle pressure mode allows users to seal crackers and other breakable foods without crushing them.
- A built-in cutter saves the user from having to cut each bag with scissors.
Accessories and Attachments
Many vacuum sealers feature an accessory port that connects to external attachments.
- A jar attachment is useful for sealing mason jars when canning.
- A marinating canister allows users to marinate food in minutes before storing them.
- A bottle stopper removes the extra air from wine bottles before resealing them.
These attachments are typically available for external vacuum sealers, because chamber sealers don’t need any attachments.
The best vacuum sealers should, ideally, be wide enough to fit a range of bag widths. While vacuum sealer sizes vary, they’re generally 11 to 12 inches wide. Some are slim and compact, while others include onboard bag storage, which makes them bulkier. Chamber vacuum sealers, however, are similar in size to a small microwave, making them trickier to store. The upside is that they can seal larger items like roasts or whole chickens.
Compact models, which work well for small kitchens with limited storage space, are also available. They may not, however, be able to accommodate larger bags.
Some vacuum sealers are equipped with additional safety features.
- A cancel button allows users to stop the machine before the vacuum-sealing process is complete.
- Users should wait between 20 and 60 seconds before sealing another bag to prevent the machine from overheating, so some models automatically prevent the device from heating for a set amount of time.
- An auto-off function ensures the heating element doesn’t stay on when the machine is not in use.
Caring for and maintaining a vacuum sealer are relatively simple tasks. One of the primary ways to ensure a machine’s longevity is to avoid letting liquids get sucked into it. Be careful when vacuum sealing liquids. Freeze them first or elevate the sealer while it’s in use, so the bag tilts downward to prevent liquids from dripping into the machine. Two components often wear out most quickly: the gaskets and the heating element’s Teflon strips. To keep them in top condition, don’t lock the lid in the closed position while storing the machine. Some brands offer free replacements of these parts. Look for a model with a removable drip tray to make cleanup easier.
Tips for Using a Vacuum Sealer
Get the most out of a vacuum sealer by following these helpful tips:
- Cut bags to the right size, and ensure that 2 inches of empty space remain on each side when they’re filled.
- Seal the food in small quantities so it can be defrosted in individual portions.
- Label the bags before filling them.
- Arrange food so that it lies flat in the bag to save space in the fridge or freezer.
- Avoid vacuum sealing soft cheeses, raw mushrooms, and fresh garlic, all of which can harbor anaerobic bacteria, which thrive in low-oxygen environments.
Our Top Picks
These recommendations for the best vacuum sealers were selected because of their quality construction, suction power, ease of use, and other helpful features. Whether you’re looking for an external sealer, a container sealer, or a portable option, there’s sure to be a good solution here.
The FoodSaver V4400 is a versatile two-in-one device. The retractable handheld sealer eliminates the need for attachments and can be used to seal zipper bags, canisters, and other containers. It features settings for dry and moist foods as well as automatic moisture detection, which switches the settings to achieve the tightest seal. With automatic bag detection and sealing, the machine does most of the work.
The built-in roll storage and cutter allow users to make custom-size bags. A removable dishwasher-safe drip tray makes cleanup a breeze. The kit includes everything necessary to get started: a 10-foot by 11-inch vacuum seal roll, three 1-quart vacuum seal bags, two 1-gallon vacuum seal bags, three 1-quart vacuum zipper bags, and two 1-gallon zipper bags.
The Hamilton Beach NutriFresh Vacuum Sealer is simple to use. The five settings expand the device’s basic functionality. Use extended seal mode for moist foods and the pulse button and adjustable high/low levels for additional control.
The purchase includes two 11-inch by 20-foot plastic bag rolls, four gallon bags, and six quart bags. Roll storage and a bag cutter are built in.
The NutriChef Vacuum Sealer is sold at half the price of many other popular products, yet it has a number of features that make it both effective and easy to use. Use its automatic operation with a one-touch design and choose between the dry-sealing mode and the moist-sealing mode, depending on the contents of the bag.
The kit includes an air suction hose, a wine stopper cork, five 7.8-inch by 11.8-inch vacuum bags, and one vacuum bag roll measuring 7.8 inches by 79 inches.
While a chamber-style vacuum sealer may not be a necessity in most households, it comes in handy for canning and vacuum sealing large quantities of food at once. Chamber-style machines allow users to vacuum seal liquid-based dishes without pre-freezing them. This model from Avid Armor allows you to customize the process with an adjustable vacuum-time function and an adjustable seal-time function to ensure each bag is sealed correctly based on its size and contents. A double seal wire creates two seals on every pouch.
The NESCO VS-02 is easy to use and doesn’t have any unnecessary bells and whistles. An upgraded feature, the seal-time selection switch allows users to extend seal time for a tighter seal on wet foods. Auto shutoff saves energy and acts as an additional safety feature.
The roll storage compartment and bag cutter accommodate bag rolls of almost 12 inches wide. Each purchase includes two 8.66-inch by 9.8-foot rolls, five flat 8.66-inch by 11.8-inch bags, and five flat 11-inch by 11.8-inch bags.
Weston’s Pro-2300 is popular in the food industry, but, at 15.3 inches by 23 inches by 9 inches, it may be a bit bulky for standard home use. One perk, however, is its 16-inch-long seal bar, which allows users to package large items or seal multiple bags at once. It has a fan-cooled motor that’s designed for continuous, repetitive use without overheating. The automatic setting works for most foods, while the manual seal option allows users to process more delicate items without crushing them.
This GERYON Vacuum Sealer is compact enough to fit in small kitchens with limited storage space. Despite its size, it can accommodate standard 12-inch bag rolls. It features automatic operation, allowing users to work hands-free. The machine needs 40 seconds to cool down between seals, so it may not be the most efficient option for batch sealing.
The kit includes five heat-seal bags, each measuring 7.8 inches by 11.8 inches, and one 7.8-inch by 78-inch bag roll.
Take this cordless vacuum sealer along on hunting or fishing trips to package the bounty while still in the field. The VMSTR Rechargeable Vacuum Sealer is lightweight and portable, weighing just over 1 pound. An LED indicator light lets users know when the vacuum-sealing process is complete.
Each charge on the 800 mAh battery lasts for 3 hours, during which time users can seal more than 200 bags. It comes with a charging cable and 10 vacuum-seal zipper bags.
Vacuum sealing is especially useful when cooking with a circulating water bath, known as “sous viding.” The vacuum sealer creates an airtight seal to ensure no water gets inside the bag. This model is made by Anova, a brand known for sous vide machines. It serves as a companion to Anova Precision Cookers, though it also can be used with any other brand’s sous vide device.
With just three buttons, the interface is simple: seal, vacuum and seal, or pulse vacuum, which provides precision when working with delicate items. Ten vacuum sealer bags are included with each purchase.
Affordable yet effective, this vacuum sealer offers a range of settings to best suit specific needs. Choose between gentle and airtight mode and use the moist or dry setting, depending on the contents of the bags. LED light indicators let users know which stage of the vacuuming or sealing process is taking place.
The kit includes an air suction hose as well as five medium vacuum bags measuring 7.8 by 11.8 inches each and one extra-long 7.8-inch by 79-inch vacuum bag roll.
FAQs About Vacuum Sealers
Though you now know more about vacuum sealers, questions about how to use them may still remain. The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to select and use a vacuum sealer in your kitchen.
Q. Can I vacuum seal soup, bread, and lettuce?
It’s possible to vacuum seal soup by freezing it in a zip-top bag prior to vacuum sealing. Some people opt to freeze bread, cake, and other loaves before vacuum sealing them, so they hold their shape better and don’t fall apart while sealing them. While vacuum-sealed lettuce won’t hold up well in the freezer, vacuum sealing can actually extend lettuce’s lifespan in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Q. How long does vacuum sealed food last?
When frozen, vacuum-sealed meat and fish can last for up to 3 years. Vacuum sealing also increases the lifespan of cheese in the fridge to between 4 and 8 months. Dried goods, such as flour, rice, and pasta, last 1 to 2 years when vacuum sealed and placed in the pantry.
Q. Do I need a vacuum sealer for sous vide?
A vacuum sealer is not necessary for sous vide. While it makes the process simpler, home cooks can also opt to seal food in zip-top bags and to manually remove as much air as possible before placing them in a water bath.