Freshly ground meat tastes better than packaged and processed options. Commercial meat grinders enable commercial kitchens to grind meat in-house, providing a fresher and more flavorful menu for customers.

Meat grinders are available in a variety of sizes, capacities, and features.

Manual vs. Electric

Manual grinders are designed for low-volume operations. They require an employee to operate them at all times, hand cranking the machine and pushing the meat down the shoot and through the blades. Electric grinders complete the process without requiring an employee to crank the machine. The electricity keeps the blades grinding without extra effort from staff.

Low- to High-Volume

Electric grinders are equipped to handle low-, medium-, or high-volume applications. Depending on the model, they can grind up to 2,866 pounds per hour. When choosing one, be sure to check what the model’s capacity is and compare it to the amount of meat the kitchen will be grinding. You will want to choose a grinder that fulfills the demand.

Hamburger Meat

(Image via Canva)

Choosing a model with a smaller capacity than it will be used for can cause significant damage to the machine and shorten its lifespan. To get the most out of your money, pick a model that meets or exceeds the capacity required by your kitchen.

Hubs, Blades, and More

Its grinding capabilities is dependent on its hub size and blade size. The hub will be marked with a #. The higher the number, the greater the grinding capabilities. We offer units with #5 to #46 hubs. Similarly, the unit will come with 1 or more knives. Typical blade sizes and what they should be used for are as follows:

  • ¾” – Use for initial grinding before sending it through smaller, more precise blades. Excellent for grinding meat for chili or stews.
  • ½” – Use for initial grinding, chilis, or stews.
  • 3/8” - Use for first grind, chili, stew, chorizos, taco meat, and similar applications.
  • ¼” to 5/6” – Use for bratwurst, hamburger, and additional grinding.
  • 5/36” to 3/16” – Use for hamburger or sausage
  • 3/32” to 1/8” – Use for hamburger, bologna, jerky, and other such applications.

To ensure units have enough power to grind the varying types of meat, they are powered with 0.35 to 7 horsepower motors. The greater the number, the more strength and power behind the machine’s motor.

As a word of caution, read the meat grinders’ specifications before purchasing. Some are only made to be used on pork, beef, and venison. They should not be used for poultry, cheese, or vegetables.

Additional Equipment

Some additional equipment for preparing meat that may prove necessary are:

Sausage stuffer attachments and sausage stuffers. As their names imply, they help stuff the meat through the grinder. Meat mixers are designed to be used after the meat is ground to mix in various spices, herbs, and other seasonings. It will thoroughly mix them, so flavorings are evenly distributed.

Construction

Meat grinders are made from a variety of materials: stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel, tin-plated, cast steel, cast aluminum, aluminum, anodized aluminum alloy, polished aluminum, or a combination of two or more. The construction will have an impact on the durability of your machine. Note that stainless steel is the most durable and easiest to clean. Stainless steel components will be dishwasher safe.

Vollrath Grinder Parts

(Image via Vollrath)

Some kitchens place cast aluminum and cast iron components in cornstarch to absorb moisture and keep them lasting for longer.

Care Tips

When using a commercial grinder, be sure not to push bones through them. They are not built to grind through bones. You would need a different type of commercial equipment for that.

Ideally, keep the meat refrigerated until time to grind it. This ensures bacteria and germs do not have time to get in or grow inside the meat.

Grinding plates, knives, feed tubes, and augers can be chilled before use to reduce the amount of heat produced when the blades are slicing through the meat. Otherwise, the parts of the machine and the meat itself can get quite warm.

If the meat won’t go through the shoot for some reason, do not force it.

Replacing dull knives protect the machine, product, and kitchen staff. Similarly, cleaning the machine after each use protects customers, reducing the risk for foodborne illness.

Using a food-safe lubricant to lubricate gears, blades, and parts guarantee a smoother operation.

Warranties and Certifications

Different brands offer different warranties and certifications. The most common are 1-year warranties on parts and labor. These are standard; however, a few offer an additional four years as a standard package.

Certifications range from cETLus, ETL-Sanitation, NSF, UL, cULus, and CE. All of these are meant to ease operators' minds about the functionality and safety of the unit. For clarification on what each means and what steps must be taken to achieve certification, click here.

We hope this information is useful in helping you determine what is best for your kitchen. If you have any questions, contact us.