The Tests

  • Spiralize ribbons, ¼-inch noodles, and ⅛-inch noodles (where possible) from zucchini, timing how long it takes to process each piece of produce

  • Spiralize ⅛-inch noodles (or ¼-inch noodles, if the spiralizer didn’t have an ⅛-inch blade) from beets

  • Spiralize ⅛-inch noodles (or ¼-inch noodles, if the spiralizer didn’t have an ⅛-inch blade) from apples

  • Spiralize ⅛-inch noodles (or ¼-inch noodles, if the spiralizer didn’t have an ⅛-inch blade) from carrots

  • Spiralize ⅛-inch noodles (or ¼-inch noodles, if the spiralizer didn’t have an ⅛-inch blade) from butternut squashes

  • Have users of different genders, hand sizes, and dominant hands test each model

Handheld spiralizers promise to cut ribbons and noodles from a variety of produce without taking up as much room as tabletop models. They’re simple tools that operate like pepper mills or pencil sharpeners: Holding the canister-like base with one hand, you use your other hand (or a pronged holder) to twist a piece of produce over a series of blades set into the spiralizer’s top, and noodles or ribbons come out the other side. We wanted to know if any of them could compete with the best spiralizer from our tabletop spiralizers review, the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer ($33.24). So we tested four models, priced from $14.95 to $24.99, and compared them with the Tri-Blade, using each to spiralize zucchini, beets, apples, carrots, and butternut squashes.

Testers appreciated the smaller footprint and uncomplicated design of the handheld models; they’re easier than the tabletop models to set up and clean and more intuitive to use. But the admiration largely ended there. Most of the handheld models had sharp blades and were capable of making nice-looking ribbons and noodles from all the produce we threw at them, but they took about six times as long as the Tri-Blade to do so: The handheld models processed a single 8-ounce zucchini in an average of about 2 minutes, while our favorite tabletop model breezed through it in 30 seconds.

Most of the handheld spiralizers in our lineup offered nice-looking ribbons and space-saving compactness, but both came at the cost of time-saving efficiency compared with our winning tabletop model.

Worse, the handheld versions took a lot of effort to operate—it’s hard on the wrists to twist a zucchini around and around for 2 minutes, let alone a chunk of dense butternut squash. It’s even more difficult for left-handed cooks: Because of the positions of the blades, produce can only be twisted clockwise, a direction that lefties found particularly awkward. And while a few of the models came with rubbery bands to make the bases more secure, most were made of slippery, hard-to-grip plastic. If you’re cooking for more than yourself—for example, spiralizing the six zucchini needed to feed four people—the time (12 minutes) and labor can add up.

Moreover, the handheld models required users to trim the sides and sometimes the lengths of longer, wider produce before it could be spiralized—an annoying extra step that isn’t necessary when you spiralize on the Tri-Blade. We preferred models with canisters at least 2.5 inches in diameter, as these allowed us to trim less off the sides of wider pieces of produce. We also preferred models that didn’t make us cut long produce in half in order to fit inside the canisters, as two of the models did.

The positions of the blades on the handheld spiralizers forced users to twist produce only in a clockwise direction, which left-handed testers found uncomfortable.

We’ll take a faster, more efficient tabletop spiralizer over a slower, more labor-intensive handheld model any day. Still, if you have limited storage space and plan to use your spiralizer only occasionally, some models are better than others. We liked models that came with three different blades because they were more versatile. While all of them came with a ribbon blade, two of the models included only a single noodle blade—either a ⅛-inch spaghetti blade or a ¼-inch linguine blade­—limiting our options.

A fair option exists: With a rubbery grip and a relatively wide mouth, the OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Handheld Spiralizer ($24.99) was the easiest and most comfortable to use of the handheld models. And because it comes with three blades, it’s one of the more versatile versions on the market.

Winning Traits

  • Wide top, at least 2.5 inches in diameter

  • Three blade options

  • Relatively comfortable to hold and use

  • Works well with a variety of produce