Need to Know
  1. A mandoline can make very thin vegetable slices
  2. Many have safety features to keep fingers away from blades
  3. Try using it to make healthy chips or fries at home

It’s theoretically possible to slice vegetables thin enough to bake into delicious, healthy chips with just a sharp chef’s knife, but for loads of perfectly even slices, we’re wedded to our mandoline. This handy kitchen utensil can not only slice but — with the right settings or blade attachments — dice and julienne vegetables with just a quick swipe.

It can be a little intimidating with the big slicing blade sitting right in the middle of the contraption. You want me to put my hands where? Luckily, most of the major mandoline models come with built-in safeguards, such as a dial that lets you change the thickness of the slices without getting anywhere near the sharp edges and a hand guard that has prongs to grip whatever you’re slicing (so you don’t have to put your fingers at risk). Most also have a setting that keeps the blade flush with the surface for easy storage.

It’s one thing to describe a mandoline, but it’s even better to see one in action. Here’s a video with the mandoline most similar to the one I have at home:

Other models use a V-shaped blade for even more cutting power. This one from Swissmar Borner is a favorite of the folks at Cook’s Illustrated. Many of them don’t need to break the bank (under $50) and can fold down pretty flat for kitchen storage.

Now that you’ve got a mandoline, what should you do with it? We like making thin, bakeable slices of zucchini, beets, or sweet potato for chips, using the julienne setting for healthy “fries” or veggie strings, or slicing piles of brussels sprouts fast to use as a refreshing salad or slaw base.

Image Source: Flickr user purdman1