What’s the Difference Between Handheld and Countertop Vacuum Sealers?

The vacuum sealer is a quite ingenious system that sucks the air out of a plastic bag earlier than sealing it shut, preserving meals and maintaining moisture out. Do you tire of compressing air out of zipper-lock baggage for sous vide? Do you discover that you simply’re always throwing away freezer-burned meals and off snacks? A vacuum sealer could also be best for you!

The vacuum sealers available on the market at this time typically fall into two classes: handheld and countertop (we’ll introduce a 3rd, rarer possibility shortly). The previous requires particular baggage with zip-top enclosures that work properly for short-term storage, however might fail underneath sure situations (like months within the freezer or lengthy hours in a heat sous vide water bathtub). Countertop sealers are bigger and seal the bag shut by melting the 2 sides collectively, a function that makes the seal last more. There may be additionally *technically* a 3rd type of vacuum sealer, the chamber sealer, that’s most frequently utilized in industrial purposes (although we did assessment one marketed in direction of house cooks—the Anova Precision Chamber Vacuum Sealer—and appreciated it). However which sort of vacuum sealer is best for you? Right here, we centered on countertop and handheld vacuum sealers, diving into their variations so you possibly can select which is greatest to your wants.

Countertop Vacuum Sealers


Anova Culinary Precision Vacuum Sealer Pro


Mueller Austria Vacuum Sealer Machine


Anova Culinary Precision Vacuum Sealer


Countertop vacuum sealers are typically known as channel sealers or edge sealers and have a bar that heats up and melts the 2 sides of the plastic bag shut after eradicating the air. This sort of sealer can be utilized with pre-cut baggage or rolls that may be minimize and sealed to a customized measurement. It is nice for freezing, sous vide cooking, and even simply maintaining pantry gadgets brisker for longer.

The Execs

Severe Eats / Russell Kilgore

Countertop fashions help you set and neglect relating to sealing. Many fashions have the expertise to detect exactly when the suction ought to finish with regard to the kind of meals, eliminating the guesswork. In our testing, our favorites have been fairly priced, had easy controls, and reliably produced robust seals that held as much as all types of assessments. Some, just like the Nesco Deluxe Food VS-12 sealer, have been robust sufficient to take away all of the air from irregular meals like a bone-in pork chop with out breaking the plastic, but in addition delicate and “sensible” sufficient to not crush Chex cereal. Most of the higher fashions, just like the Anova Pro, include built-in storage for luggage and a useful cutter. This mannequin additionally enables you to seal moist gadgets, like hen in a marinade, with out sucking liquid up by the seal throughout the vacuum course of.

The opposite good factor about many countertop sealers is that you simply don’t want brand-specific baggage, which are sometimes costlier. As an alternative, you possibly can buy bags from third-party distributors for lower than $1 a foot.

The Cons

The largest cons with countertop vacuum sealers are that they’re massive and costly. When you solely vacuum seal sporadically, a giant sealer may not be well worth the money and cupboard space. Apart from that, one minor quibble is that the luggage for countertop vacuum sealers aren’t actually meant to be reused, whereas the luggage that include handheld sealer are designed (in principle) for use repeatedly.

Handheld Vacuum Sealers

FoodSaver Handheld Vacuum Food Sealer Machine Cordless


Anova Culinary Precision Port Handheld Vacuum Sealer,BLACK


Not like their bulkier countertop cousins, handheld vacuum sealers are small, light-weight units meant to slot in one hand. Some run on batteries (both disposable or rechargeable), and others make use of a handbook pump to take away air. Each sorts use particular baggage fitted with a one-way valve that attaches to the sealer. The baggage are sealed with a zipper on the prime that enables for straightforward opening and shutting.

The Execs

Severe Eats / Russell Kilgore

The baggage for a handheld vacuum sealer will be reused so long as the plastic isn’t punctured, and a few have attachments to suit onto meals storage containers and mason jars, which is one thing most countertop sealers can’t do. Handheld sealers additionally are typically a lot smaller, lighter, and cheaper. These attributes make any such sealer a sensible choice for these with much less cupboard space or who would possibly solely vacuum seal sporadically.

The Cons 

Handheld sealers require you to watch the suction course of, and you need to determine when to cease the system (not like countertop sealers, which let you press a button and stroll away). They use disposable or rechargeable batteries, and a few will be operated manually (pump it!), however these are inclined to stink (sorry). In our check of vacuum sealers, we evaluated 4 handheld choices, and two have been surprisingly okay: the FoodSaver Handheld Cordless Vacuum Sealer and the Anova Precision Port Handheld Vacuum Sealer. Each have been fairly straightforward to make use of, did a good job suctioning and sealing, and have been small and straightforward to stash away. The opposite two examined had some points, with seals that failed to remain tight throughout varied assessments (if you wish to seal something in a marinade with them, good luck!). General, their energy and seal high quality simply weren’t pretty much as good as a countertop sealer. Additionally, handheld sealers require you to purchase the luggage from the producer, as solely these can have a valve suitable with the sealer. Plus, countertop sealers typically have built-in bag reducing, which is a pleasant perk.

Handheld vs. Countertop Vacuum Sealers: Which Ought to I Purchase?

Each handheld and countertop vacuum sealers have the identical aim (vacuum suctioning and sealing), however selecting which is greatest to your wants comes right down to how typically you plan to make use of it, amongst different issues. Let’s check out among the key variations:

Handheld vs. Countertop Vacuum Sealers
Components  Handheld  Countertop
Vary of Options Restricted, largely simply suction  Suction, sealing, bag reducing
Cordless? Sure No
Value Vary $20-$70 $40-$200+
Measurement Compact, might slot in a drawer Ranges extensively, although compact fashions do exist
Model-specific baggage? Sure No

A small disadvantage of countertop sealers is that, as you open and shut the bag, you need to minimize the sides the place it was sealed, and if you wish to re-seal it, properly, your bag simply acquired smaller. Whereas this is not a dealbreaker for us (you could possibly simply use a brand new bag), countertop sealers do are typically costlier and quite massive in comparison with extra petite handheld choices.

On the flip aspect, countertop sealers can produce a particularly sturdy seal that gained’t fail. In our testing, we positioned sealed baggage right into a water bathtub (at 200°F) for 36 hours, and one of the best ones didn’t budge or leak. This is useful if you happen to plan to topic one bundle of meals to a spread of environments, akin to marinating a minimize of beef earlier than freezing it, then utilizing sous vide to prepare dinner it later. In case your seal fails throughout cooking, all that work will find yourself as wasted (and waterlogged) meals.

The Takeaway

Severe Eats / Russell Kilgore

Generally, we suggest countertop vacuum sealers (our favorites have been from Nesco and Anova) as a result of they provide a a lot wider vary of capabilities and sometimes seal higher than their handheld counterparts. Plus, the upper value of the luggage for handheld sealers can add up shortly.


What’s a vacuum sealer good for?

A vacuum sealer is nice for extending the shelf-life of meals, which may cut back waste. Past edible gadgets, vacuum sealers may assist protect necessary gadgets and maintain them secure from moisture and air.

Do I want a vacuum sealer?

Nearly anybody can use a vacuum sealer for one venture or one other, however if you wish to benefit from bulk buying or are taken with making an attempt sous vide cooking, you undoubtedly want one. Even if you happen to simply must freeze meat or greens often, a vacuum sealer is nice at stopping freezer burn.

Are countertop vacuum sealers value it? 

Countertop vacuum sealers are higher for batch sealing tasks and will be operated hands-free. This sort of sealer typically has a extra highly effective motor and comes with a sealing bar, which is much less liable to leakage than a zip-top bag. The worth of a countertop vacuum sealer will differ from individual to individual, relying on way of life.

Are handheld vacuum sealers value it?

Handheld vacuum sealers could also be value it for these which might be taken with meal prep or small-scale preservation, however gained’t use it typically sufficient to justify the fee (and countertop area) of a countertop mannequin. 

Are you able to vacuum seal with no machine?

You’ll be able to take away many of the air from a Ziploc bag with a simple technique, which may serve in a pinch. Keep in mind that this methodology is “practically air-free,” and chances are you’ll discover some variations between these outcomes and utilizing a correct vacuum sealer.

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