Vacuum sealers — devices that suck the air out of a plastic bag and then heat-seal it for storage in the refrigerator or freezer — are great for prepare food to freeze for later use, or to save money by purchasing meat in bulk and processing it into smaller portions. Long a favorite tool of hunters, outdoorspeople and serious gardeners, they’re also great for preparing food for use with an immersion circulator for sous vide cooking at home.
To find the very best vacuum sealers for your kitchen, we looked at 11 top-rated models, bagging and sealing dozens of cuts of meat, fish and seafood along with a variety of starches and vegetables, and refrigerating and sous vide cooking the results. In the end we came up with four great units that should fit any need and budget.
The best vacuum sealer overall
The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer VS3150 has a completely removable vacuum chamber with an integrated drip tray, which made thorough cleanup during testing easy, even if we wanted to clean it after each bag. Our meat juices and marinades were easily sucked into the chamber, preventing any contamination.
The best budget vacuum sealer
A big benefit of the Geryon Vacuum Sealer E2900-MS is that it was easy to clean during testing. The base of the unit is completely removable from the top lid/clamshell containing all of the electronics and the motor/heat strip. And if you don’t think you’ll be using a vacuum sealer all the time and just want a basic model that won’t break the bank, the Geryon should meet your needs.
The best vacuum sealer for serious home cooks
The main advantage of the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer VS4840 is its automatic vacuum and seal function — we didn’t need to fiddle with the lid or line the bag perfectly up to the vacuum chamber during testing. It’s a neat feature that really simplifies things if you buy large cuts of meat and process them into smaller portions to keep in the freezer to use later.
The best handheld vacuum sealer
The FoodSaver Multi-Use Handheld FS2160 offers a useful marination function, which automatically turns the vacuum on and off over the course of 10 minutes when attached to a container. During testing, we found this function periodically released and increased vacuum pressure, forcing the marination juices into the meat. It made our grilled chicken wings even more delicious.
- Warranty: 5 Years
- Handheld sealer attachment
FoodSaver is the 800-pound gorilla among home vacuum sealers — the company is the longest established manufacturer of these products, with its first sealer released in 1987. FoodSaver has a large lineup of models, but the FoodSaver VS3150 offers the best combination of features and utility for the money of all of the vacuum sealers we tested. It’s easy to understand and use, easy to clean, works with a wide selection of bags and containers, and gave us solid results in our testing.
The FoodSaver has a modern, clean clamshell design, with bag storage and the vacuum chamber integrated into the bottom shell and a bag cutter and main controls on the top lid. On the right side of the bottom shell, you’ll find the locking clamp; this provided a tight seal throughout our time with the device. A handheld sealer attachment fits into a storage compartment in the top lid.
We found ourselves using the handheld quite a bit. It’s great for marinating (using FoodSaver’s nicely designed storage containers) and the reclosable bags and containers are convenient to use if you want to keep items like cheese and cold cuts in the refrigerator where they’ll be frequently accessed, but you still want to take advantage of vacuum sealing to keep them fresh as long as possible. The handheld attachment also doubles as an accessory port for sealing Mason jars when the Mason jar attachment (purchased separately) is connected.
In a nod to one of our favorite uses for a vacuum sealer — preparing food for sous vide cooking in a water bath — in addition to the usual dry, moist and pulse vacuum modes, the FoodSaver features a “Sous Vide” mode which “stutters” the vacuum automatically, presumably for optimizing the seal for juicier food items — we didn’t find this made much of a difference with sous vide bags versus the “moist” setting and it felt like a bit of a gimmick to us.
An important reason we put the FoodSaver VS3150 on the top of our list is that, like other FoodSaver models, it has a completely removable vacuum chamber with an integrated drip tray, which makes thorough cleanup easy, even if you want to do it after each bag. We don’t know why others, like Anova, do not, as residue poses a potential food safety concern, especially when dealing with raw proteins in sous vide applications. Meat juices and marinades can easily be sucked into the chamber, causing potential contamination. Whatever vacuum sealer you choose, the vacuum chamber should be inspected after each use and cleaned thoroughly if exposed to any raw meat products — the FoodSaver just made it easier to do this effectively than the other models we tested.
As you’re shopping, you may find several similar models from FoodSaver with slightly different model numbers. There are several 3000-series devices in different finishes, but we had a similar experience across the lineup and expect you should, too.
- Warranty: 2 Years
- Easy to clean
If you don’t think you’ll be using a vacuum sealer all the time and just want a basic model that won’t break the bank, the Geryon should suit your kitchen.
At 2.6 pounds and 14 inches across, it’s one of the smallest and lightest units we looked at, so it’s easy to tuck away in a cabinet when you aren’t using it. It doesn’t have internal bag storage (though if you don’t need to keep it at the ready all the time, this likely won’t matter to you).
The Geryon seals just fine; it has toggleable “moist” and “dry” settings that work well to deal with juicy foods. We had no issues with the bags we used it on, and it can accommodate the same 8-inch and 11-inch standard bags that the bigger and more expensive models use. It even has an accessory port to seal foods in containers (with a dedicated “canister” button).
Understandably given the low cost, it’s a little more finicky to use than our top pick — it uses a simple snap attachment for the upper and lower pieces and not a locking clamp like the much more expensive FoodSavers or Anova units.
As with the FoodSaver models, a big benefit of the Geryon is that it’s easy to clean. The base of the unit is completely removable from the top lid/clamshell containing all of the electronics and the motor/heat strip so that it can be cleaned thoroughly (even completely immersed under soapy water) after operation. Frankly, we wish all basic sealers were designed like the Geryon.
- Warranty: 5 Years
- Automatic vacuum and seal function
While we think the FoodSaver 3150 will fit the needs of just about any home kitchen, the FoodSaver 4840 is a step up because it includes all the features of the 3000 series, along with a mode that combines auto-vacuum with auto-seal, so you don’t actually have to touch any controls to start the vacuum seal process, making it ideal for folks who are handling raw ingredients and helping to minimize user error. If you typically buy large cuts of meat and process them into smaller portions to keep in the freezer to cook later, the VS4840’s for you.
The main advantage of this model is the automatic vacuum and seal function — you don’t need to fiddle with the lid or line the bag perfectly up to the vacuum chamber; just guide the opening of the bag towards the chamber with the lid closed and the device will automatically draw it in (using a motorized roller mechanism) and begin the vacuum and sealing process. It’s a neat feature that really simplifies things and makes for less of a mess if you are the kind of cook who typically buys large cuts of meat and processes them into smaller portions to keep in the freezer to use later.
As with the VS3150, the VS4840 has a built-in handheld tool, and integrated storage for it on the left side of the unit — simply retract it from its compartment, and a spring-loaded mechanism allows it to furl back into its spool when needed. In our opinion, this is a significant improvement over the 3000 series because while that model also has a permanently attached handheld, it isn’t on a spring-loaded retractable spool; the tubing just coils behind the unit, so it’s a cleaner design.
The unit also features a lighted progress bar, which gives you slightly more insight into how long the vacuum process is going than some of the other models we tested. As with the 3000 series, the 4840 has a removable easy-to-clean vacuum chamber in the event juices and other liquids get pulled out of the food and into the chamber during the vacuum process.
The best handheld vacuum sealer: FoodSaver Multi-Use Handheld Vacuum Sealer and Marinator FS2160
- Warranty: 5 Years
- Handheld-only sealer
Along with the full-featured sealers we tested that included a handheld extension, we tested a couple of handheld-only sealers. These devices work only with reusable bags and containers that have a compatible valve; typically you are tied into the company you purchased from to find compatible bags and containers. Used with their corresponding bags, they work well to seal and store food.
The FoodSaver FS2160 edged out the Zwilling for a couple of reasons. It had a more convenient charging base, which was intuitive to use and doubled as a storage solution. The Foodsaver FS2160 also offers a useful marination function, which automatically turns the vacuum on and off over the course of 10 minutes when attached to a container. This function, which most of company’s countertop versions also have, periodically releases and increases vacuum pressure to force the marination juices into the meat — we did this with some chicken wings that we grilled, compared with some that were simply just bag marinated and we definitely tasted a difference in the intensity of the marinade.
Part of the benefit of the FoodSaver system is the quality of its vacuum containers and resealable bag as they are essential to the use of the handheld unit, which is optimized for quick use, marination and food preservation. We really like the 10-cup container that was sent to us for evaluation, which is strongly constructed out of a high-impact plastic and has a very tight vacuum seal, a marination setting that corresponds with the unit’s marination mode, and a prominent pressure release knob — although it does require a few days of use to break it in for smooth operation as it initially requires quite a bit of force to open. You can get these bags individually or in kits pairing a 10-cup and 3-cup container for $35.
A vacuum sealer is a device used to remove the air from a specialized plastic bag or a food container, creating a vacuum. This removes the oxygen, inhibiting bacterial growth, which helps preserve the food inside, allowing sealed items to last weeks or even months longer in the refrigerator or freezer. Vacuum sealers are often used for packaging cooked and raw proteins and vegetables for storage, preparing marinades, and sealing food in bags for immersion circulation with sous vide cooking.
A vacuum pump is the heart of a vacuum sealer; it moves air out of the vacuum chamber (either the slot into which the top of the vacuum bag is inserted or a handheld attachment or hose). Vacuum pumps can typically be run in several modes to suit various food preparation needs:
- Dry: For optimal vacuuming and sealing of dry foods.
- Moist: For vacuuming and sealing moist or juicy foods.
- Pulse: For manual start and stop of the vacuum function, such as sealing crunchy or brittle foods or soft ones like breads.
- Sous vide: For optimal vacuuming and sealing bags in sous vide cooking. This is similar to the Moist function but removes slightly less air.
Vacuum sealers work by making a tight seal; first you clamp the bag into the vacuum chamber, which is surrounded by a rubber gasket. Some models have vacuum chambers with removable drip trays so they can be easily cleaned; you’ll want to look for a model with such trays because they make cleaning much easier, meaning you get a better seal and don’t run the risk of nasty buildup in the device.
Once the bag is locked in place and the air has been removed, you trigger the sealing process itself. A sealing strip — typically PTFE (Teflon) fiber tape with a nonstick surface, with a heating element under it — runs along the edge of the chamber.. This is placed at the entrance of the vacuum chamber and is heated with an element, typically a wire running underneath the tape, to create the heat seal for the vacuum bag.
The vacuum bags themselves are typically made of food-grade polyamide and polyethylene for oxygen impermeability, ease of secure sealing and use in the refrigerator, freezer or in sous vide cooking. While sous vide immersion tolerances vary between products, typically, they can withstand 70° C (158° F) for up to 12 hours and at 80° C (176° F) for a maximum 6 hours before a heat seal failure. Many bags can be re-cut, re-sealed, and washed several times before discarding.
Bag brands are generally interchangeable between vacuum sealer units and come either pre-cut in two sizes or uncut spools, depending on the manufacturer and application. On countertop units you’ll find a bag holder, and you can use the built-in bag cutter to trim to your desired length.
Bags meant for handheld sealers generally use a proprietary valve specifically designed for the handheld device for which it was made. We have had some success using those from one manufacturer with another’s device (i.e., using a Zwilling resealable bag with a FoodSaver handheld and vice versa.) but we can’t promise compatibility. These bags open and close with a zipper-style seal.
All of the countertop models we looked at in this article are edge sealers — you fill a plastic bag with food, insert the open end of the bag into the vacuum sealer’s vacuum chamber, the vacuum process starts, and once the air’s been sucked out of the bag it finishes the process with a heat seal along the edge of the bag.
Regardless of price point and exterior dimensions, all of the edge sealing units we tested accommodate both 8-inch-wide and 11-inch-wide bags. Given the overall uniformity of sealer designs, we also experienced consistent sealing performance across all brands we looked at — none did a better or worse job creating a vacuum or seal than any of the other competing products. This also indicates to us that the actual pump component used by most of these products is fairly standardized.
Some countertop edge sealers include handheld attachments and you can also find standalone handheld models. These are designed to use with containers or jars, or with proprietary resealable bags for short-term storage of things like cheese, cold cuts and resealable containers.
A chamber sealer differs from an edge sealer in that it pumps all of the air out of a large chamber that an entire bag is placed in rather than out of the bag itself. This means you can seal moist or wet food items that would be impossible with an edge sealer, though models made for use at home may limit you to smaller portions of food due to the size of the chamber.
You’ll mostly find chamber sealers primarily for professional use in the food service industry; these models are much larger than what you’ll find for home use and are very expensive. Only recently have lower-cost, and smaller chamber devices made it into the consumer space, such as the Anova Precision Chamber unit. Due to limited product availability and for the purposes of publishing the first version of this article, we did not look at chamber sealers.
We dedicated an area of our home kitchen to test these devices, using a variety of manufacturer bags along with several different sous vide circulator units (which were used to test bag integrity).
With each sealer, we checked to see how easy it was to prep and seal bags for use, and once prepped, how well each product performed in removing the air from the bag and creating the heat seal. We were pleased to find that every edge sealer we tested made a satisfactory seal.
We paid attention to the materials used in the construction of each device, and to the overall build quality, as well as investigating whether each sealer employed any tech or design elements to make it more functional than the competition.
Since food safety is an important consideration, we paid careful attention to how simple it was to clean each sealer and how easy it was to reset between uses when sealing multiple bags.
We also checked on warranty coverage and how easy it was to contact customer service for each brand we assessed.
While the Anova is sleek and attractive, with excellent build quality, and features a “Sous Vide” sealing mode, we eliminated this device because the chamber is not removable for cleaning. It has ample bag roll storage with an integrated cutter and a clamping mechanism, but the FoodSaver 3000 series is better designed, and the Geryon is a better device for those on a budget.
This unit is very similar to the 3000 series except that it lacks a built-in handheld; instead, it has an accessory port for attaching one if you buy it separately. As with other FoodSaver units, the vacuum chamber with its drip tray can be removed for easy cleaning.
Similar to the Anova, with integrated bag roll storage and cutter, and a better clamping mechanism than the less expensive units, it also does not have a removable vacuum chamber, so it was eliminated, especially as it’s more expensive than the Anova.
We dismissed this as the vacuum chamber isn’t removable, and the heat tape is located on the lid, which makes it more prone to burning yourself when lifting the lid when the heat is on. You are much better served by the Geryon, which offers a superior design for only a few dollars more.
Nearly identical to the NutriChef internally and externally (and so far as we can tell electronically and mechanically), we dismissed this inexpensive unit for the same reasons — it’s difficult to clean and easy to burn yourself on the lid-mounted heat tape. Go for the Geryon at this price.
The Vesta, with its elegant and sleek design, seems better than the really cheap ones we looked at primarily because the vacuum chamber can be removed for cleaning. Still, for the price, and considering it doesn’t have a clamping mechanism like the Anova or FoodSaver VS2150, we’d say give this one a pass.
$80 at Amazon, for the sealer, storage container and four reusable sous vide bags
The Zwilling is a solid performer, though we prefer the FoodSaver FS2160 overall because of its charging base that’s simpler to use. Zwilling’s reusable bags are very well designed, with a solid valve attachment and a circular liquid barrier insert that makes sous vide use easier, and the company offers a wider variety of plastic and glass vacuum containers.
The good news is that FoodSaver resealable bags and containers and Zwilling bags and containers are relatively compatible between the devices, so it doesn’t matter really which of the devices you own if you want to use the bag and container accessories from the other — we thoroughly tested both types of bags and containers with both units, and they worked fine in our testing with either machine, manufacturer claims aside.