Best Vacuum Sealers From Consumer Reports' Tests

These top-rated models keep food fresh longer. They're also a key ingredient in sous vide cooking.

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tester testing vacuum sealers with salmon, lemons, and mixed vegetables
CR test engineer Bernie Deitrick seals meat, fish, and veggies to compare vacuum sealers.
Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports

If you’re stocking the freezer for winter, you might find yourself wondering whether a vacuum sealer is a worthy addition to your kitchen.

Adding any small appliance to your collection is always a calculation. Will you use it? Do you have space for it? Is there a fun factor? A vacuum sealer checks all those boxes. For starters, these practical little machines save you money by keeping your food fresher, longer. And they help you prep for sous vide cooking, in which food sealed in a plastic bag is cooked in a water bath.

Vacuum sealers extract air from a bag, then fuse the sides together along a heated strip, creating an airtight seal. If you’ve ever frozen an expensive piece of meat only to find it covered with a thin layer of ice crystals, you’ll appreciate what a vacuum sealer can do. That frosty freezer burn doesn’t make the meat unsafe to eat, but it can change the taste, texture, and appearance.

More on Keeping Food Fresh

Ditto for frozen vegetables, bread, and just about any other food. You can prevent freezer burn by limiting the food’s exposure to air to reduce oxidation. And sure, you could try tightly wrapping your food in plastic wrap or foil before putting it in a plastic storage bag. But a vacuum sealer is much more efficient and effective.

It’s something you’ll value if you buy your food in bulk or belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) co-op. “Having whole foods on hand like meat, veggies, and grains is key to a healthy diet,” says Amy Keating, RD, a Consumer Reports nutritionist. “Using a vacuum sealer to maintain fresh ingredients can reduce waste and make these ingredients more accessible for quick, healthy meals.”

Bernie testing vacuum sealers

John Walsh/Consumer Reports John Walsh/Consumer Reports

CR tested seven vacuum sealers from six brands. The sealers, roughly $60 to $180, are about as wide as a toaster oven, though most aren’t that tall or deep. The larger models store a roll of plastic onboard, called a bag roll, that you cut to size. Those without roll storage don’t require as much counter space and are even small enough to stash in a drawer.

Some sealers come with a bag roll and/or precut bags in a variety of sizes (such as pint, quart, and gallon). Prices for replacements vary: A batch of 44 quart-sized replacement bags for FoodSaver models costs $25 on the brand’s website, while 200 generic quart-sized bags cost $28 on Amazon. (We tested two generic brands, and they worked with all the sealers in our tests.)

In previous tests, we evaluated whether vacuum sealing extended the storage life of food. “The answer to that was a resounding ‘Yes,’ so we didn’t feel the need to repeat those tests,” says CR test engineer Bernie Deitrick. Instead, we focused on how well a model seals dry food (such as an uncooked chicken breast or steak), how well it seals moist food (think meat in a marinade), how fast it works, how quietly it operates, and whether it’s simple to clean and has convenience features such as cord and bag roll storage, and has easy-to-understand controls.

Bernie testing vacuum sealers
CR test engineer Bernie Deitrick reviews a bag of vacuum-sealed steaks.

John Walsh/Consumer Reports John Walsh/Consumer Reports

All seven vacuum sealers that CR tested were top-notch at dry sealing, earning an Excellent rating on that test. But beyond that, we found real differences. Read on for ratings and reviews of the top three vacuum sealers from our tests. To see the entire list, check CR’s full vacuum sealer ratings and recommendations.

FoodSaver VS3180 Multi-Use

Dimensions: 6x16x9 inches (height x width x depth)
Comes with: 12 quart bags, 10 gallon bags, and a bag roll that’s 8 feet long and 11 inches wide

Hamilton Beach NutriFresh 78220

Dimensions: 6x17x10 inches (height x width x depth)
Comes with: 6 quart bags, 4 gallon bags, and a bag roll that’s 8 feet long and 11 inches wide

Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00

Dimensions: 3x17x5 inches (height by width by depth)
Comes with: 10 quart-sized bags

Mary H.J. Farrell

Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.