Benriner is a Japanese brand of plastic mandoline style slicers. Professional French mandoline slicers are usually metal, but Benriners are less expensive plastic alternatives that will work well for many home cooks. There are many brands of such slicers on the market, but Benriner, made in Japan, has long been recognized as an excellent choice. Professional cooks sometimes call them “Bennies.”
Like a French mandoline slicer, a Benriner Slicer allows you to slice vegetables to a uniform thickness, but also much thinner than you could with a knife. Benriner has been such a popular brand of slicer for so long that many cooks have the mistaken notion that the mandoline slicer is Japanese in origin, although the original mandolines were French.
The Benriner comes with different blades that allow you to produce very uniform juliennes, such as with potatoes, carrots, or other root vegetables. A Benriner can even be used to produce paper-thin slices of meat for making beef carpaccio, as long as the meat is partially frozen.
Although many food processors come with blade attachments for slicing, they cannot produce slices as thin as a Benriner, and using a Benriner is less fuss and mess, although it requires human power rather than electricity!
Unlike similar slicers, mandoline slicers like the Benriner have the blade set at an angle rather than flat. This angled setting makes for much more efficient slicing. There are also mandoline slicers available with V-shaped blades.
Although it requires much less skill to slice vegetables with a Benriner or mandoline than with a chef’s knife, they can be very dangerous, as the angled blade can cut your hand badly if you allow it to come to close while holding a vegetable for slicing. Because of this, Benriners come with safety guard to protect your hand.
One of the most important features of a mandoline-style slicer is the control over the thickness of the slices. The problem with some plastic slicers is that they are not finely adjustable to different thicknesses. In order to produce slices of different thicknesses, you have to put in a different blade. Only a few blades means only a few thicknesses, none of which may be what you want. A Benrier comes with an adjusting nut that adjusts the height of the slicing blade to very fine increments, allowing paper-thin to thick slicing. The nut is located on the underside of the unit (or the side for the jumbo slicer), and all you have to do is turn it to the left or right to adjust the thickness of the slice. The two nuts you see on the side of the unit (above) are for tightening the blade after inserting it into the slicer.
Although dedicated home cooks, like professional chefs, are proud of their knife skills, and it is possible to produce fine slices or julienne with a very sharp chef’s knife, a Benriner is great for high volume slicing when you need consistent and evenly sliced vegetables. Make no mistake, bennies are something you will see in professional kitchens.