Marinating is one of the best ways to add flavor to your food. However, it generally isn’t a quick process. If you love that marinated flavor but want to cut down on the time it takes, a vacuum marinator can help you out. Read on to find the best vacuum marinator for you.
What is a Vacuum Marinator?
A vacuum marinator is a device that uses a vacuum to help drive a marinade into meat or vegetables faster. A vacuum is said to open up pores in the meat that help drive the marinade inside of the food faster than traditional marinating.
All vacuum marinators have positives and drawbacks. They do require more space depending on the style. If you live in a home with a small kitchen or an apartment, the tumbler style might not work for you. The box style can be used to store food as well, so it might be a better purchase for you.
- The Best Electric Knife Sharpener – Consumer Reports
- The Best French Fry Cutters for Sweet Potatoes – Buying Guide
- The Best Rotary Egg Beaters for Your Kitchen in 2020
- The Best Cereal Dispensers of 2020
- The Best Bento Lunch Box for Kids – Unbiased Reviews
Why Do I Need One?
If you hate waiting, or just want to cut down on prep time a vacuum marinator can reduce the prep time for recipes. Vacuum marinators can also function as meat tenderizers as well if it is a drum model. If you normally marinate meat, this can save you if you forget to get the meat going early.
Anyone who finds themselves forgetting to prep a marinade ahead of time will appreciate a vacuum marinator. People who don’t like to plan their meals too far ahead will also appreciate owning a vacuum marinator.
They can also make your meat much more tender. A tumbler unit can increase tenderness by mechanical action as well as any tenderizing you would normally get from your marinade. You can also store food longer when there is a vacuum seal applied. If you want that feature, be sure to look for a model that allows for storage as well as marinating. Any box style should work well for this use.
What Should I Look for When Buying the Best Vacuum Marinator?
You should look for the capacity to start. If you want to marinate thicker cuts of meat or larger items like whole poultry, you will need a larger vacuum marinator. How the vacuum is achieved is also important. Some cheaper models use a hand pump, which can be rough if you have arthritis or other problems with your hands or arms.
A good marinator will be easy to use, hold the vacuum well, and be easy to clean. You also want a strong container so it won’t fail under a vacuum. Many plastics can fail over time or if too much pressure is applied. If you want to use your marinator to store food as well, you should look for a model that holds vacuum well over time.
The form is also important since you can buy a simple box model, one that uses bags, or one that has a rotating tumbler. Each has its own positives and negatives. Bag models won’t be on this list.
Tumbler or Box?
Tumbler models rotate the meat and marinade around as they work. They normally draw a vacuum to work faster. Many professional meat processors use similar models for pre-marinated products.
Tumbler models are good since they can tenderize the meat by agitating it. They also ensure your marinade touches more of your meat. If you like making vegetables or pickles, this kind can also help you make them more quickly.
The problem tends to be the size and that the vacuum needs to be checked before you use it on the base. If you don’t have a good seal, your marinade can leak out and damage the base unit. If you have a small kitchen, this style of marinator may not work since they take up so much valuable counter space as well as storage space.
Box models are simple, and generally much cheaper. They work much like a standard food container, but you can draw a vacuum to help a marinade penetrate meat faster. Many of these can also be used for food storage, so they serve multiple purposes.
Box vacuum marinators can be fragile at times, since holding a vacuum can stress plastic over time and cause failure. They are generally much cheaper than tumbler models and they take up less space. Since they also store food, they can be a better choice for those with little space.
Price should be your deciding factor on which you should buy along with if you can work a hand pump easily. Many units require two hands to operate or some decent strength in the arms. If you make a lot of marinated meats or have problems with your meat not being marinated evenly, a tumbler model might work better for you. Just make sure you have the space for it since they do take up some room on the counter.
Each of these options is great for anyone who wants to buy a vacuum marinator. You should find one that meets your budget and needs.
This is a drum marinator from STX International. It works by drawing a vacuum through the lid, and then the drum will rotate in order to coat the meat in the marinade. It has a timer to let you pick how long to marinate the meat.
It claims to work in 15 minutes, but many owners prefer to let it go for 30 minutes to an hour to get a better flavor penetration.
As far as size, this model has a capacity of 6 liters. They claim it can marinate 4 16 ounce steaks at once. The marinating drum has a diameter of 8 inches and a 9-inch height. Anything smaller should fit, but be sure you get a good seal before you put the drum on the base. It has a weight limit of 10 pounds.
You can also use this for making pickles or marinating vegetables. This likely won’t work as a storage container, since it doesn’t seem designed to hold a vacuum long term.
One issue noted is that you really need to check the seal since it is only held on with the vacuum. If it isn’t secure you risk the marinade leaking out and ruining the base of the unit.
This also can’t be washed in the dishwasher. It needs to be hand washed to prolong the life of the seals and prevent cracking.
- Good capacity
- Tumbler will run on a timer
- Easy to clean
- Tumbler is sturdy
- Lid only held on by vacuum
- Hand wash only
This is another tumbler model that can hold up to 5 pounds of meat. It comes with dividers so you shouldn’t deal with more delicate cuts of meat becoming pulverized.
It advertises that it both marinates and tenderizes meat or vegetables. It comes with settings for various meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. If you are marinating any part of your meal, this should help it marinate faster.
You can buy different drum sizes if you want to marinate larger meats. The largest can fit an 18-pound whole turkey easily.
This will work great for vegetables as well as meat. It won’t work as a vacuum storage container, however.
The biggest issue with this is that the tumbler can crack under pressure. This is due to a flat bottom that can’t always handle a full vacuum. If it breaks, you need to buy a replacement and these aren’t cheap.
- Large capacity and can buy bigger drums
- Has settings for many foods
- Tenderizes while it marinates
- Can crack under pressure
- Needs hand washing since it will melt during a dry cycle in a dishwasher
This is a simple box marinator that comes with a hand pump to create a vacuum. It should hold a few steaks, but exact measurements aren’t easy to find.
This can function as a vacuum storage container to keep food fresh longer. However, the seal can be weak.
This uses a snap lid to hold it on, and can only be hand washed. The biggest issue with this marinator is the weak hinges. They can snap easily even with normal use.
Another issue is the hand pump. It requires two hands to use and might not always make a good seal. You can make the seal better by putting cooking oil over the seal on the container after you’ve formed the vacuum.
- Simple unit holds up to half a chicken
- Hand wash only
- Seal needs help
This is another great option for a box style vacuum marinator. It has a 2.5 Liter capacity, so it should fit a number of cuts of meat. It works with a hand pump that you position over the rubber portion of the lid. A few quick pumps get a vacuum going that will speed up your marinating time.
This unit is dishwasher safe, though the hand pump can only be wiped clean. Another thing to note is that the bottom rounds up in the center. This can put the meat away from the marinade and result in you needing more to cover your meat.
The size, as well as the bump, means that it works best for larger amounts of meat and marinade. If you want to prepare small amounts, this might not work as well. You will likely waste more marinade than you would like with this when cooking for one person.
It should function decently as a storage container, but the weak lid means that another model might be better. Many users noted the failure of the lid after a few hours under vacuum.
The final issue is that the lid can be fragile. You really need to read the instructions to figure out how many pumps you should use. It is likely less than you would think. One good feature is that it can be easy to find a replacement hand pump or seal for the lid since the brand makes other similar products that use the exact same parts.
- Large capacity for bigger amounts of mea
- Dishwasher safe
- Simple operation
- Hold suction very well
- Lid can be fragile, particularly if over-pumped
- Bump in the middle means you need more marinade
This is a good option if you’re looking for a nice, simple container that can marinate your meat or be used to preserve your food longer with a vacuum seal. It has a 2 Liter capacity or about 8.5 cups.
It functions well for storage as well as marinating. If you want a simple container that can be used for multiple functions, this can work well.
This option uses a hand pump to create a vacuum. It also has clips to help hold the lid on. You can break the seal easily by pushing on the rubber seal on the lid.
This unit is dishwasher safe. It is also microwave safe so long as the lid is off.
It isn’t very large, so it works best for smaller cuts of meat. This is a good option for single people or small families. It is an 8-inch square container that is just over 3 inches with the lid on.
- Good seal
- Can be used to store food as well
- Dishwasher safe
- Microwave safe
- Bit small
This is a small vacuum marinator meant to be used with the Foodsaver vacuum machine. It has a 2.1 L capacity. Please note that this will only work with the Foodsaver, and you will need the vacuum hose for the machine in order to use this. The product image does show a hose, but it isn’t included in the package.
This can be used for marinating, or it can be used just to store food with a vacuum seal. Make sure your Foodsaver machine can handle wet food or marinating food. Not all machines have this function and can malfunction if you use them with anything wet or liquid.
This container will mainly work with Foodsaver systems. You can try to find adaptors if you have another brand of vacuum preservation system, but it might not be easy to find. You should research to be sure your brand of vacuum machine will be supported.
One issue is that it can fail when used under a vacuum. This can result in the container cracking on the bottom. The gasket to seal it can also be weak.
- Good size
- Works with most Foodsaver machines
- Can crack under pressure
- Only works with Foodsaver machines and needs a hose that isn’t included
This little unit is meant for making pickles in a quicker manner, but it can be used for meats and marinades as well. It has a 7 Liter capacity to fit a good amount of food.
It includes a transformer in the package that should help it work in more countries. The listing does say it should work with US plugs, but be sure to read all package directions before you plug it in for the first time.
This unit should work well for most proteins or vegetables since it keeps them both under vacuum and mixes them to get even marinade distribution.
The manufacturer doesn’t specify if it can be washed in the dishwasher, but it is best to handwash since the gaskets can be more fragile.
The size of the unit can take up a good amount of space, so be sure you know that you have enough room for it.
While this unit is fairly new on the market, it does have some design issues to watch out for. Like all tumbler units, you need to make sure you get a good seal before you use it. It might also fail under pressure if there are any flat spots on the jar itself.
- 7 liter capacity
- Mixes meat with the marinade to ensure all of the meat is flavored
- Can be used for other things like making pickles
- Hand washing required
- Might be fragile