Meat Grinder FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions About Meat Grinders

  1. What are the standard meat grinder sizes and how is size measured?

  2. What size grinder is right for me?

  3. What are grinder plates and how are they used?

  4. What are different grinder plates hole sizes for?

  5. Are stainless steel grinder plates and knives better than carbon steel?

  6. Should I get a manual or an electric model?

  7. Can I stuff sausage with a meat grinder?

  8. Can I grind bones in a meat grinder?

  9. Can I make my own dog or cat food with a meat grinder?

  10. What other foods can I process with a meat grinder?

  11. Do meat grinders require any maintenance?





  1. What are the standard meat grinder sizes and how is size measured?

    The grinder size is a number based on the diameter of the neck, outlet opening, and grinding plate that fits in the outlet opening. When you see the them for sale, you will almost always see the number, usually with a # sign, showing the size.

    This chart shows the most common grinder sizes and the corresponding measurement of the diameter of the cutting plate and outlet opening.

    Grinder SizeOutlet Diameter
    #5 2 1/8"
    #8 2 1/2"
    #10 and #12 2 3/4"
    #20 and #22 3 1/4"
    #32 3 7/8"


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  2. What size grinder is right for me?

    The larger the size of the meat grinder, the greater the volume it can handle and the faster, often expressed in pounds/hour, you can get the grinding job done. If you are thinking about getting a manual hand crank grinder, you need to consider that larger grinder sizes require more power to turn the crank. However, larger grinders usually compensate for this by having a bit longer crank handle to provide more leverage.

    If you are looking at electric grinders, you will notice that the larger the size number of the grinder, the more powerful the motor that comes with it. Bigger grinders need more power to push the larger volumes of meat through the machine.

    So, whether you want a manual or an electric grinder, the larger the size number, the bigger the unit will be and the more you will have to pay. Going with a bigger grinder gives you more speed, but requires more power.

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  3. What are grinder plates and how are they used?

    The grinding plate, also called a cutting plate, is a round carbon or stainless steel plate with several holes in it that sits at the end of the meat grinder. As meat is forced through the holes of the grinding plate, a spinning blade cuts accross the holes several times per second.

    Grinding plates come in different standard number sizes (based on diameter size) to match the size grinder you have. Besides the standard number size, grinding plates also come with a variety of hole sizes for making fine, medium, or coarse (chunky) ground meat.

    Meat grinders always come with at least one grinding plate, and often come with two or three plates, depending on which brand and model. You may wish to purchase additional grinding plates to offer a wider variety of ground meat for various meat products and sausages you will be making. Additionally, these cutting plates need to be replaced periodically as they tend to get dull. We recommend replacing your plates and cutting knife at the same time.

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  4. What are different grinder plates hole sizes for?

    Grinder plates come with different sized holes to allow for larger or smaller sized chunks of meat to pass through. Grinder plates with smaller diameter holes, like 1/8", 3/16", or 1/4", make a fine ground meat for making franks, bologna, or hamburger. Plates with larger holes, say 1/2" and larger, allow larger pieces of meat to pass through. These larger plates, sometimes called medium or coarse grinding plates, are used for making various types of sausage. Most grinders come with one or two grinding plates, but more plates can be purchased separately.

    The following chart shows some common grinder plate hole sizes and what kind of sausage and meat products they can be used to make.

    Hole Size Used for These Types of Sausage and Meat Products
    3/32" & 1/8" Fine grind - Bologna, Franks, Forcemeats, Hamburger & Beef Jerky.
    5/32" & 3/16" Medium-fine grind - Breakfast Sausage, Hamburger, Polish & Italian Sausage.
    1/4" Medium-coarse grind - Salami, Summer Sausage, Pepperoni & Bratwurst.
    3/8" Coarse grind - First grind, Chili meat & Chorizo.
    1/2" Very Coarse - First grind, Chili meat, Stew meat & Vegetables.
    3/4" Very Coarse - First grind or Chunking meat.


    The holes in the grinding plates are relatively sharp when new, but tend to dull over time as they are used and should be replaced periodically. We recommend replacing your plates and cutting knife at the same time.

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  5. Are stainless steel grinder plates and knives better than carbon steel?

    Stainless steel plates and knives are more expensive than their carbon steel counterparts, but the stainlees steel plates and knives are more durable than carbon steel and will usually stay sharp up to three times longer. Another plus for stainless steel knives and plates is that they will not rust. Carbon steel plates require extra care to prevent them from rusting, such as always keeping them dry and even keeping them covered with a light coating of oil.

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  6. Should I get a manual or an electric model?

    Deciding whether to get a manual or an electric meat grinder is largely based on the frequency and/or quantity you will be grinding. Will you be grinding a whole deer or making sausage on a regular basis? Or do you just want 30 pounds of homemade sausage every once in a while? Look for a grinder made for the capacity of meat you need to grind.

    • Manual Grinders - A manual meat grinder is all you need if you will only need to grind ocassonally or in small batches. If you only use a grinder to make a small batch, or only once a season for game meat, and you don't want to spend a lot of money, check out our manual meat grinders. Any of our manual models are a great value for anyone who doesn't need to use one for large quantities or on a regular basis. We carry them in stainless steel and plated cast iron at everyday low prices.

      Another factor to consider about manual grinders is using them to stuff sausage. Making sausage using a manual meat grinder can be somewhat cumbersome. The meat must be fed into the grinder and the handle cranked at an even rate by one person, while the sausage casing is manipulated on the other end by a second person. One way to make the stuffing process easier without jumping up to an electric meat grinder is to purchase a sasuage stuffer, which makes the stuffing job much easier and faster.

    • Electic Meat Grinders - For folks who grind meat frequently or in large batches, an electric meat grinder is a definite advantage. The electric motor saves a lot of manual labor and allows meat to be ground quickly and easily by just one person. Remember that meat must be kept cold during the grinding process, so the time it takes to do a grinding job is very important. If you need to grind 100 pounds of meat by hand, it could take you a very long time and a lot of muscle. Using an electric model to grind 100 pounds of meat takes less than an hour and will save your body a lot of pain. Electric grinding machines do cost a bit more than manual ones, but paying the extra money may be well worth it for you.

      Electric grinders are also easier when it comes to stuffing sausage. Since there is no handle to crank, the even grinding rate is taken care of by the electric motor, which helps to stuff sausages casings evenly.

    At Meat Processing Products we only carry quality manual and electric meat grinders, so no matter which type you choose to buy, you can rest assured that you will be receiving a top quality product.

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  7. Can I stuff sausage with a meat grinder

    Any meat grinder, whether manual or electric, can be fitted with sausage stuffing tubes and used to stuff sausage into casing. Many grinders come with a set of stuffing tubes, but they can also be purchased separately and are rather inexpensive. Just be sure that they match the standard size of your grinder so that they attach properly.

    Making sausage using a manual meat grinder can be somewhat cumbersome. The meat must be fed into the grinder and the handle cranked at an even rate by one person, while the sausage casing is manipulated on the other end by a second person.

    It is easier to stuff sausage with an electric grinder. Since there is no handle to crank, the even grinding rate is taken care of by the electric motor, which helps to stuff sausage casings evenly.

    Even easier than stuffing with a meat grinder is to stuff sausage with a sasuage stuffer, especially if you will be stuffing larger quantities of sausage.

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  8. Can I grind bones in a meat grinder?

    Most meat grinders aren't designed to grind bones and it is a rare manufacturer who says that their grinders will do bones, even their heavy duty commercial models. As you would expect, they need to say this because bones can be very hard on motors and can break the internal gears (especially the cheaper model grinders with plastic gears) or overheat the grinder motor. A manufacturer's warranty might be voided if the grinder is used to grind bones.

    However, we have found in our experience that most grinders are indeed capable of grinding smaller animal bones and soft bones, like chicken, rabit, etc. Obviously, the larger and more powerful grinder you get, the more durable it will be and the better for grinding soft bones. If you really need to grind bones, say for making your own pet food, we suggest the highest wattage all-metal grinder you can afford. We have found that the LEM grinders go through soft bones like butter because they have all-metal gears and are very powerful.

    We do not recommend grinding beef, deer, pork, or other larger animal bones that are more dense, hard, and thick as these may damage your grinder.

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  9. Can I make my own dog or cat food with a meat grinder?

    Making your own pet food is an excellent use of a meat grinder. There is a lot of information on the internet regarding putting your pet on an all raw food diet with pet food you make at home with a meat grinder. Advocates say that your pet will be much healthier if it eats food with a good mixture of ground meat, organs, and bones (see grinding bones above).

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  10. What other foods can I process with a meat grinder?

    Grinders, whether they're manual or electric, can be used for all sorts of foods. Although they're called "meat" grinders, they can be used to grind anything including nuts, fruits and vegetables, and even cheese.

    Here are some ideas to try:

    • Nut Butter - Put peanuts or almonds through a meat grinder to make your own wholesome nut butter.

    • Fruit Sorbet - Run frozen strawberries, bananas, mangos, or any other frozen fruit in your meat grinder for an amazing frozen fruit sorbet treat.

    • Make Baby Food - Make your own baby food peas, carrots, or any other fruit, vegetable or cooked meat.

    • Meat Pate - Pass cooked meat through your grinder for excellent meat pate dishes.

    • Bread Crumbs - Use dry or toasted bread.

    • Cheese Crumbles - Make your own parmesan crumble or other dry hard cheese crumble.

    • Endless possibilities - stews, spreads, chili, humus, and as many ideas as you can imagine.


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  11. Do meat grinders require any maintenance?

    Whether manual or electric, we recommend stainless steel grinders if you can afford them because they are maintenance free and dishwasher safe. Electric grinders nowadayas are 100% maintenance free and require no special cleaning care or lubrication.

    If you have a cast iron meat grinder, the dishwasher is definitely out of the question. Washing the pieces by hand will help reduce the chances of rust. Cast iron grinders need to be protected from rusting by keeping them away from moisture. After cleaning, always be sure to dry all of the parts thoroughly. You may wish to coat the grinder with mineral oil or cooking oil to protect it from rusting. Store the grinder broken down into its separate components and store in zip top bags. You can surroung the iron pieces with dry rice in the bags and the rice will absorb the moisture in the air.

    You may have a stainless steel meat grinder, but your grinding knife and/or plates may be made of carbon steel and not stainless steel. These carbon steel parts need to maintained in the same way as the cast iron mentioned above.

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Meat Grinder Parts & Accessories
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