The vegetable spiralizer might be the epitome of a single-function kitchen tool. It’s bulky and funny-looking and it takes up mad counter space. I would be tempted to tell you to skip it, if not for the fact that it's the key to making zoodles. Spiralized vegetable noodles are the best way to enjoy gluten-free, low-carb pasta, and I love how easy it makes sneaking extra veggies into my diet.
Even though I own a spiralizer, I’ve been wondering if it’s really necessary. As a professional chef, I’ve made lots of vegetable ribbons using nothing more than a vegetable peeler, so why should I need a gadget to make faux pasta? To see if a peeler competed as a replacement, I picked up the $29.99 Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer, the highest rated spiralizer on Amazon with an astounding 9500 customer reviews. Get ready to be inspiralized by the results (sorry, sorry, I had to!).
The spiralizer is kind of amazing to see in action. It’s so easy to use—trim the end of your vegetable, place it onto the clamp, and turn the crank as you press firmly towards the blade. The suction cups on the spiralizer's feet hold the device in place as you turn, so all you have to do is watch the noodles pile up. Seriously though, I can’t believe how many vegetable noodles are produced from one zucchini! In addition to making faux-pasta, you can use the spiralizer’s other blade options to slice vegetable chips and make ribbons for salads.
The major drawback, however, is a big one—literally–because this is one hefty, bulky device. This gadget takes up a significant amount of kitchen real estate. Its only saving grace is the blade storage, which is conveniently located within the gadget itself, so at least you don’t have to go hunting around the kitchen to find all the parts.
You can totally make veggie “noodles” without a spiralizer by using a normal vegetable peeler. The easiest shape to make is long, thin ribbons. Place the vegetable on a cutting board and carefully slice lengthwise, pressing down gently with the peeler as you go. It may take a few tries to get this technique down pat (especially with thinner vegetables, like asparagus). If your ribbons are oddly shaped and not particularly uniform, don’t be discouraged—they’ll still taste delicious!
You can go one step further and make thinner noodles from the ribbons. Stack the ribbons about five high and, using a sharp knife, slice them into small, matchstick-sized pieces. This cut is even easier if you have a julienne vegetable peeler, like this one.
As far as consistency goes, you can’t beat the spiralizer. Every noodle was exactly the same width and shape, and the perfectly round figures reminded me of spaghetti. Outside of shape, the spiralizer was also much quicker and easier to use. In fact, it transformed vegetables into noodles three times faster than the peeler.
The spiralizer also made a greater bulk of noodles and had significantly less waste. Since you had to press down firmly with the peeler to make ribbons, it was difficult to peel every last bit of the zucchini and I ended up throwing some away. On the other hand, the peeler was much easier to clean. The spiralizer had to be taken apart first - removing the crank and blade from the body - and I had to clean all three items separately.
Do you need a spiralizer? No, but there’s no denying that the spiralizer made it easy to create incredibly pasta-like “zoodles.” Surprisingly enough, even though the peeler's noodles were much less perfect looking than the spiralizer's, the difference was mainly aesthetic. After they were cooked, I couldn’t actually taste the difference between the two techniques.
So it all boils down to two questions– 1) how often do you make vegetable noodles; and 2) how much time do you want to save? If you answered “often” and “lots,” then the spiralizer will be your best friend! If not, you might want to save the counter space and practice your peeling skills.
Get the Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer for $29.99 on Amazon or learn more about other spiralizers we like by checking out our round-up.