When I get my butcher shop going I am going to need a heavy duty meat grinder. I have spent a LOT of time looking at my options and the decision seems pretty straightforward.
In my opinion the two best commercial meat grinder options are:
- Weston #22 Pro Series (1 horsepower, budget friendly)
- Weston #32 Pro Series (2 horsepower, top of the line)
Here is what I am looking for in an industrial grade grinder:
- Ease of Cleaning
Ease of Cleaning
I tried finding documentation about what makes a grinder “Commercial Grade” and came up empty. I could find plenty of nice information on meat grinders for home use but there really isn’t an industry standard for commercial usage.
When you do a Google search for “USDA Commercial Meat Grinder Specifications” you get lots of information about food safety in commercial grinding facilities but no specification about the grinder. Example links are below.
The main regulatory criteria I have found about grinders in commercial operation deal with cleanliness. There is plenty of guidance on how often a grinder must be cleaned, when it must be sanitized with bleach and cleanliness inspection checklists to demonstrate that ALL parts of the grinder have been cleaned AND visually inspected.
The ability to EASILY take your grinder apart to get it clean and sanitized should be a major purchasing consideration.
As Much Power as I Can Afford
There is no such thing as too much power when it comes to commercial grinders.
The absolute smallest motor to consider would be 0.75 horsepower. A 0.75 HP grinder would be great for someone who wants to process a few deer every year.
A small shop like mine would probably need a 1 or 1.5 horsepower unit. Machines in this range can grind burgers all day long.
In addition to commercial use, units in the 1-1.5 HP range are also great for people making their own pet food. You can use these machines to grind bone-in chicken without ruining the machine or voiding the warranty.
A commercial processing plant would be running a 2 horsepower machine.
You want as much power as you can afford so your grinder will last longer. For a given workload, a low powered grinder running at 90% capacity will not last as long as a higher powered grinder running at 75% capacity.
You don’t want to be be constantly red lining your car and the same is true for grinders.
A commercial grinder has to work. Every day. Period.
You want a grinder with all metal gears. There should be absolutely NO plastic gears in a commercial unit.
You want a grinder with a cooling system for the motor. Heavy use generates significant amounts of heat. If your grinder is not equipped with a cooling mechanism you will fry the motor.
Warranty and Customer Service
An unfortunate reality is that crap happens and stuff breaks. You want to buy your grinder from a company that offers a SOLID warranty of at least two years and has a track record of good customer service.
The two companies that Meet these requirements and that I would be comfortable spending my money with are Weston and LEM.
When you take all of these factors into account the best commercial meat grinders are listed below based upon horsepower:
3/4 Horsepower Grinders
These grinders are suitable for home processing of venison, beef or hogs. These will process about 5-7 pounds of meat per minute.
If you can afford it you will be better served with a 1 HP unit.
These grinders are typically #12 which means the grinding plate has a diameter of 2 3/4 inches.
Weston states that this grinder is, “Great for small restaurants, meat processing shops or anyone wanting a heavy duty grinder at home.”
The Weston grinders are pretty awesome. This 40 pound grinder is built like a tank and you can go through about 500 pounds of meat an hour with this guy.
Weston warranties their grinder for commercial use and for grinding chicken bones.
All Weston Grinders are designed to be easily disassembled for cleaning. It takes about ten minutes to take this grinder apart and clean all of the components. Cleanliness is THE most important aspects of grinding meat and Weston makes it easy.
The motors are permanently lubricated and air cooled for YEARS of reliable performance. The downside of this grinder is that while it is designed to last forever the warranty is only for two years.
There is no “Reverse” feature on this grinder so any jams or clogs will need to be cleared by hand after the grinder has been turned off and taken apart.
I included this grinder because LEM has GREAT customer service, makes great products and offers a 5 year warranty.
The LEM #12 is a great grinder but falls slightly below my standard of commercial grade equipment. Here is the PDF of the manual for the #12 Big Bite. 1700 Series_GrinderManual. The manual states that the grinder is NOT designed for commercial use.
There is also not a built in cooling mechanism on the grinder so things will get hot if you grind a lot. On the product review section of the LEM website they state that the grinder should be allowed to rest during periods of heavy use.
As a counter point, one Amazon reviewer states that they were able to grind five deer in under an hour with the LEM Big Bite #12.
Like the Weston, this grinder also lacks a Reverse gear.
1 Horsepower Grinders
These grinders are suitable for small commercial meat grinding operations and are perfect for making pet food.
These grinders are typically #22 which means the grinding plate has a diameter of 3 1/4 inches.
The Weston Pro Series #22 is the grinder I think will best fit the needs of most people who are looking for an industrial grade machine.
This grinder will handle deer, elk, moose and any other type of fibrous game meat with ease. Weston states the grinder can handle 750 pounds of meat per hour.
It will also blast through meat and soft bones for making pet food like nobody’s business. Here is a video of this beast grinding bone-in chicken. Pure Power.
The stainless steel grinder weighs in at 60 pounds and has a two year warranty that covers commercial use.
The Weston 22 also has a Reverse gear for unclogging jams although I can’t imaging you will ever need it.
The LEM Big Bite 22 Grinder is very similar to the Weston 22 and costs just a little less.
The few differences between the grinders are:
- The LEM grinder has a longer warranty (5 years) but it does not cover commercial use.
- The LEM grinder does not have a reverse gear.
- The LEM auger has a Big Bite design that grabs larger chunks of meat for slightly faster grinding. Here is a comparison of the LEM Big Bite auger and the Weston auger.
Another difference between the Weston and LEM is the manufacturers’ stance on grinding bone-in chicken. Both grinders are great for the task. Weston is very explicit that their grinder is designed to handle bone in meats. LEM is vague on the topic and it is not clear if grinding bone-in meats will void the warranty.
1.5 Horsepower Grinders
Weston does not offer a 1.5 horsepower grinder. The only option I would consider in this power class is the LEM Big Bite #32.
The LEM Big Bite #32 is not available on Amazon so you will need to purchase it directly from LEM. LEM does has a 1.5 HP grinder on Amazon that comes with the Big Bite auger as an accessory. However, the grinder itself is an older model that is only covered by a two year warranty.
2 Horsepower Grinders
LEM does not offer a 2 horsepower grinder. The only option I would consider in this power class is the Weston #32 Pro.
Users typically describe this grinder with words like:
- Excellent Heavy Duty
The only downside to this grinder is that it weighs about 70 pounds and can be difficult to move around.
This is the top of the line Weston grinder and I can’t imagine having a nicer piece of equipment in my shop.