Meat Processing Equipment 101 - Grinders

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Equipment Header

    Meat Processing Equipment 101 Meat Grinders

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    What Are The Main Functions?

    The main function of a grinder is to take a whole muscle cut of meat and break it down into a ground format that can then be seasoned, cured, stuffed into a casing and then cooked.

    Grinder Overhead
    Grinder Closeup

    How Do They Work?

    Electric grinders have a hopper at the top where you load your meat that you are preparing to grind. The hopper has a hole in it that leads down to the throat of the grinder where an auger that is powered by the motor pushes the meat towards the plate and knife that will curt and grind your meat. The grinding knife goes behind the plate with the sharpened surface facing towards the plate, this cuts the meat and forces it through the holes of the grinding plate, the larger the holes on the grinding plate the faster your meat will grind and the coarser your product will be. Many products need to be ground twice, sometimes through a larger plate first and then through a smaller plate and sometimes twice through a larger plate.

    How Important is it?

    It depends on what type of meat you will most often be starting with. If you are going to be starting with whole muscle cuts then it is the most important piece of equipment that you can have! Other than a Bowl Chopper, which is an expensive commercial piece of equipment, will allow you to take a whole piece of meat and break it down into a ground product.


    Like we said above, a Bowl Chopper will offer you similar functionality but the cost makes them unreasonable for the home processor. The main alternative to a Meat Grinder is to purchase already ground meat. If you want to make snack sticks you can buy ground pork, seasoning and cure it and then use a Sausage Stuffer to stuff it into casings.

    Should You Buy One

    If you are choosing between a grinder and stuffer to make meat sausage at home I would say a wild game processor should go with the grinder as it will allow them to break down the carcass and stuff and the person using beef or pork should get a sausage stuffer and buy pre-ground meat from the store.

    Best Choice For Beginners

    The Walton’s #12 Meat Grinder is a nice choice for beginners as it gives you a medium-sized plate, with a powerful enough motor to break down larger cuts while staying under $200.

    Other Information

    Grinders come in different sizes with different grinding capacities, the number associated with the grinder corresponds to the size of the head assembly as well as the plate and knife you can use with that grinder. Standard sizes are #8, and #12 which are the same size, #22 and #32.

    A larger grinder like a #32 grinder will use a plate that is 3-15/16" in diameter and something like the Walton’s #32 can grind upwards of 18 lb a minute. The power on a meat grinder also plays an important role in how many lb a minute it can process and how long it can be run for. Power can range from 575 watts on a small #8 kitchen grinder up to 1.5 horsepower for the Walton’s #32 series. The amount of horsepower is important as this is what drives the auger in the head assembly and more power means you can grind faster and use larger chunks of meat saving you processing time.

    Some meat grinders do have the ability to act as sausage stuffer as well as a grinder. You can switch out the plate and knife for a star stuffing adapter, attach a stuffing horn and stuff your ground product into casings or meat bags. While the stuffing capability is a nice thing to have it is much harder and will take longer to stuff with your grinder versus using an actual sausage stuffer. Because of the pressure required to stuff a product into smaller casings meat grinders will not work on anything smaller than a bratwurst or hotdog-sized product.

    Both plates and knives are available in both disposable and sharpenable versions. Disposable should be used until they are dull and then thrown out, sharpenable plates and knives can be sent into Walton’s and we will sharpen them for a small fee. These types of plates and knives are more expensive initially but it is much cheaper to have us sharpen them than buy new ones, plus they are made to a higher quality and will give you a better-finished product. You can see the difference between a disposable and sharpenable knife just by looking at it, the disposable will look like a pinwheel and just has a flat edge, the sharpenable knife has a quality piece of steel on each arm that sticks up from the body.

    Shop for Meat Grinders

  • I’m looking for recommendations on an electric meat grinder that is under $200 and QUIET. I understand that all electric meat grinders will make noise but I’m looking for a quieter one… something similar to the noise level of the LEM Big Bite. It’s sole purpose is to grind BONELESS chicken thighs and nothing else. Please help!

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Foodforcats The Weston #12 750 watt is right out, that thing is LOUD. Here is a comparison between the old weston #8 and the weston #8 black series I’d say that which is here

  • Jonathon Thanks so much. I think I’m going with the Weston #8 575 watt Black!

  • Team Blue

    Foodforcats The #8 is a good grinder. I’ve used it in a professional setting and almost abused it and it keeps ticking. It’s loud-ish but nothing compared to using a KitchenAid with grinder attachment.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Joe Hell Saying that it is quieter than the KitchenAid? I assume but I want to be sure that is what you mean before I add you against your will to :bluehat:

  • Team Blue

    Jonathon Yes…My kitchenAid absolutely SCREAMS when using the grinder. It’s nothing short of ear piercing.

  • Yearling

    What is the general opinion of Cabela’s Carnivore #22 grinder/stuffer? Thinking of purchasing one and was wondering if anyone has this is grinder/stuffer and what they think of it.

  • Team Blue Power User Traeger Primo Grills PK Grills Canning Sous Vide Community Moderator Kansas

    The opinion is to buy a grinder from Walton’s, might I suggest

  • BONES!!! Can anyone do a series on the growing trend for homemade dog and cat food? Specifically the need to grind bones from various species, not just poultry and rabbit? Are there any grinders or machines built to grind bones like pork, lamb, venison and beef? We have a dog with severe food allergies and can have no poultry, fish, lamb, venison or pork and he is currently on a diet that is beef based and we need to grind beef bone - rib and neck bones at least.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    truckmountgirl We’ve covered this in a few other posts (might have been yours?) but beef bones aren’t something you are going to want to put through any retail grinder at all and we had a few commercial processors chime in and say they wouldn’t put them through their commercial grinders either We’ve done a decent amount of research on this and other than the weston pro 22 and 32 (and who knows when those are coming back) there just don’t seem to be a lot of grinders on the retail market that will reliably grind even softer bones, let alone beef bones.

    One more caviat, I’ve seen a few “best of” lists that recommend using XYZ or whatever grinders to do bones and then when you read the information on that products page they clearly state that it does not grind bones.

  • Yeah, I get the same feedback. Is there another type of machine (other than a grinder) that does harder bones? I have even thought about using a wood chipper, I think it would work, but the noise…plus cleaning it so that it was sanitary…

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    truckmountgirl As far as we are aware there isn’t a readily available machine that does this. Now, our target customer isn’t someone looking to grind bones but I spent a good 20-30 minutes the other day trying to google a machine that grinds beef bones and I found absolutely nothing. You might try reaching out to a pet food company? Sorry, that’s the best I can think of!

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    AAAAAANNNND back and with an answer! Sometimes google isn’t the best, sometimes duckduckgo has it beat! The machine you would want to look for is called a Bone Crusher(amazing name), not a grinder! Looked on Ebay for you real quick and there are some but they look like chicken/fish based ones, so if you do buy something make sure it is rated for beef!

  • Thanks! I did find bone crushers, and they are really cool! But definitely made for large commercial locations and WAY out of our price range. here is a video. I thought the comments were hilarious!

  • Canning Dry Cured Sausage Primo Grills Team Blue Sous Vide Power User Cast Iron

    Austin Jonathon since it appears unlikely that you will get the Westin #32 pro grinder anytime soon, what will be the HP on the Walton #32 grinder and do you have an approximate date that it may be available. Really in a bind for a much larger grinder and do want to support Walton. Your site and customer service is second to none. I so appreciate your site and commitment to teach and educate.

  • truckmountgirl I used to work for a slaughter house way back in the day and I seem to remember the company that hauled off our bones and other things would cook everything down prior to processing. They did not grind raw bones.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Chef No, when they first went out of stock we were cautiously optimistic with their date but at this point I won’t even bother providing and expected date until they are either confirmed shipped to u or even better when they are here.

  • Canning Dry Cured Sausage Primo Grills Team Blue Sous Vide Power User Cast Iron

    Jonathon sorry I was referring to the Walton brand private label grinders discussed yesterday I believe Austin said that you would carry a #22 and #32 grinder. What HP is Walton specifying for the #32? Will it be comparable to the Weston Pro? Thanks

  • Canning Dry Cured Sausage Primo Grills Team Blue Sous Vide Power User Cast Iron

    Jonathon sorry I was referring to the Walton brand private label grinders discussed yesterday I believe Austin said that you would carry a #22 and #32 grinder. What HP is Walton specifying for the #32? Will it be comparable to the Weston Pro? Thanks

Suggested Topics

  • 1
  • 5
  • 11
  • 1
  • 19

About Meatgistics

Meatgistics is brought to you by Walton's ( Meatgistics is a community site, knowledgebase, forum, blog, learning center, and a sharing site. You can find help and ask questions about anything related to meat processing, smoking and grilling meats, plus a whole lot more. Join Austin & Jon from Walton's and sign up for our Meatgistics community today. We have created Meagistics University, where we broke down meat processing into different categories and then broke it down into a class like structure. The introductory classes are 10s, the intermediate are 20s, and advanced are 30s.

About Walton's

Walton's Inc. sells meat processing equipment and supplies, including all of the Seasoning, Equipment, Supplies, Packaging, and Casings needed to make almost any type of sausage. Walton's sells to the commercial customer with a focus on the small to medium-sized processing plants or butcher shops, and directly to the hunter or processor who makes their own product at home. Whether you are a commercial or retail customer of Walton's you will be receiving the exact same seasoning and supplies, we do not have a different "line" for commercial and retail customers so that everyone can make the best sausage or jerky possible!

Community Statistics