How do Meat Grinders Work? (7 Right Ways & Tips to Use It)

Devon Ferguson
Published by Devon Ferguson
Last Updated On: December 5, 2023

I’ve been on a carnivore diet for almost a decade, and I eat ground meat every week, so my meat grinder gets a fair share of use.

I studied several online manuals from some of the most popular meat grinder manufacturers to learn more about this kitchen tool and the way it operates.

Here’s everything you should know about meat grinders, including my tips and tricks to make delicious ground meat and use this device properly.

Quick Summary

  • Meat grinders work by using a cut of meat and breaking it down into smaller, ground pieces.
  • You should cool the meat before putting it through a meat grinder.
  • It’s crucial to clean the meat grinder before every use, or you risk meat getting infected with bacteria.

How does a Meat Grinder Work?

A close up image of a meat grinder used by a man

A meat grinder works by taking a cut of meat and breaking it into ground meat that you can season, cure, and cook.

Electric meat grinders have a chute. The cute is found at the top, and this is where the meat goes in.

The chute has a hole that connects to the grinder’s throat. There’s an auger in the throat, which is powered by the motor.

The motor pushes the meat towards the plate, which cuts and grinds the meat.

The bigger the holes on the plate, the faster the meat will be ground and the coarser it’ll be.

You need to grind some products twice. For example, use a larger plate first and then a smaller one.

Depending on the meat grinder, the meat can be processed into everything from a paste to a lightly tenderized strip.

This would be the simplified gist of grinding meat, but to understand how grinders work, you should know their parts.

Parts of a Meat Grinder

A close up image of a stainless meat grinder

These are all parts of a meat grinder:

  • The feeding tube — Is a T-shaped tube located below the meat tray. The feeding tube has its own tray attached at the top and smaller parts on the lower end.
  • Screw ring — It’s the ring located on the outer part of the feeding tube.
  • Cutting blade — Also called the grinding blade. Meat grinder blades are located at the end of the feeding tube and mince the meat into pieces. This is the part that does most of the grinding. 
  • Extruder — It pushes the meat out of the meat grinder.
  • Meat tray — Located at the top of the meat grinder. You place the meat here.
  • Meat pusher — Usually made of plastic. It forces the meat into the feeding tube.
  • Motor — An electric meat grinder has a motor, but a manual meat grinder doesn’t. The motor is the most important part of the meat grinder, and the higher the quality and the wattage, the better the ground. 
  • Grinder plate — The meat that’s ground comes out of the grinder plate. The plate is fixed in place and has holes that let the meat go through.
    Note: You can use plates with different-sized holes.
  • Sausage stuffer — This is an additional accessory. It doesn’t come attached to the grinder, but you can attach it to the screw ring. It’s used for making sausages. 

“The thing that affects the grinding process the most is making sure you’re feeding the meat in at an even rate. If you try to cram too much meat, it’ll get gummed up, and you end up with mush or a clogged grinder.”
- Eater, YouTube Channel

The Right Way to Use a Meat Grinder

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use a meat grinder:

  1. Prepare the meat — You can’t take the meat out of its packaging and put it into the grinder. You should clean the meat and remove the fat. 
  2. Cool the meat — After you’ve cleaned the meat, place it in the freezer to cool down before putting it into the meat grinder. Your grinder should also be cool, so if you’ve used it recently, wait until it cools down.
  3. Wash and assemble the grinder — Every part of the meat grinder should be washed and dried before use. You want to ensure there are no bacteria from the manufacturing or previous grinding. 
  4. Cut the meat — Once your meat is cool, cut it to the size of the feeding tube.
  5. Place the meat on the meat tray and push — You should push the meat from the meat tray through the feeding tube using the meat pusher. Once the meat is inside, it goes through the feeding tube, and it’s pushed out through the extruder.
  6. Grind meat — When the meat goes through the feeding tube, it’s sent to the extruder, where it’s minced. Then it’s sent through the grinding plate, where it comes out. The size of the meat depends on the holes on the plate. For larger cuts, use larger holes and vice versa.
  7. Attach the sausage stuffer — Do this only if you want to make sausage.

Caring for a Meat Grinder

A close up image of ground meat coming out of a meat grinder

Here are my meat grinder usage tips, including how to care for a meat grinder:

  • Keep the meat and the meat grinder cold — I mentioned you should cool the meat and the grinder. Warm meat will have fat leak out, and it can come out of the meat grinder with a dry texture. I like to put the grinder in the freezer for about an hour.
  • Trim the meat — Sinew can get caught around the blade, and you have a chewed meat texture. Trim the meat to prevent this.
  • Keep an eye on smearing — The meat should come out of the grinder in little pieces. If it comes out looking wet and collects on the surface, you should disassemble the grinder, clean the blade, and grind all over again.
  • Sharpen the blade — A dull blade smears the meat, so you should sharpen the blade about once a year if you use the grinder moderately. You can also buy new blades.
  • Meat stuck in the auger — If your meat gets stuck in the auger, unplug the electric meat grinder, let it cool, and then shake or tap the grinder, so the stuck pieces come out. If this doesn’t work, use a spoon or a spatula to loosen up the meat.
  • Clean the plate — Disassemble and wash all parts of the meat grinder between uses. This goes for electric and manual meat grinders. Wash the components by hand in warm soapy water and dry them with a towel. If you don’t clean the plate regularly, you risk meat residue drying on it and developing bacteria [1].
  • Buy the grinder with the right auger — If you want to make ground beef, get a grinder with a large auger, but if you plan to grind poultry, choose a smaller auger.

We’ve spent months researching and trying out different grinders and settled on the seven best meat grinders you can get today.

Related Articles:


How Does the Screw in the Meat Grinder Work?

The screw in the meat grinder works by squashing and mixing the food. The food goes through a fixed plate at the end of the screw and exits the meat grinder.

Is It Worth Getting a Meat Grinder?

Yes, it’s worth getting a meat grinder if you want to make your own meat, such as meatballs, meatloaf, hamburger patties, or sausages.

Is It Cheaper to Grind Your Own Beef?

Yes, it’s cheaper to grind your own beef than to buy beef that’s already ground. Plus, this ensures you have fresh meat. Use frozen meat or cold meat when grinding for the best results.


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About the author

Devon Ferguson
Senior Editor
Devon Ferguson is the senior editor at Carnivore Style who loves dining and traveling. This well-traveled meat hunter has scaled cities high and low to scout sources for the finest meats. He's tested and reviewed nearly every grill, smoker and meat delivery box on the market.
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