Handheld vacuum sealers have several great features that might make one the right choice for you. But there are drawbacks to consider, too.
We take a deep dive into the world of handheld vacuum sealers and look at uses, pros and cons, buying considerations, and the best ones to buy.
Best 5 Handheld Vacuum Sealers at a Glance
Here are the best handheld vacuum sealers we found. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but all of our picks had at least 80% positive (4- and 5-star) ratings on Amazon and in our testing, they did everything they said they would.
The most powerful and easiest to use was the Waring Pro. But it's spendy for a handheld, so we understand if you don't want to invest quite so much. Our second favorite was the Vesta, which felt solid and well made in the hand and was pretty easy to operate. The Zwilling was a close third, and a decent compromise between the power of the Waring Pro and the compactness of the Vesta.
Pros and Cons
Anova Culinary Precision Port
-Works with liquids
-Lithium ion battery
-Up to 150 seals per charge
-Includes 10 1-quart bags and USB charging cord
-No AC adapter or charging base
-2 year warranty.
note: Two models are on this page. We like the newer one as it's compatible with all FS products.
-Up to 60 seals per charge
-According to FoodSaver, pulls 7-10 "Hg
-Includes 2 bags and 10 cup marinade container
-Marinate function for quick marinades (15 minutes)
-"Liquid reservoir" minimizes liquids getting sucked into pump
-Works with all FoodSaver containers and FreshSaver bags (and other brands too)
-Charging dock with AC adapter
-1 year limited warranty.
Vesta Precision Vac 'n Seal
-Long battery life (lithium ion battery)
-Excellent build quality, great design
-Very compact, good for camping
-Works with all brands of bags and containers
-Pulls up to 17 "Hg (according to website)
-5 1-quart bags included
-No liquid protection (freeze first)
-USB-USB-C charging cable included
-No AC adapter
-2 year warranty, 30 day money back guarantee.
Waring Pro Commercial Pistol Vacuum Sealer
-Pistol style, easy to use
-Most powerful of all the sealers we tested
-Charging stand with AC plugin
-Removable bag holder on stand
-Comes with 25qt and 25gal bags
-Bags are very thick (durable)
-No liquid protection (freeze first)
-Big compared to other handheld sealers
-1 year warranty.
Zwilling Fresh & Save
-Larger than most other handheld sealers
-Lithium ion battery
-Zwilling bags and containers recommended
-Liquid barrier available at Zwilling--about $4--still not for use with liquids
-No bags included
-Includes USB-USB-C charging cord and charging station with AC adapter
-About $70 (more with accessory packages)
-2 year warranty.
How Do Handheld Vacuum Sealers Work?
A handheld vacuum sealer, also called a nozzle sealer, is a type of external vacuum sealer. (The other type of external sealer is an edge sealer, also called a channel or suction sealer because you place the bag in a channel to seal it. One is pictured below)
Handheld vacuum sealers work with special vacuum sealer bags that have an air hole ("nozzle") designed to fit the sealer (pictured above). You place the nozzle sealer directly over the bag's air hole and press a button or trigger to begin the suction process.
With most handhelds, you have to also press a button to stop the vacuum. You can tell when it's done by how much air is removed from the bag, or from the change in sound as the machine stops removing air.
There are also manual pump nozzle sealers that work the same way, but you have to pump the air out by hand (shown below). We don't recommend these because they can be really hard to use (but some people love them).
Some edge sealers, like the FoodSaver V4440 come with a nozzle sealer attachment:
A 2-in-1 vacuum sealer like this is convenient, but keep in mind that you have to buy two different kinds of bags to take advantage of it.
What's Great About a Nozzle Vacuum Sealer?
Reusability: The best thing about a nozzle vacuum sealer is that they have a zipper opening, so you don't have to cut the bag like you do with edge sealer and chamber sealer bags.
Nozzle sealer bags are designed for multiple uses. They are washable, most are dishwasher safe, and the zipper lets you open and re-seal the bags many times over.
Most brands say the bags are good for 10 uses or more, although some things can make the bags difficult to reuse, such as sous vide or the freezer, which can take a toll on the bag, or using it for raw meat, which can make the bag difficult to clean.
Size: Another great thing about handhelds is that they're small, so they take up a lot less space than a full-sized vacuum sealer. If you've got limited counter or storage space, a handheld can be a great solution. Some sit on charging bases that take up a lot less space than edge sealers (much less chamber vacs), and some you can keep in a drawer.
Resealable: This is related to reusability, but it's worth mentioning because this feature makes a handheld better for foods that you'll want to open and close more than once (for example, leftovers and snack foods).
For a quick list of nozzle sealing pros and cons, click down to the pros and cons section.
What's Not So Great About a Handheld Vacuum Sealer?
Power: Probably the biggest drawback of nozzle sealers is that they aren't very powerful. For example, an average FoodSaver edge sealer pulls up to 22 inches of mercury, while the FoodSaver nozzle sealer we review here pulls just 7-10 inches of mercury.
Lower vacuum is standard for handhelds because they're small and most are battery powered. They simply don't have the build quality to pull stronger vacuum. And in general, smaller handhelds are going to be less powerful than bigger ones.
(The Waring Pro is the biggest and most expensive handheld we review here, but it also pulls the most vacuum--but it's not as powerful as an edge sealer.)
This is an issue because the more air you can remove from a bag, the longer the food will stay fresh. Air is what carries most bacteria and pathogens, so vacuum strength is an important thing to consider.
Price: Nozzle sealer bags are more expensive than both edge sealer bags and chamber sealer bags, but this is to be expected because of their reusability.
Hard to seal: If you read reviews, you'll see that a lot of people complain about nozzle sealers "not working" or "not holding vacuum." While sealers can certainly fail, nozzle sealer bags are notoriously difficult to seal, especially after they've been used and washed once or twice. The zip seal is much more robust than on zip-type storage bags, which makes it harder to fully seal. And the nozzle-air hole connection can also be tricky to get the hang of. After using a bag, both of these can get contaminated, and if there is any contamination or moisture in the zip seal or the nozzle hole, the bag won't seal right.
For a quick list of nozzle sealing pros and cons, click down to the pros and cons section.
Why Buy a Handheld Vacuum Sealer?
Despite the drawbacks, there are some good reasons to get a handheld vacuum/nozzle sealer.
Reusability: You can re-use the bags, which saves money. Since bags are the biggest ongoing expense of using a vacuum sealer, this is an excellent feature. It's true that bags aren't always reusable if they've been damaged by freezing or boiling, but if you're careful with them and wash them very well before reusing, you should be able to get several uses from one bag most of the time.
Different focus than full-sized sealers: Reusable bags are excellent for leftovers, meal prep foods, snack foods, and anything else that you want access to without having to cut open a bag. For example, you may prep a big batch of rice, grains, or veggies at the beginning of the week and access it several times throughout the week. If you use a standard vacuum sealer, you have to cut open the bag. You may be able to re-seal it, but unless you use an oversized bag (which gets expensive), you'll have to transfer the food to a new bag to seal every time you open it.
If you use a nozzle sealer, you can simply open the zipper top, take out what you want, and re-seal the bag.
Still good for standard uses: You can use nozzle bags for standard vacuum sealer uses such as long-term storage in the freezer and pantry, too.
Sous vide in particular, is a great option for nozzle sealers, especially if you're concerned about too much plastic use or don't want the expense (or clutter) of full-sized vacuum sealer.
Yes, the lower suction makes handheld sealers not-as-good as full-sized sealers, especially for long-term storage, but many people prefer the smaller size and reusable bags, and are happy to make the compromise.
Another option: Many people have both a full-sized sealer and a handheld because they're great for different things: the full-sized sealer for long-term freezer and pantry storage, and the handheld for leftovers, meal prepping, sous vide, and any time you don't feel like getting out the big sealer.
Since most handheld sealers are inexpensive, they can be a great second option.
Are Handheld Vacuum Sealer Bags Safe to Use?
Handheld vacuum sealer bags are BPA-free and most are rated safe for freezer, microwave, sous vide, and even boiling. This makes them as safe as any other food-grade plastic you'll come in contact with.
However, not all handheld vacuum sealer bags are completely safe for use with sous vide: some are not fully submergible because the air hole can leak. You can still use them for sous vide, but you have to clip them to the container to make sure they don't get submerged.
Also, even if bags are rated safe for boiling, we recommend not using any plastic bags at boiling temps. Plastic can have many more chemicals than BPA that may not be safe (and aren't tested for), and the hotter the plastic gets, the more likely it is that it will release chemicals into your food.
For this reason, we recommend not using any vacuum sealer bags above temps of about 170-180F. This is erring on the side of caution, which we think in this case is a smart thing to do.
Do You Have to Use the Same Brand of Bags as Your Handheld Sealer?
This is a tricky question. Some sealer makers say you should use their bags for "best results," and some say their technology is proprietary so you have to use their bags and containers.
Other makers market their sealers for use with any brand of bag or container.
We used the sealers we review here with different brands of bags and found that they all worked with any brand of nozzle sealer bag, even if they're marketed as proprietary (like Anova).
Some older sealers have an oval shaped nozzle that may not work with newer bags (like this older FoodSaver model), which have a round seal. However, the round shape of new nozzle sealers works with the older air holes.
We can't guarantee that any handheld sealer will work with any bag or container, but we think they probably will, as long as the sealer has the new, round design.
Why Don't Vacuum Bags Hold a Seal?
Many reviewers complain that their handheld sealer bags don't hold a seal. This can happen for several reasons, with all types of vacuum sealers, including:
For handheld sealers in particular, here's why the bags may not hold a seal:
Can You Use Handheld Vacuum Sealers for Sous Vide?
Yes, absolutely! Sous vide is a great use for handheld vacuum sealers--but with a caution.
If you're interested in sous vide but have been reluctant to use it because of all the plastic waste, then reusable handheld vacuum sealer bags may be a great solution for you.
The lower vacuum strength is still better than the water displacement method, which can't remove nearly as much air. And the more air you can remove, the more even and consistent your sous vide cooks will be.
Of course, a full-sized vacuum sealer will remove even more air (with a chamber vac removing the most), but a handheld sealer does a good enough job to get great results in your sous vide.
Cautions: Not all nozzle bags are safe to submerge in a sous vide bath (or any other water, for that matter). When submerged, the bags will leak, which is a disaster for sous vide cooking. (For example, Anova bags are cannot be submerged, so you have to use a clip, according to the instructions that come with the Anova handheld sealer.)
To make sure this doesn't happen, you can either buy bags that are safe to submerge, or you can use clips to attach the bag to the side of the sous vide container to ensure the nozzle stays above the water level. (You don't have to buy special sous vide clips, any sort of clip will do, but sous vide clips have a soft interior so they don't scratch or tear the bag.)
It can be hard to know if a handheld sealer bag is safe to submerge or not, because not all makers give you this information. If you want to be sure you can submerge a bag and it doesn't say, ask the manufacturer or post the question on Amazon.
How to Get a Good Seal with a Handheld Vacuum Sealer
Alignment: It can take a few tries to get the hang of using a nozzle sealer. It can be tricky to get the sealer aligned just right over the air hole, so you have to keep trying until you figure it out. Handheld sealer designs vary greatly, so every sealer is going to have its own challenges. You just have to practice to get it right.
Full closure: You also have to make sure the zipper seal is completely sealed. Nozzle sealer zippers are much more robust than those on disposable zip-type storage bags. The plastic is quite a bit thicker, and it takes a bit of pressure to get the zipper completely sealed. Some sealers and/or bags even come with little clips to help you seal the zipper. This isn't a necessity, but you do have to make sure the zipper is closed tightly.
One way to do this is to run your finger over the seal several times to make sure it's sealed--don't be afraid to use a good amount of pressure.
Dry and clean: Both the air hole and the zipper seal have to be completely dry and free of all grease and food debris to seal properly. Sometimes contaminants are too small to see, but if you have a bag that's not sealing--especially a bag you've already used and washed--chances are there are contaminants in the air hole or the zip seal.
When you wash the bag, run a paper towel or dry dish towel through the zipper groove a few times to make sure it's clean.
Be careful to not damage the air hole when washing. Any tiny bit of stretching or tearing will ruin the seal.
So be careful with these bags.
Handheld Vacuum Sealers Pros and Cons
What to Look for in a Handheld Vacuum Sealer
Here's what to look for when buying a handheld vacuum (nozzle) sealer.
Suction strength is the most important factor when buying a full-sized sealer because the more air you can remove from a bag, the longer your food will last.
However, because handheld vacuum sealers are small, they don't have a lot of power, so the suction strength just isn't going to be all that powerful. No handheld will ever match the strength of even a cheap edge sealer.
In the models we reviewed, the Waring Pro and the Zwilling Fresh & Save are the biggest, and we found they also seemed to pull the most vacuum (not coincidentally).mWhich makes sense, because larger models have larger, more powerful pumps.
The drawback is that they're not as compact as smaller units--so if small size is a priority for you, go with a smaller model. The difference in vacuum strength is noticeable, but since no handheld will achieve the vacuum of a full-sized sealer, it doesn't matter all that much.
Handheld sealers are lightweight and inexpensive, but some are definitely more durable and well built than others.
Some models we looked at felt incredibly flimsy and cheap. Parts fell off of them, and they rattled when you picked them up.
All of the models we recommend here seem well-made and durable. We give the Waring Pro and Vesta top ratings for durability (with the FoodSaver in last place), but all the models are better than the ones we don't recommend, and should be durable enough to last at least a few years.
Size and Weight
Most people buy a handheld vacuum sealer to save space, so size may be a main buying factor for you.
All handhelds are small, but some are smaller than others. The smallest one we tested that performed well is the Vesta, which has no charging base so it can live in a drawer until you need to use or charge it. The FoodSaver is also quite small, but it has a charging station that sits on your counter (and a marinade feature that's actually really useful).
The Waring Pro is the largest one, with a large charging station that comes with a removable bag holder. It definitely has the largest footprint, but is also the most powerful handheld sealer we tested:
The Zwilling is a nice compromise: it's large, but its upright design means it takes up very little counter space.
Weight is also an important consideration, because if a handheld sealer is too heavy, it might be hard to use. However, weight may also mean the sealer has a heavier-duty motor, which will pull stronger vacuum.
The Waring Pro is by far the heaviest sealer we recommend here, at almost 3 pounds--but the pistol design makes it comfortable to hold; it was the easiest to use of all the sealers we tested.
So you can see it's not straightforward. Light and small is what most people want in a handheld vacuum sealer, but there are more factors to consider.
Handheld nozzle vacuum sealers are tricky to get the hang of using. You have to align the nozzle over the air hold just-so to get it to work.
We found the Waring Pro the easiest to use of all the sealers we tested. The pistol design makes it easy to hold (even though it's heavy) and gives you the most control over the sealing process (because the trigger makes it easy to pulse). Some reviewers found it hard to use, but we suspect that might be because this sealer is more powerful than others, which makes it trickier to get right.
Upright models are a little harder to line up because it's harder to see the hold. But once you get the hang of using them, they work find. We thought the Vest was the easiest upright to use and the Anova was the hardest because of its boxy shape.
Whichever handheld you buy, it's probably going to take some practice to get the hang of using, but once you do, you'll have no problems.
Use with Liquids
To be perfectly clear, no handhelds are designed for use with liquids. However, some have filters or reservoirs to collect moisture, making it harder for it to get into the seal or sealer itself.
But even if the sealer you buy has a liquid filter, it doesn't make it safe to use with liquids. If liquids get sucked into the sealer they can ruin it. So always be vigilant about not getting liquids into the sealing area.
And while it's smart to buy a handheld sealer that has some sort of protection against liquids, don't expect it to be safe for use with liquids, or even moist foods.
In fact, for complete safety, it's best to freeze liquids and very moist foods before vacuum sealing.
You want a handheld that has good battery life and the most powerful battery you can get. In general, this means you want a sealer with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Some handhelds use disposable batteries (e.g., AAs or AAAs). We disqualified these from our recommendations.
The only drawback of a lithium-ion batter is that once it dies, you'll probably have to replace the sealer. But if you take good care of it and follow the charging instructions, the battery should last for several years.
You may find that your handheld sealer won't pull as much vacuum after a few uses, or that it pulls the strongest vacuum when plugged in. This is fairly normal, and to be expected, even though makers promise dozens or even hundreds of seals from one charge. This is true, but the vacuum pull may not be as good after awhile.
Charging Cord/AC Adapter
Some of the sealers we looked at don't come with an AC adapter: namely, the Anova and the Vesta. They come with just a USB cord, so you have to plug it into a USB port (like on your laptop) to charge, or buy a USB/AC adapter. They're not expensive, but you may find yourself frustrated if you get a sealer and have no simple way to charge it in your kitchen (where you'll want to keep it).
If you buy a handheld sealer without an AC adapter, be sure to buy an AC adapter so you can keep it in your kitchen, or figure out another way to charge it.
Starter Kit (Bags/Accessories Included)
Many vacuum sealers come with a starter kit that can include bags, containers, wine stoppers, accessory hoses, and other items that you would otherwise have to buy separately.
Lack of a starter kit isn't a deal breaker, but getting some items along with a sealer is a really nice feature.
This is especially true for bags, which are the biggest ongoing expense of owning a vacuum sealer. And it is especially true for handhelds, because the bags are reusable, so a supply of bags could mean years before you have to buy more bags.
The Waring Pro has the best starter kit of all our recommendations, coming with 25 quart bags and 25 gallon bags. However, the Waring Pro is also the most expensive handheld sealer we looked at by far (about $130), so it may be more than you want to spend.
If the handheld you buy doesn't come with bags, be sure to buy some along with the sealer. (And remember, you don't have to buy the same brand of bags as your sealer.)
Most handheld sealers are simple, with one-button operation: you put the bag over the air hole and hold down a button until the air is removed.
But some handhelds do come with extra features that you may find appealing. The FoodSaver we recommend here has a Marinade feature, which allows you to marinate meats in just 15 minutes.
And as we mentioned, some handhelds have liquid barriers or filters that make it harder to suck liquid into the sealer. This is a great feature, as long as you don't let it give you a false sense of security when sealing wet foods.
Other than that, there aren't a lot of special features on handheld nozzle sealers.
What to Know About Nozzle Sealer Bags
We already talked about some of these issues, but here's what you need to know about nozzle sealer bags:
Some of our favorite bags are these FoodSaver bags, and Waring Pro bags, both of which are quite durable. These Zwilling bags are also great because each bag has a clip on the zipper to ensure a complete seal.
Cheaper, no-name brand bags are also a fine choice, although with re-usable bags, you may want to pay just a little more for more durability.
Review: Anova Culinary Precision Port
See the Anova Culinary Precision Port handheld vacuum sealer on Amazon
What we like: This is the newest model we tested, so there were no reviews on it, but its few ratings were all 5-star. And Anova is known for good quality sous vide equipment, so we thought we'd give it a try.
Our first impressions were that it's cute, but bulky. It should have indentations for better grip and to make it feel more natural in your hand.
The bags are sturdy and rated safe for freezer, microwave, and sous vide--but only as long as the nozzle hole stays above the water level. We thought this was odd for a product made by a company best known for sous vide circulators; there are other brands, like this FoodSaver bag, that you can fully submerge.
And another weird thing is that there's no AC adapter, just a USB charging cord. Maybe this is standard for millennials, but we GenXer's are still plugging appliances into wall outlets. (Here's a USB/AC adapter you can buy for about $8--but why should you have to?)
Overall, this was our least favorite handheld sealer of all those we tested. But it's sturdy and well made, with adequate suction strength, so if you're a fan of Anova, you may really like it.
What we don't like:
buy the anova culinary precision port:
Review: FoodSaver FS2160
See the FoodSaver FS2160 handheld vacuum sealer on Amazon
About $80, including 2 1-quart reusable bags and a 10 cup marinate container
For about $35, see the older model, with no marinade feature or starter kit and oval (not round) opening--so it may not be compatible with all bags and containers.
(We recommend the new one for more versatility and compatibility with all FoodSaver/FreshSaver products.)
What we like: This FoodSaver handheld has more than 3,000 ratings at this writing, with an 87% positive review rate and just 5% 1-star reviews. This will change, but it means that most users like this sealer and it works as expected.
What we don't like:
buy the Foodsaver fs2160 handheld vacuum sealer:
Review: Vesta Precision Vac 'n Seal
See the Vesta Precision Vac 'n Seal on Amazon
What we like: There were a lot of things to like about this small-but-mighty handheld sealer, which gets overwhelmingly positive reviews (about 85%) and a low number of 1-star reviews (about 5%).
We really like that Vesta states the sealer will work with all brands of bags and containers--so they're not trying to get you to buy their bags if you don't want to.
Like the Anova reviewed above, this Vesta also doesn't come with an AC adapter, so you have to plug into a computer to charge, or buy an adapter. (This USB-AC adapter is about $8.)
What we don't like:
buy the Vesta Precision vac 'n seal:
Review: Waring Pro Commercial Pistol Vacuum Sealer
See the Waring Pro Commercial Pistol handheld vacuum sealer on Amazon
What we like: The Waring Pro is a "commercial grade" handheld sealer, though we're not sure what that means: typically that means the suction is stronger, but Waring doesn't provide specs, and it seems about the same as the other handhelds we tested (and it loses vacuum over the same amount of time, 1-2 months). Still, it gets a high number of positive reviews, a low number of negative reviews, and most buyers seem to like the product.
What we don't like: The Waring Pro is one of our favorites, but it isn't perfect:
buy the waring pro commercial pistol handheld vacuum sealer:
Review: Zwilling Fresh & Save
See the Zwilling Fresh & Save handheld vacuum sealer on Amazon
See Zwilling Fresh & Save accessory packages on Amazon
About $70 (no bags or accessories included)
What we like: The Zwilling Fresh & Save currently has the highest number of positive reviews on Amazon of all the handhelds we found (76%), as well as a low number of one-star reviews (4%). These will change over time, but this is overall a good sign.
The biggest complaint in poor reviews was that liquids destroyed the pump, but that's true for all handhelds. Some are more liquid-friendly than others, but none of them are designed for use on liquids.
What we don't like: Here are features we thought could use improvement.
buy the Zwilling Fresh Save handheld vacuum sealer:
Other Models We Looked At
Oliso Pro: (about $100) This was the largest and most feature-heavy model we looked at, including an accessory hose for sealing containers. We were pretty excited about this one at first: because it's larger and it works more like an edge sealer--it's not a handheld, you have to insert the bag into the sealer. We thought it would be more powerful and more fun to use. It may be slightly more powerful than handhelds, but not by a lot. And there were many, many complaints about bags leaking or not sealing properly. While some of this could be user error, the 18% 1-star reviews is too high for us to recommend this sealer.
FOYO: This one was borderline recommendable, but it got poor ratings on customer service, and it uses AA batteries, which are not included with purchase. The writeup claims it pulls more than 18 "Hg, which is more than a FoodSaver edge sealer (highly unlikely).
Repinsta Hand Pump and Bags: This is a manual pump unit, which comes with 15 bags and zipper close clips for about $15. So price-wise, it's hard to beat; you'll hardly find bags alone for this price. The reviews were pretty good, and getting bag-closing clips is a nice little extra because the zippers can be really hard to seal. But we don't recommend a manual pump because they're really hard to use. You need two hands to get the pump to work, so the bag has to be positioned just right to work. It's a real pain. But if you want to give a manual handheld a try, you can't really go wrong with this very inclusive package.
VMSTR Rechargeable Handheld Vacuum Sealer: (about $30) This one also came close to getting our recommendation. It had pretty good reviews, though not as good as our choices. We didn't think the build quality was very good, and there were a number of complaints about the unit breaking after just a few uses. If you like the design, it might be worth checking out for the 10 bags alone. But there are higher quality options for less, so we passed on this model.
Final Thoughts on Handheld Vacuum Sealers
A handheld vacuum sealer doesn't have the suction of a full-sized edge sealer--much less a chamber sealer--but even so, they can be really handy. They're great if you have limited space, and are the right choice for leftovers, meal prepping, and any foods you'll want to open and re-seal a few times over. They're great for sous vide, too.
Probably the best feature of the handheld sealer is that the bags are reusable. So you save money and use less plastic, which is great for you and the planet.
The best handheld we tested was the Waring Pro. It had the most power and was the easiest to use, but it's also big and expensive. If you want a smaller one, the Vesta is our number one pick--but be sure you have an AC adapter for charging, because it doesn't come with one.
Thanks for reading!
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