Why Every Kitchen Needs a Food Vacuum Sealer (and the Best Ones to Buy)

"Why Every Kitchen Needs a Food Vacuum Sealer (And the Best Ones to Buy)" was last updated August 2018


My old workhorse.

I got a food vacuum sealer around the same time I got an immersion circulator. (Back in 2012, when sous vide was just catching on, I hadn’t heard of using the ziploc bag displacement method. A vacuum sealer was just part of the sous vide infrastructure.)

What I didn’t see coming was how much I would love having a food vacuum sealer. The vacuum sealer changed how I view food and cooking as much as sous vide cooking did. I think everyone who makes meals at home should have one. Some statistics I’ve seen say the average American family saves more than $2000 a year on food with a vacuum sealer, and that vacuum-sealed food lasts up to 5 times as long as non-vacuum sealed food. I have no doubt that my vacuum sealer paid for itself in the first year I owned it. 

Use the Table of Contents links to jump to a topic if you don't want to read the whole article:

Why Buy a Vacuum Sealer?

Here are some of the people who can benefit from having a food vacuum sealer:

  • Anyone who cooks for a large family
  • Anyone who lives alone and wants to waste less food
  • People with big vegetable gardens and lots of veggies to freeze
  • Similarly, people with berry bushes and fruit trees who want to make the most of their harvest
  • Hunters and fishermen
  • Anyone who wants to marinade meat (and other foods) quickly
  • People who buy in bulk
  • Anyone who wants to avoid freezer burn
  • If you want to save space in your freezer and pantry
  • If you want your dry goods to stay fresher longer (coffee, rice, pasta, flour, etc.)
  • If you want refrigerated leftovers to last longer
  • If you want to save money on your food budget
  • If you like to use half an avocado at a time (or apple, pear, etc.) and don't want the other half to brown
  • If you make and freeze your own pesto
  • And of course, if you have gotten or want to get into sous vide cooking.

So essentially, unless you eat out all the time and never buy groceries or have any food in your house, you can benefit from a vacuum sealer.

How Does a Vacuum Sealer Work?

food vacuum sealer how it works chart

A vacuum sealer does two things: it removes air from the container (usually a bag), then it seals the bag with a heated strip, trapping the vacuum inside. Air is removed with a pump that works by pulling air at a faster rate than ambient air can replace it.

Pump quality varies, and is in large part the deciding factor on the price of a vacuum sealer. Many edge vacuum sealers have plastic pumps. They work alright and can achieve a good vacuum, but they overheat easily. They have to cool down in between uses, and often can't withstand heavy use.

Higher quality food vacuum sealers have heavier-duty pumps made of sturdier parts. They can withstand frequent use and don't need to cool down between uses.

How much do you have to pay for a "heavy duty" use pump? Upwards of $300. (See the reviews below for more information.)​

Why Is Vacuum So Great at Preserving Food?

Contact with oxygen is what deteriorates food, causing spoilage. In the freezer, it causes ice to form, creating freezer burn. Vacuum packing removes almost all of the oxygen from the food container. When there is little oxygen to react with, food stays fresher longer in the pantry and the refrigerator, and won't get freezer burn in the freezer. That’s really all there is to it.

It is not possible to remove 100% of the oxygen by vacuum sealing. So vacuum-sealed food doesn’t last forever. But it can remove enough oxygen to greatly extend shelf life. Some estimates are that vacuum sealing extends the life of frozen food by up to 5 years!

The Two Types of Food Vacuum Sealers

There are two main types of food vacuum sealers: edge sealers and chamber vacuum sealers (typically called “chamber vacs”). Both types have advantages and disadvantages.

Edge/External Sealers


Edge Sealer.

Edge sealers, also called external sealers, are the simplest and most common type of vacuum sealer. You simply fill a bag with food, place it in the sealer, and begin the sealing process (usually by pressing a button). The vacuum is created inside the bag only, which makes it nearly impossible to seal anything but solid foods (because the pump sucks out liquid as it sucks out the air). Many edge sealers have options for moist foods and soft foods, allowing you to control the amount of vacuum they pull so as not to draw moisture up into the pump or crush soft food (bread, for example) with too much vacuum. Decreasing the vacuum leaves air in the bag, however, so you may get similar results by just using a Ziploc or other food storage bag for soft/moist foods. One clever workaround is to freeze liquids before vacuum sealing. 

In general, edge sealers are the most economical choice, but often are not as well made as chamber vacuums. Most have plastic components, including the pump, so they're not really designed for heavy use. These plastic pumps also overheat easily, so you need to let the machine cool down in between uses. This could be frustrating and time consuming if you're freezing, say, half a cow, or a few bushels of corn from your garden. But for a few steaks or a few pounds of hamburger, you should be alright.

How do you know if your edge sealer has good internal components? Simple: spend more than $300 for it (like this VacMaster edge sealer that gets great reviews). ​But if you're going to spend that much, you might want to start thinking about a chamber vacuum sealer instead.

Advantages of Edge Sealers

  • Edge sealers are great for freezing meats and other solid foods
  • You can work around the liquid issue by freezing liquids before vacuum sealing
  • They are less expensive than chamber vacuum sealers.
  • Many also have hose attachments for sealing canning jars, canisters, marinade containers, and storage bags that won't work in the machine itself
  • Can usually use many different types of bags, including the inexpensive rolls of bags.

Disadvantages of Edge Sealers

  • Can’t seal liquids unless frozen (NOTE: Many edge sealers have a "moisture" and/or "soft food" option, which basically allows you to ease the vacuum off before it sucks liquid into the machine or crushes the food. All this really does is reduce the amount of vacuum applied, so you get a partial vacuum, leaving more air inside the bag.)
  • Can't seal a lot of foods in one session because the pump will overheat. (This applies to most sealers that cost less than about $300.)

Chamber Vacs


Chamber sealer.

A chamber vac works by--no surprise here--creating a vacuum inside a chamber. Because the pressure is equalized inside the entire chamber (and not just the bag), you can use a chamber vac for liquids. This is great for soups, stocks, leftovers, quick and easy marinades (you can get marinade results in 15-20 minutes in a vacuum sealed container!), and many sous vide applications (creme brulee, for example).

Most chamber vacs also have the ability to adjust the vacuum so you can seal soft foods and liquids (for example, warm liquids will boil into the sealer if you don't turn down the vacuum).​ But you don't do this with easy-to-use buttons like you can on an edge sealer. Instead, you adjust the actual amount of vacuum you want to pull. So while it's a little trickier to get right--and may have a learning curve to figure out--it offers more control over the process. The user manual should provide guidelines about vacuum settings for different food types.

Advantages of Chamber Vacs

  • Tend to be higher quality than edge sealers because they’re made mainly for the commercial market
  • Can seal liquids in them (just make sure they’re not warm liquids, or you might have a mess on your hands)
  • Bags are cheaper
  • For these reasons, they're more versatile and dependable than edge sealers.

Disadvantages of Chamber Vacs

  • Heavy and bulky (can weigh up to 80 lbs!)
  • More expensive than edge sealers
  • Bag size is limited to the size of the chamber.

What Should I Look for in a Food Vacuum Sealer?

person pondering_200px

This depends on how you think you’ll use it. Most sealers will provide an adequate seal for food storage, but you may want to think outside the box about how you’ll use it. You may think all you want it for is freezing food in bulk, but a vacuum sealer is such a versatile kitchen tool, and you may realize you want it for more than just food storage. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What size bags do I want to be able to use?
  • Would I use it for fast marinades?
  • Would I use it on mason jars, canisters, and other containers?
  • Would I use it for liquids like stocks and "moist" leftovers like soups, stews, and casseroles?
  • Do I mind freezing liquids before using, or do I want the option to just throw liquids in a bag and seal it?
  • If I'm going to do a lot of bulk sealing, do I mind waiting for the sealer to cool down or do I want one that will charge through a big project?​
  • What type of bag do I want to be able to use?

Whatever you decide you want, from bargain-buy edge sealer to top-of-the-line heavy duty chamber vac, there is a food vacuum sealer out there to meet your needs. 


Jar attachment for FoodSaver vacuum sealers.

What Size and Type Bags Can You Use With a Vacuum Sealer?


Typical FoodSaver bag starter kit shipped with sealer.

Size: The largest bag size you can use is limited by the width of your sealer. Most edge sealers can accommodate at least an 11-inch wide bag and smaller, which is plenty big for most needs. If you have an edge sealer, you can buy rolls instead of boxes of pre-made bags, which you can use to create a bag as long as you need, which is nice (say for a rack of ribs).

A chamber vac is limited by both the width of the sealer and what will fit inside the chamber. I have found that a 10x13 inch bag--the largest my VacMaster chamber sealer can accommodate--is large enough for just about everything. And if it isn’t, it’s easy to use more than one bag (for example, a rack of ribs can easily be cut in half to fit in two bags). 

Sealers come in different sizes! Be sure to check the largest bag width usable with a sealer before you buy. 

Type: Edge sealer vacuum bags are available in two forms: in boxes and on a roll. The ones in boxes (such as these) are an exact size and shape; most typically, 8x12 inches or 10x13 inches. The ones on a roll (such as these) are a set width, but you can cut them to any length you want. You must seal one edge first (obviously, right?) before filling the bag.

Many edge sealers have the option to seal-without-vacuum for just this purpose. This is not the case with chamber vacuums, which seal the bag while it's locked inside the chamber. Since the bags also have to fit inside the chamber, you need to use pre-sized bags for a chamber vacuum sealer.

Some manufacturers recommend using their brand bags, but it really shouldn’t matter. After you use up the supply of bags that comes with the sealer, buy the cheapest bags you can find that will work with your model. 

Zipper bags: These are another option for edge sealers if the edge sealer is equipped with a handheld sealer accessory. (NOTE: This is different than a hose accessory.) Zipper bags are reusable and are great for leftovers and other items that you'll want to re-open and re-close. Many edge sealers come with a hose option for not a lot more money. It's a great way to make your refrigerated foods and dry goods (flour, sugar, coffee) stay fresh longer.


Edge sealer bag closeup.

Chamber vac bags are made differently because of the difference in vacuum technology. They aren't ridged like edge sealer bags, they're ​smooth inside and out. Because of this, chamber vac bags are cheaper than edge sealer bags: 3-5 cents per bag (depending on size) vs. about 10-20 cents per bag. In the long run, this can be a considerable difference if you use your sealer a lot. 

It's also a good idea to buy the brand name bags to make sure you're getting chamber vac bags. (Even brand name chamber vac bags are cheaper than edge sealer bags.)​

Edge sealer bags and chamber vac bags are different! Make sure you buy the right type of bag for your vacuum sealer.

Can You Reuse Vacuum Bags?

You can re-use some vacuum bags. Zipper bags, for example. And that's what they're designed for. And you could probably re-use other bags if you washed and dried them carefully--but would you want to?

If you’re very thrifty or concerned about plastic waste, you can re-use vacuum bags a few times. However, you may want to weigh the value of your time spent washing and drying bags against the convenience of using new ones (not to mention the higher risk of pathogen contamination).

Are Vacuum Bags Safe for Sous Vide?

Yes, vacuum bags are safe. All vacuum bags are BPA-free, and as long as they are not heated to boiling temperature (212F/100C) or above, no harmful chemicals will leach into your food.​

Here's a long thread about it on Chowhound.​ If you don't want to read all of it, the consensus, by the end of the thread, is that using vacuum bags below boiling temperature is safe. 

The Best Sealers By Category

If I've convinced you that you need a vacuum sealer (and I hope that I have!), keep reading for our best picks.​

Best No-Frills Bargain: Seal-a-Meal Manual Vacuum Sealer (FSSML0160-000)


The Seal-a-Meal Manual Vacuum Sealer is an excellent entry-level choice. It's a no-frills design but is simple to use, small enough to store away easily, and has a patented removable drip tray for easy cleaning. This product has been around for awhile and has more than 1,900 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 3.5 stars.

Check out the Seal-a-Meal Manual Sealer on Amazon.



Easy, one-button Cancel/Open to stop vacuum at anytime.

This is a basic food vacuum sealer that you can use for dry foods (or frozen liquids). It's as simple to use as inserting the bag and pressing down the lid. In fact, I'm not sure why "manual" is in the name of this product, because the sealing process is completely hands off!

The Open/Cancel button allows you to easily control the amount of vacuum you use, and to stop the vacuum process at any time.

The Seal-a-Meal has a patented, removable trough to catch liquid overflow and keep messes to a minimum.

There is not an optional hose attachment for jars and canisters.​ 


Color: Black and white

Size: 17.1 x 9.3 x 6.2 inches

Weight: 4.2 lbs.​

Max bag width: 11-in. 

Use with these bag sizes: 8-in., 11-in., quart, and gallon​

Storage space for bags? No

Roll cutter? No​

Warranty: 1-year limited.​


(4) 1-quart bags.

Note: If you buy this sealer, be sure to get bags, too! Here's the best bargain: 2-pack of 11-in. x 9-ft rolls.​

Buy The Seal-a-Meal Manual Vacuum Sealer If:

  • You will use it primarily for sealing solid food.
  • You won't give it heavy duty use.
  • You're looking for an entry level vacuum sealer under $50.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use.

Cons: No accessory options.


Click now for Amazon's best price on the Seal-a-Meal Manual Vacuum Sealer:

Best Entry Level Option w/Some Frills: FoodSaver V2244


FoodSaver makes a dizzying array of food vacuum sealers, ranging from about $60 on up to about $300. They all seem to have the same basic components, differing mostly in aesthetics, automation, and included extras as you go up in price. All FoodSaver products get good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, and all are a good basic food vacuum sealer option. This means that regardless of which FoodSaver model you buy, you're going to get about the same quality product, plus some extras if you spend more.

Automation gets mixed reviews. Some people prefer it, while others dislike that they don't have as much control over the vacuum process. Automation can make it harder to seal soft foods and moist foods--although an edge sealer is never going to be your best option for these foods, anyway. However, even with the most automated edge sealers, you can stop the vacuum process at any point (e.g., to avoid crushing soft food or sucking liquids up into the pump), even if it doesn't have buttons for moist and soft foods. 

More automation usually also includes space for a roll of bags (nice) and an automatic bag cutter, which is a great feature if you're inept at cutting in straight lines, like me. Rolls of bags are also generally cheaper than boxes, and you cut them to any length you want.

This model, the FoodSaver V2244, is an Amazon best seller. It's a basic sealer without automation but does come with some bags and an accessory hose; the hose means you can use this sealer with zipper bags. It has more than 2600 reviews with an average rating of 4 star. It gets an "A" rating on Fakespot.com.

Check out the FoodSaver V2244 reviews on Amazon.


The FoodSaver V2244 is easy to operate. You place the bag into the sealer, close and lock the lid, and press the Vacuum and Seal button.​

You can cancel the vacuum at any time during the sealing process.

You can activate the edge sealer without activating the vacuum.​


​Color: Black

Size:​ 5.9x10.6x17.7 in.

Weight: about 5 lbs.​

Max Bag Width:​ 11 in.

Edge Sealing without Vacuum Capability? Yes​

Storage space for bags? No

Roll cutter? No.​


11 in. x10 ft. heat seal roll

3-1 gallon bags

Accessory hose for zipper bags, sealing canisters, and marinade containers.

Buy the FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealer If:

  • You will use it primarily for sealing solid food.
  • You won't give it heavy duty use.
  • You're looking for an entry level vacuum sealer under $100 with a hose accessory for doing jars, canisters, and marinade containers.

Pros: Inexpensive, pulls adequate vacuum, can use rolls of bags, has accessory hose for zipper bags, jars, and other containers.

Cons: No storage for bag rolls, no roll cutter.


Click now for Amazon's best price on the FoodSaver V2244 vacuum sealer:

Great Value with Extras: FoodSaver FM2435-ECR Vacuum Sealing System

A Rational Kitchen favorite!


The most popular all-in-one, automated FoodSaver is the V4440 model. However, I prefer this one, the FM2435-ECR. It's a few dollars less, has pretty much the same features, and is much more compact than the bulky V4440. And, with its stainless steel housing, it's built better. It has more than 100 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5 stars. It gets an "A" rating on Fakespot.com.

At about $130, it's as affordable as other edge sealers, but offers a lot of extras:

  • ​Stainless housing (sturdier than plastic)
  • Integrated roll storage and bag cutter
  • Extra wide sealing strip to ensure a strong seal
  • Seal-vacuum chamber integration to reduce bag waste
  • 5 year warranty.

It also comes with a bag starter kit and a retractable hose for jars, canisters, zipper bags, marinade containers, and the like. (Note: You need to buy the jar sealers separately.)

The stainless steel housing and flat, compact design also makes this one of the prettiest edge sealers on the market. If you want to leave your edge sealer sitting out on your counter, this is the one to get.

Check out the FM2435-ECR edge sealer on Amazon.​


Sealing a bag is an easy, 3-step process. You put the bag in the sealer, you lock down the lid, and you press the Vacuum and Seal button. That's it! For the hose attachment, you just attach the hose to the container and press the button. ​

You can cancel the vacuum at any time during the sealing process.


Color: Stainless and black

Size:​ 18.4x6.5x11 in.

Weight: 7.7 lbs​

Max Bag Width: 11 in.​

Edge Sealing without Vacuum Capability? Yes​

Storage space for bags? Yes

Roll cutter? Yes​

Warranty: 5 year limited.​


1. Bag starter kit that includes:

  • 1-11"x10' Roll
  • (3) 1-quart heat-seal bags
  • (2) 1-gallon heat-seal bags
  • (3) 1-qt zipper bags

​2. Accessory hose for zipper bags, jars, etc.

Buy the FoodSaver FM2435-ECR Vacuum Sealer If:

  • You will use it primarily for sealing solid food
  • You want a compact design and a modern, stainless appearance
  • You're looking for a vacuum sealer with a hose accessory for containers and zipper bags
  • You want a 5-year warranty.

Pros: Attractive, bag storage and lots of extras, 5 year warranty. 

Cons: Can't do liquids, hard to control vacuum pressure because of integrated vacuum-and-seal operation.



Best Quality Edge Sealer: VacMaster PRO380 Vacuum Sealer


VacMaster is best known for their chamber vacuum sealers, but they also make a couple of heavy-duty edge sealers. The Pro380 has more than 20 reviews on Amazon and has an average rating of 4.5 stars. VacMaster's other popular edge sealing model, the Pro350, is cheaper, around $270, but it gets mixed reviews.

The VacMaster Pro380 is quite a machine. It looks like a cross between a typewriter and a piece of laboratory equipment. But it also has the look and feel of the high-quality, superb piece of machinery that it is. Weighing in at 23 lbs, the Pro380 won't be getting moved around your kitchen very much. So you should probably like its design before you decide to buy it (or have an out-of-sight spot to park it).

​One of the Pro380's best features is its 16-inch long sealing bar, the only sealer on the market with a bar this wide. It allows you to use extra large bags (most sealers max out at 11 inches) or two bags at once. Larger bags are more expensive, but it's great to have the option if you want to freeze, say, a whole chicken or leg of lamb. It also has bag storage and a roll cutter, which are convenient features.

It doesn't come with a lot of extras. But then, its heavy-duty dual piston pump designed for years of use is what you're paying for. 

However, despite all this quality oozing out of its pores, the VacMaster Pro380 is still an edge sealer--which means its ability to seal liquids is limited.

Remember! Even the best edge sealer is never going to seal liquids very well. This requires the equalized pressure that can only occur in the closed environment of a chamber vac.

Check out the VacMaster Pro 380 reviews and price on Amazon


Using the Pro380 is a bit more complicated than using a FoodSaver or Seal-a-Meal, but this is because it has more options. You can set the vacuum level and the seal time, and it has a pulse function so you can get as much air out of a bag as possible without squishing the contents or sucking liquid up into the pump. You can also tell it when to seal at any time during the vacuum process, which will override any other settings. It even has a marinade function, which pulls intermittent vacuum to maximize the advantages of the fast, vacuum-pressure marinade. 


VacMaster PRO380 Controls


Color: Stainless and black

Size: 14x19x6.5 inches

Weight: 23 lbs.

Max Bag Width: 16 in.​

Edge Sealing without Vacuum Capability? Yes​

Storage space for bags? Yes, up to 50 ft. roll

Roll cutter? Yes

Warranty: 1 year limited.​


​1- 11 in. x 50 ft. roll

6-1 qt. size bags

Accessory hose

User manual.​

Buy This Vacuum Sealer If:

  • You will use it primarily for sealing solid food
  • You need an edge sealer that can withstand continuous and heavy use
  • You want one of the best quality edge sealers available.

Pros: Excellent quality, seals up to 16-in. bag width.

Cons: Expensive, and despite all its great features, still won't do liquids very well.


Click now for Amazon's best price on the VacMaster PRO380 vacuum sealer:

Best Chamber Vacuum: VacMaster VP112S Chamber Vacuum Sealer


Chamber vacuums require an outlay of cash that pretty much commits you to the vacuum-sealing way of life. No worries, though, because with estimates of annual food savings around $2,700 for the average American family, it would be hard to pay more than what a food vacuum sealer will save you, even if you decide to throw down the big bucks for a chamber sealer. I own an old version of this VacMaster, and it's one of my favorite appliances to use, to look at, and to appreciate how much it has added to my quality of kitchen life. (But not to move, alas, as it weighs about 90 lbs.) 

(Read the full review of the VP112S here.​)

In addition to the overall cost of food savings, there are other considerations. The bags for chamber sealers are cheaper, about 3-5 cents when you buy them in bulk. This is because they don't need to have the special ridged lining that edge sealer bags need in order to create a good seal. You might also consider the fact that many value-priced edge sealers last only a year or two under moderate to heavy use--and you are likely to use your sealer a lot more than you think you will--trust me on this! So if you add up the cost of replacing an edge sealer every year or so vs. owning a heavy-duty chamber vac that will last for decades and use cheaper bags besides, well, the high initial investment might start to look like the smarter way to go. ​

The VacMaster VP112S Chamber Vacuum Sealer is one of the best choices on the market right now. It has all the heavy-duty parts of the old-school chamber vacs (like mine), but is much more portable. It's barely bigger than the most popular FoodSaver sealers--although at 46 pounds, there's a lot more going on inside. ​It has almost 20 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5 stars. Fakespot.com gives these product reviews an "A" rating.

The low-profile design of the VP112S makes it counter-top friendly, even if heavy. The lid sort of doubles back on itself, a bit like a convertible car roof, so its open height is only about 14 inches (this means it will fit under most cupboards). Here are some of its other great features:

  • Heavy duty, maintenance-free 2 cylinder piston pump
  • Removable seal bar with 4mm wide seal
  • Brushed stainless housing
  • Cycle time of 30-60 seconds
  • Adjustable vacuum level, seal time, and marinade functions.​

Check out the VacMaster VP112S reviews and price on Amazon.


Color: Stainless and black

Size: 16x24x9 in.

Weight: 46 lbs

Chamber Size (WxDxH): 12x11x14 in.

Maximum Bag Width:​ 12 in.

Maximum Bag Size: 12x14 in.​

Storage space for bags? No

Ability to seal bags without vacuum?​ No (N/A)

Warranty: 1 year limited.​


As with the VacMaster Pro380 edge sealer, the controls on this chamber vac are not as easy as press-and-seal like on most low-cost edge sealers. But once again, that's because you have a lot of options. You can set the vacuum level and the seal time, and you can also use your VP112S to marinate--this function turns vacuum on and off intermittently.

No doubt there's a learning curve with this sealer. But I have found that I do not need to manually change the settings every time I use my chamber vac. One setting works well for most foods--solids and liquids. (!) So once you know your most commonly used setting, you will rarely have to worry about figuring it out. You should be able to just turn it on and let it run until it's finished--soft foods being the only exception to this.


The VP112S Control Panel.


40 pouches in assorted sizes

User manual.​

Buy This Vacuum Sealer If:

  • You want to seal liquids as well as solid foods
  • You want a sealer that you can use repeatedly without having to wait for the pump to cool down
  • You need a vacuum sealer that can withstand continuous and heavy use
  • You want the best sealer technology available.

Pros: Excellent quality, can seal liquids.

Cons: Expensive, no canister port.

Click now for Amazon's best price on the VacMaster VP112S vacuum sealer:

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