A mandoline is a kitchen utensil with a fixed flat surface fitted with sharp blades that let you slice food quickly, precisely and (ideally) safely. The most basic models have a single blade that slices food into paper-thin disks, while high-end options can be adjusted to create all sorts of bias cuts like julienne (which are long, slender cuts similar to french fries) as well as shreds and wavy cuts. Some even let you dice or chop. You can find mandolines that come with their own stand or are hand-held, with the ones on a stand usually being more stable than the handheld versions.
The sharp blades on a mandoline can cause serious injury if not used properly, so the best ones feature safety guards that prevent fingers from coming in contact with them. A good mandoline should also be easy to set up, use, clean and store. Make sure to keep it out of reach of young children, and always cut with the utensil secured on a cutting board or other stable surface.
Mandolines can be a great way to add an extra level of flair to everyday dishes, from poached eggs on toast garnished with shaved asparagus to potato au gratin with crisp breadcrumb topping. They can also be a game changer when it comes to making homemade vegetable chips, with the precise cut of a mandoline helping you produce perfectly consistent wafer-thin pieces that are both crunchy and crispy. For a twist on these classic snacks, try adding shaved root vegetables like beetroot, carrots or sweet potatoes to the mix, as well as unusual options like taro and yuca.