Vitamix FoodCycler Review: A Better Way to Handle Food Waste

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When I finally moved out of an apartment and into a house, I was so exited that I got to try my hand at composting. (Yes, I’ve officially reached the stage of adulthood where composting, of all things, is “exciting.”) My excitement was short-lived, though.

You see, no one tells you that composting is tedious. You dump food scraps in a bin, turn the contents, keep it moist, and wait patiently… only for nothing to happen. Some people claim that you can turn food waste into compost in a few months, but that’s with absolutely perfect conditions. In reality, it takes much longer to see results, and as a results-driven person, I gave up on it really quickly. Oops.

That’s when I discovered the Vitamix FoodCycler, a countertop food recycler that takes your scraps and turns them into nutrient-rich fertilizer. It sounds a lot like composting, but the FoodCycler works in a matter of a few hours, not months. Long story short, I bought it, and after using the FoodCycler for the past year, I never want to live without it.

Vitamix FoodCycler

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The FoodCycler takes all your kitchen scraps and turns them into a nutrient-rich material in just a few hours. While it’s not true composting, it’s a much faster and easier way to break down food waste.

The Good Stuff

  • Super easy to use
  • Reduces volume of food waste
  • Odorless
  • Resulting material is easy to compost

The Bad Stuff

  • Expensive
  • Squeaky noises drive my dogs crazy

What Is the Vitamix FoodCycler, Exactly?

We have our FoodCycler set up in a little pantry area off the kitchen.

The FoodCycler is a compact food recycler that’s designed to reduce food waste in your home. It has a fairly large, cube-like shape—the unit measures 12.6 x 11 x 14.2 inches—and when you put a bucket of food waste into the machine, it breaks down the material into 1/10th of its original volume, creating a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Some people will tell you that the Vitamix FoodCycler is a countertop composter, but that’s not quite accurate. You see, true compost is decayed organic matter, and the FoodCycler isn’t actually decomposing the food you put inside it. Instead, it simply dehydrates and grinds up food waste—the resulting material can then in turn be composted, and it will break down extremely quickly. However, the FoodCycler itself isn’t technically creating compost.

What Can You Put in the Vitamix FoodCycler?

The materials that you can put into the Vitamix FoodCycler are similar to what you’d put in a traditional compost bin. On a regular basis we put the following items into our FoodCycler:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Beans and legumes

You can also use it to process meat scraps, soft bones, grains, cheese, and even pet food. The brand says it’s also OK to occasionally put citrus rinds, bread, nut butters, and even things like jam or condiments into the machine.

However, not just anything can be put into the FoodCycler. You’ll want to avoid the following items:

  • Hard bones
  • Candy and gum
  • Hard fruit pits
  • Nuts and other hard shells
  • Cooking oils

I’ve also learned firsthand that things like corn husks and onion peels, which tend to be stringy, don’t process very well.

Does the Vitamix FoodCycler Work?

In a word, yes! The Vitamix FoodCycler does exactly what it claims, and it truly couldn’t be easier to use. All you have to do is fill up the removable bucket with food waste, place it in the machine, and close the lid. Once that’s done, you press the power button and the machine gets to work. That’s all! There are lights along the side of the machine that tell you what it’s doing—drying, grinding, cooling, and so on—and it will beep to let you know when the cycle is done.

The whole process takes several hours, and it’s completely odorless thanks to the unit’s carbon filtration system. We were actually able to use the appliance for more than a year before I needed to replace the filters, which is pretty impressive considering we use it three or four times a week. When the FoodCycler is finished, all your food waste is turned into fine brown sediment—take a peek at the before and after below if you’re interested to see the transformation!

This is what a bucket of food scraps looks like before and after being processed in the Vitamix FoodCycler.

If I had to find a downside to this cool gadget, I’ll admit the FoodCycler does occasionally make a squeaking noise, likely from food waste being pushed around the bucket. It sometimes will rile up my dogs, but overall, you can barely hear it while it’s running and the squeaking only ever happens for a few minutes.

Tips for Using the Vitamix FoodCycler

This is the material that comes out of the FoodCycler after just a few hours.

I absolutely love my Vitamix FoodCycler and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to reduce food waste at home. Here are a few tips I’ve learned after more than a year of use that will help you make the most out of your machine.

  • Diversify each batch: When loading up the FoodCycler bucket, I highly recommend mixing a variety of materials together. In other words, don’t just fill it up with one thing! I learned this lesson the hard way: I filled the bucket mostly with strawberry hulls, and the machine really struggled to process them. They came out dehydrated but tacky, and they were barely ground up.
  • Get an extra bucket: My best “pro tip” when it comes to the Vitamix FoodCycler is to invest in a second processing bucket. That way, you can have one bucket in the machine being processed and the second bucket on your counter to toss scraps into.
  • Be wary of the max fill line: The FoodCycler’s buckets have a max fill line, and you should definitely respect it. The only times we’ve ever had problems with the machine was when we overfilled our bucket, and it was just too much for the machine to handle.

How Much Does the Vitamix FoodCycler Cost?

There’s no denying that the FoodCycler is expensive. It has an MSRP of $400, and an extra bucket will cost you an additional $75 (not required, but I highly recommend it). In terms of upkeep, a two-pack of replacement filters costs around $30.

Personally, I waited until the FoodCycler went on sale for Black Friday, and I was able to get it for $300. You can usually find good discounts on major sale holidays, so you might want to wait for Prime Day or Black Friday to buy. However, it’s definitely a worthwhile buy, if you ask me—like I said, we use it multiple times per week and I can’t imagine life without it!

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