You can't get far in any recipe without the basics: salt and pepper, no matter how much a gourmet chef uses exotic ingredients and special spices.
The purest flavor comes from grinding whole peppercorns in your kitchen.
Although these staples can be found on kitchen tables around the world, they are far from boring when done correctly. How's this. With salt and pepper that are freshly ground, of course!
One explanation for the importance of freshly ground spices is that once they are ground, they begin to oxidize and lose their potency quickly. This means you can need to use more pre-ground spices and less freshly ground pepper, potentially saving money and preventing stale spices in your cooking.
Using a salt or pepper grinder may seem a bit impractical at first, especially when most households and restaurants opt for the standard shaker set filled with pre-ground salt and pepper. Before spice grinders became widely available for home use, spices were freshly ground in a mortar and pestle so that the user could simply grind them by their hand.
This is still a viable option today, of course. But if you don't have your own prep cook or sous chef at home, you definitely should look to get a manually operated pepper or salt grinder instead, which can produce excellent results faster and with less mess.
Regularly using a grinder for your coarse salt or peppercorns will add an extra touch of class and raise your food preparation standards. Freshly ground spices allow the aroma and flavors to be released immediately before use, creating a fresher, fuller flavor that can elevate average cooking into the realm of spicy gourmet dishes.
OUR TOP PICKS
1. Willow & Everett stainless steel hands down the best product on the market. These grinders check all the boxes you need and excel not only in ease of use, but also in aesthetics and durability. Built from high quality glass and stainless steel, we so many reviews out there put these at the top. The Willow - and Everett set is the best all-around choice when it comes to salt and pepper mills on the market.
2. The Unicorn Magnum Plus. We found this to be a great choice. It remains a clear choice in terms of performance, value, speed and ease of use, and we love the fact that it's made on Nantucket Island of US and Italian parts. Its synthetic casing also ensures that it is impervious to moisture penetration and most drops.
3. Peugeot Paris U ' Select. This model, manufactured in France by the same company that invented the modern pepper mill over 160 years ago, is by far the easiest to fill and also one of the best choices for an extra fine grind. Everything about this model appealed to us: it's quick, it's not made in China, it's aesthetically appealing (its wooden construction comes in a variety of styles and sizes), and the coarseness mechanism is simple to modify.
4. The Perfex. We love this grinder with its strong aluminum construction and lifetime warranty. It's very easy to put-in exactly the number you want. It's also made by a small family business in France, which brings us to the only real problem with this model-should it need repair or service (which is rare), it has to be shipped to France and can be a bit difficult for North American English speakers to contact the company.
5. Cole and Mason Derwent Precision. This model has carbon steel burrs as well as a stainless steel and glass structure, giving it a more modern feel. Its carbon steel burrs allow for precise grinding, and we liked that the adjustment mechanism has a dial rather than a knob, which means less trial and error when looking for a particular coarseness environment. Unfortunately, it has drawbacks that kept it from making the top three.
6. OXO Good Grips. OXOs are by far the best budget choice and are of very high quality given their low cost. Produced in China, but with meticulous quality control. OXO is a go-to brand for high-quality kitchen utensils that don't break the bank, and their salt and pepper mills are no exception. OXOs have one of the easiest-to-turn and-use mechanisms on the market, and they're almost as easy to use as our #1.
7. 7 Atlas. Same as a Greek or Turkish coffee grinder, and likely built in the same factory, the Atlas is a stout piece of metal that will keep you in fresh pepper for years. Available in solid brass, copper or chrome steel, Adding one of these to your kitchen or dining table will add a touch of the Mediterranean to your gourmet meals. The only problem with this model is the lack of adjustability in the coarseness setting.
8. Sage Kitchenware. Many salt mills are unable to process moisture-resistant salts such as pink Himalayan and other similar varieties. Many mills explicitly advise against using this form of salt because it will cause the grinding process to speed up. We have discovered, however, that the Sage can easily grind these forms of salt. This one should please any discerning buyer, with a ceramic burr package and a hassle-free lifetime replacement warranty.
CHOOSING A SALT OR PEPPER GRINDER.
While choosing a particular model doesn't sound like something that requires deep thought or consideration, it's best not to just grab the first one you see on the supermarket or department store shelf. This is especially true for the pre-filled ones, as not only might the device be inferior, but you also have no idea how old and stale the peppercorns inside are. It is critical to purchase a product that is suitable for your intended use and desires as a kitchen tool that you use on a daily basis.
Choosing individual salt and pepper mill models is more difficult than it seems, as some models grind much faster than others.
There are a lot more choices at your disposal than you would believe. And not all models are created equal. Investing in a decent range of salt and pepper grinders for your kitchen is a long-term investment that you will appreciate every day for years to come.
Grinders are straightforward devices with few moving parts. The container that contains the entire peppercorns or coarse salt is the most important component. On the outside, the top of the device has a hand crank that connects to a spindle that turns the device's grinding mechanism.
The peppercorns are pulled onto a reed with teeth that grind together as the crank is turned, forcing the spice to grind into small bits. This can also be set up as a rotating head that grinds peppercorns or salt granules against a stationary ring. The fineness or coarseness of the spice after it is ground is determined by the space between the burrs or head and the ring.
CONSIDERING SALT MILLS?
Grinding salt is a little different than grinding pepper because salt isn't as compatible with metal as pepper. A ceramic mechanism would possibly perform better than a metal mechanism for grinding salt. However, a ceramic mechanism is nowhere near as durable as stainless steel varieties, and so the grinder may not last as long, as it may break or crack.
Some companies can sell a corrosion-resistant metal mechanism that can be successful for a short time but isn't as long-lasting as a ceramic grinder for grinding salt. Himalayan, pink, Celtic or gray salts may contain more moisture and cause the grinding burrs to become sticky, so it is helpful to store your salt mill in a place with the lowest possible humidity.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING FOR MILLS.
There are a number of things to consider when selecting a model to ensure you get the best product for your cooking needs and desires. When deciding which grinder to purchase, ask yourself the following questions to help you prioritize which features are most important to you:
- Would this be used by the family at home? Is it going to be in the kitchen or on the dining room table? How much room do you need for your family?
- Will you use this for a catering or restaurant business? Is it better to be important, to be efficient or stylish? Are you looking for a variety of grind quality options?
- Can you use your grinder to grind salt or pepper? For each, what kind of mechanism do you require?
- Do you want a model that goes with your other kitchen appliances or cooking tools?
- How much use will the grinder get and how durable do you need it to be?
- Investigating the quality of the grinding mechanism, the ability to adjust coarseness, capacity, ease of use, vessel material, and preferred stylistic details will go a long way in helping you decide which mill is best for you.
A high quality burr mechanism is essential to ensure that the machine provides many years of consistent grinding. Some of the inferior grinders use acrylic mechanisms that are significantly inferior to a stainless steel gear. Frankly, the cheap acrylic mechanisms aren't really worth bothering with. Acrylic simply doesn't offer the durability and consistency of grinding offered by the better high-carbon steel or ceramic varieties, leaving a lesser product that is much more likely to break (and affect the amount of salt you add to a dish).
If you're going to invest your money in a salt or pepper grinder, why get a sub-par model? It's definitely smarter to spend a few extra bucks up front on a high-quality unit that will most likely become a long-term companion. Although stainless steel mechanisms are used in many superior models, ceramic has a long history of being a commodity that is also very simple to clean, although more delicate.
A truly high-quality salt or pepper mill will allow the user to change the fineness or coarseness of the grind based on recipe requirements and the needs of the cook. For example, the Peugeot Paris U ' Select offers six coarseness settings from very fine to coarsely cracked. Grinders with clear markings are the easiest to use.
Other devices also allow you to change the grind size, but they may not offer as much consistency without marked settings. This is especially useful for a pepper mill, but can also be useful for grinding salt.
Cooks who have a lot of time with a sticky grinder in their hands are at risk of developing carpel tunnel syndrome. Choosing pepper and salt grinders that are quick to turn or crank is a major help to your wrists and offers convenience and pace in the kitchen. When purchasing a new grinder, a stable grip and smooth top or crank turning are essential considerations.
Although refilling your grinder is often not a problem for the home cook, if you are buying for a restaurant or catering business, you will certainly want a larger capacity vessel. Smaller units typically range from 1/8 cup and up, and the largest model could possibly hold up to 1 ½ cups of peppercorns. A small to medium sized grinder is probably best for a home kitchen, as spices lose their flavor as they age and you don't want them sitting around too long. For those who work in large quantities, a large capacity can be a great advantage.
While performance is key when ranking these grinders, style is also very important to many people. Style is very much dependent on personal choice, ranging from traditional wood to sleek and futuristic models made from a range of materials.
Peugeot offers the widest variety of color options to match almost any kitchen as well as traditional wood columns, while many other designs from various manufacturers are also pleasing to the eye. Since salt or pepper mills often last a lifetime, it's best to choose a timeless classic model that you probably won't tire of quickly.
Grinders are made of a range of materials, ranging from light to heavy, and from stylish to utilitarian. Some traditional models are made of wood and have a plain, handcrafted appearance.
Combining glass and wood will offer you the best of both worlds in terms of materials and designs.
Wood: This is a very durable choice, as wood doesn't break easily if accidentally dropped or knocked around the kitchen. Wood, however, can be a little more difficult to make sure is clean and sanitized. Copper, steel or other types of metal grinders will add some shine to the kitchen, but metal grinders can be heavier and may rust unless they are aluminum.
Metal: This material is perfect for longevity, but not so much for lifting and twisting a heavy device if the cook has hand or wrist issues. This model will weigh up to three times as much as other models of comparable size.
Plastic and acrylic: These materials have the advantage of being extremely durable and easy to clean, but they can also become brittle and crack over time. These fabrics, on the other hand, are lightweight, frequently come in a range of bright colors, and can be trimmed with stainless steel for a sleek, designer appearance.
ELECTRIC OR MANUAL
In the kitchen, a manually activated hand mill, whether operated by a crank or simply by turning the top, is typically the better option. However, there are some people who struggle with grip or hand strength, and they may benefit from a battery-powered version. This can be especially useful for mass grinding in restaurants, for extensive prep work, or in some other type of commercial venue.
In this case, look for a well-balanced battery-powered or rechargeable pepper mill that offers ease of use through quick and steady grinding, but also allows for coarseness adjustment.
TOP RANKED PEPPER MILLS
Considerations for these amazing pepper mills are based on durability, ease of use, speed, style and compactness. As with any kitchen appliance or gadget, it's very important to find the model that fits your priorities. Hopefully, some picks will give you some guidance as you consider which model meets your needs.
WILLOW & EVERETT - BEST OVERALL QUALITY.
- HIGH QUALITY GLASS AND STAINLESS STEEL GRINDER SET WITH STAND These...
- BUILT FOR CONVENIENCE AND FUNCTION Unlike other spice grinder sets,...
- EASY REFILLING WITH NO MESSES Don't you hate constantly having to...
- ELEGANT DESIGN With its brushed stainless steel encasing, glass body...
- HIGHEST QUALITY: Built from the highest quality stainless steel and...
Made of high-quality glass and stainless steel, this set should really be at the top of your list. It fits the style of any modern kitchen by adding elegance without sacrificing convenience and functionality. Its grinding mechanism allows salt and pepper to fall nicely with your favorite meal rather than on the table.
Equipped with a non-corrosive, you are sure that your flavors remain intact as it is these materials do not absorb them. It also allows space for adjustment from course to fine through its well-designed plastic knob on top of each grinder. With the Willow and Everett set, they are also assured easier refilling with the cap style, they are sure to say goodbye to messier times getting salt, pepper and spices in their grinder.
It goes without saying that stainless steel and glass make this set durable and give you complete confidence in your kitchen or tabletop. Willow and Everett Stainless Steel Salt and Pepper Mill is the #1 choice for anyone looking for the best salt and pepper mill that makes accessing it and them easier and very convenient. Be sure to have a deeper look at it.
THE ATLAS - BEST DURABILITY
- Hand made to exacting standards
- Grinding mechanism is designed to actually grind the pepper maximizing...
- Tool steel grinding mechanism adjusts from fine to coarse
- Flanged base for stability
- Durable all metal body
The Atlas Pepper Mill from PMI (Pepper Mill Imports) is handcrafted in Greece using traditional methods and sturdy materials in copper, chrome, or brass. Smaller 7" mills to larger 9" mills are available. The model's flanged base makes it easy to stand, and the handcrafted all-metal body ensures that it will last for several years. In reality, the company's 300-year history lends credence to the product's reliability.
The interiors of this model are made of robust stainless steel for excellent performance. The main disadvantage of this unit is that it does not have a coarse grinding function. It is, however, ideal for medium and finer grinding.
Also, since metal is heavier than wood or plastic, going smaller can be beneficial to hold the weight down. The price is very fair when measured out over time and you would expect this product to last for years. The Atlas is available in a range of sizes and finishes, including brass, copper, and chrome.
PERFEX - BEST COMPACT GRINDER
- Perfex Adjustable Peppermill effectively grinds peppercorns into...
- Made in Saint-Etienne, France since 1946; heavyweight aluminum with...
- Burr-style grinding mechanism adjusts from fine to coarse with just a...
- Simply open the front chute, fill, close and turn handle to grind;...
- Classic and elegant style complements any decor; great for indoor and...
For those looking for a portable pepper mill, the Perfex crank pepper mill is a tiny powerhouse. Smaller samples may be difficult to refill since they need to be refilled very often, but this one's 4 1/2" scale isn't a problem. The rust-resistant aluminum body is highly lightweight and has a sleek metal look.
This model features a metal grinder and a front loading chute, and it has classic styling. The loading chute is stamped with a " P " or a " S " to signify whether it contains pepper or salt.
The Perfex is on the pricey side for a smaller tool, but the longevity of the French family-owned business guarantees several years of use for this small tool.
THE UNICORN MAGNUM - BEST FOR EASE OF USE.
- New "Superiore" steel grinding mechanism. Our fastest grinding mills...
- Made here on Nantucket Island from parts made in Italy and the USA....
- Sliding side mounted loading ring for easy filling. Body of ABS...
- Grind size adjustment thumb screw on bottom stays set when filling
- Extra length gives better leverage for ease of use. (Note: Our...
The Unicorn Magnum Plus Pepper Mill has a basic, sleek black design, but its success in terms of comfort and ease of use more than makes up for it. Made of ABS plastic for the 9" tall body and oversized steel for the grinding mechanism, the Unicorn Magnum with added length allows the user better leverage with simple grinding action. In addition, this model is fairly easy to refill with a side sliding ring for loading.
However, since it holds one and a-quarter cups, you do not need to refill it as often as smaller models. Given its size and power, the Unicorn Magnum Plus is also relatively light. The lower thumbscrew allows for grinding adjustment, but there are no set markings, so consistency can be a bit tricky.
This model has a coarser grind, but Unicorn's other (smaller) models have a regular size mechanism that grinds a little finer. Unicorn grinders are made in the United States and are reasonably priced (with US and Italian parts). The Unicorn Magnum is also available in a 6-inch version on Amazon, as seen above.
PEUGEOT- BEST FAST PEPPER MILL
- MADE IN FRANCE- PEFC certified beech wood from sustainably managed...
- MAXIMUM FLAVOR- Proprietary 2-stage pepper grinding mechanism made of...
- EASY TO USE- Get the desired grind size by turning the u'Select ring...
- BEST RESULTS- To get the best results, we recommend using only dry,...
If you're looking for a more conventional pepper mill that has been revised to work better than the original, you've come to the right place. Peugeot is credited with inventing the now-classic wooden pepper mill, but that doesn't mean they've sat on their laurels in terms of creativity. The Peugeot Paris U ' Select allows for five different grinding settings that are adjusted directly at the base of the shaft.
What's more, these grinding settings actually make a difference, unlike those in many other grinders. The extra-fine produces a powder, while the coarsest setting lands at about the medium coarse level (you can't have everything...).
The milling system inside the Peugeot Paris U ' Select consists of two burrs made of carbon or stainless steel (depending on whether it's a salt or pepper model) that have a pair of different sized grooves. The larger groove splits the peppercorn first and the smaller one processes the fine milling. The Paris U ' Select has a knob at the base that can be preset to six specific grinding levels. The Peugeot Paris U ' Select is offered in a variety of stained wood colors or with a solid lacquered finish.
COLE AND MASON DERWENT - BEST FRIENDS.
- ✅ modern design fits any home décor with multiple finishes in...
- ✅ two-stage grinding process both cracks and shaves the peppercorn,...
- ✅ six adjustable coarseness settings allows you to control the...
- ✅ easy refill with a simple pop-off top design
Many people choose clear grinders because they can match their kitchen decor, but the clear grinder is also useful for seeing when it's time to refill your spices. Cole and Mason Derwent Mill is made of transparent acrylic with stainless steel highlights and has six preset grind levels for consistent fineness or coarseness.
At 7 1/2" height, the grinder fits easily in the palm of your hand and the spring-loaded, hardened carbon steel mechanism provides smooth handling. Since the translucent design of this affordable model allows the peppercorns to be exposed to sunlight, keep this in the cabinet to prevent the spices from losing their flavor too quickly.
There are some concerns expressed by real users in reviews about the markings for the grinding settings, so keep that in mind.
SAGE - BEST FOR SALT.
- Elegant, stainless steel pepper grinder, looks great on your table,...
- Easy to use: This consistently reliable pepper mill features variable...
- Multi purpose, sage pepper grinder can also be used as a salt mill,...
The ceramic grinding mechanism of this sage harness stainless steel salt mill makes this a trustworthy product that can help you avoid potentially sticky situations with salt. Specially designed to reduce problems with moisture, this ceramic model is strong and flexible. Changing the coarseness is easy with variable settings, and the secure lock at the bottom means no mess to clean up when not in use.
The clear acrylic top is lightweight and elegant, letting users know when to refill the grinder without exposing the entire supply of salt or pepper to sunlight, so there's no risk of losing flavor. Because the ceramic grinding mechanism is non-absorbent, you can also use it to grind a specific spice or dried herb without changing the flavor if you empty it out and rinse it between spices.
This affordable 8 ½ " easy-to-fill grinder features a wide opening at the tip and a wide base to keep it out
OXO GOOD GRIPS - BEST BUDGET.
- Tab rotates to adjust Grinder setting from fine to coarse
- Non-corrosive ceramic grinders won't absorb flavors or odors
- Grinders rest flat when upside down for easy refilling
- Soft, comfortable, non-slip turning knob
- Grinders are sold filled with sea salt and black peppercorns
These OXO chunky grinders are at the top of the price scale. We like how simple they are to transform, so even a small child can use one. We really like how they're built to sit on a table or counter with the dispenser facing up, eliminating the hassle of having to clean up stray spice particles all the time. OXO is known for its smart product decisions, and this is one of them ("making the mundane better"). They fill from the bottom up, have an easy-to-remove cap, and are flush with the base.
We enjoy the modern look with a clear canister that lets you know when it's refill time at a glance, and the coated plastic on the base really offers a strong grip (thus the name), and we love the modern look with a clear canister that lets you know when it's refill time at a glance (rather than running mid-grind).
Although the OXOs are smaller than many other brands, many consumers have expressed surprise at how large they are in terms of capacity. They are over 5 ½ " tall and feature a large hopper that keeps refills to a minimum.
They are not without their faults. Both the salt and pepper grinders are pretty aggressive in their grinding and there is no real fine setting, although they do offer five levels of coarseness. Some might argue that these options are coarse only and less coarse. This tendency toward the coarse end of the spectrum is likely how they were able to grind these mills quickly and turn them easily-by making the gear teeth more aggressive. If you like your spices a little more on the coarse side, this is a set to consider when purchasing. These are also available separately from the kit pictured above.
READY TO MAKE YOUR CHOICE?
Now that you've come to the conclusion that it's finally time to ditch the tacky decorative salt and pepper shakers your grandma bought you in the 1970s, you know where to turn. Embrace the heightened flavors brought to meals by simply switching to a proper high-quality salt and pepper grinder in your dining room, kitchen or restaurant if you're a professional chef or cook.
You'll never be able to go back to those diner shakers once you've become used to freshly ground pepper and salt in your kitchen. Although pepper and salt grinders won't fully transform your life, they will definitely add a new dimension of flavor to your cooking, while also impressing your friends, family, and clients!