It wasn’t until I graduated college and started eating healthier that I discovered the beauty of a good microplane.
I had a cheap zester and would use it occasionally, but to be honest, I couldn’t really taste the “zest” very much and it was hard to use. But all that changed when I got a microplane for my birthday. Wow! I was impressed.
Today, I want to share some information about the one I have, and a few other good quality options, so you can experience the WOW factor for yourself.
What is a Microplane?
Most people know what a zester is, but a microplane might be new to you.
If so, here is a quick description: it’s a grater that looks like a traditional woodworker’s rasp, which is where the design idea came from. They shave much more finely and consistently than what can be produced by most traditional box graters.
They have a lot of super sharp holes that make zesting very easy, with minimal effort. When using one of these, rather than a traditional zester, the end result tends to be a lot fluffier.
What is a Zester?
A traditional zester, on the other hand, consists of single row of holes that are designed only to deal with the peel of various citrus fruits. They aren’t the best at shaving softer products such as chocolate, or harder items such as nuts.
Why You Need One
Both of these devices offer a great way to enhance flavor in your recipes, as well as save you time and effort, as they are easy to use and make your meals look much more fancy.
You can use them for the following:
- Citrus fruits like grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges
- Hard cheeses
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh coconut
- Fresh nutmeg
And I’m sure there are a lot of other uses I haven’t even discovered yet! Below are the top 3 options currently on the market.
Reviews of our Favorite Microplanes and Zesters
This is the tool that I have in my own home kitchen, and I could not be happier with it. I never knew how much it was going to increase the flavor and efficiency in my cooking, but that is one point I really want to stress!
The first time I used this, I was like a kid in a candy store. It quickly provided the zest of a large, ripe lemon, and was actually pretty fun to use. My husband couldn’t believe the taste of our lemon quinoa – it’s like a flavor chef appeared and made our favorite meal ten times better!
There are a few things I really love about this model:
First, it’s sharp. I’ve had mine for over a year and it works just as well as the first day I got it. I also like that it comes with a cover for the stainless steel blade.
It fits nicely in my hand, with its large plastic black handle. I never feel like it’s going to break, like the original microplane that I used to have.
And, finally, you can toss it in the dishwasher and it comes out nice and clean.
What Others Are Saying
One user stated this product is worth its weight in gold! Another user said she uses it for grating cheese, helping to melt the cheese faster, and it also makes her meals look more elegant, which I can attest to!
If you’re curious how long this guy will last, as that’s something I was curious about as well, another user stated he’s had his for 4 years and uses it about 2 times a week, and it’s still going strong!
The reviews for this microplane are very good, with many verified customers weighing in on Amazon.com. In fact, it’s a best seller. And I personally can agree with pretty much all of the reviews, based on my own experience.
OXO Good Grips Lemon Zester
This is your basic citrus zester. I know it says “lemon” in the title, but it can be used for limes, oranges and grapefruit interchangeably.
This little black kitchen tool doesn’t take up a lot of room, and in a world where kitchen gadgets can get so fancy and over the top, I have to admire OXO for keeping things basic. This looks like a kitchen tool my grandmother would have used while she was cooking, and I like that.
It’s made by OXO, a company that is known for its quality kitchen products, and that has a satisfaction guarantee! If you buy this product (even on Amazon) and you don’t like it, you can get a full refund or replacement.
It offers two ways to use it: the stainless steel head allows you to zest as well as create garnishes, like thin curls of carrots. The handle of this product is a soft non-slip material, and it fits securely in your hand.
OXO Good Grips Lemon Zester available on Amazon
It’s also dishwasher safe, and one fun fact I learned about this tool is that it won the Tylenol/Arthritis Foundation Design Award. In fact, the entire line of OXO Good Grips did. Having a few friends who suffer from arthritis, I know how hard it can be to use your hands sometimes, so anything that makes cooking easier gets a star in my book!
What Others Are Saying
One user said this is the perfect tool for getting the right amount without too much effort or pith (score for no pith– I hate when that gets into my food!). Another user recommends this over using a knife to do the job. He stated, “This beats the heck out of trying to zest with a cheap grater type device and is vastly superior to trying to zest with the edge of a knife.”
Users seem to really like this product, however, a few users stated that a lot of recipes need a fluffier product, and the result this model produced was a lot thicker. If that’s a concern of yours, I would suggest purchasing the first product on this list.
OXO Good Grips Zester
When I first saw this product, it reminded me of a cheese grater. It has a similar design to a microplane, but it’s a lot wider than what I’m used to. It’s designed by OXO, so I immediately knew the design was mostly due to user functionality and comfort.
After doing some research, I discovered it was actually designed so one end could be placed on a cutting board or flat surface, making it easier to use.
This product is also made by OXO, so when you purchase it you’ll be getting their high quality standards, as well as the satisfaction guarantee. The biggest benefit of this product in my mind is that you get a zester and a grater, all in one.
The holes on the blade are between the size of those on a microplane and those on a traditional grater, so if you want to use this for citrus (and aren’t concerned with larger shavings), and will be grating cheese or chocolate as well, I think this is the tool for you.
What Others Are Saying
Many users say this product works well, it’s easy to clean, and it’s comfortable to use. One user especially recommends this product if you need larger quantities for your projects, like recipes calling for more than 1 tablespoon of zest. This brings me to some negative reviews on this model: a few users reported that this product removed too much of the peel in one go, or that the holes were too big.
I think that really depends on what you plan to use this tool for, which is something you really need to consider before buying. If you want small shreds of chocolate or fine shreds of cheese, this might not be the product for you. You can check out other real user reviews on Amazon and get their take as well.
There are a lot of gadgets on the market right now – perhaps a few too many. I thought about including some more options on this list, but to be honest, I think between the three of these, one of them is going to be the perfect device for you.
If you’re looking for a tool to easily create fluffy peel or an elegant pile of cheese to top your spaghetti, then I highly recommend the Microplane 40020. This is the bestselling product in this category and the one I use myself, so I can say it’s great!
If you’re looking for a small, affordable tool to shave some citrus and maybe make a few fancy lemon curls for cocktails, then I would recommend the OXO Good Grips Lemon Zester. Yes, it’s basic, but sometimes that’s all you need.
Lastly, I would recommend the OXO Good Grips Zester. If you want to finely grate oranges and cheese, or you want a good design that allows you to set down the device so you don’t have to constantly hold it, and you aren’t too picky about the way the final product looks, this one is for you.
I hope this helps you make your decision. I know there are a lot of these tools on the market, but it’s really best to keep it simple, and avoid getting lost in research mode. It’s better to get lost cooking in the kitchen! Well, at least that’s where I would rather spend my time…
About Sarah Hagstrom
Sarah is a health food advocate and loves to spend her time whipping up something healthy and delicious in the kitchen and then sharing either on Foodal or on her own blog "The Seasonal Diet" (www.theseasonaldiet.com). She lives in Sunny San Diego with her husband, where they enjoy running on the beach and weekend adventures.