Even with the freshest of ingredients and the best cooking tools and equipment, you still can’t get very far in many recipes without needing the basics: salt and pepper!
Although these staples are found on kitchen tables across the world, they are far from mundane when executed in the proper way.
How’s that? By using salt and pepper that are freshly ground!
Part of the reason that freshly ground salt and pepper are important is that, once they are ground, pepper begins to oxidize and quickly starts to lose its potency, while salt often includes anticaking agents that allow it to flow through the holes of a canister or shaker. This means you may need to use a larger amount of pre-ground ingredients, a waste of both product and your money.
But if you use freshly ground salt and pepper, you will often need less of them, potentially saving you money and protecting your delicious cooking from stale, old spices.
Higher quality grinders, unlike the disposable plastic ones from the grocery store, also give you better control over the grind size. They’re refillable too, making them a good investment.
Before spice mills became commonly available for household use, spices were freshly ground in a mortar and pestle, allowing the user to simply crush them by hand.
This is still an option today, of course. But unless you have your own prep cook or sous chef at home (we wish!), you may want to consider a manually operated or electric pepper or salt grinder instead.
Using a salt or pepper mill might seem a little inconvenient at first, especially when you can choose to buy bulk pre-ground spices, or standard shaker sets already filled with pre-ground salt and pepper.
But a grinder can bring excellent seasoning faster, with consistent results and less mess!
Making regular use of this type of tool for your coarse salt or peppercorns will provide efficiency in your cooking routine, as well as raising your standards for expert food preparation.
Freshly grinding dried spices like peppercorns allows the aroma and flavors to be released immediately prior to use, creating a fresher and fuller flavor that can elevate average, ho-hum cooking to the realm of flavorful gourmet meals. And having control over the specific grind size allows you to perfectly season or garnish your meals, with consistent results.
If this isn’t enough to immediately convince you to switch to a mill, we’ll make the decision even easier for you with this thorough review of our top choices.
As with any kitchen tool or appliance, finding the model that fits your preference is very much a personal choice.
Hopefully, our guide as well as our list of top picks will give you a clear direction as you consider which model will suit your needs!
Foodal’s Guide to Salt and Pepper Mills
- Best Classic Reinvented – Peugeot Paris U’Select
- Best See-Through – Cole and Mason Derwent Gourmet Precision
- Best Compact Set – OXO Good Grips Accent
- Best for Efficiency – MANNKITCHEN Cannon
- Best Unique Design – MENU
- Best Electric – Latent Epicure
- Best Vintage-Style Hand Crank – Zassenhaus Speyer
Our Top 7 Salt and Pepper Mill Picks
Equipping your kitchen with a good set of salt and pepper mills will be a long-term investment for the future, and you can enjoy them every day for years to come.
There are so many options for salt and pepper grinders available than you might think. And all models are certainly not the same!
We cover a wide range of available types. Considerations for these salt and pepper mills were made based upon, among other factors, durability, ease of use, speed, style, and compactness.
Review our top finds, and determine if there is one among them that is the best fit for you.
1. Best Classic Reinvented – Peugeot Paris U’Select
Would you like to find a set of more traditionally styled wooden salt and pepper grinders that have been updated to perform better than the original?
Peugeot, a French company and manufacturer with a history dating back to the early 19th century, is one of the originators of the wooden pepper and salt mill shape, but that doesn’t mean they have simply rested on their laurels in the innovation department.
Peugeot Paris U’Select 9-inch Salt Mill, Natural, available on Amazon
The Paris U’Select incorporates a twisting knob at the base, which can be preset to six specific grind levels.
The milling systems are slightly different between the salt and pepper grinders.
For the Peugeot Paris U’Select Pepper Mill, the grinding mechanism is made from case-hardened steel that has a pair of differently sized grooves.
This two-stage process yields an effective grinding system. First, the bigger groove initially cracks the peppercorn. Then, the smaller-sized one grinds to the desired texture.
For the Peugeot Paris U’Select Salt Mill, the grinding mechanism uses stainless steel that is composed of several ribbed plates operating in tandem. First, they break apart then crush coarse sea salt to a uniform dimension.
The six grind settings on both the salt and pepper mills actually make a big difference. The extra-fine option creates a powder while the most coarse setting lands at about the mid-coarse level.
The Peugeot Paris U’Select wooden mills are made from PEFC-certified sustainable beechwood. Both the salt and pepper mills are currently offered in natural wood, antique cherry-stained wood, and chocolate-stained wood.
The availability of various stains and lacquers can vary, so we recommend checking online at the time of purchase to explore the most up to date offerings.
These also come in a variety of sizes, suitable for holding a range of salt or pepper quantities to meet your needs.
Peugeot Paris U’Select 5-inch Pepper Mill, Chocolate, available on Amazon
You can buy the smallest option at 5 inches tall, weighing about 6 ounces, if you prefer a demurely crafted compact grinder that can fit into smaller storage spaces.
But if you wish to impress your guests at the dinner table with a theatrical seasoning performance, Salt Bae won’t stand a chance when you whip out the 16-inch-tall, 1.2-pound mill, the largest available size, to add a final touch to a perfectly plated platter of pasta.
You can purchase the mills separately, or as a set.
Peugeot Paris U’Select 9-inch Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, Chocolate/Natural, available on Amazon
One main complaint about these concerns the process of refilling – you must twist the small knob located at the top to loosen and remove part of the handle. While simple to do, keeping track of a tiny piece of metal has proven to be an annoyance for some owners.
Another drawback for this is the company’s very specific requirements for what kind of salt and pepper to use, which can be frustrating when shopping if your local grocery store has limited options.
For the pepper, the company states you can use black, white, green, and red peppercorns, as long as they are 1/4-inch in size or smaller. You can use pink peppercorns as well, but this softer variety is best used when mixed with other harder peppercorn varieties.
For the salt, using coarse white rock salt is recommended. Use salt crystals that are 1/6 inch in size or smaller. The company advises against using sea salt, either dried or wet. With their higher moisture content, sea salts may corrode the stainless steel burrs.
If you are interested in a mill specifically for wetter salts, Peugeot also sells a wet salt grinder with ceramic burrs.
The U’Select models have a lifetime warranty on the grinding mechanism, and a 5-year warranty on the mill itself. Warranty coverage begins at the time of purchase.
2. Best See-Through – Cole and Mason Derwent Gourmet Precision
Here’s my biggest personal flaw: I never know when it’s time to refill my wooden grinder, until it’s too late.
When I’m rushing to make dinner, and cranking my grinder to season, the worst discovery is the realization midway through cooking that nothing is coming out.
Buying a see-through grinder solves that problem.
A clear grinder helps forgetful cooks to know when it is time to refill your spices!
Cole and Mason Derwent Precision Gourmet Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, Stainless Steel, available on Wayfair
Other than their practically designed storage area, clear mills offer a style that’s preferred by many home cooks, as their typically minimalist and modern design can complement sleek kitchen decor.
The Cole and Mason Derwent Precision Gourmet Salt and Pepper Grinder Set is not only made from attractive clear acrylic in a pretty hourglass shape with stainless steel accents, but this one also offers pre-set grinding levels for consistency of fineness or coarseness.
You can select from 6 grinding levels, in varying sizes from fine to coarse granules, on the pepper mill. For the salt mill, there are 3 sizing adjustments that can easily be used with rock salts and sea salts.
Coming in at 7.5 inches tall with a width of 2.36 inches, and weighing just under a pound, each grinder fits easily in the palm of the hand.
A laudable advantage for this brand’s products is that the pepper and salt grinders are crafted with separate materials to accommodate the differences between these two different ingredients.
Cole and Mason Derwent Precision Gourmet Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, Copper, available on Wayfair
The pepper grinder is crafted with a hardened carbon steel, and the salt grinder is made of ceramic.
Because the see-through design of this affordable model makes it possible for the peppercorns to be exposed to sunlight, and for wet salts to develop moisture buildup inside the acrylic canister if exposed to heat, you may want to store these inside a cabinet to keep them from losing their flavor too quickly.
Refills are easy to do – just unscrew the entire top of the grinder and add your seasonings. No small knobs to unwind that can potentially roll off your countertop!
There is some concern voiced by real world users in reviews about the markings for the grind settings rubbing off, so keep this in mind.
Some customers also wished there were just as many settings for the salt as the pepper, but most were pleased with the three settings.
Cole and Mason Derwent Precision Gourmet Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, Wooden, available on Wayfair
The grinder mechanisms are covered by a lifetime warranty, and there is a 2-year warranty on the mill body and other parts. Cole and Mason is a UK-based company.
3. Best Compact Set – OXO Good Grips Accent
These cute ‘n’ chunky salt and pepper grinders from OXO are a great compact pick!
They are easy to turn, so much so that even a small child is capable of using these – and they can have fun helping in the kitchen!
They are designed to sit on the table or counter with the dispenser facing up, easily avoiding the whole issue of constantly needing to clean up stray spice particles.
They refill from the bottom, with a cap that is easy to unscrew, and flush with the base.
OXO Good Grips Accent Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, available on Amazon
Coated plastic on the base really does offer a good grip (hence the name) and we love the modern look with stainless steel accents and a clear canister that lets you know at a glance when you’re approaching time for a refill, rather than running out mid-grind.
The OXO mills are shorter in stature than those from many other brands and only weigh just over 1/2 pound each; however, many customers reported that they were surprised by how big they actually are in terms of capacity. Standing at 5.5 inches tall, they boast a large hopper that keeps refills to a minimum.
They aren’t without their flaws, though. Both the salt and pepper mill are fairly aggressive in their grinds and there is no truly fine setting, though they do offer five increments of coarseness.
Some customers have argued that these options are merely coarse and less coarse.
This tendency towards the coarse end of the spectrum is likely how they were able to make these mills fast to grind and easy to turn – by making the ceramic gear teeth more aggressive, with no difference in design between the salt and pepper gear mechanisms.
If you like your spices a bit more on the coarse side, this is a set to keep in mind when it’s time to purchase. In addition to the set, these are sold separately as well.
Like all products from the Good Grips line, these are covered by the company’s limited lifetime warranty from the date of purchase.
Find this set now on Amazon, or directly on the company website. Or consider purchasing the pepper grinder separately on Amazon, or directly from the company, as well as the salt grinder via Amazon or the OXO website.
4. Best for Efficiency – MANNKITCHEN Cannon
The Pepper Cannon from MANNKITCHEN, a US-based company, is quite the hunk that gets the job done!
It has a height of 7.25 inches, and weighs 1.07 pounds. It is about 2 inches wide at the top, and 2.2 inches wide at the base.
The cannon is made from aerospace-grade aluminum with an anodized black finish. The surface is durable and very easy to clean. The black finish is currently the only color option available.
MANNKITCHEN Pepper Cannon, available on Amazon
The burrs are made from hardened, high-carbon stainless steel, and are powered by a double-bearing drive shaft. And with dual spring plungers that keep the grind adjuster in place, you’ll get incredibly quick and consistent grinds with each twist.
You’ll end up with a lot of ground pepper in very few turns. The company emphasizes that you’ll get 10 times the output from this cannon as you would other top-rated mills.
The grind adjuster is located at the base of the cannon, and you can choose from an impressive grind range between 8 and 60 mesh for the pepper. (We’ll describe exactly what this means a little later in the article, so keep reading!)
Unlike some of the other grinders recommended here/available today, there are no clearly labeled markings for each distinct setting of grind level, other than “coarse” on one end and “fine” on the other. If you prefer to know exactly what level you are grinding at, this design decision may trigger a small complaint among users.
How do you replace the peppercorns? Easily. The push-button enabled top of the cannon offers a quick and effortless release, with no baubles to worry about losing. The main storage compartment holds up to 1/2 cup of peppercorns, or a little over 2 ounces.
A thoughtful feature of this particular grinder is the removeable base cup, which has a capacity of up to 1/3 cup, or 1.25 ounces. The storage area is perfect if you want to pre-grind your pepper for use in recipes.
This is a huge convenience for when you are seasoning raw meat or seafood, and don’t have two clean hands to spare!
You can grind your seasoning during your prep phase, and have it all ready to go when you need it, which means you don’t have to wash your hands midway through seasoning when you need to flip the piece of meat over to grind more for the other side!
This cannon is not designed for use with salt, though a salt grinder is available for sale directly from the manufacturer.
For more information, find the Pepper Cannon on Amazon now.
5. Best Unique Design – MENU
The Salt and Pepper Grinder Set from MENU definitely has set itself apart from other gadgets, both in style and use!
Never thought your humble salt and pepper grinders could be pretty enough to use as an interactive dinner table centerpiece? Think again…
They’re cool. Sleek. Understated.
MENU Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, Carbon/Ash/Walnut Wood, available from Amazon
And I know you’re curious to unveil the mystique of the design! Let’s learn a little more.
MENU is a contemporary furniture, lighting, and home decor manufacturer that partners with designers around the globe. The company is headquartered in Copenhagen, and the salt and pepper grinders were created by Danish designers.
Both grinders have the same dimensions, measuring 8.07 inches tall and 3.15 inches wide. They each weigh 1.26 pounds.
The overall shape looks like a bottle, which “cleverly tricks the user to encourage a more playful and experimental interaction,” as explained by representatives of the company.
With an inverted design, the grinder mechanism rests at the top when displayed and not in use, ensuring your countertop or table stays clean from any rogue salt and pepper pieces.
Each piece can hold up to 10 ounces of dry seasoning – this is a BIG capacity, if you like a larger storage space!
MENU Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, Nature Notes/Walnut Wood, available on Amazon
To refill, you pop open the canister at the seam in the middle. The seal can be tight and snug, so this can require more muscle power than you might think you need. You place the salt or peppercorns in the top half, not the bottom.
Don’t need too many different grinding strengths? If you like the no-frills ease of having just a few options, MENU limits the coarseness levels with only 4 available grind sizes. You set the coarseness level by adjusting the wooden topper.
To grind, you twist the base while keeping the half with the topper attached steady.
The salt and pepper set is available in a wide variety of materials, colors, and finishes.
The base can be made out of stainless steel, ceramic, or plastic with silicone, all depending on what color you choose. The tops of the device can be made from either beechwood or walnut.
If you prefer more discreet colors for your kitchen gadgets, you’ll be a fan of the color selections and pairings – the colors are soft and modest, and not overwhelmingly bright or bold.
MENU Salt and Pepper Grinder Set, Carbon/Ash/Beechwood, available on Amazon
And the grinding mechanism for both the pepper and salt grinder, no matter the color or style chosen, is made from ceramic.
It can be confusing at first to sort through all of the options (and the company continues to release new colors/materials regularly/periodically), so review the current in-stock choices carefully!
These items can be returned within 30 days of delivery for a full refund, and all of MENU’s products come with a 2-year warranty from the date of purchase. If a product is discontinued before the 2-year warranty is over it may not be replaceable, though you will still get a full refund.
Find these sets available now on Amazon.
6. Best Electric – Latent Epicure
There’s a phrase that quietly echoes in every corner of a busy (or lazy…) home cook’s household:
Work smart, not hard.
Featuring at least one electric mill option in this review was a necessity for anyone who prefers the effortlessness of a battery-operated grinder!
The Salt and Pepper Grinder from Latent Epicure has that modern edge we can’t resist. A simple touch-button at the top grinds the salt or pepper for as long as you press it.
And while you press the button, you get one extra bonus: an LED light located at the bottom of each mill!
Latent Epicure Salt and Pepper Grinder, Single Mill, available on Amazon
If you’re seasoning in dimly lit conditions, or you’re struggling to watch the more finely ground flakes hit the food, the light is a nice touch that helps you to see exactly what you’re doing.
The grinder weighs 0.8 pounds, and is 8.66 inches tall with a width of 2.28 inches.
The grinding mechanism is made out of ceramic, a better material for grinding wetter salts like Himalayan pink.
There are 6 distinctly labeled coarseness settings on the bottom of each mill, ranging from coarse to fine.
The canister is made out of stainless steel with a clear plastic storage area that can fit about 2 ounces of seasoning. Some customers were disappointed in the smaller storage size, but were fine sacrificing some storage space for the ease of use with an electric mechanism.
You’ll need 4 AA batteries for each grinder – you install the batteries in the top portion of the mills, while the salt or peppercorns go in the bottom portion.
The manufacturer recommends using alkaline non-rechargeable AA LR6 batteries for optimal performance, power, and resistance to potential battery corrosion.
Each mill also includes a black plastic cap that fits over the bottom to catch any residual flakes in storage.
You can purchase a single grinder, or buy a set of two. If you choose the set, an acrylic mill rest comes with your purchase.
If you’re on the fence about going electric – and these products do have their mechanical flaws, based on a few customer complaints of battery corrosion – the company’s warranty and return policy should ease the tension a little:
A 30-day, 100% money-back guarantee is included with purchase, as well as a 12-month warranty against defects to the grinding mechanism and body.
Check prices and read reviews now on Amazon.
7. Best Vintage-Style Hand Crank – Zassenhaus Speyer
If you adore decorative pieces that have a touch of historic splendor for your kitchen, but you still crave functionality, you and your dinner guests will be entertained by this pepper grinder from the German company Zassenhaus.
Designed and manufactured in Germany, this little beauty’s vintage design and dark beechwood exterior replicates the historic company’s 120-year-old antique German design.
Zassenhaus Speyer Pepper Grinder, available on Wayfair
But don’t let its delicate look and 1/2-pound weight fool you into only having it out on display! Its patented CeraPlus German ceramic grinding mechanism with stainless steel spindle is hard enough to crack through peppercorns in 6 different coarseness settings.
Including the handle, this mill has a height of 7.8 inches.
The settings are each clearly labeled and can be adjusted from the bottom of the grinder.
To refill, the top hand crank piece screws off, allowing you to pour in the peppercorns.
The pepper mill can be returned for a full refund within 14 business days from the date of delivery if customers are not completely satisfied. And the grinding mechanism has a 25-year limited warranty.
What to Look for in a Salt and Pepper Mill
While choosing a specific model may not sound like something that needs deep thought or consideration, it’s best not to simply grab the first one you see at the supermarket or on the department store shelf.
This is particularly true for the pre-filled devices because, not only might the unit be inferior, you also have no idea how old and stale the peppercorns inside are. These aren’t typically refillable either.
As a kitchen tool that you will use daily, it is important to purchase a product that is ideal for your intended use and preferences.
In the next few sections, we’ve outlined all of the major points you need to take into consideration when choosing the best salt and pepper mills for you.
The Questions You Need to Ask First
When deciding on a particular model, there are a few points to consider to be sure you are getting the finest product to suit your cooking needs and desires.
Asking yourself the following questions will help you prioritize which features are the most important to you when determining which grinder you should buy:
- Will this be used at home for the family? Will it be stored in the kitchen or on the dining room table? How much capacity do you need for your family?
- Are you using this for a catering company or restaurant? Is efficiency important over style?
- Do you need a large range of grind size options?
- Do you plan to use your grinders for salt, pepper, or both? What kind of mechanism will you need for each?
- Are you looking for a model that matches your other kitchenware, cooking tools, and/or home decor?
- How much use will the mill get and how durable do you need it to be?
Examining the quality of the grind mechanism, ability to set coarseness, capacity, ease of use, vessel material, and preferred stylistic details will take you far in deciding which mill is best for you.
Considering Salt Grinders
Grinding salt is a slightly different situation than cracking peppercorns, as salt is not as compatible with most types of metal. If you are planning to grind salt, a ceramic mechanism is likely to perform better than metal will.
However, a ceramic mechanism is not nearly as durable as stainless steel, and may not last as long due to potential shattering or breakage.
You may find that some companies offer a corrosion-resistant metal mechanism that may be effective for a short time, but it still will not be as long-lasting for the purpose of grinding salt as a ceramic mill would be.
Himalayan, pink, Celtic, or gray salts may contain more moisture and can cause the grinding burrs to get sticky, so it is helpful to store your salt grinder in a place that has the lowest humidity possible. You’ll also want to avoid storing in direct sunlight or near any heat source, like the stove.
Anatomy and Grinding Mechanism
Mills for grinding spices are fairly simple machines with just a few moving parts.
The main part is the vessel that holds the whole peppercorns or coarse salt. On the outside, the top of the unit will contain a manual hand (or electric) crank that attaches to a spindle, which turns the grinding mechanism inside the device.
When the crank is turned, the peppercorns are pulled onto a burr with teeth that rub together to force the spice to grind into small pieces.
This may also be arranged as a head that rotates and grinds the peppercorns or salt granules against a fixed ring. The space between the burrs or the head and ring determines the fineness or coarseness that the spice will have after it is ground.
A high-quality burr mechanism is essential for ensuring that the device provides a consistent grind for many years.
Some of the lower quality grinders use acrylic mechanisms, which are significantly inferior to a stainless steel gear system.
Poor quality acrylic options do not provide the durability and consistency of grind that is offered by high-carbon steel or ceramic varieties, leaving you with a lesser product that is much more likely to break. You’ll also have more of a mess, with the rate of salt you add to a dish often varying considerably from one grind to the next.
While many superior models are made with stainless steel mechanisms, ceramic also has a good history as a material that is very easy to clean, despite the fact that it is admittedly more delicate.
A truly superior quality salt or pepper mill allows the user to change the fineness or coarseness of the grind, based upon the recipe requirements and the cook’s needs.
Mills with clear markings at each individual setting are the easiest to navigate and use. This allows for absolutely zero confusion as to what texture you’ve selected, a no-brainer design decision that puts the cook’s investigative mind at rest.
But not all coarseness settings are created equal.
Some devices that allow for altering the grind size may not have each individual setting marked, putting the consistency of your salt and pepper grind at some risk.
These products may only have markings for the finest and coarsest settings, with no markings in between that range. With this type of design, you are responsible for judging the texture of the grind between fine and coarse.
Another issue you might have is not knowing initially what size you’ll get with each setting. Most companies don’t describe exact size measurements for each grind setting. Usually, you’ll see a range of numbers representing coarseness, ranging from 1 to 6, for example, or a series of dots in graduated sizes from small to large.
Other companies may explain the spice, peppercorn, and salt coarseness levels more precisely, using the terminology of “mesh” sizes. Mesh size refers to the number of holes in strainers or sieves.
With a lower mesh number, the holes in the sieve are larger in size. And with a smaller mesh number, the holes in the sieve are smaller.
Translated to spices, if a single unit of ground peppercorn has a lower mesh number, it will be bigger in size and can only fit through larger holes in a sieve. If a single unit of peppercorn has a larger mesh number, it will be smaller in size and can pass through a sieve with a more intricate network.
Whole black peppercorns typically have a mesh size in the 6 to 8 range. Coarsely ground black peppercorns can have a range of 12 to 14, and fine table ground black peppercorns can range between 18 and 28.
Depending on the grinder’s capabilities, you can achieve a grind with a 60+ mesh measurement!
It’s always a good option to do a few tester rounds before you start seasoning, just so you can get to know the range of coarseness levels available to you. To clearly see the texture, choose a large white platter or bowl for testing pepper, and a darker platter for testing salt.
Ease of Use
Cooks who spend any amount of time with a heavy grinder in hand could easily find themselves with a nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Making sure your pepper and salt grinders are easy to crank or twist will be a great favor to your wrists, as well as providing convenience and speed in the kitchen.
While a comfortable, ergonomically designed grip and smoothly twisting top or crank are important factors in choosing a new grinder, going electric may be the best decision if you don’t want to suffer any strain at all.
Generally, cleaning is simple for most grinders. A little common sense is all that’s required to maintain this type of kitchen gadget!
Most companies do not recommend washing the grinders in the dishwasher, and caution users not to submerge them, either partially or entirely, in water. Any traces of moisture can cause rusting. Specifically with the electric options, water is a danger to the charging area, and may cause an electric shock.
The best option to clean the exterior of any mill is to use a dry or slightly damp soft cloth, like a microfiber cleaning cloth. If it’s damp, be sure to dry the exterior immediately after cleaning.
We like these absorbent, lint-free microfiber cleaning cloths from Aidea, available on Amazon in a multipack of blue, green, and gray cloths for all your cleaning needs.
To clean the interior, use a soft and dry small brush to gently brush away any debris.
Don’t have one on hand? This six-piece set of nylon anti-static brushes from Elane should do the trick. They’re available on Amazon as well.
If you choose to store your grinders on the counter, they will develop some dust on the surface over time. You’ll need to occasionally dust and wipe the tops and sides.
Although needing to refill your grinder often may not be a problem for the home cook, if purchasing for a restaurant or catering company, you will certainly want a larger capacity vessel.
Smaller devices usually range from 1/8 cup and up, and the largest model could potentially hold up to 1 1/2 cups of peppercorns.
A small to medium-sized mill is probably best for a home kitchen because dried spices tend to lose their flavor as they age, and you do not want to leave them sitting around for too long. For those working in bulk, a large capacity unit can be a great benefit.
While performance is critical in ranking these grinding devices, style is also very important for many people, those of us at Foodal included!
Ranging from traditional wood to sleek and modern versions made from a variety of materials, style choice is very much based on personal preference.
Are you looking for something in a more vintage style? Or maybe you love a design that is clean, sleek, and modern? Do you need a set that will match your overall decor aesthetic for your kitchen or dining room?
Your artistic vision is equally as important as the other factors when choosing a device, and it will affect the final choice you make
Certain brands specialize in classic shapes, multiple color options, and a range of materials. Others stick to a certain design with limited aesthetic choices.
Because salt or pepper mills often last a lifetime, the best practice is to choose a timeless classic model that you are not likely to tire of quickly.
Other than the material of the burr, you also need to think about what material is used for the grinder itself.
Grinders come in a variety of materials, ranging from light to heavy and fancy to simple. Some traditional models are carved from wood and have a hand-crafted, simple look, while others are made from metal or manmade materials.
This is a fairly durable choice, as wood does not break easily when dropped accidentally or banged around in the kitchen. However, caring for wood to ensure that it is clean may be a bit more difficult then caring for models made from other materials.
This material is great for durability, but not so great if the chef has hand or wrist troubles and struggles to lift and twist a heavy unit. This type sometimes weighs up to three times what other similarly sized models weigh.
Steel, copper, or other types of metal grinders bring some shine to the kitchen, but mills made of metal may be heavier and could potentially rust, unless they are aluminum or stainless steel.
Plastic and Acrylic
The advantage of these materials is that they are quite durable and easy to clean, but they can become brittle over time and crack. These materials do, however, provide a lightweight option, they often come in a variety of bright colors, and they may be trimmed with stainless steel accents for a sleek, designer look.
Manual or Electric
A manually activated hand mill, whether operated by a crank or simply by turning the top, is typically the better choice for the kitchen.
However, folks who struggle with grip or hand strength can benefit from a battery-powered version. This may be particularly useful for bulk grinding in restaurants, for extensive prep work, or in other commercial venues.
In this case, look for a well-balanced battery-powered or rechargeable pepper mill that will provide ease of use by grinding quickly and steadily while also allowing for coarseness adjustment.
All Set? Get to Seasoning!
Since you have come to the conclusion that it is finally time to ditch those disposable salt and pepper shakers you bought on sale (but it was such a good deal at the time!), you know where to turn to next!
Embrace the heightened flavors that are brought to meals simply by making the switch to a proper high-quality mill in the dining room, the kitchen, or at your restaurant if you are a professional cook or chef.
Once you have gotten accustomed to using freshly ground salt and pepper in your kitchen, you will likely never be able to go back to those diner shakers.
And, while pepper and salt mills cannot promise to completely change your life, they will certainly add a new element of taste to your cooking – impressing your friends, family, or customers all along the way!
What style do you prefer? Do you love the look of a beautiful wooden mill, or would you rather display a modern set on your dining room table? We’d love to know what you’re thinking! If you have any additional questions or a model to recommend that wasn’t included here, leave a comment for us.
Love getting your hands on fun kitchen gadgets? Read more kitchen gear reviews on Foodal now, starting with these:
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Amazon and Wayfair. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock. Originally published by Julie Workman January 8, 2016. Last updated on July 6, 2022.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a full-time cheesemonger and specialty foods buyer living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.