The best spice grinders on test
If you like cooking with spices, you’ll know all too well the importance of a good grinder. Read our review of pestles and mortars and mills to find our best buys.
If you enjoy cooking, there’s nothing quite like using freshly ground whole spices in your recipes. They taste and smell so much fresher than the shop-bought ones, and whole spices last longer. However, the type of grinder you’ll want to buy depends on your style of cooking, how often you intend to use it and how much cupboard space you have for storage.
We tested twist-action and traditional mortar and pestle-style grinders to find out which made light work of crushing spices to fine powder. Read on to discover which came out on top. For more, visit our review section to find over 200 practical buyer’s guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in.
The best grinders for spice 2019
Oliver Hemming Spice Boy manual spice grinder
Pros: intuitive twist function and handy funnel shape for filling
We liked this award-winning spice grinder that you twist like a pepper mill. Use it for small quantities of spices like cardamoms, coriander and cumin. It’s easy to fill as the top works like a funnel – measure your spices into it then pull out the plug to load it. The ceramic grinder can be adjusted to a coarse or fine setting.
Available from Amazon (£31.48)
Judge solid marble spice grinder
Pros: good for small kitchens and simple twist function
This 10cm marble pestle and mortar is ideal if you just want to crush a few spices at a time and don’t have space for lots of gadgets. The pestle is cleverly designed to snuggly fit the mortar so the spices are trapped beneath it. Just rotate the pestle to grind them. We found this best for achieving a slightly coarse-grained spice texture for spices like cardamoms and coriander rather than hard spices like nutmegs. Works well for crushing garlic too.
Harts of Stur (£20.24)
Cuisinart electric spice and nut grinder
Pros: no elbow grease required, plus dishwaster-friendly bowls
If you are seriously into your curries this spice grinder comes with two bowls so you can have two spice mixes on the go at once. The bowls also detach from the machine (not all do) so they will go in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Once the lid goes on you just press down to activate the machine – it couldn’t be easier – then take off and check to get the coarse or powder grind that you are after. Works well with both wet and dry spices as well as nuts. We whizzed up garam masala in seconds using whole nutmegs, cardamoms and cinnamon sticks to a fine powder, as well as a wet paste in the other bowl using fresh ginger, garlic, chillies and spices – we added a dash of water and wiped down the sides for an even blend and we thought the overall result was excellent.
Available from Cuisinart (£50)
James Martin by Wahl spice and coffee grinder
Pros: attachment that allows you to grind very small amounts of spice
This spice grinder efficiently turns a selection of whole spices into a powder with just a few pulses. However its real selling point is the clever attachment that you fit into the main bowl if you only want to grind 1 teaspoon of spice. Many other grinders on the market require a larger quantity to react efficiently with the blades. The bowls are also removable for easy cleaning, which we think is a must for all electric grinders to avoid cross contamination of flavours.
Which spice grinder should I buy?
First think about what type of cook you are and how hands on you like to be. Some cooks enjoy the tactile quality of cooking and always prefer to chop an onion with a knife rather than use a processor, so spending the time and effort grinding spices by hand in a pestle and mortar or mill would be a pleasure for them rather than a chore.
Others want to eat well, but would prefer to whizz through the prep, so here an electric grinder fits the bill, however small the amount of spice is required for a recipe. Electric grinders are also essential for the keen curry lover who wants to whizz up fairly large quantities of dry and wet ingredients to make spice blends and pastes, which are often still too small for a food processor to cope with.
What we looked for when testing spice grinders:
A spice grinder that gave an even result whether it was a mill, pestle and mortar or electric grinder.
An electric grinder that has removable bowls that could be washed up to avoid cross contamination of flavours.
An electric mill that can cope with a wide range of spices from nutmegs and whole cinnamon sticks to cardamoms and cloves without the fear of the machine overheating. Do read instructions before using it as it is often advisable to pulse the machine to crush the spices rather than turn it on full blast.
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This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at [email protected]
Do you prefer a manual approach or do you have a grinder you can’t live without? Leave a comment below…
If you like cooking with spices, you’ll know all too well the importance of a good grinder. Read our review of pestles, mortars and mills for the best buys.
The best spice grinders
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- Freshly ground spices brighten just about any dish, so if you love to cook, you may want a versatile spice grinder.
- The Secura Electric Coffee & Spice Grinder is our top pick with its strong motor that is resistant to overheating and two bowls for chopping and grinding.
The idea of grinding your own spices may seem like a hassle when it’s just so easy to pick up pre-ground options at the grocery store. Yet, taste test after taste test reveals that freshly ground spices produce dishes with a superior roundness of flavor, vibrancy, and aroma. Therefore, a good spice grinder provides a fairly simple way to step up your culinary chops.
We looked at dozens of different alternatives while researching the best spice grinders. The grinders included in our guide are highly rated by buyers and experts alike because of their ease of use, consistent performance, and how painless the cleaning process is.
Here are the best spice grinders:
- Best overall: Secura Electric Coffee & Spice Grinder
- Best manual spice grinder: Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Grinder
- Best electric grinder on a budget: KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder
- Best manual grinder on a budget: Bazaar Anatolia Turkish Grinder
- Best pepper mill and salt grinder: Peugeot Paris u’Select 9-inch Pepper and Salt Mill
Prices and links are current as of 7/6/20. We added a product showcase at the top of the guide to make our picks easier to see at a glance.
The best spice grinder overall
If you are looking for an effective, mess-free way to grind spices quickly, the Secura Electric Coffee Grinder & Spice Grinder is an excellent option.
The Secura Electric Coffee Grinder & Spice Grinder comes with two stainless steel bowls. One has two stainless steel blades, which are designed for grinding spices. The other “chopper” bowl has four blades for chopping vegetables, oats, and nuts. The exterior of the grinder is also made of stainless steel.
The grinder is relatively easy to use because there is only one switch for turning the device on and off. For safety, the plastic, transparent lid must be in place in order for the motor to run. And, the motor features built-in overheat protection, which is meant to extend its lifespan. Secura backs up the grinder with a one-year limited warranty.
You can use it to grind just about anything from pepper and sea salt, to coffee beans and nuts.
Pros: Motor resistant to overheating, removable bowls for chopping and grinding
Cons: Motor can only run for several seconds at a time
The best manual spice grinder
The Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Grinder is ideal for people who don’t want to waste electricity on tasks they can easily perform with a little muscle.
Unlike most manual spice grinders that utilize a rotating crank, the Kuhn Rikon grinder works using a back-and-forth motion.
First, you load the spices you want to grind into the front door. Then, you adjust the desired coarseness by turning the knob on the bottom of the device either clockwise for a finer grind or counterclockwise for a coarser grind. To operate, you move the ergonomic BPA-free hard plastic handle back and forth. This causes the ceramic stone grinder to break the spices into smaller particles.
You can use it to grind all kinds of spices, including pepper, sea salt, and more. Its ceramic grinder won’t corrode, and the large capacity makes it easy to grind a lot of your favorite spice quickly. On the finest setting, the grinder produces a true powder.
Pros: Doesn’t require electricity/batteries, easy on the hands
Cons: Reports of durability problems
The best electric grinder on a budget
The KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder is a fast grinder that is easy to use and can double as a coffee grinder in a pinch.
The KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder features a strong 200-watt motor with stainless-steel blades. It’s able to achieve uniform grinds thanks to the unique oval design. For ease of use and safety, the grinder is activated only when the lid is on and the button is pressed. The grinding compartment holds up to three ounces of grains, nuts, herbs, spices, coffee, and more. KRUPS backs up the quality of this product with a two-year warranty.
The Insider Reviews Deputy Editor, Malarie Gokey, had a chance to test the KRUPS grinder for her guide to the best coffee grinders you can buy. Though much of her review was based on its usability for grinding coffee, Malarie noted that the unit was surprisingly easy to clean with nothing more than a pastry brush.
In Cook’s Illustrated’s look at the top electric spice grinders, the KRUPS grinder came out on top. In its testing, the grinder was able to grind all spices exceptionally fine and left little on the lab screen. It received high ratings for ease of use and grinding abilities. The Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder was also the top choice at Serious Eats. Though the reviewers found it annoying to clean since only the lid is removable, the grind was the best compared to the other options they tested.
Pros: Affordable and achieves an even, fine grind
Cons: The grinding bowl is not removable for cleaning
The best manual grinder on a budget
If you are looking for a compact, affordable spice grinder, the Bazaar Anatolia Turkish Grinder is a stylish option.
At 4.2 inches tall and 1.9 inches in diameter, the Bazaar Anatolia Turkish Grinder is the smallest grinder in our guide, and it is also the only option made entirely of metal. It is designed to handle spices like rice, sumac, cumin, mustard, cardamom, salt, coriander, and pepper. But, this grinder does not do well with wet items or big seeds, including corn or nutmeg.
You feed the spices through a small door on top of the grinder, turn the crank, and the spice grounds collect in the bottom bowl. Or, you can remove the bowl and add the seasoning directly to your meal.
Because of its petite size, it may be difficult to load because the door on top is rather small. The small size is a plus, however, if you’re grinding your spices fresh each time you cook — which you should be. You can grind exactly what you need instead of having to grind a larger batch as you might have to with electric grinders.
Pros: Stylish design, inexpensive, durable
Cons: Small capacity, sensitive to water, cannot adjust grind size
The best pepper and salt mills
Peugeot’s Paris u’Select 9-inch Pepper and Salt Mills set the gold standard with their gorgeous, durable design and adjustable grind settings.
Peugeot’s pepper grinders and salt mills are out top pick in our buying guide on the subject. Insider Reviews Deputy Editor Malarie Gokey has been using them for years and loves them despite how expensive they are. She writes, “Peugeot has been making pepper and salt mills since 1840, so the French company knows what it’s doing. When I first started my hunt for pepper mills, I was trying very hard not to buy from Peugeot because of the high price tag. However, having tried many others before I finally caved and bought these exact mills, I can confidently say that they are the very best you can buy.”
The Paris u’Select mills have six different grind settings from very coarse to very fine that you select by twisting the ring on the bottom of the grinder. It’s so simple, you can customize your grind from person to person as you pass it around the dinner table.
The actual grinding mechanism is made up of helix-shaped grooves that crack open the peppercorns to release their oils. They’re then ground using a burr-style grinder to your desired fineness.
The salt grinder works by using two ribbed plates to crush large salt crystals to a fine grind. The plates are made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about the moisture content of your salt gumming up the mechanism.
Malarie recommends the finer settings for the pepper mill and the middle setting for your salt grind. She found those performed the best and gave her the seasoning she wanted without a ton of effort.
If you have any problems with your purchase, just contact Peugeot. The mills and grinders have a lifetime guarantee on the grinding mechanisms and a two-year warranty on the entire mill.
Pros: Gorgeous wood construction, strong steel grinding mechanism, durable, adjustable settings, lifetime guarantee for grinding mechanism
Read our full guide to the best pepper mills and salt grinders.
Manual vs. electric grinders
There are two main styles of spice grinders: electric and manual. Electric grinders are excellent because they make quick work of a variety of spices. Most can also do double duty chopping nuts and grinding grains and coffee beans. But, they can only be used for a few seconds at a time before the motor starts to heat up. , and many models are difficult to clean. Also, electric grinders obviously require the use of electricity, and environmentally-conscious people may have trouble justifying using one when there are several suitable manual options.
Manual grinders take the cake when you want a more portable solution that isn’t tethered to an electrical outlet. Most electric grinders use blades, whereas their manual counterparts work by crushing the spices with gears made of ceramic or metal. They commonly have a knob you can turn to adjust the size of the grind. The downside to manual grinders is that they may be a pain for individuals with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or other hand/wrist conditions.
Though we did not include any in our guide, the herb grinder is a third type of spice grinder that is mainly designed for larger seeds, teas, tobacco, and herbs, including basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and more. Herb grinders are manually operated and generally have trouble handling most whole spices. If you decide to go this route, we recommend Zip Grinders.
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There's nothing like freshly ground spices to take any dish to the next level. These are the best spice grinders you can buy.