One-Handed Pepper Mills

Published April 1, 2011. From Cook's Country.

One-handed pepper mills hold one obvious advantage over the usual two-handed twist styles: They free up one hand. But is one worth buying if it's only half as good as a two-handed model?

Overview:

Update July 2012:

Since this review was published, a few readers complained that the handles of our winning Chef'n Pepper Ball broke, so we went back into the kitchen to grind 1/2 cup of pepper every day. That did it: The handles, which collapse when twisted off the base for refilling, refused to click back into place after less than a week of heavy-duty grinding. Our previous runner-up model is now our top recommended one-handed pepper mill.

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One-handed pepper mills hold one obvious advantage over the usual two-handed twist styles: They free up the other hand to stir a sauce or turn a whole raw chicken for seasoning. One-handed pepper mills can cost well over $100: We set a ceiling of $50, which allowed us to include mills in many styles and sizes, both manual and electric. We put six to a range of tests, focusing on the quality of each grind (from fine to coarse), the output of each mill (the efficiency in producing 1 teaspoon of ground pepper), and ease of use.

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Update July 2012:

Since this review was published, a few readers complained that the handles of our winning Chef'n Pepper Ball broke, so we went back into the kitchen to grind 1/2 cup of pepper every day. That did it: The handles, which collapse when twisted off the base for refilling, refused to click back into place after less than a week of heavy-duty grinding. Our previous runner-up model is now our top recommended one-handed pepper mill.

___________________________________________________________

One-handed pepper mills hold one obvious advantage over the usual two-handed twist styles: They free up the other hand to stir a sauce or turn a whole raw chicken for seasoning. One-handed pepper mills can cost well over $100: We set a ceiling of $50, which allowed us to include mills in many styles and sizes, both manual and electric. We put six to a range of tests, focusing on the quality of each grind (from fine to coarse), the output of each mill (the efficiency in producing 1 teaspoon of ground pepper), and ease of use.

To win us over, any one-handed pepper grinder would have to match the output of our favorite two-handed mill, which produces plenty of perfectly ground pepper with minimal effort. Alas, only a few electric models and just one manual version matched the output of our two-handed favorite; the rest took twice as long, or longer, to produce the same amount. One electric model produced uniformly ground pepper at five settings as quickly as our winning two-handed mill. And one manual model proved easy to fill and adjust for different grinds, and it operated one-handed with no need for batteries or electricity. Neither model would compel us to retire our favorite two-handed grinder, but at just $11.95, our winning one-handed model is worth picking up—with one hand, of course.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended - Winner

    PepperMills Supreme

    This large electric mill produced perfectly ground pepper in five textures from fine to coarse—and more of it more quickly than our favorite two-handed grinder. Although it’s heavy, it was surprisingly easy to manipulate. It ran on one charge throughout testing; still, we’d rather not have to plug in our pepper mill.

    • Design ★½
    • Output ★★★
    • Ease of Use ★★
    • Grind Quality ★★★

    $39.95

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Trudeau Duo

    This dual model grinds both salt and pepper quickly and proved easy to handle—once we mastered the trick of twisting it open to fill the battery chamber and hoppers. Changing grinds was straightforward. But there was a problem: Trace amounts of salt sometimes trickled down when we hit the button for pepper.

    • Design ★★
    • Output ★★
    • Ease of Use ★★½
    • Grind Quality ★★

    $49.42

  • Not Recommended

    William Bounds Titan Battery Pepper Mill

    This battery-powered model looks impressive. But it took four times as long as our favorite manual model to grind a teaspoon of pepper, and holding down the grind button became taxing. Worse, a loose tracking mechanism both on the model and a replacement did not let us adjust the grind settings for anything other than coarse or fine.

    • Design
    • Output
    • Ease of Use ★★
    • Grind Quality

    $49.95

  • Not Recommended

    Trudeau Graviti

    This electric grinder turns on automatically whenever it is tipped just past 90 degrees, which had us scattering ground pepper around the test kitchen. It also lost points on grind quality: Whenever we tipped it upright, we could see bits of ground pepper filtering back into the hopper with the whole peppercorns. Finally, and fatally, its loud, whining grind sounds like a dentist’s drill.

    • Design ½
    • Output ★½
    • Ease of Use
    • Grind Quality ★½

    $26.95

  • Not Recommended

    Unicorn Peppercorn

    Although this manual model is sold as a one-handed grinder, using it with two hands felt more intuitive to most testers. With one hand, it forces the thumb to keep the base handle steady while the fingers pull the moveable handle like an oar. Even two-handed, it tended to shoot the pepper everywhere, spraying it like buckshot—and it took over a minute to produce a very scant 1 teaspoon of ground pepper.

    • Design
    • Output ½
    • Ease of Use ½
    • Grind Quality ★★

    $25

  • Not Recommended

    Chef'n Pepper Ball

    This compact manual grinder seemed promising: The clearly marked, easy-to-adjust grind mechanism yielded uniform-size pepper grinds in three textures. However, the handles, which collapse when twisted off the base for refilling, refused to click back into place after less than a week of heavy-duty grinding.

    • Design ★★★
    • Output ★★
    • Ease of Use ★★★
    • Grind Quality ★★

    $11.95

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