Top Gadgets to Grind Fresh Spices and Dried Chiles
Preground spices are convenient, but their flavors fade fast. Cooking with freshly ground spices is a must, but producing a heap of cracked black peppercorns or grinding a custom spice rub requires the proper kitchen tools. We've gathered our favorite spice-grinding gadgets—they're worth the small investment to produce extraordinarily flavorful dishes.
If you're a fan of bold flavors, don't miss our Best Mexican Recipes, the ultimate guide to making Mexican dishes at home. It features foolproof appetizers, soups, tacos, tamales, burritos, enchiladas, and more. You'll also find information on key ingredients and techniques, so you can cook with confidence.
This grater is an effective new twist on an old-style grater with a slender, tightly curled, 5-inch-long grating surface that provides a good margin of safety for your fingertips. It also produced mounds of nutmeg in no time flat and can also be used for grating nuts and chocolate. Note: This configuration is a combination of the Microplane Home Series Fine Blade (model 44002) with a Microplane Slider Attachment (model 44057), each sold separately.
When it comes to grind quality, this mill is tops. It made grind selection a snap, with clear markings corresponding to grind size, and every one of its six fixed settings performed well. Its transparent acrylic body proved easy to load and grasp.
This processor had a sharp blade with great coverage. It turned out crisply cut vegetables and nuts and fluffy parsley. Its strong motor blended hummus and pesto with minimal scraping, and its small feeding tube allowed us to slowly add oil for fantastic mayonnaise.
The extra-tall sides of this heavy, stable granite mortar kept food from escaping and its rough interior quickly reduced hard peppercorns to dust. The large, heavy pestle was comfortable to hold and made grinding a breeze.
Breezed through all four tasks, producing piles of cheese, chocolate, zest, and ginger with minimal effort.
The test kitchen's standard for grinding spices is an inexpensive blade-type electric coffee grinder (which we use for spices only, reserving a separate unit to grind coffee). This Krups model came out on top in our testing for fine-grinding all sorts of whole spices of varying hardness, density, shape, and oil content.
This high-performing mill was fast and consistent, but if its peppercorn supply fell below 1 inch, output slowed. However, with no center shaft and a clever magnetized lid, this mill is a snap to refill. We would prefer that the grind-size adjuster click firmly into place: it can slip if you grab it during grinding.
This inexpensive crank-style mill lived up to its name with an easy-to-grip handle that had us cranking out pepper at a rapid clip. A downside: The grind adjustment dial has no fixed grind sizes, making it hard to get just the right pepper size.
All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.