Get the story
Which grater is greatest? We find one that's fast, efficient, and easy to clean.
Freshly grated ginger is a common component of recipes both sweet and savory, lending its distinctive aroma to cookies, cakes, and chutneys as well as stir-fries, glazes, sauces, and soups. To get the fine puree we want, we usually reach for our favorite rasp-style grater, the Microplane Premium Classic Zester/Grater ($14.95), or we use the smallest holes on our favorite box grater, the Microplane Specialty Series 4-Sided Box Grater ($34.95). But we've often wondered whether there might be a better option, especially because there exist a number of gadgets specifically intended for grating ginger.
To find the best tool for the job, we rounded up 10 graters priced from $8.00 to $35.64. These tools encompassed a range of sizes, shapes, materials, and grating styles: Some had rasp-style “etched” holes, some had puckered “stamped” holes punched out by a machine, and others—traditional Japanese oroshigane—had either metal teeth or ceramic nubs. Pitting these tools against our winning rasp-style and box graters, we grated a whopping 6 pounds of ginger.
With such a range of styles, it was no surprise that the tools produced purees with different textures—some were coarser or more fibrous, some finer, and one made flat shavings of ginger instead of puree. But in practice, these differences didn't matter: Tasters found ginger of every texture acceptable and very similar when eaten raw (added to soy sauce as a dip for tofu). When sautéed in oil as if for a stir-fry, different ginger samples cooked evenly and in roughly the same amount of time, and their flavor and texture were nearly indistinguishable from sample to sample.
That said, grater style did matter when it came to speed, efficiency, and ease of use. Models with etched or stamped holes made quicker work of grating than did those with “crowns” (bigger, ragged-edged etched holes), teeth, or nubs, taking less than a minute to produce 1 tablespoon of puree. Our two favorites were the fastest, producing 1 tablespoon of puree in just 15 seconds; both had etched holes. The worst model, with metal teeth, took more than 4 minutes. To a lesser degree, the size of the grating surface also helped determine speed: The larger the area, the more ground we could cover before starting a new stroke or before the ginger clogged the holes. The best models had at least 5 square inches of surface area.
Models with small etched holes were also less wasteful than the other types, pulverizing and pushing through more puree from a standardized piece of ginger (1 inch long and weighing 14 grams), leaving just 1 to 3 unusable grams of fibrous pulp on the grater face. When we used the same-size chunk on stamped and toothed graters, these models created as much waste as they did puree, and sometimes more—7 to 10 grams of pulp and only 4 to 7 grams of puree. This was because these types of graters usually couldn't break up the fiber as easily as the etched graters could, leaving more of it behind on top of the grater. As a result, we had to grate slightly more ginger with these models in order to yield 1 tablespoon of usable puree. And while none of these graters were exactly easy to clean, since the fibers snag easily on any protuberance and often need to be scrubbed or picked off by hand, the toothed and nubbed graters were particularly challenging.
A few other factors made certain graters easier than others to hold and use. Handles that were rubbery and long—at least 4 inches—were more comfortable for hands of all sizes to grip, helping us stabilize the graters. When it came to harvesting the grated ginger, simpler was better: While troughs or special collection bins seemed like they'd be handy, testers found them fussy and more trouble than they were worth. Here again we preferred flat, smooth models with small etched or stamped holes through which the finished puree could fall or be scraped off; broad paddle-shaped versions made it particularly easy to maneuver a knife or spoon across the underside. Waste and puree sat mixed together on top of graters that lacked holes, making it harder to separate out the usable ginger and clean up afterward.
The good news: Our favorite box grater, the Microplane Specialty Series 4-Sided Box Grater ($34.95), made speedy work of grating ginger with its big plane of fine etched holes. If you already own this product or you want to invest in one all-purpose grater, we highly recommend it for grating ginger. It's a little more wasteful than our winner and requires a bit more work to excavate the puree but is otherwise a great option.
But the absolute best tool for the job is the Microplane Home Series Fine Grater—and at $14.95, it's a budget-friendly gadget that expertly completes this task. With a large grating surface and razor-sharp etched holes, it grated a tablespoon of ginger in record time and was the least wasteful model in our lineup, leaving just 1 gram of fibrous material behind. Its large, rubbery handle was comfortable to hold, and even after grating more than 32 tablespoons of ginger—more than a pound's worth—it was still as sharp as when we first used it.
We tested 10 graters priced from $8.00 to $35.64, pitting them against our favorite rasp-style and box graters. We used each tool to grate 1-inch chunks of ginger and produce 6 tablespoons of puree, timing the process and weighing both the finished purees and the waste left on the graters. We also had testers of different hand sizes and dominances use the graters and rank them. Graters were evaluated for their performance and ease of use. All models were purchased online, and they appear in order of preference.
Performance: We evaluated the graters on how quickly and efficiently they grated ginger.
Ease of Use: We evaluated the graters on how comfortable they were to hold and how easy it was to clean them and harvest ginger from them.
If you grate ginger frequently, this is by far the best tool we've found for the job: It's speedy, easy to handle, and superefficient. With ample surface area and razor-sharp etched holes, this tool—made by the same company as our favorite box and rasp-style graters—was the least wasteful in our lineup. It also tied for fastest, making 1 tablespoon of puree in just 15 seconds. Its handle was comfortable to grip, and its wide paddle shape made it especially easy to collect ginger puree and to clean.
If you don't want to buy a separate tool for grating ginger, our favorite box grater is a fast and efficient option. It sports a large, broad grating surface and razor-sharp etched holes on its fine side, allowing it to grate 1 tablespoon of ginger as quickly as our winner; it generated almost as little waste as well. Its box shape makes it easy to keep stable on the counter, but it's less convenient for cleaning and collecting the ginger, requiring users to reach in and scrape it out.
This stamped grater had a comfortable, cushiony handle and processed the ginger reasonably quickly. And its broad paddle shape made it easy to collect the ginger and to clean the grater. But it was wasteful, leaving behind half the 14-gram chunk of ginger and requiring us to use more ginger to get a full tablespoon of puree.
With a medium-size paddle, this stamped grater produced fine puree rapidly, and ginger collection and cleanup were easy. And its handle was long and rubbery enough for all hands to grip comfortably. There was only one issue: It was more wasteful than our top models, leaving half the ginger on the grater.
With a large area of sharp etched holes, our favorite rasp-style grater got the job of grating ginger done—just somewhat more slowly and a touch more wastefully than our top models. Its long, narrow shape was less ideal for handling bigger pieces of ginger and forced us to aim more carefully when grating. It was also harder to clean, since its curved edges trapped pockets of puree underneath.
This dedicated ginger grater made puree pretty rapidly and efficiently. Testers liked that it also came with a slicing blade, though its location next to the grating surface made some testers nervous for their knuckles. Despite having “ginger” in its name, this wasn't the best ginger grater from Microplane; the grating surface itself was small and narrow, clogging more quickly, forcing us to aim more carefully, and limiting the size of the ginger we could grate on it. Because the grating surface was also depressed, it was harder to clean, and its handle, while made of grippy material, was small.
This etched grater produced flat shavings of ginger moderately quickly and efficiently, and testers appreciated its extra slicing blade and ginger peeler. But the tool's grating surface was slightly undersized, forcing us to aim more carefully. More frustrating was the shallow tray fitted under the grating surface, which made it impossible to track progress, filled up too quickly, was a pain to remove and insert, and created extra parts to clean.
The sharp ceramic nubs on this traditional Japanese ginger grater pulverized the ginger into a very fine puree, leaving little waste. But its grating surface was quite small, so it took longer to produce that puree. And the puree didn't always separate easily from the fibrous waste, making the grater a bit harder to harvest from and clean—a little work was required to pry the fibers out from between the nubs.
Although its grating surface was a good size, this ceramic oroshigane took a fairly long time to yield 1 tablespoon of puree and wasn't very efficient. Like the other models that lacked holes, it didn't separate puree from waste all that effectively, and we had to spend a lot of time picking that fibrous waste out from between its nubs. A tiny bump of a handle made it hard to hold and stabilize.
With the largest grating surface in the testing, this grater—fitted with pencil eraser–size, ragged “crown”-shaped holes—was capable of producing a good amount of puree reasonably quickly. But as quickly as it produced that puree, it produced far more waste: Loads of stringy fibers clung to the spikes surrounding the holes, making this model especially vexing to clean. A big (though slippery) handle and a skid-preventing rubber lip at its bottom edge couldn't compensate for these flaws.
Despite its razor-sharp metal teeth, this small traditional metal oroshigane nevertheless took a pretty long time to produce 1 tablespoon of puree and generated a fair amount of waste in the process. Those teeth snagged lots of stringy fiber, which was a big pain to clean, and didn't always separate that fiber from the finer puree and drop it into the collection trough at its base. Finally, its small, flat handle was very uncomfortable to grip.
Dubbed “a sadistic shoehorn” by one tester, this hard-to-hold and impossible-to-stabilize sheet of metal had just two short rows of metal teeth, providing a tiny grating surface for the ginger to rub against. As a result, it took more than 4 mind-numbing minutes to yield 1 tablespoon of puree, and a good amount of ginger fiber stuck tenaciously to those few teeth, making for finicky cleaning.