Pepper is an extremely versatile ingredient that you can use to season steaks, add bite to salads, or plate as a garnish for
fish. However, the ground pepper you get in a can from the supermarket is nowhere near as good as freshly ground pepper since pepper undergoes oxidation once ground. This means that it loses flavor and intensity. True pepper aficionados will want to reach for a grinder, and an electric one is easy to use, even with one hand.
We checked out the ones available online, and our top pepper grinder was the Elis Sense u'Select by Peugeot, which we loved for its focus on bringing out the true aroma and taste of fresh-cracked pepper. Keep reading for more information on how to choose the best pepper grinder, and make sure to read our buying guide, which was reviewed by a professional chef.
Jim Quast (JQ) is a lifelong professional restaurant and corporate R&D chef that loves everything food-related and the tools both big and small to make those great food memories. He's a super huge BBQ, grill, and kitchen gadget fanatic. JQ has spent the last 30+ years trying to figure out what works to make your kitchen life easier and fun. If you can use it to slice it, dice it, cook it, smoke it or store it, he's been there checking it out. Food = Life! https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-quast-59769011/
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Table of Contents
Choosing a grinder can be a tough decision. There are so many styles, brands, and operation methods. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of buying tips to make it easier for you to make the best choice!
There are three materials used for pepper mill grinding mechanisms: plastic, steel, and ceramic. Plastic is cheap and light, but breaks the easiest, and is mainly found on disposable, manual grinders. For an electric one, you'll likely be choosing between steel and ceramic.
Steel blades are either stainless steel or carbon steel. Stainless steel is more resistant to rust. Carbon steel, however, is a harder material, so it can grind hard, tough peppercorns with ease. Steel blades of both types wear out faster than their ceramic counterparts, however.
Ceramic blades do not rust or deteriorate over time, making them long-lasting. They're less effective on extremely hard substances, but for peppercorns they work as well as steel. Ceramic blades can also be used to grind salt, while steel shouldn't be, since it will corrode.
Finely ground pepper has a concentration of flavor won't be as visible in your dishes, making it perfect for soups and sauces where you want a smooth texture. Medium grind pepper is used for a variety of dishes, and as a final touch at the table. Coarsely ground pepper offers a slower release of flavor and adds a wonderful mouthfeel.
Pepper mills come with various mechanisms to adjust the grind. Many have a cone on the bottom that turns the burrs in the grinder. These can be hard to grasp strongly enough to rotate, especially if you have dexterity issues or arthritis in your fingers.
Some are adjustable by turning the body of the mill. Others allow you to choose from preset grinds. In this case, we recommend a minimum of three settings.
Since electric grinders are more convenient than manual, you'll probably be after one that is easy to take apart and fill. Some unscrew completely and provide a wide open hopper that's easy to dump peppercorns into. Others have a narrow chute or opening that can be more difficult to aim into.
One-hand or two-hand operated options exist, but one-handed is the most convenient for multitasking. For example, you can stir with one hand while adding in fresh ground pepper with your other. One-handed devices might have a push-button to start grinding. Some are gravity-activated, so all you have to do is turn it over and it starts up.
Quite a few models come with LEDs so you can see where you're grinding and how much has come out. This could be a feature you find really helpful if you like fresh-ground pepper while eating in a dark room during movie night! But, many home cooks actually find a light distracting and a bit pointless.
Many options of electric pepper grinders are powered using AA or AAA alkaline batteries. They can add weight to the peppermill, as some models we've seen take up to six batteries. Sometimes grinders come with the batteries included, so check the item description before purchasing, especially if it's a gift.
A few are rechargeable, and may come with a stand that both houses and charges the device. Others might be charged using a USB or regular cord. Again, check the product description, as they may not always include it, especially if it's a standard USB.
The body of pepper grinders is commonly made up of one of three materials: wood, metal, or plastic. Wood is durable and has a warm look, but it's more common in manual grinders. Metal or plastic grinders with a clear acrylic window to see the hopper contents are the most readily available when it comes to electric peppermills.
Brushed steel shows fingerprints less than a shiny surface, but you might also want to look for non-slip materials. Plastic or acrylic windows can crack and break, so try for ones where this part is thick and strong, or opt for glass, which won't be affected by the oils in the pepper.
The size of a pepper grinder is generally larger than your typical salt-and-pepper shakers, and electric ones, especially if they house batteries, can be nine or 10 inches tall. Batteries also add weight.
If you have mobility issues or weak hands, consider the weight and overall size to make sure the grinder will be easy for you to operate. You might want to confirm if you'll be able to use it with one hand, too.
Keep in mind that the overall size doesn't correspond to the capacity of the hopper. A smaller one will keep pepper fresher, but need more frequent refilling. Try to balance these concerns and pick one that suits your dining style.
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Peugeot has actually been making pepper mills longer than cars and has even designed a blade specifically for grinding pepper. This electric grinder is easy to operate by touching the top and the body of the device. It offers more than six coarseness settings and a light to see your grinding progress, and it comes with a tray for a base.
Some reviewers thought the mill was a little hard to assemble, but more loved how long-lasting the grinder was. They say the motor works smoothly, it's easy to operate, produces a consistent particle size from super-fine to extra coarse, and actually makes pepper taste better!
If you have whole spices other than pepper you want to grind, this unit with switchable pods can save you time and space. Each spice is stored in its own pod, which you can keep in your spice rack. When you need one, pop it onto the unit and grind. There's no need to clean the device between spices and it can all be done with one hand.
Reviewers say it might struggle with coarse Himalayan salt, and for this, or for oily seeds or spices, the manufacturer recommends the Pro Plus FinaPods sold separately. Most reviewers say this gadget has exceeded their expectations. Those who bought it looking for a simple pepper grinder say it's led them to try more creative things and use fresh-ground spices more often.
This grinder is operated without any buttons. It will sense when it is held upside down and automatically grind! It's easy to operate one-handed and pain-free for those with wrist or hand issues. It will emit a blue LED light so you can see how much you are seasoning your food in dim lighting.
Reviewers warned that the first pour is concentrated, so you will have to adjust how much pepper to use based on that. Most reviewers loved the design of the product and how fun it was to use.
This pepper grinder comes in black and white, so you can choose to your preference, or get one of each for salt and pepper. It sits on a base that will hold it steady on the counter or table while catching loose pepper dust.
Some reviewers say they found it hard to operate using just one hand, because they felt it would slip when they reached for the button. However, almost all agree it grinds well and efficiently. They also say it's quiet and batteries last a long time in it.
This pepper grinder is rechargeable via a USB cord, and can power through 120 minutes before needing to replenish. You also won't run out of spice too fast, as it holds six ounces in its glass hopper.
The device operates by turning it over, but to activate it there's a button, and some complained that this can get stuck or break off. Some recommend leaving it in the "on" position to ensure no problems. Most say it works well in spite of that, and say they charge it about every one or two months on average.
This pepper grinder comes with the cord to recharge it, a small brush for cleaning, and a spoon for refilling. It also features a cap on the base, so any loose pepper will stay contained. When grinding, a white light illuminates your target.
Reviewers like the small size, but note this also means it doesn't hold a lot at once. However, they like how it grinds and say it's easy to change the coarseness. They say it recharges quickly and the button depresses with no effort.
This pepper grinder comes with ceramic blades. To operate, just push the top button, and a white light will also turn on. The grinding mechanism is ceramic, so will also work for salt; and in fact, you can also get it in a set of two with a tray.
Some reviewers thought it was slow and the motor weak. But reviewers liked how wide the opening to pour in spices was and how the battery compartment was separate from the spice section. You can add new batteries without disturbing the spices still in the container.
Although grinding salt right before use isn't strictly necessary, if you like to keep things matching, then consider a set of two grinders. These are identical except for the differently-shaped tops, with ceramic burr grinders, gravity powered grinding, and white LED lights.
Some reviewers complained of the button popping off or having issues with charging. But most found them user-friendly, said they last a long time on one charge, and work as expected. They say they grind Himalayan pink salt well, but some set it to the finest grind so it doesn't put out too much.
This double-ended grinder is great if you don't want to take up too much space in your kitchen or on your table. The base stays plugged in and keeps the grinder charged. One button controls both sides; just flip it over to use the seasoning of your choice.
Some reviewers have found it can get jammed when using with rock salt, and often needs to be shaken or tapped to clear it. But many are happy about the design and the small footprint. They like how it keeps both their most-used seasonings right at hand.
While many pepper grinders are quite large, this one is not much bigger than a regular pepper shaker. But it still boasts Peugeot's two-stage grinding system, which first crushes and then grinds, to release the most aromatic oils. It also features a light, simple push-button activation, and two available finishes.
Some reviewers complained that it was slow to grind, and the instructions were hard to read because they're tiny. However, others thought changing the batteries and using it were intuitive, and those with arthritis especially loved its small size and comfortable shape.
From salt and pepper to gochujang to mulling spices, we have a lot of articles that can help you find the perfect seasonings for your recipes. Here's a sample.
No. 1: Peugeot｜Sense u'Select Electric Salt & Pepper Mill Set｜27162
No. 2: FinaMill｜Electric Salt and Pepper Grinder Set
No. 3: Chew Fun｜Gravity Pepper Grinder
No. 4: Kyocera｜Electric Salt and Pepper Grinder Set With Upgraded Motor
No. 5: Noble Gourmet｜Russell Hobbs Electric Salt and Pepper Mill Set
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