Salt and pepper grinders may be a kitchen mainstay, but not every pantry is stocked with a dedicated spice grinder. We’d like to make a case for why this tool is a cooking necessity: Not only are freshly ground spices more fragrant, complex, and tasty, but the best spice grinders also allow you to make your own blends exactly how you like them, from pumpkin pie spice to garam masala. Plus, whole spices keep longer than ground ones, which means you can load up on your star anise and grind it just when you need it.
As to which spice grinder is best for you: it all depends on your budget, your preference of electric versus manual, and what you’re likely to be grinding. Luckily, we’ve found an excellent model for nearly every type of home cook. Read on to discover the best spice grinders.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Cuisinart Electric Spice and Nut Grinder
Capacity: ½ cup | Style: blade grinder | Material: stainless steel
- Dishwasher-safe lid and bowl
- Storage lid allows you to store spices in the grinding bowl
- Easy push-top activation
- Only one grinding speed
Why we chose it: An easy-to-use grinder with blades powerful enough to pulverize almost anything.
It’s not often that there is a unanimous winner when it comes to kitchen tools, but Cuisinart’s Spice & Nut Grinder is the rare exception. Nearly every expert we consulted, along with multiple other “best of” lists, all rank this affordably priced model as their number one. The reasons for its supremacy are twofold: it’s intuitive to use and grinds even larger items like cinnamon sticks quickly and efficiently. To use, simply fill the grinding bowl with up to ½ cup of ingredients, pop the lid on, and press down to activate the blades. The push-down mechanism gives you precise control over the fineness of your grind, and also ensures that the machine will only be running when you activate it. And when you’re finished, the included storage lid means you can keep your spice blend directly in the grinding bowl until ready for use.
Best Value: Hamilton Beach Electric Coffee Grinder
Capacity: 10 tablespoons | Style: blade grinder | Material: stainless steel
Why we chose it: A powerful blade grinder for a price that’s easy on the wallet.
Hamilton Beach has made a name for itself as a purveyor of reasonably priced, but efficient kitchen machines. And while this coffee grinder is not made specifically for spices, it does a superb job of pulverizing not only coffee beans, but peppercorns, cardamom, or cinnamon. Some of the features we love are its five different grind settings (from coarse to fine), grinding action that stops automatically when the pulverization is complete, and a generously sized bowl that fits 10 tablespoons of ingredients. The bowl itself is also dishwasher-safe, which makes clean-up a cinch.
Best Splurge: Waring Commercial Spice Grinder
Capacity: 3 cups | Style: blade grinder | Material: stainless steel
- Can handle wet or dry ingredients
- Commercial-grade motor with 20,000 rpm of power
- Removable bowls with lids
- The most costly model on our list
Why we chose it: A professional-grade machine with a super-sized grinding bowl.
If making your own spice blends from scratch has moved from an occasional pastime to a full-blown hobby, your spice grinder also deserves an upgrade. This model from Waring is made for commercial kitchen use, which means it’s not only incredibly powerful due to its 750-watt motor, but it also holds a generous 3 cups of spices. And not only does this machine make short work of whole spices from mustard seeds to nutmeg, but the large bowl size can also be used to whip cream or emulsify a sauce. Two included grinding bowls and lids make it easy to store spice blends, chopped nuts, or sauces in one, while you grind the next batch in the other.
Best Manual: Kuhn Rikon Adjustable Ratchet Grinder
Capacity: N/A | Style: ratchet grinder | Material: ceramic
- Ratchet design is easy on the wrist
- Dial adjusts from coarse to fine grind
- Wide-mouth door to load in spices
- Not suitable for clove or anise
- Not dishwasher safe
Why we chose it: A high-performing manual grinder that’s easier to use than a traditional mill.
While a manual grinder will never be as powerful as an electric, there are certainly times when the former comes in handy. Whether you’re seasoning a steak on the grill or perhaps dining al fresco, there may not always be an electric outlet handy when there’s a need for fresh nutmeg or pepper. Kuhn Rikon’s ratchet-style grinder is our favorite not only because the ceramic grinding stone is a powerful pulverizer, but because it’s so easy to use. Simply open the door on the front of the device, load in your spices, and move the handle forward and backward to grind. And, with an affordable price tag and a rainbow range of colors, it’s easy to stock up on this model and color-code your spice blends.
Most Quiet: KRUPS Silent Vortex Electric Grinder
Capacity: ¾ cup | Style: blade grinder | Material: stainless steel
- Suitable for coffee, spices, and dry herbs
- Vortex grinding method is both efficient and quiet
- Bowl and lid are dishwasher-safe
- Not suitable for wet grinding
Why we chose it: A sleek machine that is both quiet and powerful.
While the noise level of a grinder may not be your highest priority, if you’re sharing a home with roommates, pets, or small children, you’ll certainly appreciate any appliance that’s the quietest on the market. But what makes the KRUPS model one of our favorites is not just its noise-dampening capabilities, but that it still performs as well as other, louder models. The secret to both its muted sound and its grinding abilities is the brand’s patent-pending Vortex Spin Technology, which swirls spices tornado-style with a simple touch of a button on the lid. And, like some other models on this list, this machine also comes with a storage lid for the grinding bowl, eliminating a cleaning step.
Best Mortar and Pestle: Chef’n Mortar & Pestle
Best Mortar and Pestle
Capacity: N/A | Style: mortar and pestle | Material: granite
- Silicone base keeps it from wobbling
- Sleek design
- Hardy granite material
- Not suitable for large spices like cinnamon sticks
Why we chose it: A beautifully designed piece that’s also durable.
One of the trickier parts of using a mortar and pestle is keeping the bowl (or mortar) from sliding around while you grind. That’s why we love this ingenious design from Chef’n, which includes a nonstick silicone base on which your mortar rests. But aside from that clever design feature, the mortar and pestle itself is also elegant and durable. It’s made out of solid granite and boasts a subtly tapered pestle that’s the perfect size to grind smaller spices into a fine powder. This piece is also ideal for wet sauces and pastes, like pesto or curry paste.
How We Chose These Products
To choose the best spice grinders, we queried SAVEUR’s seasoning-loving staff, consulted many “best of” lists, and scoured the internet and cooking stores. We also consulted with expert Ethan Frisch, co-founder of spice company Burlap & Barrel, who certainly knows his way around a grinder. Our winners were ultimately chosen not only for their excellence at grinding all manner of spices, but also for their durability, ease of use, and clever designs.
Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Spice Grinders
“The more powerful the motor, the noisier it's likely to be,” Frisch says of electric spice grinders. If whisper-quiet is the number one attribute you’re looking for in a spice grinder, opt for a manual model. “They will always be the least noisy,” he says.
“The most versatile type of spice grinder is your basic blade grinder: with a good motor, they can grind pretty much anything into a fine powder, from whole cinnamon sticks to rock-hard fenugreek seeds,” says Frisch. “The downside is that it can be difficult to get a consistent grind texture, and you can only grind small quantities at a time. For more evenly-textured grinding of something consistent like black pepper, you might want a burr grinder, which is also used for coffee.”
“Generally speaking, you get what you pay for,” Frisch says. “But even inexpensive electric grinders can last a long time when treated well. Remember to clean them between uses and keep them dry, and they'll last for years.”
Easy to Use
“Spice grinders are designed in a lot of different ways; I recommend finding a style that works for you!” Frisch says. “My favorite is an electric grinder with a removable grinding cup that you can wash with soap and water to avoid mixing flavors.”
Ask the Experts
Q: Is there a difference between a spice grinder and a coffee grinder?
A: “Most spice grinders can be used to grind coffee too, but if you use one machine for both, everything you cook might end up tasting like coffee,” says Frisch. “I'd recommend getting a dedicated grinder for your spices.”
Q: Can I use a blender to grind spices?
A: “If you're grinding large quantities (at least a pint) of spices, a blender can work pretty well!” Frisch says. “Blenders are really designed for liquids rather than grinding powders, but they work.”
Q: Can you use a pepper mill to grind spices?
A: “You can grind all kinds of spices in a pepper mill, and even make your own whole spice blends to load into your pepper mill,” Frisch says. “I love the combination of black pepper, fermented white pepper, and cumin in a pepper mill as an all-purpose seasoning.”
For a powerful and easy-to-use spice grinder, Cuisinart’s Electric Spice and Nut Grinder is our winner. We love its powerful blades, ample capacity, and easy push-top activation.