Our Editors Put 21 Pepper Grinders to the Test, and These 5 Crushed the Competition

Manual or electric, our top picks are stylish, functional, and easy to use.

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Cole & Mason Derwent Pepper Grinder

Food and Wine / Jeanne Clayton

If you season foods with store-bought ground salt and pepper, your dishes are lacking flavor and texture. That’s why pepper grinders are one of the most fundamental tools to have in your kitchen. After all, nearly every recipe calls for salt and pepper, whether you’re seasoning meat before cooking it on the grill or preparing pasta dishes like cacio e pepe.

With so many pepper grinders on the market, it’s hard to know which one to choose. To narrow down the list, we tested nearly two dozen of the most popular picks, from manual models to automatic spice grinders. Read on to find the most suitable grinder for your needs, and don’t forget to stock up on peppercorns and coarse salt — we can guarantee you’ll be seasoning your meals more than ever.  

Best Overall

Latent Epicure Battery Operated Grinder Set

Latent Epicure Battery Operated Grinder Set


Pros: This grinder strikes the perfect balance between style, size, and performance. 

Cons: This slightly larger grinder might be difficult to use one-handed.

Out of all the grinders we tested, the Latent Epicure Battery Operated Grinder Set scored the highest in every category. Despite its sleek, low-profile design, we were pleasantly surprised with its performance and capacity, as it can comfortably fit a decent scoop of peppercorns (approximately 30 grams) and offers a consistent, reliable grind. Because it’s electric, this grinder does pretty much all the work for you — simply load it, select your desired coarseness, and press the top button. Whether filled to the brink or running low, the grind remained steady.

The only downside is that it might require two hands for proper use, as the body is larger than others. It’s also not dishwasher-safe, and the care guide recommends cleaning out the grinding mechanism occasionally to maintain performance. Overall, we were impressed with the look and feel of this grinder, noting they would recommend it to friends and family.

Price at time of publish: $41

  • Material: Stainless steel and acrylic
  • Capacity: 1.06 ounces
  • Size: 4.41 x 3.15 x 8.66 inches
  • Operation mode: Electric

Best Value

OXO Good Grips Radial Grinder Pepper Mill

OXO Good Grips Radial Grinder Pepper Mill


Pros: This budget-friendly grinder is durable and comfortable to hold.

Cons: Our testers noted some slight inconsistency in grind size.

We love this manual pepper grinder because it’s well-designed, durable, and comfortable to hold, plus it’s also a solid choice for anyone on a budget. The body is lightweight and easy to handle, yet sturdy enough for everyday use. This grinder offers a secure grip, thanks to the slight tapering where your hand grasps the chamber and the thick, rubber dial. Plus, the plastic side hatch opens for easy refills, the clear body helps you see when it's time to add more peppercorns, and a snap-on bottom lid keeps grinds from getting on your countertops. 

It should be noted that we encountered some difficulty when trying to create a consistently fine grind. For every batch made, there were a few coarser pieces scattered throughout.

Price at time of publish: $15

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: 1.31 ounces 
  • Size: 6.5 x 4 x 2.62 inches
  • Operation mode: Manual

Best Manual

Le Creuset Pepper Mill

Le Creuset Pepper Mill


Pros: This pepper mill is functional and stylish, and it comes in an array of classic colors. 

Cons: A smaller spice cavity means you'll have to refill this grinder more frequently than some others.

Le Creuset is known for crafting products that pop, and this pepper mill is no exception. The lightweight, high-gloss ceramic grinder is functional yet stylish, complete with a metal knob to adjust the settings and a corrosive-resistant grinder. It's available in several bright colors like cerise, Caribbean, flame, and Marseille, plus more traditional hues like black and white. 

During testing, this pepper mill produced consistently sized ground pepper despite the lack of a clear setting indicator. To control grind size, simply turn the metal knob to achieve anything from super fine to coarse. The outside of the grinder is easy to clean with a cloth, though we should note it’s not dishwasher-safe. 

Despite its price, this pepper mill is a great choice for home cooks who use a bit of pepper in recipes or as toppings. It’s sleek enough to display proudly in your kitchen and provides even grinding for everyday use. It might not be ideal for those who make large quantities of food at one time, as manual cranking may take a while.

Price at time of publish: $46

  • Material: Ceramic 
  • Capacity: 1 ounce
  • Sizes: 2 x 2 x 8 inches
  • Operation mode: Manual

Best One-Handed

FinaMill Pepper Mill & Spice Grinder

FinaMill Pepper Mill & Spice Grinder


Pros: Interchangeable spice pods and a battery-operated base make this electric pepper grinder both functional and versatile.

Cons: There is no clear grind level indicator.

FinaMill's battery-operated spice mills make grinding spices easy and fun. To use, fill one of the interchangeable pods with your desired whole spice, pop it into the body of the grinder, and press the button on top. The automatic gadget illuminates what you're seasoning with an LED light and grinds your spices for as long as you hold down the button. To change spices, simply press the pod to release.

It comes with three interchangeable spice pods, so you can easily swap out different spices between each use. It’s lightweight and small enough to use with one hand and just as easy to refill — quickly dump an entire jar of peppercorns into one of the spice pods and start grinding in seconds. It also helps that the pods offer significant capacity, allowing for prolonged use without frequent refills. Depending on how finely you grind the pepper will determine how long you can go without a refill. 

The FinaMill produced a fairly consistent grind each time. There were a few instances where big chunks were spotted, but during most of our tests, the grind was uniform. The downside is it's difficult to determine how coarse or fine the grind will be as there's no grind level indicator. The electric part of this grinder, as well as the pods, are easy to clean with a wet towel, though they’re not dishwasher-safe.

Price at time of publish: $45

  • Material: Plastic and ceramic
  • Capacity: 2 ounces 
  • Sizes: 9.88 x 6.73 x 3.58 inches
  • Operation mode: Electric
FinaMill Pepper Mill and Spice Grinder

Food & Wine / Bailey Fink

Fastest Output

Männkitchen Pepper Cannon

MANNKITCHEN Pepper Cannon High Output Pepper Mill


Pros: This mill quickly and consistently grinds pepper up to 60 different coarseness levels.

Cons: This expensive mill might be overkill for beginner home cooks.

This mill shoots out ground spices that are extremely consistent in size, no matter the grind setting. Its quick, powerful performance is balanced out by a sleek, stylish aesthetic that makes it fun to use. The grinder also has one of the largest capacities of the models we tested, so you won’t have to worry about frequent refills. 

We found the grinder to be intuitive and easy to use, especially since there is a metal dial at the bottom of the grinder that clicks with each level of coarseness. However, because of its slightly more sophisticated design, you’ll want to reference the directions before first use. Overall, we’d recommend this slightly pricier pick as a gift for a chef, a serious home cook, or anyone who loves freshly-ground pepper.

Price at time of publish: $200

  • Material: Aluminum 
  • Capacity: 1.66 ounces 
  • Sizes: 7.25 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches
  • Operation mode: Steel burr
Männkitchen Pepper Cannon

Food & Wine / Siobhan Wallace

Our Favorite

The Latent Epicure Battery Operated Grinder Set proved to be an overwhelming favorite among editors. In terms of price-to-performance, it provides superior value. It was the only grinder on our shortlist to achieve a perfect rating across the board, from size and design to ease of use and grind consistency. And the best part is it’s a set of two, so you can easily grind both salt and pepper and keep these mills on your kitchen counter for everyday use.

Our Tests

Cole & Mason Lincoln Duo Salt and Pepper Grinder Combo

Food & Wine / Kimberly Holland

We bought 21 of the most popular pepper grinders on the market, including manual and electric models, and sent them home with our editors to try in their own kitchens. Each of our testers followed the same methodology and provided detailed insights for each step of the process. 

Right out of the box, we made general observations of the grinders, noting any special features, the size, the comfort in our hands, the weight, and the overall quality. Next, we assessed everything from grind output to consistency. For manual mills, we put the grinder on the finest setting and used a scale to measure 3 grams of cracked black pepper. While doing so, we recorded the number of turns it took to produce 3 grams, how consistent the grind was, and the volume measured in teaspoons. Then we repeated this step twice more on the medium and coarse settings. For electric options, we observed the grind consistency of whole black peppercorns for varying times from 10 to 30 seconds. We also looked at design features that make grinding easier and flaws that might make the grinding process more difficult.

Factors to Consider

Types of Pepper Mills

There are three main types of pepper mills. Most work with twisting motion, which works well in almost any application. Some have a crank which can be easier to operate for kids or those with arthritis or carpal tunnel issues. Some small versions for tableside work with a pump button mechanism, which is great for the last flourish, but not useful for recipes. Finally, battery-operated or rechargeable electric versions can make grinding a lot of pepper for recipes easier or can be great for people with motor function issues.

Grinder Material

One of the most important elements of a pepper mill is the grinding mechanism. Most mills operate with either metal or ceramic grinders, which are preferable to the less expensive plastic grinders. Plastic grinders can chip, flake, and get dull quickly, making your pepper grind inconsistent. Metal grinders work well, but can sometimes be prone to rust, so it is important to care for them well, and opt for stainless steel whenever possible. Ceramic grinders provide consistent grinding without maintenance issues, and many of the top-rated grinders use ceramic grinders.

Body Material

The body of your grinder is purely an aesthetic decision since no one material is better than others in terms of the functionality of grinders. They come in wood, plastic, metal, ceramic, and in a variety of styles. Once you find the other functionality you want in a grinder, you will have many options for a grinder that will look as good as it works.

Coarseness Settings

This is one of the most important features of any grinder and should be a major part of your decision-making. Some grinders have only one level of coarseness, some have as many as ten. Being able to control how coarse or fine you can get your pepper is a key part of using your grinder. Finer particles will give an even peppery heat to your dishes, a coarser grind will give intense pops of crunchy fire. Ease of adjusting between levels of coarseness can be achieved with a knob, lever, or button.

seasoning tomatoes with pepper

Food & Wine/page mullins

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are salt and pepper mills the same?

    “While salt and pepper mills may look very similar, the material of the grinding mechanism is often different. Therefore, they are not usually interchangeable. For pepper, a case-hardened metal or carbon steel is often used so that it can easily grind the firm peppercorns. For salt, stainless steel or ceramic is used to avoid corrosion and rust,” says Anthony Contrino, Emmy-awarded culinary producer, food stylist, and host of Saucy on Peacock. 

    “Salt and pepper mills can be the same, but generally, they aren’t. A salt mill does have to contend with often-damp salt, so its workings, if metal, can corrode. That is why ceramic or nylon workings are better for salt mills. The burrs on the grinding mechanisms are also different for salt and pepper,” says cookbook author Susan Loomis.

  • What is the difference between a pepper mill and a pepper grinder?

    According to both Contrino and Loomis, there is no difference. A pepper mill is just another name for a pepper grinder.

  • How does a pepper mill work?

    “A pepper mill works like an old-fashioned stone grain mill, where two sturdy stone wheels crush whatever is needing to be crushed between them. However, a pepper mill is more refined since the wheels generally fit one inside the other with teeth that mesh," says Loomis, "These teeth grind the pepper to the coarseness that you specify by moving them closer or further apart, which is done with a screw."

    “Pepper mills grind pepper using burr grinders. When you rotate the spindle, or the upper part of the mill, the grinder rotates in one direction against a second grinder with the facets going in the opposite direction, which breaks the peppercorns into small pieces," says Contrino, "You can adjust the grind by loosening the top nut for coarser fragments, or by tightening it for a finer grind."

Other Pepper Grinders We Tested

Strong Contenders

Peugeot Paris u’Select 9-inch Pepper Mill ($55 at Amazon)

This grinder excelled at fine and medium grinds, producing extremely uniform ground pepper. However, there was some inconsistency with the coarse setting. We love it as an everyday spice grinder but wouldn’t recommend it for tasks that require thicker pieces, such as a rub for prime rib. 

Fletchers' Mill Federal Pepper Mill ($55 at Amazon)

This pepper grinder has a beautiful wooden design and feels comfortable to hold. Its simple design makes it easy to use, and it performs well. If it weren't for the stain chipping on the bottom, this pepper mill would seem like an heirloom piece. But, because it arrived with this damage as well as knicks near the bottom, we couldn’t give it five stars.

Cole & Mason Lincoln Duo Salt and Pepper Grinder Combo ($25 at Amazon)

The grinds were very consistent, especially on the finest setting, and it feels like a high-quality product despite its mere price. Our only issue was that adjusting the coarseness was harder than expected due to the confusing control knob and absence of instructions. With that said, we recommend finding the size you like and leaving it there.

OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder ($28 at Oxo)

It was easy to use, had a generous capacity for peppercorns, and the ceramic grinder won’t absorb flavors, meaning you can use it for various spices. We took off a few points because it’s not very attractive to leave on a table or counter, and it didn’t produce consistent results.

What Didn’t Make the List

A pepper grinder might seem like a product you could buy without researching, but after testing 21, we can assure you there are models out there you don’t want to waste your money on. The ones that ranked the lowest were the Crystalia Manual Black Pepper Grinder, the Zassenhaus Speyer Pepper Mill, and the Dreamfarm Pepper Grinder. The common issues included being difficult to use, uncomfortable to hold, and poor performance overall. With the Zassenhaus grinder, we had to keep shaking it and turning the coarseness dial to get anything to come out. Then it ended up falling apart during the third round of testing.

Our Expertise

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is an acclaimed food writer with nearly a decade of experience. She has written for Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Visit Florida, and more. For this piece, we tested 21 different pepper grinders and mills to find the best ones. Using our culinary and product testing expertise, we assessed different sets in terms of performance, value, and design over several weeks.

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