The Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More

You’ll reach for the Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester, our top pick, over and over.

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Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

Zesters, also known as graters or Microplanes (a brand name itself), are an important tool in the kitchen for avid cooks. Whether it's shredding cheese, grating ginger, zesting an orange peel, or grinding fresh nutmeg, this handheld tool is more convenient than pulling out a box grater or food processor. If you're looking to add one to your kitchen arsenal or upgrade your current model, we've got you covered. We researched and evaluated zesters based on factors like hole size and style, handle comfort, and ease of cleaning before naming the Microplane Premium Zester our Best Overall. Whatever you're looking for in a zester, you'll find it on our list of the best zesters for 2022.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester

Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Pros: You can't go wrong with this tried and true zester that works on everything from citrus to hard cheeses.

Cons: The back of the grater is narrow and hard to clean by hand.

This rasp grater by Microplane is a favorite of both amateur and professional cooks because it's lightweight, easy to use, and works as well on zesting citrus fruits as it does on grating spices or hard cheeses. The blade is made from surgical-grade stainless steel, which is resistant to rust and keeps its super sharp edge for a long time. The teeth are angled just right so you can zest a lemon without scraping into the bitter white pith and are also perfect for grating garlic or ginger, or adding fresh nutmeg or cinnamon to your recipe.

The Premium Classic Series Zester is available in a variety of colors and features a better handle than the Classic version, making it easier to clean and more comfortable to hold. Though some may find that the back of the grate can be hard to clean by hand, the entire tool is dishwasher safe, so you can run it through the wash cycle without worry.

  • Dimensions: 12 x 1.5 inches
  • Materials: Surgical grade stainless steel, TPE plastic
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best Splurge: Microplane Master Series Olivewood Handle Zester Set

Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Courtesy of William Sonoma

Pros: The wooden handles turn these high-performing graters into works of art.

Cons: Because of the handles, these must only be washed by hand and oiled occasionally for maintenance.

If you don't mind splashing out on kitchen tools that are functional and stylish, look no further than this set by Microplane. Designed with olivewood handles, this three-piece collection consists of a coarse grater (ideal for firm cheese, garlic, nuts, and shallots), a fine grater (better for hard cheeses, ginger, chocolate, and spices), and a zester (designed for citrus). Like the original Microplane, each features a stainless steel blade with sharp teeth that make grating and zesting a breeze. These tools also feature a nonslip end piece to keep them steady when in use. The wooden handles need to be hand washed and should be wiped dry and conditioned occasionally with olive oil, mineral oil, or beeswax to maintain their finish.

  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 11.75 inches (coarse and fine graters), 1.5 x 12 inches (zester)
  • Material: Stainless steel, olive wood
  • Dishwasher Safe: No

Best Budget: Deiss PRO Stainless Steel Grater

Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Wayfair.

Pros: This sharp grater works on just about anything, from aged Parmesan to fresh ginger. The handle is comfortable and offers a nice grip.

Cons: The extra long blade, which measures 15 inches, feels excessive.

This generously sized rasp grater by Deiss offers 15 inches of blade in a steel frame, which would come in handy if you've got a lot of grating or zesting to do. The blade itself is made from stainless steel and features a wide surface for faster prep. The rubber foot at the end helps to keep the tool from slipping or scratching the resting surface. The ergonomic handle has a non-slip textured grip, making it secure and comfortable to hold. Cleanup is a breeze since this grater can go right into the dishwasher, and the blades hold their sharpness quite well.

  • Dimensions: 15 x 2 x 1.5 inches
  • Material: Stainless steel, rubber
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best for Citrus: Microplane Flexi Zesti Zester

Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Williams Sonoma.

Pros: This zester is specially designed to avoid digging into the bitter white pith of citrus fruit. The blade flexes to hug the curve of the fruit.

Cons: Its collecting dish only holds about a teaspoon of zest, so you have to stop and empty it if you're working with larger quantities.

Citrus zest can be used in many recipes, including baked goods, cocktails, sauces, vinaigrettes, and marinades. Have fresh zest at the ready with this special citrus-centric zester by Microplane, which features a blade attached to silicone that flexes to hug the skin of your orange, lime, lemon, or grapefruit. It's designed to avoid catching any of the bitter white pith, leaving you with bright, flavorful zest collected in the pocket behind the blade. The collection dish holds about a teaspoon of zest, so you may have to stop and empty it if you're processing large quantities of fruit. But after you're done, the entire unit can go into the dishwasher for quick and hassle-free cleaning.

  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 2 x 1.5 inches
  • Material: Stainless steel, silicone, plastic
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best for Spices: Microplane Premium Classic Spice Rasp Grater

Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table.

Pros: Its slim silhouette makes it easy to store and it works on citrus, hard cheeses, and ginger, so you aren't limited to just spices.

Cons: The curved shape may take some getting used to.

Spice connoisseurs know that freshly ground spices have so much more flavor than their pre-ground counterparts. Designed for use with hard spices, you can use this grater to add just the right amount of fresh nutmeg or cinnamon to your recipe or to dress up a cup of coffee. It's also not limited to just spices — use it to grate Parmesan cheese or zest citrus fruits. It's very compact, so it's also a great option to put into a bartending kit or a camping/RV setup. Cleaning can be done by hand or in the dishwasher.

  • Dimensions: 0.6 x 2.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Material: Stainless steel, plastic
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best for Cheese: DI ORO Pro Grade Cheese Grater

Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: The wide blade makes it easy to grate any size block of cheese, while the rubber grip on the end keeps the grater stable.

Cons: The larger size of the holes and teeth aren't suitable for anything that requires a finer grate, like spices or garlic cloves.

Get rid of your bulky box grater and pick up this easy-to-use cheese grater by DI ORO. Made of stainless steel, the blade has razor-sharp teeth that speed up grating Cheddar, provolone, or harder cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. The width of the blade also allows you to grate almost any size block of cheese. While the larger size of the teeth and holes aren't ideal for smaller items like garlic cloves or spices, you can also use this tool to shred carrots for salad or zucchini for zucchini bread. A steel frame and a rubber grip provide excellent stability. Cleaning by hand is simple since there's nowhere for food to get stuck, but you can always opt to use the dishwasher instead.

  • Dimensions: 12 x 5.25 x 2.5 inches
  • Materials: Surgical grade stainless steel, TPE plastic
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best for Chocolate: Cuisinart Truffle and Chocolate Shaver

Best Zesters for Citrus, Spices, Cheese, and More
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: The stainless steel construction makes it sturdy. The blades can be adjusted for thickness.

Cons: You'll have to watch your fingers around the blade if you're shaving very small items.

Most graters make very fine shreds, but this shaver by Cuisinart acts as a mini mandoline to make wider, longer shavings. It's made from stainless steel and has an adjustable blade so you can control thickness. It works beautifully for making chocolate shavings to decorate cakes and cupcakes, but it's designed to handle truffles, too. You'll also find it handy for making thin garlic slices — just mind your fingers around the blade. Clean it by hand or run it through the dishwasher on the top rack.

  • Dimensions: 1.25 x 3.75 x 9.25 inches
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Our Favorite

For a reliable zester that can handle it all, we recommend the Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester. With a surgical-grade stainless steel blade that won't rust, sharp teeth, and an ergonomic handle, it will be a tool you reach for over and over.

Factors to Consider

Hole Size and Style

Zesters come in different sizes and styles. Some have a series of little holes, which make thin squiggly strips of zest. Some have a single channel-style blade for removing a larger section of zest. Some work more like a small grater, with fine sharp divots that remove a very light small fluff of zest. Depending on what you use zest for, in recipes or as garnishes for dishes, you may prefer one style over another.

Cleaning

Most zesters are dishwasher safe, which, of course, is more convenient. Plastic or metal handles will be easier to maintain and clean, while zesters with wooden handles will need hand washing. If food gets stuck in the zester's teeth, scrubbing it with a sponge will help remove it, but sharper zesters may shred it.

Handle Comfort

Since zesters are very sharp, a good, comfortable handle is key to getting the most out of this tool. The handle should be made of non-slip material and ergonomically designed to sit well in the hand.

Pro Panel Q+A

What is a zester?

"A zester is used to remove the zest, just the colorful part of citrus peel that contains the flavorful oils," says Susan Loomis, cookbook author, culinary educator, and the producer-host of Dancing Tomatoes.

What are the different types of zesters?

"There is the classic zester, a small metal plate with holes in the end and a handle; the Microplane, which is based on a carpenter's planer and has razor-sharp holes along its length; and a regular grater with very small holes," says Loomis.

Is a Microplane the same as a zester?

"A Microplane isn't the same as a zester," says Loomis. "A zester removes all the color from the zest in strips that have texture and offer 'zesty' vibrant flavor. A Microplane removes just the very surface of the zest, resulting in an almost foamy zest texture and less flavor. Each has its use in the kitchen."

Our Expertise

Bernadette Machard de Gramont is an LA-based freelance writer specializing in food, wine, and kitchen products. After a two-year stint at Williams Sonoma headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools, and interviews field experts for their insight.

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