Want to add a little spice to your life? Then try turning a pepper mill! In the simplest form, a pepper mill is a container with crushed peppercorns that instantly helps you add fresh ground pepper to your dishes.
Pepper mills are made of plastic or wood and come in various shapes and sizes. Each type has a special pepper grinding mechanism which forms the heart of the mill. That’s what decides how fine or coarse your peppercorns can be crushed. Pepper mills also come with an adjustable mechanism that lets you choose the texture of your pepper output.
In this guide, I will be reviewing the best pepper mill options for you. I have based these reviews on several factors: ease of use, capacity of the mill, durability, price, and also the range of grind output produced.
So read on to make an informed choice before buying the best pepper mill for your kitchen.
Types of pepper mills
Electric pepper mills
An electric pepper mill is suitable for those people who want to easily and self-confidently control the amount of pepper in their food.
Just one touch triggers the grind mechanism, making these mills ideal for aging people or people who are unable to use both their hands for the task.
Many electric pepper mills also come with built-in LED lights which make the experience more interesting and allow you to see how much pepper you are putting in your food even in a low light environment.
Manual pepper mills
A majority of the best-selling pepper mills are manual. Manual pepper mills are usually made with acrylic or wooden materials and have a steel or ceramic grinding mechanism.
Good quality manual pepper mills usually have an adjustable grinding mechanism that lets you control the texture of your pepper output ranging from fine to coarse.
Key features of a pepper mill
One of the most important features to look for in a pepper mill is its ability to produce pepper powder to a desired consistency based on your taste and the dishes you are seasoning.
Most mills come with the ability to adjust the texture from fine, to medium, to coarse grind.
When you try out a pepper mill, make sure that you get the desired consistency with minimal effort and minimum strain on your wrists. You also want to be able to easily adjust the mill settings without having to put too much thought. Peppermills should also be easy to refill.
The heart of a pepper mill is its grinding mechanism. Low cost pepper mills consist of chrome-plated zinc alloys. They work fine when new but they do not last as long as carbon or stainless-steel mechanism.
Many disposable pepper grinders or pepper mills come with acrylic packaging and they are not as durable as metal or ceramic grinders. Ceramic mechanisms last long but they too can get damaged if your peppercorns contain stones, grains of sand, or other sharp objects.
Newer pepper mills come with a two-levered, hand-actuated grinding mechanism which makes it possible for you to grind the peppercorns using one hand.
A platen with small dimples holds the peppercorns together and rubs them against a stainless steel rasp. The system uses friction and abrasion so your pepper is crushed first and then ground to a desired consistency. This helps in retaining the aroma and the flavour of your pepper. A substantive amount of tantalizing aroma is released in the air when the crusher crushes the corns.
There can be a downside to this type of crushing-grinding mechanism in that it could require a lot of squeezing and muscle power. This is certainly not suitable for elderly people or people who need a lot of pepper, or ones with arthritis. Hand actuating grinding mechanism is not always robust and such pepper mills are prone to breakage.
You might have seen waiters in hotels waving those long pepper mills designed to reach across the table all the way to the customer’s plate. For the home chef, one need not use such large mills.
Longer or bigger certainly does not translate to better when it comes to the pepper mills’ capacity.
Good quality pepper mills must grind your peppercorns quickly: 1 teaspoon of pepper should not take more than 10 seconds to grind. Choose a pepper mill that you do not have to fill up every other day. It should ideally hold at least one and a half to two cups of peppercorns and should be easy to fill.
Moreover, pepper mill should easily fit in your hand and not strain your wrists as you grind. Home pepper mills can be in the range of 5 inches to about 8 to 9 inches. Some chefs actually insist on having a mill that can be operated with greasy hands but that may be asking for too much!
Sturdy pepper mills are made with stainless steel, chrome plating, gold plating, wood, or plastic or acrylic materials.
Naturally, plastic/acrylic mills are the cheapest. They sometimes come prefilled with peppercorns and may be disposable. I would not recommend these as they are harmful to our already-strained landfills and the environment.
Metal pepper mills are the best; they last long and are easy to clean. Wooden pepper mills look elegant but, depending upon the quality, may be prone to chipping.
Best pepper mill
Cole & Mason is one of the most loved peppermills and the company is known for its modern, ergonomically designed spice mills.
They stand behind all their products and you get a lifetime mechanism guarantee on all their spice grinders.
C&M Derwent peppermill is available in wood, copper, gun metal as well as in stainless steel and they are all great.
Their grinding mechanism is a 2-stage process: the first stage shaves the peppercorns while the second grinds it to desired coarseness. The result: tantalizing aroma of freshly ground pepper that is sure to make all the difference in your dish’s flavour.
- 6 adjustable levels for desired texture
- Pop-off top allows easy refills
- Easy to clean
- Ergonomically designed mill that is easy to hold and extremely comfortable.
- Attractive design makes a great gift too.
- Some models are prone to leaks
- Difficult to grind and may not grind fine enough.
What sets the Kitchen-GO pepper grinder apart from all other grinders is the fact that you can grind your peppercorns with the closed lid. This helps retain the spice’s freshness until you open the lid and are ready to add the pepper to your dish.
Kitchen-GO pepper grinder also easily fits the hand and its high-quality blades and attractive container-body make it one of the best pepper mills for any kitchen decor.
- Easy to use, ergonomically designed, comfortably fits in the hand, looks attractive.
- Has an adjustable knob to grind peppercorns to different levels of coarseness
- Holds a substantial quantity of spice.
- Very well-made pepper mill that is a great value for money
- Ideal for gifting.
- Not durable – Tends to break easily.
Cole & Mason Capstan wooden pepper mill is one of the most elegant looking mills in the market. It is available in 6.5 inch and 12 inch sizes.
- Superior mechanism offers very fine grinding and you can easily choose between different levels of coarseness using the easy-knob adjustment on top.
- The mill is very easy to refill. It is large enough for home chefs and for professionals too.
- Lifetime guarantee.
- Stylish, suits any kitchen decor and makes a beautiful gift too
- Easy to use and comfortable turning mechanism that does not strain the wrist.
- Thousands of happy customers and positive reviews.
- Wooden finishing tends to get damaged over time.
- The top knob tends to loosen up over time.
Peugeot Daman U’ Select pepper mills are manufactured in France. They come in stainless steel finishing and are available in two sizes of about 7 and 9 inches. These mills come with a clear-acrylic casing which gives a clear indication of when it is time to fill the mill.
- Peugeot Daman U’Select pepper grinder comes with a 2-stage grinding mechanism which cracks the peppercorns in the first stage and grinds it to desired consistency in the next stage. This retains flavour better.
- Superior quality blades are resistant to breakage and corrosion.
- 6-adjustable settings allow you to choose your pepper output between coarse to fine-powdered.
- Easy to use, refill, and clean.
- Attractive and great for gifting.
- Peppercorns tend to get jammed in the blades sometimes.
Unicorn Magnum Plus pepper mills have always exceeded other pepper grinders as far as the efficiency is concerned.
Tests conducted by expert chefs have shown that Uniform Magnum Plus grinder produced one tablespoon of pepper in just 30 second; far exceeding other grinders in the category. This efficiency can be attributed to well-machined grinding mechanism which is also bigger than that of other peppermills.
- Easy to fill
- Exceptional grind quality
- Huge capacity
- Large output with minimal effort.
- Thousands of positive reviews and 5-star ratings
OXO Good Grips Lewis Pepper mill isn’t like any pepper mill available in the market. It is attractive to look at, has a huge knob that can be comfortably turned by anyone with aching finger joints, and produces an astonishing output with minimal effort.
- Non-slip design adheres comfortably to your working surface and allows you to easily turn the knob even with one hand.
- Ceramic grinding mechanism lasts long and does not corrode or rust. You can safely use the grinder over a pot of boiling soup and not worry about the steam corroding the blades. Lasts for years.
- Thousands of happy customers with 5-star rated reviews.
- Takes a long time to give you a single teaspoon of powdered pepper.
- Some users have complained about metal bits getting into their food.
- Not suitable for some arthritic users.
Fletcher’s Mill Federal pepper mills come in nearly 11 different attractive colours to suit a variety of decors. You can also choose from different sizes varying from 4 inches to 12 inches.
- All of Fletcher’s Mill products are manufactured in the USA.
- The grinding mechanism consists of a unique lock-and-grind mechanism that imparts better flavour to the spice. You can also choose the texture of your output from fine to coarse ground.
- Very easy to use and easy to clean
- Total value for money
- Great for gifting.
- Mill tends to jam sometimes.
- Grinding bits are made of plastic
- Hard to grind for people with arthritis.
Peugeot Paris U’Select pepper mills are available in different sizes ranging from 5 inches to 16 inches. The beautiful mill is made of beechwood which gives it an attractive look. The mechanism itself is made of case-hardened steel which is long-lasting.
- When you use the Peugeot Paris U’Select pepper mill you are assured evenly spread flavour and aroma thanks to the 2-stage mechanism of cracking-followed-by-grinding mechanism.
- Adjustable grinding mechanism also helps you produce very fine powder to coarsely ground pepper.
- This high-quality, well-made pepper grinder is recommended by chefs as well as home cooks and has received thousands of positive reviews.
- A stylish pepper mill that is great for gifting.
- This mill is easy to use and to refill; a great value for money.
- A number of users experienced jammed blades. The mill also stopped working for a few users within a couple of months.
Pepper is one of the most important spices for cooking and required for a large number of dishes. If the output were to be the only consideration, we could easily pick a winning pepper mill and call it the ‘best’ in the market. But most of us often want different-size grinds of pepper depending upon our tastes and the requirement of the dish.
Most pepper mills available today, whether manual or electric, come with adjustable grinding. The pepper mills reviewed above have done well in the several areas: the grind quality, ease of use, cost, durability, and the fine-grind speed.
I hope this brief guide helps you find the best pepper mill that can swiftly crank out the desired size and amount of fresh ground pepper without any guesswork or strain on your wrists.