The 6 Best Pepper Grinders of 2022, According to Our Tests

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Best Pepper Grinders

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Like many foods, pepper is best when it’s freshly ground. “Peppercorns, like most spices, are the most aromatic and pungent when freshly ground,” says Meherwan Irani, James Beard-nominated chef and founder of Spicewalla. “Pre-ground pepper loses its potency and flavor and you end up using more than you would if it were fresh, which then results in muddying your dish”. Having a pepper grinder on hand gives you all these benefits, but we found during our research that not all mills are created equal. 

To determine which pepper grinders are the best on the market, we tested 22 different pepper grinders in our Lab and evaluated them on design, size, performance, ease of use, and value. In addition to Irani, we spoke to two other spice experts for advice on what makes a great pepper grinder: John Beaver, co-owner of Oaktown Spice Shop, and Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of La Boîte and author of Mastering Spice. Our top pick is the Latent Epicure Battery-Operated Salt and Pepper Mill Set for its ease of use (it’s electric) and ability to create even pepper grinds on all of its grind settings.

Read on to learn more about our top picks and how to pick the best pepper grinder for your cooking needs.  

Best Overall Pepper Grinder

Latent Epicure Battery Operated Grinder Set

4.8
Latent Epicure Battery Operated Grinder Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want to buy an easy-to-use and affordable salt and pepper mill set. 

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want a battery-powered pepper grinder.

This two-in-one combo set is perfect for people who want freshly ground pepper and salt but don’t want to have to go through the trouble of buying a separate salt grinder. Both grinders are electric, come with two grind settings (fine and coarse), and even have a light attached to the mechanism. This light allows you to better see how much salt and pepper you are putting in your dishes, which helps prevent overseasoning. This feature is particularly great for people who don’t have a light attached to their stove range hood, or lackluster lighting in their kitchen in general. It also comes with a little storage unit that helps prevent excess grinds from dirtying up your kitchen countertop.

We only tested the pepper grinder and were pretty pleased with the results. “The grinder produced a pretty consistent grind, especially when it had more peppercorns in it,” said our tester. “But even with a relatively low supply, it still produced a fairly consistent grind.” They were also “pleasantly surprised” with how many peppercorns you could fill in this grinder, and affirmed that its electric power “does all the work for you.” The only gripe they had was that the stainless steel exterior is prone to finger smudges, which will require frequent wiping down.

Product Details:

  • Type: Automatic
  • Grinder Settings: Fine and coarse
  • Material: Stainless steel

Price at time of publish: $33

Best Manual Pepper Grinder

Le Creuset Pepper Mill

4.8
Pepper Mill

Le Creuset

Who it’s for: People who want a fun pepper grinder that’ll look great sitting out on a dining table.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a pepper mill with the grind settings clearly displayed on the mechanism.

There’s more to this pepper grinder than its good looks. The results of our grind tests were nothing short of satisfying, as the Le Creuset Pepper Mill successfully produced beautifully even grounds on each setting. While testing the medium and coarse ground settings, our tester told us that all the grounds ended up being the exact same size. The fine setting wasn’t too far behind, with our tester remarking that it was also “consistent” and that the ground pepper ended up being “extremely fine.” They didn’t think the coarse settings produced super coarse grinds though, as compared to the other pepper grinders we tested. They also wished that the grind settings were clearly marked on the mill (the direction you turn the grinder results in the grind size you get). 

The Le Creuset Pepper Mill comes in the brand’s signature ombre colors, including blue, teal, gray, red, an orange-red, and more. Our tester said they felt like the price was high for a manual grinder, saying the cost is likely due to the famous name brand. Regardless, our tester told us they would buy this pepper grinder for themselves: “It’s a nicely crafted, good-looking, easy-to-use pepper grinder.”

 Product Details:

  • Type: Manual
  • Grinder Settings: Coarse, medium, fine
  • Material: Plastic

Price at time of publish: $46

Best Pepper Grinder for Fine Grinds

Peugeot Paris Pepper Mill

4.4
Peugeot Paris Pepper Mill

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a pepper grinder with a variety of grind options.

Who it isn’t for: People who want consistent, coarsely ground pepper.

It’s no surprise that the brand that invented the pepper mill made our list of the best pepper mills. Although the Paris u’Select is not the original model, the product works extremely well. Lev Sercarz told us that he likes using the Peugeot brand in particular, and during testing, we did too—especially the fine grind setting. Our tester called the fine grinds produced from this grinder to be “extremely consistent” and found that it produced the most volume of fine pepper out of all the pepper grinders we tested (2.75 teaspoons). We found the results to be the same for the medium grind, but the machine fell a little short when it came to coarse grinding, with our tester calling it the “least consistent grind setting.”

Unlike other pepper grinders, this Peugeot offers six grind settings that are all clearly marked on the exterior of the machine. The exterior is made from wood sourced from the beaches of France, making the product even more special. Another standout quality is that you can use the machine with peppercorn blends and the mill won’t get clogged (make sure to read the manual for the exact instructions). Overall, our tester said they would use this as their everyday pepper grinder, calling the Peugeot “well-built, easy to use, and consistent.”

 Product Details:

  • Type: Manual
  • Grinder Settings: Six, from fine to course
  • Material: Wood

Price at time of publish: $48

Best One-Handed Pepper Grinder

FinaMill Pepper Mill & Spice Grinder

4.5
Battery Operated Pepper Mill & Spice Grinder in One

Courtesy of Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a pepper grinder that can work with multiple different spices.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a pepper grinder with more than one grind setting. 

FinaMill boasts that you can do everything with its spice grinder using just one hand. During testing, we found this claim to be true. “This pepper mill is incredibly easy to use,” our tester told us. “It literally does the work for you.” The top of the pepper grinder, where the “on” button is located, is curved so that you can seamlessly press your thumb down to power the machine up. Meanwhile, the spice pods are constructed so that when you press the pain mechanism down on top of them, they lock into place and can get to grinding. If convenience is your biggest priority when shopping for a pepper grinder, this option can’t be beat.

In terms of its grinding capabilities, our tester found them to be solid, saying that it produced “fairly consistent pepper with every test.” The one big drawback with this pepper grinder is that there are not clearly defined grind settings. During testing, we figured out that the amount of time passed indicated the grind setting you’d get, with the first ten seconds yielding coarse grinds, 20 seconds yielding medium, and 30 seconds yielding fine. This may end up feeling like a pain for some people, especially considering the price. However, what it lacks in clearly defined grind settings, it makes up for in its ability to handle multiple different whole spices, which not many other pepper mills can do.

Product Details:

  • Type: Automatic
  • Grinder Settings: Coarse, medium, fine
  • Material: Ceramic

Price at time of publish: $45

Best Large Pepper Grinder

Cole & Mason 12.5-inch Forest Capstan Pepper Mill

4.3
Cole & Mason Capstan Wood Pepper Grinder

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a restaurant-style pepper mill with a large capacity.  

Who it isn’t for: People who want evenly ground medium- and coarse-style ground pepper.

Big pepper mills are fun because they are reminiscent of Italian restaurants where waiters bring over the oversized pepper mill and sprinkle fresh grounds on your salad or pasta. If that’s the kind of vibe you want to bring to your kitchen, invest in this foot-long pepper grinder from Cole & Mason. A great thing about this extra-large grinder is that, according to our tester, the entire body fits peppercorns, so you won’t have to refill it for quite some time, even if you are grinding pepper for your meals daily.

During our testing, this pepper grinder did quite well with fine grinding, so much so that our tester compared its consistency to the pre-ground pepper that you’d get at the grocery store. However, the medium grind was described as “slightly inconsistent,” with a mix of medium and fine grounds, and the coarse was described as “very inconsistent.” Plus, our tester said that because it took longer to produce fine grinds of pepper, the size of the mechanism became uncomfortable to operate. Still, if you’re looking for a larger grinder that looks great, this is the best choice.

Product Details:

  • Type: Manual
  • Grinder Settings: Coarse, medium, fine
  • Material: Wood

Price at time of publish: $40 

Best Splurge Pepper Grinder

Männkitchen Pepper Cannon

4.4
MANNKITCHEN Pepper Cannon High Output Pepper Mill

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a stylish pepper mill that will ensure evenly ground pepper on each grind setting. 

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want to spend a lot on a luxury kitchen tool.

If you’re a stickler for consistent pepper grinds, consider splurging on this high-end pepper grinder. Our tester told us that this pepper grinder truly lives up to its “pepper cannon” name: “Grinds are consistently what you would expect for every setting and it grinds everything very quickly,” they said. It’s able to hold up to a half cup of peppercorns and is made with aluminum to ensure that it will last a long time. The grinder also comes with a convenient, removable base cup that stays on while the machine is running, making it easier to add measurements of freshly ground pepper to a recipe.

Although our tester was impressed with the performance and liked its “super sleek” design, they acknowledged that the price is prohibitively high. “I would hope that this would be the last pepper mill I ever need in my life,” they said. “I would recommend it as a very nice gift for a gourmand or kitchen whiz. It is an amazing pepper mill.”

Product Details:

  • Type: Manual
  • Grinder Settings: Coarse, medium, fine
  • Material: Aluminum

Price at time of publish: $200

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the Latent Epicure Battery-Operated Salt and Pepper Mill Set for its ability to produce evenly ground pepper on each of its grind settings, its convenient extra features, including an attached light to prevent over seasoning, and the ease of it being electric, meaning no cranking required. 

Our Testing Process

We tested 22 different pepper grinders in our Lab and assessed them on design, size, performance, ease of use, and value. Our first test involved inspecting the grinders for quality and noting whether or not each had features that made it easy to clean and easy to operate, such as clearly marked grind settings. We then tested each mill’s grinding capabilities. For manual pepper grinders, we first tested out the fine grind setting by grinding three grams of peppercorns. While doing this we noted how many turns it took to grind the three grams, the consistency of the grounds, and the volume (measured in teaspoons). We repeated this test with the medium and coarse settings as well.

For electric pepper grinders, we ground ten grams of peppercorns and noted the consistency of the grind after ten, 20, and 30 seconds of the grinder running. After that, we ground 20 grams of peppercorns and timed how long it took for the machine to produce finely ground pepper. We used all of this information to come up with the best pepper grinders.

How to Shop for Pepper Grinders Like a Pro

Manual vs. Electric

There are two types of pepper grinders on the market: manual and electric. Manual pepper grinders are the traditional ones you see sold en masse in stores as well as at restaurants. The benefits of a manual pepper grinder are that they are usually cheaper than electric and offer more grind settings. 

Electric models, on the other hand, are great because they truly do all the work for you. All you have to do is turn on the device and it gets to grinding. Some electric grinders also come with convenient lights attached, which help in allowing you to see exactly how much spice you are putting into your food. 

One is not necessarily better than the other in terms of performance. During our testing, we found that both manual and electric grinders were capable of producing evenly ground pepper. Electric grinders may be best for people who experience hand fatigue. Keep in mind, though, that they require batteries, which may be annoying. 

Grind Settings

Grind settings are important if you want to produce different grind styles for your meals. Most grinders contain both a fine and coarse option, but some also have a medium (between fine and coarse), whereas a few others have even more than that, like the Peugeot Paris u’Select, which has six grind settings. The number of grind settings you should look for comes down to personal preference and/or what you tend to cook at home. 

“Finely ground pepper is best used in dishes where the texture of the pepper isn't a feature, like soups and stews, stir frys, or French fries,” says Beaver. “Coarsely ground pepper lends itself to grilled proteins, salads, or on anything where you want to get the pop of biting into a piece of pepper.” If you frequently grill, Irani says that coarsely ground pepper is the only way to go. “When grilling (steaks, etc.), very coarse black pepper stands up to the flames and heat of the grill without burning the way finely ground pepper would,” he says. 

Material

The actual grinders inside the pepper mills are usually made of either ceramic or steel. Both of these materials are durable and sharp and will last a long time. Beaver says that he has used pepper mills with steel and ceramic grinders and both of them have gotten the job done. The main difference between ceramic and steel grinders is their compatibility with salt. “If the grinding mechanism is metal, then don't grind salt in your mill. It will rust, even stainless,” he says. And even if you decide to put salt in your ceramic grinder, he says to make sure it’s a dry salt, as some sea salts have a bit of moisture and won’t perform well in the grinder. 

More Pepper Grinders to Consider

Cole & Mason Derwent Pepper Mill: We like that this pepper grinder has its grind settings clearly marked on the mechanism. It produced consistent grinds on both the fine and coarse settings, but was a mixed bag when set on the medium grind setting.

OXO Good Grips Radial Pepper Grinder: This little machine is great for people who want to spend as little money on a pepper grinder as possible. But don’t expect much in terms of performance, as it struggled to produce consistent grinds on each setting.

Questions You Might Ask

What are the benefits of using freshly ground pepper from a pepper grinder?

According to the spice experts we spoke to, the main benefit of using a pepper grinder is getting pepper that is fresh, which greatly affects your overall experience with the pepper. “Once ground, pepper quickly oxidizes and the volatile oils that give pepper its distinctive flavors begin to break down and dissipate, leaving behind just heat,” says Beaver. “Freshly milling your pepper will release the best of what pepper has to offer: its richness and depth. Similarly, pepper to taste just before you eat as opposed to long cooking will offer up more nuanced pepper flavors.” 

With that said, our experts are very pro-pepper grinders. So much so that when we asked Lev Sercarz what is the biggest mistake people make with pepper grinders, he said it was people not using one at all. “Most pre-ground pepper is just old and not good,” he says.

Can you put other spices in your pepper grinder?

Unless it states so in your instruction manual, it’s best not to. Pepper grinders are generally designed for black peppercorns only. According to Beaver, the average pepper grinder can handle grinding other spices, but there’s a chance it may not grind those spices as well as the black peppercorns. “There are a few mills on the market that can handle other spices well,” he says. “Your typical pepper mill will grind other ‘hard’ spices like allspice or coriander but will usually clog with softer and oilier spices like chile flakes, cloves, or cumin seeds.” 

If you want to try using other spices in your pepper mill, he suggests trying out a small amount to see how it performs. One spice you should be wary of, however, is salt. Salt might corrode pepper mills with metal grinders, and if the salt you want to use has some moisture to it, such as sea salt, Beaver says it just won’t grind well. 

Why should I buy a pepper grinder if I can already get a pre-filled grinder at the grocery store?

Pre-filled pepper grinders at the grocery store simply aren’t built to last the way that a traditional pepper grinder is. The grinders located inside these machines are usually made of plastic, which isn’t very strong compared to ceramic and steel. They’re more of a one-time use thing as opposed to something you should be refilling. This is evidenced by how hard it is to remove the grinding cap off of the bottle (if you’ve ever tried doing this, you know how difficult it is). 

With that said, getting a separate pepper grinder will create less waste and in the long run, potentially saving you more money. That’s because a bottle of peppercorns at the grocery store sometimes contains more peppercorns than you’d get inside one of these little machines. 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple. We researched the best pepper grinders and 22 of the most popular in our Lab, evaluating them on design, size, performance, ease of use, and value. We also sought the advice of three experts: Meherwan Irani, founder of Spicewalla, John Beaver, co-owner of Oaktown Spice Shop, and Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of La Boîte and author of Mastering Spice.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible. 

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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