There are very few savory recipes that would not benefit from some freshly ground black pepper. It can add the final touches to something as simple as scrambled eggs or to a complicated casserole. When you have your own peppermill, there is no need to take ages grinding pepper in a pestle and mortar. You can get all the aroma and flavor with just a few twists of the wrist.
Pepper mills come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. They have different grinding mechanisms, have different capacities and can be manual or battery operated. To help you decide which features would suit your cooking style best, have a read of our comprehensive guide to the best pepper mills.
The Best Pepper Mill
This is a modern, high-quality pepper mill which has a clear acrylic case and a shiny stainless-steel finish. It will grace any kitchen or table with its elegant style and needs to be hand washed but not submerged in water. Thanks to the clear acrylic, you can always see when it needs to be re-filled and you’ll never run out of freshly ground black pepper. To refill, you just pull up the top and pour the peppercorns in.
It features a precision mechanism for getting the best flavor out of your peppercorns. It does not just crush them, it has a machine-cut and hardened carbon steel mechanism which acts to strip them down and removes their individual layers as it grinds. This allows the different flavors to be released and mix together to give a pepper flavor that is both fully-rounded and intense.
There are six very precise settings so you can have anything from fine to coarse granules. The durable design is also easy on your hands and gives you a smooth and even turning mechanism. With this mill, the peppercorns stay fresher for longer.
Machine-cut, hardened carbon steel mechanism
Six precise settings
Smooth and even turning mechanism
- BrandCole & Mason
- Weight11.2 ounces
If you like your pepper mill to look and feel futuristic, this is the product for you. It has been carefully designed to give you ground pepper that requires very little effort. It is a durable device that is operated via a long turning arm. At the end of the arm, there is an oversized knob which is easy to grip. It is both comfortable and non-slip so hardly any effort from you is required.
It will provide a very fine ground pepper through to a course ground pepper thanks to the adjustable ceramic mechanism. When it runs out of pepper, it can be refilled very easily through the clear door. Because it is clear, you will always know when you need more peppercorns.
Operated via a long turning arm
Comfortable and non-slip
Clear door for refilling
- Weight4.8 ounces
A simple yet precise peppermill in a classic style and in a dark chocolate color. The mill is available in six sizes ranging from five inches to 16 inches. It’s made out of beechwood with a metal screw on the top that you use to take off the lid for re-filling. It has a durable two-stage grinding mechanism. The first grind cracks open the peppercorns and then they are ground up to release all of the flavor and aroma. The mill has a burr-style system where each of the helix-shaped grooves and each of the grinding teeth has been individually set. Then the steel is case hardened which makes it exceptionally durable.
Because kitchen environments are humid, the mechanism has been treated to protect against corrosion. In fact, the mechanism is considered to be virtually indestructible. It is also fully adjustable and will produce ground pepper that is very coarse through to powdery. To clean it, you should simply wipe it over with a soft cloth.
Classic style peppermill in a dark chocolate color
Burr-style system which is practically indestructible
Available in six sizes
- Weight8.5 ounces
The clean and uncluttered lines of this super-modern peppermill will look fantastic in any modern kitchen or dining table. It is over nine inches long, jet black and gives you better leverage which makes it easy to use.
Inside there is a steel grinding mechanism which is fast and efficient and delivers the ground pepper quickly. It is constructed from parts made in the USA and Italy. You won’t have to waste time continually filling this pepper mill because it has space to store one and a quarter cups. There is also a sliding side mounted door to make it easy to put the fresh peppercorns inside. The size of grind can be adjusted using the thumb screw on the bottom.
Modern, sleek design
Holds one and a quarter cups
Easy to refill
- Weight11.2 ounces
This is a battery-operated pepper mill which is just under nine inches tall. It needs four AA batteries which are not supplied. It is capable of grinding all types of peppercorns and is versatile enough to grind salt as well as Italian spices and French spices. It includes an LED light which shines brightly on your food whilst the pepper is being delivered. The grinding mechanism is activated when you push down on the large button.
You can adjust the grinding mechanism to your required setting. It can be used with just one hand, so you can use the other to stir your casserole or toss your salad. It will hold a quarter of a cup and because it has a see-through section you can see when you are running out. The rest of the peppermill is a copper color or silver color finish. The rubber cap seals the bottom of the mill and has two functions. It keeps the pepper fresh but also stops any ground pepper from leaking onto the table or countertops.
Requires four AA batteries
Available in copper or silver
- Weight10.6 ounces
Introduce some classic French style into your kitchen with this elegant yet durable Perfex pepper mill. It can be adjusted and will grind peppercorns into a fine or coarse grind depending on your preference. All you have to do is turn the bottom locking nut. It is made out of a heavyweight aluminum which is highly durable. It also has a high-carbon steel Burr-style grinding mechanism which is exceptionally strong and also resistant to oxidization, even in a humid kitchen environment.
Thanks to the front-loading chute on this Perfex pepper mill, refills are fast and easy. You just open up the chute and fill. To grind the pepper, you simply turn crank handle which delivers a smooth and comfortable grinding action. To clean it, you simply wipe it over with a dry cloth.
Classic French style
Smooth and comfortable grinding
- Weight7.2 ounces
A very functional grinder for those that are serious about their cooking. It has a full five settings so you can select anything from a very coarse to a very fine setting to suit every recipe. The design is uncluttered and modern and the acrylic body is clear so you can see when it needs to be refilled.
Great care has been taken to make this a very versatile addition to your kitchen. The grinding mechanism is ceramic and therefore will never corrode. It also cannot absorb any flavors or odors and will not contaminate your recipe. It will not just work on peppercorns, it will also work for salt and other spices that you may prefer to grind in your own kitchen such as cumin, coriander or cloves. To clear the taint of the spices from the grinder afterwards, just flush it through by grinding some coarse salt and you’re ready to refill with peppercorns.
Because the grinding mechanism is at the top, there will be no annoying powdery residue on your table or on your kitchen countertops. It is exceptionally quick and easy to select the coarseness of the grind. All you have to do is slide a tab. The settings are clearly marked so you will know what you have selected. Refilling is never a problem – you just turn it upside down, unscrew the lid and pop in the peppercorns, salt or spices.
Five coarseness settings
Transparent acrylic body
Clearly marked settings
- Weight10.4 ounces
A handmade pepper mill that brings a bit of European style into your kitchen. It has been handmade in Greece using traditional methods that were introduced several centuries ago. The casing is both beautiful and practical.
The casing is made from metal with intricate engraving. You can choose different sizes of peppermill ranging from 7.5 inches to 10 inches. This mill does not simply smash up the peppercorns it actually grinds them. This ensures that all of the flavors are released and can be savored.
Metal casing available in four sizes
Manufactured using traditional Greek methods
Truly grinds each peppercorn
- BrandPepper Mill Imports
- Weight1.25 pounds
Based on a design that is over 100 years old and made in Germany, this is a truly traditional pepper mill that brings a sense of history into your kitchen. It is made from solid beechwood which has been lathe-turned and then stained. It stands around five inches tall.
The patented ceramic grinding mechanism is actually harder than carbon steel and will never corrode. You have the option of six levels of coarseness for your grind. You simply select the one you want using the dial. The operation is in the classic style – you just turn the crank. When you want to fill it, you need to unscrew the top and pour the peppercorns in. To clean it, you simply wipe it over with a damp cloth.
Traditional design – over a century old
Made in Germany
Six settings for the coarseness of grind
- Weight7.2 ounces
Your kitchen surfaces will look cleaner with this stylish salt and pepper set and complimentary mill tray. You operate them with just one press of a button. It requires four AA batteries to operate it.
You can select a fine or a coarse setting of grind using a knob making sure that you never over-flavor your food. There is even an LED light to illuminate your food when you are adding the seasoning. Thanks to the ceramic grinding mechanism, the device will be durable and will not corrode.
Clean and stylish
Set of salt mill and pepper mill
Complimentary tray to keep countertops clean
Requires four AA batteries
- BrandLatent Epicure
- Weight1.78 pounds
Best Pepper Mill Buying Guide & FAQ
Things to Consider When Buying a Pepper Mill
Here’s what you should consider when you are choosing your pepper mill.
Pepper mills can be traditional or ultramodern. There are the classic Italian/German wooden pepper mills with a shapely profile or those made in the French and Greek style using heavyweight aluminum or other metals. Then there are the modern and chic models in clear plastic or jet black with simple well-defined lines. It is up to you to choose which would go best in your kitchen or which would look best on your table.
Some people love to make a statement with a huge pepper mill whilst others prefer something a little more understated. Remember that very tall pepper mills can easily get knocked over!
This is how much pepper the pepper mill will hold. A large capacity is useful because you won’t have to fill it so often. However, if you do not use that much pepper, it may become stale before you have a chance to grind it. Therefore, balance the capacity with how much pepper you use in a typical month.
Some pepper mills can also be used for salt and for other spices. If you are not a big fan of black pepper and want to use your mill for another purpose, this is vital.
This is very important. Great forces are exerted on the grinding mechanism so it is important that it is made from a durable material such as carbon steel or ceramic. This will also ensure that your pepper mill lasts for a long time.
- Smooth operation
For ergonomic reasons, it is a lot more pleasant if the grinding mechanism is smooth. This makes it easier to deliver just the right amount of pepper to your recipe.
- One or two handed
This depends on how you like to cook! If you wish to stir your recipe whilst you are adding the pepper, a one-handed electric pepper mill is going to be best for you.
- Manual or electric
An electric pepper grinder (or an automatic) is powered by batteries and can usually be operated with just one hand. A manual one requires you to do the twisting.
- Filling method
It’s best to choose a model that is not too fiddly to refill. Some people prefer to have a see-through case so that you can see when it needs to be filled up.
Type of Mill: Manual or Electric?
This is very much a matter of personal preference. Are you a traditionalist or do you like a bit of new technology in your kitchen when it comes to choosing the best pepper grinder?
It can certainly be argued that the authentic and traditional manual pepper mills give you a chance to grind your pepper with a flourish into all of your recipes. They look great and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They do tend to be a bit cheaper than the electric ones and you will never have the problem of the batteries running down. If the environment is your concern, they are certainly the most eco-friendly option because they are powered by you!
On the other hand, many people now choose to buy an electric pepper mill. It will deliver a precise amount of ground pepper into your recipe. Crucially, they can be operated by one hand only. Not only is this essential for people who have physical limitations, but it also leaves one hand free to stir the sauce or toss the salad that you are adding the pepper to.
Best Pepper Mill FAQ:
Q: Is a pepper mill sharp out of the box?
A: Customers want a pepper mill that will be sharp out of the box so that they can start using it straight away. Thanks to the advanced design of most peppermills with metal or ceramic mechanisms, this is exactly what you get.
If the peppermill does not seem to be sharp, it could be because the peppercorns inside it have got moist and are therefore soft. If this happens, pour them back out of the grinder into a microwave-safe dish. If they seem moist, microwave them on a high setting for 30 seconds. This will dry them out. Pop them back into the peppermill and try again.
Q: Do all pepper mills have adjustable coarseness settings?
A: Some pepper mills simply deliver ground pepper at a fixed level of coarseness. However, these days the better devices allow you to adjust how fine or coarse the grind will be. Some recipes state that the pepper should be fine ground whilst others require a coarse grind. Of course, this is also a matter of personal preference.
Some pepper mills will have up to six settings of coarseness. The pepper mills that have clear markings to indicate which setting they are on are easiest for the user. Without the marked settings, there may be a variation in grind size but it will not be very consistent.
Q: How do I clean a pepper mill?
A: The manufacturer will give specific instructions on how the peppermill should be cleaned. The exterior is usually cleaned using a soft, dry cloth. If the inside needs to be cleaned, this should be done using a special brush. Pepper mills should never be submerged in water or put in the dishwasher.
It may be a good idea to put some olive oil on the top nut every now and again, if it has one. If the pepper mill is not going to be used for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to remove all the peppercorns. To clear out the flavors and odors of other spices before you use peppercorns again, all you have to do is grind a bit of course salt. This is excellent at absorbing the oils from other spices.
If the grinding mechanism gets clogged up, it may need a good clean. First, remove the batteries (if there are any) and the peppercorns. Then, using a screwdriver, remove the screws holding the metal retainer plate. Pry out any blockages that you find using a toothpick. At the same time, you should be able to spot any broken sections.
Then wipe over all of the exposed parts of the grinder using a cotton swab soaked in alcohol. This will effectively remove any pepper dust that is clogging it up. Once the alcohol has dried, you can put it back together and refill with dry peppercorns. Remember that you must always use a toothpick, a small brush or cotton swab to clean the grinder and never your fingers because the edges are sharp.
Q: Will a pepper mill work for salt?
A: In general, salt and pepper mills may look the same from the outside but they are not interchangeable. Therefore, it is not possible to put salt in most pepper mills.
The grinding mechanism in most pepper mills is made from hardened steel. A process called case hardening is used in its production. This ensures that it is tough enough to withstand grinding the peppercorns. It infuses elements into the steel’s surface and forms a hard outer layer.
On the other hand, salt mills are made with an 18/10 stainless steel grinding mechanism. This is a combination of chromium and nickel and they both create a protective layer that resists corrosion which is a particular problem for metals exposed to rust.
The physical design of the mechanisms is also different. Pepper grinders have large and small grooves. In effect, the large grooves line up the peppercorns and crack them whilst the small grooves then carry out a fine grinding. The grinding head fits inside an outer ring and because there are different numbers of teeth and grooves, they don’t lock together. The mechanism in a salt mill simply crushes dry salt and is not strong enough to grind a peppercorn.
Having said this, there are some mills that have ceramic grinding mechanisms that will cope with peppercorns as well as coarse salt. This sort of pepper grinder can also be used for spices such as cumin and coriander.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick of the best pepper mill is a modern device with a clear acrylic case and a shiny stainless-steel finish. To refill, you just pull up the top and pour the peppercorns in. The precision carbon-steel mechanism lets you get the best flavor out of your peppercorns because it strips them and removes their individual layers so that all of the flavors are released for a fully-rounded and intense flavor.
It has six precise settings and the durable design delivers a smooth and even turning mechanism.
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