four pepper mills on black satin background

The 7 Best Pepper Grinders for Home Cooks, According to Our Testers

We put seven leading pepper mills to the test.
By Laura DenbyMelanie Fincher and Rachel Johnson
Updated December 29, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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If you aren't already grinding your own peppercorns, it's time to trade in your jar of pre-ground pepper for a pepper grinder. Grinding fresh pepper is a guaranteed way to add extra flavor to everything from salads to sauces, and these chef-approved tools often double as elegant accessories for your table or countertop. However, all pepper mills aren't created equally, so it's important to select one that's just as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing. Once you invest in a good one, it's sure to be one of your most-reached-for kitchen items. 

We tested several of the best pepper grinders on the market from brands like Peugeot and Le Creuset to determine which we liked best for everyday use. Read on for the best pepper grinders we tried.

Looking to grind more spices? Check out our review of the best spice grinders.

Best Pepper Grinders at a Glance

Why Grind Pepper? 

If you've come here intent on buying a pepper mill, you're probably already convinced of the difference grinding your own pepper can make. But on the off chance you're still on the fence, here's what you should know:

Pepper loses much of its signature bite when exposed to oxygen, which is why pre-ground, canned pepper often lacks flavor. But when you grind pepper directly from peppercorns, the ground pepper has far less time to react with the oxygen, resulting in a richer, deeper taste. Not only does grinding your own pepper enhance the flavor of the food you cook, it also gives you control over how coarsely ground the spice is. A fine grind is perfect for blending into things like soups and sauces, while a coarse grind is ideal for crusting meats like steak.

What to Consider When Buying a Pepper Grinder 

Coarseness

One of the many advantages of grinding your own pepper is the ability to control the coarseness. Some dishes might call for a coarser grind, while others will call for a fine grind that will easily disperse into soups and sauces. 

You'll find that most pepper mills allow you to adjust your grind size, but this factor can vary greatly across different models. Some pepper grinders will have several presets to choose from, while others will require you to tinker with the knob until you reach your desired coarseness. 

Manual vs. Electric 

As is the case with most kitchen gadgets, pepper mills come in both manual and electric varieties. Manual grinders are far more common, as they give you more control, and tend to deliver a more consistent grind.  Electric pepper mills can be functional and convenient, but some pepper-purists argue that this takes away from the joy of hand cranking your pepper. This is a matter of personal preference that should be considered before diving into a purchase.

Capacity 

It's also important to consider how often you plan to use freshly ground pepper. Though large-capacity pepper grinders might look nice, most home cooks won't have use for a large-capacity pepper mill. Not only will these be clunky and difficult to store, having a larger mill also puts you at risk of exposing your peppercorns to oxygen over a long period of time, which will result in flavor loss or stale spices. If you are looking to invest in a large-capacity mill, be sure to note whether or not the manufacturer specifies it as airtight. 

Style

Pepper grinders are an easy way to add functional flare to your table decor, so it's important to consider aesthetics before making a purchase. After all, it's going to be a permanent resident of your countertop and/or kitchen table. You can find pepper mills in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and finishes, from ornate to modern and sleek. 

How We Tested Each Pepper Grinder 

Allrecipes product tester Rachel Johnson ran whole peppercorns through each pepper mill, comparing the grains on a paper plate and testing the capacity of each peppercorn reservoir. She also took into account the following factors:

  • Efficiency: How quickly and evenly are the grains deposited? How many grind levels does each tool offer?
  • Volume: How much whole pepper can the reservoir hold?
  • Look and Feel: Does the mill look and feel like it was made to last? Is it easy to handle and maneuver?
  • Cleanup: Is the unit difficult to clean? Are additional cleaning tools required to get into the nooks and crannies? 

The Best Pepper Grinders

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OXO pepper mill with peppercorns inside
Credit: Amazon

Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Pepper Grinder

In true OXO fashion, this model provides all the function you need from a pepper grinder without anything extra: "OXO's grinder is a solidly middle-tier option, and appropriately priced for what it offers. While not as ornamentally designed as other models, it is efficient, simple, and fancier looking than plastic spice-brand grinders available in grocery stores," says Rachel. 

This grinder includes five different grind levels that you can easily toggle between, and Rachel found there to be a clear gradient from the finest grain to the coarsest when tested. The clear plastic casing makes it easy to gauge when the reservoir is running low. Like all products from the Good Grips line, it features a rubberized handle, which may require frequent cleanings to wipe away dust and grime. 

Buy it: $26; Amazon

Kuhn Rikon black grinder
Credit: Amazon

Best Budget: Kuhn Rikon Adjustable Ratchet Grinder

Unlike the other pepper mills tested, this manual model from Kuhn Rikon uses a grind lever that must be cranked back and forth to grind pepper: "Grinding with this lever isn't quite as smooth or intuitive as more conventional rotating grinders, and the back-and-forth motion can feel a little awkward," says Rachel. 

But if you're willing to trade-off the convenience of the traditional rotating model for this crank model, you can get a similar result at a much lower price. The base of the grinder can be turned to adjust your grind size from fine to coarse. "Kuhn Rikon's spice grinder is able to yield results that are quite comparable to higher end pepper mills, and at a significantly lower price point," says Rachel. 

Buy it: $22 (was $26); Amazon

Stainless steel pepper mill with peppercorns inside
Credit: Amazon

Best Automatic: Latent Epicure Battery-Operated Pepper Mill

This battery-powered option from Latent Epicure provides freshly ground pepper at the touch of a button. And to really make it feel like a kitchen gadget, this mill has an illuminated base that shows you directly where the ground pepper is landing. 

Our testers did find that there were trade-offs to be had for the convenience of this model. While it does have a spectrum of grind levels, Rachel found the grounds to deposit rather slowly, requiring you to hold down the button for an extended period of time. It also has a somewhat limited capacity relative to the competition — about a quarter cup. 

As with all battery-operated models, you lose some control over the grind production. However, this electric model would make a great gift for someone with arthritis or limited grip-strength. 

Buy it: $23; Amazon

Stainless steel pepper mill
Credit: Amazon

Best for Coarse Pepper: Peugeot Paris Chef u'Select Stainless Steel Pepper Mill

There is no brand name more synonymous with salt and pepper mills than Peugeot. The French manufacturer creates luxury spice grinders that are as impressive in function as they are in appearance. 

The base of the grinder rotates smoothly between six different grind settings, each of which can be further modified by tightening or loosening the screw atop the handle. For an even grind at any coarseness setting, you can't go wrong with this made-to-last grinder from Peugeot.

Rachel puts it this way: "The substantial price of this unit can be attributed mostly to its cosmetic appeal, but ultimately, the materials feel very well-made and the upscale presentation is quite considered. There's a good deal of variance offered with regard to grind levels, and this product would likely hold up for a long time in any user's kitchen."

Buy it: $60 (was $80); Amazon

Blue ombre pepper mill
Credit: Amazon

Best Classic: Le Creuset Pepper Mill

It's no secret that Le Creuset makes classic cookware in the most visually-appealing array of colors. This model is available in eight different colors, including a number of ombre options. 

Use the cast metal knob to adjust the grind settings — clockwise for a finer grind and counterclockwise for a coarser grind. But keep in mind the appeal of this model is most closely tied to the appearance and brand name, as it doesn't boast the versatility of comparable models: "For more casual cooks though, the steeper price point is largely tied to the brand name, and this pepper mill offers less versatility in grain size than other comparable models," says Rachel. 

Buy it: $40; Amazon

Cole and Mason Pepper Mill with peppercorns inside
Credit: Amazon

Best Design: Cole & Mason Derwent Pepper Grinder

Cole & Mason combines modern design with functionality in this best-selling pepper mill. The two-stage grinding process cracks and then shaves the pepper to release optimal flavor. It comes with six coarseness settings, and an easy pop-off refill mechanism. Plus, the translucent mid section allows you to easily see when peppercorns are running low, and the large reservoir can hold up to a half cup of peppercorns. 

"The user's aiming control over where the ground pepper lands is a major advantage," says Rachel. "The ground pepper comes out quite evenly and feels less scattered than other pepper grinders, without dumping too heavy of a concentration in any one spot." 

This smart design feels well made without sacrificing on style, making it our favorite design of all the pepper mills tested. 

Buy it: $40; Amazon 

Other Pepper Mills We Tested

FinaMill Battery Operated Pepper Mill & Spice Grinder

FinaMill's battery operated spice grinder is versatile and functional. Each grinder comes equipped with multiple interchangeable spice pods that allow you to grind any whole spice — from cumin to coriander — with the press of a button. Though it's not the most decorative spice grinder on the list, the sleek design makes it very easy to use. Our testers loved the versatility of this grinder compared to the others on the list, because the interchangeable pods make it easy to swap out different spices with no cleanup necessary. Each unit also comes with automatic LED lights, so you can easily see how and where your spices are dispersed. 

Buy it: $40; Amazon