We went in search of the best spice grinders, researching over 20 models, both electric and manual. We then purchased 10 to test side-by-side. We spent a week in the kitchen grinding common household spices like cumin and cardamom seeds while also grinding tough spices like cloves and cinnamon sticks. Some grinders have the ability to chop or pulse veggies as well, which we also put to the test. In addition to buying each model at retail price and testing hands-on, we spent hours comparing the smallest details, like grinding capacity, product size and storability, sound, and versatility. All products in this test were tested as household spice grinders, though many double as coffee grinders. There's nothing like grinding your own whole spices; it adds a great deal of fragrance and flavor to any meal.If you choose to go the manual grinder route, you may want to take a gander at our mortar and pestle set review. Either way, having the right cooking tool for the job can do wonders to enhance your time spent whipping up tasty meals in the kitchen. That's why we tests all sorts of kitchen gadgets like graters, garlic presses, whisks, pizza cutters, and more.
Our Top Picks
If you are looking for a well-designed, consistent, and versatile all-purpose grinder, the Secura Electric Coffee and Spice is a great option. It created the finest grinds at the fastest speeds of those we tested, and we love the fine consistency it achieved in all our test spices. The Secura is also versatile, including two stainless steel bowls, one designed for grinding and one designed for chopping. This means it can handle a variety of grinding tasks, including grinding various spices, seeds, nuts, and coffee, while also being able to chop small amounts of nuts, veggies, and fresh herbs. Its smart design includes a rubber-sealed lid that covers the bowls during grinding and chopping, making for a less messy process. Thus clean-up was easy, and the lid can double for storage of excess spice. The grinding cups themselves were easy to clean with soapy water or a rinse and towel dry.
While we love this grinder, we did have a couple of minor gripes. The cord-keeping feature was a bit annoying as we found it difficult to wrap the cord around the spool on the bottom, and it kept trying to escape the guide. It was also difficult to see the grind consistency through the two plastic lids, one which is pressed down to start the grinder (a typical feature) and the other a fitted lid that keeps spices from flying out of the grinder. Still, this model is a great choice for the home chef looking to grind a variety of spices and herbs and occasionally chop small additions to the meal.
The Hamilton Beach Fresh Grind 4.5oz Electric is an affordable, modest grinder. It's a quiet powerhouse that boasts a great design. At equal consistency, it kept up with the specialty electric grinders and grinding spices, including cinnamon, cumin, and coriander. It has a 200-watt motor housed in a slim plastic housing; this model is one of the smaller electric models we tested. For how powerful it is, we're impressed by its consistency in creating a fine grind. It was the quietest model we tested while grinding coffee or spices and also has a removable cup that clicks into the base like a blender. The cup is constructed of stainless steel and plastic and has convenient measurement lines for the maximum capacity of coffee and spices.
This quiet little grinder is sleek, but it has the smallest capacity of all the grinders for spices. The max line on the cup for spices holds two ounces, compared to 4.5 ounces at the max line for coffee. After a day of testing, we noticed that the blade was loose and wobbly unless snapped into the base. Once the cup and base were connected, the blade seemed more secure; this made us often question if the mechanism that connects the blade to the cup was properly attached.
The ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle Set is a great all-purpose grinder for its simple, durable design, versatility, and ease of use. We ground all our spices, including tough cinnamon sticks and cloves. Its simple design is made of strong and heavy unpolished granite, allowing users to crush ingredients into the desired consistency. It's also easy to clean and care for. It doesn't grind quite as fast or fine as our best electric grinder (most spices took between one and two minutes to grind), but it was competitive in all categories and created fine enough powders to include in most home cooks' recipes. The versatility of this set was attractive to us; it ground spices (including cloves that cannot be ground in many electric grinders or grinders with plastic components), herbs, garlic cloves, and other wet ingredients. It also crushes nuts and grinds small quantities of seeds. We just rinsed this out with warm water and let air dry after we were finished, setting it on our counter as an attractive appliance until we needed it again.
Though we found this to be a great kitchen tool for grinding spices, it can be a little high maintenance at first. It requires users to season it to ensure no granite dust remains once you start using it for your cooking needs. Before you use the mortar and pestle for the first time, you should grind small handfuls of white rice several times until rice grinds white (our rice stayed white the entire time, but we still ground three handfuls of rice, as per the instructions). After grinding the rice, the instructions give you a recipe of garlic cloves, cumin, salt, and pepper to grind in your new mortar to season it. After all this work, it is ready to be rinsed, dried, and used! This set is certainly an investment when you can get an electric grinder for half the price, but it is a long-lasting, durable and versatile tool for the home cook that likes to keep it traditional.
The Microplane Manual Spice Mill impressed us with its small but very effective design. It was instantly impressive as we started to grind our test spices. We started with the tough spices, as this device is advertised to grind cinnamon and nutmeg. It did not disappoint; while grinding cinnamon and cloves, we could hear the blades shaving down the spices into a fine powder. We ground coriander and cumin seeds; all of the spices produced the finest grind of all manual grinders. We also liked that it was easy to use, just adding small amounts of spices in the grinding cylinder and then twisting the plunger to grind. After grinding, it was an easy rinse and air dry for clean-up. It also has a small spice storage compartment inside the top/plunger part of the device for storing excess ground spices.
As a manual spice grinder, we were impressed by the Microplane's performance. We noticed it didn't keep up in the limited capacity, which is the downside to its sleek and small design. We also couldn't ignore its lack of versatility compared to some of the electric models. Of all the manual grinders, it took the longest to grind tough spices like cinnamon; to get the same quantities, we had to grind more than twice the amount of time the other manual grinders took. Even with its shortcomings, the Microplane spice mill is a great addition for someone looking to add small amounts of freshly ground spices to their dishes and beverages.
The Krups F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder is the lowest-profile electric grinder we tested. For a small grinder, it houses a powerful 200-watt motor and performed very well. It kept up with the pack with grind consistency, offering similar performance to the Hamilton Beach model. We like the simplicity, particularly the simple power button on the lid and the fixed-cup design. It was the easiest to use and clean, and its slim design made pouring spices easy. It outperformed the Quiseen model in grind performance and design.
As the cup is fixed, we did find that pouring spices or coffee from it was a little less comfortable than the models with removable cups. However, its slim, oval shape and steep walls helped keep spices and coffee in place better than the Quiseen model. This is a great model for someone looking for a simple design to get the job done with no fuss and no frills.
We liked the Cuisinart Electric Spice and Nut Grinder because of its versatility, ease of use, and its design. It has two detachable stainless steel bowls, one designed for grinding and one designed for chopping. The Cuisinart shares this feature and versatility with the Shardor and Secura models. It is capable of grinding cooking spices and nut flours as well as chopping fresh herbs and spices like garlic and ginger. We liked that it had one of the highest capacities, was easy to clean and operate, and features a unique cord-keeper.
We liked the operation and the features of this model; it had good grind consistency in a similar ballpark to the other electric models. Though we liked the design, one little design flaw was that the plastic storage lid (provided for the stainless steel bowls) only fit the grinding bowl; it was too big for the chopping bowl. In testing grind consistency, it fell behind while grinding the tough spices like cinnamon and fell to the back of the pack when grinding at full capacity. This grinder was also the most expensive of all the models tested. This Cuisinart appliance would be a great option for someone looking for a versatile tool in their kitchen that can easily be stowed away when not in use.
The SHARDOR Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder is a versatile tool. It's a coffee and spice grinder, and it also chops small amounts of vegetables or nuts. This grinder has a large capacity; at its max fill line, it holds six ounces of spices — the largest we tested held seven ounces. It has the finest grind in testing at full capacity, making up for its average grinding performance at lower capacities. This grinder comes with two removable stainless steel bowls — one for grinding coffee or spices and one for chopping vegetables or nuts, which adds to its versatility. We used it to grind spices and then used the chopping cup to chop onions and garlic. The Shardor has a 200-watt motor, which makes it a powerful grinder. The chopping cup can be too powerful for small amounts of onion, and if pulsed too much, can puree the vegetables instead of chopping them. Take care and pulse accordingly.
This model was the loudest and largest of all of the grinders tested. At 8 ½ inches tall and 3 ½ inches wide, it has a large presence in the kitchen. The two cups stack within each other, and the lid stacks on top, making for a clean look when storing. It has a sturdy and handsome design, complete with black plastic housing and a clear lid. This leaves a very small window to peer in and look at the consistency of the grind; sometimes, it is necessary to take the lid off to check the consistency. It's a bit bulky for grinding spices, and the chopping tool is less effective than a food processor because of its limited capacity and hard-to-control power. This is a versatile tool to have in the kitchen if you plan to maximize its use as a bulk spice grinder or utilize its chopping capacity.
We love the design of the compact Zassenhaus Cast Iron Spice Grinding Set 3". At three inches tall and three inches wide, it's a powerhouse made of cast iron and a beechwood lid. It is comprised of three pieces — an outer cup, an inner cup that doubles as a compartment to hold excess spices, and a lid. It's heavy and durable, and the weight of the cast iron, combined with the ridges on the bottom of the grinding bowl and outer bowl, work together to pulverize whole spices in a simple twisting motion. We ground cloves and cinnamon with some elbow grease and other spices more easily. We found that it ground small quantities easier — optimally ½ - 1 tbsp. It ground one stick of cinnamon to an acceptable powder, leaving only a couple of small pieces. It didn't perform as well as the ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle, the Microplane, or the electric grinders, but we found it very useful and easy to use, and it has an attractive, rustic design that we wanted to show off on our counter.
As smart as this grinder is, there are some design flaws. We like that it has a storage compartment with a lid to hold excess spices, but we wouldn't want to keep them in there while grinding other spices, as the lid isn't snug and moves around while twisting and grinding. The cast iron is a durable, safe, and attractive material; it is also easy to rinse clean with just a little warm water, but it requires a little TLC like any cast iron product and occasional lubrication to prevent rust. It can be a little tiring to use and takes more energy than the mortar and pestle manual grinding motion. Take care with this grinder, as the heavy cast iron can be damaging to countertops if not held still while grinding. We found it best to hold the grinder and twist instead of placing it on the counter and twisting.
The Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Grinder is a lesson in sleek design. This model is all one piece, with no removable parts. It has a small trap door, a simple twisting mechanism on the bottom to adjust the grind, and an ergonomic handle to crank back and forth, moving the ceramic grinding device inside. This grinder was fun to use, super simple, and could be used with all the spices we ground except for cloves and cinnamon. It's small and unimposing on the counter or in the cupboard, standing about eight inches tall with the handle up, and has a narrow cylindrical base of two inches. It looks like an unassuming salt or pepper grinder but is capable of grinding a variety of small spices quickly. We occasionally ground coarse salt to clean the grinder.
Though this is not the most versatile grinder — as it cannot grind big spices — it is a capable addition to the kitchen and can be used to grind quick, small amounts of fragrant spices. While testing, this little grinder was by far the fastest manual grinder to use on the course setting. However, when set on the fine setting, it took a good chunk of time — far longer than the ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle and the Zassenhaus Cast Iron. We didn't find the course and fine settings results to be so dramatically different that you would want to spend the time grinding at the fine setting.
The Quiseen One-Touch Electric Coffee Grinder is a fixed-cup simple design with decent grinding performance. It offers decent grinding consistency and comes in at a nice price point. Its weakest point was the cinnamon test, understandably. This model scored a very close second in the sound test, falling just behind the Hamilton Beach model. It is a competent and quiet grinder.
Though we liked the performance of this grinder, some design considerations affected the use and effectiveness. During testing, we noticed that the lid was shallow, slick, and hard to remove. It was also hard to get back on, as the pin that presses the power button is hard to perfectly align. The grinder is designed with a wide top and wide grinding cup, with a crease between the stainless steel cup and the plastic housing. Because of these things, ground material collected and spilled when we opened the lid. The wide opening made it hard to pour from, while the challenging lid made it difficult to use the device without creating a bit of a mess — losing some of the ground coffee or spices in the process.
Why You Should Trust Us
The lead tester in this review is Kristin Anderson, a long-time cook, outdoor enthusiast, and jeweler. She loves detail-oriented tasks like testing products, comparing details, or fabricating tiny pieces of silver into works of art. Kristin learned to cook in her youth while working at a cafe in a natural food store; she was an understudy in cooking for different dietary needs, herbal remedies, and eating for health and nutrition. She mixes a lot of her own spice mixes and uses them in various recipes throughout the year.
To start our scientific testing, we did our research, sifting through products. After purchasing ten different models to test, we got to work and created a testing plan. With all grinders in hand, we started by unboxing each one, comparing details like size, materials, features, etc. We then started grinding spices in each device at intervals of five seconds. We compared consistency by sifting the spices through a sieve. We ground cardamom, cumin seed, cinnamon sticks, and cloves (in the devices that can handle clove oil). We measured decibel levels while grinding, cleaned each one between use, and noted design features we liked.
Analysis and Test Results
Whether you want to grind small amounts of fresh spices to liven up your dishes each night, or you plan to shop at the grocery and stock up on five pounds of spices and grind in bulk, we have recommendations for you. We've analyzed and tested ten spice grinders, both manual and electric side-by-side. After three days of grinding spices and herbs manually and with electric grinders, we ranked each based on four metrics: grinding performance, ease of use, design, and versatility.
To test grinding performance, we gathered five pounds of spices and ground them. We ground cumin seed, cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, and cloves, as well as freshly dried oregano from the garden. We specifically looked at the consistency and speed of the grind. We did this by grinding pre-measured amounts of spices (e.g., eight grams of cumin seed) with the electric grinders in five-second intervals, sifting the spices through sieves. We measured the fineness of the grind at five, ten, fifteen, and twenty seconds.
For the manual grinders, longer intervals from 1.5 to two minutes were given to completely grind the spices. This test was repeated with each spice. We needed to grind the pre-measured amount until the chamber was empty and compared the time to the other manual models with the Kuhn Rikon model. The manual grinders were obviously considerably slower. The other models that did well in this category were the Hamilton Beach Fresh Grind and the Krups F203 Spice and Coffee Grinder, offering similar test results, surpassing the grinding performance of the Shardor coffee and spice grinder, even with tough spices like cinnamon sticks.
Ease of Use
When evaluating ease of use, we looked at key features like how many pieces and parts there were to assemble. We also questioned if the lids fit securely and if the operation was simple or complicated. Is it easy to control the consistency of the grind? Is the product easy to clean and maintain? All these things are hard to know until you've fully put the product to the test.
For ease of use, we appreciated the simplicity of the ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle. It was a little laborious to get going with pre-seasoning, but with just two pieces, simple instructions, and tips and tricks in the instructions to help you get started, it was the most basic and simple to use. The open bowl allowed us to see the consistency as we ground the spices, and cleaning it was a breeze — just a rinse in warm water and air dry.
Another grinder that performed well in this category is the Kuhn Rikon grinder; it has simple and ergonomic grinding, practically no setup, and fast grinding on the coarsest setting. The Zassenhaus Cast Iron is similar to the mortar and pestle; it takes a simple twisting motion to grind and requires a similar cleaning process. The removable cup grinder, like Shardor, was great for easy cleaning if you like to toss things in the dishwasher or clean the cup separately and let air dry. Most electric grinders require a little more effort when getting spices out of the grinding cups and blades or cleaning between uses. It's also harder to see the grind and manage consistency through the plastic lid.
We looked at size and storability, sound (measured in decibels), grinding capacity, and fun features like cord keepers and adjustability for this metric. The electric grinder that stood out for design was the quiet and efficient Hamilton Beach Fresh Grind. What it lacked in capacity (compared to other electric grinders), it made up for with its extremely quiet motor and fine grinding capability. It's also one of the smallest electric grinders to have a removable cup that is easy to empty and clean. It also features a practical, easy-to-use cord keeper, which keeps the cord out of the way while storing.
The manual grinder that stood out in this category was the Kuhn Rikon ratchet grinder. It has an ergonomic, slim design and an easy, quiet ratchet system. It can grind substantial amounts of spices, especially for its size, and has an adjustable setting that allows you to choose the consistency of your grind, making it an easy, smart addition to your kitchen.
To understand the versatility of each grinder, we looked at what each one was designed to do. Some are meant for specific kinds of herbs, while some can handle seeds and spices.
Others can handle anything you throw at them. As a spice grinder, the ChefSofi mortar and pestle is the most versatile; it can handle all the spices you can throw at it, including cloves, which can often ruin the plastic on electric grinders and other plastic grinders.
It can also crush wet ingredients like garlic and fresh herbs to make a poultice or seeds and nuts. The Shardor Coffee and Spice Grinder also shines in this metric, as it sports two removable cups — one for chopping vegetables and fresh herbs and nuts, and the other designated to grind spices and coffee.
We used both functions on this grinder; it performed as an average electric spice grinder, made a tasty cilantro chutney, and chopped onions, garlic, and fresh jalapenos with ease.
Choosing a spice grinder to fit your kitchen needs can be confusing, especially with electric models and manual models — with each being designed to do different jobs. This review is designed to do some of the leg work for you. Our research is thorough, unbiased, and can help you choose what kind of spice grinder suits your culinary style. We hope that this information can help you narrow down the list of contenders and choose the best option for your kitchen.
— Kristin Anderson
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