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Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for best nutmeg grinders

There’s no substitute for freshly ground nutmeg. A nutmeg grinder is a simple tool that creates a fine powder of nutmeg for all your baking needs.

Nutmeg grinders come in two main types: manual and electric. Manual grinders are straightforward, inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and an ideal choice if you want to sprinkle nutmeg directly on your food, but they require some skill and strength to use. Electric grinders pose little risk of injury because all the blades are contained inside the tool. Graters are harder to use than grinders and can cause injury if used improperly, but they allow you to grate a small amount of nutmeg at a time. The safety of nutmeg grinders and how easy they are to clean varies from one model to the next.

A nutmeg grinder is rarely a large investment, but it can be an important tool in your kitchen and should be chosen carefully. 

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When you consider the extra flavor offered by freshly ground nutmeg and the fact that whole nutmeg lasts for years, a grinder offers an economical alternative to buying ground nutmeg.

Key considerations

What does a nutmeg grinder offer that a store-bought bottle of ground nutmeg doesn’t? A ton of flavor. Freshly ground nutmeg maintains the natural oils that give the spice its distinctive flavor, so less of it is required. The more time that passes after grinding the nutmeg, the more flavor is lost. A grater or grinder is the best way to get that fresh nutmeg flavor when you want it.

Manual vs. electric

Both types of grinder offer benefits and drawbacks. You want to choose a grinder based on your skill level and preference.

  • Manual: These classic grinders and graters require a bit of elbow grease to use. Whether you operate it with a crank, as with a grinder, or by rubbing a whole nutmeg against a grater, this is an easy way to get the same fresh flavor offered by using an electric grinder.

  • Electric: These grinders do the work for you and are easier to use than manual models. In addition, many electric grinders can be used for more than grinding nutmeg. Many can handle nuts and coffee beans as well. Electric grinders are less environmentally friendly and must be used close to an outlet, and their motors may only be able to operate for a few seconds at a time. However, they work more quickly than manual grinders and require less effort.

Grinders vs. graters

  • Grinders: You operate a grinder by twisting either a handle or the two parts of the grinder itself. Some grinders collect the nutmeg in a compartment, while others dispense the nutmeg from the bottom of the grinder, like a pepper grinder. If you want an easy way to sprinkle a little nutmeg on a drink or dessert, look for the latter type.

  • Graters: These are far simpler in design than grinders and resemble small cheese graters. You simply rub the nutmeg (or other spice) over a piece of perforated metal. As far as safety goes, a grater is more dangerous to use because it’s possible to cut your fingers on the grate as you work. If you’re worried about this, look for a grater with an attachment that holds the nutmeg – so you don’t have to hold it directly. Some mandolines include graters that work well with nutmeg. Common grater styles for nutmeg (and other spices) include the following:

    • Handheld graters allow you to deposit the powdered nutmeg over food or directly in a mixing bowl.

    • Rasp-style graters or zesters are long and narrow. These are a bit easier to use with nutmeg since there is less chance you’ll nick a knuckle on the blades.

    • Semicylindrical graters are laid flat on a surface to use and often have a compartment to store whole nutmeg. If you’re looking for a grater specifically for nutmeg, this is a good option.


Stainless steel is a popular material for graters and grinders because it’s easy to clean, highly durable, and incredibly sharp. Electric grinders use a variety of materials, most of which are plastic or metal. The blades in electric grinders are unlikely to break, so materials are less of a consideration.

Nutmeg grinder features

Don’t overlook the shape of the grinder handle, storage, and cleaning. An uncomfortable handle can be tiring or even dangerous, and a grater that’s difficult to store or clean can quickly become worn or rusted.


In the case of a manual grinder or grater, a comfortable handle is crucial. Many handles are dubbed “ergonomic” by the manufacturers, which just means the handle is contoured to comfortably fit your hand. Maintaining your grip on a handheld grater or grinder is important for keeping you safe and allowing you to work efficiently.


Mechanical or electric grinders can be kept on the counter or in a cupboard. However, graters have exposed blades that can be a hazard if simply tossed in a drawer. Some graters come with a sheath or cover, which allows you to store your grater in a drawer without fear of cutting yourself or damaging the blades. If a grater doesn’t come with a sheath, it should be hung up or put in a place where people aren’t likely to accidentally cut themselves on it.


  • Graters: With most graters, you have easy access to both sides, and they can be cleaned by hand or in the dishwasher. However, grater blades can get damaged in a dishwasher, so for best results, use hot water, dish soap, and a sponge, drawing the sponge along the surface of the grater in the same direction as the blades.

  • Grinders: Most mechanical or manual grinders give you access to the blades. In some cases, the blades are removable so you can clean them by hand. The bowl of a grinder should be removable as well so you can clean it effectively. This is particularly important if you use the grinder for other spices, too.
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Did you know?
A whole nutmeg produces about one teaspoon of ground nutmeg. You can find whole nutmeg in the spice aisle in most grocery stores.

Nutmeg grinder prices

Inexpensive: Handheld nutmeg graters made of stainless steel cost from $5 to $10.

Mid-range: You’ll find handheld graters, rasp-style graters, and manual grinders in the $10 to $20 range.

Expensive: Most of the nutmeg grinders in the $20 to $50 range are either high-quality manual grinders or electric grinders. While you can find some electric grinders for a lower price, most fall in this range.

Grinding whole nutmeg

It isn’t quite as simple as throwing a nutmeg in the grinder and turning it on. Follow these steps:

  • Crack open the shell of the nutmeg with the flat side of a knife. (If you don’t hear a rattling sound when you shake the whole nutmeg, you’ve purchased nutmeg seeds and don’t need to remove the outer shell.)

  • Remove the shell completely from the seed.

  • Grate or grind the seed into a powder.

  • Don’t grind the whole seed if you don’t intend to use the nutmeg powder right away.

Now that you have some ground nutmeg, what can you do with it? Nutmeg is a versatile spice that adds warmth to sweet or savory dishes and drinks. Here are some common uses for nutmeg:

  • Eggnog

  • Pumpkin pie

  • Apple pie

  • Mulled wine

  • Chai tea

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A nutmeg grinder is not only a fun tool that may impress your guests, it’s also the best option for producing nutmeg that is packed with potent flavor.


Q. How long does ground nutmeg last?
While ground nutmeg is technically good for up to two years, it loses flavor quickly. You’re the proud owner of a nutmeg grinder, so why not grind it as you need it for the best possible flavor? Besides, whole nutmeg can last for up to four years, so you can keep the nutmeg in a jar and grind it only when you need it.

Q. Is it better to grind or grate nutmeg?
There is little to no difference in the fineness of the resulting powder, so it’s up to you. Grinders have the added benefit of storing ground nutmeg, but it might also be more difficult to produce small amounts of nutmeg with a grinder than with a grater.

Q. How do I keep a nutmeg grinder or grater sharp?
Sharpening grinder blades is difficult. Your best option is to contact the manufacturer and ask for replacement blades, which you’ll most likely have to pay for. Graters can be sharpened with a piece of sandpaper by drawing it over the surface in the direction of the blades (the opposite direction in which you grate nutmeg).

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