Updated September 2021
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Buying guide for best pepper and salt grinder sets

Salt and pepper are two of the most vital seasonings in a home cook's arsenal. Whether you add them during the cooking process or at the table, a quality salt and pepper grinder set lets you season in style.

A salt and pepper grinder set on the table lets diners season their food to suit their taste buds. A decent set should allow you to adjust the coarseness of the grind to how you like it.

Other factors to consider when picking the perfect salt and pepper grinders include the material they're made from, their capacity, and their overall appearance.

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Choosing a salt and pepper grinder set provides continuity in your table settings as both grinders will match one another.

Key considerations

Manual vs. electric

While the majority of salt and pepper grinders are manual, you can also find some electric battery-powered options. These automatically grind your salt or pepper while you hold down a button. You might think electric grinders would grind your salt or pepper more quickly, but they tend to be much slower than manual options, and they're more expensive.

As such, we'd recommend buying a manual salt and pepper grinder set, unless you have difficulty grinding by hand. Within manual grinder sets, you'll find different operation types. With the majority, you must grip and twist to grind, but you can also find grinders with hand cranks or occasionally, with manual press-button operation.

Size and capacity

It's important to consider the overall dimensions of your chosen salt and pepper grinders, plus the internal capacity. Some buyers enjoy extra-large grinders, while others prefer something more compact. However, the smaller your grinders, the less unground pepper and salt they can hold. Grinders with a tiny capacity can be frustrating, as you'll need to refill them more regularly. Think about how much salt and pepper you generally use and choose a grinder size and capacity accordingly.

Ease of use

If your salt and pepper grinder set is a pain to use, you'll be more likely to reach for the pre-ground stuff instead. Opt for models that make it quick and easy to grind your salt and pepper. They should also be easy to fill, with large openings to pour your unground salt and pepper.


You can buy salt and pepper grinder sets in a wide range of materials. Some are made of a single material — wood or stainless steel — where others are made from mixed materials, such as a glass body with a stainless steel cap.

  • Wood: If you want a salt and pepper grinder set with a traditional appearance, opt for wood. Wooden grinders are durable and long-lasting, but they can be trickier to clean, as wood is porous and can soak up liquid and retain stains.

  • Metal: The most common metal for salt and pepper grinders is stainless steel, but you can also find copper options. Metal grinders have a modern appearance and are a sturdy choice, but you won't find salt grinders made completely from metal, as salt corrodes metals.

  • Glass: A large number of salt and pepper grinders have a body made from glass with metal components elsewhere. Glass can't be corroded by salt and is transparent, so you can see when you're getting low on salt or pepper and need to refill. It is fragile, so you could crack, chip, or shatter a glass grinder.

  • Acrylic: Cheaper salt and pepper grinder sets use acrylic in place of glass. While it appears much the same at first glance, it's not as durable and will scratch and discolor over time.
"Electric pepper and salt grinders often have LED lights in the base which illuminate your food as you grind onto it, helping prevent over- or under-seasoning in low lighting."


Grinding burrs

For pepper grinders, metal grinding burrs are the superior choice. They're sharper than ceramic and grind pepper more quickly and easily. Metal isn't an appropriate choice of grinding mechanism for salt, however, since salt corrodes metal.


You can find pepper grinders in a range of styles, from modern to traditional. This doesn't affect performance in any way, so choose whatever style you like best.

Coarseness settings

A salt or pepper grinder should allow you to change the coarseness of the grind, so you can have extremely finely milled salt or pepper, a coarse grind, or anything in between. Some grinders have clear settings, whereas others let you adjust the grind. You'll need to experiment to discover which positions equal which degrees of coarseness.

Moisture resistance

A quality salt and pepper grinder set should have at least some degree of moisture resistance to prevent ambient moisture in the kitchen — such as steam produced by cooking — from penetrating the grinder and making the contents damp.

Salt and pepper grinder prices

Inexpensive: Basic glass and stainless steel sets start at around $10 to $20. These usually feature ceramic grinding burrs for both salt and pepper.

Mid-range: Mid-range options cost about $20 to $40. You can find a variety of sets in this price range made with a host of different materials. These usually feature higher quality grinding mechanisms, too.

Expensive: High-end salt and pepper grinder sets usually cost between $50 and $100, but a tiny handful of top-of-the-line sets cost up to $200. At this price point, you can expect to receive an attractive-looking set that performs exceptionally, with grinding burrs made from the highest quality materials.


  • Choose salt and pepper grinders with an ergonomic grip. These are much more comfortable to hold and use, making it easier to grind your salt and pepper, especially when you need a large amount for a recipe.

  • Consider purchasing a couple of salt and pepper grinder sets if you regularly entertain large groups. You can have one set either end of the table, which will cut down on the "pass the salt" talk.

  • Check if both grinders are the same, or if one is for salt and the other for pepper. The best salt and pepper grinder sets should have metal grinding burrs for the pepper and ceramic burrs for the salt, so it's important not to confuse the two grinders. Lower end sets, however, will use ceramic burrs for both salt and pepper, so the grinders are interchangable.

  • Think about how often you'll use your salt and pepper grinders. Some cooks might use them daily, so it's worth splurging on a high-end set. If you'll only use your grinders occasionally, a more basic set will suffice.
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You may be able to find salt and pepper mills that match other kitchenware or dining utensils you own.


Q. Why should I use a pepper grinder instead of pre-ground pepper?
Pre-ground pepper oxidizes over time, which makes it less flavorful and aromatic. When you grind whole peppercorns, you end up with fresher pepper that just tastes better. You can also adjust the grind size to produce coarse or fine pepper, whereas the majority of pre-ground pepper is finely ground.

Q. Can I use my salt or pepper mills to grind other spices?
You can grind the majority of spices in ceramic or metal salt or pepper grinders. That said, the flavor of whatever spice you grind will linger, so you'll generally want a dedicated grinder for each spice, rather than switching between salt or pepper and other spices.

Q. Do I really need to grind salt?
Unlike ground pepper, ground salt doesn't oxidize, so you don't need to grind it fresh for a superior flavor. However, plenty of people like to have pepper and salt grinder sets anyway, so they match and look attractive on the dining table. You may also choose to grind salt so you have control over the coarseness of the grind.

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