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Buying guide for best grain mills

If you want to improve the quality of your food, it all starts with individual ingredients. Fresh ingredients are almost always best, which is why so many home bakers are making their own flour. With a grain mill, you can easily grind your own flour from fresh whole grains. That way, you know exactly what’s going into your next batch of cookies or loaf of bread.

A countertop grain mill grinds grains into flour or meal. Some mills allow you to adjust the texture so you can get as fine or as coarse of a finished product as you’d like. Using a grain mill to make flour can save you money, and it allows you to make more nutritious flours and avoid grains that might trigger allergies.

But with so many grain mills available, finding the right model can be a challenge. You must decide what type of grinding mechanism and power source you prefer and what other features you require.

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For baking bread, flour made from hard wheat is best. For cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats, flour made from soft wheat is a better choice.

Key considerations

Burr vs. impact mills

Grain mills all employ some mechanism to grind, crush, or shred the grain. You can choose from three main mechanism types: stone burrs, metal burrs, and impact mills.

Traditional milling mechanisms employ burr grinders, in which two plates grind the grain. One of the plates is mounted in place, while the other plate spins to do the actual grinding or crushing. The grain is dispensed from the mill’s hopper and falls between the burrs, where it’s ground into flour or meal.

Some grain mills use stone burrs, which are typically capable of producing a greater variety of textures. They move at a slower pace compared to impact mills — and make less noise. Modern stone burr grain mills often feature composite or synthetic stones, which are incredibly durable and offer consistent results. Stone burr grain mills work well for all dry grains and legumes; they can also be used for dried spices. They shouldn’t be used to grind wet or greasy foods, though, because of their porous surface.

Other grain mills feature metal burrs. In most cases, the burrs are made from durable high-carbon stainless steel and provide more of a shearing action than the crushing action that stone burrs use. Metal burr grain mills are typically quieter than stone burr models, and there’s no risk of the burrs chipping or flaking. They don’t absorb oils, either, so you can use a metal burr mill to make nut flours and butter.

Impact mills differ from stone burr and metal burr models because they operate at a much higher speed due to an electric motor. Their grinding mechanism uses two stainless steel plates with teeth. When the plates spin at high speed, they burst the grains apart into smaller pieces.

Because of the speed they use, most impact mills can only create extremely fine flours, so you don’t have much control over the texture of your finished product. They work best for dry grains and beans and aren’t suitable for greasy, wet foods. They don’t generate as much heat as burr mills, though, so some people believe that they allow the grains to maintain more of their nutrients.

Power type

When it comes to actually grinding your grains, you can choose from manual or electric mills.

Manual grain mills are powered by a hand crank that you turn to grind grain between the plates. You don’t need electricity to operate the mill, and the grains stay cooler because the plates don’t move as quickly as those in an electric model. Manual mills are quieter than electric models. Keep in mind that all impact mills are electric models.

It takes quite a bit of elbow grease to crank a manual grain mill. If you have hand or joint pain, it may not be the best option. It can also take significant time to create a batch of flour, so if you need to grind large quantities, a manual mill might not be the best choice.

Electric grain mills are simpler to operate. They cost a little more, but you only have to press a button or turn a knob to grind your grains. Electric models usually offer the widest range of texture options, too, so you’re able to create custom blends for your specific baking projects. They’re usually more compact and portable, as well, which means you can easily move the mill around your kitchen or bring it with you if you’re going on a prolonged trip.

You’ll have to deal with more noise from an electric grain mill, and it produces more heat, too, which can affect the nutrients in your grains. And of course, if the power goes out, you won’t be able to use an electric grain mill.

Want the best of both worlds? Some grain mills can switch between manual and electric modes. You can use the manual operation for small batches of flour or times when you don’t have power, and then you can switch to the electric motor attachment when you need to mill larger batches of grains.


Case material

Traditional grain mills are usually made from cast iron, which is highly durable and holds up well to heavy use. Some are made of aluminum, which is not quite as durable but offers a lightweight design. Some grain mills feature elegant wooden cases that look very attractive sitting on your counter but aren’t as durable as cast iron or aluminum. Many electric models feature a plastic case or housing. They are fairly durable and easy to clean, though the housings can sometimes crack.


The faster a grain mill can grind, crush, or shear, the more flour you’ll be able to make in a batch. Some manufacturers let you know how many cups a mill can grind per minute in the product specifications, which makes it easier to determine how long it would take to create a batch of flour. Electric models usually offer the best speed, though they generate more heat than stone burr mills.


Every grain mill creates heat during the milling process, but high temperatures can cause nutrient loss you may want to avoid. Manual models generate the least amount of heat, with metal burr mills usually staying the coolest. For best nutritional results, choose a model that doesn’t get hotter than 155°F.


If you opt for an electric grain mill, the wattage of the motor can determine how quickly it’s able to grind grains. Typical models range from 300 to 1,200 watts. In general, the higher a mill’s wattage, the faster it will grind your grains.


Manual grain mills don’t make much noise, but electric models can be pretty loud. Some manufacturers list the decibel level at which a mill operates, allowing you to choose a model that registers as few decibels as possible.

Ease of assembly

Manual grain mills typically require some assembly. Some models need only be clamped to a table or counter; others have screws you must attach to assemble the various pieces of the mill. Nearly all electric models can be used right out of the box.


Some grain mills include accessories to make operation easier. You can find mills that come with extra burrs in case your burrs start to wear down. Some electric models include a canister to hold your flour, so you don’t need a separate bowl.

Grain mill prices

Grain mills vary in price based on their power source, how quickly they produce flour, and the special features they offer. You could spend anywhere from $20 to $900, which is a pretty big range.

The most affordable grain mills are manual models that don’t offer much in the way of special features. Some lower-end electric models also fall in this price range, but they generally don’t have very powerful motors. Inexpensive mills typically cost between $20 and $100.

Mid-range grain mills are usually electric models with fairly powerful motors. They offer some texture control, so you can choose from ultra-fine flour and coarse meal. You’ll generally pay $100 to $300 for these mills.

The most expensive grain mills are electric models with extremely powerful motors that can produce up to 25 cups of flour in less than 10 minutes. They offer even more texture options, so you can create nearly any consistency you’d like for your ground grains. High-end grain mills cost between $300 and $900.


  • Enjoy endless options. You can grind a wide range of grains, seeds, beans, and nuts into flour with a grain mill. Wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, rice, buckwheat, millet, lentils, quinoa, and garbanzo beans are just some of the options.
  • Don’t overproduce. It’s best to use freshly ground flour, so only grind as much flour as you need at one time. If you have any left over, store it in an airtight container in your freezer because it can go rancid quickly.
  • Take the smell test. Freshly ground flour should have a slightly sweet scent or no scent at all. If you notice a musty smell, the grains probably weren’t fresh, so toss out the flour.
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Not only is freshly ground flour healthier, but it also usually tastes better.


Q. How long does it typically take to grind a cup of flour with a manual grain mill?
It varies based on the model you have and how much arm and hand strength you have, but in most cases, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to grind a full cup.

Q. Can I grind nuts and seeds in a grain mill?
It depends on the type of grain mill you have. Manual mills can usually handle nuts and seeds, which contain oil. Electric mills, on the other hand, don’t do well with greasy or wet foods. Consult your owner’s manual to determine which foods are safe to grind in your particular mill.

Q. What’s the best way to store the grains I plan to grind in my mill?
Whole grains are shelf-stable for quite some time, but it’s important to store them in the right way. Keep them in airtight containers with lids that fit well and store them in your refrigerator or freezer — they’ll usually stay fresh for up to 6 months in the fridge and a year in the freezer.

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