The Best Pepper Mills
Step Up Your Spice Game
There’s a reason why chefs recommend using fresh black pepper ground in a pepper mill: It gives food a spicy, astringent kick that pre-ground pepper simply can’t match. To help home cooks find the best pepper mills for their kitchens, Cheapism evaluated expert tests and pored over hundreds of owner reviews, taking into account performance, ease of use and durability. Our picks range in price from less than $20 to around $50 and include both manual and electric grinders. We’ve covered a variety of sizes and styles, from traditional to modern, so there should be something to suit every chef—including a top-of-the line Peugeot pepper mill for serious foodies (or gift givers) looking to splurge.
Prices and availability are subject to change.
Our Top Pick
- Generous capacity, holds 1.25 cups of peppercorns.
- Designed for fast grinding.
- Easy to adjust to any grind size.
- Doesn’t grind finely enough for some users.
- Only available in glossy black finish.
Takeaway: This Unicorn Magnum Plus pepper mill is a longtime favorite of professional and home chefs who praise its large capacity and lightning fast grind speed compared to other manual pepper mills. Grind settings are infinite; just turn a small knob on the bottom of the mill to adjust to desired size and the Unicorn makes short and efficient work of the rest (although some experts have quibbles when it comes to the finest grinds). If you’re a traditionalist who prefers a wood pepper grinder, the streamlined, cylindrical design and ABS plastic casing may not be to your taste, but users say it’s very durable and easy to clean to boot. And the parts are far from cheap: The Unicorn Magnum Plus pepper mill houses an Italian-made steel grinding mechanism alongside other elements made in the USA, and the manufacturer prides itself on designing and assembling all of its mill sets on Nantucket Island where the company began. Several purchasers say they’re so pleased with the quality and performance of the 9-inch Magnum Plus that they also bought the 6-inch Unicorn Magnum for their kitchen tables.
- Produces a consistent grind no matter the setting.
- Peugeot grinding system lauded for yielding enhanced flavor.
- Traditional wooden body is easy to grasp and use.
- Comes in several sizes and finishes.
- Scattered complaints about missing parts and poor durability.
- Mixed reviews for customer service.
Takeaway: Some kitchen classics never go out of style, including this Peugeot Paris u’Select wooden pepper mill. It’s the top pick at Wirecutter, quickly and consistently grinding peppercorns on all settings in tests. And the two-stage grinding system, which pre-cracks peppercorns before grinding, is said to deliver a more flavorful and aromatic end product. The 9-inch beechwood pepper mill comes in a few different finishes—including natural, black, white, and red—but the dark chocolate version is a particular favorite with experts and owners, who praise the rich color and traditional look. We did see a number of complaints about the wood on these mills splitting at the base, and several purchasers say the grinding mechanism (made of case-hardened steel) became difficult to engage or would simply rotate without grinding, but the latter issue may be associated with user error: Peugeot recommends filling with whole black peppercorns that are 6 mm or less in diameter, and softer pink peppercorns should only be included as part of mixes in which they make up less than one-quarter of the blend. These caveats aside, Peugeot has been selling pepper mills for more than a century, and they remain a staple with serious chefs. The Peugeot Paris u’Select comes in six sizes for kitchen and table use, and there’s also a salt mill available, for those looking for a matching pepper grinder set. All Peugeot mills carry a lifetime guarantee on the grinding mechanisms; Peugeot offers five years of warranty coverage on the bodies of manual mills.
- Six adjustable coarseness settings.
- Delivers an even and precise grind.
- Easy to hold, use, and fill (thanks to wide top-load slot).
- Comes in a variety of finishes.
- Some users say it requires a bit of effort to produce larger quantities and finer grinds.
Takeaway: If you prefer to take the guesswork out of your grinding, the Cole & Mason Derwent pepper mill features six distinct grind settings that lock into place with an audible “click.” It’s also consistent on all settings, which makes the Derwent a year-over-year top choice in testing at Cook’s Illustrated. Professional reviewers and consumers alike praise this mill’s sleek, modern looks and say the subtle hourglass shape and relatively compact 7.5-inch height make it easy to hold. It’s fairly easy to twist, too, although a few owners say you have to crank it more than other mills in order to produce the same amount of pepper, and that can become tiring if you need a large amount. The other drawback is the clear acrylic body, which makes it easy to see when it’s time to refill but also exposes the delicate peppercorns to light, which can affect flavor. Although the stainless steel version is by far the most popular, the Derwent also comes in copper, “gunmetal,” and wood finishes. The carbon steel grinding mechanism carries a lifetime guarantee. A matching salt mill is also available, either by itself or as part of a pepper grinder set. The latter is the better deal.
- Available in multiple sizes.
- Sturdy, durable construction.
- Inexpensive and basic, yet proficient.
- Difficult to adjust grind settings.
- Wood housing is difficult to grasp for some users.
Takeaway: If your cooking repertoire only occasionally calls for freshly ground pepper, reviewers say the 6-inch Trudeau Seville pepper mill is a reliable kitchen tool that doesn’t cost a fortune. This traditional, wood pepper grinder does well in expert testing at Wirecutter, where reviewers say the Trudeau Seville’s “grinding capabilities performed almost as well as mills twice the price.” Owners agree it’s a great bargain buy and praise its rich, ebony wood finish and simple efficiency, although some do say the finest grind setting is still too coarse. We also saw a few comments from users who suggest it’s a bit too small to grasp comfortably, but others insist it’s the perfect size for the kitchen table. For those who feel they really require better leverage or greater capacity, Trudeau also sells the Seville in 10- and 12-inch versions. (Just note that the that these larger models have either zinc or ceramic grinding mechanisms, which are not as durable and may not perform as well as this 6-incher’s lifetime-guaranteed carbon steel.)
- Can grind both salt and pepper.
- LED light to see what you’re seasoning.
- Comes in both stainless steel and copper finishes.
- Includes dust cap.
- Can be difficult to take apart for battery changes and refilling.
- Grinds more slowly than similar mills.
- Some durability complaints.
Takeaway: While cheap battery-operated pepper mills tend to get fewer professional recommendations and lower consumer ratings overall, this 8.8-inch Eparé combination electric pepper grinder and salt grinder does better than most. With a ceramic grinding mechanism that can handle everything from sea salt to pink Himalayan salt, it’s Wirecutter’s top choice among electric pepper mills, proving a comparatively quiet and consistent performer in tests. The only real drawbacks reviewers found was that the Eparé is a bit slow, as many electric pepper mills tend to be, and it lacks specific grind settings, although the knob directions to adjust for coarse or fine grounds are clearly defined. For the most part, owners seems pretty satisfied, too; of the more than 2,000 reviews this mill receives on Amazon more than half are 5-star, with many praising its easy one-handed operation and sleek and attractive cylindrical design. While, we did see a fair number of complaints regarding mills that came dead on arrival or suffered early demises, the upside is that user feedback suggests that the company is responsive and more than happy to honor its limited lifetime warranty. Given Wirecutter’s expert endorsement and this mill’s low price and versatility, we’d say the Eparé is worth giving a whirl. Requires four AA batteries (not included).
- Very simple to operate, users say.
- Infinite grind levels.
- Includes funnel for refilling.
- Large product label is hard to remove from grinder.
- Batteries are difficult to replace.
Takeaway: Technically, all electric pepper mills can be operated with one hand, but the design of the Trudeau Graviti Plus makes it especially easy to manage for people with arthritis or reduced manual dexterity. This 8-inch pepper grinder uses gravity to dispense pepper flakes; just tip it, and it will begin grinding automatically. It’s a former top pick with Wirecutter (although reviewers there do fault it for failing to produce a really fine grind), and dozens of user reviews, on Amazon and at Bed, Bath & Beyond, absolutely rave about its simplicity, light weight, generous capacity, and style—the added LED light is a much-appreciated bonus. Just note that while the manufacturer says this mill, which has a ceramic grinding mechanism, can be used for salt or pepper, some owners say salt can clog the works. Also, as with all electric pepper grinders, we did spot some reports of units failing after just a few uses. These shortcomings aside, this automatic pepper grinder earns at least a mention on our list as a potentially game-changing—and pain-saving—gift for any senior chef. The Trudeau Graviti Plus is available in both stainless steel/chrome and black finishes. This battery-operated pepper mill requires six AAA batteries (not included).
This 8-inch Peugeot electric pepper grinder falls on the pricier side, but if you like to cook with freshly ground pepper and you’re looking for a top-of-the-line kitchen tool to deliver your favorite spice consistently and effortlessly, reviewers say the Peugeot Elis Sense is certainly worth considering. It performed admirably in tests at Fine Cooking, where it was found to be faster and quieter than the average electric pepper mill, and the grind system itself is said to produce more flavorful results—thanks to a mechanism that first cracks peppercorns to release their natural oils before grinding. Peugeot’s unique “u’Select” grind settings also make this mill more versatile than most; users can choose from six presets that click firmly into place or simply turn the ring to adjust grind size to any consistency in between. Users say it turns on and off with the slightest touch of the top, for serious one-handing grinding ease, and the LED light in the base makes it easy to monitor the amount of pepper dispensed. The mill comes with a measuring cup that doubles as a funnel for refilling and includes six AAA batteries. Its French-made, case-hardened steel grinding mechanism carries a lifetime warranty and there’s a two-year guarantee on the body. If you want to fully outfit your table in high-end style, you can pick up a matching pepper and salt mill set for about $170.
Like most Oxo products, this pepper mill gets plenty of praise for its design. Unlike traditional mills, the Oxo Good Grips pepper grinder is filled from the bottom, and the opening is wide enough that you won’t spill peppercorns, reviewers say. It also grinds from the top, meaning it won’t leave a trail of pepper dust behind when you set it down and pick it back up. Some users dislike the clear acrylic housing, which exposes peppercorns to light, but most are happy with the other design elements. Owners say the rubber accents make it very easy to grip, even with wet hands, and the small size (just 5.5. inches tall) makes it a good fit on the table or countertop. The mill has five grind settings, and it’s reported to be both fast and consistent, even when grinding larger quantities of pepper; a few users, however wish there were a wider variety of grind sizes to choose between. Still, if what you’re looking for is a basic and functional everyday grinder with a relatively generous capacity (just over half a cup), you should be well pleased with this Oxo Good Grips pepper grinder. It comes in three finishes—stainless steel, black stainless steel, and copper—and a matching salt grinder is also available.
“Beautiful,” “functional,” and “heirloom quality” are words reviewers frequently use to describe the Atlas pepper mill. This copper grinder is handmade in Greece, the body stamped with bands of grape clusters, and it’s topped with a classic, crank-style handle. Users say it’s easier and faster to use than a twist-style mill and produces a consistent grind, although some complain about the limited range of the adjustable coarseness settings and claim it tends to favor medium to finer grinds. The crank mechanism does takes a bit of muscle, too, and a few reviewers insist it was too difficult to use comfortably. But most owners are quite satisfied and say they appreciate the quality craftsmanship—as well as the solid, heavy feel—and expect this mill to last for a good long time. The 9-inch size is the most popular, but the Atlas comes in 7- and 8-inch versions, too. There are also multiple finish options, from chrome to brass to combination trims, and an equally attractive Atlas salt mill to match.
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