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After a deep research on the topic, I finally made my selection of the 5 best pepper mills among more than twenty models available so far.
The choice was tough, but if I had to buy one, I think it would be the Oxo Good Grips Shaker. I was tempted to settle for the traditional mills, which are very satisfactory, but I appreciate the small improvements made by this model: the transparent glass, the easy-to-use mechanism, and the very clear marks for adjusting the grind. Besides, he’s salty too !
You will also find at the end of this article a buying guide to help you make the best selection of pepper mill for your table or kitchen.
The best cheap pepper mills
You can find cheap pepper mills that do their work very well: grind pepper finely and effortlessly, and would last longer. So, below we look at the best pepper mills in their price range.
Cole and Mason Capstan: the best cheap pepper mill
This Capstan mill, made by the English brand Cole and Mason, will be a preferred choice by most people due to its classic and simplistic design. And if you care it’s made of beech wood from sustainable forest management. With its Small (12 inches high) size, it is especially intended to be easily used at the table.
Its mechanism is a bit special: instead of crushing the peppercorns like most mills, it is equipped with blades that cut the peppercorns in successive layers. The manufacturer assures that this technique allows to ” release a maximum of flavor and aromas from the pepper”.
I have always been quite satisfied by traditional pepper mills, but I think it could be interesting to try the innovative way this mill uses to grind pepper. Note that the mechanism is guaranteed to last for life by the manufacturer.
This mechanism is made of high carbon steel and is perfect for grinding pepper, even the largest grains, but is clearly not suited for salt. This brand also produces salt mills, with ceramic mechanisms, which unlike the stainless steel material is very hard (but also more brittle)!
The fineness of the grind is adjustable by a classic screw adjustment system at the top of the mill. However, the lack of proper manual guide makes the system slightly random, so you may need to try a few times to find the desired setting.
As far as ergonomics are concerned, this mill is practical, with a firm and pleasant grip.
A good small solid and compact mill, so, that does not overshadows your table like some other huge pepper mills. At this price, it is very reliable and efficient. And one last thing, it is comes empty, which doesn’t bother me at all really, since I prefer to choose my pepper myself!
The best mid-range pepper mills
Mid-range pepper mills available on the market today are with proven reliability and efficiency. For a useful investment in your kitchen or dining room, don’t hesitate to pick one of these models.
Oxo Good Grips Salt and Pepper Shaker Set: the best mid-range mill
After the traditional mills above, I would like to offer a bit of modernity now with this mill two-in-one by the brand Oxo.
Well, not exactly 2-in-1: if the pepper part is a mill, the Salt part is a simple salt pot/shaker. That is to say that there is no mechanism on the salt part, it is intended only for salt that has already been ground. But it’s still a good mill though!
The ceramic mechanism is effective and made of stainless steel, and the pepper and salt compartments are refilled more easily than it may seem: just remove one part to fill the other.
I also like the fine adjustment of the grind, which is quite intuitive as on traditional models: you just have to turn the grinder following 5 marks clearly visible on the base.
The design is also pleasant, as the tanks are made of transparent glass. One can admire the contents, which is not only aesthetic, but also practical to know their level and how much is left.
Also you should know that, pepper can be sensitive to light and can lose its taste qualities if exposed to it for long… so avoid storing this mill in sun light.
The salt shaker is unfortunately a little unpractical: it’s small and does not always pour its content very well… perhaps because of a residual moisture that could come from the fact that in order to turn use the pepper mill, one will have to place a hand at the top… so on the salt shaker holes! Which may not be very hygienic either, by the way.
But it has pluses, and I would add that the mill comes filled with pepper and salt, which is a nice gesture from the manufacturer if anything.
- Two in one
- Glass Design
- Clear and visible grind level marks
- The salt side is not very well thought out
Peugeot Paris U’select: the classic and well known among pepper mills
Why change a what has proven to work? With this mill, one makes the choice of a well known brand and historical reliability. Yeah, if you didn’t know that, Peugeot didn’t always make cars.
Long before the era of the spark-ignition engine, the company was already renowned for its skills in all mechanical fields, including Mills (coffee, pepper, salt). This U’select model made of wood is a well renowned product, I would even say that its mechanism is mythical… without going too far of course, we speak of pepper mills after all!
This historical stainless steel mechanism is equipped with a double row of teeth that grind the peppercorns (up to about 6 millimeters) to the desired size. It is suitable for all types of peppers, as well as for mixtures of white and red pepper and even cilantro.
The reliability of this mechanism crosses borders, and it is rare to see it get faulty. And even if it did, it comes with a lifetime guarantee.. The mill itself benefits from a separate 5-year warranty!
Its use is simple and fluid, thanks to the well made mechanism and ergonomic shape, so you shouldn’t have to force it with fingers and wrists to get your pepper ground as you want it. The fineness of the grind is always adjustable by the screw that surmounts the mill, but the addition of marks on the mill’s body allows you to know exactly how fine you are grinding.
For me, this pepper mill, thanks to its reliability guarantees and its versatility, certainly has its reserved place at the table and in the kitchen.
- proven quality and reliability
- Available in several sizes and colors
- 5 year warranty for the mill body, lifetime warranty for the grind mechanism
- A little (too) basic
Le Creuset of America Pepper Mill: the plastic contender
We will continue with another mill of an emblematic French brand, which this time will not surprise you since it is specialized in kitchen utensils.
Le Creuset makes the bet for this mill in ABS plastic, a material that is both resistant and light. As a bonus, it is guaranteed to last for at least 10 years.
The ceramic mechanism is suitable for all types of peppers and does not suffer from corrosion. This means that you can also use it with salt, except if you use Guerande Flower of Salt or other wet sea salts, whose moisture is likely to clog the mechanism.
Also pay attention to some varieties of pink pepper. Ceramics are also theoretically less durable than steel, but unless you cook professionally, this is not a really decisive criterion when you buy a mill!
Slightly larger than the previous models with its 21 cm height, this mill isn’t too heavy, thanks to its plastic body material. On the other hand, it offers the advantages of easy and fast way of handling.
Its size makes it easy to use the mill, you will have no problems in using the grinding mechanism. The fineness of the grind is of course easily adjustable.
For its nice slick design and handy size, I would be ready to place this mill in my kitchen, especially if I can match it to my interior design. Le Creuset offers the model in many colors, with this iconic glazed shiny aspect which is one of their traditional features. But after all, with so many styles, it will be able to nicely decorate your table without problem and show off to your guests obviously:).
- Several colors available
- 10 years Guarantee
- made of plastic
Top quality pepper mills
At the top of the range, you can get all the gadgets imaginable, not only a simple function of grinding your pepper!
Cole and Mason Kew: the best high-end pepper mill
Of course, you can also use the compartments to have different kinds of peppers, or different salts… Oh, and it’s an electric mill (battery powered). No need to tire your self grinding, you just need to press a button, which is well placed under the thumb and you can use it with one hand too!
It is divided into two separate tanks (obviously), each with their own button, and each with their milling settings adjusted by buttons located below. The ceramic mechanism works well with all grains, pepper as well as salt. Refilling quite is easy, just lift a plastic cap to fill it.
This mill is a beautiful object with contemporary design with aluminum and transparent glass. Keep in mind that pepper loses its qualities when stored in exposure to light. To top it all, it is delivered filled with spices!
Since perfection is impossible unfortunately, I will note that it takes 6 batteries to power it, and that they are not included, which is nevertheless a little pity for this price. Especially since the weight of these batteries makes the machine quite heavy, which is a tiny defect compared to its overall ease of use.
Finally, contrary to what I would have imagined, this electric model does not come with a built in light to illuminate your plate. It’s an unnecessary gadget for some, and essential kitchen tool for others…so make your choice.
How to choose your pepper mill?
You might think that choosing your pepper mill is easy, and that all the models are pretty much the same. Well, that’s not the case at all!
Efficiency, reliability, settings or even design are all criteria that can vary, and that you should take into account to make the choice that suits you. Because buying a good pepper mill can be a very useful investment.
So instead of catching the first mill that comes at your sight, or settling for pre-filled disposable mills, make the choice of quality: invest in a real useful pepper mill, adapted to your use. Your kitchen will thank you!
How you will Use the Pepper mill
The first question to ask before buying is that of the intended use of the pepper mill. If you have a large family, think of the mill capacity. If you want to use it just at the table, the ideal design will no doubt be different from a mill that would be more suitable for cooking in your kitchen. And the restaurant professionals will of course have to choose even more carefully.
Types of Electrical Mills
The most modern mills can be electric, operating with batteries or charger. Instead of turning the mill by hand, which is sometimes quite laborious, a simple push of a button is enough get it going. The only disadvantage of these models, in addition to the higher price, is the noise of the mechanism.
Some electric mills are equipped with an additional accessory: a light to illuminate the plate. It is up to you to see if you are interested : some people consider that they do not see anything without lighting. Others find it unnecessary or even dazzling.
Last improvement, some mills allow to serve both salt mill and pepper mill, for a saving of space and simplicity. If you are interested in this feature, check that the mechanisms are separated, each adapted to the grains it will have to grind !