- Pepper mills and salt grinders use steel or ceramic gears to grind spices to the exact size you want.
- Of all the grinders we’ve tested, Peugeot’s Paris u’Select 9-inch Pepper Mill and Salt Mill are the best you can buy.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
If you’ve never had freshly ground pepper or salt, you may wonder why you’d want to do all that work to season your food. However, once you’ve tasted freshly ground salt and pepper, you’ll never want to go back to pre-packaged spices.
Pepper, in particular, goes stale and loses its bite when it’s packaged already ground. Salt can also take on a special flavor when you grind it freshly — especially if you’re using sea salt and a grinder that lets you determine how fine you want it.
The best pepper mills and salt grinders are made with high-end steel or ceramic gears that grind your spices as finely or as coarsely as you want them. Mills should also be easy to fill up and pretty enough to grace your dining room table or kitchen counter.
I tried several different brands before I finally settled on the best set for my needs. The picks in this guide are based on personal testing and research into the best grinders and mills you can buy.
Here are the best pepper mills and salt grinders of 2021
- Best pepper mill and salt grinder overall: Peugeot Paris U’Select 9-inch Pepper and Salt Mill
- Best pepper mill and salt grinder on a budget: OXO Good Grips Lua Salt and Pepper Mill Set
- Best pepper mill and salt grinder with a modern design: Fletchers’ Mill Border Grill Salt or Pepper Mills
- Best clear pepper mill and salt grinder: Cole & Mason Derwent Salt and Pepper Grinder Set
Updated on 04/12/2021: We adjusted formatting to meet current standards. We are working on a rewrite of this guide based on original testing. In the meantime, we stand by our current picks.
The best overall
Peugeot’s Paris u’Select 9-inch Pepper and Salt Mills set the gold standard with their gorgeous, durable design and adjustable grind settings.
Pros: Gorgeous wood construction, strong steel grinding mechanism, durable, adjustable settings, lifetime guarantee for grinding mechanism
When I first started my hunt for pepper mills, I was trying very hard not to buy from Peugeot because of the high price tag. However, having tried many others before I finally bought these exact mills, I can confidently say that they are the very best you can buy.
The Paris u’Select mills have six different settings, so you can grind your pepper as coarsely or as finely as you wish. Both the pepper and salt mills are made from beechwood and you can choose between a few finishes and a range of sizes. I have the dark chocolate colored ones, and they develop a nice polished patina from the oils in your hands over time.
A two-stage burr-style system made from case-hardened steel grinds the peppercorns. Helix-shaped grooves inside the mill crack the peppercorns before grinding to ensure that all the oils and flavors survive the process. The finer settings are really nice for most use cases.
In the salt grinder, two ribbed plates break and crush sea salt to whatever size you choose. The salt grinding mechanism is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel for added durability. I’ve found that the middle setting is best for sea salt so that you don’t have to grind for ages to get enough fine sea salt to season your dish.
I’ve had my mills for several years now, and they’re still going strong. Peugeot has a lifetime guarantee on the grinding mechanism and a two-year warranty on the mill itself.
The best set on a budget
The OXO Good Grips Lua Salt and Pepper Mill Set is affordable, attractive, and works well.
Pros: Affordable, ceramic grinders, grind from the top, satisfaction guarantee
Cons: Not as durable or as effective as higher-end models
OXO is known for its affordable and practical kitchen products, and the Lua Salt and Pepper Mill Set is another winner. These simple, stylish grinders have clear acrylic bodies topped with steel and black accents.
The two mills offer five different settings. Unlike every other grinder in our guide, these ones grind from the top instead of the bottom. You tip them upside down to grind salt or pepper onto your food. The advantage of that design is that you don’t leave salt and pepper dust on your table every time you set the mills down.
Inside, both mills have ceramic grinders to prevent corrosion. Ceramic is very strong and long-lasting, and although it’s common in salt grinders, it’s less so with pepper mills, so you may get better performance out of the salt grinder than the pepper mill. Both should work, and if not, OXO has a satisfaction guarantee that allows you to get a refund for any product you dislike.
The best part about the OXO set is how cheap it is at nearly half the cost of buying the Peugeot set.
The best modern design
Fletchers’ Mill Border Grill Salt and Pepper Mills are proudly made in America with a lifetime guarantee, variable grind settings, and a gorgeous wooden design.
Pros: Strong wooden construction, attractive design, adjustable grind settings
Cons: Expensive, grind not as precise as Peugeot
Fletchers’ Mill is a family run business that uses sustainable wood to craft beautiful products that are guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Fletchers’ Border Grill Salt and Pepper Mills are made from cherry, mahogany, or walnut wood, and you can buy them in fun colors, too. They look classy and simple on any kitchen counter or dining room table.
The mills use a special lock and grind system that allows you to adjust the grind to the exact level of coarseness or fineness that you want. The metal nut on the top is used to adjust the grind. The grind level is a bit less precise than our top pick, but it’s perfectly adequate.
Its pepper mills use a stainless steel two-step mechanism that crushes the peppercorns before it grinds them so as to enhance the flavor and keep the natural oils in the pepper. Meanwhile, the salt mills use an adjustable nylon crushing system to pulverize sea salt.
The best clear set
The Cole & Mason Derwent Salt and Pepper Grinder Set looks gorgeous with its slick acrylic and copper design.
Pros: Pretty modern design, adjustable grind settings, comes in a set, strong grinding mechanisms
Cons: Expensive, not as durable as wood, questionable longevity
If you’re not into the solid wood design of our top two picks, the sleek modern look of the Cole & Mason’s Derwent Salt and Pepper Grinder Set may be a welcome change. These grinders have a clear acrylic body that showcases the peppercorns and salt chunks inside. Accents in either copper, stainless steel, or dark wood sit at both the top and bottom of these mills.
You can choose from six precise grinds, ranging from coarse to fine. Unlike the grinding systems used by our other picks, Cole & Mason’s set doesn’t crush the peppercorns, but rather “strips them down by their individual layers as it grinds.” As such, you may not get the same complexity of flavor as you would with the Peugeot mills. Most people are unlikely to spot much of a difference, and the company claims its method is better.
The pepper grinder uses carbon steel gears to grind the peppercorns, while the salt mill uses ceramic gears. Both mills have a lifetime guarantee on the mechanism, which is great. The physical mill may be less long-lasting than wood, but we expect it will hold up just fine.
Check out our other great kitchen buying guides
The best spice grinders
The best cookware sets
The best knife sets
The best kitchen scales
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