Choose a Good Peppermill


Pepper_Mills_cA lot of recipes call for "salt and pepper, to taste" suggest using freshly ground pepper. Why? Because once the peppercorns are ground they start to loose flavor and after about 3 months there will be a noticeable difference. So if you don't have a pepper mill at home, you may want to think about getting one. It's amazing how a simple ingredient like freshly ground pepper can dramatically change the flavor of a dish.

Test it yourself by grinding some fresh pepper and comparing it to the pepper in your spice cabinet that's been there for years hidden behind the ground mustard. But start with the old pepper first or the freshly ground pepper will overpower it.

So if you don't have a pepper mill at home, you may want to think about getting one. It's amazing how a simple ingredient like freshly ground pepper can dramatically change the flavor of a dish.

I have an antique salt and pepper collection with over 100 pair of shakers and I only bring them to the table on holidays and special occasions for show. In my kitchen and at the table, I only use one of my pepper mills.

When I find a particularly interesting pepper mill in the store or on the Internet, I have to make a concerted effort not to buy it. I already have 6 or 7 different models of various styles in my kitchen cabinet but I find myself drawn to only using one.

Which brand do I use? A simple traditional looking wooden one with a crank handle on top but because there are so many variables involved in choosing a pepper mill, you should pick one based on your own likes and needs. Let's look at some:


First you have to decide whether you are looking for a pepper mill that looks good on your dining room table or one that is highly functional. Or both! If you are looking for a well made, high performance pepper mill that also makes a statement just by looking at it, you will want to look at some of the custom made mills.

These high-end pepper mills are each an art form. Pricey but gorgeous, custom made pepper mills would make a fine gift to anyone who is into cooking including yourself.

But let's look at some of the many styles you can find in the marketplace today?

  • Traditional wooden mill with a mushroom top that you turn (Chef Specialties, Peugeot)
  • Wood or metal mill with a turn crank on top ( Perfex, Oxo)
  • Plastic mill with the crank-key on the side (Peppermate) * Acrylic mill with sleek design and turning top (Unicorn Magnum)
  • Plastic mill with two handles you squeeze together (Peppergun)
  • Battery powered mill with spotlight for those romanic evenings (Don't bother unless you need it for a disability)
  • Big ones, tall ones, short ones, fat name it and it probably exists

So you can see there is a lot to decide from already and we haven't even looked at type of grinds, ease of use, how to fill and let's not forget about price.

Other Factors

* Grind Quality - Depending what you are going to use the pepper for, you want a mill that gives you the largest range in grinds including coarse, medium, and fine. A better made mill will give you a fine grind that is powdery and uniformly the same with no little pieces of the peppercorn. At the same time, you can set it for coarse and end up with big pieces for your au poivre (peppercorn) recipes.

* Size - Somehow I ended up with one of those big 14 inch mills that you see in fancy restaurants that the waiter brings over to season your salad. It looks great in a restaurant but its too heavy, awkward to use, and can only sit on my kitchen counter or in the broom closet. It's just too big. I also have a little tiny 2 ½ inch one that I can use when traveling but I always forget to bring it with me.

* Price - A good pepper mill isn't cheap. They start at $20 and can go up to $45 and if you want a work of art, you are looking at $100 to $200. The good news is there are great mills out there for $20 bucks but there are as many poorly made models at $40. So don't think if you spend a lot of money you are going to get a great mill. Do your homework and read reviews on the Internet and in cooking magazines.

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