Salt and pepper grinders are every cook's staple, but we tested ten salt and pepper grinders from Joseph Joseph, Le Creuset, ProCook, Salter and more, and found a big difference in how easy they are to fill and operate.
The salt and pepper grinder sets we tested ranged in price from £20 all the way up to £60, and we looked at the consistency of the coarse and fine grind settings, how easy it is to use the grinders with wet and oily hands, and how straightforward they are to fill up.
Although you can pick up disposable salt and pepper grinders from the supermarket for only a few pounds, the plastic container will soon end up in landfill, so it's kinder to the environment to opt for a reusable one that you can refill.
They can also be a stylish addition to your dining table, not to mention a great gift for chefs of all abilities.
Prices and availability last checked as of 2 September 2021.
Size: 14cm x 5.7cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 40g
Salt capacity: 65g
This set is one of the cheapest pairs we tested and you'll be familiar with the classic design of these grinders.
Find out how easy are they to fill and if can you use them easily with greasy hands, as well as whether can they produce both coarse and fine ground salt and pepper.
Size: 19cm x 6cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 25g
Salt capacity: 55g
Despite their large, and undoubtedly stylish, appearance these grinders don't hold as much salt and pepper as you might think.
But do they make up for that by being easy to fill and a joy to use?
Size: 20.3cm x 7.2cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 30g
Salt capacity: 55g
Towering more than 20cm over your table, you'll need quite a tall space in your cupboard to store this pair of grinders.
Find out how well they mill fine and coarse pepper, how easy they are to use with wet and oily hands and if we recommend them.
Size: 17cm x 7cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 70g
Salt capacity: 150g
Colours: Grey, blue
This stylish salt and pepper set from Joseph Joseph can hold a whopping amount of salt and pepper so you shouldn't have to refill them often.
But do their slightly unusual design make them easier to use? And what did we make of its fine and coarse settings?
Size: 12.1cm x 5cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 13g
Salt capacity: 31g
Colours: Volcanic, black & white, cerise, Marseille blue, satin black, soleil (yellow)
Le Creuset says its classic design salt and pepper mill set is built to last, and the perfect gift for any budding chefs in your family.
But how well did they hold up when we dropped them from a kitchen worktop 10 times, and can they deliver consistently fine and coarse ground pepper?
Size: 20.5cm x 8cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 170g
Salt capacity: 370g
Colour: Ash-carbon, blues, nudes, hunting green-beige
Out of all of the mill sets we tested, these ones fit in the most salt and pepper.
To adjust the grind, you simply twist the circular wooden dial on the top of each mill, but how well does this work and can you use these grinders easily if you have wet or oily hands?
Size: 8cm x 6.3cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 7g
Salt capacity: 20g
Colours: Light wood, dark wood
Olympia promises these salt and pepper grinders are quick and easy to refill, and their rotating handle design makes them easy to use, even if you have wet hands.
But how durable are these grinders if you accidentally knock them off a table, and what's the consistency of the fine and coarse ground pepper like?
Size: 14cm x 5.6cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 61g
Salt capacity: 85g
This salt and pepper set certainly isn't cheap, but you can squeeze a lot of salt and pepper in, relative to their size.
Each mill comes with preset notches to select the size of grind you need. Find out how good they are at producing a consistent grind.
Size: 22cm x 5cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 35g
Salt capacity: 70g
Procook says that its special non-slip design and easy to adjust settings make this grinder set the perfect table companion.
But do electric grinders really take the faff and hassle out of seasoning?
Size: 22cm x 5cm (HxW)
Pepper capacity: 35g
Salt capacity: 70g
This sleek Salter grinder set works by pressing a button and they also have a light that shines onto your food while you grind, illuminating where the spices fall onto the plate.
But are electric grinders really less hassle than manual ones? And what happens if you accidentally knock these grinders off a table or kitchen work surface?
While the thought of freshly ground salt or pepper with a simple press of a button might sound appealing, based on our testing the reality can be a little different.
We tested two electric grinders and were surprised at both the quantity of batteries each required (eight for each set) and also how difficult the batteries were to fit.
It was also harder to fill each of the electric grinders with salt or pepper and trickier to adjust the coarseness setting than with most of the other manual grinders we tested.
While one of the electric grinders did produce both fine and coarse grains consistently, we felt that the ease of use benefits of the button press were spoiled by poor test results on other ease of use factors.
If you buy a quality mill set you'd expect it to be able to produce super fine grains for delicate seasoning and chunkier grains for marinading.
We were surprised to find that many of the grinder sets we tested could only do one or the other well.
But our recommendations above did produce consistent fine spices or coarse grains, and it's easy to adjust the settings to the desired level.
It's possible the market has moved on since the last time you purchased a mill set. We found that the traditional shape has some drawbacks when it comes to using them with wet and oily hands.
Some of the more modern and out there mill designs proved easier to use if you have oily hands from cooking.
There was also a big difference with how easy it is to adjust the coarseness setting on each grinder.
We were quite surprised during testing to find out just how difficult it is to refill some of the mill sets we purchased. After we'd finished, we had a big job clearing up all of the salt and peppercorns that had spread everywhere.
If you already have a salt and pepper grinder that's difficult to fill, one simple technique that might prevent a mess is to fold a piece of paper to create a spout, and pour the spices in that way.
The perfect salt and pepper grinder set would be able to produce both fine ground and coarse ground spices, be easy to fill, durable and easy to use.
We designed a test to sort the best from the worst and discover how each compares in terms of features and design.
We rated each grinder on how easy it is to fill up with salt and peppercorns. With some it's possible to fill them up with no mess, but others left peppercorns scattered all over the work surface.
We assessed each grinder on how easy it is to adjust the size of the grains. It's a lot trickier with some than others, and we found that the coarseness setting would even change midway through grinding on some of the poorer mill sets.
We set each mill to its finest and coarsest setting and then assessed the size and consistency of the grains on each. The best mill sets are brilliant at both, but most favour one size of grain over the other.
Sometimes seasoning requires accuracy. You might want to pepper your steak, but not the chips to the side of it.
We assessed the accuracy of each mill when seasoning food.
We rated each mill on how easy it is to use with oily hands and dry hands.
A good grinder will produce a lot of grains quickly. We timed how long it took each grinder to produce a teaspoon of spice. The best took 15 seconds and the worst over a minute of constant grinding.
We knocked each set off a kitchen worktop 10 times. Some didn't survive.
We chose salt and pepper grinder sets that are popular and sold at major retailers.
Which? purchased and paid for every mill set we tested.