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15 September 2021

Best salt and pepper grinders

We tested 10 salt and pepper mill sets from Joseph Joseph, Le Creuset, ProCook and more, to see which is easiest to fill and use to help you create perfectly seasoned food
Matthew Knight

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.


Accurately measure your spices to the gram with our round up of the best kitchen scales.


Prices and availability last checked as of 2 September 2021.

Best salt and pepper grinder sets

Cole & Mason Clear Acrylic Salt & Pepper Set

Cheapest price: £19.99 at Lakeland

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. 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Cole & Mason Marlow Contemporary Wood Salt & Pepper Mills

Cheapest price: £53.99 at John Lewis

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? 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Dunelm Acacia Salt and Pepper Mill Set

Cheapest price: £20 at Dunelm

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. 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Joseph Joseph Milltop No Spill Salt & Pepper Mills

Cheapest price: £37.57 at Amazon. Also available at John Lewis

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? 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Le Creuset Salt and Pepper Mini Mills

Cheapest price: £39 at John Lewis and Amazon

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? 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Menu Bottle Grinder Spice Mill 2-pack

Cheapest price: £42 at Nordic Nest

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?

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Olympia Light Wood Salt and Pepper Mill Grinder Set

Cheapest price: £28.54 available at Amazon. Also available at Nisbets

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? 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Oxo Salt & Pepper Grinder Set

Cheapest price: £41.03 available at Amazon

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.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Procook Electric Soft Touch Salt & Pepper Mill Set

Cheapest price: £19 at ProCook

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? 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Salter Electronic Salt and Pepper Mill Set

Cheapest price: £19.10 at Amazon. Also available at Lakeland

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? 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.


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Pepper grinder

Three things we learned testing salt and pepper grinders

1. Electric mills aren't necessarily easier to use

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. 

2. Most grinders can't do both coarse and fine grinds very well

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. 

3. Traditional style grinders are hard to use with wet and oily hands

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.

How to refill a salt and pepper 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. 

How we tested salt and pepper grinders

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. 

Ease of filling

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.

Ease of adjusting the coarseness setting 

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.

Consistency of grind

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.

Accuracy

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.

Oily hands

We rated each mill on how easy it is to use with oily hands and dry hands. 

Time to grind a teaspoon

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.

Durability

We knocked each set off a kitchen worktop 10 times. Some didn't survive.

How we chose the salt and pepper grinders we tested

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.