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What was old often becomes new again. Though food mills fell out of fashion with the rise of food processors and blenders, they’ve returned to popularity thanks to the unique way they break down food. You fill this piece of equipment, which is shaped like a bowl, with cooked produce. Then, you manually grind the food with a turning handle, and out comes puree.
Food mills differ from blenders and processors because, as the puree emerges, all skins, peels, and seeds are left behind in the bowl. The end results are lighter and creamier in texture than blended or processed foods.
"A food mill is ideal for vegetables like tomatoes to make sauces and soups, and potatoes for gnocchi (an Italian potato dumpling) or mashed potatoes," says Chef Adrian De Leon, culinary director of Tarbell’s in Phoenix, Arizona.
A quality food mill should be simple to use, easy to clean, and manageable in size. Additionally, it may come with numerous disc sizes to get you the proper grind or puree size for your task. And if well maintained, it should last for years to come.
I did the research to help you choose the best option for your needs. Here, my list of the best food mills.
Best Overall: Oxo Good Grips Food Mill
What We Love: Includes discs of three grind sizes, moderate price, discs are easy to change, legs fold for easy storage
What We Don't Love: May leave extra pulp behind
This food mill is the perfect staple for any kitchen. Even though it's moderately priced at around $55, it’s made of sturdy stainless steel materials and comes with three different-sized blades, from fine to course grinds, that are simple to swap out with a spring-loaded release lever. It also has three non-slip legs that enable you to place it on or over any surface with ease.
With a capacity of just over 2 quarts, this food mill boasts the ability to mill all your favorite foods, from sauces to jams to purees. The handle and top knob are coated with soft, non-slip silicone for a more comfortable grip and less strain during use. The stainless steel materials keep foods at the temperature they were before milling, so your hot foods stay hot and cold foods stay cold. Customers resoundingly say it’s easy to use and clean, and the best food mill they’ve found.
Material: Stainless steel, silicone, plastic | Dimensions: 14.75 x 7.25 x 10.25 inches | Weight: 3.25 pounds | Capacity: 2.25 quarts | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Best Budget: Mirro Foley Stainless Steel Healthy Food Mill
What We Love: Well made, easy to use, keeps for years, comes in two capacities
What We Don't Love: Occasional black residue in food
The Mirro Foley piece of equipment comes with one blade that is ideal for everything from mashing to pureeing. It’s available in two sizes: a standard 2-quart and an extra-large 3.5-quart option that costs just a couple of dollars more. This food mill does not have its own legs, so it needs to be placed precisely over a bowl or other vessel, and you can use the clips on the bottom to hold it there. It makes fast work of cooked items from tomatoes to potatoes, and it does a fine job of leaving skins, peels, and seeds behind.
Both hot and cold foods can be processed in this, and though it does not claim to keep them at temperature, because it’s made of stainless steel, that shouldn’t change too much during usage. This brand has been around for more than 100 years, and customers say the new model is superior to older ones—and many say they like how it produces applesauce and mashed potatoes that remind them of what Mom made for them growing up.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 13.9 x 8.4 x 18.6 inches (regular), 15.5 x 9 x 6.5 inches (extra large) | Weight: 1.9 pounds (regular), 2.1 pounds (extra lage) | Capacity: 2 quarts, 3.5 quarts | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Best for Mashed Potatoes and Gnocchi: Williams Sonoma Exclusive All-Clad Food Mill
What We Love: Ergonomically designed, chef-influenced, durable
What We Don't Love: Pricey
This food mill is unique for its stainless steel construction, which extends beyond the usual bowl and discs to the handle and milling crank. All-Clad worked with professional chefs to design it, and it comes with three blades for fine, medium, and coarse grinding. It’s made extra comfortable thanks to an ergonomic ball on the handle—all stainless steel—that twists as you turn it.
Chef De Leon tells us: “At Tarbell's, we use [the] stainless steel Williams Sonoma food mill. It's high-quality, durable, and lasts a long time.” He says that the food mill makes the preparation time much more efficient when making homemade sauces, mashed potatoes, and gnocchi—not only does it separate and peel unwanted skin and seeds from vegetables, but it also allows you to peel, mash, or grate freshly boiled or piping hot ingredients, he says.
"I love a food mill for gnocchi because you don't have to wait for the potatoes to cool down. ... This tool can peel and grind potatoes while they are hot and passing through a food mill. It also creates lighter, fluffier gnocchi as a result," he adds.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 16.25 x 7.5 x 8.5 inches | Weight: Not available | Capacity: 1.75 quarts | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Related: The Best Pasta Makers
Best for Baby Food: Green Sprouts Fresh Baby Food Mill
What We Love: Single serving, sturdy yet light construction, built-in feeding bowl, easy to clean and store
What We Don't Love: Not as great with meat, tricky to remove "blade" from bowl
Convenience is key for this all-in-one baby food mill. While you can make baby food in any mill, many parents don’t want the hassle of storing the extra. For any parents who prefer to make baby food in one swoop, this food mill is ideal for its built-in serving bowl. That means that unlike with other food mills, you don’t need to dirty a separate bowl to grind the food into, then have to dirty another bowl to serve it. Instead, you simply grind the food at the top directly into the serving bowl.
The bowl fits safety spoons, so there is no concern on that front. It’s made of BPA-free, food-safe plastic and stainless steel, making it lightweight but sturdy, as well as portable and extremely easy to clean—all things many reviewers highlight. It’s also quite inexpensive. It can puree all baby food favorites, from peas to carrots to apples. Some reviewers do say it has a bit of trouble with meat, however.
Material: Polypropylene (food-safe plastic), stainless steel | Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 x 8 inches | Weight: 0.6 pounds | Capacity: 0.25 quarts | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Best for Jams and Jellies: Cuisipro Deluxe Food Mill
What We Love: Extra-large capacity, sturdy construction, enhanced scraping, non-slip handles
What We Don't Love: May require a bit of elbow grease to set up
If you’re making jam or jelly, chances are that you’ll be making a solid quantity of it. As people rarely go through the work of canning for only small quantities, my search for the perfect jam and jelly food mill focused first on size. While most home cooks don’t need a professionally sized food mill for jams and jellies, they do likely want one that is larger than average to ensure as few patches of scraping as possible.
This extra-large food mill has another element that makes it best for jams and jellies: the way it scrapes food as it mills. The innovative scraper works automatically as you turn the handle, so you get the smoothest, most continuous flow. The mill features non-slip handles and comes with three different disc sizes. The smallest, at 2 millimeters, is ideal for getting seeds out of jellies. Though its price hovers around $100, it’s a worthwhile investment for home canners.
Many users rave at how easy this is to operate and that it completely disassembles to make cleaning a breeze.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 17.5 x 9 x 9.25 inches | Weight: 6.3 ounces | Capacity: 3 to 4 quarts | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
Related: The Best Canning Supplies
Best for Tomatoes: GEFU Stainless Steel Flotte Lotte Food Mill
What We Love: Quick and effective on tomatoes, sturdy construction, reasonable price, strains well, should be able to withstand regular use
What We Don't Love: Tricky to assemble
Unlike foods with thick peels like potatoes and apples, tomatoes have very thin skins that can easily get caught in the blade of a food mill. Because they’re also full of many seeds, the food mill can quickly become blocked and ineffective. So when looking for the most appropriate food mill to grind tomatoes, we opted to focus on ones that did the best job of scraping as they went without ever getting stuck. Enter the GEFU food mill, which customers say works powerfully to get every last bit of tomato pulp ground.
It comes with two discs and boasts the ability to handle tough-to-grind items, from tomatoes to leeks. Hovering at around $75, it’s priced slightly higher than average, but worth the money for the ease with which you can create tomato sauce. Users say that it gets the most tomato pulp of all mills they’ve tried, and yet is also the easiest to clean afterward.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 16 x 9 x 5 inches | Weight: 3 pounds | Capacity: 2.1 quarts | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes
The best overall food mill is the OXO Good Grips model, which is made of stainless steel and comes with three different-sized blades. Its three legs make it ideal to place over any surface, and users love its ease of use. If you’re looking to make larger quantities of foods, such as jams and jellies, your best bet is the GEFU extra-large model.
How We Selected
To create her final list of the best food mills, Ariane took an in-depth look at the scores of options available on several of the major kitchenware retailers and online bestseller lists. She considered criteria such as price, customer ratings, capacity, ease of use, and cleaning. She also consulted chef and culinary expert Adrian De Leon to get his take on what aspects he looks for to see if a food mill is the right fit.
What to Look for When Buying a Food Mill
With so many models available that can be cleaned in the dishwasher instead of by hand, there’s no need to settle for one that requires handwashing. Still, it helps to look for one that partially or completely comes apart for easier cleaning.
You want to look for a mill that will last through moderate to regular wear and tear. Stainless steel is a better choice than aluminum, as it will last longer and hold up better through years of use.
If you want to use your food mill for more than one task, choose one that comes with two or three different-sized discs. These discs should offer you different textures, from fine to coarse, and each is best suited for specific types of food.
What is a food mill used for?
A food mill is used for grinding and pureeing food while simultaneously removing seeds, skins, and peels. Unlike food processors and blenders, a food mill does not require you to first peel or seed the food you want to grind or puree. It can be used to make tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, baby food, jams and jellies, pureed root vegetables, and soups.
What is the difference between a food mill, potato ricer, and food processor?
A food mill grinds food and releases only the mashed pulp, leaving behind the seeds, skins, and peels. A potato ricer is a smaller device made just for potatoes, so it may get quickly blocked and stuck if you try to use it for foods like jams or tomato sauce. A food processor performs similarly to a food mill with its ability to grind food into puree, but unlike a food mill, it does not remove the skins, peels, and seeds; that needs to be done as prep work before you use the processor.
How do I clean a food mill?
Most food mills are dishwasher-safe. If that’s the case with yours, it can be placed in the dishwasher. If not, it should be washed by hand. Most food mills are composed of several parts that come apart, including the handle and the blades. To clean the food mill most thoroughly, you’ll want to unassemble it in the same manner you initially assembled it, and clean each part separately. Be sure to do this after any tough tasks, such as working with berries, where seeds may get stuck in hidden areas of the mill.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Chef Ariane Resnick rejoiced in using her first food mill as a teenager for soups and continues to love them because peeling is one of her least favorite kitchen chores. To choose the best food mills for assorted purposes, she consulted other chefs, delved deep into the current offerings available, and closely examined what customers enjoy best about different food mills.
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