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Many of us grew up with black pepper sitting on the table next to the salt. But that black pepper was often purchased in the form of a pre-ground powder that gives a kind of dusty spice and not much else (aside from a sneezing fit if you accidentally inhale it). Once you discover freshly ground black pepper, it’s hard to go back. Old favorite dishes become even more beloved: scrambled eggs, cacio e pepe, steak au poivre, and more. This magic is achieved with a pepper mill, which grinds peppercorns to release the fragrant oils within. But how do you find the ideal one for you?
First of all, you want to look for a pepper mill that is easy to load, operate, and reload. Also, there will ideally be several grind sizes, and the size of the ground pepper pieces should look like what you expected. Finally, a less essential but still worthy consideration: How nice is it to look at? After all, this will be occupying prime real estate in your kitchen and on your table.
We compared the specs and dug through the options to come up with this list of the best pepper mills.
Best Overall: Peugeot Paris u'Select 9-Inch Pepper Mill
Peugeot has been making pepper mills since 1840. In fact, it invented them or at least introduced them to the market. Peugeot has stayed at the top of the pepper mill game ever since. This 9-inch mill has an iconic look, a consistent grind, and makes quick work of those peppercorns.
Thanks to its system of cracking the peppercorns and then grinding them, this mill works more quickly than most other models. It is also easy to adjust the grind size: Rather than trying to figure out how the top screw somehow correlates to grind size, there is a dial on the bottom. Plus, it fits nicely in your hands. We could go on, but we’ll stop there. Basically, this is a top-notch pepper grinder, and we think you’ll love it.
Best Budget: Trudeau Seville Pepper Mill, 6-Inch
This affordable mill comes with a lifetime warranty, and its corrosion-resistant carbon steel grinder both gives a reliable consistent grind and will stay sharp. The sleek black finish is also lovely and will add a touch of drama to your kitchen. It’s a little shorter than some other options, but some folks actually prefer that for storage and usage.
The only downside to this mill is the adjustable knob on top—it’s not always easy to see which grind size you’ve landed on, and it can take a bit of fussing to get it right. But, there’s really nothing out there like this for the price, and if you’re on a budget, we think you’ll be pleased with this option.
Best Electric: Eparé Electric Salt or Pepper Grinder
An electric pepper mill can be very handy if you have arthritis or limited use of your hands. Or, it may just be what you prefer, and that is OK too. This one from Eparé is one of the most budget-friendly options. It’s easy to use—there’s a button atop the grinder that you press to grind, and out the pepper comes. It’s handy if you’re adding pepper as you’re cooking because you have a hand free for stirring or whatever else you need.
It comes with a 1/4-cup see-through acrylic container so you can keep an eye out for when you need to reload it. There’s also an LED light so you can see how much pepper you’re really grinding onto your food—an ideal feature for low-light situations or if you have a hard time seeing minuscule pepper grinds. It takes four AA batteries.
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Best Set: Trudeau Professional Stainless Steel 8 inch Pepper Mill/Salt Mill Set
This stainless steel set is easy to hold, includes a manufacturer's lifetime warranty, and will look very chic in your modern kitchen. The pepper mill utilizes a carbon steel grinder and the salt mill has a stainless steel grinder—each is marked with a P or an S so you’ll know the difference. Plus, each has a large adjustment knob that helps make them comfortable to hold. They'll also look great on your counter or dining table and make a nice gift. Reviewers love this set’s precise grind and how lightweight each piece is.
Best Wooden: Cole & Mason Capstan Wood Pepper Grinder
If you’d like an alternative to the Peugeot, the Cole & Mason Capstan Wood Pepper Grinder is excellent. It’s a tad bit taller than the Peugeot (0.5 inches taller, but still), features a more willowy silhouette, and also has a lifetime guarantee. It's made of stained beech wood, which complements traditional kitchen decor well.
This pepper mill does require that the grind be adjusted from the top, but if you don’t mind that, it’s a good option. It has a carbon steel grinder that both slices and grinds, which helps extract as much flavor from the peppercorns as possible. Customers love its tall, grand appearance and large capacity.
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Best Vintage-Style: Etsy Turkish Spice Mill and Pepper Grinder
If you’re looking for something a little more eye-catching, consider this Turkish spice mill and pepper grinder on Etsy. It’s built for a variety of spices, including pepper, salt, cardamom, mustard, coriander, and cumin. While pepper and salt grinders aren’t interchangeable, it’s OK to use a general spice grinder for your pepper (because the goal remains to crush the pod while dispersing the oil inside the pod for maximum flavor). The screw-on top adjusts the grind size and it comes in four sleek finishes. And, it’s budget-friendly!
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Best Gift: Peugeot Olivier Roellinger Pepper Mill
Maybe you’re looking for a gift that will impress your favorite food lover. Or, maybe you are just in need of a little kitchenware treat. Meet the Peugeot Olivier Roellinger Pepper Mill, made from solid beech and inspired by the company's iconic coffee mills. The steel hand crank deposits into a small drawer, which feels fancy, like you’re a Parisian chef, but it's also pretty handy—you can choose exactly how much of your freshly ground pepper you’d like on your food and where you’d like it dispersed. This is a lovely piece that will make your kitchen feel extra special.
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If you're looking for that iconic look and a quick and consistent grind, look no further than our top pick, the cult favorite Peugeot Paris u'Select 9-Inch Pepper Mill (view at Amazon). If budget is a concern, you can't go wrong with the Trudeau Seville 6-Inch Pepper Mill (view at Amazon). It has a reliable grind and will look great in your kitchen.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Writer, podcaster, and professional cheese nerd Christine Clark grew up with powdered black pepper. When she discovered that one could grind black pepper fresh, it was a revelation. She’s never looked back (although she does keep the powdered stuff around for scrambled eggs and cheese because it’s nostalgic) and keeps three to five types of black peppercorns around. Each is special and important!
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