Freshly ground spices offer an aroma and flavor that's impossible to achieve with store-bought pouches. Grinding your own spices requires a little more time and effort, but it's a pursuit that's well worth it. Whether you decide to use an automatic or manual grinder, using freshly ground spices can transform your plain dishes into incredible culinary marvels.
To learn more about how to take your cooking to the next level with a quality spice grinder, keep reading our buying guide. Our top pick is the Secura Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder, a versatile grinder with a sleek design made to season your food to perfection.
Considerations when choosing spice grinders
Electric vs. manual spice grinders
While both are capable of finely grinding spices to be added to food, each type of grinder has its advantages and disadvantages.
Manual grinders require users to crank, push, or pull a mechanism to grind food. They offer a higher degree of control over the resulting grind. They're easy to clean, inexpensive, and compact. Grinding spices manually is time-consuming and may not be easy for those with grip-strength issues.
Electric grinders are incredibly convenient and grind spices quickly. They typically have a larger canister than manual models and grind spices uniformly. They are pricier than manual grinders and are more challenging to clean.
Ease of use
It's crucial that you be able to clean your spice grinder to prevent flavor transfer. You don't want to grind spices for a savory dish and have your sweet baked goods taste like pepper or basil. Opt for models that feature a dishwasher-safe canister. If the unit you purchased doesn't have a removable chamber, use a brush to vigorously scrub the interior and remove any residual powder. If you plan to store your grinder, be sure it fits in your cabinet or cupboard.
A bigger unit doesn't always translate to a sizeable grinding chamber. Check the grinder's spice capacity, especially if you intend to grind large quantities of spices at once. Electric grinders typically have bigger chambers than manual ones.
Remember that spices lose their flavor rapidly, so grinding large batches without a plan for use may be a bit of a waste.
Customizable grind size
Manual and electric grinders may include this feature, which allows users to select whether the resulting grind is powdery fine or gritty and coarse.
There are several spice grinder styles, from sleek electric models to manual options with a utilitarian appearance. If you plan to leave it out on your counter, pick a model that matches your kitchen décor. Otherwise, pick any design that suits you.
Typically, you pay less for a manual grinder than an electric one. Expect to pay at least $15 for a quality manual grinder made of durable materials. A sturdy no-frills electric spice grinder won't cost you more than $20, but a model with more features can cost up to $50.
Q. What's the difference between a coffee grinder and a spice grinder?
A. Many grinders can be used interchangeably for coffee and spices -- just be wary of flavor transfer. A dedicated spice grinder is ideal if you plan to use it frequently. Some coffee grinders may grind spices into uneven bits, which is not suitable for cooking. A versatile unit is perfect for the occasional cook or coffee drinker, but if you're a coffee connoisseur or an amateur home chef, opt for a dedicated unit for either activity.
Q. What's the benefit of grinding spices fresh?
A. Use fresh spices for grinding whenever possible. Grinding them for immediate use provides you with the freshest tasting spices. Freshly ground spices retain their character and deliver bold-tasting results. You may even find that you need fewer spices than called for in a recipe.
Spice grinders we recommend
Best of the best: Secura Electric Coffee & Spice Grinder
Our take: A high-quality grinder with a sturdy, sleek design. Versatile enough to house a variety of ingredients for grinding.
What we like: Capable of grinding items to a fine powder. Works for everything from coffee to spices but be careful to avoid flavor transfer.
What we dislike: Scattered reports of unit breakdowns.
Best bang for your buck: KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder
Our take: A professional-grade grinder with an affordable price tag.
What we like: Compact design with a powerful motor. Grinds quietly and works for a variety of foods. Also has a large canister.
What we dislike: Tough to clean thoroughly.
Choice 3: Bazaar Anatolia Turkish Grinder
Our take: A manual grinder with an antique finish attractive enough for permanent countertop status.
What we like: Eye-catching design with a durable metal construction. Grinds pretty much anything.
What we dislike: Requires manual strength and canister is a bit on the small side.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.