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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

The Best Salt Grinders (and what to look for)



Having fresh ground salt available really enhances a meal like nothing else, but how do you find the best salt grinders if you don’t have any experience with milling your own salt at the table? In today’s article, our aim is to give you a quick crash course in the basics of what to look for, as well as to provide you with some examples, so that you can start enjoying the many aspects of your ‘old favorite’ spice that you’ve been missing out on.

Salt seems simple, but it’s far from it — there is an amazing variety of new flavors, textures, and scents that will really take your meal beyond the mundane. With that in mind, let’s talk about the best salt grinders and what you need to know to take this simple favorite to the truly stellar culinary limits of which it is capable!

Our Top 3 Picks at a Glance

Before we get started, we like to include a section for our readers who are in a hurry and might not have time to read through the article just yet. In this section, we’ll give you a quick preview of our 3 favorites and a little about each and if you want to learn more, just be sure to check the links or read on in the article for a more thorough analysis of what we liked.

With that said, here’s our top 3:

  • Best AestheticsKKC Home Accents Wooden Sea Salt Grinder – The KKC is a lovely little grinder. The Acacia wood gives it an antique look, but it’s got acrylic instead of glass for a more sturdy construction. Overall, this was our favorite in the aesthetics category.
  • Most portable and practicalNEW OXO Good Grips Contoured Mess-Free Salt Grinder – If you want a grinder that’s brimming with utility and also perfect to bring camping with you, then the NEW OXO Good Grips grinder is a fantastic choice. With 5 grinding settings, this spartan mill delivers the goods wherever you go and that’s a wonderful thing.
  • Most FunChew Fun Gravity Salt and Pepper Mill – It’s not every day that you see a salt mill that you can use one-handed and which also has a blue LED and futuristic look – great for foodies who are young or simply young at heart!

What to Look for in a Salt Grinder/Salt Mill

Clear salt and pepper grinders on a white background
Clear salt and pepper grinders on a white background.

In order to find the best salt grinder for your own personal needs, it pays to know a little about the basics. Below you’ll find some general rules – not graven in stone, mind you – that will help to give you an idea of what to look for in order to pick out the perfect personal mill for your specific needs.

Let’s take a look!

Mechanical Operation

Manual grinders are usually better at producing a greater yield of salt and pepper. They also do it quicker and faster than the rest of the competition as electrical grinders don’t usually deliver good, consistent grinds at a quick enough pace.

Good Grip

A good grip is essential on a salt grinder or salt mill. Whatever spice you’re grinding, you have to have a good grip in order to control the operation well enough.

You should go with grinders with non-slip grips that have an ergonomic design. This can minimize the chances of the grinder slipping from your hand. Also go with one that is bottom-heavy, since top-heavy salt grinders are liable to tip over easily.

Simple Operation

If you have particularly weak hands, or if you just don’t want to exert much pressure when you’re working in the kitchen or when eating at the dinner table, a salt mill that is easy to operate and doesn’t take much effort or force can make all the difference.

Easy-to-Fill Chamber

Get a salt mill or salt grinder that has a large opening at the top so that you can insert peppercorns and salt lumps easily. With smaller openings, it’s easier to spill some of the contents while filling the salt grinder and make a mess all over the kitchen. Unless you’re using a funnel, you’ll definitely get some grains on your floor when you’re filling a salt mill that has a small opening.

Electric mills are also not ideal in this situation since you almost always need to remove the battery pack before refilling the chamber.

Consistent Grinds

This is the most important aspect of the salt mill after the mechanical operation and makes or breaks the best salt grinders out there. If the grinder is producing, small, consistent grains that are as fine as powder, then you have a winner on your hands. Otherwise, you are probably better off searching for something better.

Our favorite Salt grinders for making the most of every meal

In the sections below we’ll share with you some of the best salt grinders on the market today. We’ll tell you about their composition, what unique qualities they bring to the table, the degrees of fineness to which they grind, and what we liked and didn’t like about each.

If you’re ready, then let’s take a look at those grinders and you can see what you think!

COLE & MASON Derwent Salt Grinder

COLE & MASON Derwent Salt Grinder - Stainless Steel Mill Includes Gourmet Precision Mechanism and Premium Sea Salt

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Starting off we have this Cole & Mason Derwent Salt Grinder and we have to say it’s a beautiful little table top grinder.

Made of stainless steel and acrylic, you can get them in 6 colors – Wood, Black Wood, Rose Gold, Copper, Gunmetal, and stainless steel – so it will blend in perfectly with your dinner table décor. With 3 grind settings from fine to coarse, these grinders measure in at 2.36 x 7.52 x 2.36 inches, and you’ll love being able to have your salt or pepper freshly-ground — exactly the way you like it!

The Pros:

These are good-looking grinders. They are big enough to have a heft to them and the aesthetics are spot-on – they really add a touch of class to dinner. The precision carbon steel mechanism looks and performs as-advertised, so you’re not just investing in a ‘showy saltshaker’ – it gets the job done!

The Cons:

This salt grinder is the best fit for harder salts – softer ones like Gray Celtic Sea Salt may be a bit of a mixed bag if you want to grind them, but for most salts we think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Home EC Premium Stainless Steel Salt and Pepper Grinder Set of 2

Home EC Premium Stainless Steel Salt and Pepper Grinder Set of 2 - Adjustable Ceramic Sea Salt Grinder & Pepper Grinder - Tall Glass Salt and Pepper Shakers - Pepper Mill & Salt Mill W/Funnel & EBook

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Next up we have these Home EC Premium Stainless Steel Salt and Pepper grinders and we have to say it’s a lovely set.

What you get is a simple, elegant set of glass and stainless steel, that grinds in coarse, medium, or fine with a quick adjustment and a little elbow grease. For refills, there’s also a convenient silicon funnel and these are 2.5x.25×7.5-inch tall grinders will hold 6 oz of your favorite salts or peppercorns.

The Pros:

They’re big, beautiful, and elegant without going overboard, and they grind up your salt or pepper quite nicely whenever you like. The funnel is a nice touch, as well, and makes this model a breeze to refill.

The Cons:

With all that glass you’ll need to clean them regularly, but they certainly look nice when you do!

HOME EC Premium Mini Stainless Steel Sea Salt and Pepper Grinder Set of 2

HOME EC Premium Stainless Steel Sea Salt and Pepper Grinder Set of 2 - Adjustable Ceramic, Glass Salt and Pepper Shakers - Pepper Mill & Salt Mill W/Funnel & EBook

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If you like the idea of having your own grinders but don’t want them to be large and unwieldy, then these Home EC Premium Minis are a real treat.

Perfect for a little personal pampering, these grinders measure in at 5 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide – capable of holding ¾ of a cup of your favorite salt crystals or smoky peppercorns. It’s just about a perfect size – portable, but not so portable that they’ll always be empty!

The Pros:

These petite grinders are really quite nice – adjustable for grades of grinding and easy to refill with the included silicon funnel, they won’t even need the glass cleaned as regularly since they’re practically half mirror-finish stainless steel. We’d have to say we found them quite efficient and very charming.

The Cons:

Not the best option if you have a lot of guests, but just about perfect for couples nights where fine food, wine, and a little story-swapping is on the evening’s agenda!

KKC HOME ACCENTS Wooden Sea Salt Grinder Salt Mill

KKC HOME ACCENTS Wooden Sea Salt Grinder,Salt Mill,Coarse Salt Grinder,Wood and Acrylic,Refillable Salt Grinder Mill for Pink Himalayan Salt or Pepper,Adjustable Coarseness Fine to Coarse,8 inch

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Fancy a wooden grinding mill that won’t shatter the first time you fumble it? Well, this KKC Home Accents Manual Salt or Pepper grinder definitely fits the bill.

Measuring in at 2.2 x 2.2 x 8 inches, it’s tall and elegant, and the Acacia wood and acrylic construction gives it a nice balance of aesthetics and toughness. As far as the grinding, you have a reliable mechanism composed of ceramic and stainless steel which may be adjusted with screw caps to perfection.

The Pros:

This is a lovely wooden salt mill and we like the added durability that comes with the acrylic – glass is nice, but acrylic gives you the look with a little additional ‘armor’ to ensure that you’ll be enjoying your mill for many years to come.

The Cons:

It’s wood – so you can’t just toss it in the dishwasher or soak it at all. That said, if you don’t mind a little extra care in cleaning it, it’s a fine mill to have at home.

Mincham Manual Salt or Pepper Grinder for Professional Chef

Mincham Manual Salt or Pepper Grinder for Professional Chef, Best Spice Mill with Stainless Steel Cap, Ceramic Blades and Adjustable Coarseness, Refillable Glass Body with 6OZ Capacity

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This Mincham Manual Salt or Pepper grinder is modestly sized at just 5.3 x 2.55 x 2.55 inches and for those that want a more personal experience with their grinding mill, then they’re quite the nice fit.

Great for hard salts like pink Himalayan and sea salt, the grinding is accomplished with a ceramic spring-loaded mechanism that you can easily adjust with a dial on the bottom. With the thick glass and polished stainless steel, they aren’t fancy, but they’re still beautiful, efficient, and don’t feel awkward to handle – for some of us, that’s exactly what we want!

The Pros:

The glass and steel are quite pretty and we like the heft of them – at 8.4 ounces, they feel substantial without being taxing to use. The grinding dial is also easy to adjust and since there’s a stainless steel lock cap, you won’t have the bottom exposed to the elements when it’s not in use.

The Cons:

We would have like a refill funnel, although the lip is wide enough that you’ll quickly adjust to the procedure — even if there will be a little occasional cursing if you forget to pay attention!

NEW OXO Good Grips Contoured Mess-Free Salt Grinder

NEW OXO Good Grips Contoured Mess-Free Salt Grinder

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This NEW OXO Good Grips grinder has a proprietary design that is a little bit different from what you’re used to – and we have to say that we like it!

The grind setting, for instance, has 5 options for you and it’s adjusted on the side, rather than the bottom! Measuring 2.5 x 2.35 x 5.65 inches, it’s of ample size, but its plastic and glass construction is all about the utility – it’s designed to be efficient and mess-free.

When it’s not in use, you’ve also got a screw cap to keep it sealed, and the ceramic grinder was chosen so that it won’t absorb flavors from hot, aromatic meals that you just spiced-up the other day. If you like a ‘business-only’ salt grinder that produces 5-settings of fine grinding, then the NEW OXO might be your new favorite personal mill.

The Pros:

It’s great at what it’s designed to do and the top-end grinder goes beyond the usual 3 settings, so you can really customize your meals to taste. This is a more ‘spartan’ style grind that’s more concerned with the quality of your salt than it is about looking ‘posh’, and there’s an undeniable appeal to that.

The Cons:

Some folks prefer a marriage of elegance and utility and while it’s not an ugly grinder, some might be put off by the hard plastic (although there ARE OXO models that have stainless steel and glass and you’ll find them on the Amazon link as well!).

Ebaco Original Stainless Steel Salt or Pepper Grinder

Ebaco Original Stainless Steel Salt or Pepper Grinder - Top Spice Mill with Ceramic Blades, Brushed Stainless Steel and Adjustable Coarseness By Pepper Grinder (Single Package)

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Our next personal salt mill is this Ebaco Original Stainless Steel and food-grade glass grinder and it’s a pretty little thing at just 5.3 inches high and 2.6 inches wide. Capable of holding 3/4 of a cup of your favorite salts or peppercorns, It also features a steel cap for when it’s not in use and a handy 5 sizes of coarseness for you to choose from.

A nice mix of utility and dashing good looks, these mills are a great fit for personal use or for the family dinner table. Best of all, the dial-adjusted ceramic grinder won’t absorb smells or flavors from your previous meals, so you can grind to your heart’s content with confidence.

The Pros:

Sweet, petite, and with 5 coarseness settings, you’ll get all the variety you like in your freshly ground salts and peppercorns.

The Cons:

Can grind a little slowly if you are working with harder salts – although if you put in the work, it can rind powder-fine if that’s what you like.

Benicci Premium Salt and Pepper Grinder Set of 2

Premium Salt and Pepper Grinder Set of 2 - Two Refillable, Stainless Steel Sea Salt & Spice Shakers with Adjustable Coarse Mills - Easy Clean Ceramic Grinders w/BONUS Silicone Funnel & Cleaning Brush

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This Benicci Premium Salt and Pepper Grinder set is tall and svelte, with an almost hourglass figure to the glass. Measuring 7.5 x 2.6 x 2.6, they have an impressive size for when you want to make a show of grinding fresh salt or pepper for your special meals, and the shape makes them easier to rip.

Refill is a breeze with the included silicone funnels and with 5 levels of adjustment for the non-corrosive ceramic grinding mechanism, you can get the texture you like to make your dining experience as perfect as possible.

The Pros:

We liked the easy-grip aspect of these, as glass bodied grinders that don’t have a good grip design tend to be a huge risk for taking a tumble and these don’t feel like that will happen anytime soon. They also come with a cute little cleaning brush for maintaining them and with 5 grinding grades instead of 3, they definitely enhance your meals.

The Cons:

They aren’t dishwasher safe, so with your new grinding power you will need to do a little hand-maintenance from time to time and not everyone will be overly keen on this.

Gennua Kitchen Acacia Wood Salt and Pepper Grinder Set

Gennua Kitchen Wooden Salt and Pepper Grinder Set: Refillable Salt & Pepper Mills Adjust for Customized Coarseness, Crafted of Solid Acacia Wood with Ceramic/Stainless Steel Core, 8 Inches Each

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Another wooden entry, we’d like to introduce you to the Gennua Kitchen Acacia Wood Salt and Pepper grinder set. Standing at 8 inches tall, these grinders are definitely attention-getters, and you get a lovely view of the Acacia wood grain instead of the standard ‘glass window’ style of most grinders.

As far as the construction, it’s Acacia wood, non-corrosive ceramic, and stainless steel, with laser engraved ‘S’ and ‘P’ to keep the identification of what you’re grinding readily apparent to avoid mistakes. Built to last, the coarseness adjustment is handled with a stainless steel nut at the top, so that you can switch it on the fly for a fine or coarse grain custom-suited for your preferences.

The Pros:

These are pretty grinders with an ergonomic-minded grip, and it’s nice not having the terror that comes with a potential drop of a more fragile glass-housed grinder. The wooden construction also fits perfectly for those who have a more nature-driven décor scheme at home, so this will be quite appealing for folks who love natural woods and the ambience they bring with them.

The Cons:

Wooden grinders are beautiful, but you can’t just pop them in the dishwasher – so you’ll have a little extra upkeep that you’ll need to accept if you’d like these lovely wooden grinders in your home.

Chew Fun Gravity Salt and Pepper Mill with Adjustable Coarseness

Gravity Salt and Pepper Mill with Adjustable Coarseness Automatic Pepper and Salt Grinder Battery Powered with Blue LED Light,One Hand Operated,Brushed Stainless Steel by CHEW FUN

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For our final salt grinder we wanted to find a fun, electric model, and this Chew Fun Gravity Salt and Pepper mill fits the bill in both the name and utility!

This pretty melding of glass, stainless steel, and machinery is battery powered and has a cool blue LED light built in to add a touch of sci-fi to your old-timey salting satisfaction. This grinder measures in at a whopping 2. X 2. X 8.3 inches, so it’s substantially sized, and grinding settings are adjusted with a top knob for fine, medium, and coarse.

The Pros:

It’s a stylish grinder and the look of it is quite unique – we really liked the blue LED, even if that’s more of a ‘flash’ aspect. It also grinds quickly and well, and you can operate it with just one hand – which you really can’t say about most other grinders. We’ve never seen a grinder quite like it, so that’s certainly got a charm all its own.

The Cons:

It IS battery-powered, so you’ll have to replace that from time to time, and you are limited to 3 grinding settings – which may be a definite deal breaker for some.


We’ve just about reached the end of our salt safari, but before we go, we’ve got a few frequently asked questions on the subject of milling your own salt that we think you’ll find useful. Let’s take a look!

Is it worth grinding your own salt?

It definitely is. While we tend to take salt for granted, there are many different kinds and each brings their own unique ‘spin’ on the spice that you put in almost everything you eat. Sea salt, for instance, has a slightly briny zing to it that really brightens up a meal, while pink Himalayan salt has an earthy scent and a little bit of sweetness to it.

By grinding it fine or a little coarse, you can greatly enhance the taste of it – more coarse salts have a bit more bite, while a finely ground salt can give you the flavor you crave with just the gentlest addition of the spice. Think of it as enjoying an old favorite in new ways that you never expected and try grinding your own salt sometime – the best test really is to simply taste the difference yourself.

Do chefs really use salt grinders?

Yes, chefs commonly use salt grinders to add fresh spices at varying levels of coarseness to drive their meals to the perfection you’re expecting. Pre-ground spices are tasty, but when they are exposed to air they oxidize and this lowers the potency of them. By grinding salt and other spices fresh, you get the FULL flavor of them and the difference is like night and day.

How can I try fresh ground salt without a grinder?

Well, if you have a sampling of some coarse sea salt, pink Himalayan, or another coarse salt that you’d like to try, you could grind a small amount in a food processor. Just stick to a teaspoon or tablespoon (at most) size and a quick run in the processor will reduce the salt crystals to a finer grade and you can taste the fresh burst of flavor. Just be warned – you’ll want your own grinder after you do!

The Verdict

Now that we’ve taken a look at a list of some of the best grinders out there, it’s time for us to share our favorites and the reasoning that goes behind them. Let’s take a look!

Best AestheticsKKC Home Accents Wooden Sea Salt Grinder

The KKC Home Accents Wooden Sea Salt grinder looks like something you might see in the Victorian Era, but the acrylic body upgrade gives it the look of glass with enhanced durability. The Acacia wood is also quite lovely, and as far as aesthetics this one was our favorite (although the Cole & Mason was definitely a close second with all its color options!)

Most portable and practicalNEW OXO Good Grips Contoured Mess-Free Salt Grinder

The NEW OXO is the perfect choice for people who are worried less about aesthetics and simply want delicious, freshly ground salt with 5 levels of coarseness. This is the kind of grinder you can take with you for gourmet camping or simply keep close so that you always know that you’ll have quality salt to perfect any meal that you like. What can we say? We liked it!

Most FunChew Fun Gravity Salt and Pepper Mill

Getting young foodies interested in grinding their own salt can take some convincing, but with an amazing grinder like this Chew Fun Gravity Salt Grinder most of your work is cut out for you. Not only does it have a ‘techy’ look with its mirror shine and blue LED, but you’ll get 33 grades of coarseness from it in an instant and it can even be used with one hand. It’s not for everyone, but some folks will find this ‘foodie toy’ to be both fun and rewarding.

We’d like to thank you for reading today and as always, please be sure to leave a little feedback if you’d like to share some salt grinding tips about grinders, your favorite salts, or anything else that you feel like sharing. Reader feedback is OUR favorite part of this and if we haven’t told you lately, we sure appreciate it when you leave it. Have an amazing day and we hope to see you again soon!

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: David McLemore

David learned to cook at an early age after his mother told him that he couldn't live on pizza forever, Dave uses his modest kitchen skills to recreate sorely-missed recipes from home and to occasionally make new favorite ones from places he is visiting.

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