Freshly ground flour is more nutritious and flavorful than anything from the store. Unlike commercial white flour which is made from the endosperm, freshly ground flour can contain all the nutrients and fibers of the bran and germ.
This is why some households would prefer grinding their own flour. But on the practical side, doing so is also cost-effective. Grains can last for a long time, whereas commercial flour usually spoils in three to eight months. So it’s much better to buy a sack of pre-hulled grains that’ll last longer and just grind it whenever you need flour.
But in order to make flour from grains, one needs to have a grain mill. And not just any mill. Because there are a lot of kitchen-type grain mills out in the market. There’s a mill that crushes grains like malt for home brewing. There’s another for spices and seeds, not to mention ones for grinding coffee. But for bread and pastries, you need a grain mill that can make coarse and fine flour from whole grains, including ones that contain gluten.
Most home kitchens today prefer an electric grain mill because they’re quick and offer more features (like being able to provide a wide range of texture settings). But these are often noisy and if you’re experiencing a blackout and you don’t have a backup generator, the mill is pretty much useless.
This is why a hand crank grain mill is more useful because you’ll be able to use it without electricity. You can just pull it out of its drawer, clamp it to a table, and start grinding away.
There also other benefits to using a manual mill. Because it has no motor to generate heat, there’s no loss of nutrients and flavor due to the machine’s temperature.
And contrary to popular belief, most hand crank models now don’t take too long in producing flour. It used to be that a standard grain mill will produce six cups of flour, enough for a loaf of bread, with 30 minutes of cranking. But there are now models that take a little less time in achieving that. Besides, we all need an arm workout in the kitchen, every now and then.
The best hand crank grain mills are those that are durable, easy to use, and are versatile enough for grinding stuff other than grains. In this post, I picked the best ones that will suit your needs, whether you need your grains ground for cooking or crushed for brewing.
Here are my top 5 hand crank grain mills on Amazon.
Best Hand Crank Grain Mills
- Victoria Manual High Hopper Grain Grinder
- Roots & Branches Deluxe Grain Mill
- KitchenAid KGM All Metal Grain Mill Attachment
- CGOLDENWALL Manual Grain Grinder Mill
- Northern Brewer Hullwrecker 2
- Enjoyus Hand Crank Grain Mill
NOTE ABOUT MANUAL GRINDERS
I read multiple complaints on multiple models about metal shavings coming off while grinding grains. I do not know if this is a result of cheap equipment, or if this is something that needs to be broken in, or if it's just faulty parts in an otherwise good product. Many of the 1-star reviews and complaints in this area were minority complaints among high ratings, so other people seem to be satisfied with the product. This is just something to be aware of when grinding your grains.
1. Victoria Manual High Hopper Grain Grinder
My favorite of the manual grinders on this list, the Victoria Manual High Hopper is sturdy and versatile. It's constructed of cast iron, locks onto most table sizes, and has a large enough hopper to do some serious work (or just a little if that's all you need. It's possible to grind anything you need, including grains, nuts, and even coffee and meat. Of course, you should thoroughly wash it in between. One reviewer even commented that they stuck in the oven for a few minutes to thoroughly dry it and prevent rusting after washing.
- Can adjust the size of the grind
- Heavy duty cast iron construction
- Grind anything, including nuts, meats, coffee, etc
- Fits 2-inch table tops
- Complaints about metal coming off in grinder
1. Roots & Branches Deluxe Grain Mill
This steel grain mill is ideal for grinding wheat, rice, barley, and small hard, hard dry gains. It has a big capacity hopper that’s capable of holding up to 4-1/2 cups of grain. There’s an optional large grain & legume milling cone that is available to expand the number of grains that one can grind.
It’s equipped with a front dial knob that easily adjusts from coarse for cracked grains to fine for bread flour. The hand crank is smooth to use; one user said it took him about twenty minutes to grind flour enough for two loaves of bread (6-7 cups). The crank is also removable and can be swapped out for a grain mill motor which is sold separately.
This product also includes a mounting clamp that can attach to stable surfaces from 1/2 inch to 2 inches thick. It comes with a 5-year guarantee.
- Easy to crank
- Reduces need for regrinding
- Not for use with wet ingredients and oily seeds
- Not for coffee beans
2. KitchenAid KGM All Metal Grain Mill Attachment
I wanted to feature this attachment for your KitchenAid mixer in a high position on this list because let's be honest, manually grinding kind of sucks when you do it a lot. Sure, you get a kick out of the old-timey nostalgia for a short while, but if you're baking homemade bread for a family of 5 on a weekly basis, a manual grinder just isn't going to cut it.
The main downside is twofold for this device. One, you can't do oily stuff like nuts and coffee, and you will need an expensive Kitchenaid mixer, with will run you $300+ if you don't already have one.
- Choose consistency from fine to coarse
- Requires Kitchenaid Food Mixer
- Cannot grind grains with a high moisture or oil content like coffee, peanuts, or soy beans
3. CGOLDENWALL StainlessManual Grain Grinder
This is a small manual grain grinder that can process less than 50 grams at a time. Ideal for home use, it can be used for processing dry grains, green beans, spices, herbs, coffee beans, pepper, chickpeas, and the like.
Made from 304 stainless steel and not sandblast, it uses an adjustable spring to grind ingredients to a fine powder. It’s easy to install by clipping it on no more than a 4 cm thick tabletop. It can be disassembled for easy cleaning, and the metal body is washable in running water.
- Durable and works well
- Can be fitted with DIY hopper made from a plastic bottle
- Stainless steel for easy maintenance
- Small hopper, not ideal for larger nuts/seeds such as almonds and peanuts.
- Must grind slowly to get an even grind
4. Northern Brewer – Hullwrecker 2 Grain Mill
For those into home brewing beer, this grain mill will make it easy for anyone to achieve the ideal crush for their grains. It has two rollers with an adjustable roller gap (0.025”- 0.1”) that allows for fine-tuning the crush to the desired extract preference.
Its crank handle is ergonomically designed, with a rubberized comfort grip, for easy cranking. The grain hopper can hold about 7 lbs, and it has sealed roller bearings for greater durability. The rollers are made of food-grade stainless steel.
It can also be driven by an electric drill and comes with a custom-designed metal base that will fit on any standard 5 or 6.5 liter plastic bucket.
- Can be manual or electric operated (with a drill)
- Fast crushing with a standard electric drill
- Easy to assemble
- Designed specifically for crushing beer malt and may not be appropriate for “grinding” (you certainly can't make corn masa or peanut butter with this)
- Doesn't come with a container/bucket to catch grains
5. Enjoyus Hand Crank Grain Mill
Constructed from cast iron, this grinder has a large capacity hopper that’s perfect for grinding large batches of ingredients. It’s also coated with a double tin coating to prevent rust.
It’s easy to assemble and use; the coarseness of the grind can be controlled by adjusting the screw to tighten the plate. The hand crank, meanwhile, comes with a long arm wooden handle for easy cranking.
This mill can be used for corn, wheat, and oats, and also nuts, coffee, herbs, spices, and seeds. It comes with table mount brackets for its “clamp-on-style” design and can easily be attached to a countertop up to 1 1/2” thick.
- Versatile for use in home or restaurant
- Easily fits on the countertop
- Hand crank can’t be swapped for a motor
- Multiple complaints about the quality of construction
- Possibly losing metal and paint while grinding
How To Pick the Best Hand Crank Grain Mill
A hand-crank mill uses a burr mechanism to crush and grind grains. It’s made of two grinding plates, one fixed, and the other rotary. These are either made from composite stone or high carbon steel.
Depending on your needs, you can choose a burr model that can only handle hard grains or you can choose a one that can also handle oily or moisture-laden ingredients. Some models have removable burrs so that you easily switch them when you’re milling dry or oily food.
Burrs made out of composite stone are best for producing cracked grains and coarse to very fine meal/cereal textures. They’ll work well with corn, legumes, and other dry grains. They’re also ideal for grinding small amounts of dried spices. But because composite stone is generally porous, it should not be used on wet or oily foods because it will glaze over.
Metal burrs, meanwhile, are ideal for grinding oily nuts, coffee beans, and seeds. Usually made out of stainless steel, these burrs shear the kernels instead of crushing them so they’re more durable and won’t chip or flake. Plus, the flour that they produce is always free of residual grit.
A hopper is simply the container for the grains that you’re going to grind. It’s usually tapered down so that it’s easy to discharge its content directly into the grinding plates. Depending on how much grain you’re going to grind, you can pick a high or a low container.
Some hand-crank grain mills will have additional features. The most useful one is a motor attachment. This will allow your manual model to become an electric-powered grain mill conveniently. Other models come with a pair of stone and steel burrs to allow switching mill capacity depending on the type of grain.
It should be easy and smooth to crank. The handle should also be adequately long so that there’s enough leeway for arm and wrist movement.
Be on the lookout for cheap models that have a metal coating that will easily come off and spill into your flour. In general, when breaking in a new grain mill, experts say that there is always some form of metallic residue during the first grinding. That’s why the first batch should always be thrown away. With high-quality grain mills, this residue, however, goes away during the next cycle. If it occurs again, then you probably have a dud of a grain mill on your hands.
Ideally, if it’s made of high-quality stainless steel, the mill should come with a lifetime guarantee. Barring that, you can always look for one with a standard one-year product warranty. Also, consider a brand's customer service. You need to find one that’s reliable enough so that you won’t have any difficulty requesting a replacement if the grain mill doesn’t live up to its specifications.