When it comes to history, no spice has ever made such an impact as a peppercorn. The search for it has spurred global navigation and colonization. And there was even a time when it was worth its weight in gold and was used as legit currency.
Today, it’s been called one of the world’s most popular spices and no dish is ever complete with some ground pepper to accentuate the flavor. Its taste has been described as earthy, woody, pungent, and brash and it pairs with just about any savory dish.
To maximize its flavor though, it needs to be freshly ground before adding it into the dish. This is because its distinct mild spicy flavor tastes also bright and fruity when it’s freshly crushed. Store-bought ground pepper isn’t as flavorful as freshly ground pepper which is why you need to add more of them into a recipe.
That’s why a pepper mill is just as important in the kitchen as the peppercorns are in a pantry. A pepper mill conveniently crushes peppercorns just as easily as a mortar and pestle, without expending too much energy. It’s also handy and lightweight.
Today’s pepper mills are more than just your classic wood curvy designs. They come in various sleek forms and are made with various materials. More than just functional items, they are also decorative pieces that can complement a given theme in a kitchen space. Some are even collectible pieces.
There are models that still retain the hand crank design and others that are battery-operated. While most busy kitchens like the convenience of the latter, there are still those who like the nostalgic feel of using a hand crank to grind pepper. Some even say that these manual models perform much better because it gives them more control in the quality of the grind. This is the same reason that other hand crank tools are popular, including hand crank coffee grinders.
The best hand crank models are those that have durable bodies and sharp burrs. They should also be able to grind efficiently and have adjustable grind settings. And because the tool is going to be used often, it should be user-friendly which means it’s easy to hold and quick to refill.
In this list, I’m featuring the best ones that are practical and useful enough for the everyday home cook. And while I’m someone who leans toward functionality a little bit more than design, these pepper mills aren’t bad to look at either.
Here are my top 5 hand crank pepper mills from Amazon.
Table of Contents
- Best Hand Crank Pepper Mills
- 1. Trudeau 7-Inch Easy Grind Pepper Mill
- 2. OXO Good Grips Radial Pepper Grinder,White,0.385 lbs
- 3. AdHoc SMOOS Salt & Pepper Mill, 5.5″, Mocha
- 4. Peugeot Olivier Roellinger 5.25 Inch Pepper Mill, Chocolate
- 5. 5″ Handmade Manual Wooden Pepper Mill Grinder Sozen, Portable Hand Crank Pepper Grinder
- Buyers Guide to Picking Your Ideal Hand Crank Pepper Mill
Best Hand Crank Pepper Mills
- Trudeau 7-Inch Easy Grind Pepper Mill
- OXO Good Grips Radial Pepper Grinder,White,0.385 lbs
- AdHoc SMOOS Salt & Pepper Mill, 5.5″, Mocha
- Peugeot Olivier Roellinger 5.25 Inch Pepper Mill, Chocolate
- 5″ Handmade Manual Wooden Pepper Mill Grinder Sozen, Portable Wooden Hand Crank Pepper Grinder
1. Trudeau 7-Inch Easy Grind Pepper Mill
This is a medium-sized grind pepper mill that has a carbon steel grinder that produces a consistent grind. The manufacturer says it will stay sharp forever and is four times more powerful than standard manual pepper grinders.
It can hold about 4 ounces or half a cup of peppercorns and it’s easy to use. It has a soft-touch knob that easily adjusts the coarseness of the grind. The crank is also more convenient to turn than most traditional crank mills. It also has a transparent body so that you can easily check the peppercorn content.
This pepper mill comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Easy grip
- Lifetime warranty
- For use only with pepper, not salt
2. OXO Good Grips Radial Pepper Grinder,White,0.385 lbs
This plastic grinder features a ceramic grinding mechanism that can easily crush any type of peppercorn, and even coarse salt, according to some users. It’s easily adjustable for coarse or fine grind and has the capacity to grind slightly less than 1/4 of a cup.
It has a non-slip, oversized knob that’s easy to grip especially for those with weak hands. The crank is also easy to turn because the knob can rotate independently from its lever. The lever arm also has a nonslip handle.
There’s a clear door for easy refilling and a matching base to keep errant pepper particles from escaping. This grinder will work well with a variety of peppercorns like tellicherry, and Szechuan, as well as other spices like chiltepin, coriander, and pepper bush berries.
- Fits comfortably in the hand
- The transparent door is not wide enough to accommodate a large funnel for filling
- It also won’t close if the chamber is full.
3. AdHoc SMOOS Salt & Pepper Mill, 5.5″, Mocha
This stylish grinder mill can be used for both pepper and salt. It has a ceramic grinder mechanism with metal fittings that provide high-efficiency grinding. Settings range from fine to coarse with just a clockwise or counterclockwise turn on its adjusting wheel.
It features the most user-friendly crank system because its rotary handle uses PLANET+®gears. This makes it easier to turn and means less strain on the wrists. Its polycarbonate body, meanwhile, is high-impact and low-scratch resistant.
- Stylish, sleek design
- Efficient crank system
- No see through window to check for peppercorn refill
- No warranty stated
4. Peugeot Olivier Roellinger 5.25 Inch Pepper Mill, Chocolate
The Peugeot brand is well known for quality kitchen utensils and this pepper mill, named after 3-Michellin Star chef Olivier Roellinger is one of the best French-made hand crank pepper mills around.
It features a two-stage burr-style system that wastes no peppercorns by guiding them directly into a double row of steel teeth, allowing a more consistent grind. The settings are easily adjustable; just lift its spring tab and turn the thumbwheel clockwise for fine grinds and counter-clockwise for coarser grinds.
It’s 5-1/4-inches tall and can hold about 1/4 cup of peppercorns. It also features an easy-access reservoir that can grind a full hopper of peppercorns into its drawer cavity.
It will also work well on cloves and tellicherry; some users say it works for coarse salt as well.
- Easy to use
- The grinding mechanism has an anti-corrosion coating for greater durability.
- No warranty stated
- Unreliable customer service
5. 5″ Handmade Manual Wooden Pepper Mill Grinder Sozen, Portable Hand Crank Pepper Grinder
The Sozen brand is a Turkish-based manufacturer of handmade grinders. According to their website, they’re a family business that has been making manual grinders and mills for 120 years. This wooden, artisanal pepper mill draws from that tradition by featuring a classic Turkish design.
Its handmade grinding mechanism is very sensitive and easy to adjust. The outer knob is also easy to crank. This is a great addition to anyone looking to collect traditional hand crank pepper mills.
- Classic Turkish design
- No stated warranty
- Grind coarse setting cannot be changed
Buyers Guide to Picking Your Ideal Hand Crank Pepper Mill
Look for grind burrs that are made from ceramic, high-carbon, or case-hardened steel. Avoid acrylic mechanisms because they're not as durable and may flake into your food.
In terms of quality, steel burr mechanisms are much sharper and lead to a more even grind. But if you’re just looking for a reliable grind, ceramic burr mechanisms will work just as well although they are more prone to dulling than metal-based burrs.
Look for adjustable coarse settings with a consistent grind. Depending on what the recipe requires, you should be able to produce coarse and fine grinds and have options in-between.
Look for models with tight-fitting screws that hold their position well during grinding. This is because loose screws widen the space between the burrs so that the mill will give an inconsistent quality of the grind. This is important especially when you like using a fine grind since you don’t want to have a mix of both coarse and fine particles.
Ease of Use
Check the hand crank design to make sure it's durable enough to withstand constant turning. Is it smooth to turn? Is it long enough so that it’s easy on your wrist? Is it foldable for easy storage?
Does it have a pop-out chute that makes it easy to refill? Most pepper mills have narrow openings that may take a while to put peppercorns in. Some culinary experts actually prefer the traditional hand crank design that allows you to remove the head to fill the shaft because it's much easier.
Is the body shape ergonomic so that it’s easy to hold? Does it have some sort of anti-slip coating or feature that allows you a firm grip even if your hand is oily or wet? Is the diameter too wide that it becomes difficult to hold it? These are the questions you should ask when looking at how easy it is to use.
Capacity and Size
The best size is around 5 to 10 inches in height since this will fit most cabinets. A 10-inch mill is also the best size for holding several tablespoons of peppercorns without them going stale. Leave the super-tall pepper mills for restaurants that need them for aesthetic reasons.
Look for one that gives a generous warranty. Some pepper mills will even have lifetime warranties on the grinding mechanism. Check out also their product pages and scroll through the reviews. Pick the one that has the best customer service so that the pepper mill can be easily and quickly replaced if it breaks during the warranty period.