8 best salt and pepper mills
Season your dishes to Michelin-star standard (maybe) with an effective grinder
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One of the few pieces of kitchen equipment used every day, a set of salt and pepper mills deliver a more intense flavour and can transform almost any meal.
Peugeot built the first pepper mill with a metal grinder in 1842 (before that pepper mills were based on a mortar and pestle design). However, nowadays they are generally built with ceramic mechanisms because they are incredibly hard-wearing and won’t corrode.
There are a couple of key factors to consider when buying a salt and pepper mill. Perhaps the most important is whether you mind a little overspill of ground salt and pepper left on a surface every time you put the things down.
If you do, then you should only look at mills that grind from the top and therefore leave no mess. If you don’t mind, then you’ll have twice as many options.
Next, you need to consider the grinding mechanism and whether you’d like to be able to adjust the settings. As a general rule, a fine grind gives an even flavour and is great for sauces, while a coarse grind is perfect for marinades or steaks.
There are three kinds of grinders: a manual crush grinder (a good, simple choice for everyday seasoning); a battery operated grinder (with all the benefits of freshly ground, but zero effort); and a precision grinder (these give a better fragrance and release a real burst of flavour – they also enable you to select the coarseness of the grind).
Finally, you need to look at design, whether you prefer a more traditional style or something modern, and the size and how easy it is to refill.
Bottle Salt & Pepper Grinder Ash & Carbon: £59.95, Conran
A simple modern design by Norm Architects make these salt and pepper grinders in ash and carbon hues look more like beautiful ceramic bottles in the middle of a table.
An oak adjustment knob at the top that you turn to adjust the coarseness gives them a touch of added luxury and natural contrast to the body.
The simple, rounded body fits perfectly into the hand and is coated in silicone to provide a good grip, also making them easy to clean.
A powerful ceramic grinding mechanism is located at the top of the mill, which means they are super hard-wearing, won’t corrode, can give a really fine grind, and even tackle other herbs and spices.
This design also grinds from the top, meaning no mess when they are stored.
Le Creuset Salt & Pepper Mill: £29 each, The White Company
Le Creuset has been making world class cookware for almost 100 years, and a recent collaboration with The White Company means a handpicked, curated selection of their ‘hero pieces’ have been created in timeless cotton white.
At 21cm tall, this set of salt and pepper mills has a classic look with a large P and S on the top that twist to adjust how fine or coarse you would like your seasoning.
Made from superior quality ABS plastic for strength and durability, and with a corrosive resistant ceramic grinder for a longer life, these feel great in the hand, are easy to refill and won’t ever go out of fashion.
Bistro Salt & Pepper Set by Peugeot: £39, Conran
Introduce a little Parisian charm to your table top with these classic salt and pepper mills by French company Peugeot.
Today recognised for their contribution to car design and manufacturing, Peugeot originally began operations in 1812 creating steel utensils such as saws and coffee mills.
At only 10cm tall, these mills fit perfectly in your hand, however don’t be fooled by their size. Peugeot’s commitment today still stands that each mechanism is designed for a specific spice and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
The wooden body and discreet S and P engraved at the bottom of each makes this Bistro set the perfect culinary tool for someone wanting a classic but discreet addition to their table top.
Cole & Mason Gourmet Precision Derwent Acrylic and Stainless Steel Salt & Pepper Mill Set: £47.94, Amazon
Cole & Mason pride themselves on being passionate about the art of seasoning and bringing innovation to our tables. The Derwent set features two contemporary styled mills presented in stainless steel and clear acrylic.
The pepper mill is characterised by a carbon steel precision mechanism that cuts and strips peppercorns (with a satisfying grinding sound as you turn the mill) to break them into small pieces that prompts the slow release of a more intense pepper flavour. The diamond shard ceramic salt mechanism is able to precisely grind salt to also maximise flavour.
Each has six pre-selected settings that enable you to choose from fine to coarse grinds, to give the perfect and precise seasoning you desire.
OXO Good Grips Salt & Pepper Mill Grinders set of two: £45, John Lewis
Made from durable stainless steel with acrylic bodies for viewing the contents, this set comes ready filled with sea salt and black pepper corns for immediate use.
Soft, non-slip grips make them easy to hold and adjust the grinding setting from coarse to fine. They have ceramic grinders that won’t absorb flavours or odours, and the grinder is positioned at the top of the mill so it won’t leave a mess on the table.
One of the easiest to refill, the mill rests flat upside down so you can unscrew the bottom.
Wooden Cactus Salt & Pepper Mills: £49.95, Graham & Green
This quirky set of salt and pepper mills with a ceramic interior make an unusual table top accessory.
Crafted from beech wood and available in both a natural and green finish, each set is stained a slightly different colour, making them a unique addition to your kitchenware.
Paris Salt & Pepper Mills by Peugeot: £40 each, Conran
Produced in France by skilled woodworkers, these expertly crafted medium salt and pepper mills from Peugeot are made from local French PEFC certified beech wood.
To support sustainability, any cutoffs are recycled – and solvent-free paints have been chosen for the coloured versions.
Fitted with Peugeot’s patented system that enables precise grind adjustment settings, these mills have six pre-defined levels of grind and have been treated to protect the steel from corrosion, while maintaining their sharpness and wear resistance.
T & G Tip Top Salt and Pepper Mill Set, Black: £40, John Lewis
Easy to use, leaving no mess on the table, this pair of Tip Top mills is perfect for any contemporary kitchen. Made with an acrylic top and a glass base, each one features the CrushGrind mechanism which has a lifetime guarantee.
Non-corrosive, this ceramic mechanism is harder and sharper than steel for a high and consistent yield. It’s also adjustable through more than 12 grinding positions.
Easy to fill, Tip Top is suitable for salt, pepper, whole dried herbs and spices.
The Verdict: Best salt and pepper mills
Although some of these prices might seem high, all of these salt and pepper mills will last a lifetime and take centre stage on your table, so it’s money well spent. Our Best Buy is The Bottle Salt & Pepper Grinders from Conran – they look so stylish, are easy to refill, you can choose the coarseness, and (best of all) there’s no mess after using them. If you are after a more traditional style, our runner up is the Bistro Salt & Pepper by Peugeot.