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How do I Choose the Best Nutmeg Grinder?

Henry Gaudet
Henry Gaudet

Fresh nutmeg adds flavor and aroma that pre-ground bottled nutmeg simply cannot match. Before you can give your recipes a boost with fresh nutmeg, though, you will need a nutmeg grinder. When considering which nutmeg grinder to buy, you will need to consider features such as design, durability, storage and cost.

Nutmeg comes from grating the seed of the evergreen Myristica fragrans, the nutmeg tree. Its taste is sweet and spicy, similar to allspice and cloves. The dried nutmeg seed can be ground into a fine powder and added to savory meals, soup and stews; Indian and Mideastern dishes; deserts such as cakes, pies and custards; and even spiced mulled wine. Whole nutmeg seeds can keep for a year or more, but ground spice loses it flavor quickly, making fresh nutmeg the preferred choice for most serious cooks.

Nutmeg seeds.
Nutmeg seeds.

Choosing a nutmeg grinder begins with deciding which type of grinder suits best: the hand grater or the mill. Hand graters are small and light, easy to use and store with a minimum of fuss. They work well when nutmeg is used only occasionally. In kitchens that see a lot of baking, a mill might be a better option. Mills can grind large quantities of nutmeg easily, and cooks don’t run the risk of scraping their knuckles.

Whole and grated nutmeg.
Whole and grated nutmeg.

The hand grater style of nutmeg grinders is a small, curved rasping tool with tiny cone-shaped teeth. These grinders are very easy to use, but care must be taken to keep fingertips and knuckles clear of the rasp. If you are choosing a hand grater, select a sturdy nutmeg grinder made from stainless steel instead of a cheap acrylic model that is likely to blunt quickly. Some designs include a reservoir to catch ground spices and to store unused whole nutmeg, which can be a handy feature when space in smaller kitchens is at a premium.

Mulled wine is often spiced with nutmeg.
Mulled wine is often spiced with nutmeg.

A mill-style nutmeg grinder works in similar fashion to a pepper mill. Whole nutmeg is placed in a chamber, and turning a handle in the top of the mechanism spins blades in the bottom of the mill, shaving and grinding the nutmeg. A quality mill can grind nutmeg much faster than a hand grater and doesn't place fingers in harm’s way, but cheaper models might not work properly, grinding too coarsely or not at all. Mills are larger than hand graters and more difficult to store, and mills are more complex devices, meaning that there are more things that potentially can go wrong.

No matter which nutmeg grinder design you choose, you are likely to consider cost when purchasing. Discount models of either style might be unreliable and could become dull or break after only a few uses. High-end devices often include unneeded features and attachments, adding to cost and clutter. A simple grinder with quality parts should be sufficient for most kitchens.

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Discussion Comments


@ZipLine-- I've owned several nutmeg mills because I love nutmeg and use it often. The first one I had was not very good. It would not grind the nutmegs all the way and a lot of it was wasted. The one I have now however works quite well. It grinds the nuts almost entirely, so there is no waste. It doesn't take too much effort either. So when I'm baking and need nutmeg, I can grind some very quickly this way.

I highly recommend customer reviews before purchasing this type of nutmeg grinder. Read reviews and check for information about the sharpness of the blades, whether the nuts get grated all the way and whether it's easy or difficult to clean the grinder.


Has anyone here tried one of those twister nutmeg grinders that look like a large whole black pepper grinder? Do these actually work?


I have a very small hand grater that I use to grate nutmeg. What I love about it is that whatever I grate ends up in the small plastic basin, so I don't need to hold the grater on top of a plate.

I don't use a lot of nutmeg. I usually grate some fresh to top hot drinks like cappuccino. So this works fine for me. But for people who need a lot more grated nutmeg at once cannot do it with a hand grater. It will take too long and it will be tiring.

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    • Nutmeg seeds.
      By: Unclesam
      Nutmeg seeds.
    • Whole and grated nutmeg.
      By: Thomas Francois
      Whole and grated nutmeg.
    • Mulled wine is often spiced with nutmeg.
      By: ExQuisine
      Mulled wine is often spiced with nutmeg.