What is a Food Mill?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A food mill is a kitchen tool which is designed to grind, mash, or puree foods. The device is extremely useful for making a wide range of things, from baby food to mashed potatoes. While not a vitally necessary kitchen tool, a food mill can certainly come in handy around the kitchen, so acquiring one is a good idea. Many kitchen supply stores sell food mills along with accessories, and they can also be ordered directly through suppliers.

Mashed potatoes made with a food mill.
Mashed potatoes made with a food mill.

There are several parts to a food mill. The first is a large bowl propped up on sturdy feet. A perforated disc is designed to fit into the bottom of the bowl, and a large flat blade attached to a crank handle clips in on top of the disc. To use the good mill, the chef pours in the food and then cranks the handle, forcing the food through the disc into a waiting container below.

Baby food made with a food mill.
Baby food made with a food mill.

Typically, a food mill comes with a selection of discs in an assortment of sizes. This allows chefs to create foods of varying consistencies, or to make several passes with a particularly stubborn food. Replacement discs are also usually readily available, in case a disc becomes damaged or warped. The food mill may also come with an attaching bowl to catch the food as it is ground out.

When a recipe calls for pureeing or mashing, a food mill can be the perfect tool. It is especially valuable when a food needs to be pureed and sieved, as might be the case with something like stewed tomatoes. A finely perforated disc can be used so that only the tomato flesh comes through, but not the seeds or the skin. The device can also be used as a grinder, though not on truly hard foods like coffee beans or resilient foods such as meat.

Since a good mill can see hard use, it pays to pick out a sturdy specimen when purchasing one. Look for a food mill which can be easily disassembled and cleaned, and try to find one which is capable of standing up to hard use. If the legs can be easily bent or twisted, the food mill will not hold up to extended projects. The disks and blade of a food mill should also be very strong, as they may undergo large amounts of pressure. Look for solid construction and strong materials, avoiding cheap alternatives as they will be ultimately frustrating.

Food mills can be used to puree fruits and vegetables.
Food mills can be used to puree fruits and vegetables.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I was watching a cooking show with Giorgio Locatelli, and he was using a food mill, but he called it something else: not passatutto, purée sieve, moulinette, mouli légumes, or passe-vite but an english term. Does anyone know what else it is called? perhaps the original term before Food Mill? It's driving me crazy?


@galen84basc -- Sorry, can't help you out -- I've always used a Rosle food mill. But I do applaud the work you're willing to put in for your kids' health.

Good job, you!


Has anybody out there ever used a baby food mill?

I want to feed my children organic baby food without paying 10 bucks a jar, so I thought I'd make my own.

I've got it down to two: the Cuisipro food mill and the Foley food mill.

So which is the best food mill? Which one should I choose?


I got a small OXO food mill for my wedding, and it's one of those things that you kind of roll your eyes and snort at until you actually use one.

That thing is great! You wouldn't think it, but I seriously use my food mill probably three times a week.

I mean, I cook a lot, but still, I don't know what I'd do without it.

Now I've updated to a stainless steel food mill, which I would definitely recommend.

This article really has it right -- when you're buying a food mill, read reviews. You really need to get a good quality one, or else you'll be tearing your hair out.

I'm glad that I was fortunate enough to start off on a good one -- now I'm hooked!

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