There’s no substitute for freshly ground pepper — and the best pepper mills come with multiple clearly-marked grind settings to help you grind your spice to your preferred fine or coarse texture. Look for mills that have a wide fill opening on the top or bottom so that they're easy to fill without making a mess.
Pepper mills come in various styles and sizes, from traditional hand-cranked mills to modern electric grinders. Hand-cranked (aka manual) mills are quiet but require both hands to operate. They also require a small amount of physical effort — not difficult for many, but if you have wrist pain or arthritis, you may find them uncomfortable to use. On the other hand, electric pepper mills offer quick, convenient, and single-handed operation — without straining your wrists. That said, they tend to be a bit noisy and you'll occasionally have to replace the batteries.
While some pepper mills are designed with cheap acrylic blades, you’ll want to look for mills that utilize more durable materials. Pepper is a coarse spice that requires sharp, strong blades, like those made from ceramic and high-carbon or case-hardened steel. These blades can stay sharp without chipping for a very long time. The biggest difference between the two is that ceramic grinders can grind salt in addition to pepper (salt can be corrosive to steel blades or even gum them up with moisture). You'll want to look for a pepper mill with a peppercorn storage capacity of 1/8 cup to 1/3 cup, which is the fairly standard for most pepper mills being sold for home use.
Scroll on for my top picks for the best pepper mills to grind pepper like a pro!
1. The Overall Best Manual Pepper Mill
With over 2,100 reviews and a 4.6-star rating overall, the OXO Good Grips pepper grinder is a top pick on Amazon. This sleek manual pepper mill features stainless steel accents and a clear acrylic body for an appealing modern look. It features five clearly-marked grind settings that can be locked in place, so you never have to worry about getting a coarse grind when you wanted very fine. The grinding mechanism is made of ceramic, so you can use this mill for pepper or salt.The nonslip bottom is comfortable and easy to grip, even when your hands are wet from food prep. The large opening at the bottom makes it easy to refill without a funnel. The mill has a capacity just under 5 ounces and comes pre-filled with peppercorns.
Positive Amazon review: “This is a great grinder for the money. Fits in my hands nicely and is very easy to grind. There are 5 distinct grind levels. [...] You can actually see the slight difference between the coarseness in each grind. Very happy with this purchase so far.”
2. The Overall Best Electric Pepper Mill
If you'd prefer an electric pepper mill, the Chew Fun pepper grinder is a worthy choice. It has a gravity feature that allows one-handed operation without so much as having to push a button — simply flip it, and it’ll automatically grind pepper until you turn it back to an upright position. A blue LED light comes on while grinding, which is a helpful visual cue that illuminates your plate to help you see how much pepper you’re using. The ceramic blades can be used for pepper or salt, and an adjustment knob lets you choose between coarse or fine grinds. The acrylic pepper mill unscrews from the bottom for easy refilling and, while the brand doesn't provide information about its capacity, users reported it holds anywhere from a half cup to a cup of peppercorns.
This mill requires six AAA batteries to operate, and you'll have to buy them separately. If you want a salt grinder in addition to a pepper grinder, it's available in packs of two. You can also buy it in a few different colors, like silver or black and white.
Positive Amazon review: “This just makes cooking more fun for everyone (and can make you look and feel darn fancy!). It also looks and feels like a much more expensive item. I highly recommend it!”
3. The Best Classic Wooden Pepper Mill
The Peugeot pepper mill is a manual wooden option with a traditional flair, made by the brand that literally invented the first pepper mill. It features an iconic silhouette and a ring at the bottom that you can turn to choose the size of your grind. You can pick between six different settings ranging from coarse to super fine. The grinding mechanism is made of case-hardened steel that should last a long time. To grind, you just turn the easy-to-grip rounded knob.
This pepper mill is made of pure beechwood and is 7 inches in height, with a 4-ounce capacity. However, it's also available in various sizes ranging from 5 inches to 16 inches in height. There's a matching salt mill option that uses a special type of stainless steel coated for protection, but if you plan to grind salt, ceramic blades are still more likely to last. This pepper mill should be easy to fill from the top.
Positive Amazon review: "The pepper is ground consistently, and comes out evenly. The pepper grinder can be operated with ease and refilled simply. I am in love. Well worth the price, a seriously great purchase."
4. The Best Budget Pepper Mill
For those on a budget, the Mincham manual pepper grinder is an affordable option that still gets the job done. This 60-ounce (or 3/4 cup) capacity mill features an adjustable ceramic grinder allowing you to grind either salt or pepper with a twist of the knob. It has three grind settings: coarse, medium, and fine. Refilling is easy — just unscrew the top and pour. The mill's glass body lets you see the spices inside, and the stainless steel top gives it a sleek appearance.
Positive Amazon review: “Easy to use, stylish design.”