If you don’t have a mortar and pestle in your kitchen inventory, you should. Mortar and pestles are not an obsolete kitchen utensil and are still valued highly by many chefs and home cooks because of their ability to bring the most flavor out of your spices.
A kitchen knife or food processor will cut and slice your herbs and spices, which provides a different aroma and effect than using a mortar and pestle. For certain foods, knives and processors work great, but for ingredients like peppercorns, coriander, dry chillies, or ginger, a mortar and pestle will crush and pound the herbs, which releases oils differently. In turn, it will create a unique aroma and flavor that other kitchen tools cannot.
If you’re still unsure why you would need one, don’t go anywhere. We’re going to list the best mortar and pestles and why you need one.
The Best Mortar and Pestles
1. ChefSofi Granite Mortar & Pestle
The ChefSofi mortar and pestle is made of granite and has a 2-cup (500ml) capacity. Both the mortar (bowl) and the pestle (club) are made of unpolished granite, which grinds the ingredients easily within the bowl. Unpolished granite is highly favored because it has the abrasive exterior to efficiently grind ingredients with ease.
It is heavy-duty and weighs 7 pounds, making it a durable option for your kitchen. You can grind herbs and spices or pastes and guacamole. It is extremely versatile for all types of ingredients and can do it all.
If you are making a recipe that will use a large number of ingredients, you can grind the ingredients in batches by filling the mortar approximately ⅓ full. This will keep the ingredients from spilling or overflowing.
Cleaning the mortar and pestle is simple. Once you have finished using the mortar and pestle, take some dry, white rice and grind into a powder using the mortar and pestle. The ground rice will remove the ingredients that remain on the mortar and pestle. You can either wipe the remnants clean or run the mortar and pestle under water to remove the debris.
2. ChefSofi Extra Large Granite Mortar and Pestle
This is the largest, heaviest, most durable mortar, and pestle on our list. Made by ChefSofi, it weighs over 17 pounds and holds 5 cups of ingredients. It is 8 inches across and has two pestles; an 8.5” and 6.5”.
You would want to choose this mortar and pestle if you will be grinding large quantities of ingredients or making large batches of pastes, dips, or purees. This option is also great if you will be grinding herbs and spices for medicinal purposes, as you may need to make large batches at a time.
Keep in mind that this large mortar and pestle will take up room on your countertop, so it is not ideal for small kitchens.
The mortar and pestle is made of unpolished granite, which will grind ingredients more finely and efficiently. You will need to clean the mortar and pestle by grinding dry white rice with the mortar and pestle to remove any remaining food particles.
You can also run the mortar and pestle under running water to clean them both. Just make sure you don’t use any soap on the unpolished granite, as the soap can enter the pores of the granite and change the taste of the ingredients that you grind in the mortar and pestle.
3. Chef’n Marble Mortar & Pestle
The Chef’n mortar and pestle is made of marble and comes with a silicone rubber base it can sit on as you use it. This allows the mortar to rotate and turn while you grind ingredients without slipping on the counter.
Because the mortar and pestle is made of marble, it is not as porous or abrasive as unpolished granite. This can have both advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage of marble is that it is dishwasher safe, making cleanup quick and easy after each use.
The disadvantage to marble is that it may not grind ingredients as finely as unpolished granite.
The Chef’n marble mortar and pestle is also more lightweight than other options, weighing only 3 pounds. It is also smaller than other options, holding a little more than one cup of ingredients.
4. Tera Granite Mortar & Pestle with Lid
Made by Tera, this unpolished granite mortar and pestle comes with a silicone lid so you can keep the contents of the mortar within the bowl and keep from spilling over. The lid has a circular opening that allows the pestle to grind the ingredients while the lid keeps them contained. The mortar and pestle also includes a silicone rubber garlic peeler for you to peel garlic perfectly every time.
For additional safety and convenience, there is an included stick-on anti-slip pad that will keep the mortar in place as you grind. The mortar holds 2 cups of ingredients and the silicone rubber lid helps keep all of the ingredients in the bowl as you grind.
It is a heavy-duty mortar weighing at least 8 pounds of unpolished granite. Unpolished granite will help the ingredients grind into a powder or a paste. When you are ready to clean the mortar, take some dry white rice and grind into a powder to wipe the ingredients clean.
You can also run the mortar and pestle under water to rinse off any debris that has stuck to the mortar and pestle. Make sure you avoid using soap so that the soap doesn’t penetrate into the mortar and pestle's porous surface.
5. One Goods Porcelain Mortar & Pestle
This mortar and pestle option by One Goods is made of porcelain and has a bamboo base and handle. It holds around 2 cups and is one of the lightest options available, weighing less than 2 pounds.
Because it is lightly-colored porcelain, it can stain easily if you don’t clean it quickly. Making guacamole, for example, can easily cause the white porcelain to stain green, so you will need to clean it quickly after it is used; otherwise, the mortar and pestle may hold a slightly tinted green color.
To clean the mortar and pestle, you can rinse it out with water and wipe it down with a cloth. You can also grind white rice into an abrasive powder to help remove any of the stains or debris from the mortar bowl.
6. Pepe Nero Mortar & Pestle Set
Any guacamole lovers out there? Then you’ll want to choose this mortar and pestle set by the Pepe Nero Store.
This 5-piece mortar and pestle set comes with a solid granite mortar and pestle, a garlic peeler, an avocado slicer, and a spatula. This makes preparing guacamole quick, easy, and efficient.
The granite mortar bowl holds two full cups of ingredients and weighs nearly 7 pounds. It is large enough to hold many ingredients but not too large that it will take up too much room on a countertop. It is the perfect size for most residential kitchens, especially when making guacamole is the main purpose.
7. Tera Stainless Steel Mortar & Pestle Set
We wanted to include a stainless steel mortar and pestle set on our list because of how convenient and durable it is. Stainless steel is easy to clean, rust-proof, and virtually indestructible. Like porcelain or marble, a stainless steel mortar and pestle has advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage of a stainless steel mortar and pestle is how durable and easy to clean it is. Food will not get stuck in the mortar bowl's porous grooves the way it does with unpolished granite.
The disadvantage of a stainless steel mortar and pestle is how smooth the surface is. The lack of coarseness in the stainless steel mortar and pestle can prevent the ingredients from being ground as finely as using unpolished granite.
This stainless steel mortar and pestle set also comes with a brush so you can easily brush the contents out of the bowl. It also includes a lid to easily contain all of the contents in the bowl as they are ground. The mortar bowl weighs less than two pounds, making it easy to handle as it is used.
The stainless steel mortar and pestle is dishwasher safe for quick and easy cleanup.
Before Getting Started: Season Your Mortar & Pestle
Your mortar and pestle will need to be seasoned before its first use. Don’t worry. This is a quick and easy process that doesn’t take much time or effort; however, it is a necessity before using your mortar and pestle for the first time.
The mortar and pestle you use will have dust particles and potentially bits of granite from the mortar bowl or pestle during packaging and shipping. Without removing these bits of debris, they can end up in your food, and biting down on a piece of granite is the last thing you will want to do.
To season your mortar and pestle, you will need to rinse the mortar bowl with water and let it air dry completely. Do not use any soap or detergent.
Once the mortar bowl has dried, take a tablespoon of dry white rice and grind it into a powder. This will take several minutes, but don’t give up on it, as it is an extremely important step.
Once the rice has turned into a powder, add spices to the mortar bowl to grind into a paste. This will usually entail grinding garlic and other spices to make a paste to cover the mortar bowl.
Finally, you will rinse the paste from the mortar bowl and allow it to air dry once again.
Now, you’re ready to cook!
Why You Need a Mortar and Pestle
The mortar and pestle looks like a prehistoric tool because it was a prehistoric tool. The mortar and pestle dates back to 35000 BC, being used to make medicine and dehull grains. Over time, it has been used to make a variety of foods, medicines, and remedies. This is what makes the mortar and pestle so successful.
While there have been appliances invented to expedite the grinding process, the flavors and aroma from the mortar and pestle can’t be replicated. And some things are worth the extra time and effort it takes to get the result you want.
With a mortar and pestle, you have complete control over the ingredients you are grinding or combining. You can control the exact consistency you desire the ingredient to be.
A mortar and pestle doesn’t take up much room on a countertop in the kitchen, and when they do, they double as a decorative piece.
The Different Materials of a Mortar and Pestle
A mortar and pestle can be granite, marble, porcelain, or stainless steel. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of the materials that a mortar and pestle can be made from.
Granite Mortar and Pestle
Granite is arguably the best mortar and pestle material to choose because it is abrasive. The coarseness of the unpolished granite allows the ingredients within the mortar to be ground more finely than a smooth surface. This is especially important if you will be grinding ingredients that will need to be ground into a fine powder. The roughness of the granite will pulverize the material more effectively than a smooth surface.
The downside to unpolished granite is that it is porous. The surface is uneven and creates many pores throughout the granite mortar and pestle. This can cause material or food particles to get stuck that you will have to remove. What’s more, soap or other dishwashing detergents can get trapped within the mortar and pestle pores, changing the taste of the ingredients that you grind, muddle, or mix inside the mortar bowl.
Granite mortar and pestles are best to use for dry ingredients so that wet or oily ingredients don’t get stuck inside the groves and pores of the granite.
Marble Mortar and Pestle
Marble mortar and pestles are similar to granite because they have a hard base that will help grind the contents inside. Marble is typically smoother than granite, especially unpolished granite, so you may not be able to grind the contents to a fine of a powder as you would if using a granite mortar and pestle.
Marble mortar and pestles are best to use for dry ingredients, like herbs, spices, and medicines.
Porcelain Mortar and Pestle
If you will be mixing wet or oily ingredients, a porcelain mortar and pestle would be best. This is because the surface is smooth and not porous, which prevents ingredients and food particles from getting stuck within the mortar bowl.
Porcelain mortar and pestles are ideal for mixing dips, pastes, and guacamole because the wet or oily ingredients will not penetrate the smooth surface. Just remember that lightly colored porcelain has the potential to stain if it is not cleaned quickly.
Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle
Like porcelain, a stainless steel mortar and pestle is best to use for wet or oily ingredients because of its smooth exterior. The biggest advantage of a stainless steel mortar and pestle is how easy it is to clean. The stainless steel mortar and pestle should be made of rust-free stainless steel to ensure it will last many uses. This should also mean that it is dishwasher safe for easy and effective cleanup.
How to Choose the Best Mortar and Pestle
The mortar and pestle is an extremely versatile tool to keep in your kitchen. You can use a mortar and pestle to make medicine, crush herbs, muddle fruit, mix guacamole, or grind spices.
So what will you be using the mortar and pestle for the most? This is what you will need to ask yourself so that you can decide which is the best mortar and pestle for you.
The ingredients you will use in your mortar bowl will help you decide the material you need the mortar and pestle to be.
Dry ingredients like herbs, spices, grains, and pills are best used in coarse mortar bowls like unpolished granite and marble. This will help the ingredients to become ground to a fine powder if you need it.
Oily or wet ingredients, like fruits and avocados, will be best used in a porcelain or stainless steel mortar bowl because of their smooth surface. The smooth surface doesn’t grind ingredients as finely as the coarse surface of unpolished granite or marble. This is why stainless steel and porcelain are the best for oily or wet ingredients.
Another characteristic you need to consider is both the size of the mortar bowl and the size of your kitchen countertop.
Mortar bowls come in a variety of sizes, from small one-cup bowls to large five-cup bowls. What you will be making in the mortar bowl, along with the size of your kitchen countertop, will help you decide how big you need the mortar bowl to be.
Some mortar and pestle sets come with additional accessories, like nonslip pads for the bowl to sit on, garlic peelers, lids, additional pestles, avocado slicers, and spatulas. You would want to consider this if you will be using your mortar and pestle for specific purposes, like making guacamole.
Nonslip pads for the mortar bowl to sit on are also highly desirable so that the bowl doesn’t accidentally slip out of your hands or off of the counter.
Lids are also desirable for keeping the contents inside the mortar bowl as you grind them. The lid helps keep everything from spilling out. This is especially important if you will be making guacamole or muddling fruit.