The Best Mortar and Pestle

If you’re on the hunt for the best mortar and pestle, the most important things you must consider are the material and capacity. To help you shop, I’ve gathered together the best mortar and pestle you can find on the market today. So, you can have a handy tool for bringing your daily dose of spices and herbs.

Best Mortar and Pestle

A molcajete or mortar and pestle is one of the oldest kitchen tools that’s been around since the Stone Age. It was invented out of a need. And it quickly turned out to be an essential part of hunter life. Primitive mortars and pestles have been used for all kinds of food preparations. From cracking nuts to pulverizing grains; this invention enabled the consumption of a wide range of foods.

Most people believe everything this antiquated tool could do, a modern-day gadget can do better. Old-fashioned as it may seem, but if you’re keen to make exquisite pastes for your curry, then you know that in certain instances, you can get a better result with a heavy mortar pestle. Besides, you’d appreciate a dish better, knowing the work you put in.

Why Invest in a Mortar and Pestle?

Why would you spend on a heavy and bulky instrument when you can toss your herbs and spices in a food processor or blender? Well, you crush plants with a mortar and pestle, while they’re cut with a blade. Crushing is also the best way to extract all of the natural oils, essences, and flavors of, say, basil.

Keep in mind that plants are firm, blocky structures that contain the vital flavor you’ll need. To get the flavor, you must tear them through crushing. It does much more efficiently than a razor-sharp blade. Aside from doing the job efficiently, it far less bruises the herbs than running when you run them through a food processor.

Because a mortar and pestle can only work as swiftly as your hand, it won’t create heat through friction as these modern processors would. This old-fashioned method not only extracts more flavor than a twisting blade. But this also keeps those flavors stronger, and you’ll get more of the enzymes found on green plants. And no matter the design you choose, you’ll find lots of affordable options.

My Top Picks: The Best Mortar and Pestle

ImageProductsDetailsPrice
Best OverallChefSofi Granite Mortar and Pestle SetChefSofi Granite Mortar and Pestle Set– 6 x 6 x 6 inches
– 7.05 lbs
– 2-cup capacity
– Unpolished granite
– Includes an anti-scratch protector
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Best ValueTera Granite Mortar and Pestle with LidTera Granite Mortar and Pestle with Lid– 5.5 x 3.94 x 3.94 inches
– 8.2 lbs
– 2-cup capacity
– 5.9-inch long pestle
– Unpolished granite
– Includes a silicone lid
– Includes a garlic peeler
– Anti-slip padded base
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Best CapacityVasconia Granite MolcajeteVasconia Granite Molcajete– 8.8 x 9.2 x 13 inches
– 8.9 lbs
– 4-cup capacity
– Round-ended pestle
– Has 3 legs on the bottom
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Best Easy to CleanTera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle Tera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle – 3.94 x 3.31 x 3.54 inches
– 1.87 lbs
– 1-cup capacity
– Food-grade, BPA, and lead-free
– Padded bottom
– Includes translucent lid and a brush
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Best BudgetSagler Marble Mortar and PestleSagler Marble Mortar and Pestle– 4.1 x 4 x 3.6 inches
– 1.35 lbs
– 4.2-inch long pestle
– 3 Ounces max capacity
– Unpolished interior
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Reviews: The Best Mortar and Pestles

Mortar and pestles are very useful in creating pastes and mixing dip. You can grind all types of ingredients that you can put in a food processor. From nuts, seeds, herbs, to avocado. You can even use it to crush medicines. It’s a kitchen staple that comes in varying sizes and features. Get to know the best mortar and pestles through the reviews I’ve curated below.

ChefSofi Granite Mortar and Pestle Set – Best Overall

ChefSofi Granite Mortar and Pestle Set

If you’re looking for the best mortar and pestle, the ChefSofi Granite Mortar and Pestle Set may be an excellent choice. Among the most-rated products on the market, this mortar and pestle is a large and durable spice grinder that wows many home cooks. As large and heavy-duty as it is, the size and weight of this set still isn’t overwhelming. The mortar offers a 2-cup capacity and an evenly rounded bowl.

This 7-pound mortar and pestle has an unpolished interior. Giving it enough roughness that’s needed for crushing tough ingredients. As well as getting the best aroma out of your ingredients. And since granite stones are kind of heavy, this mortar has a good heft to it. So, it won’t slip off while you’re doing the manual labor.

If you’re like me and you’re into making guacamole, pasta, and curry paste, the size of the mortar will be ideal for the task. It’s an excellent powerful tool in transforming, say, tough fresh garlic into a more soulful paste under just a few poundings. You can also use it for grinding wet and dry ingredients, making it a multifunctional tool for whatever dishes you have in mind.

Pros:
• Heavy duty
• Good heft offers non-slip support
• Offers large capacity; ideal for sauces and pastes
• Multifunctional
Cons:
• Some users find it heavy
• Hard to clean
• Requires seasoning

Tera Granite Mortar and Pestle with Lid – Best Value

Tera Granite Mortar and Pestle with Lid

The Tera Granite Mortar and Pestle with Lid could make processing herbs a therapeutic task. This 8-pound mortar and pestle offers a 2-cup capacity. It’s an ideal size for all your dips, salsas, and sauces. Featuring a 5.9-inch long pestle, it reaches the bottom and walls of the mortar. Making the process quicker and produces great results.

The unpolished granite interior also is a big plus here. It gives the mortar a good roughness to process any boxy leaves to extract the essences. The mortar also features a stick-on pad on the base to safeguard your countertop and keep the mortar in place. It has a garlic peeler as a freebie, and a handy silicone lid, which lets you gauge your movement while preventing splatter.

When you use it for the first time, I suggest you grind some rice in it to expel the granite powder on the mortar’s surface. This thick and heavy-duty tool is ideal for smashing herbs and spices, grinding coffee beans, tea leaves, as well as preparing guacamole and marinades.

Pros:
• Heavy duty
• Offers large capacity; ideal for sauces and pastes
• Non-slip pad on the bottom offers support
• Includes a silicone lid and a peeler
Cons:
• Requires seasoning
• Lid doesn’t fit snugly
• Some users find it heavy

Vasconia Granite Molcajete – Best Capacity

Vasconia Granite Molcajete

If you’re looking for a molcajete that offers a roomy bowl for your salsas, pesto, and guacamoles, the Vasconia Granite Molcajete could be worth consideration. Its round bowl offers a generous 4-cup capacity. It’s a great hands-on tool for grinding grains, spices, and herbs.

The smooth interior of this molcajete offers an effective grinding surface. Its aesthetic is both classic and traditional, which I also appreciate. Another thing I appreciate is the three feet on the bottom. It’s handy in providing support and a protective layer for your countertop. You may find the shorter, round-ended pestle harder to wrack with, though. But I think it’s still a great addition to your food prepping arsenal.

Pros:
• Offers generous capacity
• Classic design
• Has feet on the bottom for support
Cons:
• Heavy
• Some users say the fine grits are hard to remove

Tera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle – Best Easy to Clean

Tera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle 

Cleaning the aftermath can be a bit of an annoyance sometimes, especially after spending your energy doing the manual labor. If this sounds like something you’d rather do easily, then you may opt for the Tera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle.

This easy-to-clean and lightweight mortar and pestle is made of BPA and lead-free materials. So, you can be assured that it’s safe to use on grinding herbs and spices. It has a padded bottom that serves as a protective layer for your countertop and keeps the mortar in place.

The translucent lid that comes with lets you gauge your movement while keeping the ingredients in the bowl. And the best thing about this mortar and pestle is that it doesn’t retain residue or odor. It’s a perk you get from a stainless steel design. And because it’s very easy to clean, all it takes is a thorough rinse under the tap, and it’s ready for next use.

Pros:
• Lightweight
• Easy to clean
• Made of food-grade materials
• Padded bottom offers support
Cons:
• Slippery surface; lack the roughness needed for grinding
• Smaller capacity
• Lightweight; makes it wobbly on the counter

Sagler Marble Mortar and Pestle – Best Budget

Sagler Marble Mortar and Pestle

And lastly, the most affordable option on the list, the Sagler Marble Mortar and Pestle may be a great addition to your kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I’ll always find marble molcajetes elegant. This mortar and pestle offers you a lightweight option for grinding your ingredients at 1.35 pounds light.

It’s made of solid, lovely white marble with grey accents. The interior of the mortar is unpolished and rough, giving your beloved herbs and spices a nice grinding surface. Its 4.2-inch long pestle also complements the large bowl, allowing you to reach the walls and the floor of the mortar for efficient results every time.

It offers 3 ounces of maximum capacity, which I think might be a bit too tiny for most people’s liking. But I think it would suffice for small grinding of garlic cloves, peppercorns or cinnamon, nuts, and seeds. Upon reading reviews though, some users say it’s a bit brittle. Plus it’s not that hollow. Just a few things to keep in mind.

Pros:
• Elegant marble design
• Unpolished offers a great grinding surface
• Lightweight and compact
• Long pestle
Cons:
• A bit brittle
• Lightweight; could be wobbly on the counter

What To Look For in a Mortar and Pestle

What To Look For in a Mortar and Pestle featured photo

Before getting into the pounding and crushing process with a mortar and pestle, it’s important to first determine what you need one for. Then, you’ll have to look into its size and material, the bowl’s shape, as well as its interior. Find out more through the handy buying guide below.

Size and Capacity

Getting the ideal size for your mortar, you should first know the intense use for it. If you only want to crush herbs and spices, a smaller mortar could well suffice. But if you intend to use a mortar for larger projects such as guacamole, pesto, or fresh salsa, you should opt for a larger one with roomy capacity.

In any case, you shouldn’t use a narrow, thin, or short pestle in a large mortar. Why is that? It’s always likely that you’ll bump your hand against the large mortar’s edge with a short pestle. Also, if the pestle’s head is too narrow, it could end up pushing flavorings around rather than pulverize them.

Round Bowl

It may not seem like a big deal, but the shape of your mortar makes a lot of difference in crushing your ingredients. To ensure that you can glide around and crush each piece in the mortar, use should opt for an evenly round bowl.

On the other hand, a pestle will have a greater difficulty reaching the food with cylindrical bowls. Especially those with sharp corners at the bottom. Cylindrical bowls make grinding the food down more difficult.

Unpolished Interior

It’s a known fact among every home cook that uses a mortar and pestle every day: a glossy bowl equates to inefficiency. You should avoid mortars with glossy, smooth bowls if you can. Such mortars don’t have the abrasive properties necessary to actually shear and crush foods.

But if you want an easier-to-clean mortar, there you may opt for one with a smoother interior. There’s an obvious trade-off here. Remember that a mortar doesn’t have to be so rough where it’s porous that it’s hard to clean. But it shouldn’t be too smooth, either. Whatever you choose, make sure it serves your demands.

Materials and Easy Cleaning

The convenience of cleaning is an essential key to finding the ideal mortar and pestle for you. Since this tool comes in a range of materials, there are ways to wash each material.

Stone

Marble and granite stones are the ideal materials for mortar and pestles. They are strong enough to withstand the heavy pounding. These stones are heavier, though, and you’ll need to season them before use. To season them, you can add some dry white rice, then crush it until it becomes powdery. You can then remove the rice, then keep grinding until the bowl is free of chalk. Then, rinse it with warm water and dry it. 

You can do this same method if you need to wash away stains or unpleasant odors. If possible, ditch the soap. Stone’s semi-porous surface can absorb a soak up taste.

Also, you can disinfect them with lemons. After rinsing, you can season it with lemon juice, stroking liberally. Then, allow it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off.

Wood

With its natural and rustic look, I find wooden mortar and pestle an attractive option. But due to their lightweight nature, they might not be a good choice for a heavy-duty pounding. Woods are also known for absorbing odor, so you should properly care for them. You can clean wooden mortars and pestles in the same manner as you would for stone.

Clay and Porcelain

Certain commonly used materials have drawbacks, one being clay. It’s relatively porous and brittle when pounded. And you must clean a clay mortar and pestle the way you’d do with stone. As with porcelain, its lightweight nature and susceptibility to breakage are areas of concern. The good news is that they can withstand a run in the dishwasher.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the most common materials used for mortar and pestles nowadays. As you may already know, they have a slick and slippery surface, which causes the spices and herbs to hop out of the mortar. They are also convenient to clean in the dishwasher.

How To Use A Mortar and Pestle

How To Use A Mortar and Pestle featured photo

It’s in the wrist movement and the needed energy for mortar and pestle-ing. If you begin too quickly, the ingredients you’re trying to grind will likely hop out of the mortar, leaving you with a mess to clean up. But if you begin too slowly, the process will take an eternity. Whether you’re grinding for sauces, pounding for butter, or crushing spices, a mortar and pestle comes in handy.

If you want to grind for sauces:

  • Pour your ingredients into the mortar, holding it in place with one hand  
  • Grip the pestle in your fist securely and firmly. 
  • Press the pestle’s rounded end into the spices, and spin it against the mortar with firm pressure. 
  • Repeat until you’re satisfied with the consistency.

If you want to pound seeds and nuts:

  • First, do some grinding, making the pounding process easier. 
  • Using the wide, rounded end of the pestle, pound the ingredients. You can do this effectively and fast by doing short, staccato strokes. 
  • While pounding, you may have to arch your hand over the mortar to keep the ingredients from jumping out of the bowl.

If you want to crush spices:

  • Put your ingredients in the mortar and pound them together.
  • Twist the pestle across and over your ingredients, causing them to cut and break. If you require the ingredients to be coarse rather than pulverize, you need to use caution. This is to avoid grinding them finely. 
  • Repeat the movement with lighter pressure until all of the ingredients are properly crushed.

Best Mortar and Pestle FAQs

How do you pick a good mortar and pestle?

A mortar and pestle should ideally be made from a material with considerable heft. A solid surface is also crucial since surfaces that are just too rough or porous seem to be hard to clean. But also, mortars with surfaces that are too smooth are slippery. This can cause spices to sprinkle out.

Do I need to season my mortar and pestle?

Yes, but only if it comes unseasoned, or if it’s made of granite or stone. The reason you’ll need to season such a mortar and pestle is due to the porous surface. It can release grit debris of the stone into your meal at first use. So, seasoning is important as it cleans and prepares the surface by expelling any of the particles.

Is granite mortar and pestle safe?

Yes, it’s absolutely safe to use a granite mortar and pestle. But you’re going to need to season it first out of the box to prevent any debris from getting into your food.

Final Verdict

My favorite is the ChefSofi Granite Mortar and Pestle Set because it’s multifunctional, heavy-duty with a decent capacity for all your daily grinding needs. Also, in the granite category, the Tera Granite Mortar and Pestle with Lid could also be a great option. This mortar and pestle, much like the ChefSofi one, is heavy-duty with roomy capacity. Plus, it includes a silicone lid and a peeler as a freebie.

Now, if you want one with a really large capacity, you may check out the Vasconia Granite Molcajete. This molcajete offers a generous capacity of 4 cups, completing the package with a classic design. On the convenient side, the Tera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle may be a great option if the ease of cleaning is your concern. This lightweight set has a sleek finish, made of food-grade stainless steel.

But if you’re looking for something a little more affordable, you may refer to the Sagler Marble Mortar and Pestle. It has an elegant marble design, with an unpolished interior that offers a great grinding surface. This set is also lightweight and compact. It’s an easy option for small grinding sessions.

I hope you find this guide helpful in finding the best mortar and pestle for your favorite homemade dishes. Make sure to check out the latest prices and discounts on these old-fashioned but so beloved spice grinders. Good luck!

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