The Best Grater

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After conducting 40 hours of research, speaking with seven experts, and testing 28 models head-to-head, we found that the best all-around grater for your kitchen is the Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater. Its super-sharp etched teeth shred hard and soft cheeses, carrots, and potatoes more efficiently than almost any other model we tried. And unlike most box graters, it shaves off delicate wisps of citrus zest without tearing into bitter pith and will even cleanly slice a potato, making it the most versatile grater we found. At $30, it’s one of the more expensive models out there, but it delivers on performance: If you have the Cuisipro, you won’t need a drawer crammed full of tools for different grating needs. 

Last Updated: October 7, 2015
In the six months since we made our initial picks, we've used the Cuisipro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Box Grater at least weekly, and it continues to slice everything we throw at it with efficiency and ease. See below for more long-term testing notes.
Expand Most Recent Updates
March 30, 2015: After 40 hours of research, expert interviews, and testing 28 graters, we found the $30 Cuisipro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Box Grater is the best for most home kitchens. It shreds hard and soft cheeses, as well as carrots and potatoes, more efficiently than almost any other model we tested. Plus, it shaves off wisps of citrus zests without tearing into the bitter pith—unlike the competition—making it the most versatile grater we found.
Cuisipro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Boxed Grater
Combining the versatility of a box grater with the etched teeth usually found on a rasp grater, the Cuisipro is the only tool we’ve found that nicely handles any kind of zesting, grating, or shredding job.

For many people, a grater is just a grater. But after testing dozens of models, we concluded that a grater isn’t just a grater if it’s also a zester and, in a pinch, even a serviceable slicer. The Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater is the only model we found that can do all three tasks well. It excels, in part, because it combines the versatility of a traditional box grater with the fine, very sharp etched teeth often found on rasp and paddle graters. In fact, Cuisipro makes some of the only box graters we’ve seen that have etched rather than stamped teeth.

In addition to reading editorial reviews and scouring user reviews of graters, we interviewed five food experts, a product designer, and a product design engineer, and tested graters by zesting lemons, grinding nutmeg, shredding ginger, and grating 6 pounds each of vegetables and cheese. 

Also Great
IKEA 365+ Vardefull
This very affordable grater won’t zest citrus or grate spices, but its bidirectional teeth will efficiently shred cheese and vegetables should our main pick sell out.

In case the Cuisipro grater sells out, we’d get the IKEA Värdefull. At $7 it’s one of the least expensive box graters around, and its bidirectional holes make it one of the easiest and most efficient to use. It only has big and small holes, so it’s best for cheeses and vegetables and not suitable for zest or spices. The container reduces mess considerably, and the grater can be used upright or on its side.

Also Great
Microplane 38004 Professional Fine Spice Grater
Paddle and rasp graters are ideal for efficiently zesting citrus and grating spices, ginger, and hard cheese. This one’s durable construction and wide plane performed far better than any other one we tried.

If you simply want a tool for citrus zest, spices, ginger, and hard cheeses like Parmesan, get the Microplane Professional Series Fine Grater ($17). The razor-sharp teeth take off just the right amount of zest, while the wide plane makes quick work of a block of hard cheese. Its heavy-duty, nearly all-metal construction makes it durable, and its slim shape fits easily into a drawer or utensil holder.

Table of contents

Why you should trust me

I’ve worked in the food industry—with stints in a restaurant kitchen, cookware retail, and chocolate making—since 2002. I’m the managing editor of the print quarterly The Art of Eating and have written for that magazine as well as Saveur, Condé Nast Traveler, Feast, Jamie, and Tasting Table, among other publications.

For this guide, I interviewed David Lebovitz, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse and author of seven cookbooks, the most recent of which is My Paris Kitchen; Lillian Chou, former food editor of Gourmet magazine and a food writer and consultant; Joan Nathan, author of numerous cookbooks, including Quiches, Kugel, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France; Tim Kemp, culinary manager of home cooking delivery service at Blue Apron; Allison Arevalo, co-owner of Oakland mac ’n’ cheese restaurant Homeroom and author of The Mac + Cheese Cookbook; Tara Marchionna, formerly a product design engineer for Smart Design and now freelance; and Alistair Bramley, a product designer currently at Smart Design. Marchionna and Bramley have designed graters as well as many other tools and gadgets for OXO and other companies.

Should I upgrade?

A dull grater is the kind of thing you might be able to ignore for a while, but a sharp one will make grating noticeably easier and faster.

If you’ve been regularly using the same grater for more than a few years, it’s probably time to replace it. Whether we’re talking about stamped holes or etched teeth, the edges of a grater wear down with use, just as the blade of a knife does. But unlike many knives, a grater can’t be sharpened. The duller the edges, the more force and effort required to grate that potato. A dull grater is the kind of thing you might be able to ignore for a while, but a sharp one will make grating noticeably easier and faster. 

Generally, you’ll find graters in four styles:

  • Box: The most common type of grater, this is essentially a sheet of steel that has been bent into an open-ended rectangular container. These graters have multiple grating surfaces: medium and large holes, the bumps that make the kind of powdery cheese gratings you would shake out of a green canister, and a slicer, which is like a fixed-width mandoline.
  • Flat: This is basically one side of a box grater that can be held vertically or horizontally over a work surface. Most have just a single size hole, but a few have multiple sizes and even a slicer.
  • Rasp: Modeled after a classic woodworking tool, this style of handheld grater has a long, narrow grating surface best for smaller tasks, such as zesting or grating hard cheese. A paddle grater, a type of rasp, has a slightly wider grating plane.
  • Rotary: With this type of grater, the food (usually hard cheese) is placed in the cylindrical drum and a turning mechanism passes it through the holes in the drum. (Because of their limited uses, we did not consider rotary graters for this guide.)
Clockwise from top left: the Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater, Rosle Coarse flat grater, and Microplane Professional Fine paddle grater.

Clockwise from top left: the Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater, Rosle Coarse flat grater, and Microplane Professional Fine paddle grater.

How we picked and tested

A grater consists of a flat or slightly curved steel surface with holes, which are made either by stamping or etching or a combination of the two. In stamping, the holes are mechanically punched out of a steel sheet, and the side of the hole that protrudes catches the food and forces it against the edge to shear it apart. For etching, a chemical process is used to corrode thinner, more flexible sheets to create very sharp, fine teeth that catch and shave off pieces of the food.

The OXO Good Grips Zester on the left has etched teeth, while the OXO Medium Grater on the right has stamped holes.

The OXO Good Grips Zester on the left has etched teeth, while the OXO Medium Grater on the right has stamped holes.

Etched teeth tend to produce thinner shreds than stamped holes—and deep, stamped holes produce the thickest shreds of all. Product design engineer Tara Marchionna told us that in her work designing graters for OXO, she and her colleague, product designer Alistair Bramley, found that the shape of the hole determined the shape of the grated product: Square holes make thicker middles and thinner edges, which is what can cause curling, while round holes make gratings that are a consistent thickness end to end. 

grated-pecorino-612

Pecorino shredded by a variety of box and rasp graters.

On the surface, etched teeth may seem preferable to stamped holes because they can be made sharper, but there are trade-offs. America’s Test Kitchen points out in its grater review (subscription required) that the more rigid surfaces of stamped models produce thick, uniform shreds, while the super-sharp teeth of etched graters snag food easily, but bend against dense vegetables, creating less contact and producing shorter, paper-thin shreds.

Although there was considerable excitement when Microplane first popularized etched graters, they haven’t replaced stamped graters altogether.

Although there was considerable excitement when Microplane first popularized etched graters, they haven’t replaced stamped graters altogether. Many food professionals continue to use regular stamped box graters day in and day out. Food writer Joan Nathan, author of Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, among many other books, prefers the feel of the traditional stamped box grater for making coleslaw and potato pancakes. Serious Eats culinary director J. Kenji Lopez-Alt said, “I used to be way more into Microplane than I am now … I used to do things like cheese on it, and there was a time when restaurants all used to use Microplanes, but these days I prefer coarsely grated cheese. I use my box grater for almost everything.” Both use inexpensive, standard graters of some unknown brand. 

Graters do not have standardized hole sizes. Coarse holes are useful for shredding vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, as well as firm or soft, elastic cheeses (like provolone, cheddar, and mozzarella). Fine holes are good for citrus zest, garlic, nuts, spices, ginger, and hard cheeses (like Parmesan and Pecorino Romano). Many box graters also have pinhole bumps, which are best for turning hard cheeses into powder.

All of the box graters we tested, plus a box-style folding grater that can be used flat. 

All of the box graters we tested, plus a box-style folding grater that can be used flat.

We wanted to find a single tool that could tackle all shredding and grating tasks with the greatest ease, and the most important consideration for that is blade quality. As Fine Cooking says in its review of graters, “[Graters] are only as good as their cutting surfaces are sharp.”

Besides being sharp, a good grater should sit stably on the appropriate surface to ensure safe grating; a stable base or non-slip edge for paddle and flat graters makes that easier. It should be consistent, shredding efficiently all the way down to the last nubbin without making the food crumble. It should also be comfortable to hold, easy to clean, and not make a huge mess. Deep sides or a closed shape in a box or box-style folding grater prevent shreds from flying everywhere. Some models come with a container for catching the gratings. Others come with a guard that protects the blades and your hands when the grater’s not being used.

To test the fine graters and zesters, I used each to zest half a lemon, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, an ounce of Pecorino Romano, and a tablespoon of ginger. For medium and coarse graters, I shredded 6 ounces of carrot (which is about a medium-sized carrot) and 4 ounces of mozzarella and also shredded a bit of potato on each to make sure they could handle that task as well. On the box graters with a slicer, I also sliced a potato. Initially, I timed the trials but found that for most jobs the differences were negligible.

Our pick

Cuisipro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Boxed Grater
Combining the versatility of a box grater with the etched teeth usually found on a rasp grater, the Cuisipro is the only tool we’ve found that nicely handles any kind of zesting, grating, or shredding job.

If you want one tool that can take care of all your grating needs, get the Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater ($30). It’s one of the few box graters that has etched teeth, which makes it sharper and more versatile than almost every other model we tested. It was the only box grater we tried that has four sides that we’d actually use. The grooves that run vertically along its face also help it shred and zest much more smoothly and efficiently. Its vertical orientation and straight sides made it easier to grate with than flat, paddle, and curved models. Finally, its solid construction and useful features—like a non-slip removable base and measurement markings—helped this model stand out from the competition.

Instead of pinhole bumps (like those of the stamped Norpro Box Grater, left), the Cuisipro has extra-fine etched teeth for zesting citrus.

Instead of pinhole bumps (like those of the stamped Norpro Box Grater, left), the Cuisipro has extra-fine etched teeth for zesting citrus.

The Cuisipro’s etched teeth are inherently sharper than those you find on stamped box graters.

The Cuisipro’s etched teeth are inherently sharper than those you find on stamped box graters. That means the Cuisipro’s teeth can bite into vegetables or cheese with little resistance, and grating requires less force or effort. In our testing, even grating ginger—usually a mess on stamped box graters—was a breeze for the Cuisipro, neatly slicing through the fibers and quickly reducing it to a pulp. I have also had trouble in the past with ginger fibers getting stuck in etched teeth, but in retrospect, that was surely the result of a dull grater.

The left half of the lemon was zested with etched holes, the right on stamped holes; note the white patches on the right where some of the pith was scraped off.

The left half of the lemon was zested with etched holes, the right on stamped holes; note the white patches on the right where some of the pith was scraped off.

The other box graters we looked at had only two useful sides—the small and big holes.

One of the things that impressed me the most about the Cuisipro is that all four of its sides are useful. The other box graters we looked at had only two useful sides—the small and big holes. The small holes on stamped graters were terrible at zesting citrus, resulting in patchy coverage and scraping off way too much pith without getting that much zest. In contrast, the Cuisipro has very fine teeth that cleanly shave zest and that are also much better at grating hard cheeses for finishing dishes. None of the other box graters we considered (except for the 6-sided Cuisipro) had this capability because they were all stamped.

Potato sliced on the Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater.

Potato sliced on the Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater.

The Cuisipro’s slicer was also much more useful than those found on other models. It’s sharp enough to replace a mandoline, in a pinch, producing thin potato slices suitable for a gratin or even for making thick-cut potato chips. The slicers on the stamped boxed graters weren’t sharp enough to cleanly cut potato and I would reach for a knife before using one of them.

The Cuisipro has grooves that run through the teeth, which help reduce resistance as you grate.

The Cuisipro has grooves that run through the teeth, which help reduce resistance as you grate.

According to Cuisipro, the grooves (Surface Glide Technology, they call it), parallel channels that extend vertically through the teeth over the entire face, help reduce resistance and also elongate each blade so that a larger cutting surface comes in contact with the food. I did notice that whatever food I was grating glided very smoothly over the plate instead of stopping or stuttering like it did on many of the other graters—especially stamped ones like the OXO Two-Fold, IKEA Idealisk, or RSVP Endurance—and the grooves also helped guide the direction that I grated in. The gratings themselves tended to be longer on average than those of other graters.

The Cuisipro was less tiring to use than handheld paddle graters and less scary to shred on than the flat graters.

The Cuisipro was less tiring to use than handheld paddle graters and less scary to shred on than the flat graters. During testing, I found that grating vertically was much easier than grating horizontally. For one thing, you have gravity on your side, and for another, grating downward feels much easier to control than grating away from yourself or to the side. With a paddle grater, you end up having to push the grater both down on your work surface and against the food, so the whole setup is much less stable and requires more work than a box grater. All of the boxed graters performed about equally in this when compared with the paddle and flat graters.

Carrot grated on the OXO Box Grater on the left, Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater on the right.

Carrot grated on the OXO Box Grater on the left, and Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater on the right.

I also preferred the Cuisipro’s flat grating surfaces. Ones with pronounced curves—like the Norpro container model—would hollow out concavities into the food I was grating (especially vegetables like carrots and potatoes), which made it difficult to grate evenly and left skinny, pointy bits that broke off and couldn’t be shredded.

The quality of the Cuisipro’s construction is better than most. Only the grip is plastic, and it’s joined very smoothly to the rest of the handle. Unlike with cheaper box graters, such as the Norpro Stainless Steel Grater we tried, the Cuisipro’s top and bottom edges are carefully rolled and covered by the plate so that bits of food don’t get trapped.

The Cuisipro on the left has a much neater, more tightly rolled edge than the Norpro on the right.

The Cuisipro on the left has a much neater, more tightly rolled edge than the Norpro on the right.

While this grater didn’t need the plastic base to keep it in place, it did come in handy for other tasks. Attaching the base turns this model into a volumetric measure, because there are measurement markings on the sides of the grater. A handle in the base makes it easy to remove when the contents are needed and also keeps your hands away from the sharp teeth. Similar bases on other graters (which tended to be containers) were much more fiddly and difficult to remove. The base also doubles as a ginger grater and was one of the few graters we tested that was able to collect the desirable juice (although we preferred grating this ingredient on the Cuisipro’s smallest teeth).

Cuisipro box graters are the only ones we’ve found with integrated volumetric markings.

Cuisipro box graters are the only ones we’ve found with integrated volumetric markings.

 America’s Test Kitchen recommends this model and says, “With ultra-sharp etched teeth, a sturdy base, and a comfortable handle, this four-sided grater zipped through mozzarella, Parmesan, and ginger.” Amazon reviewers also like it, and with 73 reviews, it’s earned 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The one thing the Cuisipro is not good at is grating mozzarella (despite what ATK says)— which, to be fair, very few other graters can do well. In our testing, nearly all graters caused the cheese to crumble and shear off in chunks. Because the Cuisipro’s teeth are so sharp, you can’t really force smaller chunks through the holes unless you’re wearing a cut glove to protect your fingers.

Mozzarella is a pain to grate, even on the Cuisipro.

Mozzarella is a pain to grate, even on the Cuisipro.

While the big and medium holes on the Cuisipro have a nice wide 3.5-inch plane for grating, the zesting and slicer sides offer only about 2.25 inches. That’s not a big deal when it comes to zesting lemons or grating nutmeg, but it does make it hard to slice a large potato or beet. And even though the Cuisipro’s teeth shave food easily, and thus faster, they also shaved more finely, requiring more swipes over the grating surface.

This is also not the tidiest grater. Even with the removable base attached, gratings fall off the front of the plate, so you still need something to catch them.

All of the graters we looked at are dishwasher-safe, but Cuisipro recommends hand washing its graters. A representative told us that putting them regularly through the dishwasher can dull the blades—much as it would a chef’s knife. Still, like all the graters we tested, it was very easy to clean under running water and with a soapy sponge.

Long-term test notes

In the six months since I made my initial picks, I’ve been using the Cuisipro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Box Grater at least weekly, and it continues to slice everything I throw at it with efficiency and ease (sometimes a little too easily — for soft items like tomatoes, where my fingers might end up against the grating holes, I still pull out the IKEA 365+ Värdefull). The grater has stayed razor-sharp, especially because I’ve taken care to wash with a soapy sponge instead of in the dishwasher (and often times, all it needs is just a rinse under hot water).

The runner-up pick

Also Great
IKEA 365+ Vardefull
This very affordable grater won’t zest citrus or grate spices, but its bidirectional teeth will efficiently shred cheese and vegetables should our main pick sell out.

Although we think the Cuisipro is the best, most versatile grater you’ll find, the IKEA Värdefull ($7) works really well if all you need is to grate veggies or cheese. Its bidirectional holes make grating super easy and efficient—better, in some cases, even than the Cuisipro. This grater doesn’t excel at zesting, though, and it’s also a bit messier to use and less solidly built than our main pick.

The Värdefull’s bidirectional holes.

The Värdefull’s bidirectional holes.

The Värdefull is designed to be used vertically or horizontally, which gives you flexibility and also frees up some counter space if necessary. There are only two hole sizes on this grater—large and small—so, as we mentioned, it’s best for vegetables and cheese. Because it’s not etched, so not knife-edge sharp, you can push through the last little nubbins of mozzarella without worrying about tearing up your fingers (though it still pays to be careful). The gratings on the large holes come out slightly smaller than what you’d typically get from other models, while the small holes make average-sized fine-medium gratings.

The slide-in container works well enough at limiting mess, which is especially pronounced without it, since it has no sides. You still need to grate over a plate or board because some gratings will fall from the front of the plate. Gratings also tend to collect in the divot that forms the pull-out handle—a small inconvenience, but not a huge deal.

There is a lot of plastic in this grater, which probably explains why it’s only $7.

There is a lot of plastic in this grater, which probably explains why it’s only $7. Even so, it feels very sturdy and is much more rigid than the OXO Two-Fold that we tested. It’s also dishwasher-safe. If hand washing, wipe sideways to avoid shredding your sponge on the bidirectional holes.

Also great: for zest and spices

Also Great
Microplane 38004 Professional Fine Spice Grater
Paddle and rasp graters are ideal for efficiently zesting citrus and grating spices, ginger, and hard cheese. This one’s durable construction and wide plane performed far better than any other one we tried.

If we had to pick one grater to do it all, we would go with the Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater, but if you’re looking for something just to zest citrus and grate nutmeg, we recommend the Microplane Professional Series Fine Grater ($17). It’s more efficient than any other paddle or rasp grater we tried—even others made by Microplane.

grated-zest-612

Lemon zest produced from rasp graters.

As product design engineer Tara Marchionna, who worked on OXO’s graters, told us, “Microplane has such a stranglehold on the market because of its highly protected combination stamping-etching process,” which produces the sharpest graters out there. That sharpness, together with the slight angle of the teeth, means that Microplane graters remove zest with just the right amount of delicacy and thoroughness. Those teeth slice right through ginger fibers as easily as the Cuisipro (though there’s no included container to catch the juice as with our top pick).

The teeth on the Microplane Professional Series Fine Grater are angled just slightly enough to take off citrus zest without tearing into pith. 

The teeth on the Microplane Professional Series Fine Grater are angled just slightly enough to take off citrus zest without tearing into pith.

Microplane’s Professional Series’s large surface area can grate a big block of cheese more quickly than the narrower Microplane Classic Zester/Grater I tried. The former is made almost entirely out of metal—only the non-slip rubber stop on the end is not—which makes it much more durable than the Classic or Gourmet Series versions and other models with plastic handles or frames. Even though the handle is smooth, it’s not slippery when wet, and it fits comfortably even in a small hand—and was fine in bigger hands, too. Its plate also caused the least amount of shearing and crumbling among paddle and rasp models when grating hard aged cheese.

On the downside, that wide plate can make it hard to see what you’re doing, and because it doesn’t have wraparound teeth, you can’t maneuver it into nooks and crannies to get every last bit of zest.

The Microplane Professional Series Fine Grater is highly rated on Amazon; 153 reviewers give it 4.8 stars out of 5.

Care and maintenance

All the graters we tested were easy to clean; hold them under hot running water and wipe or blot with a soapy sponge, taking care not to wipe against the blade (or you’ll shred your sponge). It’s best to at least rinse them immediately after use. Almost all the graters are also top-rack dishwasher-safe, although hand washing—which is what Cuisipro recommends—will help keep the edges sharper for longer. Little bits of food can get stuck in etched teeth, especially the smaller ones, and for that Microplane recommends soaking the grater in warm water and then stroking a cleaning brush in the same direction as the teeth.

As with knives, it’s best to store graters some place where they won’t get banged up and dulled. If the grater comes with a guard, you should use it to protect the grater and also your hands.

The cooking experts we spoke to had some useful tips for grating. Cookbook author Joan Nathan grates over a silicone mat on a cutting board and just picks up the mat to dump everything into the bowl. Food writer and consultant Lillian Chou says, “You need to slice vegetables in half to start with a flat cutting surface and apply even pressure so you don’t end up with a weird angle.”

What to look forward to

Cuisipro sent us a sample from their V Grater Series (the Extra Coarse, MSRP $36). This paddle grater, new for 2015 and only in limited stock on Amazon, is worth looking out for. We were enormously impressed by how beautifully and neatly this etched grater shredded carrots (not to mention how quick and easy the task was). The deep sides help direct all the gratings into a single, tidy pile.

This grater also performed better than any of the other paddle graters on mozzarella and better even than our top pick, with minimal shearing or crumbling. Because it grated the cheese so neatly, the shreds didn’t tend to clump and stick together as much as they did with other graters. You’ll still need some hand protection to pass the last little nub of cheese through, since the teeth are so sharp. Of course, as the Cuisipro V Grater has only one size of hole, it isn’t as versatile as our main pick.

Carrot shredded by the Cuisipro V Series Extra Coarse grater.

The Cuisipro V Grater’s deep sides help prevent gratings from flying everywhere.

Competition

Cuisipro 6-Sided Box Grater ($36): Overall we liked this grater, but unless you’re particular about garnishes we think you’re better off with the 4-sided Cuisipro. This model adds a side for shaving chocolate or Parmesan and another that turns hard aged cheeses (like Parm) into the consistency of powdery snowflakes. It also occupies roughly twice the volume as the 4-sided version, and each side offers only a 2.25-inch-wide strip for grating, which is about the same as the narrower sides on our top pick.

Microplane Classic Zester/Grater ($11): This is one of the most touted, most preferred fine graters out there, but in testing we found it wasn’t great at efficiently shaving cheese and it was the least effective at grating ginger. This model does excel at zesting, though. As product designer Alistair Bramley pointed out to us, the teeth that go around the bent blade can reach any part of a lemon. He also notes that “it can get the most cheese out of nooks and crannies against hard rinds, which when you are dealing with an expensive Parmesan is a valuable feature.” But we found it took a lot of extra effort to grate cheese, and this model caused a lot of shearing. Also, a few Amazon reviewers complained that the handle broke off. Despite the fact that the Microplane Classic was recommended by Good Housekeeping and ATK, receives strong Amazon reviews (4.8 out of 5 stars), and is the one many experts we spoke to and many Sweethome staffers have at home (including this writer), we much prefer the Microplane Professional Series Fine Grater for zesting and fine grating.

OXO Two-Fold Grater ($13): This folding grater very nearly became one of our picks because of its pared-down, space-saving design, but the poor quality of its construction kept it from making the final cut. Where it really shines is with mozzarella, which it shredded much better than any of the other graters, even the runner-up IKEA Värdefull. It produces attractive, even shreds that look like the kind you would get in a package. Because of its open design, however, those shreds often end up all over the counter. While it does get high ratings on Amazon, with 141 reviewers giving it 4.4 out of 5 stars, some reviewers do complain about its flimsiness and its tendency to flex. We had similar concerns so we ultimately cut it.

Microplane Professional Series Coarse Grater ($17): Even though Microplane calls the teeth on this grater “coarse,” this model’s holes were too small for mozzarella or for producing large carrot shreds. I didn’t find this grating size to be as useful as truly coarse or fine graters, and hard aged cheese tended to crumble on it. It does get high ratings from Amazon reviewers (173 give it 4.6 stars), with most complaints directed at the hard-to-remove adhesive that the product sticker leaves behind.

The Microplane Classic Grater/Zester aces zesting citrus, but it’s not so good at grating cheese or ginger, and its cheap build kept it from making the cut.

Carrot shredded by the Cuisipro V Series Extra Coarse grater.

Microplane Professional Series Extra Coarse Grater ($17): Again, we liked the sturdy, nearly all-metal construction of Microplane’s Professional line, but we had a difficult time grating mozzarella (lots of shearing and crumbling and somewhat messy) as well as carrots (stuttering and stopping). 

Microplane Gourmet Series Extra Coarse ($17): The Gourmet performed about the same as the Professional Series Extra Coarse, which is to say middling. But we prefer the Professional series to the Gourmet because it has less plastic and the handle is more comfortable for small hands, and we found that our top pick, the Cuisipro 4-Sided Box Grater, and runner-up, the IKEA Värdefull, both performed better for coarse shredding jobs.

OXO Coarse Grater ($12): This was one of the better handheld models for grating carrots, producing traditional looking, substantial shreds, but it was terrible for mozzarella, with way too much shearing and crumbling. Among the 104 Amazon reviewers who gave the grater 4.4 stars out of 5, there were half a dozen who complained that the blades were too sharp (and, alarmingly, several even ended up in the ER as a result). There were also a few reviewers who found the handle too short.

OXO Good Grips Zester ($10): Its teeth catch a little too much on citrus, and when you overcome the friction, the sudden jolt can send zest flying everywhere. There was more shearing and crumbling with hard cheese than we had with the other handheld paddle graters, and it also made grating nutmeg difficult.

OXO Good Grips Medium Grater ($8): The bidirectional holes made grating seem to go faster and produced the kind of shreds you would buy prepackaged, but the shreds also clumped up more, and the grater still caused too much shearing and crumbling to keep it in the running. This is really more of a fine grater than a medium one.

KitchenIQ Better Zester ($14): This model tries to improve on the rasp zester with an attached measuring container and a non-stick surface. It makes long, fine, attractive ribbons of zest but can take off too much if you’re not careful. I also found the container superfluous, since zest tends to stick to the back of graters and can be easily measured with your own measuring spoons. The non-stick surface did seem to make it marginally easier to clean, but graters are already easy enough to clean, and this feature didn’t make up for all the additional plastic used in this model (which a few Amazon reviewers complained was flimsy). ATK recommends this zester, but notes that food gets trapped in the crevices where plastic and metal meet.

KitchenIQ Coarse Grater ($15): This made grating carrots very easy and fast, no doubt helped along by the non-stick surface and few teeth. But it also produced a lot of carrot juice, which is not what you want if you’re grating for a salad or cole slaw.

OXO Good Grips Box Grater ($18): This box model has a slim profile and did the second-best job on mozzarella after the OXO Two-Fold. However, it was mediocre at everything else, and the narrow container it comes with makes the grater too tall and tippy to use comfortably. The removable non-slip base of the grater also leaves a substantial gap that traps bits of food.

Cuisipro Dual Grater ($14): This etched rasp model has medium teeth on one half and fine zester teeth on the other, with a guard that covers half and can be slid up and down (but also only protects half the grater at a time when it’s banging around in your drawer). The fine teeth bite a bit too much into zest, and you can end up taking off too much unless you take short, quick strokes. Pecorino crumbled against those teeth, the plate flexed too much, and most troubling, it was difficult to slide that guard up and down—in fact, trying to slide it over was when I felt most in danger of fumbling and grating myself.

KitchenIQ V-Etched Container Grater ($45): This grater set has very sharp blades and was better than most other graters at shredding Pecorino Romano, but like KitchenIQ’s coarse paddle version, this one tended to juice carrots in addition to shredding them. The plate with the smallest holes takes off a little too much when zesting. This grater can only be used horizontally, and it’s the most expensive model we looked at.

IKEA Stralande ($6): While this rasp grater might do in a pinch if you’re extremely limited in space, its plane is too narrow to shred carrots and potatoes on the large holes, and grating mozzarella or cheddar is quite inefficient as well because of the limited surface area. The fine holes do a serviceable job in shredding hard cheese, however, with not too much crumbling.

These removable containers made the OXO on the left and Norpro on the right too unstable and too tall to use comfortably.

The Microplane Classic Grater/Zester aces zesting citrus, but it’s not so good at grating cheese or ginger, and its cheap build kept it from making the cut.

New Metro Design ZestN’est ($16): Unfortunate resemblance to the Ped Egg aside, this zester has several issues. The “ergonomic” design was too large to comfortably grip with small hands. Having to place your entire hand over the zester and the large size of the zester itself make it hard to see what you’re doing. The plastic protective covering and container were both difficult to snap off. While many Amazon reviewers like the container, I found that it was totally unnecessary: if you keep a zester face down while in use, the zest will collect on the back, and you just swipe it off with a finger. Using the container just means having another part to wash. In fact, this model felt like it had too many parts. 

Norpro 4-Sided Grater with Container ($23): This model’s curved sides made it harder to grate consistently. The container also makes it too tall to use comfortably on a counter and though it does store inside the grater itself, the fit is rather sloppy. This grater is also a major space hog: Its base is 6.5 by 5 inches, while other box graters are about 4 by 3 inches.

Norpro Stainless Steel Grater ($10): This bare-bones grater is much trimmer than Norpro’s container version and does an adequate job on most foods. It’s one of the cheapest box graters available, and the quality shows: The rolled bottom edge sticks out a little too far and can trap grated food, the handle is attached poorly, and, in general, it feels pretty flimsy.

RSVP International Box Grater ($17): A high-quality standard box grater, this model is both sturdy and well made, but did not distinguish itself in testing. It was not as good at grating carrots as the cheaper Norpro version.

IKEA Idealisk ($4): The cheapest of all box graters we tried, at just $4, this grater is very similar to the Norpro Stainless Steel Grater in design and construction, though it seemed duller. It was one of the least efficient at grating carrots.

Rösle Coarse Grater ($36): This remarkably sturdy model is one of the most well made and heavy duty, and it’s also very large, about 16 inches long and 4 inches wide. The holes are also much larger than average and quite sharp, but for the price ($36), performance, and amount of space it takes up, its uses are too limited for us to recommend it. Also, despite having rubber feet, this grater slides around on glass (such as the bottom of a bowl) when wet.

Browne Cuisipro Coarse Grater ($26): Good Housekeeping gave it a B, saying, “Even though the Cuisipro Coarse Grater is well constructed, its grating performance didn’t impress us.” We agree. Though it’s as heavy duty as the Rosle, this flat grater performed okay on mozzarella but produced ragged carrot shreds.

Chef’n 2-in-1 Dual Cheese Grater ($10): Cleverly designed so that one side has large holes and the other medium, this flat grater takes up very little room, but did not excel at any grating tasks. Because the holes are positioned diagonally and both sides’ holes are visible at the same time, it can be difficult to tell what the best direction for grating is, and I found myself carving a groove into the carrot, which kept it from grating properly. Good Housekeeping gave it a C+ for being flimsy, difficult to use, and lacking a protective cover.

OXO Complete Grate and Slice Set ($30): Carrots tended to get stuck in this grater. This was particularly problematic since they had to be grated horizontally, which made grating myself seem extra likely.The interchangeable plates don’t sit very securely in the container.

The rest

The Microplane 4-Sided Box Grater ($35) is highly recommended by ATK and Fine Cooking, but its Amazon rating is abysmal: Across 150 reviews it received 2.7 out of 5 stars. The main culprit: the flimsy plastic casing, which falls apart in no time.

While the Amco Box Grater ($7) looks just like the RSVP Endurance version, we eliminated it before testing because of its middling Amazon reviews (16 reviewers, 3.7 stars) and complaints about it coming apart after not much use.

Reviewers of the KitchenAid Grater ($18) on Amazon had a variety of complaints, from the curved surface causing uneven grating to poor structural integrity and other quality issues.

Although we looked at Cuisipro’s 6-Sided Box Grater, we ultimately came to the conclusion that the additional blade options were not useful to many people and not worth the extra bulk, so we eliminated this 6-Sided Stainless Steel Box Grater ($19) before testing.

We did not test the Microplane Home Series because that line includes a great deal more plastic in its design. For just several dollars more, you can get the Professional Series, which is virtually all metal.

The Cuisinart Grater ($19) was eliminated because of low availability.

The Prepworks 5-Piece Grater Set ($14) was not available at the time of testing.

The Chef’n 4-in-1 Tower and Borner CombiChef have been discontinued.

Wrapping it up

For grating, shredding, and zesting with the least amount of effort and the fewest number of tools, we recommend getting the Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater. It’s one of the sharpest box graters available, versatile without having superfluous features, and it’s built to last.

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Sources

  1. Tara Marchionna, product design engineer, Interview
  2. Joan Nathan, cookbook author and food expert, Interview
  3. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Culinary Director of Serious Eats, Interview
  4. Graters, America’s Test Kitchen, September 2014
  5. Nicki Pendleton Wood, Equipment Review: Box Graters, Fine Cooking, June/July 2008
  6. Lillian Chou, food writer and consultant, Interview
  7. Alistair Bramley, product designer, Interview
  8. Grater Reviews, Good Housekeeping
  9. Rasp Graters, America’s Test Kitchen, September 2013

Originally published: April 1, 2015

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