Mortar and Pestle VS Spice Grinder: Which Is Better For Grinding Spices?

Spices are one of the most common and important ingredients, especially if you are fond of cooking. You can use these ingredients to add aroma, flavor, and color to your dish. However, in order to maximize the flavor of your spices, you need to grind them thoroughly. Though you can find ground spices in many marts, there are times when you need to grind them by yourself. To grind spices, you need both or either one of these most common kitchen tools: spice grinder and mortar and pestle. And in this blog post, we’ll compare these two functional tools.


Pros And Cons

mortar and pestle
Photo credits: Katherine Hanlon


🟦 Mortar and Pestle


This is a traditional tool that is common in everyone’s kitchen. It is used in grinding not only spices, but also herbs. The mortar is bowl-shaped with a robust finish to hold the pressure when the club-shaped pestle is grinding the spices.



  • Can be used in grinding spices, herbs, and nuts, and is essential for making pestos and pastes.
  • The stone material can preserve the flavors of the spices, including the essential oils.
  • It can add traditional aesthetic appeal to your kitchen.



  • It is difficult to clean because of its heavy material.
  • Grinding can be exhausting and it can take a long time.
  • It’s difficult to grind small and hard spices like peppercorn.


🟦 Spice Grinder


This tool is operated with electricity or through batteries. It has blades that rotate fast to grind and crush spices.



  • Can grind faster than mortar and pestle.
  • It’s easy to clean and store
  • Can grind and powderize herbs, coffee beans, seeds, and nuts.



  • Can cost a lot.
  • The noise it produces can be irritating.
  • Too much grinding can lose the flavor of spices.


Variations And Characteristics

spice grinder

Spice grinder and mortar and pestle do not have only one type. They have numerous variations including the material used and the mechanism. Let’s discuss each one of them.


🟦 Types of mortar and pestle


The most common types of mortar and pestle are:


>>Granite: This is the most durable type of mortar and pestle. It is a bit heavy but this is an advantage to withstand a lot of smashing and grinding. You can use granite for grinding nuts, peppercorns, and other hard ingredients.


>>Marble: This type of mortar and pestle has the same characteristics as granite but it is smoother. Having a smooth surface makes it easier to clean because the ground spices can easily slide off away your mortar. 


>>Ceramic: This material is also smooth and glazed. It is also easier to clean but ceramic is only suitable for grinding soft spices.


>>Wood: Olive and teak are the most common hardwood used to create wood mortar and pestle. This is suitable for crushing, smashing, and grinding ginger and garlic.


>>Metal: This is made of aluminum alloy and stainless steel which makes it easier to clean. Because of its durability, it can withstand great force especially when crushing hard spices.


🟦 Types of spice grinder


Though we mentioned that the spice grinder is generally operated by some sort of electricity, there are still other variations of this grinder.


>>Manual: This type of spice grinder has two parts which are the grinding bowl and the crank. To use it, you turn the crank or handle, and grinding will start. A manual spice grinder is available in metal, wood, or ceramic.


>>Electric: This is the most common type of spice grinder because of its fast activity. It has a blade that can grind spices into their smallest pieces. 


>>Multiblade: This is also an electric spice grinder but it has multiple blades. Because of this, it may heat up and affect your spices’ flavor.


>>Burr: This spice grinder does not have blades but it has abrasive surfaces to grind your spices. It is more expensive than the other types because of its parts. And one disadvantage is that the burr grinder produces heat because of friction and this can degrade the flavor of your spices.


Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Option


As you can see, a spice grinder and mortar and pestle have their own pros and cons. Nevertheless, your choice will depend on your own preferences. 


🟦 Which one is better for preserving flavors?


One major reason why we grind spices is to release their natural oil and flavor. In this case, you can use mortar and pestle. But be prepared because you’ll be using your arms to grind your spices and herbs thoroughly.


🟦 Which one is better for grinding hard spices?


Before you choose a grinder, you need to ask yourself first what kind of spices will you be grinding. If you will grind hard spices like cinnamon sticks or peppercorns, an electric spice grinder is the best choice. And if you will grind soft spices, mortar and pestle is the best option.


🟦 Which one is better for grinding large quantities?


Cooking needs a lot of preparation. And if you are going to grind large quantities of spices, you need a tool that can make your work fast. In this case, a spice grinder is a better option. This will help you grind spices in no time!


🟦 Which one gives better texture?


When it comes to spice texture, we all have different tastes. If you want a coarser texture, use a mortar and pestle. This is a great choice for making salsa or guacamole. While if you want a finer texture, like for spice blends and curries, you can use a spice grinder.


🟦 Which one can be cleaned easily?


The last thing you need to consider when choosing the best option is the cleaning process. If you want to clean fast and effortlessly, a spice grinder is the best option. This is because it’s lightweight and doesn’t have grooves. And you can disassemble it also for easier cleaning!


Care And Maintenance

mortar and pestle

Of the two, you need to maintain your grinder tools to ensure that you can still use them for a long time. So how to properly clean your spice grinder and mortar and pestle?


🟦 Mortar and pestle


For mortar and pestle, it’s important to practice cleaning it with soap and warm water after each use. Never use abrasive scrubs or detergents because these can scratch the material of your mortar and pestle. After cleaning it, dry it completely and store it in an airy spot in your kitchen.


🟦 Spice grinder


For a spice grinder, you need to disassemble its parts before cleaning it. This is to ensure that every part is cleaned safely. Remember, your spice grinder is battery or electric-operated, so you need to be careful when cleaning it. Clean the blades and the compartment with a soft cloth or brush, For its exterior, never soak it in water. Just wipe it and dry it completely before storing it.


Which Is The Best Tool?


The answer will depend on what you need. They both grind spices well and they are both essential in the kitchen. If you want finer ground spices, choose an electric spice grinder. And if you want coarse ground spices and a preserved flavor, choose mortar and pestle.


Final Words


If you are having difficulties in choosing which one is the best, consider exactly what function you want it to do in your kitchen. Take note also how often you’ll be using it. And be sure to take into consideration the size of the ones you are looking at, as well as your allotted budget. By using this guide, you’re able to choose between a spice grinder and a mortar and pestle. Just remember, any of these two, proper care and maintenance will determine how long can you use them in your kitchen.


Now that you know which one is better for grinding spices, let’s now talk about the best spices for inflammation! Just click here!