Best Mortar and Pestle Sets: Pound & Grind Easyly

As a cooking tool, the mortar and pestle has gained a negative reputation in the United States, where it is seen as quaint but largely unnecessary. However, it is not to be taken lightly.
The mortar and pestle was one of the few tools our ancestors used in the kitchen, and it served them well for thousands of years. The ancestors of ours possessed stones and wood to pound and grind their food, in addition to fire, pointed rocks for cutting, containers, and a means to store it.

In light of its continued importance in cuisines all across the globe, a mortar and pestle should be considered a must-have in every home. Not only did it help our forebears, but it still does what no other culinary tool does: it shatters fibers and cells, radically altering their texture and releasing their whole aroma and flavor. That’s an accomplishment that will never be equaled by a sword.

Where Mortars and Pestles Came From

The mortar and pestle (and similar instruments used to crush and pulverize foods) have played an enormous role in human history. Five to ten million years ago, humans first appeared on Earth. Stone tools for chopping and cutting food were developed some time between two and three million years ago.

The continuous banging of a pestle in a mortar was one of the first tasks that gave rise to work songs, which were music timed to the rhythmic actions of preindustrial life. The thousands of years of thudding that preceded today’s music can only be imagined.

Roughly between half a million and a million years ago, they learned to control fire. Mortar and pestles were used by contemporary Homo sapiens roughly 50,000 to 100,000 years after our initial emergence, according to archaeological data. ** The emergence of agriculture did not occur until sometime after about 10,000 years ago. In fact, the use of a mortar and pestle goes back long before humans began cultivating the land.

Let’s pause for a second and consider this. First there was fire, then there were bladed implements, and last there were mortars and pestles. That was essentially all we had to cook with for a very long time. In the last century or so, new, simple, and fast appliances like the blender and the food processor replaced the mortar and pestle as the primary tool for food preparation.

These modern jars and bowls with spinning blades may be more convenient, but they can’t replace a mortar and pestle. The mortar and pestle crushes despite their deft chopping and mincing.

In spite of the fact that using a mortar and pestle requires some physical exertion, the results are well worth the trouble. And let’s face it, most of us in this nation are spending so much time behind computers that we might all benefit from some more exercise.

To get the most out of our additional effort in the kitchen, we need the perfect mortar and pestle. Nothing is more discouraging than putting in a lot of effort into making a pesto or curry paste, only to have it fall flat.

The fact that a mortar and pestle can be used for so many different purposes necessitates an equally diverse selection of mortars and pestles to accommodate the wide range of tasks that require them. As demand for mortars and pestles has declined, an increasing number of decorative but ineffective imitations have flooded the market. As a result of not being as well-versed in them, we now know less about which ones serve particular purposes. Right now, we need to fix this mess.

Specifications to Consider When Purchasing a Mortar and Pestle

These are the characteristics of both large and small mortars and pestles that make them suitable for most common culinary jobs, with some exceptions that I’ll address below:

Large pestle: Just as you wouldn’t use a toy hammer to pound in big nails, a small pestle won’t do if you’re using a big mortar. It is impossible to use a pestle that is too short for a mortar because it will constantly cause the user to hit their hand on the side of the container. The same holds true for a blender; a too-narrow head will just push the ingredients about rather than pulverize them.

The use of a stone mortar is preferable in most circumstances. Strong, solid, and unyielding stone like marble or granite provides a formidable surface against which to crush anything. Stone is also not as fragile as pottery, so you can really pump some force into it without worrying about cracking or chipping the material. Conversely, wood can make a fantastic pestle, but it doesn’t work too well as a mortar. Given that its density and hardness are comparable to those of many items we grind, it is not as efficient; just as diamonds are used to cut glass, a harder material is preferred for crushing or grinding compounds like spices.

Interior that hasn’t been polished: When shopping for a mortar, look for one with a rough interior rather than a glossy, smooth bowl.

A perfectly spherical bowl makes it considerably simpler to crush whatever you happen to throw at it by just swirling the pestle in a round motion. It’s more challenging to grind and smash ingredients in a cylindrical mortar since the pestle has a more difficult time getting into the bottom corner.

What the pestle is composed of, among other things, is context dependent. I’ll go into more detail down below.

Top 10 Best Mortar and Pestle

Best Overall: ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle Set

ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle Set

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The Reasons Why This Is Awesome

  • Ideal for herbs & spices
  • It is easier to crush and pulverize using unpolished marble.

Solemn Warning

  • Heavy

The ChefSofi Mortar and Pestle Set is a great option because of its compact size, secure handle, and low price. If you’re looking to spice up your cooking game by adding freshly ground spices or herbs in dishes like salads and pasta, this is a good option if you’re new to the world of mortars and pestles.

This unpolished granite mortar has a 2-cup capacity that falls between the smaller (3 ounce) and larger (4-cup) alternatives on the list, and its rough interior surface is ideal for crushing, grinding, or pulverizing your ingredients (think pureed garlic or ginger).

This stone mortar and pestle may be heavy at 7 pounds, but its weight ensures that it will remain firmly planted on your kitchen counter as you work. This set is perfect for whipping up individual servings of salad dressings and chutneys, combining spice blends, and crushing herbs.

This set requires seasoning and conditioning before to use.

Best Budget: IKEA Adelsten Mortar and Pestle

IKEA Adelsten Mortar and Pestle

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The Reasons Why This Is Awesome

  • Value for money
  • Reversible

Solemn Warning

  • Reduced capacity
  • A longer cleaning time is possible.

The Ikea Aedelsten collection is a great low-cost choice. The ridges on the inside of the marble mortar make short work of crushing and pulverizing spices. While the ridges facilitate grinding, you need allocate additional time to cleaning to get rid of any food particles that may have lodged in the nooks and crannies.

The versatility of this set is enhanced by the fact that it may be used in both orientations. Both the mortar and the pestle are reversible, which is fantastic, but what I really like is that the mortar has a shallow and a deep side, so you can use it for grinding and crushing. To pulverize herbs, use the round side of the pestle, while the flat side works well with spherical spices like pimento berries or black pepper.

Best Stainless Steel: Tera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle

Tera Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle

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The Reasons Why This Is Awesome

  • Simple to disinfect
  • includes a cover

Solemn Warning

  • Reduced capacity

Do you wish you had a mortar and pestle that was both portable and simple to clean? Tera’s stainless steel set is long-lasting and odorless since the metal does not rust or retain flavors from prior uses.

Blending, mashing, and pulverizing can all be done in the palm of your hand with this set, making it ideal for those who prefer not to use a flat surface. Its leak-proof cap makes it convenient for on-the-go use or when things get messy in the kitchen.

The sleek metal construction makes cleanup a breeze; simply rinse with running water and soap.

Best Wood: Naturally Med Olive Wood Rustic Mortar and Pestle

Naturally Med Olive Wood Rustic Mortar and Pestle

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The Reasons Why This Is Awesome

  • Intended to be carried without strain
  • Marvelous ornamental addition

Solemn Warning

  • Possible pre-use sanding is required.

If you’re looking for something a little bit different from the standard stone or marble mortar and pestle, a wooden one might be the way to go. This olive wood mortar and pestle is perfect for crushing hard herbs and spices like cumin, coriander, and peppercorns. If you have any pills that are particularly large or difficult to swallow, you may simply place them in the mortar and pound them until they are reduced in size or turned into a powder.

With a combined weight of about a pound, this set is ideal for traveling with fresh herbs and spices. Because of the wood’s distinctive grain pattern, no two mortar and pestle sets will ever look exactly alike. Plus, it’s so pretty, you might want to keep yours out on the counter for decoration.

Best Allstar Pick: Cole & Mason Granite Mortar and Pestle

Cole & Mason Granite Mortar and Pestle

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The Reasons Why This Is Awesome

  • Use it as a plate or a serving bowl
  • Low maintenance

Solemn Warning

  • Heavy

As the granite used to craft the sturdy Cole & Mason Mortar and Pestle is not porous, it won’t absorb the flavors of anything you’re grinding. It weighs 8.5 pounds, which may seem like a lot, but it actually has several benefits. Allstar Rather than pounding away at the mortar, Melanie Giovenzana recommends letting the pestle do the work for you. Her advice is to sit down and hold the mortar between your legs so you don’t get tired. When performing at this level, “arm [and] shoulder muscles don’t become tired so easily.”

This mortar and pestle has a 3-cup capacity, making it ideal for large-scale entertaining, meal prepping, or any other culinary endeavor that necessitates plenty of working space.

So there’s no need to dirty up an additional serving dish by moving the food from its original container to a serving one, this one does double duty. And since it’s so pretty, Giovenzana says she’ll use it for presenting pesto and guacamole alike. Since the granite has a polished appearance, it only takes a quick rinse with hot water to get it looking like new. This set can be put in the dishwasher for a more thorough cleaning.

Best Small: Sagler Mortar and Pestle Set

Best Small: Sagler Mortar and Pestle Set

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The Reasons Why This Is Awesome

  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent for chopping up herbs and spices or dissolving pills
  • Simple to disinfect

Solemn Warning

  • Minimal carrying capacity

Can’t fit much into your kitchen cabinets due to restricted space? Look at this compact Sagler mortar and pestle. Unpolished marble is used to create a mortar whose inside is slightly rough, like light sandpaper, to aid in the crushing and blending of materials.

This set is perfect for grinding fresh spices into small amounts for meals, smashing garlic cloves, or pulverizing various seeds for use in yogurt, cereal, toast, and more due to its compact 3-ounce capacity.

Large, cumbersome pills of medication can be easily broken down into more manageable pieces or powder with the help of this kit. Instead of using a knife, you may just place your pills in the mortar and pound them with the pestle until they reach the proper consistency. It’s also useful for sneaking medicine into your pet’s food. In order to properly clean up, it is suggested that you use soap and water.

Best Large: Vasconia 4-Cup Granite Molcajete Mortar and Pestle

Vasconia 4-Cup Granite Molcajete Mortar and Pestle, Gray

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The Reasons Why This Is Awesome

  • A lot of it
  • Use it as a plate or a serving bowl

Solemn Warning

  • Heavy
  • The need for a deeper cleaning may arise.

The Vasconia Molcajete Mortar and Pestle is an excellent investment if you frequently entertain guests or if you want to prepare big quantities of recipes like curry paste, salad dressings, pico de gallo, or guacamole. Having a container that can hold 4 cups makes preparing meals a breeze. Its large diameter makes it ideal for mashing and mixing, and it eliminates the need for additional vessels. Use this lovely mortar for all of your cooking and serving needs, exactly like many fine dining establishments.

The unfinished, rough interior of the mortar facilitates a more rapid grinding process. This set can be used as a replacement for a blender for preparing baby food, making it a viable option for busy families.

Food particles may hide in the cracks of the rough edges of your mortar and pestle, so be prepared to spend some time cleaning it completely after use.

Buying guide for the Best Mortar and Pestle


To choose the best mortar and pestle for your needs, you must first consider what and how you will use it. According to Giovenzana, a smaller mortar with a lighter pestle is preferable if you only intend to grind spices and herbs. In some cases, as with certain types of spices, a ceramic set may work just as well, though it may be more prone to damage, like chipping, if you pound on it too hard.

While a granite pestle and deep granite mortar may be favored for pesto, nuts, and guac, Giovenzana suggests using stainless steel tools for other purposes.

The experience can be altered depending on whether the surface is polished or unpolished. Although a mortar with a perfectly smooth interior may appear great, it can make it more challenging to obtain the desired results because loose ingredients are more likely to slip around.


Because of its greater stability and resistance to sliding around on the countertop, a heavier mortar and pestle combination is preferable for blending, crushing, and pulverizing substances. Sets made of heavier materials, such granite or marble, will also be heavier than those made of lighter materials, like wood or stainless steel.

Since marble and granite are so heavy, you probably don’t want to store your mortar and pestle up high in the cupboard. Lucky for us, sets of mortar and pestle are so attractive that they can serve as a showpiece for the kitchen island. It’s more likely to get used if it’s in plain sight and easy to access.

Having a lighter set means it’s easier to pack up and take on the road for a weekend of cooking adventure.


With a larger mortar and pestle, you can pound, smash, and mix your sauces and dips without worrying about spills or making a mess. Look for one with a 3-cup capacity or higher. If you enjoy entertaining big groups of people, a larger mortar will save you time by allowing you to prepare one large batch instead of numerous smaller ones. When working with greater volumes, “deep, larger mortars are fantastic,” as Giovenzana puts it.

Cleanup and Maintenance 

There are varying degrees of cleanliness that need to be applied to different mortar and pestle sets. Some things need to be conditioned or otherwise prepared for usage. A rough, unpolished pair (such marble or granite) may require more time to get small food particles out of the crevices, but a ceramic or stainless steel mortar and pestle will be easier to wipe off and clean after use. Depending on how often you use it, treating a wooden set with olive oil will be necessary to keep the wood in good condition.

Questions Often Asked

A mortar and pestle are used for what?

You may use a mortar and pestle to make a curry paste, marinade, salad dressing, and even tenderize meat, among many other things. Because the pounding breaks down the structures of a plant, it releases more flavor than when chopped with a knife or blender, allowing for the release of more nuanced fragrances.

Even while most people associate mortar and pestle with the kitchen, they can also be used for crushing pills and preparing herbal treatments. For both cooking and making herbal remedies, Allstar Whaley relies on his trusty mortar and pestle.

How do you work with a pestle and mortar?

The use of a mortar and pestle is simple. Put your ingredients in the mortar, and then use the pestle (a rounded stick) to crush, grind, or pound them. Blending, crushing, hammering, or pulverizing the ingredient(s) repeatedly with the pestle may also be used, depending on the recipe and desired outcome. The pestle can also be used to stir the ingredients. When making a curry paste, for example, it can be helpful to apply pressure to the coriander and cumin seeds to ground them into a powder, or to smash the fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks to release their flavors.

If you have a mortar and pestle, how do you maintain it?

Maintaining your mortar and pestle with regular cleaning and oiling will extend its useful life. Depending on the material, some items must be conditioned before use. Most sets are hand-wash only, and most manufacturers recommend just warm water.

Cleaning with soap or mild detergents is not recommended because it might soak into the material, affecting the taste of future dishes and perhaps damaging the mortar and pestle set. Also, the material isn’t usually safe for the dishwasher because of the high heat. Please read the care instructions for your mortar and pestle thoroughly before using.

Does a set of mortar and pestle require seasoning?

Mortar and pestle sets, much like cast-iron skillets, typically require seasoning before first use. Those crafted from rough, unpolished granite typically do. Seasoning is required for some marble sets, especially those with rough surfaces, while others can be cleaned with water (and a light scrub brush, if necessary) and dried well before use.

First, remove the mortar and pestle from their packaging and wash them by hand (many are not dishwasher safe) before using them to season anything. The next step is to prepare the surface by grinding some plain white rice into a powder using a coffee grinder. For information on how to season and maintain your own mortar pestle, please consult the manual that came with your specific model.

Can you use a mortar and pestle set to grind coffee?

It is possible to do so. A drawback of this approach is that it might be time-consuming. One benefit is that you can fine-tune the size of your grind to perfection.

How should I maintain my wooden mortar and pestle set?

Be careful to use mineral oil or another oil that is acceptable for use with food before you seal it. Make sure it’s completely dry before putting it away in a dark cupboard. Use a paper towel to clean the mill after using it to grind dry materials. If you’re using it with wet components, just give it a quick rinse with some hot water. If you notice it retaining odors, try grinding some rice in it to purge any lingering flavors.

So, What’s The Best Mortar And Pestle?

A high-quality mortar and pestle set is useful for this purpose. It’s possible that this useful gadget doesn’t get used as often as other kitchen equipment, but it’s the little things like this that make a huge difference when it comes to keeping the kitchen running smoothly.

Look at our buyer’s manual. Choose the right mortar and pestle for your kitchen and other needs with this guide. Given the wide variety of individual requirements, it’s important to tailor your purchase to meet those demands.

As a whole, we think the greatest kitchen mortar and pestle is the…

3S Stainless Steel Spice Grinder/Mortar and Pestle Set

The device is sturdy, has a nonslip base, and looks great with its shining, easy-to-clean surface.

What’s more, it’s extremely long-lasting; you won’t have to worry about cracking, chipping, bending, or breaking this item. When combined with its ability to prevent allergic reactions to food, it emerges as the clear victor.

The 3S’s resistance to rust makes it a good bet that you’ll have it for years to come.