Rotary Graters

From America's Test Kitchen Season 12: Gnocchi and Panzanella

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Overview:

To find a tool that works quickly and with the least possible amount of pressure, we asked testers with various hand sizes to try four models ($9.99–$34.99). We gave them everything from hard Parmesan to semisoft cheddar to soft mozzarella, and even a chunk of chocolate.

Not surprisingly, the most important factor turned out to be the size of the grater’s barrel: The larger its diameter, the faster it worked. Models with barrels narrower than 2 inches in diameter came in with correspondingly sluggish grating times, while the widest-barreled (2 5/8-inch) grater zipped through an ounce of cheddar in 15 seconds.

The other major considerations—handle comfort and cleanup—were all about simplicity. Graters that disassembled quickly and contained fewer pieces made cleanup a breeze. We also much preferred classic designs—in which one hand presses a clamp against the cheese to hold it in place while the other hand rotates the handle—to innovative devices. Operating one sleek-looking model, for example, meant balancing its T-shaped body… read more

To find a tool that works quickly and with the least possible amount of pressure, we asked testers with various hand sizes to try four models ($9.99–$34.99). We gave them everything from hard Parmesan to semisoft cheddar to soft mozzarella, and even a chunk of chocolate.

Not surprisingly, the most important factor turned out to be the size of the grater’s barrel: The larger its diameter, the faster it worked. Models with barrels narrower than 2 inches in diameter came in with correspondingly sluggish grating times, while the widest-barreled (2 5/8-inch) grater zipped through an ounce of cheddar in 15 seconds.

The other major considerations—handle comfort and cleanup—were all about simplicity. Graters that disassembled quickly and contained fewer pieces made cleanup a breeze. We also much preferred classic designs—in which one hand presses a clamp against the cheese to hold it in place while the other hand rotates the handle—to innovative devices. Operating one sleek-looking model, for example, meant balancing its T-shaped body in your palm while painfully pressing the cheese clamp against the barrel with only your thumb. Even an ultra-wide (2¾-inch) barrel couldn’t compensate for the gimmicky peppermill-like design of one model. To generate any shreds at all required twisting the body with considerable force, and even then it produced scrappy, squished bits of mozzarella and a paltry pile of grated chocolate.

The bottom line: No rotary grater is going to match the speed of a box or rasp-style tool, but our favorite rotary model, which sports an ergonomic turn-crank handle and a pair of easily interchangeable wide-mouth drums (fine and coarse), makes short work of small, at-the-table grating tasks—and cleans up in the dishwasher.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended - Winner

    Zyliss All Cheese Grater

    This simply designed, dishwasher-safe grater, with an extra-wide barrel and comfortable handle, blasted through chunks of cheddar and Parmesan and produced perfect chocolate shavings and mozzarella shreds even after stiffening up a bit. Our only complaint: The plastic body created static that made chocolate shavings jump from the barrel onto our hands and clothes.

    • Design ★★★
    • Cheddar ★★★
    • Parmesan ★★★
    • Chocolate ★★
    • Mozzarella ★★

    $19.95

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended with Reservations

    Cuisipro Rotary Cheese Grater

    This simple stainless-steel model easily shaved chocolate and did a fine job with the cheeses. But the design problems were twofold. For starters, it came with only one relatively fine-bladed grinder drum (inserts for other sizes are sold separately). What’s more, its ropy metal handle became slightly uncomfortable after prolonged use.

    • Design ★★
    • Cheddar ★★
    • Parmesan ★★
    • Chocolate ★★★
    • Mozzarella ★★

    $24.50

  • Not Recommended

    Swissmar Rotary Cheese Grater Set

    Though this model came equipped with the largest grinding barrel, its peppermill-like design demanded considerable effort in exchange for very little output. Parmesan was no big deal and neither was cheddar, but both softer mozzarella and dense chocolate clogged the mechanism and required us to twist with extra force—and even then results were scrappy.

    • Design
    • Cheddar
    • Parmesan ★★
    • Chocolate
    • Mozzarella

    $9.99

  • Not Recommended

    Rösle Cheese Mill

    In a prime example of price not equaling performance, this most-expensive, gimmicky model was an all-around disappointment. Its small grinder drum struggled with chocolate and all three cheeses. Even worse, its T-shaped design made handling awkward. As its body rested in the palm of one hand, the other hand turned the crank—and the two hands inevitably smacked into each other.

    • Design
    • Cheddar
    • Parmesan
    • Chocolate
    • Mozzarella

    $34.99

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