I’d wager a guess that almost everyone owns a cheese grater. It was one of the first tools I learned to use in the kitchen, and they’re so commonplace that you’ll probably find one in a vacation rental property. You might not think too much about your cheese grater, and honestly I didn’t, either. But, after using our winning grater—the Microplane 4-Sided Stainless Steel Multi-Purpose Box Grater(available at Amazon for $34.99)—I’m definitely planning to upgrade my old one as soon as possible!
You see, these graters work by moving your food over tiny little blades, transforming a large block into a pile of perfectly shredded pieces. In addition to taking down the obvious (cheese), graters are ideal for shredding potatoes for hash browns or transforming carrots into cakes and coleslaws. Like most blades, the holes on a grater can wear down over time, and unfortunately, they can’t be sharpened. If you find yourself buying bags of pre-shredded cheese just to avoid the grater, that may mean it’s time to pick up a replacement (especially if you’re like me and you still have the same box grater you bought when stocked your kitchen way back when).
So, we picked up eight top-rated graters and put them to the test by creating mounds of cheese, carrots, and potatoes. Most people only use the coarse setting, but we find that the other sides come in handy from time-to-time, so we chose mostly four-function graters. After putting them through a series of tests we found one we love and a few we think are just great (sorry, I had to).
These are the best graters we tested ranked, in order.
I’ve been using a Microplane rasp-style grater for zesting lemons and grating nutmeg for years, so it didn’t surprise me when the Microplane 4-Sided Stainless Steel Multi-Purpose Box Grater performed like a champ. Unlike traditional stamped-style models, the blades for this grater are etched into the metal using a chemical process that creates super-sharp edges. That allowed this grater to perform above-average on all four sides. The fine holes resulted in beautifully zested lemons and a pile of airy, fluffy Parmesan, whereas the coarse holes gave us long strands of mozzarella and potato shreds that made the best latkes in the group.
It wasn't just about performance, either. It was the small features that made this model go above and beyond. The fine blade panel is removable for ease of cleaning, and the wide design makes the rest of this dishwasher-safe grater simple to clean, too. The feet stayed out of the way of shreds, allowing the contents to happily pile up underneath the grater without clogging up the mechanisms. As an added bonus, all the blades are made in the U.S.A. Put that all together, and this grater was a shoo-in for our choice of Best Overall.
The Cuisinart CTG-00-BG Boxed Grater is regularly on sale for less than $10, and it’s definitely worth that price tag. It shredded and grated with the best of them. Unlike our winner, the Cuisinart is a stamped grater, which means it has a rigid grating surface that doesn’t flex as you use it. That makes it ideal for hard products, like potatoes and carrots, and it was also one of the fastest graters when it came to working with soft cheeses. It also had the best yield on the coarse side, creating less waste than any other grater in the group.
The one area where the stamped grater can’t compete, though, is on the fine holes, which turned Parmesan into a powder and tended to trap more lemon zest than it let through. That being said, we loved everything else about the design of this grater, especially its comfortable handle and nonstick feet that prevented the grater from moving as we used it. If you only have $10 to spend on a grater, this is the way to go.
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef and a total cheese addict. As kids, my brother and I used to grate huge piles of cheddar cheese and melt them in the microwave, fighting over the cheesiest part of the pile. The grater was the first kitchen tool I learned to use, and I was amazed when I got to college and found out that pre-shredded cheese was a thing! I’ll buy the convenience bags from time to time, but a good grater creates long, thick strands of cheese that simply melt better than the alternative. Since I use my grater all the time, I’d love to help you find one that’s easy to use and even easier to clean.
We chose eight graters (six box models, one flat grater, and one boxed multi-grater) and put them to the test. Our tests were designed to assess the overall usability of each grater, with specific attention to blade sharpness, efficiency, and ease of use.
To get a good feel for each grater, we shredded potatoes, carrots, and mozzarella cheese on the coarse side. On the fine side, we tackled Parmesan cheese and lemon zest. We were looking for a grater that was sharp enough to create long, intact shreds on the coarse side and delicate piles from the fine side. To see how much waste each grater created, we measured the foods before and after shredding them.
Finally, we paid attention to the grater itself as we used it. Was the handle comfortable? Did it slide around as we used it? Did product get trapped in the grates itself, or did the feet prevent us from easily removing the shreds? And, since those blades are sharper than you think (I actually have a few scars to prove that!), we also made sure each grater was free from any safety concerns.
What You Should Know About Graters
You might only use your grater for cheese, but they’re actually incredibly helpful tools. The coarse holes are perfect for taking down everyone’s favorite melting food, but they're also useful for grating carrots for cake or coleslaw, as well as potatoes for latkes and hash browns. The medium-sized holes work the same way as the coarse ones, just with a smaller shred. And the fine holes are designed for grating parmesan, zesting lemons, or reducing ginger to a paste. While I admit that I almost never use the slicing side of a grater, it's available for making uniform slices of cheese for appetizer platters or vegetables for gratin dishes if you don't have a mandolin slicer.
In addition to the multiple sides, graters also come in two styles: stamped and etched. The stamped models represent the graters of our childhood, with rigid grating surfaces stamped into stainless steel. These holes protrude out from the side of the grater, catching food in their wide holes and forcing them over the cutting surface. They’re generally very efficient on the coarse side and horribly annoying on the fine side. Etched graters, on the other hand, are created by using a chemical process that corrodes teeth into the side of thin metal. It creates a tiny opening that’s just large enough to grab onto your food, making it ideal for fine grating. The metal used for these types of graters is thinner, though, so they will flex in and out when being used with heavy-duty foods.
What's the Difference Between a Grater and a Mandolin Slicer?
Where graters are designed to quickly grate, zest or turn foods into a paste, a mandolin slicer is designed for a single purpose: making thin, precise slices of fruits and vegetables (also, fingers, if you're not careful) much faster than can be managed by using a good kitchen knife, without taking up the amount of counter space that a food processor requires.
Mandolin slicers often come with more than one style of blade, so that you can make crinkled cuts or smooth cuts, depending on what aesthetic (or howe much dip) you're going for with a particular food. Additionally, a good mandolin will offer a number of blade positions so that you can cut your ingredients to the thickness that you prefer.
Other Graters We Tested
Cuisipro 4 Sided Box Grater
The lightest grater in the group was also one of our favorites. The Cuisipro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Boxed Grater has ultra-sharp etched teeth that grated and shredded with ease. It created perfect shreds of mozzarella and a beautiful pile of light, fluffy Parmesan. The only items it struggled with were the hard vegetables, which caused the front to bend in slightly as we used it. It didn't prevent us from wanting to use this grater, though, and it certainly didn't present a safety concern. Unfortunately, it’s one of the few graters we tested that wasn't dishwasher safe. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, we’d recommend another model.
If it wasn’t for the so-so performance of the fine hole side, the KitchenAid Gourmet Box Grater might have been a contender for the winner. It was one of the biggest graters in the group, which gave us more surface area to quickly and efficiently create thick, chunky shreds on the coarse side. The wide, nonstick rim on the bottom kept the grater from moving as you used it (although, it did tend to snag some shreds, making them harder to remove). Using the attachable container helped with that, but it did cause the grater to swing around a bit. Overall, we were pretty happy with the grater except for the fine holes, which were frustrating to use and clean.
I expected to hate the Prepworks by Progressive 5-Piece Grater Set because of its tiny blade inserts, but I actually liked this little guy! It hung in with the best of them on the coarse grating blade, and it was one of the leaders in yield (creating the least amount of waste). It was fast and efficient, and the fact that it caught all the shreds in the built-in box was definitely a bonus. For lemon zest and Parmesan, we’d definitely prefer using an etched-style grater over this model's stamped, fine hole blade, but overall we were pretty impressed with this affordable (and tidy) option.
The Utopia Kitchen 6-Sided Cheese Grater is definitely aiming at the more-for-less crowd. It’s available at an incredible budget price and includes six grating options instead of the typical four, giving you a greater variety in shred thickness and size. Sadly, none of those sides really exceeded expectations. It did just fine with mozzarella, but it had a narrow surface area that slowed us down and was all but impossible to grate on the finer sides. It really struggled with the hard vegetables and overall just required too much effort for our liking.
When it came down to it, the OXO Good Grips Box Grater just didn’t perform as well as the other graters. It worked fine as a coarse-holed grater, but the slim design made it hard to get our hands into to remove product (which, also made it hard to clean later). It was nice that it came with an attachable container with a plastic lid for food storage, but the grater became very unwieldy when we attached it to the bottom, rocking dangerously side to side. All in all, we’d rather use another grater.
We just weren’t impressed with this Cook’s Illustrated winner (subscription required). In their roundup, they loved that the Rösle Stainless Steel Coarse Grater only grates in one size, stating that they'd rather use a rasp-style grater for fine product anyway. If you agree and you're looking for a grater that only utilizes coarse holes, this one might fit that bill. It was one of the fastest graters we tested and it made beautiful shreds of potatoes and mozzarella. But, it was also incredibly messy and the product tended to collect towards the top of the grater, clogging up some of our working area. At the end of the day, the performance of the one-function Rösle wasn’t anything special to vault it up into the winners' circle.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.