The Best Pestle and Mortar Sets In 2021 [UPDATED]

Seasoning can make a massive difference to the flavor of any dish, in this article on the best pestle and mortar sets you will learn how to use them properly to make the best herb and spice mixes. I’ll also share what sets I recommend, and a quick guide on finding the best one for you and your needs.

The Pestle and Mortar have been around since ancient times, with the earliest being from 35,000 BC. These Pestle and Mortar sets come in two parts, both of which work together to crush and grind any herbs and spices. The mortar is usually made from wood, metal, ceramic, marble or the most popular choice granite. It is here that you place the herbs or spices, to crush or grind then, you would then use the Pestle and this will grind them to a power or paste. 

Many people do buy herbs and spices that are already ground and this is something I am guilty of in the past myself. If you do however grind these by hand, it gives it an extra subtle flavour that really makes your food taste better. A curry paste you have made yourself with your Pestle and Mortar will taste 10 times better than anything you can buy from a store. 

If you buy yourself a good quality Pestle and Mortar then more often than not it will be simple to use, easier to clean and work much better than a food processor. To be honest, I also think they look great on the kitchen worktop. 

I have tried and tested a lot of different ones but below you can find the ones that I think are the best pestle and mortar sets. You will also find my guide on how to use them, as well as what to look for when deciding on buying on.

The Best Pestle and Mortar Sets - Detailed Reviews

H&S Pestle and Mortar Set

This is rated as one of the best pestle and mortar sets online, made by H&S who are well-known for producing quality kitchenware. If size is important to you then this one will be perfect, as it is one of the biggest mortars in my list allowing you to make your spice mixes in batches.

When you use it you will notice how sturdy it is, with very little to no movement. This is because of the weight. As it is made from high quality granite, it is incredibly durable so you should be able to use it for many years.

With a polished outside and an unpolished inside, you will be able to grind down some pretty tough ingredients. Price wise it is just under £20, so very good value.

Jamie Oliver Granite Mortar and Pestle

You cannot go into a kitchenware shop and not see some form of equipment made by Jamie Oliver, generally it is made to a high quality. This Mortar and Pestle set is no different, as it’s made from a very high quality granite.

Size wise it is really good, tons of room to grind your spices and you shouldnt experience any of it falling out due to the weight. Its over 3kg, so its very sturdy and as it’s made from granite you will find it lasts a long time too.

The outside of the mortar and the handle of the pestle are polished for comfort, however the inside and the underside of the pestle are unpolished. This will make grinding and crushing easy work, even some tough ingredients such as nuts and even cinnamon sticks.

Overall I do think this is a very good set and the design is really nice. I would recommend putting it on top of a chopping board when using, as this will prevent damage to your worktop. For the money, I don’t think you can go wrong with this as it really is good value.

When you use it you will notice how sturdy it is, with very little to no movement. This is because of the weight. As it is made from high quality granite, it is incredibly durable so you should be able to use it for many years.

With a polished outside and an unpolished inside, you will be able to grind down some pretty tough ingredients. Price wise it is just under £20, so very good value.

Cole and Mason Mortar and Pestle Set

Out of all of the different sets, this one is the most expensive. Although I do think this is still good value, as its a very good piece of kitchen equipment. It is the biggest one in my list, with a diameter of 18cm. If you do make a lot of spice mixes or curry pastes, this is perfect for you.

Now the weight is pretty high at 6kg, so it might not be suitable for some people. It is however one of those sets that you could leave out on your worktop and due to the weight you know it wont move when using.

This is a great set but again it really is only going to be used by someone that makes a lot of spice mixes.

ProCook Granite Pestle and Mortar

ProCook is known for making good quality kitchen products and this is no different. This set would be perfect if you had a more modern looking kitchen. At the point of writing this review there are not a lot of reviews, as it is a pretty new set so worth bearing that in mind.

You can pick on a size, whether you want the larger 15cm or the smaller 12cm. This is great as it allows you to pick the one which is ideal for you, for example if there are just a couple of you then you might be fine with the smaller one.

It is a bit lighter than the others in this list, you shouldnt see any movement when grinding though. The main reason it is not any higher in this list is because of the price, it is more expensive than the ones above. Still good value but not as good as the ones already mentioned.

Juvale Stainless Steel Pestle and Mortar

Now I couldn’t miss out a stainless steel set, as all the other best pestle and mortar sets have been made from granite. I personally prefer stone over stainless steel, however the biggest benefit of steel is that it is easier to clean as it can be put into a dishwasher.

This set is very small at only 2.5cm, so it’s more for small mixes or for individual use. It is incredibly light but since it has anti-slip padding, this should keep it from moving when you are using it.

The final set I am going to recommend is the Ez-Grip, this is ideal for those that have a very modern looking kitchen and dont need to grind too many spices. It uses a combination of porcelain and silicone, so it can be easily washed with soap or in the dishwasher.

In terms of durability, it should last for years. Porcelain has been used in medicine for many years. It’s lightweight and as the base does have silicone on it, this will prevent it from slipping and help keep your worktop protected.

Why Use A Pestle and Mortar?

Did you know that you should crush herbs and spices and not actually crush them? I’ll admit I didn’t, but when I discovered this the flavour of my dishes went to the next level. You see it’s the crushing that causes the herbs and spices to release the flavours and smells. 

Try it with some garlic, when you crush it instead of chipping you get so much more flavour. 

Many people when they cook with spices, they will add the spices individually to a dish. If you use a Pestle and Mortar and grind the herbs and spices together, the flavours combine and it tastes amazing. 

You can make some incredible pastes, even when grinding dry herbs and these can be used in curries or even as marinades. 

I couldn’t believe the depth of flavour my food got and the aroma from the herbs and spices was amazing. To get the best out of your spices, you really do need to consider buying a mortar and pestle.

What Should You Look For?

There are 5 important things you should consider when looking at Pestle and Mortar Sets;

1. Deep Mortar

I would recommend getting a Mortar that is as deep as possible with a decent width. If it’s not deep enough then the ingredients could jump or spill out when your trying to grind or crush them.

2. Heavy Mortar

Normally when looking for equipment for the kitchen such as coffee machines or even ice cream makers, we often want something that is lightweight so its easy to move around. You do however want a heavy mortar when looking at the best pestle and mortar sets.

This is because when you are crushing herbs, it does require some amount of force. If the mortar is too light then it will move around and cause it to spill or even scratch the surface. A heavy one will stay still, even when putting a lot of pressure on it.

3. The Size

More often than not bigger is better. If you are going to be cooking for a family then you are going to be grinding and crushing a decent amount of herbs and spices, so you would need a bigger one.

If you are however just using it for yourself then a smaller one would be a better choice. I do prefer to get a bigger one, as it allows me to make bigger batches of my spices.

4. The finish

When looking for a mortar and pestle, go for one that has a pebble or matt finish. It is this that will help with the friction and make the crushing and grinding much easier. Now this will not be all over the set, as it’s normally just on the end of the pestle and the inside of the mortar.

5. The price

Price is something that is very important to consider, afterall you don’t want to spend too much. You also don’t want to spend too little as this can result in it being made in lower quality materials, which could cause it to break quicker.

I would recommend a Mortar and Pestle between £10 and £30, any more and less than that then I’d avoid it.

The Different Materials

The different spices and herbs to grind

When it comes to the material that the sets are made from, each does have its own pros and cons. There are 4 different types and knowing each will help you pick which is best for you.

1. Stone Pestle and Mortar

Stone is often what I do recommend as it tends to be more effective, it is however more expensive. Usually you will find that it’s made from either granite or marble, this is because they grind the ingredients up very well and they can withstand a lot of pressure. Stone sets are also much heavier, so they are often more sturdy on your kitchen worktop.

2. Wooden Pestle and Mortar

Wood is one of those that many people do buy, as it tends to go with most kitchen designs. It’s not however the best option; they tend to be very lightweight so you cannot do any decent crushing or grinding.

They also don’t tend to last as long as any protective sealing on them soon gets ground away and needs replacing.

3. Clay and Porcelain Pestle and Mortar

If you have a cottage style kitchen then you have no doubt been looking at clay or porcelain options. Both are fragile, so when crushing your herbs and spices they might break easily. The material is also very lightweight, so its a nightmare trying to keep it in one place when using

4. Stainless Steel Pestle and Mortar

Steel is a popular choice as it is less likely to break as it does allow you to apply a decent amount of pressure. Depending on which you get, they run the risk of being light weight which causes them to move during use.

As the steel is also very smooth, there is no friction when grinding so you find your ingredients either slip out easily or it takes longer to grind them down to a powder.

How To Clean Your Set

I wanted to add a bit of advice on cleaning your pestle and mortar, as it’s really important. The way you clean it does depend on what material it is made from and doing it incorrectly could actually cause a lot of damage to your set.

1. Stone (Marble/Granite), Wood, and Clay

Stone, Wood and Clay sets are more complicated, as it’s very important that you do not use soap when cleaning. This is because when using soap, the sets absorb the flavor and this can cause your powers and pastes to not taste right.

To clean them you can simply use warm water, although if it is a wood set then make sure it is completely dry to avoid damage. Bacteria is naturally a concern, however you can simply use lemon juice and then rinse this off with water after a few minutes.

2. Porcelain and Stainless Steel

Unlike the other sets, you can use soap. In fact you can even normally wash these in a dishwasher.

How To Use A Mortar and Pestle

How to use a pestle and mortar set

When people start using a pestle and mortar to create spice mixes and pasts, they do think its just a case of bashing the individual herbs and spices. You need to use a different technique, depending on what you are grinding or what type of texture you want. 

It’s first important to know what you can actually grind and crush though…

The most common things you will use a Mortar and Pestle Set are;

When I first got into cooking, I would start the recipe and then half way through realise that I needed to make a paste or a spice mix. As id be rushing to get it done before the dinner burnt, this would result in it not being well mixed or just not tasting great. 

Now I do all the grinding/crushing beforehand…

When you are using your pestle and mortar, its important to only fill the mortar ⅓ of the way up. If it’s more than this then you might need to do it in batches, otherwise it will make it harder for you. 

Add all of your ingredients in and then with the pestle, before you start to crush you need to place one hand around the base. This will prevent it from moving around your kitchen worktop. Hold onto the pestle with your main hand and twist until it grinds the ingredients to the texture you are looking for.

The Three Techniques

The three techniques to using a mortar and pestle

When using a Pestle and Mortar, there are 3 techniques you could use. Depending on the texture you want, would impact which technique you would use.

1. Grinding

You would grind the herbs and spices if you were looking to create a powder. Simply place the pestle onto the ingredients and rotate the pestle over them with some force, you want to go round in circles.

As you continue to do this, the herbs and spices will become finer in texture. Carry on doing this until you have the consistency you’re looking for.

2. Bashing

If you are using large seeds, spices and nuts then you might need to bash them. This is basically when you are bashing the pestle down, some ingredients might need you to grind them a little to begin with.

3. Crushing

Crushing is a bit of a mixture of the above too. You are using the pestle to crush the spices but instead of doing the rotation that grinding does, you are simply going backwards and forwards over them.

This will not grind them into a powder but will help keep some of them intact but cause them to be split or even burst, fresh garlic is a good example of this.

Conclusion

I really hope that this article has helped, if you have any comments please post them below. Hopefully now you know more about which are the best pestle and mortar sets, as well as how to use them. 

Overall I would suggest going for a granite set that is a decent size, as well as being heavier so that it is sturdy on your worktop.