A cheese grater is an essential tool for even the most minimalist of kitchens. While buying pre-grated cheese might save you some time, it comes with some downsides: It’s often more expensive and comes loaded with chemicals and preservatives to prevent clumping. This powder that coats the cheese shreds can give a gritty mouthfeel and prevents it from melting as smoothly as fresh cheese.
On the other hand, grating cheese gives you control over the coarseness of the shreds as well as opening up the doors to different varieties of cheese to grate. It can also be used for so much more than cheese: Think coleslaw, latkes, and the freshest tomato sauce.
The Just Cooking Tools regularly tests kitchen appliances, tools, and gadgets to find out which ones are actually worth your money. We rounded up 19 top-rated cheese graters and shredded pounds of soft and hard cheeses and evaluated the strength, versatility, practicality and ease of use of each grater. As well as how well they grated cheese, we also considered each grater's sturdiness, how effective its blades were, and the uniformity of cheese gratings. All considered, these are our picks for the best cheese graters you can buy:
Best Box Cheese Grater: OXO Good Grips Etched Box Grater
Best Handheld Cheese Grater: OXO Good Grips Multi Grater
Best Rotary Cheese Grater: Zyliss Classic Rotary Cheese Grater
Best Electric Cheese Grater: Cuisinart FP-13DGM Elemental Food Processor and Dicing Kit
Best Value Cheese Grater: Joseph Joseph 20017 Twist Grater
Best Cheese Grater for Zesting: Microplane 46020 Premium Classic Series Zester Grater
Best Cheese Grater Attachment: KitchenAid Fresh Prep Slicer/Shredder Attachment
Best Multi-Use Cheese Grater: Cuisinart CTG-00-MBGR Mixing Bowl with Grater
What is the best type of cheese grater?
When choosing a grater there are two types of blades to look for: stamped and etched. Stamped graters have thicker, more rigid blades that stick out. Etched graters are made using a chemical process that corrodes teeth into the sides of the metal to make super-sharp teeth-like indents. Etched blades are sharper, but the shreds tend to be much thinner and shorter in length. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of. The sharper etched blades can also cause more damage if you're unlucky enough to catch a finger.
In terms of style, box graters are what most people associate with cheese grating and it's the best option for most people. They are the most bulky option but are also the most multi-faceted and most efficient for shredding large quantities of cheese. They typically come with four sides, each with different blades for different types of shreds (and foods!):
- Large shredding holes are great for quickly shredding hard and soft cheeses, as well as carrots, zucchini, apples, tomatoes. Most cooks agree that these large openings are the most useful.
- Medium shredding holes are useful for creating smaller shavings of any of the aforementioned food. They're great for grating potatoes for hash browns, too.
- Small shredding holes are best for finely shredding hard cheeses, like parmesan.
- Rough, raspy pinholes create a fine, almost powdery grate, good for chocolate, ginger, nutmeg, citrus, and garlic. These small holes tend to hold on to food, which can make them harder to clean.
Beyond box graters, there are four other main styles of cheese graters — and the best choice for you depends on your needs:
✔️ Handheld graters are single plane graters that typically come with one blade and are less bulky to store. They're less versatile, but usually more affordable than box graters and are good for occasional grating.
✔️ Rotary graters are enclosed contraptions in which a hunk of cheese is pressed against a rotating blade. You might recognize them as the graters used at Olive Garden: These are best for grating hard cheeses, nuts, and chocolate, and cheese. Rotary graters are safe for kids to use since hands don't come into contact with the blades. All of the models we tested could be easily reversed, making them suitable for left-handed consumers too.
✔️ Electric graters generally come as attachments to larger kitchen gadgets such as food processors or stand mixers and are perfect for rapidly shredding large volumes of cheese and vegetables, with minimal effort.
✔️ Zesters/rasps are
a key kitchen tool for any serious cook. They are much more effective
that the pinhole side of a box grater and are perfect for parmesan,
chocolate, and nutmeg, as well as making pastes out of ginger, garlic,
Oxo's boxed grater stands out amongst the rest. The grater has a non-slip base and it comes with a removable storage cup with lid that conveniently measures one cup of shredded cheese. It's easy to grip and has a comfortable handle and sharp etched blades. Unlike typical pinholes on box graters, the removable zester on this grater has etched blades making it easy to finely grate and clean.
There is a lot to like about Joseph Joseph's twist grater, not least of all the price. At under $12 it's a steal for a handheld grater that comes with two etched blades. Known for its clever designs, Joseph Joseph made the Twist Grater with a handle that can tilt 90 degrees so that you can easily grate downwards and a reversible blade cover that can also be used to capture shredded cheese. It also proved to be one of our top performers at creating shreds of mozzarella that didn't clump together.
If you've found the slicer blade and pinhole blade of your old box grater unused and unloved, Oxo has come up with the perfect solution: a two-blade multi-grater that easily snaps apart and stores flat. The non-skid feet make it easy to grate on an angle as well as directly over a bowl. This is the perfect grater for a small kitchen.
For table-side gratings of Parmesan, the Zyliss Classic rotary is our top lab pick. The enclosed blade makes it safe for kids to operate and is the ideal design for passing around the table. The easy-to-use grater can also be used for chocolate and nuts and the rotary side can be alternated for left-handed users. The entire grater is top-rack dishwasher safe.
Often overlooked, most food processors come with terrific shredder and slicer attachments. Our top pick is the Cuisinart FP- 13DM, which has a 13-cup capacity and makes quick work of shredding cheese and is also excellent at shredding carrots and apples for cakes, or slicing onions and potatoes for gratins. For finely grated parmesan, place 1-inch cubes in the bowl with the blade attachment and pulse to desired consistency.
Hands down the best zesting tool comes from Microplane. The sharp, finely etched blades are superb for creating fine wispy strands of parmesan and lemon zest, finely shaving nutmeg and chocolate. They are also strong enough to pulverize garlic and ginger into fine pastes. Due to the fine blades, we do not recommend any zester for soft or medium-soft cheeses, which will clump.
If you already own a KitchenAid Stand mixer, the Fresh Prep Slicer will not disappoint. It's easy to attach and can speedily shred, grate and slice mountains of cheeses and vegetables. If you're regularly performing these tasks for a crowd or don't want to break a sweat hand grating, this attachment is excellent. The only downside is that the feeding tube has to be hand-washed, and can be a little awkward to clean.
If you're hand grating in bulk, the Cuisinart multi-use grater comes with three blades and a large storage bowl and lid for catching your shreds. We were impressed with the sturdiness of the bowl, thanks to a silicone base, as well as the strength of the blades. With, no fear of slipping or mess, this grater is also our top pick for kids to use. This grater is a good pick for someone shopping for a tool that can be used in multiple ways and at under $30, it's a great value.