The Best Box Graters of 2021

Functional, safe, easy to use, and easy to clean.

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Box grater on a cutting board flanked by a rind of cheese and foregrounded by a pile of shredded cheese
Photograph: Vicky Wasik

What’s the first thing you reach for when you’ve got a block of cheese to shred? A grater, of course! Box graters are essential kitchen tools that can do a whole lot more than just shred cheese; they can turn all kinds of food into ribbons, strands, or tiny particles.

While a food processor performs similar tasks, I often end up reaching for the box grater instead since it's way easier to clean. A box grater is there for me if I need tomato pulp for a quick pan con tomate; it’s handy for garnishing a salad with a confetti of carrots; and it's ideal for turning potatoes into latkes or hash browns.

Box graters typically have four sides, each devoted to one function. Two sides usually feature large- and medium-size holes for grating; one side includes a wannabe mandoline; and the final side has a zester. And while you might think that a box grater is a box grater is a box grater, you'd be wrong.

I tested eight different graters, using various ingredients of varied textures to assess how each grater performed on each side. All of the graters reviewed were made of stainless steel, which seems to be the norm these days as it's rust-resistant and dishwasher-safe (a quick search of “vintage graters” turned up old aluminum models). Here's what I found.

Our Favorites, at a Glance

3 top picks for best box grater: Spring Chef, Cuisipro, and Kitchenaid

The Best All-Around Box Grater: Cuisipro 4 Sided Box Grater

The Cuisipro box grater was a pleasure to use, and sharp enough to make grating feel easy. The holes are etched using the photochemical process made famous by the Microplane brand, rather than being stamped out of steel sheets, which means they are very sharp. (Stamped holes protrude more than etched holes and aren't quite as sharp). Each of its sides performed its function well, and a 25-year warranty gave me confidence in its durability.

The Best Mid-Priced Box Grater: KitchenAid Gourmet 4-Sided Stainless Steel Box Grater

Easy to use with a non-slip base and comfortable grip, the KitchenAid box grater had the largest surface area of all of the graters tested, performed well in all the tests, and didn't have a tendency to clog. It comes with a two-cup, microwave-, dishwasher-, and freezer-safe catch bin with a lid that can double as a storage container.

The Best Affordable Box Grater: Spring Chef Professional Box Grater

The Spring Chef box grater also received good marks in our tests for comfort and ease of use. We liked its grip and non-slip base, plus it was sufficiently sharp and didn't clog while being used for most functions. While it wasn't the top performer, Spring Chef offered good value for the price.

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The Criteria: What We Look for in a Great Box Grater

The eight graters we tested ranged in price from $9.97 to $35 at the time of testing. While we wondered whether their prices would correlate with their performance, our primary concern was how well each one would shred, slice, and grate, and how easily they would accomplish those tasks. Beyond performing well, the ideal box grater should be comfortable to use.

collage: a cucumber is sliced on the Cuisipro box grater; a cucumber is sliced on the Kitchenaid box grater
Left: cucumber sliced on Cuisipro box grater. Right: cucumber sliced on KitchenAid box grater.

In terms of performance, the uniformity of cuts each grater was able to make was another consideration. This isn't just a question of aesthetics; for example, when it comes to using shredded vegetables in a recipe, such as hash browns, having a consistent shred size ensures even cooking. I also paid particular attention to clogging, which is a big potential drawback. Scraping off pecorino from a zester or reaching inside the grater to pry free stuck-on Cheddar can slow you down and add to the time spent cleaning.

Here are some other things I looked out for during testing: Does the grater slip easily on a work surface or does it stay in place? Is it sturdy or will it break, bend, or dent after a run-in with a block of Parm that's been in your fridge just a little too long? Does it stay sharp after each use or dull easily? How easy is it to clean? Does the grater contain the food it shreds or will I have to embark on a scavenger hunt to find stray bits all over my kitchen? And how easy is it to store? Some graters came with extras—removable parts, container attachments, bonus zesters, measure marks. Do they add value?

The Testing

collage: on the left, a lemon is zested on the Kitchenaid box grater; on the right/top, a lemon is zested on the Cuisipro box grater; left/bottom: the zest goes through the holes nicely on the inside
Left: lemon zested on KitchenAid box grater. Right/top: lemon zested on Cuisipro box grater. Right/bottom: inside of Cuisipro after zesting.

To select graters to test, I researched top sellers on Amazon; availability at retailers such as Bed Bath Beyond and Williams Sonoma; and consulted the reviews of other publications.

I decided to limit the test to the graters that were most widely available and that had received several good reviews. I eliminated any that had too many removable parts and any that weren't four-sided (they are called box graters, after all). My testing plan was three-pronged: First, I tested them under real-world conditions, using them a home cook would, and evaluating them for ease of use, ergonomic comfort, and stability. Then, a measured-and-timed test to assess yield per stroke. Finally, I conducted a visual inspection of gratings and how contained they were, I assessed how easy each one was to clean after washing them by hand and in the dishwasher several times, as well as their overall design and durability.

User Experience Test

Low-moisture mozzarella cheese grated on the largest holes of the winning box graters: from left, Cuisipro, Kitchenaid, and Spring Chef
Low-moisture mozzarella cheese grated on largest holes of winning graters. From left to right: Cuisipro, KitchenAid, and Spring Chef.

For the initial tests, I grated/sliced/zested foods of different textures on each side, as I would when prepping any meal. I used carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, baking chocolate, cheddar cheese, and low-moisture mozzarella on the large holes; for the medium holes, I grated carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and cheddar. On the slicer, I tested radish and cucumber. On the zester side, I used lime, ginger, nutmeg, and hard Parmesan cheese. From these tests I was able to discern if items grated easily and uniformly; if they clogged in the holes or released easily; and whether the shavings were roughly the same size and shape.

These tests highlighted which graters were useful no matter which side or function you need to use, separating them from the ones where the zesting and slicing sides were more like ornamental accessories.

Timed Stroke and Yield Test

Then I practiced some of my musical skills. I thought of songs known for using a guayo or a guiro—a box scraper percussion instrument—and perhaps one of the most well known is "Oye Como Va," the Tito Puente classic. The Santana cover has a metronome setting of 129 beats per minute, so while stroking to that rhythm, I set a timer for 30 seconds and shredded away. While grating, I noticed which graters made it easiest for me to keep the steadiest rhythm of measured strokes, as if I were playing that grater for Carlos himself. After the timer went off, I measured the amounts produced in unpacked cups and examined the quality and uniformity of the shreds. I also assessed the graters for how well they contained the shreds.

This test highlighted the graters that were a pleasure to use, singled out those that were the best for bigger grating jobs, and also showed which ones excelled at uniform shreds and gratings.

The Cleaning Test

After each test, each grater was washed either by hand or in the dishwashwer. When washing them by hand, I noted how easy it was to get food bits to release from each grater, and how easy each one was to sponge wash and towel dry. After going through the dishwasher, I examined whether the grater was completely clean or not and, after multiple machine washings, if the grater was durable enough to withstand them. Finally, I noted all the while how the graters handled different amounts of pressure, and what happened if I lightly tapped them against a countertop to release shreds. I also eyeballed the design, noting which models were easiest to store.

How We Chose Our Winners

The winners were the easiest and most comfortable to use, the most durable, and produced the highest yield of grated material fastest. The winner also were usable on all four sides, with not a single ornamental zester in the bunch. They were also easiest to use and clean.

a photo composite showing punched holes vs etched holes on a box grater
Left: stamped grater. Right: photochemically etched grater.

Before we get to the winners, a quick note on the differences between etched versus stamped graters: While photochemically etched graters tend to be sharper than classic stamped graters, I found there wasn't a sufficiently noticeable difference between the results to make any kind of general recommendation of one kind over the other. The main point of difference became evident while I was grating hard cheeses on the zesters. Etched models like Oxo, Cuisipro, and Microplane worked best in terms of clean shredding, producing fine, fluffy shreds with no clogging, while the star-shaped grating rasps on the stamped models made a more powdery grated cheese. This won't have much of an effect on most dishes, though Daniel has previously found that more powdery grated cheese melts into creamy emulsified cheese sauces like cacio e pepe more successfully than those fluffy flakes. If you make a lot of pasta at home, that might be worth taking into account.

The Best All-Around Box Grater: Cuisipro 4 Sided Box Grater

cuisipro box grater on a white background

While "surface glide technology" sounds an awful lot like marketing speak, it made all the difference in the world for this box grater, putting it ahead of the rest. What it means: a subtly grooved grating surface that allows for smooth, easy grating and maximum efficiency. The holes are sharp and angled which allowed for uniformity of shreds. The combination of etched and angled teeth made this the best performer of all the graters, on all four sides, and also helped to keep the grated material efficiently contained.

Large and medium holes produced delicate, even shreds and the largest yield of all eight (3.5 cups in 30 seconds) when time-tested. The zester did not clog—no scraping necessary to release zest—and even the mandoline was serviceable, which is saying a lot. The nonslip handle was comfortable to use, and while there isn't a catchbin there is a removable non-slip base that has a finely pointed grating surface (seemingly modeled after a Japanese ceramic yakumi grater), which did an admirable job of collecting ginger pulp without the fiber snagging, the way it does on most zesters. If you leave the base on while grating, the entire grater acts as a catchbin, and there are volume measurement markings along the side. And even if the base is removed, the grater does not slip.

I liked that it was slim, lightweight yet sturdy, and easy to store. This isn't just the best all-around box grater; it's also the best for big jobs that need to be done quickly. While it wasn't the easiest to hand wash (sponges may catch; do NOT use precious towels on this one), it weathered the dishwasher well, despite the fact that the packaging does not claim it's dishwasher-safe and the manufacturer doesn't recommend putting it in the dishwasher. My internet research suggested it could be done, and my testing experience backed that up. The grater also comes with a 25-year warranty, which is a testament to its durability and really makes it worth the price.

The Best Mid-Priced Box Grater: KitchenAid Gourmet 4-Sided Stainless Steel Box Grater

Kitchenaid Box grater on a white background

KitchenAid's grater had sufficiently sharp grating holes on all sides, and its sides also had the largest surface area, which allowed for long, fluid strokes. I found it durable, comfortable to use because of the grip and non-skid base, and easy to clean. I wasn’t impressed with the zester or the mandoline (which was a bit of a struggle to use), even if the placement of the mandoline did not require you to tilt the grater in order to use it (an issue I had with other graters). Food tended not to clog any of the holes, and in the timed test this grater yielded 2.5 cups. Despite the fact that this grater was the largest and clunkiest of the bunch, I found its higher price justified by the fact that it has an easily-attachable 2-cup catch container with separate lid for storage that's dishwasher-, microwave-, and freezer-safe.

The Best Affordable Box Grater: Spring Chef Professional Box Grater

Spring Chef box grater on a white background

While very similar to the KitchenAid, especially in design, the thicker bottom on the non-skid foot of the Spring Chef brings a more abrupt end to strokes. The zester did not work well—parmesan and citrus clogged the holes and scraping was required to clear the clogs. However, Spring Chef’s mandoline had a slight edge over other graters and it was placed high enough on the grater for easy use; the grater yielded an efficient 2.5 cups in the 30-second timed test; and it was easy to clean. Like the KitchenAid, it's clunky, and perhaps not the easiest to store.

The Competition

Here are notes on the other models tested for this review:

  • I found the Microplane 4-sided Stainless Steel Professional Box Grater bulky, especially with its plastic safety shield. I also found it stumpy, with a limited surface area that maked it inefficient and somewhat awkward to use. The shreds, however, were flat, delicate, and downright beautiful. There’s a reason that the brand has made its name on zesters—this was the best zester of the bunch, producing small particles that weren’t quite as stringy and wispy as the other etched zesters, but also not as powdery as the stamped ones.
  • The NorPro Stainless Steel Grater is the cheap date where you get what you pay for ( 9.97 or two for $16 on Amazon). It feels flimsy and is—when I tapped it against the sink to release shreds, it dented. A lot of elbow grease was required for shredding, too. None of the functions were outstanding.
  • Please excuse any typos as the Oxo Etched Box Grater with Removable Zester is responsible for slicing off a wee bit of my thumb. Which is another way of saying that this model is extremely sharp and very good at grating. It's so sharp that it was the only one tested that included a sharpness warning on the packaging. Something to the effect of "Extremely sharp, keep away from children, and Kathleen." So this is not the grater you want the kids to use when they want to help in the kitchen. Also, the zester, while doing a decent job with citrus, failed with nutmeg and ginger. The slicer on the Oxo stamped box grater is awkward to use and essentially useless, as the slices produced ended up in potluck shapes. Food tended to stick in large holes, scraping was required for the zesting. For the same price, the KitchenAid performed much better.
  • While the RSVP International Endurance Box Grater fancies itself "commercial quality," that description could only really apply to the side with large grating holes as food tended to clump in the medium holes and the slicer and zester made me very, very sad. It was not easy to clean. There’s an additional mini zester/ginger grater on the slicer side that's purely ornamental.