The Real Reason A Mortar And Pestle Is Better Than A Spice Grinder

Efficiency has its place in the kitchen. With time-saving appliances like Nespresso machines and the acclaimed Instant Pot, you can have your coffee brewed in seconds before heading out the door or a hearty weeknight dinner plated in a matter of minutes. But there are still home cooks that enjoy the process of cooking just as much as the result, and for those individuals, traditional methods that often require more time and attention reign supreme.

When it comes to grinding spices at home, many kitchens are equipped with a spice grinder. These powerful little blenders are used to transform whole spices into fine powders, and can do so in a matter of seconds (via Insider). Then there's the classic mortar and pestle, a truly ancient kitchen tool. It's not much of a competitor if you're judging solely based on time. However, in terms of control and customizable results, it's still a useful appliance to have ready on your countertop.

Grinding spices by hand gives you more control

While an electric spice grinder uses small, sharp blades to cut and process whole spices, a mortar and pestle simply use weight. Spices are crushed by hand between the mortar, which is the hard, thick bowl that holds the spices, and the pestle, the heavy cylindrical tool used to pound, grind, and mash the contents into finer bits and pieces (via Epicurious).

Grinding whole spices, as opposed to buying them in pre-packaged powdered form, allows for more potent flavors since you have the control to release more of the spice's oils, according to Food Network. Both spice grinders and mortars and pestles achieve this, but the latter gives you more control over your final product. Instead of eyeballing the whirling contents of your spice grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle to customize the texture by hand, with less of a chance of overdoing it. Though this process takes considerably longer than pressing a button or two on your spice grinder, some extra patience is worth it for those pastes and spice mixtures you like a certain way.