mortar and pestle on wood table

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A mortar and pestle is a historic cooking tool. The Egyptians, Aztecs, Greeks, and ancient peoples all used something like it (via The Atlantic). Even though the tool has been around for thousands of years, the mortar and pestle have barely changed in all this time. It’s maintained the same form, for the most part, of one small bowl and one tiny club.

There are some common pharmacological uses, but the mortar and pestle is primarily a culinary appliance. Ingredients are placed inside a mortar (the bowl) and a pestle (the small club) is used to crush them, via Britannica. People use mortars and pestle sets to make recipes like pesto or guacamole. You can also use them to crush whole spices, thus increasing their flavor. Some think the tool is better than a spice grinder, as it’s a more gentle, controlled way to release spices’ oils, intensifying the taste.

When choosing a mortar and pestle set to buy, be on the lookout for a few features. The first is size. A smaller one is key for grinding things like nuts and seeds, while a larger set could be used to make foods like hummus. The second is the country of origin. Places like Mexico, Japan, Thailand, and Italy all have their own version of the mortar and pestle. The third is the material. Mortar and pestle sets tend to be made with stone, wood, or ceramic. Different materials will impact a set’s functionality.

How we selected products

woman making pesto

To round up the best mortar and pestle sets available in 2022, we looked at a variety of factors. How positive were the reviews? What press has the device previously received? How popular is the item, overall? We asked these questions for each category.

Mortar and pestle sets were stacked against one another based on country of origin, material, size, and cost. For the materials categories in particular, some mortar and pestle sets were excluded. Those made of glass and metal were left off the list because mortars and pestles made of this material are thought to be less effective; glass ones are fragile and metal ones are too smooth to effectively grind ingredients.

From the remaining materials highlighted, we took into account their effectiveness in achieving certain functions. According to The Washington Post, ceramic mortar and pestles are best for more gentle applications. In Thailand, these are used to softly mold the ingredients in papaya salad. Granite sets are the most widely functional. Wood mortar and pestle sets soak up flavors over time. Within each quality, we compared several products to find the best of the best. Read on to learn about the best mortar and pestle sets on the market in 2022.

Best overall mortar and pestle

granite mortar and pestle

The best overall mortar and pestle comes from ChefSofi. The kitchen goods company sells charcuterie boards but specializes in mortar and pestle sets. To show off the brand’s expertise, ChefSofi offers up mortar and pestle ideas on its blog, suggesting customers use their sets to make popular recipes like aioli, chimichurri, and Caesar salad dressing.

We think this set is a cut above the rest. It’s made of granite, one of the most useful materials for this kitchen tool. The stone’s practicality comes from its significant weight. A granite mortar and pestle is long-lasting and also helps to anchor the mortar down while you’re going at it with the pestle. Furthermore, according to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, granite’s surface can be rough. This makes the inside of the bowl coarser, which is better for breaking down ingredients. This is the case with ChefSofi’s set, as the mortar is made with unfinished granite for an extra scratchy surface.

This mortar and pestle set comes highly recommended by both press and patrons. On Amazon, it has over 16,000 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5. Food & Wine deemed it the best-selling mortar and pestle on the entirety of Amazon. Bustle also recommended ChefSofi’s popular cooking tool, complimenting the medium size (2 cups) that’s versatile enough to make plenty of different recipes. As of August 2022, the ChefSofi mortar and pestle set can be purchased on Amazon for $32.

Best budget mortar and pestle

black mortar and pestle

The HealthSmart mortar and pestle set is an affordable option. It costs around $20, but despite its bargain price tag, you still get some of the key features you’ll want in a mortar and pestle set. It’s made of unfinished granite — ideal for grinding ingredients. It has a 12-ounce capacity (1.5 cups), making it good for small to medium size jobs, so you can do more than just grind spices with this appliance.

On Amazon, there are over 4,500 reviews for the product, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. Customers from the online retailer say HealthSmart’s mortar and pestle is a great "value for money" option. Affordability is good, but getting a quality mortar and pestle is better. Customers also find it to be "heavy-duty," "the real deal," and "good quality" that "works great."

Additionally, this mortar and pestle is recognized by the press. Greatist listed it in their starter guide to French kitchen essentials, highlighting the tool’s ability to allow home chefs to replicate classic French recipes at home. Bustle said the HealthSmart set was a good gift for a friend who likes to cook. "Today" recommended this item as a good starter mortar and pestle, remarking that the tool will help to step up buyers’ cooking game.

Best splurge mortar and pestle

marble mortar and wooden pestle

The Bembo Mortar in white Carrara marble — which comes with a beechwood pestle — is a set to splurge on. It runs upwards of $100, but it’s worth it for some. Bembo has been making mortar and pestle sets for years, as well as packaged herbs and spices.

Along with being a traditional product completely made in Italy, the Bembo set’s price is justified by utilizing authentic materials. The Italian white Carrera marble used for the mortar is a stone that’s been coveted for thousands of years, even used by artists like Michelangelo (via Wired). After being sourced from the Italian city of Carrera, the marble is handmade into a mortar in the Tuscany region. The beechwood pestle is hand-crafted in Italy, as well.

The combination of marble and wood in this mortar and pestle set is preferable for making pesto. The marble is heavier, but not as rough as granite. This is ideal for the sensitive basil leaves used in pesto, which need more gentle materials. A wooden pestle helps the pesto-making process be even more delicate. As Saveur explains, this careful process gives you authentically inconsistent pesto that’s not overly ground. Customers also appreciate Bembo’s product: It has nearly 400 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5. The Bembo mortar and pestle set is available on Amazon for $145 as of publication.

Best large mortar and pestle

big mortar and pestle

Gorilla Grip is a large home goods company. In addition to their mortar and pestle, they sell various hand-held kitchen goods like shears, knife sharpeners, tongs, ice cube trays, and more. Their large mortar and pestle is made of unpolished granite, which is versatile and long-lasting. It comes with the option of a 4-cup capacity, which is bigger than most, allowing you to make huge portions of food. As with Gorilla Grip’s sturdy mascot, the company boasts the strength behind this oversized set. "This heavy-duty mortar and pestle lets you easily crush and mash rock solid ingredients with ease," says Gorilla Grip’s website.

On Amazon, the Gorilla Grip mortar and pestle set has over 8,000 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. The heftiness advertised by the maker seems to ring true with customers: "It is sturdy, very heavy, it doesn’t slip while I’m using it." Those who purchased the set online also loved the non-scratch bottom, a foam pad on the mortar’s base which protects surfaces and holds the tool in place. With something as heavy as this (over 10 pounds), you’re going to appreciate the protection offered by this foam pad. Along with previous buyers, PopSugar likes it, listing the set as a "life-changing" kitchen good.

You can buy the Gorilla Grip mortar and pestle set on Amazon for $40 as of this writing.

Best small mortar and pestle

white marble mortar and pestle

For those looking for a compact mortar and pestle, the Sagler set is for you. This marble mortar has a 3.75-inch diameter, a capacity of 3 ounces, and weighs less than 2 pounds. All of this means one thing: this tool is tiny. It is also cheap. But by choosing this affordable option, you sacrifice the opportunity to make larger recipes like hummus or guacamole. However, it’s an excellent size for spice grinding. Of course, it also doesn’t take up much space, which is ideal for those with smaller kitchens.

This small-yet-versatile tool comes highly recommended. Latin Post noted that Sagler’s mortar and pestle attractive and easy to clean. Architectural Digest’s offshoot website Clever called the product ideal for crushing salt, spices, garlic, and other tiny ingredients.

On Amazon, the set has over 5,000 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. Many consumers recommended the Sagler set’s convenience in crushing pills. "I use it to crush my son’s vitamin and Brazil nut every day," wrote one person. Herbs aren’t too big for this mortar and pestle, either. You can even make tea with it, as another Amazon customer explained. "My husband likes to make his own herbal teas using ‘bush’ and powder that he gets from health food stores. After using this for a week he wonders why he didn’t buy this long ago," the buyer wrote. The Sagler mortar and pestle on Amazon is $10 as of August 2022.

Best wood mortar and pestle

wooden mortar and pestle set

The Naturally Med mortar and pestle is an ideal wooden set, made from olive wood. According to the company, this material is helpful for a mortar and pestle due to its high amount of oil, which prevents it from absorbing too much of a food’s flavor. However, any wooden mortar and pestle set is still going to soak up previous ingredients more than other materials. If you’re going with a wooden set, try to use it for the same or similar recipes, to avoid cross-contamination of different flavors or aromas.

This particular set is small to medium size (4.7 inches in diameter). It’s handmade and comes in the "rustic" style. This mortar and pestle is also lightweight, at just under one pound. Due to its extremely airy quality, you won’t have to worry about what will happen if you drop this mortar and pestle on your foot.

On Amazon, this set has over 700 reviews, which come to an average rating of 4.7 out of 5. To customers, this object stands out for its beauty. Buyers said things like, "This is a stunning piece of olive wood art" and "It’s as if someone with respect for nature’s own artistry … created this." Upon using it, customers were pleasantly surprised at its effectiveness, calling it both functional and beautiful. As of this writing, you can buy the Naturally Med mortar and pestle set on Amazon for $23.

Best marble mortar and pestle

basil leaves inside mortar and pestle

For mortar and pestles, marble works similar to granite — it’s strong, heavy, sturdy, and doesn’t absorb flavors over time. However, marble is usually smoother, so it’s harder to break down small foods like seeds and nuts (via The Washington Post). However, it still works fine for things like ginger, garlic, and spices, which require less grip. When choosing a marble mortar and pestle, this set from Laevo is a good option.

The Laevo set is well-designed. The marble is unfinished, giving your mortar and pestle a little more grip. It has a capacity of over two cups, making it a solid medium set. With a mid-size marble mortar and pestle like Laevo’s, you can make recipes like Thai curry paste, taco seasoning, masala chai, and tapenade. If you’re looking to simply grind a few spices, you can also flip the Laevo mortar and pestle over — it’s reversible. The smaller, bottom side of the mortar is ideal for tinier tasks. It also comes with a placemat (this helps to protect your surfaces from possible scratching) and a wooden spice spoon (for scooping out spice portions).

On Amazon, the set has over 9,000 reviews for an average rating of 4.8 out of 5. Customers bragged about the many thoughtful features of this mortar and pestle. "Someone really cared about making a good product, and it shows," wrote one customer. As of August 2022, the Laevo mortar and pestle set can be purchased on Amazon for $30.

Best ceramic mortar and pestle

white ceramic mortar and pestle

Ceramic — specifically porcelain — mortar and pestle sets are traditionally used as pharmacy tools. Ceramic sets are similar to those made of glass, but ceramic mortar and pestle sets are considered better than their glass counterparts, according to Canfort Lab. Both glass and ceramic pestles will typically be used to blend something with a liquid component, per Ants Lab, but ceramic can handle more than just liquid. Still, it’s best to use ceramic mortar and pestles — like the LEETOYI set — for more gentle jobs (via Cookly). Epicurious recommends using porcelain for recipes that tend to be oily or damp.

On Amazon, the LEETOYI porcelain mortar and pestle set is well-reviewed. There are over 1,500 reviews that average 4.6 out of 5. Many customers used the set to crush pills. "It does an excellent job, easily delivering small particulates with minimum effort," wrote one person. "I use this to crush my dog’s pill before I put it in his food. It works great," said another customer. "Glad to have this to crush medicines," wrote yet another person who purchased the LEETOYI set. Feel free to use this set for more than just crushing up pills, but know that for this use, this mortar and pestle is very effective.

The LEETOYI mortar and pestle set is available for $16 on Amazon as of August 2022.

Best Molcajete (Mexican mortar and pestle)

granite Molcajete

The molcajete is a type of mortar and pestle that comes from Mexico. It differs from similar kitchen tools in design and materials used. Molcajetes tend to be made from basalt, a heavy type of volcanic rock. Also, they stand on tall, pointed legs. This elevates the bowl of the mortar (which holds your food) from the countertop. Overall, buying a molcajete can provide a more authentic experience of cooking Mexican dishes. You can use it to prepare recipes like salsa and guacamole (via Yummly). An excellent choice of molcajete is the Vasconia set.

PopSugar suggests that readers use Vasconia’s molcajete to make guacamole, one of the most popular Mexican mortar and pestle recipes. The set’s large, four-cup capacity makes it very useful for this purpose. Food & Wine also gave Vasconia’s product a shoutout, calling the item one of the best molcajetes on the market. For positives, the outlet called it affordable and versatile. For negatives, Food & Wine mentioned that the item is hand-wash only. Plus, it’s heavy. LifeSavvy also pointed out weight as a possible challenge for users. However, they liked the look and capacity of Vasconia’s Mexican mortar and pestle.

On Amazon, the Vasconia molcajete comes highly recommended. It has over 5,000 reviews which come to an average of 4.7 out of 5. Customers remarked that it was heavy, sturdy, and "a great addition to the kitchen." The Vasconia molcajete can be purchased on Amazon for $30 as of publication.

Best Suribachi and Surikogi (Japanese mortar and pestle)

Suribachi and Surikogi

A suribachi (mortar) and surikogi (pestle) is the Japanese version of the mortar and pestle (via Devour Asia). The kitchen tool is distinguished from similar mortar and pestle sets not only in name, but in design. The suribachi component typically contains ridges, located on the inside of the bowl, that form a sort of spiral. These help to further grind items down while keeping them from spilling out onto the floor. Sometimes, the pestle is made of wood, making it easy to handle when grinding spices or other ingredients (via Eater). When purchasing one of these, go for the model from Helen’s Asian Kitchen, with a ceramic bowl and wooden pestle.

One chef even prefers the design of the suribachi and surikogi more than other mortar and pestles, or even traditional food processors (via The Kitchn). The chef called the Japanese kitchen tool easy to clean and affordable, recommending the product from Helen’s Asian Kitchen. On Amazon, this product has been reviewed more than 800 times, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. Many customers noted that it’s useful for grinding up sesame seeds. Others said they learned about it from the MasterClass of American chef Alice Waters. Overall, customers noted that it "grinds really well … ground a few whole peppercorns into dust." That seems very successful to us.

You can buy the suribachi and surikogi set from Helen’s Asian Kitchen on Amazon for $24 as of August 2022.

Best Khrok Sak (Thai mortar and pestle)

Thai-style granite mortar and pestle

In Thai cooking, many recipes involve a mortar and pestle. The Michelin Guide called the khrok sak — khrok means mortar, sak means pestle — one of the most vital tools in Thai cuisine. This is because the appliance is used to make pastes. These mixtures of chilies, aromatics, and herbs are frequently required in Thai dishes, such as curries, soups, or noodle dishes. More gentle materials like ceramic or wood are often used for specific Thai recipes, like papaya salad. But often, you’ll find that the more popular khrok saks are made of granite, according to She Simmers.

The Thai-style mortar and pestle from M.V. Trading is a good option for this category. It is manufactured in Thailand and comes in a large size with an eight-inch diameter and three-cup capacity. It’s made of extremely strong granite — described as indestructible by M.V. Trading. It’s on the pricier side, but at least it’s authentic.

On Amazon, the item has more than 900 reviews, which come to an average of 4.7 out of 5. People are enthusiastic, to say the least. One customer said, "When everyone says that a food processor can’t even compete, this is what they are talking about." Another person raved, "You will never find a higher quality mortar and pestle, and I’m pretty sure you won’t find one that looks better either." As of publication, the M.V. Trading mortar and pestle set is available on Amazon for $100.