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Grating cheese seems like a straightforward task until you have a bad experience with a grater. Maybe it’s flimsy and unwieldy. Maybe you end up with battle scars from shredding your fingers instead of the cheese. Maybe you lose more cheese than you actually grate. There are many ways grating cheese can go wrong, and luckily, there’s no need to ever have those experiences again.
Best Overall: Zyliss Classic Rotary Cheese Grater
Easy to zest mountains of Parmesan
Only offers one grating size
The ZYLISS Classic Rotary Cheese Grater is NSF-certified for restaurant use, meaning it has been tested both for durability and for safety. You won’t be gashing your fingers with this grater! Additionally, it’s easy to use, easy to clean, and the handle can switch sides for either right- or left-hand usage.
It comes with a five-year guarantee and is dishwasher safe. Reviewers call this product a “must-have” and the process of using it an “absolute delight.” On top of all that, it’s budget-friendly: about the same price as a big hunk of top-grade Parmigiano-Reggiano. In short, you need this cheese grater.
Best Splurge: KitchenAid Fresh Prep Slicer/Shredder Attachment
3 Slicer/shredder size options
KitchenAid does most of the work
Machinery may warm up cheeses
Those with a KitchenAid swear by it. If you don’t already have one, here’s another reason: With the handy slicer/shredder attachment, your cheese-grating needs (as well as your vegetable dicing and slicing needs) will be taken care of.
There are two size options for both soft and hard cheeses, and you won’t have to park yourself in front of a flimsy grater, a bowl, and a rock-solid hunk of cheese the next time you need a large quantity. Just take the cheese out of the fridge or freezer (reviewers say the process works best with cold cheese) and let the attachment do its work! Bonus: It’s top-rack dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best Budget: OXO Good Grips Multi-Grater
Foldable for minimal storage spaces
Relatively low price
Plastic may crack with repeated use
Requires more physical work
The OXO Good Grips Multi-Grater comes with two stainless steel grating surfaces, a pressure-absorbing, easy-to-grip handle, and non-slip feet. It can be used in multiple positions, either anchored over a plate or perched over a bowl. Snap it open for easy cleaning (it can also be popped in the dishwasher) or easier grating—just slide apart at the handle/hinge when it’s in the closed position. When you’re done, fold it up for easy storage. It costs less than some blocks of cheese, but even at a higher price would be well worth it.
Best Rotary: BNUNWISH Round Mandoline Drum Slicer Rotary Cheese Grater
Drum slicer easier requires less work
3 Slicer/shredder size options
Suctions to countertop for stability
Plastic body may crack with repeated use
Even if you took cheese out of the equation (a horrible prospect, we admit), this would probably become your new favorite kitchen tool. Its strong suction base and three different sizes of stainless steel drums for coarse and fine grating and slicing will cut down on an immense amount of knife work.
But it just so happens that this gadget is also perfect for grating cheese. Whether you want elegant shavings of parmesan or finely grated pecorino or just some good old-fashioned shredded cheddar for a grilled cheese, this handy tool has your back. Plus, the attachments are top-rack dishwasher safe.
Best for Parmesan and Other Hard Cheese: Utopia Kitchen Good Grips Coarse Grater
Wide variety of grater/zester/slicer options
Heavy duty stainless steel construction
Rubber handle and base for stable comfort
More storage space required than other options
Lots of folks use a microplane for parmesan. If that works for you, that’s fine, but most cheese professionals will advise you that not all parmesan is the same. Is it aged, crystalline Parmigiano Reggiano, which is best finely grated, or a less aged domestic version which can get gummy in a microplane? Is it a rock-hard block of you-can’t-remember-exactly-what that you keep in your fridge for pasta?
Whatever the hard cheese occasion, this six-sided grater will do the trick. Not only can you seriously customize the shred size, but the non-slip base means you won’t have to wrestle with your cheese in order to grate it.
Best Electric: Presto Salad Shooter Electric Slicer/Shredder
Electric grater makes prep nearly effortless
Grater and slicer barrel options
Dishwasher safe slicing barrels and food chute
Weighs more than other graters
Some of us just don’t have the time or desire to fuss with a grater but still want the flavor benefits of freshly grated cheese. Enter Presto's SaladShooter Electric Slicer/Shredder, which is basically a handheld food processor. With its two interchangeable slicing and shredding cones, this compact little machine will quickly slice/grate whatever you need and enthusiastically shoot it out into a bowl or onto your plate.
Every piece except the motor is dishwasher safe, and it comes with a one-year warranty. It’s efficient, small enough to stash away when it’s not in use, and much less expensive than most food processors. In other words, a win.
Best for Soft Cheese: Best cooks friends Best Cook's Friends 3-in-1 Cheese Grater
Non-stick grater surface
3 grating/slicing options
Convenient slicing and storage box with lid
Can be difficult for larger grating projects
Attempting to grate soft cheese can lead to sticky situations, in the most literal sense. The higher moisture content of young cheddars or brie-style cheeses means that they’ll resist you at just about every step, especially if they’re not freezing cold.
That said, the Best Cook's Friends 3-in-1 Cheese Grater is up to the challenge of grating even the stickiest cheeses. Why? It has multiple coarseness options (hint: the softer the cheese, the coarser you should go) and a non-stick surface that will ensure your cheese is actually grated, rather than just sticking to the grater itself. Plus, its container attachment holds 2 cups, making it easy to store whatever you don’t use.
Best Stainless Steel: BOSKA Professional Series Ribbon Grater
Great for individual portions
Safer for hands and fingers
Easily fits in silverware drawer
Not appropriate for large shredding projects
Cheese professionals always look to Boska for sleek, brilliantly designed cheese tools. The brand's Monaco+ Cheese Grater is no exception. Whereas with most graters, you run the cheese over the grater, this tool is designed to be run over the cheese, which is both easier and safer for your fingers. Is this the right tool if you need to shred a pound of cheddar for your cheesy potato recipe? No. But if you’re looking for a grater for smaller jobs, this is an excellent option. It’ll fit in your silverware drawer and is easy to throw in the dishwasher.
What to Look for When Buying a Cheese Grater
Your grater should be sharp enough to cut through cheese or veggies without much resistance. Sharpness also matters when it comes to things like zesting—if the grater is dull, it’s likely to dig into the bitter citrus pith instead of scrape the delicate, aromatic outside.
Stability matters because it makes grating easier and because you’re likely to lose less cheese that way. Some types of graters, though, like a rasp grater, are designed for quickness of use rather than for stability. If you have the storage space, it may be worth having a more stable grater option for larger jobs, as well as a quick, easy-to-clean grater for a quick dusting of Parmesan over pasta and other such tasks.
Ideally, you shouldn’t get a hand cramp while using your cheese grater. It also shouldn’t slip out of your hands, even if they're wet from washing the vegetables before grating.
Box graters get points here because usually, the different sides have different sizes of holes. Rasp graters also get points for their ease of use and ability to take on miscellaneous but incredibly useful jobs like zesting a bit of ginger.
Ease of Cleaning and Storage
Especially if you’re not using it all that often, your grater shouldn’t be taking up most of your cabinet space. And, while the flatter options won’t always be the easiest to use, they often will be the easiest to clean and store. Extra points for the options that come with a guard so no accidental injuries come up in between uses.
Types of Cheese Graters
Box graters are the quintessential all-purpose grater. They often have several sizes and shapes of holes for grating, making them versatile, and most have a sturdy base, which makes the entire process easier. They also tend to be reasonably priced. However, box graters are not always sharp, and for best results, you’ll want to make sure your cheese is cold. Otherwise, you’re likely to lose some, especially if it’s a soft cheese, which can get gummed up in the device. Some box graters come with a removable storage container for catching and quickly measuring the cheese you just grated.
Rotary graters are especially useful for hard Italian cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino. They can also be used for chopping nuts or grating chocolate. Some devoted fans even store them in their fridge with cheese inside. They can be easier to maneuver than some of the other styles, and you run less risk of minor injury with them. Plus, you often have the option of several sizes of grate. On the other hand, they also take up a lot of room in storage, considering their one use. Many come with two parts, and if you lose one of the parts, the device becomes unusable. Still, rotary graters that feature a suction base for easy use have an edge over box graters.
Flat graters tend to be the least expensive option, but can be rather limited. Most come with a limited number of hole sizes, and can be unwieldy to use. They do, however, tend to be easy to clean.
We don’t hear the term “rasp grater” often, do we? You may know this style of grater as a Microplane (a registered trademark of Grace Manufacturing Inc), but the generic name for the style is a rasp grater, named after the woodworking tool. These tend to be sharp and are especially useful for small cheese grating jobs, zesting, and even things like grating a bit of nutmeg or cinnamon over a freshly made pastry. If you’re looking for your final result to be airy and light, a rasp grater is a perfect tool. However, if you’re looking to grate softer cheese or a larger quantity of cheese (or other food), these can quickly become unwieldy and even dangerous.
Most food processors come with a grating plate, plus there are optional attachments for appliances like KitchenAids. These makes grating cheese and chopping vegetables incredibly easy, with no fear of accidentally grating your own skin. It's worth noting they are not always effective for small amounts of cheese, though, and if you don’t already have a food processor, it’s probably not worth getting one just for this functionality.
If you have a favorite kitchenware manufacturer, it’s likely that they’ll have a solid cheese grater option. This includes OXO, Cuisinart, KitchenAid, and more. As far as cheese tools go, cheesemongers often default to Boska, a Dutch company that manufactures professional-grade cheeseware.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Writer and professional cheese eater Christine Clark teaches cheese and pairing classes throughout the United States and is dedicated to helping people expertly get their cheese fix. Her cheese adoration is so strong that she has a whole podcast dedicated to it. She is a Certified Cheese Professional through the American Cheese Society.