The 6 Best Food Mills for Making Smooth Purées With Ease

Purée baby food, soups, canned sauces, and more

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Before food processors were commonplace on kitchen countertops, many home cooks relied on a decidedly lower-tech device for making fruit and vegetable purées: the food mill. The gadget is perfect for making homemade baby food from scratch, wholesome sauces, smooth vegetable soups, and more. A food mill combines a large sieve with a crank-turned mechanism that forces food through the holes to create an evenly textured purée. If you’re thinking that’s exactly what a food processor or blender is for, think again—the food mill has a special ability neither of those machines has.

“The reason you would have a food mill over an immersion blender or food processor is that it removes seeds, skins, and pits,” says Marisa McClellan, cookbook author and creator of the website Food in Jars.

An avid canner, McClellan turns to one of her five food mills to puree tomatoes and apples in bulk. It takes away a lot of the tedium involved with these home cooking projects, including peeling, skinning, and seeding fruits and vegetables. She adds that using a food mill provides another significant benefit: “Your texture will be very uniform and a lot closer to a product that’s store-bought,” she says. 

Here are the best food mills for whatever you plan to purée. 

Best Overall: Oxo Good Grips Food Mill

OXO Good Grips Food Mill
Courtesy of Amazon.com.
What We Like
  • Fits up to 11-inch-diameter pots and bowls

  • Easy to disassemble

  • Compact design for storage

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks ultrafine disc for berries

For most home cooks, this well-designed model is the only one you’ll ever need. Oxo's Food Mill is very easy to assemble and disassemble. The clever design includes legs that snap out for resting your mill securely over various sizes of bowls, lifting the mill up and away from the food you’re processing. When you’re done, those legs flip in for easy storage. A stainless steel bowl makes it suitable for hot or cold foods, and it doesn’t pick up stains from ingredients like tomatoes or beets.

The food mill includes three different grinding discs, so you can choose the exact texture you want: smooth, chunky, and coarse, or something in between. As with most Oxo products, the ergonomic design on the crank and handle makes it a pleasure to turn and hold. “This is a really great food mill for whenever you do a single batch of something, say 12 pounds or less,” says McClellan. 

Capacity: 2.3 quarts | Material: Stainless steel | Weight: 3.25 pounds | Dimensions: 14.75 x 10.25 x 7.25 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | What’s Included: Three grinding discs

Best Budget: RSVP International Endurance Food Mill

RSVP International Endurance Food Mill

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Stainless steel allows hot and cold use

  • Hooks rest securely on catchment bowl

  • Comfortable handle and crank

What We Don't Like
  • Requires deep bowl to stay above purée

This sturdy food is made from durable stainless steel. The crank mechanism is easy to turn, and its wooden handle is both attractive and pleasant to hold. It includes three interchangeable stainless steel discs, so you can choose whether your purées are fine, medium, or coarse.

It will turn out apple sauce, tomato sauce, fruit purées, and soups just as well as more expensive food mills. Its construction is durable and, with proper care, will serve your kitchen for years. The looped metal pot rests don’t adjust, but they are designed to anchor to just one side of a bowl or pot, so you can certainly use them to hold your food mill up out of your purée. Hand washing is recommended to keep the wood details looking good over the long haul. 

Capacity: 2.5 quarts | Material: Stainless steel | Weight: 1 pound | Dimensions: 15.5 x 8 x 4.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Some parts | What’s Included: Three grinding discs

Best Electric: Weston Electric Food Mill

Weston Electric Food Mill

Amazon

What We Like
  • Doesn’t require arm strength

  • Lid with food chute limits splashing

  • Power switch easily reverses direction

What We Don't Like
  • Small capacity

If you’re an avid home canner or anyone else with a lot of produce on deck to purée, you want to go for an electric model like this one. The motorized milling action means you don’t need to crank by hand—an action that is fine in small doses but can cause major arm fatigue over time.

“An electric mill is best for anyone doing a lot of something," says McClellan. "I came to really appreciate it when I started processing more than 25 pounds of tomatoes at a time." Like manually operated food mills, this one includes three stainless steel discs to select the precise texture you want. It also eliminates the need to strain, skin, or seed your produce. The built-in splash guard prevents a mess as the mill whips through pounds of food more quickly than you could by hand. It’s also an ideal choice for gardeners with bumper crops they want to process, give away, or store for the winter.

Capacity: 1.75 quarts | Material: Plastic, stainless steel | Weight: 4 pounds | Dimensions: 15.5 x 9.5 x 6.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Some parts | What’s Included: Three milling discs

Best for Baby Food: Green Sprouts Fresh Baby Food Mill

green sprouts Fresh Baby Food Mill

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • All-in-one design

  • Ideal for small portions and on-the-go meals

What We Don't Like
  • One disc size

This is a handy food mill for turning out fresh baby food one meal at a time. Some people want a food mill to make large quantities of purée. On the other end of the spectrum is a harried parent who wants to quickly and easily make one fresh portion of baby food. This is the tool for that.

An all-in-one device, the body is made from BPA-free polypropylene, and the strainer is stainless steel. Instead of milling food into a separate bowl, this mill is designed with a lower chamber for the cooked food. The grinding plate goes over it, and as you turn the handle, the food is pressed upward into the waiting, detachable serving bowl. As with other food mills, seeds, strings, skins, and other undesirable bits are left behind. Its compact size makes it easy to store and even to bring with you on the go. 

Capacity: 8 ounces | Material: Polypropylene, stainless steel | Weight: 9.5 pounds | Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 5.2 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | What’s Included: One built-in grinding disc

Best With Handle: Cuisinart Stainless Steel Food Mill

Cuisinart Stainless Steel Food Mill

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Stainless steel won’t stain or hold odors

  • Dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • Not adjustable for different bowl sizes

If you’re going to be milling purees, you’ll probably want a comfy handle, and this ergonomic design delivers. It’s built for smooth and easy turning to put less pressure on your hand and arm as you mill through pounds of produce. The handle and knob are covered in grippy no-stick silicone.

The food mill includes the typical three grating discs for mashed potatoes, salsa, or silky smooth vegetable soups. Two looped metal hooks allow you to rest the food mill on the rim of a bowl so that it stays in place. When you’re all done with your project, simply put it in the dishwasher for no-fuss cleanup. Cuisinart is known for its quality, and this food mill reflects the brand’s reputation. The durable design and quality materials will stand the test of time.

Capacity: 2.3 quarts | Material: Stainless steel | Weight: 1.43 pounds | Dimensions: 14.8 x 10 x 3.7 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | What’s Included: Three cutting discs

Best Splurge: Rösle Food Mill

Rösle Food Mill

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Large capacity

  • No seams that collect food

  • Sturdy and durable

What We Don't Like
  • No coarse grind disc included

If you want to invest in an upgraded food mill, look no further than this beauty from Rösle, which Fine Cooking calls "the Cadillac of home food mills." Its gleaming appearance is just the beginning of what sets it apart from less expensive models. The sleek, elegant design goes beyond the appearance. This food mill’s solid, single-piece construction leaves no welding seams for food to get stuck in. It’s unusually spacious and reassuringly heavy.

The crank turns so smoothly you can mill longer with less exertion. It’s designed with very little space between the blade and the sieve, which speeds up milling and reduces the effort required. It’s sold with only two discs, but others are for sale separately. It works so well that even the tiniest seeds—like those in raspberries—don’t pass through the sieve as food is processed.  

Capacity: 3.25 quarts | Material: Stainless steel | Weight: 3 pounds | Dimensions: 17.5 x 9.25 x 7.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Some parts | What’s Included: Two sieve discs

Final Verdict

The Oxo Good Grips Food Mill (view at Amazon) is a great all-purpose food mill. If you’re planning on puréeing large quantities on a regular basis, check out the Weston Electric Food Mill (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Food Mill

Mill Capacity

Keep in mind the amount of food you'll want to process at one time. Busy parents might prefer a tiny capacity that travels easily to make fresh purées for little eaters. Home canners preparing to process pounds of fruits and vegetables will want a large device—just note that these take more effort to crank and space to store. Midsize devices may be better for fresh sauces for small families.

Disc Options

Food mills typically come with interchangeable discs with holes of varying sizes for puréeing different foods. If you want to make seed-free jams and berry sauces, look for a mill with an ultra-fine disc (1 to 1.5 millimeters). A fine disc (2 millimeters) will remove both skin and seeds from cooked tomatoes and create creamy soups and silky purées. A medium disc (3 millimeters) smoothly mashes many vegetables and fruits, and a coarser disc works for chunkier sauces and soups.

Handle Components

A top-crank food mill should have an easy-to-turn handle, usually with a stabilizing crossbar at the top and a blade at its base that moves the food in the mill’s bowl. The flatter that blade, the more efficiently it will push food through the grinding disc instead of just spinning it in the bowl. While that blade compresses the food, the crossbar keeps pressure on the grinding disc to leave skin and seeds behind.

Sturdy Base

Whether electric or manual, resting or clamped to a counter or bowl, you'll want a sturdy base to keep the food mill steady. Food mills that rest on bowls typically have feet, hooks, or other supports that keep them above the resulting purée. Some may only rest on specific bowl or pot sizes and lips, so it’s worth setting everything up and testing the stability before adding cooked food.

FAQs

How do you use a food mill?

For most manual top-crank food mills, place cooked food into the mill’s bowl and turn the handle so that the blade sweeps through the food, separating skin and seeds and sending purée through the grinding disc. Unless the manufacturer’s instructions say otherwise, insert the removable disc so that the convex part faces up. Food mills almost always work best if you first cook the food until it is soft. If it still jams up, try reversing the direction you’re spinning the crank every few turns.

Electric food mills can work in the same way by toggling a switch or pushing a button. Continuous feed food mills, either manual or electric, work similarly, but may have parts designed and arranged differently so that they can handle high volumes.

How do you process tomatoes in a food mill?

Unless the food mill’s manual says differently, start with cooked tomatoes that are softened and cool enough to handle. Set up the food mill with your desired grinding disc size along with a bowl or pot to capture the purée. Work the tomatoes through in batches until the remaining skin and seeds are quite dry, emptying the collected scraps into the compost as needed to keep the blade turning smoothly.

Does a food mill remove tomato seeds and skin?

Food mills are designed to remove both skin and seeds, but how efficiently they do so depends on the grinding disc size. Discs with holes larger than 2 millimeters will likely let some tomato seeds through, but will give you a chunkier sauce. Ultra-fine discs will produce a thinner purée free of seeds.

Can you use a food mill for canning?

For an avid canner, a food mill is worth its storage space with the rest of your canning prep supplies. It quickly turns cooked-until-soft fruit, including tomatoes, into a smooth sauce, removing seeds and peels along the way. You may want to make room for it in your daily-use kitchen space, as it can also be used to mash potatoes, cream soups, and purée baby food. Choose a model with a large capacity when prepping multiple batches of tomato sauce, applesauce, or berry jam for canning.

How do you clean a food mill?

To keep a food mill working smoothly, scrape scraps from the mill’s bowl as needed between batches. Once you’re finished using the food mill, immediately take it apart and rinse any remaining food to make it easier to wash completely clean later. Some or all parts are likely dishwasher safe (check the manufacturer’s instructions), but hand washing may keep them functioning well for longer.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Joy Manning is a food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post. She’s the Author of "Almost Meatless" and "Stuff Every Cook Should Know." For this article, she interviewed Marisa McClellan, cookbook author and creator of the website Food in Jars.

Julie Laing, who updated this piece, has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and published her first cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Pickling," in 2020. She’s an avid canner, filling up hundreds of jars with tomato sauce, jam, applesauce, and more homegrown goodies every year. Julie teaches others how to do the same in workshops and on her food blog, Twice as Tasty.

Additional reporting by
Julie Laing
Julie Laing The Spruce Eats
Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and currently specializes in pickling, preserving, sourdough baking, and generally making good food from scratch year-round. She published her first cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling, in 2020.
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