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.
Oxo Good Grips Food Mill
Fits up to 11-inch-diameter pots and bowls
Easy to disassemble
Compact design for storage
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, 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.
Price at time of publish: $55.95
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
“A good food mill should be a sturdy piece of equipment that can handle food for a crowd. While it can be used to quickly go through small amounts of product, a food mill is best for quickly puréeing large amounts of food versus a smaller tool like a ricer, which is a slower process. Food mills are used for breaking up food for soups, purées, and sauces. It’s great for mashed potatoes without the gummy and sticky texture.” — Joshua Resnick, lead chef and chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education
Mirro Foley Stainless Steel Healthy Food Mill
Can be used with hot and cold food
Non-slip hooks for easy placement
Can be disassembled for thorough cleaning
Doesn’t include additional discs
The Foley Manufacturing Company is the original creator of the food mill. Since the 1920s, it has been a go-to brand for housewares, but the food mill was especially innovative for its ability to efficiently sift flour. Its original purpose was to replace bulky flour sifters, the food mill is capable of much more. Over the years, the design has changed and food mills have more features, but this Foley food mill takes it back to the basics—it’s a simple tool that mashes and strains food.
“This food mill is a nice option because it's sturdy and comes in multiple sizes. It’s great for someone who cans jam or applesauce, makes a lot of tomato sauce, or cooks larger portions for a family,” says Anne Danahy, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, recipe developer, and author of the cookbook “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two”. “It has hooks on the side to fit securely over a bowl or pot, and its stainless steel construction makes it dishwasher-safe.”
Some reviewers have noticed metal shavings when using this food mill, but this is easy to prevent. The crank should only be turned clockwise—turning it in the other direction dulls the blade, resulting in the metal shavings.
This food mill also comes in a 3.5-quart version for processing a larger capacity of food.
Price at time of publish: $39.99
Capacity: 2 quarts | Material: Stainless steel | Weight: 1.85 pounds | Dimensions: 13.87 x 8.37 x 18.62 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | What’s Included: One grinding disc
“A food mill is a handy, low-tech, and less expensive alternative to a food processor. It grinds and purées food smoothly while also removing skins and seeds. While it requires some muscle to turn the handle, it can save time because you don't have to peel, core, or seed your food before puréeing it. Food mills are great for making silky smooth mashed potatoes, tomato sauce, and applesauce.” — Anne Danahy, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, recipe developer, and author of the cookbook “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two”
Weston Electric Food Mill
Doesn’t require arm strength
Lid with food chute limits splashing
Power switch easily reverses direction
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.
Price at time of publish: $69.99
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
“Food mills should be used on soft foods so as to not damage the tool. It should be disassembled to be cleaned as best as possible and dried completely before being reassembled—otherwise, rust can form in the nooks and crannies. It’s great for quickly processing food like tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, and baby food.” — Joshua Resnick, lead chef and chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education
Best for Baby Food
OXO Tot Mash Maker Baby Food Mill
There are many baby food makers out there, but all you need is a simple food mill to yield creamy baby food with a consistency similar to those at the store. This one is small, compact, and travel-friendly. It doesn’t require a power source or batteries, so you can use it on the go.
While most food mills have a bottomless bowl, which requires a secondary bowl or pot to collect the milled food, this one stores the food in the same component. You can mill the food using the easy-turn handle and feed your baby directly from the wide-mouth container with the included spoon. It may only yield one or two servings per use, but any leftover food can be stored in the same container with the lid that it comes with.
When you’re done, you can place the mill on the top rack of the dishwasher for easy clean-up.
Price at time of publish: $29.99
Capacity: 115 milliliters | Material: Stainless steel and plastic | Weight: 0.58 pounds | Dimensions: 3.9 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | What’s Included: Built-in stainless steel blade
“Make sure you cook any hard foods (like apples or potatoes) first. The softer the food, the easier to grind. Food mills are great for making homemade baby food because they turn cooked fruits or vegetables into a nice smooth purée free from skins or seeds.” — Anne Danahy, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, recipe developer, and author of the cookbook “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two”
Best With Handle
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Food Mill
Stainless steel won’t stain or hold odors
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.
Price at time of publish: $39.99
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
"It's best to rinse your food mill well right after using it. If you let it sit, the food will dry and harden, making it much harder to clean. Most are dishwasher-safe on the top rack." — Anne Danahy, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, recipe developer, and author of the cookbook “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two”
Rösle Food Mill
No seams that collect food
Sturdy and durable
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.
Price at time of publish: $199.95
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
What to Look for in a Food Mill
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best food mills on the market, evaluating their key features—such as ease of use, material, and performance—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We carefully compared the key components of an excellent food mill, from handle design to the quality of puree it produced. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
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.
Lacey Muinos, who updated this article, has been with Dotdash since 2019. She started writing for Verywell Fit and has since written for Simply Recipes and The Spruce Eats. Her role involves conducting interviews with experts like dermatologists and dietitians, scouring scientific journals for relevant studies, and fact-checking all information in her writing.
- Marisa McClellan, cookbook author and creator of the website Food in Jars
- Joshua Resnick, lead chef and chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education
- Anne Danahy, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, recipe developer, and author of the cookbook “The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Two”