While box graters and food processors still have their place in the kitchen for some vegetable grating jobs, the Microplane grater or zester is the tool you will likely reach for when you're whipping up something that calls for precision and finesse: think the lingering flavor and aroma of citrus zest, hard cheeses grated in cloud-like swirls that melt in sauce, or freshly minced ginger for your cup of spicy ginger tea. Plus, the small size of these handheld tools makes storage easy.
To help you find the best microplane zesters and graters for your kitchen prep, we sent top-rated zesters to our experienced product tester. Each one was carefully tested during hours of home kitchen testing and not only used to grate cheeses and citrus, but cleaned and tested on durability. The zesters and graters were all rated on design, comfort/ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
Whether you're looking for an all-purpose zester or one with a specific function to add to your toolkit, we've picked out some of the best Microplane graters and zesters to help you decide.
Microplane Premium Zester
Lots of color options
Easy to hold and use
Food stuck in blades may be hard to clean
The Microplane Premium Zester’s soft-touch handle fits nicely in your hand while you work your way through zesting or grating. Its signature photo-etched blade, with its super-sharp indentations, makes quick work of any job you may have on hand. The folded edges on the blade guide the zest towards the holding surface. Fluffy parmesan, minced ginger, tiny shavings of chocolate—there's no job too big or too small for this zester to handle. Relatively effortless to use, this nifty little tool will make you look for things to zest.
In testing, this worked equally well for grating parmesan cheese and for zesting lemons. It felt smooth and easy and worked quickly. Like many Microplane graters, this comes with a cover that’s used for safe storage. Unlike previous versions, however, the cover can’t be put on backwards to catch the zest as it falls. Cleaning was simple, since this is dishwasher safe.
Price at time of publish: $18 for red
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 12.5 x 1 inches | Weight: 4.2 ounces
"This works quickly and cuts just deep enough to get the zest while leaving the pith behind." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Citrus
Microplane EcoGrate Series Fine Grater
Finely zests citrus and cheese
No cover included
This eco-friendly zester makes zesting citrus a pleasure. The frame is made of organic Moso bamboo mixed with resin and starch and is completely biodegradable. The blade design has fine teeth for taking the zest off citrus while leaving the bitter white pith behind, and the resulting zest is fine enough to be added to vinaigrettes and custards. In testing, it worked well for both grating parmesan cheese and zesting lemons. The wide body made it a bit more efficient, too, since we had more surface space for grating.
The blade is made with Microplane's Photo-Etched technology to make the blades extra sharp. The EcoGrate grater can be cleaned under running water for a quick rinse and is also dishwasher safe.
Price at time of publish: $18 for fine in Dove Gray
Material: Bamboo and stainless steel | Dimensions: 11.5 x 3 inches | Weight: 2.8 ounces
"The wider body doesn't add function when zesting round fruits, but it's handy when grating parmesan or chocolate." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Cheese
Microplane Artisan Series Coarse Cheese Grater
Produces wider shreds
Large design takes up storage space
This is the perfect tool to make your taco bar dreams come true with a multitude of perfectly shredded flavorful cheeses. This cheese grater is designed with slightly thicker notches, ideal for grating hard and semi-hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano and Asiago. The resulting wide shreds of cheese can be used on top of omelets, mixed into salads, and sprinkled on vegetables. The grated cheese shreds we got during testing were wider than you’d get from a traditional zester, but were still very thin so they melted quickly. We also used this for zesting citrus. It worked well, but it bit slightly deeper, so a soft touch should be used to avoid cutting into the pith.
This can also be used for veggies or coconut when you want to add flavor, but not a lot of texture to your soups or smoothies. This cheese grater from Microplane features surgical-grade stainless steel blades and is dishwasher safe.
Price at time of publish: $13
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.75 inches | Weight: 3 ounces
"This did a great job and produced slightly wider and thicker shreds, which meant it worked faster when grating." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Deiss Pro Citrus Zester & Cheese Grater
Comfortable to hold
May not work as well on harder items
The Deiss Pro comes with an ergonomically designed, non-slip handle that is easy to hold and doesn’t tire your hands. The build is sturdy, with curved sides that prevent the zester from bending if force is applied. The rubber foot at the base prevents slipping.
During testing, this worked for both parmesan cheese and citrus zest, but required a bit more force than other zesters, and didn’t feel as smooth as we worked. The blade is slightly wider than other zesters of the same style, which gives more grating space for larger foods.
The Deiss is dishwasher safe. This includes a cover for safe storage.
Price at time of publish: $12
Material: Stainless Steel | Dimensions: 15 x 1.75 inches | Weight: 5.2 ounces
"It would be fine for someone who occasionally needs to zest a lime or grate a little cheese, but may not be sharp enough for cooks who need a lot of zest." — Donna Curie, Product Tester
Best for Quick Parm
Integrity Chef Pro Citrus Zester & Cheese Grater
Comfortable to hold
Comes in box for gifting
Requires more careful touch
This zester grates quickly, producing a pile of grated parmesan with ease during our testing, partially because it bites a bit deeper than some others we tested. For citrus, a softer touch might be required to avoid getting pith along with the zest.
The protective cover included with the zester keeps the sharp surface covered in storage, but it has two holes that expose the sharp surface, so it’s wise to look before grabbing.
This zester comes with a lifetime warranty and is easy to wash in the dishwasher.
Price at time of publish: $12
Material: Stainless Steel | Dimensions: 12.75 x 1.25 inches | Weight: 3.2 ounces
"This comes in a box, so it could make a nice gift item for your favorite cook." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best with Cover
Raniaco Stainless Steel Grater
Non-slip feet for stability
Easy to use
Only comes in black color
The Raniaco zester is made with an etching technology that gives the blade’s notches sharp edges to zest citrus and grate hard cheese. In testing, it worked well but felt rougher than others we worked with, but for the price it’s hard to complain.
The zester is made with stainless steel and a non-slip silicone grip that is comfortable to hold. For easy cleaning, it’s dishwasher safe.
The zester comes with a cover to keep hands safe in storage. Even better, it can be reversed to collect the zest and keep it easily contained. The cover also has a “foot” that keeps it steady at a low angle on the counter, which some users may prefer when zesting.
Price at time of publish: $16
Material: Stainless Steel | Dimensions: 12.5 x 1.25 inches | Weight: 4.4 ounces
"The best part of this is the cover that's reversible and has a foot that helps keep it stable while zesting." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Chocolate
DI ORO Stainless Steel Handheld Cheese Grater
Creates pretty ribbons for presentation
Cleans up well
Not good for zesting
Holes in cover
Whether you're looking to put light airy curls of chocolate on top of a chocolate cake or shavings on top of a chocolate martini, the Di Oro grater provides effortless grating. When grating chocolate, you want to reach for a tool that grates it before it melts in your hands. In testing, we used this for parmesan cheese and it made nice ribbons that looked good on top of a salad, and we’d also reach for it for softer cheeses as well. However, this is not the tool to choose for zesting.
The sharp blades are made of stainless steel, the handle is non-slip silicone, and the wide surface area offers plenty of space to make fast work of cheese or chocolate. Di Oro comes with a lifetime warranty and is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. This comes with a cover for storage, but it has holes that leave some of the sharp blades exposed.
Price at time of publish: $13
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 12 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 4.8 ounces
"I liked the texture of cheeses that this ribbon grater produced. It's a bit of a specialized cut, so it's not for everything." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Spices
Norpro Nutmeg Grater
Compartment to store nutmeg
Easy to clean
Grates nutmeg smoothly
Not great at zesting other items
Spices start losing their potency and aroma the moment they're ground, meaning ground nutmeg and cinnamon from the grocery store don't have the same wow factor that freshly ground spices do. Take your homemade eggnog and pumpkin spice latte to the next level by zesting these spices at home. Enter the Norpro grater. This small but sturdy grater features a non-slip rubber guard to keep it from slipping.
In testing, we gave this a chance to grate parmesan cheese, but that’s not what the star-shaped grating surface is made for. This did a good job chewing through super-hard whole nutmeg, and the small storage space at the top could be handy for storing nutmeg in between uses. While this could be used in an emergency to grate other foods, it’s best to think of this as the nutmeg grater, and let it do what it’s best at.
While hand washing is preferred, we ran this through the dishwasher multiple times during testing with no ill effects.
Price at time of publish: $11
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 5.75 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 1.4 ounces
"This is made for grating nutmeg, and even has space to store a nutmeg. It's not all that good for zesting, but could be used if there's a zest emergency." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
If you're looking for just one zester to do most of the fine zesting and grating, get the Microplane Premium Zester Grater—it's a workhorse of a zester. However, if you're looking for a zester that's best for grating ribbons of cheese or chocolate, we recommend the Microplane Artisan Series.
How We Tested
These selected microplane zesters and graters were tested for hours by our product tester for the most authentic results. We rated these zesters based on design, ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value. Testing was conducted by zesting cheese and citrus and assessing the quality of the grating.
What to Look for in a Microplane Grater and Zester
Do you have a need for a tool that is good for multiple uses, from zesting lemon for that delicious lemon bread to grating cheese for the fresh homemade pizza you're making? Or do you want a tool that is specifically for grating spices for cookies, pies, teas, and other dishes? Some of these neat tools can do it all, while others just can't. Choose what makes the most sense for what you need to use it for.
Ease of Cleaning
Zesters and graters are notoriously hard to clean, so you want one that cleans up easily and well. No one wants to spend their time trying to pick out pieces of citrus zest or grated cheese from those little holes, so choose one that is dishwasher safe or else easy to hand-wash without injuring yourself with nicks and cuts.
Reaching into a drawer can sometimes lead to unexpected cuts when there's a zester or grater in there. Some of these tools have covers that go over them to protect your hands—and potentially your little ones' hands. Decide if this is an important feature for you when selecting one.
What can you use a Microplane grater for?
These little tools are up for most any job in the kitchen that involves, grating, zesting, shaving, and shredding, from making perfectly shaved nibs of chocolate for toppings to grating the finest pieces of citrus zest to go into those baked goods you're making.
Why do you and your kitchen need a Microplane?
If you enjoy cooking and baking, and adding those extra-special touches and flavors, these tools are a no-brainer to keep around. They save you time and effort in helping make delicious meals and desserts and get you out of the kitchen faster to enjoy eating them, too.
Are Microplanes easy to hold?
Some Microplanes have ergonomically designed handles making them easy to hold in hands that are tired or arthritic. Before buying, hold it in your hand and pretend you're grating or zesting to see just how comfortable it is for you.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
A Microplane grater is an essential tool in the chef’s knife roll, and any chef will tell you they go through a lot of these over the years—a lot. As a chef, Renu Dhar has used her fair share of these tools for baking and cooking. In fact, some of the ones she's used in the past and liked are on this list.
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. She's also the author of "Make Ahead Bread," a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.
United States Department of Agriculture. Labeling organic products.