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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.
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.
Best Overall: Microplane Premium Zester
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.
Best for Citrus: Microplane EcoGrate Series Fine Grater
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. The zest with this grater is fine enough to be added to vinaigrettes and custards. 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.
Best for Spices: Norpro Nutmeg Grater
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 and has a storage area to keep unused spice between uses if you only end up grating a little at a time.
Best for Cheese: Microplane Artisan Series Coarse Cheese Grater
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 resembles those you would buy pre-shredded from the store. Plus, you can use this grater 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.
Best Multipurpose: Deiss Pro Citrus Zester & Cheese Grater
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. This is a versatile kitchen tool that performs equally well when grating cheese or zesting citrus as it does when making fine powder of nutmeg or mincing garlic. The blade is a bit wider than other zesters of the same style, which helps with larger ingredients like citrus. The Deiss is easy to wash and is rust-proof.
Best With Cover: Integrity Chef Pro Citrus Zester & Cheese Grater
The protective cover of the Integrity Chef Pro Zester doesn't only safeguard the cutting surface when it's in use. For those busy cooks who have to quickly fish out equipment from the tools drawer, the cover on this zester saves them from a lot of nicks and cuts. The cover is also a handy safety feature for households with small kids. The zester produces fine citrus zest and minces ginger and garlic to a paste consistency. The fine, sharp notches of this zester also handle cheese and spices with equal ease. This zester comes with a lifetime warranty.
Best Budget: Raniaco Stainless Steel Grater/ Zester
The Raniaco zester is made with an etching technology that gives the blade’s notches sharp edges to zest citrus and grate hard cheese with equal ease. The zester is made with stainless steel and a non-slip silicone grip that is comfortable to hold and designed for ease of use. The zester comes with a cover to keep hands safe when taking it out of storage and can be reversed and used as a container when grating small quantities. This is a value zester that performs well and is designed to stay sharp for a long time.
Best Compact: Microplane Flexi Zesti Handheld Citrus Zester
Take this on a camping trip or pack it in the picnic basket for some fresh zesting and grating. And if you have a small space, this cute little zester can fit inside any nook or cranny. Plus, it’s cute, but don’t let its looks deceive you. This little device works as efficiently as the big zesters out there. It's even easy to hold due to its small, round shape and flexible top. Another winning feature is the compartment that catches all the zest. Made with the same signature photo-etched technology that Microplane is known for, the notches in this blade are super sharp.
Best for Chocolate: DI ORO Stainless Steel Handheld Cheese Grater
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. The sharp blades are made of stainless steel and the handle is non-slip silicone. The wide surface area offers plenty of space to make fast work of grating chocolate. Di Oro comes with a lifetime warranty and is dishwasher safe.
If you're looking for just one zester to do most of the fine zesting and grating, get the Microplane Premium Zester Grater (view at Amazon)—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 (view at Amazon).
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.