This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.
In an interview a few years back, the queen, Ina Garten, extolled the virtues of the Microplane. She declared it a non-negotiable kitchen necessity.
The Microplane and I first met at the pastry and salad station in a cramped restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida, while I was still in college. I grated nutmeg over baked custards, zested lime into black bean calamari salads, and shredded parmesan over fresh Caesar salad with this diminutive, yet stalwart tool.
Interestingly, the Microplane was first introduced in 1990 by brothers Richard and Jeff Grace as a rasp for woodworking. As the story goes, in 1994, a frustrated housewife desperately raided her husband’s woodworking tools to alleviate the unwieldy chunks of peel and pith her grater deposited into her Hungarian orange cake. The tiny teeth effortlessly zested the orange, and the age of a new kitchen gadget dawned.
The brothers added a handle to the photo-etched rasp, bringing the tool out of the wood shop and into the kitchen, where its precision shines and food doesn’t stick—it just gently slides without much effort.
Like that housewife, the Microplane changed cooking at home for me, too.
What started as a kitchen crush has deepened to a full-fledged love affair with this smart tool I count as my M.V.P.
Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester/Grater
With the Microplane—the Premium Classic Series Zester, specifically—I no longer needed to get out a bulky box grater when I needed Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish a pan of spinach lasagna. I just hold the grater over the pan and swipe back and forth as clouds of nutty cheese fall onto the awaiting casserole. It makes quick work of garlic and ginger when pad Thai is on the menu, too.
But, it’s so much more than a grater. There’s zesting of citrus for awaiting cranberry orange sauce or a sheet pan of fresh snapper. I’ve used it to add lime zest to my blackberry pie, lemon zest to balance a rich piccata sauce, and zested a whole orange into my daughter’s favorite, tigerlily cake (a marbled chocolate and orange layer cake she always requests for the holidays). Best yet, it zests at the appropriate depth to not grab any of that bitter white pith that will ruin a flavor profile.
Price at time of publish: $17
I’d grated spices using a Microplane in restaurants, but I didn’t often use whole spices at home—the convenience of a bottle of already processed nutmeg was too much to pass up. In 2016, I visited Grenada, the Spice Isle, and brought back bags of fresh nutmeg and cinnamon. I broke out my trusty Microplane as I prepared a chai cheesecake. The fragrance that released as I grated the spices into my cheesecake batter made me a convert for whole spices at home. I found fresh-grated cinnamon livened up my holiday hot apple cider, and tiramisu was never the same after I started grating fresh chocolate as a final touch.
The surgical stainless steel blade never seems to dull, and the tool goes right on the top rack of the dishwasher, making cleanup a cinch. I also really appreciate the ease of storage. I like to hang mine near the stove, but it also fits easily into my gadget drawer. The protective sleeve keeps danger at bay when kids are in the kitchen.
The surgical stainless steel blade never seems to dull, and the tool goes right on the top rack of the dishwasher, making cleanup a cinch.
In 2020, I upgraded from the classic black plastic model I'd carried around for two decades to the Premium Classic with its soft comfort grip in a bright turquoise. It was still super sharp and versatile, but now designed so I could grate blocks of cheese without hand fatigue. What started as a kitchen crush has deepened to a full-fledged love affair with this smart tool I count as my M.V.P.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 12.5 x 1 inches | Weight: 4.2 ounces | Color Options: 28 | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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Carrie Honaker is a food writer, restaurateur, and avid home cook, who knows the importance of finding the right tool for the right job. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Basically, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.