Cooking With Spices 101: How To Grind Whole Spices

Cooking with whole spices can be intimidating. For most of us, the furthest we've ventured in the whole spice world is cracked pepper. Desired for its fresh kick, cracked pepper elevates a dish. And just like cracked pepper, so can whole spices.

The great part about cooking with whole spices is once you grind them, they are the freshest they can be, imparting their wonderfully pungent flavor. For those of you who are ready to take the next step into the world of whole spices, you're probably wondering what the best method is. While there are a few ways to go about it, these tools will get the job done – you may even have some already in the kitchen.


Nutmeg, garlic, cinnamon –  these all can be ground using a microplane. Resembling a slender version of a cheese grater, this is an easy tool to grind your whole spices. It's easy to clean and easy to store. You also get an added bonus by using it as a zester. The only real drawback is if you have a lot of spices to grind, your hands might get tired of holding it.

Coffee Grinder

One of the easiest and most practical tools to use is a coffee grinder. All you have to do is toss in the spice and grind for a few seconds until you reach the ideal ground consistency. Coffee grinders are also relatively cheap. Just be sure to clean out the coffee grinds before you grind your spices.

Mortar and Pestle

If you're feeling old school, mortar and pestle is the way to go. Mortar and pestle is an ancient technique that has been around for centuries, and embraced by many cultures. Unlike the coffee grinder, crushing the spices with a pestle is likely to release more flavor out of the spices' essential oils. There is also a more rewarding feeling when you use traditional methods such as this.