Types of Kitchen Graters


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Not just for cheese, graters can work all kinds of magic in the kitchen. Learn about the different types of kitchen graters that every home cook should have in their tool box. 

Different types of kitchen graters on a table

How are kitchen graters used?

Of course, grating cheese is the most common use. But there are several other uses. You can use a kitchen grater to make cauliflower rice (and then turn that cauliflower rice into cauliflower pizza crust). If you don’t have a zester, you can grate citrus peels.

You can use a grater to shred carrots for carrot cake or to add to sprinkle over salads. You can grate other veggies for salads as well. I also grate zucchini when making this healthy zucchini bread or these spiced veggie cakes.

Make hash browns by grating potatoes. Grate onions, garlic, and ginger when you’re not in the mood to chop. If you’re partial to buying whole nutmeg, grating fresh nutmeg is another use. Some people also grate butter when baking. Learn more about which type of grater can help you with different kitchen preparation tasks.

Box grater

Box grater

This is the four-sided kitchen grater, each side with different size holes. It often has a side for slicing as well. It has a handle to keep the grater sturdy. Use it to grate hard cheeses like Cheddar and Mozzarella, shred potatoes for hashbrowns, grate chocolate for desserts, cut butter for biscuits, shred cucumbers and carrots, or ricing cauliflower. The only downside to a box grater is that it takes up more room than other types of kitchen graters.

Hand grater

Hand grater

These are one-sided paddle-style graters. While they only bring one size option to the table (unlike the four-sided box grater), they’re ideal for grating right into the bowl. They typically have large, very sharp holes, with a rubber-lined base to prevent slipping. They’re also thinner to store. Grate slowly as you get closer to the holes, they can cut fingers easily!

Rasp grater (Microplane)


Rasp graters are those long, thin graters people often confuse to be a zester. While you can use it to zest, you can use it for hard aged cheese like Parmesan for pasta and pizzas. This can also be used to grate ginger to add pungency to dressings and stir-fries. They have very sharp small holes and the slender size makes it easy to maneuver around round citrus or uneven shapes.



The mandoline quickly slices fruits and vegetables into thin uniform pieces or matchsticks. This is a lifesaver when making potatoes au gratin, slicing potatoes for french fries, or apple chips. The size can be adjusted from this to thick, and fancier mandolines have more options for shapes. It’s much less tedious than using a knife.

Rotary grater

Rotary grater

Make grating hard, dry cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano a breeze in the rotary grater. The idea here is that instead of moving the cheese along the grater, you rotate a blade along the cheese. The pressure pushes the cheese against the grating drum using a turning crank, making for a quick and safe grating option. Each brand may vary with the size of the grated product. It’s fun to use this for garnishing pasta with extra cheese, just like fancy restaurants.

Spice grater

Spice grater

You can buy a dedicated spice grater (even more narrow than a rasp grater), but you can also get away with grating spices using a rasp grater or hand grater. The extremely small width prevents the user from accidentally grating fingertips for a more precise grate. Freshly grating spices like whole nutmeg, cinnamon, or star anise make a huge flavor impact in the baked good or dish.

The difference between a grater and a zester

  • Zesters are exclusively used for citrus fruits to get long, thin strips of zest. They’re small with just a few round holes that you scrape along the fruit.
  • A grater, on the other hand, is multipurpose. You can zest citrus with a grater, but you can’t necessarily shred veggies with a zester. When you do zest with a grater, it’ll be the more like the consistency of grating ginger versus the sturdier strips that come from a traditional zester.

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Briansisles says

    Would the handheld rotary grater be alright for crushing pomegranate seeds? One of my tooth fillings keeps coming away or getting chipped when I eat the seeds

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think you could give the rotary grater a try, but I would strain the juice. Are you wanting to eat the ground seeds still?

  2. Louisa R DeBiase says

    How about the grater you used on the carrots for the coleslaw?? No photo or description of that one.

  3. Tami says

    Great article! Especially nice for us Newbies to baking/cooking. 🙂 Just a thought….might the rotary grater be especially helpful when making biscuits? Since the butter is best if it’s frozen, I’m thinking it could not only cut the grating time in 1/2, but also….less time the butter is in your hands, the better. I dunno….just a thought. The last time I made biscuits, I used a hand grater, and it was both difficult to keep a hold on the butter (warmth of my fingers made it slippery), and not easy to do. Thx, Jessica….it’s always nice to see what you’re up to. 😀

  4. Carol says

    What about using a cuisanart for those jobs? I have tried using those other tools to grate butter and it is always a disaster.

  5. Judy Caywood says

    Hi Jessica,
    Mandolins scare me. Do you wear some kind of protective glove when you use one? I definitely want a spice grater. I love love our three different rasp graters and use especially one of them often. Everyone likes my OXO stand type grater and I have tried to buy them for those friends but OXO quit making them. : ( It is the best grater ever. XOXO Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can definitely wear a glove when using a mandoline. Take your time and don’t get too close to the blade with the food when getting towards the end of the ingredient.