Grater vs Zester | Appliance Comparison Guide

Grater vs Zester

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Graters and zesters bear a lot of similarities in that they’re both kitchen utensils for shredding foods and ingredients faster (and with more consistency) than knives.

However, they also have some differences: hence the need for this grater vs zester debate. To help you choose the best tool to add the perfect flavor and aroma to your meal, we’ll go in-depth to review the zester vs grater debate.

So let’s find out the differences between a grater and a zester.

What Are the Main Differences Between A Grater and A Zester?

The main difference between a grater and a zester is in their hole sizes. This is what’s responsible for the volume of their processed products.

A grater has large holes for cutting fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts into strands or ribbons while a zester has smaller holes for slicing through the outer layer of citrus and herbs.

While it may seem like both tools perform the same functions, let’s explore them individually to understand their subtle differences.

What is a grater? A grater or shredder is a multipurpose tool with large holes bordered by sharp edges for slicing ribbons and strands off fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Graters are versatile in that they can shred cheese, potatoes, carrots, etc. to yield irregularly-shaped zest. The zest formed by graters make food more visually appealing.

There are several types of graters, but the most common is the traditional box grater which has multiple sides with varying teeth sizes for shredding a wide variety of items.

What is a zester? A zester is a type of grater with smaller holes exclusively designed for grating herbs and the outer skins of citrus fruits into long, thin strands of zest.

The peels sliced off by zesters are curled and can be used as recipes in garnishing or seasoning meals so they're more flavorful.

A zester comes into play when you need to moderate the flavor profile of your spices. This is because it can produce fine, small quantities of zest to give your meal the right amount of flavor rather than overwhelming and/or ruining your dish with too much flavor.

What are the advantages of a grater over a zester?

The advantages of a grater, when compared to a zester, are it’s a versatile tool for preparing larger shreds that look more visually appealing in dishes.

More versatility

When compared to a zester, a grater serves more functions in the kitchen. In addition to all the ingredients a grater can prepare, it can be used to peel the rinds off citrus like a zester. However, a zester can’t be used to peel the outer skins of some items that a grater can process such as potatoes.

Also, graters like box graters have different sizes of holes for shredding different foods to yield both tiny and large zest. Because of this, zesters tend to be rare in homes, whereas graters are commonplace.

Best for larger shreds

When you want to grate foods where the results are larger shreds, your grater is the best tool. Examples include slicing potatoes for kugel or hash browns, carrots for carrot salad, cauliflower for cauliflower rice, onions, cheeses, etc.

Zesters are better suited to processing ingredients such as citrus, ginger, chocolate flakes, etc., for making desserts, beverages, and entrees.

Visually appealing results

A grater tends to produce larger and unevenly-sized strands that make food look more appealing and tantalizing. On the other hand, the bits of strand produced by a zester don’t give off such appeal.

What are the advantages of a zester over a grater?

The advantages of a zester, when compared to a grater, are it’s a more affordable tool that produces finer rinds that moderate the flavors of food.

Produces finer results

Unlike graters which have large holes for slicing off larger and irregularly shaped shreds, zesters have smaller holes. This makes zesters the best utensil to use when you desire finely minced ingredients like rinds from oranges, limes, and lemons.

Moderates flavor

One of the best uses of zesters is to moderate the flavor your ingredient adds to your food because of the smaller quantity of zest they produce. Conversely, graters produce larger quantities of strands that can be overwhelming and possibly ruin your food's taste.

More affordable

When compared to a grater, a zester is cheaper. The price of zesters ranges between $4 and $150 while graters cost between $11 and $250.

Which One Is More Usable in the Kitchen between A Grater and A Zester?

A grater is more versatile in the kitchen than a zester. A grater can be used to process strands of ingredients that a zester

What foods can you process in a grater?

These are some of the foods you can shred in a grater.

  • Potatoes
  • Spices: cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, pepper, etc.
  • Frozen fruits
  • Aromatics: celery, garlic, ginger, onions, shallot, etc.
  • Frozen steak
  • Burned foods: cookies, muffins, and baked items
  • Chocolate
  • Butter
  • Vegetables: carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.
  • Hard and soft cheese: parmesan, mozzarella, etc.

Here are some of the other uses of a grater.

Comparison between grater and zester

What foods can you process in a zester?

These are some of the following foods you can shred in a zester.

  • Aromatics: garlic, ginger
  • Chocolate
  • Spices: nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, etc.
  • Truffles
  • Coconut
  • Hard cheese: parmesan, pecorino
  • Horseradish
  • Citrus: limes, oranges, lemons, etc.
  • Muffins

Can a grater and a zester be paired together in a kitchen?

Yes, you can use a grater and zester in your kitchen. Graters are used for shredding large quantities of zest from the skin of veggies, fruits, etc., while the zest processed by zesters is used for moderating the flavors an ingredient adds to a meal.

What are the instances where you can use a grater and a zester together?

You can use your grater to shred potatoes for your horseradish while you use your zester to process ginger or lemon zest to add flavor to your dessert. Here’s how to use a grater.

What are the instances where a grater and a zester should never be used together?

While zesters aren’t great for processing foods such as potatoes, graters are good at shredding potatoes. So you should never use both graters when shredding potatoes. Also, when you want to moderate the flavor you're adding to your food, graters don't do a great job: so you should only use your zester in this instance.

What to Consider when Buying A Grater and A Zester?

When buying a grater or zester, these are the most important factors you should consider.

What are the types of graters and zesters?

There are four types of graters: box, flat handheld, rotary, and rasp graters.

Box graters are the most common. They have four sides with different hole sizes for slicing a wide variety of foods. Rasp graters have one long flat grating board with medium- to small-sized holes. Rotary graters have a basket and a circular grater for grating small amounts of softer items like cheeses, chocolate, and nuts. Flat handheld graters are basically single sides of box graters.

There are two types of zesters: traditional and Microplane zesters.

Traditional zesters have metal heads with small holes for shredding items lightly. They’re designed to yield delicate curled strips. Microplane zesters have a wand and tiny razor-sharp holes for rubbing the food against the tool.

What are the best materials for graters and zesters?

The best material for making graters and zesters is thin, surgical-grade stainless steel. They’re durable, razor-sharp, and can cut with precision to yield fine shavings.

Are there graters and zesters that are easy to use and clean?

Yes, the best grating tools are easy to use and clean. They don’t require so much effort to slice foods as their surfaces are sharp and don’t dull easily. And you can get graters and zesters that are dishwasher safe.

Does design matter?

Yes, graters and zesters with ergonomic handles are more comfortable to use and grip. Some feature non-skid bottoms that won’t slide off. Also, the larger the grating area, the faster you’ll be able to prepare your ingredients and cook.

What Are the Best Brands for Graters?

The five best brands making the best graters are Spring Chef, Microplane, Cuispro, OXO, and Cuisinart.

Spring Chef

Spring Chef makes some of the best graters that are easy to use. Their tools are ergonomically designed to let you securely grip the handle and grate your food effortlessly. They have different grating levels to aid you in shredding a wide variety of foods.


Microplane is probably the most popular name making the best graters and zesters.  Microplane graters are durable and razor-sharp to yield perfectly fine shavings to give your dish the right flavor.


Cuispro is one of the best brands making the best graters. Their models are known for their top performances due to their innovative Surface Glide technology that makes them easy to use. They also have a large grating area so you can cut more in less time.


OXO makes some of the best graters you can find. Their box graters have a non-slip base to prevent them from skidding while in use, and they allow you to smoothly slice different textures of foods. They’re also versatile in the foods they can process.


Cuisinart is a reputable brand making some of the best kitchenware. Their models are made of durable stainless steel and can be used to shave off the rind from a wide variety of fruits. Whether you want coarse or fine grating, rest assured that Cuisinart graters will deliver.

What Are the Best Brands for Zesters?

The five best brands making the best zesters are Microplane, Deiss Pro, OXO, Integrity Chef, and KitchenIQ.

Zester and Grater Comparison

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