Food mills are simple and versatile kitchen tools that are very useful for preparing large batches of food such as mashed potatoes, jams and apple sauce.
The way food mills work is fairly straightforward. A food mill consists of a large bowl with a crank on top and two grinding discs at the bottom of the bowl. The top disc catches food and pushes it against the bottom disc, which has holes similar to those on a cheese grater.
Depending on the size of the holes in a food mill, they can be useful for separating skins (such as with potatoes or peas) or even filtering out seeds if they’re small enough (such as with apples and berries). That's what sometimes makes a food mill a better choice for the job at hand over an immersion blender or a traditional hand masher — which are designed to perform similar tasks but cannot filter items out.
A good food mill can help you shave several minutes or sometimes even over an hour from your cooking process. For example, to make mashed potatoes, you normally need to peel them first and then mash them by hand (after boiling them, of course). Depending on how many potatoes you're preparing, that can easily add 15 minutes or a half hour to the process. A food mill, however, will peel and mash the potatoes in one go, drastically speeding things up.
Other labor-intensive foods are also made simple with a food mill. Jams, jellies, applesauce, homemade tomato sauce and other mashed-up or mildly blended foods can be made in a handful of minutes thanks to the perforated grinding discs that help peel and seed foods, leaving behind only the pulp. Because of their large capacity, food mills are especially useful for anyone with a home garden who enjoys making canned foods.
Food mills are pretty affordable considering their practicality, too. Though expensive models can cost well over $100, a basic $40 model generally works just as well.
Food Mill Buying Guide
There are two main factors to consider in a good food mill. First, you want to make sure you can get a solid grip while turning the crank. The second key factor is the number of included grinding discs, and their sizes. Larger holes in the discs are good for tough foods like potatoes, while smaller holes work best for small seeded ingredients like strawberries, apples and the like.
If you’ve decided that you just need to have a food mill in your kitchen, make sure to consider the following key features when shopping around:
• Size. Because food mills are great for making large quantities of foods like mashed potatoes and jams, some models can be larger than most home cooks need. A food mill with a capacity of at least 2 quarts will suit the needs of casual cooks while still allowing for larger batches for special occasions.
• Milling discs. Food mills use milling discs to mash, grind or puree food into a pulp. The size of the sieve holes on the milling disc will determine what type of food you can effectively mill with it. Smaller sieve holes are great for seeded foods while larger sieve holes work better for potatoes and the like. You also want to pay attention to how many milling discs are included with your food mill, which determines the gadget's versatility. Many models include three by default, but some, like the Rösle, only include two with the option to purchase more separately.
• Materials and design. While most food mills are made of stainless steel, the overall design of the food mill itself determines how easy and comfortable it is to operate. For optimal grip and comfort, choose a food mill with rubberized handles. If you’re choosing a model made entirely out of stainless steel, look for gently curved designs that make it easier to hold while operating.
The Best Food Mills of 2023
1. Best overall: Cuisipro Deluxe Food Mill
List Price: $82.39
The Cuisipro Deluxe Food Mill strikes a balance between cost, performance and durability. For around $80, you get a stainless steel food mill with a similar design to more expensive models like Rösle, but the Cuisipro also features non-slip grips on the handles like with the OXO Good Grips. The included milling discs offer a good range of sizes (2mm, 3mm, 4mm) so it can handle most foods with little issue. Tougher items like raw potatoes should be boiled first for best results.
The Cuisipro Deluxe is fairly easy to take apart and put back together, making swapping milling discs and cleaning relatively painless processes. Cuisipro also offers a 25-year warranty on this model, which is a boon for an appliance likely to be heavily used over time.
- Extra large bowl with 4-quart capacity
- Three different-sized milling discs for versatile use
- Easy to dismantle and reassemble for convenient cleaning
- Incredible 25-year warranty
- Hook-shaped handle doesn’t provide great stability
- Tough foods should be boiled before milling
2. Editor's pick: OXO Good Grips Food Mill
List Price: $55.95
Since all food mills have the same function at heart, what matters most is their design, construction and quality of the materials. The OXO Good Grips Food Mill combines a non-slip rubberized grip with additional base clamps to make sure your food mill is as secure as it can be while you’re pureeing or mashing food.
The OXO Good Grips include three different milling discs with sieve holes of different sizes for different foods (like potatoes, apples and strawberries). The discs are spring-loaded for easy removal, which is handy both for milling different foods and cleaning up afterward. While it performs reliably and stores easily, users have sometimes reported that it has trouble mashing potatoes thoroughly.
The design also makes it prone to more food residue, which means it may need thorough cleaning more often than similar models. Yet the fact that it’s dishwasher-safe, like most food mills, makes this a minor concern.
- Extra base grips provide reliable stability
- Three milling discs with sieve holes
- Dishwasher-safe parts for easy cleaning
- Spring-loaded discs are convenient to remove
- May require more thorough cleaning than comparable models
- May not be ideal for raw potatoes
3. Best for low prices: Weston Stainless Steel Food Mill
List Price: $32.67
This food mill from Weston is a functional and affordable model for no-frills home cooks. For under $40, the Weston includes three grinding discs, one of which has sieve holes that are 8mm wide, making it a great choice for tough, firm foods such as potatoes. Its stainless steel construction also means that it will last a very long time and handle heavy usage.
Being a budget model, there are some drawbacks. The handle’s design makes it uncomfortable to operate for long periods of time, and its overall construction (lack of proper balancing and non-slip handles) means that keeping the mill steady during operation can be a chore. Still, the Weston remains a solid choice for the practical-minded cook on a budget.
- Great value for its budget-friendly price
- Durable stainless steel construction for long-lasting use
- Three milling discs block skins and seeds
- Dishwasher-safe parts for easy cleaning
- Somewhat difficult to keep stable
- Handle design isn’t ideal for extended use
4. Best single-piece food mill: Rösle Stainless Steel Food Mill
List Price: $165.00
Home cooks who want to splurge a little will want to look into the Rösle Stainless Steel Food Mill. This model is crafted from highly polished stainless steel, giving it a very aesthetically pleasing sheen. It’s also built as a single piece, meaning that there are no seams, nooks or crannies where stray bits of fruit or seed can get stuck. So it’s a cinch to clean most of this dishwasher-safe food mill; the only issue is that the hand crank can't be put in the dishwasher and should be cleaned by hand.
The Rösle has a very low clearance between the blade and sieve, which helps cut down on the time and effort needed to fully mill an ingredient.
However, unlike other food mills on this list that come with three straining discs, the Rösle only includes two, which are suitable mostly for small, seeded ingredients such as strawberries, but additional discs can be purchased separately.
At just over $160 (though sometimes on sale for under $120), the Rösle food mill isn’t cheap, but certainly well worth the investment for some chefs.
- Sleek, highly polished stainless steel construction looks great
- Easy to clean and no assembly required
- Low clearance between blade and sieve for efficient results
- Premium and convenient one-piece construction
- Very expensive (about $150)
- Hand crank must be washed by hand
5. Best for baby food: Green Sprouts Fresh Baby Food Mill
List Price: $15.95
Because of how they work, food mills are great tools for making baby food. However, the large portions that most food mills produce are unreasonable for babies, even if you're making enough to last a day or two.
The Green Sprouts’ Fresh Baby Food Mill is the solution. It's a tiny model that can make a fresh, single portion of baby food that can be eaten straight out of the appliance.
Operation is simple and straightforward since you only need to remove the grinding disc, place the food you want to puree (peas or apples, for example), and replace the grinding disc. The sieve holes are small enough that you can puree most seeded foodstuffs such as apples, and the bowl is large enough to comfortably fit safety spoons, so you can feed your baby as soon as you’re done.
- Ideal for making single portions of baby food
- Bowl works as a serving dish
- Very affordably priced
- Compact design and easy to use
- Not suitable for big batches
- Only suitable for soft foods
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