How To Grind Spices Without A Grinder? 10 Best Methods

Nothing could be more delicious than perfectly spiced vegetarian chili with tortilla crisps, Nashville hot chicken, or green spaghetti. To prepare such kinds of dishes, you need to grind spices in a grinder and use them in these recipes at the right measurement.

What if your spice grinder isn’t working at the moment, or you don’t have a spice grinder at all? Consequently, you have to utilize alternative ways, don’t you?

So, the question is how to grind spices without a grinder? A mortar and a pestle can be great alternatives for grinding any kind of spices, allowing you to whack the spices with the pestle into the mortar. The mortar’s uneven surface makes the spices to be almost perfectly crushed and ground.

Apart from that, you can try a variety of different ways to grind plenty of spices.

However, not all methods work best for all types of spices. Hence, you have to make sure that you’re following the perfect method for the perfect spice.

How to Grind Spices Without a Grinder

There are plenty of substitute options out there to grind a wide variety of spices and herbs. Here we’re going to share 10 best alternative methods that need to be used with a few tools that you hopefully find in your own kitchen.

Method 1: Mortar and Pestle

Mortar and Pestle
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Since the ancient age, mortar and pestle have been used to grind various spices for cooking many delicious dishes. These days, they’re one of the most useful cooking stuffs that people usually use for crushing a small batch of wet and dry spices, like pepper and ginger.

What You Need:

  • A mortar
  • A pestle

What You Have to Do:

  • Put the right amount of spices into the mortar without overloading it. If the required amount of spices overloads the mortar, keep some of them aside for the next grind.
  • Hold the mortar with your less dominant hand in a way that you’re using the hand as a lid so that the spices cannot jump out while grinding.
  • Make sure you’re keeping some space open at the center to enter the pestle into the mortar.
  • Now, take the pestle in your more dominant hand and swirly and forcefully pound the spices with the fatter end of the pestle until they’re ground in the desired fineness.

Note: Thanks to the fibrous nature of cinnamon sticks, you may not grind them using a mortar and a pestle.

Method 2: Microplane Grater

Microplane Grater
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Microplane graters are among the most useful kitchen tools for grinding larger spices, such as turmeric root, cinnamon sticks, and ginger. Depending on what spices you grind, they come in various sizes with different cutting diameters to grind coarsely or in a fine powder.

What You Need:

  • A Microplane grater
  • A small plate

What You Have to Do:

  • Hold the Microplane grater tightly upright with your less dominant hand over a small plate so that the grater base is directly on the plate and remains stationary.
  • Run the whole spice on the steel shaft of the grater to cut it into small pieces.
  • Continue cutting the spice until you get the right amount of ground spice at the desired fineness.
  • Grind the spice slowly so that your fingertips or knuckles don’t accidentally run along with the sharp teeth of the grater.

Note: You can use this method for grinding larger spices, like nutmeg. You shouldn’t apply it to the smaller spices, for example, cardamom seeds or mustard.

Method 3: Pepper Mill

Pepper Mill
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When you don’t have a spice grinder, a pepper mill can be a great alternative to a grinder for crushing a small number of grain spices, such as coriander, peppercorns, cumin seeds, etc. If you don’t have a pepper mill in your kitchen, you can buy one here on Amazon.

What You Need:

  • A pepper mill
  • A small plate/saucepan

What You Have to Do:

  • Open the top of a pepper mill by unscrewing and empty it for cleaning. Rinse it with detergent and warm water. Once you’ve cleaned it, you have to leave it to dry completely.
  • Add some spices you want to grind to the pepper mill and close the top by a little twisting.
  • Grind the spices over a small plate or saucepan.
  • Fill the pepper mill with the roughly grounded spices for grinding them again and again until you get the right fineness.

Note: You may not grind larger spices with a smaller pepper mill, or you may break the grinding mechanism. However, you can chop the larger spices into smaller pieces first, and then you can grind them with a smaller pepper mill without any hassle.

Method 4: Zip-Lock Bag

If you always love cooking, then you should have a rolling pin somewhere in your kitchen. When you don’t have a grinder, you can use these things to grind spices, using the zip-lock bag as a mortar to keep the spices from scattering around the kitchen.

What You Need:

  • A zip-lock bag
  • A rolling pin

What You Have to Do:

  • Clean a zip-lock bag thoroughly and then put the required amount of spices into it. Once you’ve done pouring the spices, close the bag by making it air-free.
  • Place the bag on a flat tabletop and try to spread the spices all over the bag as thin as possible.
  • Take a rolling pin in your hand and hold it with both of your hands to apply pressure to the spices or gently whack them until they’re evenly grounded.

Note: In this method, you can use a hammer, frying pan, or empty wine bottle instead of a rolling pin.

Method 5: Saucepan

A saucepan is usually used for cooking various meals. Do you know a saucepan can help you grind spices? Yes, it can. In this case, you’ll require a couple of flat-bottom saucepans of different sizes, like one smaller and one bigger.

What You Need:

  • Two saucepans (a bigger one and a smaller one)

What You Have to Do:

  • Take a bigger saucepan and lay the spices you want to grind on the surface of the saucepan as thinly as possible.
  • Grab another smaller saucepan with your more dominant hand and place it into the bigger one.
  • Apply pressure into the bigger saucepan as much as possible in a circular motion so that the spices can be ground properly.
  • Continue grinding them until you get the right fineness.

Note: Always try to lay the spices on the surface of the bigger saucepan frontwards because backward spices may not be evenly ground.

Method 6: Spoon

Like the saucepan technique, you can use spoons to grind small spices, such as pepper and salt. In this case, you’ll require a couple of serving spoons similar to the previous one. You can take the spoons of the same size or a bigger and a smaller one.

What You Need:

  • Two serving spoons

What You Have to Do:

  • Put some salt or pepper on a serving spoon and place another spoon on top of the previous one.
  • Rub both spoons each other in a circular motion by applying pressure so that they can be crushed.
  • Keep grinding the spices in this way until they’re ground to the right fineness.

Note: If you use tablespoons instead of serving spoons, you may not get the desired results.

Method 7: Mug and Rolling Pin

As you already know, you can use mortar and pestle to grind spices when you don’t have a spice grinder. What happens if you don’t own a mortar and pestle? You can use a mug and a rolling pin as substitutes for grinding pepper, ginger, garlic, and so on.

What You Need:

  • A mug (a sturdy coffee mug if possible)
  • A rolling pin

What You Have to Do:

  • First, chop the spices that you want to grind into very small pieces and then pour them into the mug.
  • Hold the mug as you’re covering it as a lid, using your less dominant hand. In this case, you have to leave some space for inserting the rolling pin into the mug so that the spices cannot be jumped out.
  • Take a rolling pin in your hand and crush the spices gently using one end of the rolling pin.
  • Keep grinding the spices with the rolling pin until you get the desired outcome.

Note: Make sure that the mug you’re going to choose should be quite sturdy. Otherwise, it may break down by getting continuous whacks of the rolling pin.

Method 8: Hammer and Chopping Board

Typically, every modern kitchen has a chopping board to cut meat and vegetables. If you have one, and you can arrange a hammer from somewhere, you can use them for grinding a wide variety of spices. Although the method is a bit untidy, it’s still useful.

What You Need:

  • A hammer
  • A Chipping board
  • A Knife
  • Vinegar

What You Have to Do:

  • First of all, rinse the hammer with vinegar.
  • Cut the larger spices you’re going to grind into smaller pieces with a knife so that they can be easily ground.
  • Spread the chopped spices thinly all over the chopping board and whack them gently with the hammer.

Note: You should place the chopping board on a flat base while grinding.

Method 9: Food Blender

Not only can a food blender make smoothies, but it also allows you to grind a lot more spices. As the blades of the blender are relatively high from its base, you have put more spices than you actually need into the blender and grind them.

What You Need:

  • A food blender

What You Have to Do:

  • Pour more than the required number of spices into a clean food blender so that the spices are in contact with the blender blades.
  • Cover the lid and turn the blender on to a medium speed using the grinder setting.
  • If the blender doesn’t feature the grinder setting, take a tablespoon and mix the spices manually.
  • Then, turn the blender on again for having the finer ground spices.

Note: Store the excess spices in a safe place for the next use. Thoroughly rinse the food blender to remove the flavor of the spices.

Method 10: Butcher Knife

If any of the above methods are not suitable for you, you can use a butcher knife or a wide-bladed knife for crushing some spices, such as coriander, salt, peppercorns, and more. In this case, you can utilize both sides of the butcher knife for grinding these spices.

What You Need:

  • A butcher knife/wide-bladed knife
  • A chopping board

What You Have to Do:

  • To begin with, put the required amount of spices on the chopping board.
  • Wrap the butcher knife with a clean towel so that it can keep the spices stationary.
  • Place the knife on the spices firmly to give as much pressure as possible using your hands so that the spices can be properly ground.

Note: If you want to chop the spices into pieces before grinding them, make sure that the sharp side of the butcher knife has enough sharpness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the best way to grind spices?

Using a spice grinder is mainly the best way to grind spices. In case you don’t have a spice grinder, the best way of grinding spices is properly utilizing a mortar and pestle.

2. Can you grind spices in a blender?

You can grind spices in a blender, whether it comes with a grinding setting or not. If your blender doesn’t have the grinding setting, you have to manually stir the mixture again and again until you get the right fineness.

3. How do you grind cinnamon without a grinder?

When you need to grind cinnamon but don’t have a grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle, Microplane grater, mug and rolling pin, or hammer and chopping board to grind cinnamon. Every time, you have to chop them into small pieces so that they can be easily ground.

Final Words

To sum up, these things can never be the perfect alternative to spice grinders, especially the electric ones. But, when you don’t have a spice grinder but need to grind at least a small batch of spices, these pieces of equipment will be your best friend.

Although spice grinders can save your cooking time, grinding a large batch of spices to the desired fineness, these kitchen items don’t help you like spice grinders but can be an excellent companion when you’re in trouble.

Happy cooking!

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