Grater 101- Types of Graters and What to Use Them For

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This weekend I watched as somebody used a box grater in a most improper fashion. I will name no names, to protect the innocent. But as I watched I thought, “I must help! But what can I do? I know, I’ll write a blog post on this topic.”

types of graters


Most kitchens have at least a box grater. A box grater has different sides each with a different purpose. My kitchen has a couple box graters, and a bunch of handheld graters. (Side note: Grating or shredding cheese is my least favorite kitchen task. I pass it off whenever I can!)

Let’s review the types of graters and what each is used for.

grater 101

The first and most familiar is the side or type with the big holes. This is used for making large shreds of soft cheese, and vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.  I use it often to shred cucumbers and onions. You can also shred butter if it’s frozen and you need to use it now.


Different types of graters

Next is a smaller version of the first. This one is pretty versatile. Anything the big one can do, the little one can do. It can be used to make smaller shreds of soft cheese, but can also be used for hard cheeses or to zest lemons (be careful not to go to deep and shred the pith, because it’s bitter and yucky.)


different types of graters

Third, we have the type with the pokey-outy star shaped thingies.  I mostly avoid using this side for a couple reasons. One it’s super scary; don’t accidentally rub your knuckles against this side. And two, most stuff just sticks to it and it is almost impossible to get it out of the nooks to use what you’ve grated.

For that reason is should really only be used for hard things that will fall away from the grater and not get stuck in and on it. Grating hard cheese such as Parmesan or grating whole spices such as nutmeg for example.


The last type is my personal favorite and most versatile. It’s the microplane. This handy device is the best thing to zest lemons, grate ginger or grind nutmeg or other whole spices. You can also use it on hard cheeses. It makes tiny little shavings, which is helpful when zesting lemons because it takes off just the outside of the lemon and leaves the bitter pith where it belongs on the lemon.

Some graters have another slicing side, but I have never used that side. It is supposedly used for slicing vegetables. But I have this thing called a knife that works for that purpose.

Hopefully you have found this helpful. If not, maybe you know somebody who needs this information. Pass it along. You know what they say? “Friends don’t let friends grate with the wrong grater.” Er, or whatever.

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  1. jane randall says

    The guilty know who we are! I am ordering a spanky new microplane even as we speak. On Amazon! You will be rewarded for your diplomacy !

    Love and warm regards, mom

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