We Tested 10 Microplanes (Rasp-Style Graters)–Here Are the Best Ones

Our top pick is the Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester/Grater.

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a variety of rasp-style graters on a wooden countertop

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Straight to the Point

Our favorite rasp-style grater is the Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester/Grater. It zests or grates a variety of foods (lemons, hard cheeses, garlic) easily and has a comfortable, padded handle. We also like the Microplane Classic Series Stainless Steel Zester. Though it lacks a handle, it has a large grating plane that balances nicely on a bowl and low-profile walls, making it easy to clean.

A Microplane is a rasp-style grater, but not every rasp-style grater is a Microplane. But whether you call it a grater, zester, or a Microplane (which one could argue is now a generic term for rasp-style graters, like Kleenex is for tissues) it serves the same purpose: zesting citrus, grating hard cheeses, processing garlic, and even turning spices like nutmeg into freshly ground stuff.

However, the tool's actually only about 30 years old. In 1991, Grace Manufacturing invented the Microplane, but the tool really only exploded in popularity in 1994 after the owners of Lee Valley Tools in Ottawa, CA began marketing them in their mail-order catalogue as a cooking implement rather than one for just woodworking, as they had been thought of before.

So, we were curious: How do other rasp-style graters stack up against the Microplane? To find out, we tested 10 of the most popular models (including several Microplanes), using them to zest citrus, grate garlic and cheese, and more.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Rasp-Style Grater: Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester/Grater

Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Grater

We weren't surprised our favorite rasp-style grater was made by Microplane. The Premium Classic Series Zester zested and grated with ease and was a cinch to use (thanks to its soft-grip handle that was comfortable to hold and helped to minimize hand fatigue).

The Easiest-to-Clean Rasp-Style Grater: Microplane Classic Series Stainless Steel Zester

microplane stainless steel zester

This all-stainless steel Microplane had a large, flat grating surface, which we found convenient. Its low-profile walls made it easy to remove zest and simple to clean. While it lacked a handle, it was cheaper than the other models we tested.

The Tests

  • Zesting Citrus Test: We zested two medium-sized lemons to see how long it took to remove all of the zest and whether each grater was capable of removing just the zest or also took off some of the underlying bitter, white pith.
  • Grating Hard Cheese Test: We grated one-and-half ounces of Parmesan cheese to see how long each rasp-style grater took to do so and what the resulting texture of the cheese was like.
  • Grating Garlic Test: With each grater, we grated three medium cloves of garlic to gauge the resulting texture. We also looked at how easy it was to clean the grater after using it on a sticky product like fresh garlic.
  • Freshly Ground Spices Test: We grated two grams of nutmeg to see how coarse the resulting grated nutmeg was. We also evaluated whether grating a hard product like nutmeg dulled each grater's teeth.
  • Usability and Cleanup: After each test we noted hand fatigue, how easy the rasp-style graters were to grip and hold onto, and how simple it was to remove zested or grated food from the undersides of the graters. We also cleaned each grater after every use, evaluating any factors that contributed to how easy or difficult this was.

What We Learned

Rasp-Style Graters Can Be Too Dull, But They Can Also Be Too Sharp

two poorly performing graters with citrus zest in them
A grater with too small of teeth (left) vs. a grater with teeth that were angled too high (right).

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

While some of the rasp-style graters were razor-sharp, some struggled at basic tasks like zesting lemons.

These lower-performing graters had too-small holes (like the OXO model, which had teeth that were 3/32-inch wide compared to our favorite Microplane's 1/8-inch width) or the teeth weren’t angled high enough to grate and zest easily. Zest came out mushy and wet, and cheese took longer to grate and required more effort to do so.

Two bowls of Parmesan cheese grated by two different rasp-style graters
An example of a good-performing grater (left) vs. one that grated too coarsely (right).

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Surprisingly, though, some graters were too sharp...or perhaps had teeth that were just angled too sharply upwards. These graters removed the pith as well as the zest, leaving the fruit with striations and grate marks. Parmesan cheese grated coarser, too, instead of the wispy flakes of the higher-performing models. And, possibly worse, food would get caught in or stuck on the grater's teeth, needing more force to run them across the blade. This is potentially dangerous and could increase the chance of your hand slipping.

Width and Length Differences

In general, we liked rasp-style graters that were one to one-and-a-half inches wide, which gave us a nice surface area to work with. And we preferred graters that were about 12 inches long in total—anything more than that and the grater felt awkward and unbalanced to use. Plus, longer graters aren't particularly useful anyways, as when you're zesting or grating you’re only really using a three- to four-inch area and processing food back and forth in short runs.

Handle Material Matters

grating parmesan cheese with a blue microplane
Unsurprisingly, soft, non-slip handles like this one were the most comfortable to hold.

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Almost all of the rasp-style graters that we tested had handles, but not all handles felt comfortable to hold. Some handles were made from hard plastic and felt slippery and tough to grasp, creating hand fatigue. The best handles had a soft grip and were made of a non-slip material.

Angled or Bent Graters Weren't As Versatile (or Ergonomic)

zesting a lemon with a stainless steel Microplane
We found straight, rather than bent or angled, graters to be more versatile.

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

The majority of rasp-style graters are designed completely straight, but a few were bent, for “ergonomic” reasons. However, during some of our tests (like zesting lemons), this bend made the grater awkward to use.

Typically, zesting lemons and other citrus involves holding the grater in your dominant hand and holding the fruit in your non-dominant hand. The rasp-style zester is then turned “upside-down” with the sharp teeth pointing downward. You run the tool over the lemon, removing the zest and letting it accumulate on top of the grater. Once you have finished zesting, or after enough zest has accumulated, you can use a finger to swipe the zest into a bowl or just turn the grater over and tap the grater to remove the zest.

But a bent zester, which is more comfortably held right-side up, forces you to hold the tool in an awkward position upside-down. This means bent zesters aren’t as versatile. Unless you plan on only using the zester to grate cheese or nutmeg, right-side up, avoid getting a rasp-style grater with a bend in it.

The Bottom of the Grater Is Also Important

pushing the zest from the bottom of a grater in a small prep bowl
Lower walls made it easier to remove lemon zest.

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Finally, though you wouldn’t think of it immediately, the underside of the rasp-style grater is just as important as the top. If you're zesting the grater holding it upside down, you want the underside to have tall enough sides or walls to catch the zest, but not so tall that it’s awkward or tough to retrieve food. 

Narrow, channel-like undersides made it harder to retrieve zest and were more difficult to clean. We also found that rasp-style graters with thick, plastic frames tended to have deeper inset undersides, which also posed a usability and cleanup challenge.

The Criteria: What We Look for in a Microplane

Microplane image with text points around it

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin / Amanda Suarez

The best rasp-style graters have teeth that are large and high enough that they zest and grate with ease, but not so raised they they dig into the white pith of citrus or require you use more force when grating or zesting. A good rasp-style grater should be comfortable to hold (whether it has a handle or not), but our favorite model from Microplane has a soft, non-slip grip. It should be easy to remove zest from the undersides of the grater, too. It's also worth noting that our top pick, the Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester/Grater, has teeth that wrap around the edges, giving you an all-over useable surface.

The Best Rasp-Style Grater: Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester/Grater

Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Grater

What we liked: This grater easily grated and zested, removing lemon zest efficiently and without disturbing the white pith underneath. It had teeth that wrapped around the edges of the rasp, allowing you to grate and zest small or hard-to-reach spots.

We didn't see any noticeable dulling after grating hard nutmeg. This grater's handle comes in array of fun colors and offered a nice, soft grip, minimizing hand fatigue. The rasp's end also had two small rubber feet, which added stability when used at an angle on a surface like a cutting board.

What we didn’t like: The underside of the grater was a bit narrow, which made it harder to clean than the stainless steel model below.

Key Specs

  • Blade length: 7 7/8 inches 
  • Blade width: 1-inch 
  • Teeth width: 1/8-inch
  • Materials: Stainless steel, TPE plastic handle
blue-handled microplane grater on a wooden surface

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

The Easiest-to-Clean Rasp-Style Grater: Microplane Classic Series Stainless Steel Zester

microplane stainless steel zester

What we liked: The larger, flat surface area of this grater made it simple to balance on a bowl and grate larger pieces of cheese or hard spices that required more pressure and leverage. Its lower profile walls made it easy to collect zest as well as remove it (and clean it). And like all the Microplane graters, its teeth were razor-sharp.

What we didn’t like: There was no handle to this rasp-style grater, so its metal edge started to dig a little into our hands after extended use. Its cover also fit a bit tight, but we found it loosened over time.

Key Specs

  • Blade length: 12 1/2 inches
  • Blade width: 1 1/4 inches 
  • Teeth width: 1/8-inch wide 
  • Materials: Stainless steel
a stainless steel microplane on a wooden surface

Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

The Competition

  • Microplane Classic Zester/Grater: This rasp-style grater had the same quality and functionality as the Premium series, but the handle was made from hard plastic. It also had indentions where the blade was inserted into the handle, where food could get caught.
  • Deiss PRO Stainless Steel Grater: This was a good grater with a nice, soft, grippy handle. It had a little extra tooth and bite in the blade, but the extra length of the grater made it feel slightly off balance in hand.
  • Zyliss SmoothGlide Rasp Grater: This grater didn’t have enough tooth and the bend in the handle made grating lemons awkward and uncomfortable when held upside down.
  • OXO Good Grips Etched Zester and Grater: This rasp-style grater was one of the worst performing graters we tested, with small holes and teeth not raised high enough. Lemons took a longer amount of time and effort to zest and the resulting zest was wet.
  • Zulay Kitchen Cheese Grater & Citrus Zester: The Zulay had the opposite problem of the OXO with teeth that were raised too high, resulting in coarsely grated cheese and bitter pith in the zest.
  • Microplane Elite Series Grater: Like the other Microplane graters, this rasp-style grater performed fine, but the plastic frame that the blade was set in felt clunky and took up more space in the cabinet.  
  • IC Integrity Chef Pro Citrus Zester: This rasp-style grater looked and felt similar to the Zulay grater, but with slightly less tooth. It still had a lot of friction and needed more effort and care when grating, though.
  • Jofuyu Lemon Zester & Cheese Grater: The grater was easy to clean, but longer and unwieldy.

FAQs

What's the best way to store a Microplane?

Rasp-style graters are razor-sharp, so always store the grater with the cover on to prevent injury and the grater from dulling. You can store the grater in your kitchen drawer, in a utensil crock, or by hanging it up.

How often should you replace a Microplane?

This depends on how often you use it. If you notice that you need more pressure and effort to grate hard cheeses like Parmesan, or your citrus zest is coming out wet and mushy, as opposed to fluffy and dry, then it’s likely time to replace your Microplane.

Can you put a Microplane in the dishwasher?

No, you shouldn't put a Microplane in the dishwasher, as it'll dull the blade faster. It's also a safety risk. You can read more about this here.

Article Sources
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  1. Price W. One of the world’s most popular kitchen tools was a complete fluke. Gear Patrol.