3 Best Cheese Graters, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
We shredded — not to mention sliced, zested and ribboned — all manner of soft and hard cheeses, to find the greatest graters available!
When a knife simply won’t do, and you don’t feel like struggling with your food processor, cheese graters are a necessary kitchen tool for breaking down copious amounts of dairy. And while you’ll find electric slicers, rotary shredders and hand-held zesters on the market, we’re partial to good old box graters, which provide excellent leverage, affordability and, generally, multiple options, for creating coarse, fine and specialty cheese cuts. But not all graters are created equal, which is why we tested seven similar-seeming options, to see which models emerged at the top of the cheese-shaving pack!
One of the most-frustrating elements of cheese grating is corralling the little fragments, which invariably make their way to all corners of your kitchen. That’s where the OXO comes in. A see-through storage container can be easily affixed to or removed from the bottom of the unit, neatly collecting every last particle of cheese as you grate. And it’s cleverly stamped with measurements, meaning you actually know when you’ve amassed one cup of Cheddar. Yet it also includes an airtight top, if you’ve gotten over-enthusiastic with your fontina evisceration. The four-sided OXO has coarse, medium and slicer settings, as well as a removable zester, so you can shower Parm directly over your plate of pasta. Being able to remove a side also assists in cleaning, since you can angle a brush into that otherwise hard-to-reach grater underbelly. That said, it’s also dishwasher safe, so even the most caked-on cheese is easy to clean off the OXO.
The Utopia hardly behaves like a budget pick, since despite the price, it actually has the most grating options of all the models we tried! We’re talking six of them, including coarse-, large- and small-holed graters, a zester, a slicer, and even a wavy slicer, for producing fun, edible ribbons. And all of them performed very effectively on our differently textured cheeses, filling our cup in a minute or less. A rubberized handle and base made it comfortable to hold and allowed it to sit firmly on the counter. And the Utopia is dishwasher safe, although not as hard to hand clean as you’d think for an inflexible, six-sided grater, since the roomy shape allows you to fit a brush inside.
The downside of box graters is they’re pretty bulky and awkwardly shaped, commanding a fair amount of cabinet space. But the streamlined Joseph folds down flat and even has a protective cover, allowing it to slide seamlessly and safely into a crowded drawer. It has a smaller footprint when expanded as well, measuring 3 inches shorter, on average, than other graters. You’d think this diminutiveness might come at the cost of effectiveness, but it was actually the speediest performer of the group, producing a cup of pizza-ready mozzarella in a mere 30 seconds!
How We Tested
While none of the graters came with actual manuals, we checked the packaging to see if there were any specific instructions on care and use. We made notes of what materials the graters were composed of — stainless steel, plastic, silicone — as well as how high the sides were, how weighty they were, how many grating options they came with, and how much space they’d require in a kitchen cabinet. We also checked to see if the brands made any special claims, such as “The Best of Its Kind!” or “Can Process Large Amounts of Food Quickly!” to determine if they stood up during testing.
For our active evaluations, we processed blocks of sturdy Parmesan, medium-hard Cheddar and soft mozzarella, seeing how they performed on all sides of each grater, and how long it took to shred (or zest or ribbon) a cup of each. We assessed how comfortable each grater was to use, how easy (or not) it was to clean them with soap and water, and then, provided they were dishwasher safe, ran each grater for a cycle.