I like to think that I worked my way over the years to a pretty well-stocked kitchen with all the basics and essentials. I have my Le Creuset cast iron skillet, Dutch oven, stand mixer, kitchen knives, baking pans, along with many other small kitchen tools to help make my cooking experience enjoyable. Even though I love browsing around popular kitchen stores and of course on Amazon, my kitchen is basically set (hallelujah!).
That all changed though when my husband gave me a few things for my birthday this year and I realized that for so long I was missing out on an important kitchen tool. I've passed by it so many times at the store and I don't know how I lived without for this long. My brand new granite mortar and pestle set are already getting a ton of use in the kitchen- I'm obsessed with it already!
Mortar and pestle have been around since ancient times to crush and break down ingredients. The mortar is the bowl usually made out of wood, granite, metal, brushed stainless steel, marble, or ceramic and the pestle is the tool used to crush and mash the ingredients. From whipping up a batch of fresh guacamole to crushing garlic, a mortar and pestle are the kitchen tool you never knew you really needed. Check out some of the best ways to use it.
What is The Best Mortar and Pestle?
The best Mortar and Pestle set will cost you under $14. This kitchen gadget has a beautiful porcelain finish, but the interior is unpolished and rough for easy spice grinding. Grinding spices can be messy, so be sure to use to use the coaster to catch the excess spices and avocado. The bamboo grip creates a steady hold when grinding. This isn't Beauty and the Beast, you don't need kitchen dishware flying around everywhere!
This cookware comes in a variety of different mediums. A Marble mortar and pestle set is common and can create a fine powder. Before buying see what qualities are most important. Heavy-duty, the countertop mortar and pestle should be made from non-porous materials. Is it important to be dishwasher safe? Does it have a non-slip bottom? Would you rather have a stone mortar or a porcelain mortar?
I love going to Mexican restaurants where they made tableside guacamole. If your mortar & pestle set is big enough, you can also make tableside guacamole like they do at the restaurant. Toss in some avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, and lime juice for the freshest guacamole.
A summertime favorite, pesto can be made using a mortar and pestle rather than the food processor or blender. Place all of the ingredients like basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil and crush into a paste. The flavor will turn out even better and you know Grandma would approve of how old school this looks.
Chimichurri sauce is a staple in Argentinean cuisine and is delicious drizzled over steak, chicken, fish, and can even be used as a marinade. Chimichurri sauce is made with quite a few fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, oregano), garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Just like pesto, chimichurri sauce comes together beautifully in your mortar and pestle. You'll find yourself drizzling it over everything!
4. Thai Curry Paste
There are a lot of store-bought curry pastes you can easily buy at the Asian market, but making your own is even better and actually fun. Use a mortar and pestle set to mash the ingredients together to make a paste.
5. Fresh Salsa
What I'm most looking forward to making with my new mortar and pestle is fresh salsa. Crushing the ingredients together really deepens the flavor and makes all the difference rather than all the slicing and dicing by hand. Check out some of our favorite salsa recipes to get you started.
If you don't mind a chunkier hummus, mash up those ingredients right in your mortar & pestle. It's super rustic and just as tasty.
Aioli is a creamy, mayonnaise-based condiment flavored with a ton of garlic. You can always whisk the ingredients together, but it comes together quickly with a mortar and pestle. Aioli is the perfect dipping sauce for French fries or you can serve it on the side with meat or fish.
8. Grind Spices and Dried Herbs
Sure you can buy high-quality ground spices and herbs at the grocery store, but you don't know how long they've been sitting out on the shelves. You can also use a spice grinder, but for the freshest flavor, buy whole spices and dried herbs and crush with your mortar and pestle, grind them yourself into a powder. Whole spices like cardamom, cloves, star anise, peppercorns, and fennel seeds taste fresher than store-bought and are more aromatic.
You can even make your own spice blends, store them in mason jars and give them out as cute DIY gifts.
I also love the idea of crushing dried lavender flowers to make a homemade lavender scrub.
9. Crush Garlic
If you're like me and you use garlic in just about everything, ditch the kitchen knife and crush garlic using a mortar and pestle. The garlic will turn into a smooth paste, so if you don't like chunks of garlic in your dish, mortar and pestle is the way to go! If you want to speed up the process, add in a pinch of sea salt to draw out the moisture in the garlic making it softer to work with.
10. Flavor Salt
Crush coarse salt with some dried herbs and spices with a mortar & pestle for delicious DIY flavored salts. They make great gifts, save you a ton of money, and taste better too!
11. Crush Crackers
I know I feel super lazy sometimes and breaking out my blender or food processor is the last thing I want to do! Your mortar and pestle is a great way to quickly crush crackers. You can even try crushing graham crackers or chocolate wafers for your next pie crust.
12. Salad Dressing
Homemade salad dressing is easy to make, especially when you have a mortar and pestle to help get the job done. Common ingredients like fresh herbs and garlic turn into a smooth paste to better combine with the olive oil.
Caesar dressing is one to try out to really smooth out the anchovies and garlic cloves.
13. Grind Nuts and Seeds
Evenly crush whole hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, or flax seeds using a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor. You can easily control how fine you want them to be and it's a great way to release some stress and tension!
14. Crush Coarse Sugar
I prefer turbinado sugar over granulated sugar, but it doesn't dissolve as well as regular sugar. Crushing the granules with a mortar and pestle makes coarser sugars finer and easier to dissolve in coffee, tea, and cocktails. It's another reason why I love my mortar and pestle.
Just like the flavored salts, you can also make flavored sugars. Try adding in some citrus zest or spices to flavor the sugar. Check out some of our favorite recipes.
15. Crush Berries
Soft berries like raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can be crushed with a mortar & pestle to create a number of different things. Add the mashed berries to balsamic vinegar, cocktails, or make a quick berry sauce for pancakes.
This post was originally published on August 6th, 2018.