I can't stand the noise, and even just the idea, of a blender in my kitchen. I want to keep things more natural (less plastic) and waste free (less products).

So I was looking into getting a mortar and pestle instead. I stumbled onto a great looking olive wood one but after reading the answers to this question I'm not sure it's what I'm looking for. I did some more reserach about the different kinds but since I have no experience with any of them it just sounds like I would need a different one for every task. I can't imagine every chef as every kind.

In the best of worlds I want to crush spices and herbs, make sauces, grind seeds and nuts, pound garlic and ginder, and maybe even make some soups. Which kind of mortar and pestle would be most versatile in this case?

  • 2
    You wouldn't use a blender to crust spices, grind seeds or pound garlic. A blender's purpose is to liquify and puree. I'm not sure why you think you need a blender for the purposes listed in your question.
    – GdD
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 17:00
  • They are different tools for different purposes.
    – Max
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 17:49
  • @GdD True, I got carried away in my research on motar and pestles and found more uses that I currently have to tools for, so I added them in the question for details about what I'm looking to do with it. Should I remove mentions of blender in the question?
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 17:58
  • 2
    @Max Yes, of course, the same way different knives have different purposes. But if someone was looking for a knife, telling me they want to be versatile and what they want to do with them, I could pin point them in the right direction. I'm looking for the chef knife of mortar and pestle. If you read the question btw: "I did some more reserach about the different kinds but since I have no experience with any of them it just sounds like I would need a different one for every task. I can't imagine every chef as every kind."
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 18:01
  • I found the mention of a blender a bit confusing @Halhex, but you've got answers so maybe it's just me.
    – GdD
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 8:09

2 Answers 2


As usual, Serious Eats has an article for this, covering what type of M&P to buy. They recommend a large granite model for most purposes, but an olivewood or marble one for certain special foods, like pesto.

Your question is specifically "replacing a blender", though, and "even make some soups". An M&P will never replace a blender for pureeing liquids. First, you can't put much liquid in even the largest countertop M&P, no more than a liter. Second, M&Ps do not work for pureeing liquids, but rather for grinding dry ingredients. If you were to put a chunky soup in, and try to pound it, the soup would just splash all over the counter. And forget trying to make frozen drinks like daquiris in one.

All is not lost, though: you can pretty much handle almost all foods if you combine an M&P with a stick blender. Yes, it's still a blender, but it's smaller, quieter and more economical. The only thing you won't be able to do is the frozen drinks.

  • 4
    The pureeing of liquids is actually doable without a motorized tool, but not with a mortar and pestle. For example, a moulinette will work well for cream soups.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 7:25
  • Great article! I wish he has tried making pesto with the Suribachi though, I'll have to read up some more on that one.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 19:16
  • @rumtscho Exactly, I've been using a moulinette for a few years now and other than cleaning it, it works well.
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 19:17
  • By "moulinette" you mean the hand-cranked pass-through food mill, right? Not the French electric food processor by the same name.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 3:06
  • Yes, I mean the hand-cranked food mill, the term had slipped my mind. It works decently for cooked fruit and vegetables, certainly better than a mortar and pestle.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 6:28

OK, some thoughts...

A mortar & pestle needs to be always clean, always handy & always the right size for the job.
A teeny mortar & pestle rapidly becomes a decoration rather than a useful tool if it's not big enough to cope with the high volume tasks. On the other hand if all you're grinding is 4 cloves, then you'd be lost in a large one... so you may end up with two.

There's always a lot of 'elbow grease' involved to use it & to clean it.
If you're happy with that, read on...

Personally, I went with a resin one. Looks like stone, feels almost like stone, actually man-made.
From comments - I had an untested theory that a real stone one could potentially be tainted by strongly flavoured ingredients, so I went with resin, as being completely impermeable.
Weighs a ton, or feels like it. I just weighed mine to see... my kitchen scales wouldn't take it, so it went on the ones in the bathroom - 7.5kg, that's over 16lbs.

I found a pic of one a bit like it...

enter image description here

Heavy, so it doesn't run away from you when you're pounding like a champ.
I used to have a smaller & much lighter one & I found I was chasing it round the worktop more than I was actually usefully grinding. Also, it was wooden, so every time I cleaned it I couldn't use it again until it was properly dry or I'd be making sludge. I eventually binned the smaller one as I almost never used it, & because I have no qualms about using an electric grinder, chopper or blender as appropriate - & in fact I got an electric spice grinder the last time I had just 4 cloves to grind & could barely find them in the bottom of the mortar ;)

The trouble is that even at that weight, it will still really only hold about a litre [2 pints or so] whilst giving you room to manoeuvre.
For similar reasons I also bought an electric blender big enough to do large batches of soup.

  • Thanks for all the info! I mostly do small batches, as I'm still learning and improving my techniques every time, and love to put some elbow greese in a dish so it sounds like I'm heading the right direction. Why did you go with resin rather than stone? and is there anything you wouldn't do in yours?
    – Hugo
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 17:03
  • 2
    Resin is totally non-absorbent. Wash, wipe, dry & it's ready to go again. Stone, unless it's coated, could possibly be tainted by something really strong - garlic, cloves, fenugreek, etc etc so I just never even considered it a real option. I've never actually had one to test that theory, but it just put me off a bit.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 17:08

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