Zester vs Grater: Which Tool to Use?

Being able to add notes of citrus or delicate curls of cheese to a recipe can make all the difference between a good dish and an amazing dish.

You need the right tools to make this zesting or grating process easy and to ensure that you will get the best cooking results for your needs.

If you are not sure which tool is the best for your needs, we need to talk about the differences between a zester and a grater. Many people think that these items are the same kind of tool, but they actually do different things.

You need to be sure that you are using the right tool for your needs if you want very fine shreds of grated material versus larger curls or ribbons of material.

If you are ready to learn about zester vs grater, read on!

Woman holding a zester and making lemon zest

What Does a Zester Do?

A zester has smaller holes in it and it is usually made to be used to create delicate shreds of citrus from lemons, limes, or oranges.

The zester is not as rough as a grater and it will offer you the ability to create tiny peels off the outer skin of the fruit that is perfect for inclusion in bakery items, mixed drinks, and more. You can even use a zester for grating things like ginger.

Zesters will make a smaller amount of grated material than a regular grater and the tool is small and has very tiny holes in it. You might not be able to use this more delicate tool for grating things that have very tough rinds or hard outer peels.

A zester is still a sharp grating tool, but you will find that it will not be able to get purchase on really tough peel surfaces in the way that a grater can.

What Does a Grater Do?

A grater is often used to create larger ribbons and curls of citrus or cheese and more. This makes it easier to use the shredded material for larger cooking projects and you will probably not want to use this tool to create a mixed drink or any recipe that needs a small zest of any kind of food or flavoring.

Graters are usually larger than zesters and they have bigger holes. You might be able to buy a grater that offers varying sizes of holes in it, but many of them are just a single grating surface with the same size holes that are larger than a zester’s.

This makes for larger curls of cheese, fruit rind, or even vegetables for garnish or zoodles.

Graters are often used for bigger grating tasks as well because they can generate a lot more grated material than a zester can.

This is why this tool is typically used for cheese and other substances that you will need to use to make a large amount of grated material.

How do I Know Which Tool to Use?

This can be a good question and for some people, these tools still seem similar enough that it might not be clear which tool is used for which job.

There are no hard and fast rules about which tool you should use and for which kind of job, but there are some common uses that apply to one or the other tool.

Zesters are used most commonly to create delicate shreds of citrus peel for drinks and bakery items that need a light touch of citrus flavor. You can use this tool to create small shreds of delicate cheeses as well.

This is a smaller tool that offers the chance to make tiny shreds of any material. You might struggle to use this tool for items with a tough rind or peel and you will not want to use it for jobs that require a large amount of grated material.

Graters are made to grate cheese, citrus fruit, vegetables, and more. They have larger holes than other tools and can create a large amount of grated material with ease.

These are larger tools than a zester and they are typically made to be used for bigger jobs and harder tasks as far as grating tough material.

How Do You Know if Something is a Grater or a Zester?

The size of the holes can be a big tip-off and the overall size of the tool will tell you a lot about what kind of job it is used for.

You could make a zester do a larger job for you but it will take longer and it will create more delicate curls of material which might not be right for the recipe that you are trying to make.

Some graters will offer zester-size holes on one side of the tool, and you might be able to just buy a grater that does both tasks. If you are not usually going to need to zest anything, this can be the right kind of grater to pick up for your needs.

For people who usually make mixed drinks or bakery items that need a little citrus zest or those who make delicate pasta dishes that need the slightest touch of cheesy goodness, a zester is a perfect tool for their needs.

Zesters and Graters do Different Jobs

Zesters and graters do different jobs but they are both important tools that you might want to have in your kitchen. You might need a zester only occasionally, but if you do need one, it’s really nice to have this tool on hand.

Graters will probably take care of all of your needs in the kitchen on most days, but zesters are a great tool to have in your arsenal as well. Zesters and graters are great kitchen tools that most chefs will need to have access to in their kitchen for a variety of needs.

No matter what kind of cooking you do, there will come a time where you will need one, or both of these handy tools for your cooking processes.

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