Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Making a good sauce or dressing to accompany any type of food is achieved by choosing the right ingredients to prepare it, but above all, with a good pestle and mortar that can withstand the pressure.

A pestle and mortar is an accessory used in the kitchen to grind or crush vegetables, spices or seeds that form part of a dish, sauce or dressing. It is usually made of different materials, the only condition being that the material is firm and resistant.

It is a container with the shape of a wide glass and a rounded cavity, which includes a mallet or hand to crush the food that is placed in it. There are several models that we explain below, in case you want to buy one.


  • The pestle and mortar is an accessory used in the kitchen to grind or crush vegetables, spices or seeds that are part of a dish, sauce or dressing. It is made of resistant materials that can change according to the design.
  • A mortar and pestle can be made of different materials such as wood, which is lighter and easier to wash, ceramic, which is very good for crushing herbs and extracting their oils, stone for crushing seeds or marble for making sauces.
  • Before buying a mortar and pestle, it is important that you know what size is best for you, what other materials are available for its manufacture, what foods you are going to crush in the mortar and pestle and what dishes you are going to prepare.

The Best Mortar: Our Picks

Buying guide

The mortar and pestle is a classic element in the kitchen of any home, as it is an indispensable piece of equipment for making sauces or dressings. If you want to know what the advantages and disadvantages are and whether you should buy one, read on and we will convince you to buy one.

A wooden mortar and pestle can have a very elegant design (Photo: ariesa66 /

What is a mortar and what are its advantages?

A pestle and mortar is a kitchen utensil used to grind or crush vegetables, spices or seeds so that they release their oils and can be used to prepare sauces, dressings or any other dish.

It is an indispensable tool in the kitchen, although the appearance of the blender could replace the function of the mortar and pestle, as it can better season any type of preparation, even controlling the thickness or uniformity of the sauce being prepared.

One of its many advantages is that it can grind all kinds of foods, whether to prepare dressings, desserts, garnishes or even home remedies to remove some medical ailments.

  • They are easy to clean
  • They are made of different materials
  • They are economical
  • They are easy to move and use
  • They come in different sizes
  • Some are very heavy
  • Some are not so resistant
  • Some models absorb odours

Mortar made of wood, ceramic, stone or marble - what should you pay attention to?

The structure of a mortar should be firm but its material can change. Depending on this, its durability, strength and the way it crushes foodstuffs can vary. In order for you to recognise the material you need for your mortar, we have made this list which we hope will help you.

Wooden mortar. These types of mortars are light and easy to move. They are not as strong so the type of pounding can be uneven and a disadvantage is that certain woods can absorb odours or oils.

Ceramic mortar. Ceramic has advantages because when mortaring seeds or any spices, it does not release dust or absorb flavours. It is a light material and therefore a ceramic mortar can be more delicate than others.

Stone mortar. They have great weight, so that any type of spice, seed, herb or food can be evenly mortared. However, because of the above characteristic, it is a little difficult to wash and move.

Marble mortar. This type of mortar can crush all spices finely, as it does not have a polished surface inside. It makes it easier to extract oils or to achieve uniformity in sauces. Its weight is relatively light, without losing support.

Wooden Ceramic Stone Marble
Resistance High Medium Very high High
Durability High Low Very low Very high
Weight Light Light Light Heavy
Type of crushing Rough Uniform Uniform Uniform

Can I use mortar for other purposes?

This article talks about the pestle and mortar used in the world of cooking to prepare a dish, however, it is an accessory that can be used in other disciplines to make preparations that have little to do with food.

In dentistry. The pestle and mortar is used in dentistry to prepare amalgams that are placed in molars, or to grind tablets that are too large for patients to swallow. Generally, the mortar should be made of glass or marble.

In pharmaceuticals. A pestle and mortar helps in the pharmaceutical industry to make all kinds of mixtures to make way for new medicines, formulas or preparations that help health.

How much does a mortar cost?

The cost of a mortar can vary depending on its material or size, however, there are very affordable prices through which you can buy one. If you are thinking of acquiring this fabulous kitchen tool, here are the prices at which you will find it.

A mortar and pestle can crush all kinds of herbs to extract their natural oils (Photo: kerdkanno/

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different mortar models

A mortar and pestle is a great tool for cooking and even if you have a blender, it is a must-have accessory because it gives a different flavour to your food when you crush seeds or herbs. Before you decide to buy one, here are some buying criteria to consider.

  • Mortar size
  • Other materials
  • Food to grind
  • Mortar according to the dishes to be prepared
  • Shape of the pestle

Size of the pestle and mortar

It is important to consider the size of the mortar and pestle when buying one, as it will not be the same to have a small one of 10 to 12 cm in which you can prepare quantities for 2 people at most, than to have one of 18 cm to prepare quantities of food for a party.

We recommend that you buy a mortar and pestle that is approximately 14 to 16 cm in diameter, as this is a standard size and can hold an average amount of sauce, pesto or dressing for several people.

The size of a mortar and pestle can mean that the sauce, pesto or dressing you prepare is enough for everyone, or that some people are left wanting to try it. (Photo: jackmac34 /

Other materials

There are other types of materials to make a mortar, but as they are somewhat different, we wanted to dedicate a separate section to explain each of their characteristics. It is not recommended to use this type of materials because they are not as resistant.

Stainless steel mortar. It is very hygienic, it does not absorb flavours or give off toxic substances. Although it can be easily cleaned, the steel is only on the outside of the mortar or pestle and the inside is filled with resins or stone.

Glass mortar. This mortar looks very pretty and elegant and at first glance is very strong, however, it cannot be considered heavy-duty, as it can break if over-pressed. It is best used as an ornament.

Plastic mortar. This type of mortar is not as strong as marble or stone mortar, as it can wear and break with use. Although they are light, they can be very fragile and cannot withstand the pressure when crushing seeds or herbs.

Foods to be crushed

It is important to know what foods are to be crushed in the mortar and pestle, especially to know what type of material we need to choose. Here are some of the ingredients that can be ground.

Herbs. A marble pestle and mortar is best for grinding herbs, as it can grind them finely. Although these herbs will release their oils, the marble will not absorb any essence and will help you enjoy the aromas.

Seeds. The best way to break up seeds, berries and spices is to crush them in a stone mortar. Being more resistant, you can crush them and give them a much finer texture, which is easy for people to digest.

Vegetables. When it comes to grinding or crushing vegetables to make a sauce, it is best to use a ceramic pestle and mortar that is strong but light, so that you can handle it without any problem. Avoid wooden ones as some absorb oils and odours.

A mortar and pestle is used to crush seeds, making them finer in consistency and easier for people to digest (Photo: Bru-nO /

Mortar and pestle according to the dishes to be prepared

Although it could be said that the blender came to replace the pestle and mortar, the consistency of a handmade sauce cannot be compared, as it is much more full-bodied and thicker. Apart from this, this accessory can prepare other types of dishes, which we explain below.

Pesto. Pesto is a dressing made with fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, almonds or walnuts. To achieve a creamy texture, you need a marble or stone mortar that can withstand the pressure of grinding all the elements.

Homemade granolas. Homemade granolas can be made with a stone or marble pestle and mortar. All you have to do is crush nuts, oat flakes, sunflower seeds with a pestle and pestle and mix them with honey, brown sugar, sultanas or cinnamon.

Home remedies. A pestle and mortar can work to make home remedies to cure or lessen some kind of pain. Mainly ceramic mortars can crush herbs to make pastes or ointments to put on the skin.

Shape of the pestle

The mallets are used to crush any food or spice that is placed inside the mortar. They are an indispensable part of this cooking accessory and come in different shapes, which we will explain below.

Stone-shaped pestle. This pestle is designed as if it were a stone, i.e. its texture is rougher, heavier and helps to crush some seeds or larger spices better.

Bat-shaped mallet. This model is characterised by its bat shape, i.e. the narrower part is where it is held, while the wider part is used to crush the spices or herbs.

Tassel-shaped mallet. Unlike the previous one, one of the ends of this mallet has a tassel shape so that this is the part that best crushes all types of food. It is a mallet shape that gives good support and is easier to handle.

(Featured image photo: Katherine Hanlon /