Your Box Grater Can Do More Than Shred Cheese — Here’s How To Use All 4 Sides

In a hurry to soften cold butter for baking? A box grater can help with that.

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Pile of shredded cheese in front of box grater

You already know it can grate cheese — what else can a box grater do? Photo, iStock.

It’s time to rethink your box grater. It’s a not just a single-use kitchen tool — you can do way more than just shred cheese with this metal contraption. It has four handy sides, three of which many home cooks are ignoring. (Why do you need those super-tiny holes, anyway?)

If this bulky device is going to take up valuable space in your kitchen, you should put it to work. So if yours is rusting away at the bottom of your junk drawer, it’s time to dig it out (perhaps scour it with a piece of steel wool) and incorporate it into your meal-time prep.

Here’s how to use your box grater to do everything from grating fresh spices to prepping cold blocks of butter for impromptu baking projects.

Use this side of a box grater for slicing.

For slicing, not dicing.

Side 1: Thinly slice

Of all the four sides, this one is the most overlooked, but it’s your secret weapon for veggie prep. Try using it to slice raw vegetables, like potatoes, eggplant, zucchini and squash, before roasting them — perfect for a beautifully presented ratatouille or crispy potato chips. If you’re working with a show-stopping piece of produce, like the always impressive watermelon radish, forgo the knife and use this side of the box grater to achieve paper-thin slices. Then top your avocado toast with this bright pink root veggie for a colourful dish.

Use this side of a box grater for fine dustings of cheese.

Protect your fingers on this side.

Side 2: Finely grate

For a light dusting of cheese, use the side that looks like it’s covered in round little stars. You can also use it to grate nutmeg and cinnamon and to zest citrus fruits. Just be careful — this side isn’t exactly finger-friendly. Be sure to press lightly on whatever you’re grating and with citrus, just zest the brightly coloured skin and not the bitter white pith beneath it.

Use this side of a box grater for grating cheddar over a salad.

For smaller shreds.

Side 3: Shred

Use this side to shred cheese into fine strips. It’s also perfect if you wanted to top your salad with a firm cheese, like cheddar. You can also rely on these smaller holes to break down garlic and ginger for a soup, stew or stir-fry. If you’re making carrot cake or chocolate-zucchini muffins, use this side to get thin veggie shreds.

The most commonly used side of a box grate.

Hello, old sport.

Side 4: The side you know (and already love)

This side of the box grater probably gets the most attention in your kitchen. You can use it to shred cheese, as well as veggies like potatoes if you’re making any kind of savoury pancakes (or latkes). Use this side to shred tomatoes for a fresh-tasting tomato sauce. This side is also perfect for butter. The next time you inevitably forget to soften your butter before starting a baking project, don’t sweat it because you can simply shred it with your box grater and easily incorporate into whatever you’re making.

Watch: How to make butter tarts