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 you have one rusting away at the bottom of the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally published January 2018. Updated February 2021.