The Under $20 Kitchen Tool Top Chefs Like Ina Garten And Jamie Oliver Swear By

A Microplane grater is a kitchen workhorse. Here are five handy ways to use it.

Microplane grater on pink background.

The original Microplane. Photo, Microplane.

The Microplane grater is the ultimate low-cost kitchen tool that will totally elevate your cooking. There’s a reason celebrity chefs like Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi swear by this simple gadget, which usually costs less than $20. Yet, even after hearing chef after chef wax poetic about this micro grater (also known as a rasp grater), I put off buying one because I thought it would just take up more space in my crowded kitchen. Besides, I already owned a box grater. But while planning a weekend baking project that required a lot of lemon and orange zest, I gave in and ordered one online. Now, my only question is, why did I wait so long?

The experts clearly know what they’re talking about. The Microplane fits tidily in my utensil drawer, it’s super easy to clean and is a real workhorse in a variety of sweet and savoury recipes. So go forth and make like the Barefoot Contessa, because here are five of the handiest ways to use a Microplane.

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Zest citrus fruit

There’s no need to pull out your box grater if a recipe calls for citrus zest. Not only is the Microplane a breeze to clean, but it’s also easier to control, meaning you get more zest and less pith (the bitter white stuff beneath the aromatic peel). Try it out while making Chatelaine‘s show-stopping lemon meringue trifle or this always-popular glazed lemon poppyseed loaf

Mince garlic and ginger

If you don’t own a garlic press, use your Microplane to finely mince cloves directly into sauces, soups and stews. You’ll never spend valuable kitchen time chopping garlic again. The same principle applies for ginger. Put the jarred ginger away and grate the fresh stuff with a Microplane — you’ll get way better flavour, without a ton effort.

Lemon meringue trifle recipe

Our lemon meringue trifle is filled with grated lemon zest. Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Shred cheese

Create pillowy piles of parmesan in seconds with the Microplane. Pretend you’re at an Italian restaurant and grate parm directly over plates of pasta with tomato sauce at dinnertime (you’ll have trouble saying “when”). You can also use this tool on other types of hard cheese to get very fine shards.

Grind spices

Spices usually taste best when you grind them yourselves. But if you just need a little bit of warming nutmeg or cinnamon to top a latte or cocktail, don’t bring out your clunky spice grinder or mortar and pestle — put your Microplane to work instead.

Shave chocolate

Fine chocolate shavings elevate plated desserts and also look beautiful on top of cakes, cupcakes and mugs of hot cocoa. At your next dinner party, bring your Microplane to the table for dessert and show off by grating chocolate directly on top of your guests’ chocolate mousse.

Watch: How to make lemon loaf