Finally! Here Is What All the Sides of Your Box Grater Are For.

updated Jul 29, 2020
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Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater
Credit: Product: Courtesy of Cuisipro

For most of my professional career, I largely ignored three of the four sides of a box grater, opting only to use the shredding side. It turns out, though, that a box grater can actually be one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen; all it took was finally discovering what the heck all four sides of the box grater are actually for. If this somewhat bulky tool is going to earn a place in your kitchen cabinet — as it has mine — let’s get to know it a little better. Here is how to use all four sides of a box grater.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

The Grating Side

This side needs no introduction. The large holes on the wide side of the box grater are well-used and maybe even well-worn. Use this side to grate thick ribbons from blocks of cheese, tomatoes for sauce, and frozen butter for biscuits.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

The Shredding Side

The shredding side has holes that are slightly smaller than the first. Scrape a block of cheese or a cucumber along this side for smaller, finer shards of food. Use this side when you want the cheese to melt more quickly or for a more delicate texture of zucchini or carrot, for example, that will melt into the batter for muffins or carrot cake.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The Slicing Side

The third side has one to three sharp slicing blades that can produce slabs of cheese, vegetables, or firm fruits. This side often isn’t adjustable or as sharp as a mandoline, so don’t expect to accomplish the quick-fire, even slices that tool delivers. Still, this side is useful if you aren’t confident in your knife skills, if you are introducing a child to common kitchen tasks, or if you don’t want to dirty another tool.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

The Zesting Side

This is the side that is probably the most misunderstood of all. The star-shaped spikes appear simply Medieval. I’m used to shaving zest off citrus fruits with a rasp-style grater, but that is exactly what this side of the box grater is meant for. This side can also be used to grate spices like nutmeg and cinnamon sticks, and Parmesan into fine pebbles. You’ll have more success rubbing the spices and hard cheeses gently against the metal pricks, rather than trying to push them through the holes.

What’s your favorite use for your box grater?