Everyone knows the multifunctional box grater is a kitchen necessity, but is it truly the best tool for every kind of grating job? The answer is no. While a good one might make quick work of hard veggies like carrots or seamlessly shred a block of cheddar, it’s rather unfit for quick zesting jobs, simple spice grating or prepping ginger root and garlic. And when it comes to those smaller and more specialized grating jobs, you should be “thinking outside the box,” so to speak. To ensure you’re using the correct (and best version of) grater for your kitchen task of choice, we’ve assembled this guide that covers not only the best type of grater for how you’re looking to break down your ingredient—whether it be shredding, mincing or zesting—but also the features you should keep an eye out for when shopping for one.

If you’re in the market for a new grater to add to your arsenal of kitchen tools, here’s what you should be looking for:

Ample Grating Space

This is essential, yet you’d be surprised how many graters only set aside a small surface area for blades. For example, many box graters relegate its most useful blade—the medium grate—to a narrow side, while its subpar slicer takes up a wider surface. Make sure the cutting surface ideally extends as close to the edge of the grater as possible—the larger the surface, the fewer passes you’ll have to make, so you’ll get more done with less effort.

A Mechanism to Catch Food

While this may seem like just a fancy extra, we find that having a built-in feature that catches food gratings as you work makes for less waste and easier transport—no more messy cutting boards, dirty measuring cups or carrot shreds falling on the floor on their way to the stir-fry pan.

Comfortable Grip

Who cares how well something works if your hand cramps up every time you use it? If there’s a handle, make sure it’s ergonomic, preferably coated in soft rubber. And if there isn’t, we recommend finding a tool that has concave edges—the shape accommodates your hand well so you can keep a comfortable hold as you work.

Grate Expectations:

Know What Grater to Use When

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For breaking down unruly ginger root: MoHA! Ginger Grater

This tough, knobby root is no match for this nifty tool. The moHA! Ginger Grater has blades that are arranged in all directions for steady grating, as opposed to a one-directional rasp grater—that’s what makes it so special and a kitchen winner for us. But like with a wand-style rasp grater, moHA!'s cutting surface is made of sharp and durable precision-cut stainless steel blades that won’t bend and break. When you rotate the device, an integrated cleaning arm sweeps in a circular motion to scrape shavings off the blade, so all of the grated food ends up in your recipe, not stuck in crevices. A small compartment catches food shavings, for less mess and easier measuring; plus, the concave sides are comfortable to hold and allow you to keep a firm grip on the grater during use. To top things off, the moHA! Ginger Grater has pieces that detach easily for cleaning, but the device stays together during use. When you're done using it, simply disassemble and toss it in the dishwasher. Buy Now →

For shredding hard veggies, softer cheeses and other larger tasks: Cuisipro Box Grater

Most box graters have punched blades, which can have a hard time biting through tough textures like apple skin and are overall not as durable and precise. But the Cuisipro’s ultra-sharp etched blades can tackle hard and soft foods alike. Plus, it features four versatile cutting sides—coarse grate, medium grate, fine grate and slice—that won’t buckle under pressure. And unlike other brands, which often have a thick frame of metal or plastic between each cutting surface, Cuisipro extends each of their grater's cutting surfaces to the edge: more area means easier slicing, quicker grating and less work, so you can tackle soft foods like certain cheeses and sturdy veggies like carrots with ease. And there aren’t any extra nooks and crannies for bits of food to get stuck in, making for easier cleanup. Its ergonomic top handle is coated in comfortable, nonslip rubber, and the grater has a rubberized detachable base that holds it steady, measures volume and collects the gratings. You can simply grate, measure, remove and dump directly into your pan without extra fuss. Buy Now →

Mason Cash Garlic Storer Grater

For a stylish solution to grate (and store!) pesky garlic cloves: Mason Cash Garlic Storer Grater

Though charming in its appearance, this ceramic pot isn’t just all looks: It functions as a two-in-one garlic storage container and grater. Three holes in the side provide ample air circulation to keep garlic fresh, while the jar shields the cloves from light, which can lead to sprouting. Our favorite feature, of course, is the lid, which conceals a grating surface on its underside. The ceramic nubs are arranged in a spiral pattern reminiscent of Japanese-style ginger graters; Mason Cash's adaptation is highly effective and easy to scrape clean. And unlike with wand-style graters, there are no sharp teeth that will scrape fingers or snag sponges or towels—in fact, the whole product is dishwasher-safe. Buy Now →

For quick zesting, grating whole spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and other small jobs: Oroshi Ginger Spoon

Made in Japan by craftsmen specializing in kitchen tools, this unique utensil is aptly designed to grate and zest easily without clogging up, thanks to its sharp blades set at a 60-degree angle. It cuts through ginger and other small, tough foods well and also prevents waste because of the spoon shape. Simply grate directly onto the spoon and use it to stir your ingredient directly into whatever you’re making—the solid bottom also ensures all of the gratings are kept on the spoon. Grate and zest straight onto the spoon and stir directly into your dish. We love this for garlic ready to be mixed into vinaigrettes and marinades, or ginger grated into a stir-fry (or a cup of hot water for fresh ginger tea). It works wonderfully for whole spices like nutmeg and cinnamon—simply grate atop of mulled wine, hot chocolate or cider and stir in. It’s also great for citrus zesting! Buy Now →

Oroshi Ginger Spoon