The Best Way to Grind Lots of Black Pepper for Spice Rubs

ground black pepper in a bowl with peppercorns on a side

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The first time I ever smoked a Texas style beef brisket I almost fell off my chair when I saw how much freshly ground black pepper would be required.

I quickly realized my table pepper grinder wasn’t going to cut it.

Thankfully, there’s a much better way to get heaps of delicious, freshly ground pepper for your bbq rubs without a side order of carpal tunnel syndrome!

The best method for grinding black pepper in bulk

The best method for quickly and reliably grinding lots of black pepper is to use a burr coffee grinder. 

Burr grinders utilize two revolving abrasive surfaces that can be set closer or further apart, allowing you to select the perfect grind for your recipe. 

You can choose between big chunky shards for your pepper-crusted steak, or a fine sprinkling to go in your chicken spice mix.

Unlike many other types of grinder, burr coffee grinders are specifically designed to preserve integrity of flavor. Unlike blade grinders, burr grinders use limited friction and produce less heat, thus making them a great choice for your spices. 

They utilize an electric motor, for precision and speed, saving your wrist and getting your pepper ground in next to no time.

If you already have a burr coffee grinder, we recommend purchasing a second, exclusively for your spice rubs. After all, morning coffee with a pepper kick might be a little too much of a wake-up call!

High-end burr coffee grinders can set you back over $1,000 but luckily you can leave those for the coffee snobs. For grinding pepper a cheap model will do just as well.

We recommend this top-rated model by Cuisinart. It has an 18-position grind selector – from ultra-coarse to ultra-fine, so you can create freshly ground pepper just how you like it. 

What about regular spice grinders?

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, can’t I just use a regular spice grinder?”. 

Well, you can, but if you’re looking for an easy way to get a uniformly ground spice mix, then a burr grinder is key. 

While your average spice grinder, or even a pestle and mortar, will do an OK job, you’re not going to get consistently ground peppercorns. Some will be chunky with a good bite to them, while other parts of your mix will have that barely-there taste. 

Ultimately, it all depends on how good you want your finished result to be. For an easy way to uniformly grind black peppercorns, we’re 100% won over by the efficacy and ease of use you can only get from burr coffee grinders – not to mention the taste! 

Why you should always use fresh pepper for spice rubs

Just in case you’re wondering, yes, your homemade BBQ spice rubs will absolutely taste better with fresh pepper. There’s simply no comparison between the taste and texture of pre-ground pepper vs ground black peppercorns. 

Grinding pepper for your spice rub gives you control over the texture and flavor. You can select a grind setting to suit your recipe or personal preference. You’ll also find that the taste alone is much better from freshly ground peppercorns.

Like most substances that are typically ground, including spices and coffee, ground black pepper loses its freshness and flavor intensity over time. Not convinced? Try some store-bought, pre-ground pepper, then compare it to some freshly ground at home. We promise you’ll be amazed at the difference. 

If you like the convenience of ready-ground black pepper, just grind up a little extra next time you’re making up a spice rub. You can use it up over the next week or so in your daily meals before the intensity of the flavor begins to fade.

If all else fails 

If you need a load of black pepper grinding right now and have nothing else to hand except a standard pepper mill, then don’t lose hope. There is a (somewhat unconventional) solution. 

It involves an empty film container and a power drill and is brought to you courtesy of the one and only Alton Brown. Check out his supercharged pepper grinder method!

In case you are wondering, this was a joke and we really don’t recommend trying this method unless you are really desperate!

Wrapping it up

When it comes to grinding a load of fresh pepper for your spice rubs, a burr coffee grinder is undoubtedly the way to go. 

Not only will your pepper be uniformly ground in next to no time, it will also retain a maximum of flavor for delicious results. 

What do you think? Any questions or useful tips to share? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line below in the comments – we’d love to hear from you! 

Joe Clements

Joe Clements

As the son of a vegeterian, I grew up dreaming about meat. Now as the founder and editor in chief of Smoked Barbecue Source I get to grill, barbecue and write about meat for a living! I'm sharing everything I learn along the way on my journey from amateur to pitmaster.

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