Best Manual Hand Grain Mill Choices For Milling Wheat Into Flour
I’m going to give you a recommendation for the best manual hand grain mill. Actually, I’ll provide three recommendations, each in different price ranges.
Mrs. J and I began milling wheat into flour a long time ago. Since we’re also into preparedness and wanted one with ultimate reliability, we purchased what we believe to be one of the best hand grain mill choices out there (in addition to our electric one, referenced below).
Given my research, I thought I would present this, and several other models for others who may be looking for one.
[ Editors note: This post has been updated and republished to reflect current information and hand grain mill availability. ]
Most people use them to grind grain (wheat berries) into flour. That’s what we do.. Wheat berries store well for a very long time. And that, coupled with a grain mill, goes ‘hand in hand’ towards a bit of self reliance.
“Why in the world would I want to do all that work by hand with a manual grain mill, if I could just use an electric mill instead?”
Answer: For preparedness sake! No electricity? No problem!
Learning to use a hand grain mill to grind wheat berries into flour (the most popular use) is a rewarding process. It’s for the preparedness-minded, or anyone who’s interested in making their own healthy bread from scratch!
There are quite a range of prices for various hand grain mills. The question is, what’s the right one for you?
Here are three recommendations. The first one is very expensive (for good reasons), while the others are perhaps a bit more affordable, yet good choices.
Manual Hand Mill | Best Grain Mill?
I am going to start with what many consider to be the best manual hand grain mill on the planet. Well, one of the best… It sure is popular. And it sure is expensive! I purchased this one many years ago. It will most certainly outlive me. It provides peace-of-mind knowing that it’s a rugged kitchen tool / appliance that’s not going to break!
Country Living Hand Grain Flour Mill
Country Living Hand Grain Flour Mill
(view on amzn)
Among the top-of-the-line hand grain mills on the market is this one, the Country Living Hand Grain Flour Mill.
Looking for more than a common emergency mill, one that’s suitable for long-term use? This one will literally last generations, and is built heavy duty with the highest quality.
You get what you pay for. It is very pricey (now it’s over $600 as of this update!). But it’s one of the best hand grain mills out there in my opinion… I can personally attest to its quality of materials and durability. It’s heirloom quality that may pass down for generations.
- Made of solid, cast aircraft aluminum
- Made entirely in the USA
- FDA Approved Food Grade Powder Coating
- Double Sealed Industrial Grade Ball Bearings
- Cast Iron V-Groove Flywheel
- High Carbon Steel Grinding Plates
- Adjustable – From Cracked Grain to Cake Flour
- LIFETIME WARRANTY
If you will be using a grain mill frequently, then it will be especially important to choose quality construction that will hold up to the test of usage and time.
Many of the ‘cheap’ hand grain mills have reviews that indicate problems of one thing or another after a relatively short period of time. This may or may not be an issue depending on your intended usage.
The phrase, “you get what you pay for”, is often true! Unfortunately it means paying a higher price to get a product that’s very good, and even more money for a product considered to be “great!”.
Grind To A Fine Flour
If you will be milling wheat (wheat berries) to make flour for bread, you will want to be sure that the grain mill will grind the wheat berries into fine flour.
[ Read: Why You Should Mill Your Own Flour From Wheat Berries ]
Fine flour depends on the grain mill and the grinder setting. You can also choose to grind it over again until you get the flour as fine as you wish. On each pass, tighten the grind adjustment a bit more – to a level to where you can still turn the wheel comfortably.
Grinding / milling your own flour is ‘work’ (your hand and arm cranking round-and-round). It does take a little while to process wheat berries into flour. Some mills are better at it than others. However the results will be unbelievably delicious and healthy!
Many cheaper hand flour mills are inadequate when it comes to grinding to a fine consistency, although many claim that they do. Read the product reviews and they will usually reveal the ‘real world’ experiences and results from people who have used them.
Regarding the Country Living hand mill, one reviewer said, “After 7 years, this mill still works perfectly. While very pricey, this thing is built like a tank, and performs perfectly. This will be the last grinder you will ever need.” They’re absolutely right about that…
My preference is to mount it directly to a dedicated table. However, a table clamp for the Country Living hand grain mill works too..
Table Clamp Accessory, Heavy Duty
You may also be interested in the extension handle accessory. I don’t have one, but logic dictates that it will enable more efficient use of your hand crank energy ‘elbow grease’ delivered to the mill. Though the turning radius will be slightly greater..
Wonder Junior Deluxe by Wondermill Hand Grain Mill
Wonder Junior Deluxe by Wondermill
(view on amzn)
This manual hand grain mill is a quality choice and is very popular.
Photo of their most current model (red)…
It may be the best mix of value for quality and price. This hand mill comes with stone heads and stainless steel burr heads to accommodate different conditions. And it will grind fine flour (and everything else) without issue.
It is heavy duty. It will grind “almost all grains, seeds, beans, and nuts”. Comes with both the Standard Auger and a Masa/Nut Butter Auger (can you say, “homemade peanut butter”?!
A locking adjustment knob lets you set ultra-fine flour all the way to a super coarse cracked grain setting.
It’s pricey though (~ $300+), as of this update. But will no doubt hold up to more heavy use. Fortunately it does have a limited lifetime warranty, should anything go wrong (peace of mind).
I don’t have this one (I have the Country Living model shown above). However, I would not hesitate to purchase this model hand grain mill – given one’s budget. Here’s what one reviewer said..
- Nicely built one-piece feed funnel. No cracks between sheet metal parts where grain can stick.
- Very secure clamp for bolting to table. Option to bolt directly to table without clamp.
- Good quality flour from stone burrs, two passes.
- Crank turns smoothly and feels as if it will last.
- Burr plates clean easily with a toothbrush.
If you’re wondering where the Wondermill Junior Deluxe is made, it’s made in India.
Deluxe Hand Crank Grain Mill – Now Named “Roots & Branches”
Deluxe Hand Crank Grain Mill
(view on amzn)
It seems that nearly every manual hand grain mill priced around $50 has generally poor reviews. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with any of them. However spending just a little bit more (~ closer to$100) as of this writing, will get you a much better budget grain mill, like the one shown above.
If my budget was a hundred bucks, I would get this one.
The “Deluxe Hand Grain Mill” (VKP1024) has a decent size hopper, an adjustable knob for coarse-to-fine grind, replaceable milling cone, and table clamp.
This one is a step above being “entry level”. Although I don’t own this model, people seem to like it. Probably just fine for occasional use.
Checking the most recent reviews as of this update, a few read as follows..
- I only use this product to grind my wheat berries. It does a beautiful job and I use it every week.
- We use it to grind hard red spring wheat for making cracked wheat porridge and have also used it to make small amounts of stone ground flour. It’s a bit small but works well for our purposes.
- This mill works perfectly. It’s is extremely simple, relatively easy to crank, small and sturdy.
FYI, the product is made in Taiwan.
For those who may be interested in an electric grain mill, Mrs. J and I have been using this one for years and have been very happy with it:
NutriMill High Speed Grain Mill
(view on amzn)
[ Read: An Electric Flour Mill For Your Own Homemade Breads ]
[ Read: Wheat Berries | Varieties: Hard, Red, White, Soft ? ]
I started grinding my own wheat more than six years ago, using the Wondermill Jr. Hand unit. It operates well and for the money was a good choice for me meeting my needs and budget. After a year of hand grinding, my spouse decided to upgrade me at Christmas one year and surprised me with the NutriMill. I love this unit because it saves me time and it does a wonderful job getting the flours the consistency I want. There is a learning curve on grinding no matter which model you buy, as well as a learning curve learning how to make your own bread and which wheats you wish to use.
The other surprise I received that Christmas was the Bosch bread mixer, which I also love. I almost burned up my spouse’s Kitchenaide mixer trying to do two loaves of dough with it. It also did a poor job on large cookie dough batches. So I have been using the Bosch and the NutriMill, which were offered as a two for one price deal that year and love them both!
Everyone absolutely loves the bread that is made using these machines! There is no comparison to the taste of freshly ground wheat…and you get none of the additives that were making me and my family sick when we ate bread from the store.
I liked having the security of the hand mill knowing I could make bread no matter the electric situation, but I enjoy the convenience of having the electric mill. Good article Ken! It took a lot of research when I was getting into this trying to find what would work best for our family.
I’m in total agreement that the NutriMill and Bosch are the way to go. We have two of the hand grinders as well and haven’t experienced problems or failures. Even a small gas or solar generator will keep us in the bread making business if the grid goes down.
About a year ago you wrote an article on grinding and the wife decided to give it a try. We purchased a NutriMill, it is a great mill but extremely loud, the wife leaves the room when I’m using it. She makes great bread though. She bakes small peace’s of smoked garlic in the bread for me, I get hungry just thinking about it. Thanks for the good advice Ken.
We also have the NutriMill. It sounds like a jet engine! Although it sure grinds nice and fine ;)
Yes, very loud and bothers the spouse so I moved it to the basement kitchen area and do my grinding down there. It is convenient since I keep the grains there in gamma lid buckets.
We’ve been grinding our own grain for several decades and over the years have acquired and used several different mills. This, like everything else I suppose, is strictly a personal preference as there are many different grinders available. Finding the one that fits you can get expensive. I would suggest read as many reviews as you can.
Ours is electric(Magic Mill)made in the late 1970’s, noisy. It has a selection for creating finer flour, but I can not tell the difference when it is processed. Have to take it outside due to the noise level and of course the fine flour residue that comes off the machine. Outside I do not have to dust place, well except for me. lol
We have a Country Living mill and love it!! It takes a few minutes to hand-grind our wheat berries and if I want superfine flour, I give it a double-pass. Since we use ours all the time, it is bolted to our kitchen island where I enjoy seeing its presence.
Some people have complained that there is a serious work-out with a manual mill. No…it is NOT a serious work-out….it’s a manual hand-grinder. You only use a hand-cranking motion in a stationary position, it’s not a full-body, strength-training machine. I suppose if you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, don’t get a hand-cranker! LOL
“it is bolted to our kitchen island where I enjoy seeing its presence.”
I agree! It is a work horse and a nice looking kitchen tool.
About 30 years ago we got a Corona mill. It was good for cracking corn, that’s what we used it for.
Decided to upgrade and bought the “Our Best Mill” from Lehman’s, I think that’s what they called it back then (1997). It was a huge upgrade from the Corona, but I usually ran the wheat through twice to get it to a nice fine flour.
Then about 4 years ago we splurged and got the Country Living Mill, which is by far my favorite and the easiest to grind of the 3 we own. Ours is also bolted to a heavy wood counter in our kitchen, I grind flour at least twice a week. It grinds the flour nice and fine. I grind spelt, soft white wheat, buckwheat, and rye just this morning to make a fresh loaf of rye for St. Patrick’s Day.
Will you give us your rye recipe? Still trying to find that perfect one for rye and pumpernickel.
I used to make this recipe with spelt flour, but it was too dense.
I’ve been making it with bread flour and whole ground rye flour, my family likes this version better.
Rye Bread- makes 1 loaf
2 c. bread flour or all purpose flour
1 c. ground rye
1 T. non fat dry milk powder
1 t. salt
1 T. butter
2-1/4 t. instant yeast
2 T. honey
1 T. caraway seeds
1 c. warm water
– Place all ingredients in a bowl.
– Using a dough hook, mix for about 8-10 minutes, should form a nice ball, or hand knead for 10 to 20 minutes.
– If too wet add more flour if too stiff add a little water and mix a little longer until incorporated.
– Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise.
– Stir or punch down every 20 minutes for 60 minutes.
– Gently turn dough on floured surface, form a oval or round loaf.
– Place on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper on a pizza peel if using a pizza stone.
– Brush loaf with egg wash. Let rise about 40 minutes (depending how warm the kitchen is) this may be shorter or longer.
– You can also make a few slashes on the top of the loaf while it is rising.
– Loaf is ready to put in oven when it is almost doubled. Note: When you think it has risen enough, use your finger to make a small dent on the side of the loaf. If the dent remains, the bread is ready to bake. If it springs back it needs to rise a little longer.
– Bake at 375 degrees F., for 45 minutes. (You may need to adjust the time. I live at about 4500′ elevation, most things take longer to cook here.)
– Let cool on rack.
Thank you! I cannot wait to try it.
@ Modern Throwback
I agree about not being a workout. On the other hand, in my case, our kitchen is small and we don’t have room to set it up permanently, plus wife makes 2 loaves of bread every week and the Wonder Mill fits perfectly under the cabinet on the counter. The Country Living Mill IS nice but impractical for our tight quarters. The grinding part is a piece of cake but using it is labor intensive because whenever we have used the Country Living Mill I have to drag it out, set it up on the back porch, on a clear non-windy day and then spend 30 minutes cleaning it and tearing it down to pack up after I’m through grinding.
The Illinois State Game Commissioner I worked with found an old native grind mill along the Illinois river. It was of a 1 1/2′ tall cylinder granite pedestal with a smooth cup carved out of the top and had a large smooth oval stone to grind grains. It was dated as 1000-1400 AD, and probably ground all the grains for a small tribe. It had to be from the north great lakes region because granite didn’t exist in central Illinois, probably taken in conquest or traded for someone’s daughter. The natives skeletons of that time period showed their teeth ground down with the introduction of grinding stones and domestic grains. That was the first grinding mill I ever saw and was able to touch.
I have Wondermill Jr. I used to grind wild raspberry, sumac, wild grape, and lambs quarter seeds. It is a workout for large amounts but what I use it for are small portions. When you see some of what these ground seeds are selling at, it is much cheaper to find and grind your own for free.
The seeds are dried for a couple weeks before I grind them, sometimes I leave the fruit clingers dried to them because picking them out is too much of a chore. It gives the fruit seed powder a bit of the fruit taste. The Staghorn sumac seeds (or fruit they call it) have a lemony-tart covering on them and are ground when dried. None of these seeds are sticky to mess up the grinder when rinsed and dried well.
I haven’t ground wild rice into powder yet with my mill, but if I do, they will be the cheaper broken pieces. I have some ground made into flour for pancakes and it is great. Wild rice is really a large grass seed, not a rice.
I remember reading about the Nazi’s invading Poland and confiscating all of the wheat. Then to discourage personal use they confiscated all of the grinding stones. I forget what they called them but essentially the farmers were hand grinding their wheat in the same fashion as the Indians who used the stone you described. Being caught with the implements was a death penalty.
At the moment we are not storing berries but do have a lot of popcorn. Is that usable as ground meal? DW brought home a Back to Basics 555 last fall that doesn’t look like it was ever used. She got it at one the local thrift stores for $6.99. She’s always coming home with great stuff!
Yes Popcorn makes GREAT cornbread or Torts…
I use old popcorn all the time for fresh ground cornmeal. Works great.
Wow, I just found this post but wanted to share my find. I was looking for a mill to add to my preparedness holdings. I researched and researched and decided on a hand mill (Wonder Mill Jr) in case we have a power down situation and because I only do about two loaves of home made einkorn sourdough a month. We eat too much if I make more. Of course I would do more in SHTF and do have wheat berried stored. So I started saving my pennies so I could pay cash as we always do.
Now, I am not a great thrift store shopper but do venture in once in awhile, the day after I made my decission as to exactly what I wanted I was in a Thrift shop here in town and low and behold there on the shelf was a Wonder Mill Jr. for $10.00 bucks. That thing went in my basket so fast it would have made anyone proud. I looked for grinding stones or blades but didin’t find any extra just those on the mill. I went to the cash register without looking for anything else because I was afraid someone would come up and tell me the mill was priced incorrectly. When I got to the cashier she asked me what the “contraption” was as they had no idea what to price it because no one knew what it was or how to use it. My statement, “well, let me pay for it first then I’ll tell you what it is and how to use it.” Done! $10.00 Wonder Mill Jr. The cashier did say next time they would probably price it a little higher.
Next part of the story. The stone grinders were in excellant condition but I wanted the stainless steel blades also–$56.00 prime through Amazon.
We have and like the Victorio because you can hand grind or use the motor which goes on simply by slipping it over the shaft.
I have a Wondermill Jr. and I would consider using it as a bit of a workout. I put it away to use only for power outages. I would crank for a few minutes, go do something else -repeat. Also ran the wheat berries through twice. I also have a Champion juicer with a grain attachment. It does about as good a job as the Wondermill jr and a lot less work since it is electric. : ) ! Also run the berries through it twice. So. Both do an okay job but I have never gotten a really fine flour out of either of them.
Note: I did not have the Wondermill bolted down but had it clamped to a desk- could make a difference on how easy or hard to crank.
I started with the Victorio then got a nutrimill which I love, I also have an All American ( from the 70’s no plastic anywhere, Don’t think they even make them anymore) that my aunt gave me. I would like to get a better hand mill would hate to have to grind all my wheat with the little Victorio.
Today is my bread day and the wheat doesn’t grind itself.
Adieu friends and health to all!
My wife and I looked at every mill American and foreign made that was available. When all was said and done country living was the one we picked. A little pricey but in the middle of SHTF this unit will not fail you. We ordered the flywheel and the corn, bean bier. First and foremost bolt this big heavy bad boy down to the counter. I built a bread table with a heavy copper sheet top. My honey bunny has everything she needs to make bead in one place. Lower part of the table has a bin for flower and a bigger one for wheat berries. Talked to a LDS family also about mills. She told us every time one of her three daughters married she gave her Country Living mill to them as a wedding gift. She said the one she has now will go to her first grand daughter when she gets married.
I own the first 2. The deluxe works okay with wheat berries though it takes a lot of work to grind a few cups of flour,it won’t grind corn though. That’s why I bought the wonder mill Jr. Haven’t used it yet as I don’t have a lot of time to bake fresh bread but now that winter is here I’m hoping to get to it.
Seems a hundred years ago…probably only 20, I bought a “cheap” model hand grinder from Back to Basics. Still using it! It grinds nicely and can take a couple different settings from fine to coarse. I may have to buy another just because one is none if it should fail.
I have a few different mills, the Grainmaker is by far the best most robust one and my favorite. Spendy unit though but solid.
Have a Lehmans own, is decent, will do the job, much cheaper.
Have another one i cant for the life o me remember the name, but has nice stone burs for really fine grinds, works excellent for pastry flour.
Retsel little arch pro
Good sturdy mills, nice looking too,
Can use steel burrs or stone burrs,
Speaking of Flour Mills, did anyone else have a difficult time finding Red Wheat Berries, @ a decent price, this past year?
My normal supplier was not selling to the public, stated they were bearly able to fill contractually obligations.
When I did find my 5th option for buying, I passed because of price.
NRP & Blue, I found them at the LDS Store.
What I found on the LDS Store was #10 cans in a six pack.
I may have missed the bulk bags?
I usually go directly to a Mill and buy 50# bags for around $16-$18 per bag.
And I pick them them up within about 60 miles.
NRP & Blue, They have a 25 lb bag for $18.81 ($0.75/lb). That’s about 1/3 of anything I’ve seen on-line. Local WinCo Foods has it for much the same price as LDS store. The case of 6 #10 LDS long-term storage cans are 33 lbs for $41.28 ($1.25/lb). Still less than bulk on-line. If one also must pay for buckets, mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers, the convenience, for me, of having it already pre-packed in cans I can easily lift, is hard to beat. You’re lucky to be close to a mill.
Mine is victoria grain mill, nothing special, I even bought a second complete unit just to have parts.
It’s not great but it is solid and works plus being affordable.
I played with it last year, ground around 20 pounds of corn.
It doesn’t do flower unless ya want to grind the same thing 5 times and sift the larger portions out.
It does the job, that job is making hard grain usable.
The price has even gone down some since I bought my two, down about $15
My only disappointment is you can’t easily hook up a motor or drill to it.
but if in need I would make that work.
If you want pretty looks and powdered grains go spend your devalued dollars on the “like to have” model while you can.
I lean towards utilitarian over fancy.
Read up on them, make an informed choice.
That sifting and grinding again and again is actually exactly the process you need to do to get a high quality flour from pretty much any mill.
I tend to look at it as a labor of love because i can! I can do, and have the supplies to do something that most people take for granted and take not even a moments thought.
Simple stuff, like taking a raw grain and turning it into some nice flaky rolls or a really nice sour dough even in a crazy huge Dutch oven out in the yard.
Probly get me in trouble some day when we are supposed to be eating bugs
I have a Nutrimill for weekly use in my kitchen, but also purchased a Country Living Hand Grinding Mill for backup. That Nutrimill is loud, but it sure does grind the finest flour. I recently saw that Nutrimill has a new smaller countertop model that is not so loud. Might need that one too!
Ias an update to what I wrote 6 yrs ago….my spouse bought me a Country Living grain mill for Christmas the year before last. He included the extra kit that had the corn auger, extension handle, and added the clamps. This mill is a work horse! It the price has gone up considerably since I bought my first Wondermill jr. it amazes me when I see what these items cost now.
We spent a lot of money over the course of several years accumulating items for food prep and preservation. But every penny was the best investment we have made. The peace of mind it brings cannot be counted. And the flavor of the fresh breads, cakes, cookies, biscuits, etc. cannot be explained.
That being said, I was just reviewing our insurance costs for the year. We don’t use it and we “waste” thousands of dollars every year, but are either required by law to have it or find it is a necessary evil. What we have spent on the ability to have a non electric working kitchen with food preservation ability doesn’t even come close. Consider a grain mill one of the best investments you could make. Bread from the store is full of preservatives and fillers that will hurt your health at some point in time.
Yes, the price of this mill sure has gone up since I bought mine years ago. I believe I paid about 400-450 then, and now it’s, well, a bit more than that. But like you said, it’s an investment. I have never regretted it.
You mentioned insurance.. I just got my annual insurance bill for the house, vehicle, and umbrella policy.. So surprised (sarc), it went up again. I have not had to use it. It does feel like throwing money away – but would be glad to have it if I needed it. However, money spent on preparedness ‘insurance’ is even better – because you get to use or consume what you’ve paid for!
I feel like all the devices like grain mills, are going to be indispensable in the future, having grains put back and a hand grinder and a dutch oven etc will be the difference between some semblance of normalcy and just plain being SOL.
Most likely a good idea to try and learn how to grow grains in small batches too, be surprised what yoo can grow in even small plots.
I remember from a book, it talked about binding pipes together and using that in a metal can or bucket to pound grains into submission.
Not sure on pipe dimensions but something like three pipes one inch by 2 foot.
That would take a very long time, burn lots of energy and I imaging cause a lot of pain through repetition pounding thousands of times.
There is the option of grinding grain between flag stones, concrete slabs, bricks.
Make your own grinding wheel.
I would rather have a grain mill, and I do.
That was in “Nuclear War Survival Skills” 1979 version chapter 9 Food, page 81
improvised grain mill.
Not something you want to be forced to do manually.
People will do what they have to in the end.
Note from AC – Wheat berries: Soft white wheat/Hard white wheat/Red wheat berries are in short supplies due to the weather conditions.
Then add in supplies are down radically where they are grown. Toss in the bravo sierra war in Ukraine. Yep, get them while you can wherever you can locate them. Also, the price may be expensive today, but wait until tomorrow – ouch will be a kind word.