5 fun ways to use your mortar & pestle

Mortar and pestle with herbs


The mortar and pestle are one of the oldest (and arguably coolest) cooking tools in existence and are still widely used today in countries around the world. The size, material, and use varies, but this multipurpose tool is consistently reliable for grinding, puréeing and crushing ingredients in the kitchen. Many would even argue that using a mortar and pestle produces a better tasting result than any mechanical tool.

In Thai culture, the mortar and pestle is a staple in every Thai household, and this is why we knew we had to include it as part of our Chiang Mai Spring Box. During the Cooking Class, Chef Mae Kuruphong taught us to make a Chiang Mai specialty called Khao Soi, a traditional Thai noodle dish with rich coconut curry. In class, we used our mortar and pestle to bring out the bold flavors in our red curry paste by mashing it to coax out the flavor before adding to the pan.

This tool will soon be one of your new favorite kitchen item, and we wanted to share five other ways you can use your mortar and pestle to elevate your cooking game!

1. Guacamole 

Bring out the chips, guys! This is the most authentic way to make a delicious bowl of guacamole. Use your mortar and pestle, similar to a molcajete (a Mexican mortar), and you’ll have a traditionally made snack or topping perfectly smashed to your liking. (P.S. Guac is 10x better with chunks, but no judgement if you disagree).

This recipe from Mexican Please calls for mashing up salt, cilantro and onion in your mortar and pestle before adding avocado. We love a bit of chopped tomato in there too, but it’s all up to your taste! 

2. Pesto

Good pesto isn’t toooo hard to find at the store, but the best really comes from your kitchen! Fresh, flavorful basil makes all the difference in this recipe, which makes the perfect addition to any paste, sandwich, or vegetables. To make things just that much better, you probably already have many of the ingredients in your kitchen!

It’s super simple. Mash up the olive oil, salt, pine nuts, basil and parmesan all in your mortar and voila! Awesome flavor for your next meal and minimal dishwashing afterwards. Win-win.

Here’s a highly rated recipe from Allrecipes Magazine for some inspo.

3. Caesar Dressing 

Have you ever made your own Caesar dressing? Surprisingly, it’s not that hard to make a refreshing Caesar salad dressing at home, as long as you’re cool with cooking with anchovies. Just dump them in a pan with some garlic and cook through before adding to your mortar. Then, mix with lemon, egg yolk and canola oil. That’s it! Check out the heart&heron’s recipe for all the details.

As the days start to get a little warmer here in Seattle, we can’t wait to try making homemade dressing for our favorite sunny day lunch of chicken Caesar salad. Okay, now we’re just getting hungry. Moving on.

4. Aioli

Aioli feels like a buzzword used at restaurants to make food sound a little fancier, but it’s super easy to make at home, too. Boring sandwiches are a thing of the past now that you’re the owner of the perfect aioli-making tool.

Aioli, a French word that translates to “garlic oil”, has the consistency of mayonnaise, which makes it perfect for spreading onto sandwiches or using as a dipping sauce for fries, vegetables or really anything you’d like. All you have to do is mash up garlic cloves, sea salt, an egg yolk, olive oil and water until you’ve reached the desired creamy consistency (which might be a bit of a workout, honestly). Yum!

Check out this recipe from Food and Wine Magazine for the details.

5. Dry Rub

Grilling season is upon us! It’s almost like we can already smell the barbeque and fresh cut grass… Can you tell we’re excited for summer?

Any backyard pit master knows that good seasoning can really make meat pop. We personally love a good dry rub, which is super easy to grind up with your mortar and pestle. Plus, it’s super easy to do ahead of time and store for any impromptu grilling sessions.

It’s all up to how you prefer your flavors, but this particular dry rub mix from Bobby Flay is always a hit in our backyard. 


We can’t wait to see all the use you get out of your awesome new mortar and pestle! Did you try any of these recipes? Share with us below or on our private TROVE Facebook page for our awesome community of foodies and travelers! Happy mashing! 



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