Cooking for yourself is becoming less of a necessity, bit by bit, every day. As your life gets busier and readymade or takeout foods become much easier to access, the amount of time and attention that goes to your kitchen is getting curtailed.

It is only natural that you wouldn’t want to fill up your kitchen with tools that you’ll rarely use and spend your hard-earned money on them. Yet, if you are like me, you feel disappointed when you get a craving for grilled cheese, and you can’t make one because you don’t have a grater.

But worry not! Whether you want to grate your potato, carrots, or cheese without owning a grater – we have got you covered.

Here are a few ways to learn how to grate without a grater. Let’s get started.

How to Grate without a Grater: Easy Methods to Follow

Here are some methods that you can follow to grate without a grater.

Grate without a Grater

Use Your Food Processor

If you have a food processor and don’t need the exact texture you get from a grater, go ahead and use it to finely mince up your veggies or cheese.

The downside of using your food processor is that your veggies will get smashed a bit and release their water content. But if you aren’t planning to use them for a fresh salad or slaw, you can easily get away with this way of doing it.

Use Your Food Processor

While this is the easiest method of getting your food grated, you simply may not own a food processor or may not want to go through the hassle of cleaning out the cheese stuck to the corners. In any case, you can use any of the following techniques.

Knife and Chopping Board

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book to get fine shavings of your vegetable or cheese product. To execute this, all you need is a good sharp kitchen knife and a flat cutting surface, like a chopping board.

Knife and Chopping Board
  • If what you want to grate is a round object, cut it down the middle to get 2 pieces with a flat side
  • Lay down a piece on the flat side so it doesn’t roll
  • Use your knife to cut the smallest and thinnest piece you can from one of the corners at a 45-degree angle
  • Keep your knife slow and steady and keep shaving off slices as thin as you can; continue doing so until there isn’t enough material for you to shave off
  • Pick up stacks of 5-6 shaved strips and lay them down on the flat side
  • Again using your knife, make long vertical slices; if they are too long for your cooking needs, cut them down the middle lengthwise
  • Enjoy your knife grated goodies

While this method may take a bit of time and effort, it gets the job done every time. This will also help you build some knife skills along the way if you are into that.

Crumble the Soft Cheese

If what you want to grate is a soft, young cheese like a fresh gouda or some fetta – crumbling it into your hands will give you practically the same result.

Crumble the Soft Cheese

But before doing so, remember to wash your hands properly and dry them out well. Then, cut as much as you need to form a cheese block and apply pressure with both of your hands in a rolling motion to crumble the cheese into finer bits.

And if the cheese is too soft to crumble and is getting mushy from the pressure, you can tear away small pieces. If some bits are too large, just re-tear them, and you will have serviceable grated cheese.

Use a Fork

This method works best when you need to grate some spices into your food like some ginger or garlic. And this can also be done with a small spoon, but the fork works best.

Simply take a head of a garlic or a bulb of ginger and peel them properly. Then use 1 or 2 prongs of your fork like a chisel to grind away at your spice. If you are using a spoon, use its pointiest edge to do so. This will get you a texture similar to that you get from using a garlic press.

Use a Fork

But when you are in a pinch, it is a great way to bypass owning a grater or a press.

Grind Crumbly Cheese against Itself

If you want to grate a cheese product that’s already quite crumbly and low in moisture, such as parmesan or semi-hardened ricotta, you can use friction to your advantage.

Cut the amount of cheese into 2 equal blocks and rub them together, applying moderate pressure from either side with your hands. The coarse surface of the cheese will create friction, and the cheese should crumble apart.

And if you have a hard rind from past cheese blocks, you can rub your cheese against that, and it should work just as well.   

Peel and Dice

As the name suggests, this method utilizes a vegetable peeler and a sharp knife. If you are using this technique for cheese, make sure that it is a hard cheese that can be shaved using a peeler.

Peel and Dice
  • Use the peeler to shave away the outer skin or dirty bits on your vegetable
  • Hold the peeler firmly and use long, confident strokes to shave away at your product
  • Lay all of the shaved pieces on your chopping board and spread them out evenly
  • Touch the top part of your knife on your board while holding the handle and the rest of the body afloat at an angle
  • With the palm of your free hand, lightly press down on the dull side of the top part of the knife
  • Cut down and lift up using a seesaw like motion and move across the chopping board, constantly cutting and lifting
  • You’ll get little strips that are similar to the grated ones you get from using a wide blade grater

Make Your Own Grater

If you want to have a more permanent solution to your grating needs, then spare a little time to make yourself a nice DIY grater with household items.

Make Your Own Grater

For this, you will need the following items –

  1. A can opener
  2. An empty soda can
  3. A sturdy screwdriver
  4. Sanding paper (optional)

Step 1: Using the can opener, completely remove the top lid of your soda can.

Step 2: Wash the can well and dry it out before doing anything else.

Step 3: Get a screwdriver that has a head as wide as you want your grater’s blades to be. Using a smaller screwdriver is recommended.

Step 4: On one side of the can, poke a few holes, maintaining a column and row pattern, as far apart as you need them to be.

Step 5: Make sure that you leave plenty of room behind the holey face to grip the can without hurting yourself.

Step 6: This time, put the screwdriver in the holes and pull down and toward you a little, so the metal is bent out from the holes outward. The outward-facing metal parts will act as your blades.

Step 7: If you have sanding paper, lightly and carefully brush up from the bottom to the top of the holey side of the can. Don’t use too much pressure as you can injure yourself.

Step 8: Dust off any excess bits of metal if there is any, and stand it upside down for a few hours in a dry place.

Step 9: Now that you have a perfectly good handheld grater, grate anything you want with it.

Note: Don’t grate anything that may be acidic as it might react with the metal can.

Grate Away

So, now that you know how to grate without a grater, you can go ahead and try all those recipes you wanted to try but couldn’t. These techniques may not work as well as a decent piece of kitchen gear you have to buy, but they certainly work well enough to get the job done.