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Are electric salt and pepper shakers worth it?

Electric salt and pepper shakers provide a convenient way to season food at the touch of a button, but are they really worth the cost? Here we’ll examine the pros and cons of electric shakers to help you decide if they are right for your needs.

What are electric salt and pepper shakers?

Electric salt and pepper shakers dispense pre-ground salt or pepper at the push of a button. They typically use batteries to power a motor that rotates or vibrates to release the seasoning from holes in the shaker. Models may have separate buttons for salt and pepper, or a single button that toggles between the two. The amount dispensed can often be adjusted as well.

Key features of electric shakers include:

  • Push-button operation
  • Motorized dispensing
  • Adjustable seasoning amounts
  • LED lights or digital displays
  • Low salt notifications
  • clear or tinted bodies
  • Matching salt and pepper shakers

They range from basic models under $20 to high-end versions costing over $100. More expensive options may have a sleeker, more stylish design, digital features like menus and timers, or even voice control.

Pros of Electric Salt and Pepper Shakers

Here are some of the benefits that electric salt and pepper shakers can provide:

One-Handed Operation

A major pro is the ability to use electric shakers single-handedly. Just tap the button with one finger to dispense, without having to grab and flip over a traditional shaker. This makes seasoning food easier for those with limited mobility due to age, injury, or disability.

Precise Control

Electric shakers allow you to precisely control how much salt or pepper lands on your food. Many models let you adjust the amount dispensed to shake out anything from a light dusting to a heavy coating. No more worrying about over or under seasoning.

No Clumping or Clogging

Salt and pepper can stick together or clog traditional shaker holes over time. Electric shakers avoid this issue through constant motion that breaks up clumps. Just refill when low for continuous smooth operation.

Convenient Refilling

Most electric shakers are easy to refill by simply twisting or popping off the top. Large openings allow you to quickly pour seasoning inside without spilling. And clear bodies let you see when salt or pepper is running low.

Modern, Stylish Design

With their digital displays and sleek shape, electric shakers can lend a high-tech, contemporary look to dining tables. Their unique style stands out from classic glass and stainless shakers.

Help Low Sodium Diets

For those limiting salt due to health issues, electric shakers provide control over sodium intake. Look for models with low salt alerts or dispense limits to help regulate seasoning.

Cons of Electric Salt and Pepper Shakers

Despite their advantages, electric shakers also come with some downsides to consider:

High Upfront Cost

The main con is the high initial price tag, often 4-5 times more expensive than basic manual shakers. Paying $20+ for a seasoning dispenser may not suit every budget.

Must Maintain Batteries

Electric shakers run through batteries every few months with regular use. You’ll need to keep spare AAs or AAAs on hand for battery changes and consider the added expense.

Possibility of Malfunctions

Like any electronic gadget, technical issues can arise even in quality models. Problems like button sticks, motor failures, or electronic glitches require replacing the unit if under warranty or repairing/opening up the device.

Takes Up Counter Space

Electric shakers take up more room on the table or countertop compared to compact manual versions. Make sure you have space to accommodate the larger size.

Not as Versatile

While electric shakers work great for basic table seasoning, they may not suit certain recipes or cooking methods as well as traditional shakers. For example, quickly seasoning a dish at the stove or evenly coating meat for grilling.

Extra Parts to Clean

More components like motors and batteries make electric shakers trickier to clean than standard models. You’ll need to be careful not to get the internal mechanics wet.

Key Factors to Consider

Here are some important things to think about when deciding between electric and manual salt and pepper shakers:

Your Budget

Electric shakers start around $20 for no-frills models but can cost over $100 for premium designs. Make sure it fits reasonably within your budget.

Frequency of Use

If you’ll use an electric shaker multiple times a day for seasoning meals, the convenience may justify the cost. For infrequent use, a manual model might make more sense.

Your Dexterity

Those with limited hand/arm mobility get the most benefit from electric shakers. If you have full dexterity, manual versions work fine.

Aesthetic Preferences

The modern look of electric shakers appeals to some people more than traditional styles. But others may find them overly gadget-y.

Available Counter Space

Check that you have room to store bulkier electric shakers. They take up more space than compact manual versions.

Manual vs. Electric Shakers

To summarize the key differences:

Features Manual Shakers Electric Shakers
Cost Cheap ($2-$10) Expensive ($20-$100+)
Convenience Require two hands to operate Dispense with one touch of a button
Control Harder to precisely control amount Let you adjust exact amount dispensed
Performance Can clog and clump over time Constant motion prevents clogs
Maintenance Easy to clean and refill More tricky cleaning with electronic parts
Style Classic look Modern, tech-y look

Top Electric Salt and Pepper Shaker Picks

Based on features, reviews and popularity, here are 5 top electric shaker models to consider:

1. Kuhn Rikon Auto Salt and Pepper Mills

– Separate one-touch buttons for salt and pepper

– Grinds whole peppercorns for fresh flavor

– Adjustable coarseness from fine to coarse

– LED lights indicate salt or pepper and needed battery change

– Clear body shows fill level

– $50 for the set

2. Perfex Electric Salt and Pepper Grinder Set

– Slick stainless steel design

– User-friendly twist button operation

– Adjust grinding from fine to coarse

– Fill window shows remaining seasoning

– $30 for the pair

3. Chevron Electric Salt and Pepper Mills

– Sleek acrylic construction with LED light accents

– Tap button conveniently grinds salt or pepper

– Grinders are adjustable from coarse to fine

– $40 for the set

4. Olde Thompson Electric Salt & Pepper Mill Set

– Classic rounded shape with chrome finish

– One-push dispensing button for ease of use

– Features light to indicate when battery needs changing

– $25 for both salt and pepper shaker

5. Airspace Electric Salt and Pepper Mills

– Minimalist contemporary design

– Press-top operation with adjustable grind settings

– LED light ring indicates salt or pepper

– $80 for the pair

The Bottom Line

Electric salt and pepper shakers provide one-handed, precision seasoning at the touch of a button. But they come at a higher upfront cost than basic manual models. Consider how often you prepare meals at home, your budget, and any mobility needs to decide if they’re worth investing in for your kitchen.

If convenience and modern style top your list, then electric shakers give you an effortless way to add flavor. For more casual cooks on a budget, traditional shakers get the job done without the bells and whistles. Either way, you can’t go wrong keeping salt and pepper within arm’s reach at mealtime.