How to refill a Chef’n pepper grinder

Our friend Eric blew through town and thankfully stayed at our house.  Eric’s arrival is always a good excuse to cook, and Sarah shamed me by making a delicious duck breast with a broccoli and cauliflower bacon stuffing while Eric and I dug into a couple bottles of wine.  “No, none for you girl, you’re pregnant.”  (We’re having a baby boy, if you hadn’t yet heard.)

Sarah, good sport that she is, had the half glass of wine our doctor will allow her and made us one of the most amazing duck breasts we’ve ever tasted.  While Eric and I battled at backgammon, Sarah handed us the szechuan peppercorns and the pepper grinder and said, “Refill”.

Like the apes in Kubrick’s film “2001”, we were utterly stymied.  No clear opening existed, the directions to the thing were long tossed, and the only printing on it was a sticker that said “Made in China”.  Finally we noticed the word “Chef’n” printed in subtle type on the side of the handle.  I Googled “Chef’n Pepper Grinder” and finally arrived on the Amazon product page for a similar grinder.  In the comments on the page about the product were legions of people that were also having trouble figuring out how to refill it.  It was still a mystery to us, but with time and the clues from that page we figured it out.


The two videos above should be able to help you.  You can also check the Chef’n site, where this is their #1 FAQ:

PepperBall® or Salt Ball™
On the side of the ball you will
see a rectangular window with a sliding door. Simply slide the door
down (toward the bottom of the ball). There may be clear tape holding
the door shut; this is placed there so the pepper doesn’t fall out
during shipment. Just peel it off and fill away!

Dual Grinder™
On the sides of the grinder
you’ll see small windows, located just below the handles, which open
outward. There are small indentations on each side of the doors that
allow you to get a good grip and pop them outward. Once open, simply
fill with course salt or peppercorns. One thing to keep in mind is that
the salt and pepper cannot be swapped. The grinding mechanisms are
specialized, so the pepper must go in the pepper side and the salt must
go in the salt side.

Bistro Grinders/Set
To refill these is
so simple. Just pop off top caps and fill with peppercorns or coarse
sea salts! When done, replace caps and enjoy! Please note, do not use
granualted salt in the Salt grinder. Also, please be sure to fill the
Salt Grinder with Salt and the Pepper Grinder with Pepper. These
grinders are not interchangeable as they have different grind systems.

Bistro Grind Dual Grinder
To refill,
turn ribbed collar, that has arrow markings, 90 degrees and pull entire
top piece up to fill. When done filling, replace handle and twist until
arrow markings snap back in place. The arrow markings should point to
black dots on the body of the grinder when locked.


  1. Melvyn Halbert on April 13, 2005 at 10:57 am

    When I clicked on your link “How to refill a Chef’n pepper grinder”,

    my browser told me

    “The requested URL /photos/pepper/slides/IMG_3773.html was not found on this server.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.”

    Since the webpage I started with is dated Feb. 14, 2005, it seems unlikely to be a matter of old age for the missing image file. Is there perhaps an error in the URL for your image link?

  2. Shabbir on April 13, 2005 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks! I have some broken links leftover from the move to Typepad. I can’t get them all right now, but I got that one for you.

  3. Abbey on May 7, 2005 at 5:23 pm

    Brilliant! An absolute lifesaver! Just when I was starting to think Chef ‘n had created a disposable pepper grinder, I find your site…

  4. Joe on May 23, 2005 at 10:17 am

  5. Shayna from the Chef'n Crew on May 23, 2005 at 10:48 am

    Hello from Chef’n! Your “how to…” blog was hilarious so I had to comment. Random how we found you but thought you would like the link to our FAQ’s page which includes “How to refill your PepperBall”
    We would also like to request your mailing address so that we can send you a sampling of Chef’n goodies! You can email me at or check us out at Look forward to hearing from you!
    Shayna Freeman
    PR/Marketing Coordinator

  6. Tom on June 2, 2005 at 6:26 pm

    Thank You! Thank You!! You wouldn’t believe how much time I spent trying to figure out how to get that little cap off… Your site saved me.

  7. Anil on August 22, 2005 at 11:04 am

    Sweet! Thanks for the help! We we’re down to the last 4 peppercorns rattling in the ball. Your pics were much more helpful than the description on the Chef’n website!

  8. Jeff on October 23, 2005 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for posting this! Too funny! I was able to talk my father through it over the phone.

  9. fanny on November 12, 2005 at 11:31 am


    I was so desperate to refill my chef’n pepermill and I didn’t understand a word from the instructions posted on the official website of Chef’n so i started surfing the net with the darn thing right in front of me.

    I was on the brink of throwing the famous pepermill in the bin but there you were ! A picture or as in this case a few pictures were worth more than a thousand words…

    I followed your intructions and now I can peper away again!

    thanks and greetings from Belgium


  10. Kristi Causey on December 19, 2005 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. It was very helpful.

  11. Paul on December 22, 2005 at 4:47 pm

    Thanks! Hysterical, because I did all the exact same things. My wife hanging over my engineer shoulders saying “I think we slid that plastic thingie open last time.” No dear, I can handle this! Damn, doesnt the screw thing on the bottom open it up? You’d think she was asking me to stop and get directions!

    Thanks again! Paul in Atlanta

  12. Joe on January 13, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    You ROCK!

    Thank you thank you thank you!

    You have liberated my grinder and made me laugh…

    Genius. Shear genius.

    I do need a browser in my kitchen!


  13. Lesa on January 15, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    Can I tell you how much I love you?! I have had an empty pepper grinder for almost a year because I could not figure the damn thing out. Mine is clear however and didn’t have sticker on the side panel like yours so without your wonderful site – I’m afraid I would have dwelt in barren pepper land for years. Thank you !

  14. Karen on March 7, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    I’m amazed at how, just when I think I’m the only pepper grinder idiot that can’t figure out how to open the chef’n to refill, I just happen upon your blog. You’re the best!

  15. Macsmac on November 30, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    Help! I can’t get your link to work and I can’t refill my pepperball! 🙂

  16. ShabbirJSafdar on December 5, 2006 at 6:47 pm

    Once again my photos broke, and once again I fixed them. They’re now pointing to a copy on the Internet archive. Sorry about that.

  17. desi on February 3, 2007 at 9:37 am

    omigosh!!!! I am SO glad I found this site!!! I’ve been battling this pepper grinder for almost 16 months!! How hilarious that it is so amazingly simple!!! thanks for ever and ever!!!

  18. pr1001 on June 10, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Unfortunately the photos aren’t showing up on the Internet Archive page. Could you detail the process again for those of us still mystified? Thanks!!

  19. Christopher F Henz on August 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Wow, couldn’t figure out how to refill the grinder, went to the web, searched “chef’n pepper grinder how to” and voila, found the clear plastic tape via this great blog. Gosh, who knows how it was invisible to my eye until the magic word, “tape” . . . and this is 2009. Mucho gracias!!

  20. Grace Lees-Maffei on October 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  21. Sarah Pinansky on February 14, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Yay! People like you and websites like this are why the internet is awesome.

  22. Mike Richline on February 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Awesome. Thank you so much. I Feel better now that I know I wasn’t alone when it came to this issue.

  23. Renekratz on April 3, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Thank you! We have a different model, but based on your posts we were able to figure it out.

  24. Dave Mainwaring on May 10, 2010 at 4:51 am

    On our mill the The little piece of scotch tape that holds the sliding door is invisible and is hard to remove. once I managed to pull the tape off the fill door was easy to open.

  25. Arenn on December 20, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Shabbir – a thousand times thank you! It seems ridiculous that neither myself or my fiance could figure out how to open these grinder balls. We were given a mini version of both the salt and pepper ball which have magents on the back for easy fridge storage. An awesome gift, but we were at a loss when my fiance dropped the salt ball into a pot of stew he was cooking and could not open the door to clean it out. Your tutorial was just what we needed. Many thanks!

  26. Jillana Esposito on December 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks! That’s exactly what I needed to know.

  27. Dokemion on February 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    With out a doubt the most comprehensive I’ve seen. Very well done!!! appreciate the hard work and time taken to do this write up.

  28. Squeezers47 on September 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Wow, thank you, thank you, thank you. I have had this thing for at least 5+ years now and couldn’t figure it out. Like your father I couldn’t see the tape. Today I was determined to get into the darn thing. So I figureed every thing else is on the web, why not this too. Mystery solved. You would think after all these years the manufacturer would have made it a little easier to see and figure out. I’m pretty mechanical, but this one had me stumped. Thanks again.

  29. on December 21, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Just what Google was invented for! I was searching how to refill the grinders and then thought ‘why not google it’! Answer straight away. Thanks for sharing.