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The 9 Best Muddler Substitutes

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The best muddler substitutes are kitchen tools with similar features, such as a pickling tamper, rolling pin, wooden spoon, or mortar and pestle. You could also use a meat pounder or an ice cream scoop as a muddler. Or, simply press your fruit and herbs between two stacked serving glasses.

You may also want just to go ahead and order a really good muddler like this one from Amazon. They are shockingly inexpensive and will make the task a lot easier.

However, while muddlers are considered essential bartending tools, you can easily find a substitute in a pinch. Almost any wooden or stainless steel kitchen tool with a curve or beveled edge can get the job done when used appropriately. Keep reading to discover the best muddler substitutes and how to use them effectively.

A bartender using a muddler to crush lime in a glass

1. Pickling Tamper

If you have a pickling tamper in your kitchen, don’t waste the opportunity to use it as a muddler. Tampers are made of natural wood and even have a similar shape to your everyday muddler, making them the perfect substitute tool.  

To use, simply place the fruit inside the cocktail shaker or any sturdy container. Gently press the tamper into your fruit or herbs, same as you would a muddler. 

2. Dowels

Muddlers are nothing more than shaped dowels with a flat bottom. So it isn’t that far of a stretch to use a dowel muddler substitute. The only downside is that a dowel lacks the design that allows for better grip while pressing. However, you can use it exactly as you would otherwise use a muddler. 

3. Rolling Pins

Similar to dowels, rolling pins can also make for a great muddler substitute. The only difference is that a rolling pin is larger. Yet, depending on the design of your rolling pin, you might need to get a bit more creative in how you use it.

For instance, some rolling pins are nothing more than large dowels with a handle on either side. If this is the design you have, simply grip the “dowel” part of the rolling pin and use the handle to press your fruit and herbs inside the glass. 

Other rolling pins, known as French rolling pins, are tapered on both sides. If this is the type of rolling pin you own, you’re lucky, as this is essentially a simple –albeit oversized– muddler.  You can easily grip one as a handle and use it the same as you would a meddler to gently press your fruit and herbs. 

The tapered edges also allow for better control and maneuverability as you press.

Crushing Graham Crackers With a Rolling Pin
I use a rolling pin to crush stuff, why not as a muddler?

4. Wooden Spoons 

A wooden spoon typically serves as one of the better substitutes for a muddler, as the back side and edge of the spoon mock the design of the tamping end of a muddler. Not to mention, this is something you likely have readily available in your kitchen already. 

To use, gently press the herbs or fruit into the bottom of the glass using the slightly rounded backside or edge of the spoon. If the handle is large enough, you can also hold the spoon upside down and use the end of the handle just like a muddler.

I recommend using the handle, if possible, instead of the spoon end since wood can easily become contaminated and take on odors from strong herbs and other flavors. For this reason, you should also be sure to wash the wooden spoon immediately after use.  

5. Mortar and Pestle

Honestly, you only need the pestle from a mortar and pestle set, as this is a similar size and shape to the muddler, making for a perfect muddler substitute. However, the important feature to consider is the material from which your mortar and pestle set is made. For example, if your mortar and pestle are made from wood, you could press fruit and herbs directly into the drinking glass. 

However, if your set is ceramic, marble, or another heavy material, you might consider muddling in the mortar instead of using the pestle directly in your glass to avoid accidental damage.

Also, remember that a heavier pestle could crush delicate herbs if you press too hard. 

6. Meat Pounder

A wooden or stainless steel meat pounder can suffice as a muddler substitute, as long as you are mindful of how you use it. 

For one, you’ll want to take great care when pressing with the “spiked” ends, as the edges are much sharper than any muddler design. If you press too hard, you’re likely to tear herbs and pulverize fruits. On that note, the heavy weighted end can be tricky to control, and you can easily exude too much pressure if you’re not careful.

Another hindrance with using a meat pounder as a muddler substitute is that it may not fit inside your glass or cocktail shaker. 

If this is the case, place your herbs or fruit on a cutting board or silicon mat and slowly grind and twist the meat pounder over them. Keep in mind that you aren’t limited to the “spiked” side of the meat pounder, as you can also use the flat side of the head or even the handle, should the design be appropriate. 

7. Ice Cream Scoop or Melon Baller

The back end of an ice cream scoop or melon baller can serve as a muddler substitute. Granted, these tools do more to smash than they do muddle, yet they can do enough to be effective. 

The trick with these items is to get your fruit or herbs directly under the middle of the scoop to have maximum control and pressure. 

Depending on the size of the items you have, you may need to press your fruit and herbs on a cutting board or silicon mat instead of directly in your glass or shaker. Notwithstanding, these kitchen tools will get the job done.

Tipped over glass with a melon baller next to it

8. Two Stacked Glasses

Should you use serving glasses that stack deep into one another, the base of a second glass can be used to muddle fruit or herbs inside the drinking glass. If the glasses are not designed for such a tight fit, you could muddle your fruit or herbs by pressing the bases of two glasses together. 

Or, if you have a cutting board, place the drink ingredients on that and gently press them with the bottom of a glass. 

Wrap your hand around the rim of the glass for maximum control. For fruit, keep the glass parallel with the cutting board and gently press flat down with a twisting motion. For herbs, fold or roll them on the board and use the edge of the glass to gently press into them. 

9. Other Bartending Tools

If your bar is stocked with a few miscellaneous supplies, you might have a few options for a makeshift muddler, including:

  • Cocktail shaker: Commonly, a cocktail shaker lid is designed to fit inside the cup. You can place your fruit or herbs along the edge of the shaker and press the lid gently on top to muddle your ingredients. Use mild pressure while slowly twisting the lid back and forth within the shaker.
  • Bar spoon: These long-handled stirring spoons may be small, but they can tackle a muddling job if taken to task. For better control, hold onto the spoon near the middle of the handle rather than at the end. Also, take care not to exert too much force to avoid bending the spoon.
  • Julep or Hawthorne strainers: A julep strainer is basically a short, wide, slotted spoon that can be used like the other spoon substituting as muddlers on this list. A Hawthorne strainer presents a different challenge, as it is flat. However, the surface is wide enough that you can press fruit on a cutting board and then transfer it to the glass. 

Best Muddlers To Keep Behind the Bar

Here is my recommended muddler, found on Amazon. Add one to your bartending supplies today, so you’ll never need a substitute tool again!

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For more, don’t miss 10 Best Tasting Alcoholic Drinks That You Won’t Hate.

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