5 Best Colanders and Strainers, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
These are the best colanders for washing berries, draining pasta, rinsing beans and more.
Our Top Colander and Strainer Picks
Tested by Regina Ragone for Food Network Kitchen
Most of us don’t realize how important it is to have a good colander. It’s probably one of the most-used items in your kitchen. You use it drain pasta, rinse berries, wash off canned beans and so much more. The thing is you probably don't think much about the quality of your colander until you realize the strainer you have doesn't drain as well as you wish it did. If you’re looking to buy a new colander or upgrade the one you have, we’ve done the testing to help you decide which is the best colander for your needs.
What to Consider When Buying a Colander or Strainer
Size: Obviously, what you’re using the colander for most makes a difference. If you’re cooking a lot of pasta or potatoes, look for something close to the size of the pot you are using so that it’s sufficiently large; it should also have plenty of holes so the water will drain quickly to prevent overcooking.
Height: A good colander should be designed to sit an inch or two above the bottom of your sink. If you eat lots of produce, you’ll appreciate an over-the-sink colander, which offers a wide surface area to make sure you rinse everything clean while keeping it high above the sink’s surface.
Material: We like metal for heavy duty jobs and hot water, but plastic works fine for rinsing berries or beans, and costs less.
Do You Need a Mesh Strainer?
We think every kitchen should have a strainer on hand for everything from sifting flour to lifting poached eggs from a pot. If you’re rinsing small grains like rice or quinoa, you’re better off with a mesh colander or strainer because the holes are much finer and the food won't slip through them.
How We Tested
We purchased 10 well-reviewed colanders and strainers from top retailers. Before testing, we took note of each colander's size, material and design. To test each colander's performance, we placed it in the sink and drained one pound of pasta (dried spaghetti) into it. We noted if there was any splash back of hot water from the colander and whether the colander was too hot to pick up after draining. We observed how long it took for water to drain from each colander and how wet the pasta was a minute or two afterwards. Next, we rinsed one pound of berries in each colander to see how much grit we were able to remove from the berries and then how long it took to get the berries dry. Finally, we noted how easy the colanders and strainers were to clean (especially ones with smaller holes) and whether each was dishwasher safe. We also took into account price when choosing our top picks.
This durable 5-quart colander claims that it’s 20% thicker than the competition, and offers a lifetime guarantee to back it up. We loved the very small holes cut into a close mesh-style pattern that allow the water to drain rapidly and even stop cooked rice or small pasta from falling through. The drainage ports added to the base prevent backflow, so water doesn’t get trapped in the base. This lightweight colander is rust-proof and safe for dishwashers. We especially liked the reasonable price of $23 on sale.
When it comes to over the sink colanders, we have to agree with the rave reviews this model accumulated on Amazon. The telescopic handles were easy to pull out and push in, and the whole colander folds effortlessly for easy storage. The six-quart capacity can hold ample amounts of vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens and also works for pasta. If keeping your food high above the bottom of the sink is a preference, this is the colander for you. Aside from being dishwasher-safe, the colander was also easy to clean. The one downside that we noticed was a small pool of water still remaining in part of the colander when rinsing berries.
We like this set of stainless-steel strainers because the three different sizes (3 1/8-inch, 5 1/2-inch and 7 7/8-inch sizes) enable you to do a variety of kitchen jobs. They have a U-shaped handle long enough to prevent the transfer of heat to your hands. The strainers are dishwasher-safe and have a lifetime limited warranty. Hand washing the strainers can require a little bit of scrubbing, but it's a small price to pay for their versatility.
If price isn’t a priority in your decision-making, this top-of-the-line colander won’t disappoint. It’s attractive enough to keep on your counter, but the stainless-steel construction, sturdy pedestal base and riveted handles will make this a solid player in your kitchen. The holes in the pot get smaller toward the base to encourage better draining, which bore out in our testing. This colander is dishwasher-safe and carries a lifetime warranty against defects, as do many other All-Clad products.
If all you want is a basic colander that does what you’d expect, look no further. This attractive colander is made from strong BPA-free plastic and features rubber feet to keep it in place while draining. We liked the fact that it didn’t get as hot as some stainless-steel models when draining pasta, and it can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.