3 Best Kitchen Towels, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
We dried everything from fragile wine glasses to heavy-duty pots and pans to find the best kitchen towels on the market.
Test Kitchen Picks for Kitchen Towels
No kitchen is complete without a set or two of kitchen towels, and although there are loads of options on the market, it can be a challenge to find ones that actually work. We’ve been frustrated in the past with towels that don’t absorb well, that are too big or too small, or that stain easily. Ask anyone in our office and they'll tell you that finding the perfect kitchen towel is like finding a needle in a haystack. It's next to impossible. That is, until now.
Arguably a kitchen towel won’t affect the outcome of your kitchen efforts, since it isn’t used in the cooking process, but as we all know, meal preparation is more than just the process of cooking. There's inevitably cleanup after all is said and done. And we want every single tool we use in the kitchen, no matter its purpose, to do its job and do it well.
With that in mind, we set out to find the very best kitchen towels for cleaning evrything from wine glasses to pots and pans. We tested 11 kitchen towels, drying wine glasses, plates, pots and utensils, and with our favorites, we also used them to pull hot items out of the oven, since many of us utilize our kitchen towels for that purpose, too. In the end we found three that are worth the money.
Note: We found that all the towels worked better after being washed, and even better after a few washes.
Clearly someone put a lot of thought into designing these towels. The dual side design — one is absorbent terry, the other is a flatter woven weave, both made from 100% cotton — means it performs different jobs well. We learned to use the terry side to get items mostly dry, then finish with the flatter side so no lint was left behind, especially useful on wine glasses. The woven side also looks pretty, with alternating wide and narrow stripes (available in 10 colors). With a generous 17-by-30-inch size, these towels can take on drying a lot of dishes or large pots and pans, and folded up, made a good cushion when doubling as oven mitts.
We tested several bar mop towels, and this model was the best of the bunch. Ribbed cotton terry makes them absorbent, hemmed edges give them durability, and you have a choice between a 12-inch square or 16-by-18-inch towels. The downsides: The terry left behind some lint on our glasses, they’re fairly thin, so they didn’t work well as subs for oven mitts. Plus, well, they aren’t that pretty. These are more kitchen-workhorse towels than ones you’d feel comfortable displaying in your kitchen. Given how inexpensive these are, we could easily see having a set for everyday cleanup and big jobs like holiday meals.
It’s not a surprise that the other All-Clad towel we tried worked well. The soft 100% cotton is absorbent, it’s also that useful 17-by-30-inch size, it’s sturdy and nice looking, and it’s available in nine colors. The dual version edged this one out because this version is all terry, so you don’t get that lint-free finish. But this is also a great option if you want a display-worthy yet durable and effective kitchen towel.
How We Tested
We purchased 11 popular kitchen towels, including fluffy terry, bar mops, flour sack towels, and cloth-style towels you see in professional kitchens, dual-sided and more, across brands and price points. We washed them, then tried them out on plates, pots, wine glasses and utensils multiple times over several weeks. We evaluated whether the towels dried the items, and if so, how efficiently. We looked at whether the towels left behind any lint. Of the best ones, we tried folding them and using them in place of oven mitts. We also took into account whether they are attractive enough to display.