When what you're cooking calls for a silky smooth texture (think soups, custards, broths, and jams) using a chinois strainer is a convenient and efficient way to separate lumps and solid pieces out from liquids. The best chinois strainers are made of heavy-duty stainless steel and come with an ultra-fine mesh, making them better able to filter out even the smallest of food particles. They're also notably cone-shaped, which is why you may sometimes see them referred to as conical sieves.
Most chinois strainers feature the same basic design: tightly woven mesh, an elongated handle, and a small L-shaped helper hook on the opposite side so it can rest upright in a tall pot or on a compatible stand.
The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for one is the size of strainer itself. As a general rule, 7-inch diameter strainers will be suitable for most home kitchens. This size is ideal for extracting liquids into standard-size 6-quart stockpots as it gives you the option to steady the chinois so that you have a free hand to pour your ingredients. For even more flexibility, consider buying a strainer that comes with a stand, allowing you to place it directly above other containers like bowls or pans. If you find you need to make larger quantities of sauces or soups at one time, there are bigger cone strainers that start at 12-inches in diameter.
Finally, you may also want to consider buying a pointed wooden pestle as part of a set or as an additional accessory to make quicker work of straining, since you can fit it closely into the pointed bottom, giving you the ability to manually press the food and liquids through the strainer.
See below for more details on the best chinois strainers you can buy. All of these picks have are made from dishwasher-safe stainless steel and feature fine mesh.
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1. The Overall Best
At 7 inches in diameter, this chinois strainer is the best option for most home cooks. It's exceptionally well-made, and constructed with high-quality stainless steel and fine mesh to filter out even small bits of solid food. The strainer is top-rack dishwasher-safe and also boasts a long lightweight handle that makes it easy to hold with one hand while you use the other to pour ingredients into it. Plus, the the hook at the end of the strainer also has a hole in it allowing you to easily hang your tool on a rack when not in use.
Beyond soups and sauces, several Amazon fans report successfully using this pick for other kitchen tasks like filtering coffee grounds to create delicious cold brew coffee, washing small grains like quinoa, and even for making yogurt if you don't have a cheesecloth on hand.
Helpful review: “It is only 7 inches wide, but that is fine for just about anything most people need at home. It does a great job at filtering out everything but the tiniest of [particle]. Buy one, your sauces will improve immediately!”
2. The Best For Extra-Large Batches
If you need a larger chinois strainer for taking on hefty batches of ingredients, consider this 12-inch diameter Update International one. The size of this tool at such an affordable price is fantastic, and it, too, is made of stainless steel and has a long assist handle. And like other stainless steel kitchenware, it is safe to wash in the dishwasher on the top rack.
One note: Since the strainer is available in both "fine" and "coarse" options, make sure to select the fine for a true chinois level of straining.
Helpful review: “This thing is enormous and very sturdy. If you are thinking of ordering this to use in a home kitchen, it is way too big for any of your pots/applications. Look at a smaller model instead. If you have an industrial kitchen with huge pots, then order with confidence.”
3. A Handy Strainer Set That Includes A Stand & Pestle
For the cost of another brand's chinois strainer, you can get an entire three-piece set from Farm to Table. The set comes with a 7-inch stainless steel chinois strainer, a 9.5-inch chrome stand that can be placed over bowls or pots, and a wooden pestle. Like other chinois strainers, this one also is designed with an assist handle so you can use it with or without the stand. The strainer itself is top-rack dishwasher-safe. However, to clean the other parts of the set, you will want to hand-wash the pestle since it's made of wood and wipe the chrome stand with a damp cloth.
Helpful review: “If you have struggled with strainers before, end your misery and invest in this three-piece stainless chinois set. This is a great price for a great kitchen investment. The stainless won't rust and it has the strength to hold up really well over the long haul. With the wooden pestle, you control the speed and pressure. With the stand, you can set the cone-shaped sieve over any bowl to avoid awkwardness and mess. The volume of food this processes is impressive. The handle on the press itself just feels right for balance and handling. This is a practical, well-made kitchen essential that is really worth the modest investment.”
You May Also Want: A Wooden Pestle For Mashing Ingredients
It's not necessary to use a wooden pestle with a chinois strainer. However, if you plan to make sauces or purees frequently, it might be worth the investment, since using a wooden pestle helps make the straining process faster. This HIC Harold Import Co. one is designed specifically for use with chinois strainers and has a tapered shape to better fit inside of a conical sieve. It's simple to use but, like other wood pieces, must be washed and dried by hand.
Helpful review: “Very nice chinois pestle. Very sturdy and easy to clean but not in the dishwasher! I dried it and put a layer of cooking oil to protect it. It is really a good investment if you use a chinois."