For straining pasta, washing produce, or rinsing grains, the best colanders make everyday kitchen tasks much easier, but not all colanders are created equal. There's a lot to consider like material, size, and more. This roundup covers your best options for both colanders and strainers.
A classic colander has a bowl shape with two handles and a rimmed base to stand in the sink for easy pouring; each colander has different sized and shaped holes that cover the bottom, half, or entire bowl to drain liquid and one has holes that gradually become smaller toward the colander's base. Finer holes slow the flow — preferable for grains or greens — while bigger holes are good fast draining, like for pasta. The colander's base, or feet, helps liquid drain without splashing back. To avoid touching the sink entirely, some have wider bowls and expandable handles that rest on top of the sink. Others collapse to save storage space.
Strainers, sometimes called sieves, are often interchangeably used for colanders, though they are a bit different. Strainers typically consist of a mesh bowl with a long handle. You might prefer strainers over colanders to sift dry ingredients to remove lumps or graininess.
As for materials, stainless steel is rust-resistant and built to last. Plastic is lighter and generally affordable, but go for BPA-free.
Bowl capacity typically ranges from about 3 to 6 quarts for colanders; mesh strainers, often available in a set, start with bowls as small as a couple ounces. Colanders may also come in a set with multiple sizes, be made from non-slip materials, resist rust or corrosion, or come in different color options.
Keep scrolling for a list of the best colanders. Each of my picks is highly rated on Amazon and conveniently dishwasher-safe.
1. The Overall Best, All Things Considered
This stainless steel colander is great because of its fast-draining holes, the manufacturer says can strain even small orzo and thin angel hair pasta. With a large, 5-quart bowl and wide-rim base, reviewers love the functionality and quality of this colander. The base is stable and high enough to safely pour hot water into the bowl without water splashing back into drained food. The bowl is covered entirely with tiny pierced holes, and is smooth, polished, and corrosion-resistant to rust.
Fans say: “Best colander ever, I give one to newlyweds, dedicated cooks, for housewarmings, etc. So fast draining, so stable, so easy to clean. What's not to love?”
2. The Best Over-The-Sink Option
With a wide oval bowl and handles that extend from 14 to 21 inches to fit most sinks, this over-the-sink colander has the greatest capacity on the list at 6 quarts. This stainless steel, fine mesh-net basket make this a versatile tool for filtering, sifting, or straining both wet and dry ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, flour, sugar, rice, sauces, and even gravies or soups. This rust-proof colander has rubber handles for a sturdy grip, and though it's designed to suspend over the sink, it also has feet to stand on the counter, too.
Fans say: “This thing got a workout with all of my Thanksgiving prep. It held up great. I have a double sink, but it's a bit smaller than average (my kitchen is from the 70's). The sides pull out across my sink with room to spare- would still work great with a larger sink. Excited to replace my old, plastic circular colander with this and wish I'd switched sooner.”
3. The Best Plastic Colander
The OXO Good Grips Colander is smaller than the previous options with its 3-quart capacity, but it's still sturdy enough to drain beans, berries, pasta, grains, and vegetables. Soft, non-slip handles allow for a comfortable but firm grip, and four feet allow the BPA-free plastic colander to stand in the sink with enough height and stability to drain safely. The holes are elongated for efficient draining and extend about midway up the bowl.
Fans say: “Love this colander! My mom has had/used this colander for over 15 years. She still has it and it’s still good as new. I bought one for myself because I prefer plastic colanders over metal ones, also because of how easy it is to clean and most importantly, the feet that it has that [raise] the colander from off of the kitchen sink. The reason that feature is so important is because it doesn’t allow any dirty sink contents to get into the colander...I love the heaviness and thickness of the hard plastic used so that if it is dropped, it won’t break.”
4. A Grain Bowl Upgrade: The Best Colander For Quinoa & Other Grains
Not all colanders can drain grains, but this OXO Small Grains Colander was designed for tiny ones like quinoa and millet. So what sets it apart? This pick’s small, square holes help wash out impurities and starch without small grains escaping or getting stuck.
With a slower drain rate, water pools in the bowl to show when water is clear and the grains are ready. A bonus pour spout with more drain holes makes it easy to remove excess water. Two non-slip handles are soft and comfortable to hold, and feet on the base allow the BPA-free plastic colander to stand in the sink as it drains.
Fans say: “This OXO Good Grips quinoa colander is fantastic. It's one of those rare products that are better than you expected them to be. Water drains well, but slow enough to use your hand to really swish around the quinoa. I wash quinoa till it's super clean. And then I wash it some more. Quinoa is one of those grains that benefit from a good cleaning. The colander's holes are a perfect size to keep in quinoa.”
5. A Collapsible Option
If you don't have a lot of kitchen storage space, consider this collapsible colander set that includes a 2-quart and 3-quart colander. When collapsed and stacked, they're only 4 inches tall for storage in a drawer or cupboard. They're made of BPA-free plastic with soft, rubberized handles and available in four bright colors. Highly rated with more than 1,400 reviews, these colanders are heat resistant up to 176 degrees; just note that you shouldn't pour, boiling water like when making pasta, over this pick. Though these collapsible colanders do save space, it's worth noting they don't have feet or a base to keep them off the sink floor.
Fans say: “These work perfectly and are as described. We have such limited kitchen space but use a colander often so I'm happy to have found these. They are sturdy when you open them and the colors are exactly as pictured. A great buy wish I had found them earlier.”
6. The Best Set Of Stainless Steel Fine Mesh Strainers
Here's a solid set of stainless steel strainers with an ultra-fine mesh net that won’t corrode, rust, break, or lose its shape. Reviewers say this set is fine enough to even drain quinoa. The set comes with three different sizes, all of which are smaller and better for spices or small-scale sifting and draining. The sizes include a .038-quart, .069-quart, and a .116-quart that nest in each other for easy storage and can hang from long, sturdy handles with double rod construction. They also come with a one-year satisfaction warranty, but they won't stand on their own like a colander with a base or feet.
Fans say: “Handy set. I use them for everything. The largest is particularly good for my needs. Would buy them again but doubt that I will need to do that. They are sturdy and well made.”
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Brent A. Bauer, M. D. (2019, June 11). Tips to reduce BPA exposure. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331.