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Everyone needs a colander—or maybe two or three, depending on your cooking style. The good news is that there are plenty of colanders to choose from, with different capacities as well as different sizes and shapes of the draining holes. Colanders with large holes are most desirable when you want water to drain quickly, like when pasta is on the menu. They’re also great for rinsing vegetables, so the small bits of dirt and debris drain away easily. Those large holes won’t work as well when rinsing uncooked rice or draining tiny pasta shapes, though. Fine mesh strainers are designed for draining liquids while keeping most of the solids, so they’re great for straining soup stock, draining small pasta shapes, or even for straining homemade yogurt.
To help you find the best colander for your household and needs, here are the best colanders.
Best Overall: Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander
Tiny holes won’t lose food
Might not nest well
If you are looking for one colander that can both strain spaghetti and fine foods like rice, this colander is for you. It's made of stainless steel that won't rust and is heavy duty so you'll have this gadget for the long haul. You may even want to purchase more than one, as several buyers mentioned they love it more than their plastic versions. The holes are tiny which prevents small grains from falling through but also helps drain water faster and more efficiently. When you're all done cooking you can throw this in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Best Pot Straining: Kitchen Gizmo Snap 'N Strain Clip On Silicone Colander
Small size is easy to store
Clips right onto pots and bowls
Not as useful for washing greens or berries
Let’s face it: Most colanders are used for draining liquid from pots—either to keep those cooked potatoes or pasta or to strain out the homemade stock and dispose of the bits and bones. This clip-on colander strainer does the job while taking up a lot less storage space, and it clips on snugly without damaging nonstick surfaces.
Made from silicone, this can handle the heat from boiling liquids. It’s flexible enough to fit just about any pot or pan you own, and it will even clip onto most mixing bowls to drain and strain. For simple cleanup, it’s dishwasher safe.
Best Over the Sink: Cuisinart Over-the-Sink Colander
Small mesh keeps foods from falling through
Large size could challenge storage space
This large, 5 1/2-quart colander has extendable nonslip handles that fit across almost any sink, so you can rinse vegetables or drain pasta while keeping the bottom of the colander safely above the floor of the sink.
The fine mesh makes this great for rinsing rice or for straining soup stock—just make sure you’ve got a pot below to catch the stock—while the rectangular shape makes it convenient for rinsing carrots, celery, rhubarb, and other long foods that wouldn’t fit as well in a round colander.
Made from stainless steel mesh, this won’t stain or rust, and it’s dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best Budget: OXO Good Grips Colander
Holes might let small foods through
If your colander needs are simple, this strainer fits the bill—and the budget. Made from white plastic, it has elongated holes for fast, efficient draining on pasta night, and it’s also great for rinsing vegetables from the garden. It holds 3-quarts.
This has four feet that keep it elevated off the bottom of the sink, and the soft, nonslip handles make it easy to grab, so you can shake the water off your greens.
For easy cleaning, this is dishwasher safe, and since it’s round, it might nest with your mixing bowls for storage.
Best High-End: All-Clad Stainless Steel Colander
This stainless steel colander makes a fashion statement with its brushed interior, mirror-polished exterior, and rolled edges, but it’s not just for show. It’s made to last with riveted handles that offer a firm grip. The pedestal bottom looks classy and offers a stable base that keeps the food off the bottom of the sink.
Graduated holes drain quickly and help circulate air so your greens won’t get soggy if you prep them early. It can also serve double duty for storing onions or potatoes.
This is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. It holds 5 quarts.
Best Set: OXO Good Grips 9-Piece Nesting Bowl & Colander Set
Complete nesting set
Not microwave safe
Colanders are great to have, but they can be a pain to store because they’re so bulky. This set solves the problem since the colanders nest into the included bowls, so the whole set stores in very little space. The set includes three bowls, three colanders, and three lids. The colanders have a wavy base that keeps them stable in the sink, and the base also raises the colanders above the bottom of their matching bowls, so they can be paired with the bowls to catch a little liquid. These are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning, but they are not microwave safe.
Best Berry Colander: Chef'n Bramble Berry Basket and Colander
Perfect for berries
Good for storage
Top rack dishwasher safe
Using a giant colander to rinse a few berries seems like overkill, but this 1-quart berry basket and colander is made just for that task. The inner basket is removable and makes rinsing berries easy. Left in the container, the basket allows air circulation around the berries so they’ll stay fresher longer. A clear plastic lid keeps the berries safe from pesky bugs.
The basket and clear container are attractive enough for serving and are top-rack dishwasher safe for easy storage. For folks who like to keep several types of berries on hand, the containers are stackable.
Best Scoop Colander: Joseph Joseph Scoop Colander
Perfect for scooping from pots
Guests might think it’s the kitty scoop
The scoop shape of the colander makes it simple to reach into a pot to grab pieces of food while leaving the liquid behind. It’s great for retrieving cooked noodles, for collecting vegetables from boiling water, for getting hot French fries from hot oil, and for removing bones and spent vegetables from soup stock. Hooks under the colander allow it to rest on the edge of a pot to drain more completely without having to hold it while the last of the liquid drips away.
This shape is better than a spoon or spatula when removing roasted vegetables from a pan, even if there’s not much liquid to drain. It’s safe for nonstick cookware, and heat-safe to 392 degrees, so it can handle the heat of the kitchen. When it’s done its job, it is dishwasher safe, so cleaning is easy.
Best Colander Spoon: OTOTO Mamma Nessie Colander Spoon, Turquoise
Perfect for small tasks
Expensive for a ladle
Sometimes you just need a small colander, and this spoon colander is the perfect fit for those times. Shaped like a ladle, it’s great for rescuing an egg from boiling water or scooping pasta or vegetables from a small pot.
This also might be the cutest colander you’ll see, designed to look like the Loch Ness monster. Made from toughened nylon, this is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
What to Look for in a Colander
When the task is to rinse food for a crowd, a large colander will come in handy, but storage can be a challenge. Smaller colanders are great for small tasks, whether it’s to wash greens for a single salad, or clean just a few berries. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, it might be best to have more than one colander on hand to fit all the ways you cook.
Stainless steel is durable and rust-resistant, and stainless steel colanders can be attractive enough to use as a bowl for onions, potatoes, or fruits that like a bit of air circulation. However, stainless steel is more expensive than plastic, so it can stretch the budget for such a simple tool. While today’s plastics are durable, they’re not indestructible. Eventually, they’ll need to be replaced, but while they’re in use, they’re certainly budget-friendly.
When cleaning greens, rinsing berries, or washing root vegetables, it’s nice to have a colander with large holes so the dirt and grit can flow easily through along with the water. Larger holes also drain faster, so they’re more efficient. However, if the colander will be use to rinse rice or to drain tiny pasta, it’s important to have small holes so the food won’t drain away.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a recipe developer, cookbook author, and writer/product tester for The Spruce Eats. She knows kitchen gadgets and curated this list with functionality and design in mind.