If you’re trying to eat plenty of greens, there’s no better tool than a salad spinner to make short work of cleaning and drying them. But a well-designed model is a must. It should be roomy enough to let you prep large quantities in the fewest possible batches. It must remove water thoroughly so salad dressings can cling and sautés won’t splatter. Working the spinner should be reasonably easy and comfortable. And cleanup should be straightforward, with simple parts that don’t trap dishwater.
We tested seven salad spinners, priced from $15.94 to $48.99, including the newest version of our former favorite, the OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner ($29.99), which was recently redesigned. All the models in our lineup operate similarly: A perforated plastic basket sits inside a larger, lidded bowl. You use a mechanism—whether it’s a crank, plunger, lever, or pull cord—to spin the basket, creating centrifugal force to expel liquid, which collects in the outer bowl, leaving the basket contents dry.
We used each model to wash baby spinach, sturdy kale, spring greens, and heavy, sandy chopped leeks and to extract excess juice from quartered cherry tomatoes for a salad recipe. We measured the capacities of the salad spinners’ baskets, evaluated their mechanisms, and checked how much liquid they were able to remove from a measured amount of greens and water. As we used and washed the spinners multiple times, we observed how well they held up and how easy they were to clean and dry. One note: Two spinners, by Cuisinart and Gourmia, turned out to be identical except for color; we tested them individually but grouped them together in our rankings.
The first problem we spotted was capacity. Many models had designs that severely cut into the available space. One was built like a tube pan with a tall central stem, making us fuss to arrange lettuce or leeks around the narrow, doughnut-shaped basket. Another had a wide cylindrical protrusion beneath its lid that hung down 2 inches, slightly crushing baby spinach we’d confidently piled in. A third’s basket had a rippled shape supposedly to help liquid escape, but this limited its capacity. The twin models had the smallest, narrowest baskets in the lineup; they were also thin, drooping when we lifted them filled with heavy, wet leeks. Only a couple of models had large, unobstructed, sturdy baskets that let us load in plenty of greens and handle them confidently.
To get greens and vegetables really clean, we like to keep the basket of food inside the outer bowl while filling it with water to thoroughly soak the contents. Then we lift out the basket, letting water drain out, and empty the outer bowl before returning the basket to the bowl and spinning its contents dry. A few models had drain holes in their lids to allow you to discard excess water without opening the lid. In theory, this would streamline the whole process, but in reality, the water poured back through the greens, rewetting them, so we had to spin them a bit longer to truly clean and dry them.
When we got down to the actual business of spinning salad and vegetables, some models made us very unhappy. The worst was the one that resembled a tube pan, where the whole basket and bowl sprung up on a central stem, and we had to use both hands to push it back down to counter level. This gave us an upper-body workout that seemed excessive for making salad, and halfway through testing, it began failing to “catch” each time, sometimes slamming down without creating the necessary pressure to set the bowl spinning. The twin models used an awkward off-center crank that stuck straight up; turning it made the machine wobble, and we braced the usually wet spinner against our body during the wrestling match. A third model had a big lever that snapped up like a catapult when unlocked, startling testers. Pushing it down was usually very difficult at first but got easier as it gained momentum. A fourth used a pull cord, and while it was fairly easy to pull, some testers worried that the woven-fabric cord would be hard to keep clean; many also disliked that they could not see inside this model’s steel bowl and black plastic lid.
The last two were the easiest: One, from Culina, had a very large crank that stuck out to one side of the machine, which surprised us with its efficiency and comfort; the other was by OXO, with a plunger you push as you would a child’s spinning top. Because the plunger was centrally located and the bowl had a grippy base, the spinner didn’t scoot around our countertop; even better, it was easy to push with just one hand.
When we put a measured amount of identical greens and water into each spinner, spun them, and weighed the results, only one model removed all the water each time: the OXO. One problem with some of the other models was that greens sat in runoff water after they’d stopped spinning. To see how much water could accumulate inside the bowl without entering the basket, we set empty baskets into their bowls and poured in ¼ cup of water at a time. Only two spinners held more than 1¾ cups water beneath their baskets, including the OXO (the other was the steel spinner by Leifheit). The twin models ranked lowest, holding less than 1 cup before the basket bottom was submerged. Overall, we preferred spinners that kept the baskets out of any runoff water that collected in the bowl, and the more water that can collect without rewetting the greens, the better.
Most salad spinners have a brake to stop the motion and let you retrieve the greens. On the older version of the OXO, we found that, after months of use, the brake sometimes failed. In frustration, we’d pull off the lid and try to grab the basket, nearly cutting our fingers and sending greens flying out like confetti—one reason why we were eager to retest salad spinners. The new OXO model has an improved brake that worked quite easily; two other spinners’ brakes stopped them instantly, too. Three had no brakes but halted as soon as we stopped exerting effort. Only the model with the lever had a slow, ineffective brake.
Sometimes the prospect of cleaning a salad spinner makes us want to skip making salad. Too many models have complicated parts that trap food and dishwater. (Even after air-drying them for a few days, we found water oozing up under the crank on one of the twin models.) Our preferred spinners have fewer, simpler parts that dried thoroughly between uses. Most salad spinner lids have a sort of liner plate that pops off for cleaning, but some took careful aligning before they’d click back into place. If we didn’t get it right, it would fall back off every time we moved the lid. By contrast, our favorite’s instantly clicked on in any orientation.
Storage is another issue. We’ve previously tested collapsible salad spinners and found them lacking. While none of the spinners in this lineup was collapsible or particularly compact, our top choice is just 6 inches tall. It also has a flat lid, so you could stack other items on top.
Once again, the OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner ($29.99) is our winner. It’s easy to operate and simple to clean. It has a generous capacity and, most important, got greens the driest. Our runner-up, the Culina Space Saver ($22.99), performed almost as well, with an even larger basket and a brake that stopped the spinning on a dime, but its lid was a bit more prone to trap water, and at 8½ inches tall and a full inch wider than our winner, it requires more storage space.