How we tested
We first chose the OXO salad spinner as our favorite in 1999, and although we’ve tested other brands over the years, we’ve never found a better one. It is newly redesigned. Could the maker improve on great? At the same time, new products have entered the market. We put eight through their paces, including the newest OXO model.
All salad spinners share a basic design: a perforated basket that balances on a point in the center of a larger bowl. The lid houses a mechanism that grabs the basket and makes it spin. Centrifugal force created by the spinning basket propels the contents of the spinner away from the center; greens are trapped while water passes through the perforations and collects in the outer bowl. But the spinning mechanisms, and other differences in design, affect how well salad spinners work.
Of the eight spinners we tested, two used a pump action, two had retractable cords, two had levers, one used a ratchet handle, and one had a crank. The crank was tricky to get started, and because the direction of the force being applied by the user was the same as the spinning of the basket, this model was prone to jump around on the counter. The ratcheting model was clearly designed for the right hand and proved awkward for lefties. Pull-string mechanisms work, but with time the retracting component can wear out so the string needs to be rewound manually. Plus, pulling the string away from the spinner can bring the lid with it. Lastly, when the string becomes wet or soiled, bacteria can grow. With lever mechanisms, because the force being applied is slightly off to one side, the spinner can become unstable. Our favorite method is the pump: The simple up-and-down motion takes little effort, and since it’s set in the center, the spinner won’t dance around on the counter.
As we were considering spinning mechanisms, we also noticed that spinners with conical shapes had smaller bases, which made them wobble at high speed. They were out of the running.
To test capacity, we made a Caesar salad recipe that calls for 2 pounds of romaine hearts cut into pieces. We recorded how many batches it took each spinner to dry the lettuce: two for the best performers, four for the smallest.
Turning to drying ability, we weighed the greens before and after washing and spinning. One salad spinner threw off about a tablespoon more water than any of the others. The worst performer, a collapsible model, trapped water; it left behind 76 grams of water on the greens. (To get greens completely dry, blot them with a clean dish towel after spinning.)
Concerned that violent spinning might bruise delicate herbs, we washed and dried a bunch of cilantro in each spinner and examined how well the spinners removed sandy soil. Every spinner cleaned the cilantro without bruising it, but long sprigs of cilantro did not fit comfortably in all models.
Once the greens are clean, it’s time to clean the spinners. Green baskets obscured any trapped greens when we were washing up; we preferred clear or white baskets. Complicated lids were also harder to clean, which made us appreciate one new model that comes apart for thorough washing and drying. And we were grateful for lids that compress for easy storage and stacking.
After all was said and done, our previous winner once again carried the day. Fourteen years and counting...
OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner
Our redesigned favorite is better than ever. Its patented pump mechanism was the easiest to use among the models we tested, and its performance remained superb, holding plenty of greens and getting them drier than rival models. The new, wider base provides more stability, the smaller pump increases the spinner’s capacity, and the flat lid (which comes apart for cleaning) makes the spinner easier to store.
Zyliss Smart Touch Salad Spinner
We liked the large capacity, which let us wash and dry 2 pounds of greens in only two batches. The lever was easy to use and worked similarly to the pump on the OXO model, and it locked down for easy storage. However, because we were not pushing straight down but slightly to one side, this spinner did hop about a bit. It comes in green or white; the white is easier to clean, as you can see any trapped herbs.
Chef’n Large Salad Spinner
This spinner got the job done, but its combined flaws lowered its rank. It took three batches to clean 2 pounds of greens, and while the spinner did an adequate job drying them, its lever made a disconcerting clicking noise every time we pumped it, making us worry that it might wear out quickly. Its lid does not collapse for storage, and its green basket made trapped particles difficult to see.
Progressive Ratchet Salad Spinner
We have few complaints about this model’s performance. It has a large capacity, and the ratchet mechanism is effortless to use (though slightly uncomfortable if you are left-handed). Unfortunately, the basket’s conical shape reduced its usable capacity, and it is harder to store because it’s taller, with a lid that makes stacking impossible.
Zyliss Easy Spin Salad Spinner
This model came in just behind our winner when it came to drying ability, and it spun 2 pounds of greens in a respectable three batches. However, the spinning mechanism makes you pull away from the spinner, so that you have to apply significant pressure to hold the lid down, occasionally causing the lid to go askew and partially fall into the spinner.
Progressive Collapsible Salad Spinner
The single reason to buy this collapsible model is if your kitchen is very cramped; it has no other advantages. The solid band of silicone that makes this spinner collapsible also traps water in the drainage basket. Both basket and bowl were stiff and required substantial force to expand.
Norpro Salad Spinner
This spinner had the smallest capacity of the models we tested, requiring us to dry 2 pounds of greens in four batches. Both bowl and basket flexed and felt flimsy when full of water and greens. The crank was at times difficult to get going and once spinning tended to make the spinner jump around.
KitchenAid Professional Salad Spinner
All the elements are there—pump mechanism, large capacity, ability to lock the lid flat for storage—but the design is fatally flawed. If you push the pump too far down, the spinning basket locks, requiring that you stop the basket, remove the lid, turn the pump until it unlocks, and re-thread the pump through the lid, before you can (finally) continue spinning. Also the pump runs down the center of the basket, taking up space, and the bowl’s narrow base reduces stability.