Menu
Search
Menu
Close

Salad Spinners

Published April 2013

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...

Try CooksIllustrated.com Free for 14 Days

Included in your trial membership

  • 20+ years of Cook's Illustrated foolproof recipes
  • In-depth videos of recipes and cooking techniques
  • SAVE all your Favorites for easy access
  • Up-to-Date reviews and product buying guides

Get everything Cook's Illustrated — become the Smartest Cook you know, guaranteed.

Email is required
How we use your email address

The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*