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Salad Spinners

Published November 2018

How we tested

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 them 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.

Big Capacity Lets You Spin in Fewer Batches

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.

Drain Holes in Lids Are Unnecessary

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.

Easy Spinning Was the Biggest Factor

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.

Which Salad Spinner Gets Greens Driest?

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.

Putting on the Brakes Should Be Simple

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.

Cleaning and Storing Is a Sticking Point

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.

Our Favorite Salad Spinner: OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner

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.

Methodology

We tested seven salad spinners, priced from $15.94 to $48.99, using 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 spinners' baskets, evaluated their mechanisms, and checked how much liquid they removed. We also evaluated how easy each model was to clean and dry. Information on whether models were dishwasher-safe was obtained from manufacturers. Prices were what we paid online, and the products appear below in order of preference.

RATING CRITERIA

Capacity: We loaded each spinner with baby spinach and noted its capacity. Models with the largest capacities rated highest.

Performance: We added a measured amount of water and greens and reweighed the greens after spinning. Spinners that got the greens driest rated higher.

Ease of Use: We spun a variety of greens and vegetables in each spinner, noting how easy it was to spin. Models rated higher if they took less effort to clean and handle the food.

Cleanup: After washing the spinners throughout testing, we evaluated how easy they were to disassemble and reassemble after cleaning and keep clean and dry and whether any had degraded and become worn over the course of testing.

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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*