The Best Salad Spinners, According to Chefs
The perfect green salad starts with fresh, crisp lettuce free of grit and insects from the field as well as grime that might accumulate before it reaches your kitchen. After a refreshing bath under the kitchen faucet, leaves need to be thoroughly dried before you dress them. If not, the oil in your vinaigrette will slide right off the wet leaves, pooling as a soupy mess in the bottom of your salad bowl. If you do dry your greens, an emulsified salad dressing will evenly coat each leaf.
The best salad spinners don't slip or wobble across the counter as they spin, still drying greens quickly and thoroughly without much user effort. We assessed salad spinners on criteria such as size, material, and ease of cleaning before naming the Oxo Stainless Steel Salad Spinner our Best Overall, as it combines sturdy construction with an easy-to-use but powerful push-button spinning mechanism. Read on for our full list of the best salad spinners.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Oxo Stainless Steel Salad Spinner
Best Value: Oxo Good Grips Plastic Salad Spinner
Best Large Capacity: Chefmaster 5-Gallon Salad Spinner
Best Pull Spinner: Mueller 5-Liter Salad Spinner
Best Spin Knob: Cuisinart Salad Spinner
What Didn't Make the List
Pro Panel Q+A
Q: How do salad spinners work?
A: Nearly all salad spinners share the same basic construction: a basket set inside a larger bowl, topped with a lid that houses a spinning mechanism that is powered by either a cord, crank, or pump that uses centrifugal force to spin the basket, sending the residual water on the leaves out while holding the greens in.
Q: Why should I wash my lettuce and greens?
A: Lettuce and greens are delicate, low-growing crops and are susceptible to a range of environmental influences as they grow. Unwashed lettuce can result in everything from a benign but unpleasant mouthful of gritty salad to ingesting dangerous bacteria like E. Coli or listeria. According to the Food and Drug Administration, raw produce can be contaminated by animals, harmful substances in the soil or water, pesticides (organic or inorganic), and improper human handling. Per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after produce is harvested, "it passes through many hands, increasing the contamination risk. Contamination can even occur after the produce has been purchased, during food preparation, or through inadequate storage."
Q: How can I keep my greens fresh?
A: Because moisture speeds up decomposition, the best way to keep greens fresh is to wait to wash them until the day you'll eat them. If you do want to prep them in advance, store washed greens between layers of dry-to-damp paper towels (depending on how dry your greens are) in a sturdy, lidded container in the fridge – like a salad spinner.
"Don't just use your salad spinner to clean lettuce. It's also the best way to store your lettuce in the fridge," says Chandler. "The spinner allows air to circulate around the lettuces, keeping it fresher longer than if in an airtight container like Tupperware or a resealable plastic bag." If you don't have room for a larger container, a large zip-top bag will do the trick, but you risk greens bruising in the shifting and stacking of normal fridge traffic. If you notice your lettuce looking a little sad, submerge the leaves in cold water for 10 to 20 minutes to crisp them back up, then dry and enjoy.
Factors to Consider
There's no denying that a salad spinner is a bulky contraption, but if you make a lot of salad, it's worth making room to store it. Storage aside, consider the volume of salad you'll be making to determine what size is right for you. A three-quart model will do the trick for side salads for a few people, but for anything more than that, a six-quart model is the way to go.
Depending on whether you prioritize versatility, durability, or price, different salad spinners will best suit your needs. If you want your salad spinner to do double-duty to both dry greens and function as a serving bowl, glass or metal is worth spending a bit more. Metal stands on its own as the only option that will never crack or shatter, but if you don't need your spinner to do anything but occasionally dry some greens, an inexpensive plastic model will suit your needs just fine.
"Being easy to clean is key for any kitchen gadget to actually get used more than once," says McFall. Fortunately, all of the models we included are straightforward to care for: just wash them with hot, soapy water and let them dry completely between uses. All of these models are also dishwasher safe, but be aware that plastic is prone to warping or discoloration when dried with heat in the dishwasher. "Though the manufacturer may say that a salad spinner is dishwasher safe, hand wash your spinner," says Chandler. "Even the sturdiest of plastic spinners can warp in the dishwasher. I think the reason mine has lasted so long is that I always hand wash it."
For this story, we consulted five chefs who know their way around a sinkful of greens: Kristy Mucci, author of Salad Party; Abra Berens, chef, farmer, and author of Ruffage; Jennifer Chandler, author of Simply Salads; Jackie Sappington, owner of Harlow Cafe in Portland; and Tom McFall, owner of Huriyali in Charleston, S.C.
Liz Mundle sourced the spinners and did the interviews. She is a writer, editor, and chef in New York City with over a decade of experience in kitchens and magazines. Her writing has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, and Domino, among others. She is opening Circus Provisions, a specialty grocery store in Brooklyn, later this year.