Every kitchen needs a reliable colander. Yes, you can use a sieve but it won’t offer the same drainage, be able to drain large quantities or tackle the weight of your spuds. In other words, a colander is an essential everyday piece of kit and when you’re dealing with boiling water.
When deciding which colander to buy, first look at the quantities you’ll be draining. If it’s only a few potatoes or a handful of berries, you won’t need anything huge. Some of the smallest colanders are effectively ladles with holes, allowing you to easily scoop out a small portion of peas or pasta straight from the pan.
On the other hand, if you regularly make mash for four, then a larger colander might be a better bet.
If cupboard space is at a premium, you might like to consider a colander that squashes flat. Another option is to look for a colander that can multi-task. We tested some with more than one purpose, allowing them to double up as a bowl.
And finally, you need to consider how you actually drain your veg or pasta. If you have a one-and-a-half bowl sink, you can use the smaller one to balance the colander between the sides, leaving you with two hands free to pour from the saucepan. In that case, you’ll need to be confident that the colander fits snugly.
Read on to discover the best colanders to buy. For more, visit our reviews section and find over 400 practical buyer’s guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in.
The best colanders on test
Lakeland nesting colander trio
Best budget colander set
These three brightly-coloured oval colanders nestle space-savingly together in your cupboard, but between them will take on most of your draining needs.
The biggest is good for spuds and large portions of veg, and fitted neatly length-wise into our half sink; the middle colander, for smaller portions or smaller households, fitted across it. Both of these have easy-to-grip handles with holes for your fingers, and non-slip-feet to keep them steady,
The smallest of the three is a big spoon, so you can easily remove small amounts of veg or pasta from a pan of water without going to the bother of draining the whole pan. All three are easy to wash and can go in the dishwasher.
Joseph Joseph Prep&Serve™ bowl with integrated colander
Best dual purpose colander
Save on the washing-up with this – it’s a very cleverly designed bowl and colander in one. One of the sides – but not the bottom – has small holes in it so you just need to tilt it to the side to drain. Then stand it upright again and – voilà – it’s a serving bowl.
It’s not suitable for boiling water, so you can’t use it to drain pasta or potatoes before serving. It’s best for fruit and salad, as well as rinsing rice and pulses before cooking. It will also happily go in the dishwasher.
Stellar long handle colander
Best large colander
Big families will appreciate this sizeable 26cm colander. Large, solid and sleek-looking, the long handle means you can avoid getting a faceful of steam when draining your spuds. There’s a more traditional square handle on the other side to grip for extra stability as you drain.
The size of the base allows it to sit in the half-sink if you have one, and as the base is raised, it can sit on the worktop or in the sink once you’ve finished draining but aren’t ready to serve.
This isn’t the cheapest colander we tested but it’s stylish, well made, and comes with a lifetime guarantee so it should last for years.
OXO Good Grips 9-piece nesting bowls & colanders set
Best colander nest
This multi-purpose nesting set gives you three colanders in different sizes which each comes with its own bowl and lid. The biggest advantage of this is for serving.
Once you’ve strained most of the water, you can sit the colander neatly in its bowl so it can finish dripping, and then put it straight on the table. Alternatively, fully drain it and then tip it into the bowl.
The white bowls and green colanders contrast nicely with each other so look good on the table, too.
The colanders, which are very light, have a base so they can sit in the sink, and small easy-grip handles on either side. Slits go all the way up the side so draining is fast. The bowls, which have non-slip bottoms and no handles, can of course be used for other purposes too.
ProCook 24cm collapsible colander
Best for small kitchens
If you’re lacking in cupboard space but still want a decent sized colander, this Pro Cook one fits the bill. It folds practically flat, but opens out to a spacious 24cm diameter, which is plenty big enough for a family-sized portion of pasta.
The top and bottom are rigid, while the rest of it is silicone, so even though it’s collapsible, it feels very sturdy. And if looks are important to you, the contrast between the stainless steel and the olive green silicone is a winner.
Judge at Horwood colander
Best traditional colander
If you just want a good, straightforward traditional colander, this is one to look at. There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’s a real workhorse that will do exactly what you want a colander to do.
It’s deep – coping effortlessly with roasties for four with plenty of room to spare – and the large footed-base makes it feel very steady. There are D-shaped handles on either side, giving this a very solid feel. Made of stainless steel, it looks good, it feels light and it goes in the dishwasher.
Zwilling 24cm colander
Most stylish colander
This looks like a cross between a colander and a sieve, so you can use it for many tasks. The whole thing is made of stainless steel, including the sides, so it’s more solid-feeling than a sieve.
There are small handles at either side. But it’s the holes that makes this one different– they’re much smaller than other colanders. We tested this out using rice – some grains escaped when rinsing before cooking, but it coped well once the rice had been boiled.
There’s no base – it’s shaped more like a bowl –which makes for easy stacking in the cupboard. The colander comes in two other, smaller sizes and will be a talking point in your kitchen because of its unusual good looks.
How we tested colanders
We reviewed a representative sample of colanders and scored them against the following criteria.
Watering holes: big holes might seem advantageous for speedy drainage, but they can backfire when dealing with slender or small foods like orzo. Holes which are dotted around the whole of the colander and aren’t too big can be best.
Sturdy: you need a sturdy design, something that won’t buckle and with a strong handle (if it’s got one). The last thing you need is one that tips and dumps pasta all over the sink.
Easy to clean: our final selection also needed to clean quickly and well.
This review was last updated in December 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
For more product picks, visit our reviews section. Do you have a colander you want to shout about? We’d love to hear which model you rate…