The sieve is such a simple piece of kitchen equipment, we barely give it a second thought, yet it’s a must-have for bakers. Originally sifting was done to remove any larger pieces of wheat that had made it through the milling process or to remove weevils. But these days we sift flour primarily to ensure a lighter, more aerated texture in our cakes and bakes.
The humble sieve is a multipurpose kitchen essential that’s useful for more than just sifting flour. Not only can it be used to remove lumps from icing sugar and cocoa powder, but also for rinsing and draining rice, quinoa and other grains that you might otherwise lose through the larger holes in a colander. It’s also great for removing seeds from a fruit coulis or making smooth purées without a blender.
How to choose the best sieve
At first glance choosing a sieve might seem like a simple task but there’s actually much more variety than you might think. Factors to consider:
- Sieves can vary greatly in size, so it’s helpful to have an idea of how you might use it. If you’re a regular baker, a large sieve will help you to get through huge bowls of flour much faster. But if you just want to sift a small amount of icing sugar occasionally then a big one probably isn’t worth the cupboard space.
- Consider handle length and shape – these also vary and it’s particularly important to have a comfortable handle if you’ll be using it a lot.
- Then there’s cleaning – sieves can be tricky to clean so check if it’s dishwasher safe.
- Think about whether you’d prefer a plastic or metal mesh: plastic ones are often cheaper but metal is likely to last longer.
Best kitchen sieves at a glance
- Best kitchen sieve for handle comfort: Lakeland Soft Grip Stainless Steel Sieve, £9.99
- Best investment kitchen sieve: Kuhn Rikon Essential Strainer Large, £29.95
- Best for stability: Browne Stainless Steel Sieve, £10.90
- Best compact kitchen sieve: Tala 14cm Sieve, £9
- Best for versatility: De Buyer Stainless Steel Sieve with Interchangeable Mesh, £31.50
- Best budget set: Amazon Jojeys Sieves Strainers Set of 3, £8.17
- Best chinois: Lakeland 20cm Diameter Chinois, £24.99
- Best budget kitchen sieve: ProCook Double Walled Stainless Steel Sieve, £8
Best kitchen sieves to buy in 2021
Lakeland Soft Grip Stainless Steel Sieve
Best for handle comfort
If you’re looking for a sieve with a nice comfortable handle, look no further. This one comes with a soft rubbery handle that’s comfortable to hold even for longer periods as well as being grippy if your hands are wet. It’s a 20cm sieve so is a good size for most sifting tasks and it’s dishwasher safe. The metal mesh isn’t as fine as some of the others in this list but it’s sturdy and works perfectly for removing lumps from flour and cocoa powder. Raspberry purée passed through quickly and with little effort – overall this a good all-rounder.
Kuhn Rikon Essential Strainer Large
Best investment sieve
It’s pricey for a sieve, but this feels well made and built to last. At just over 20cm, the handle is the longest of all the sieves we tested, so if you’re using it to drain or strain anything hot, you can keep your hand well away from the heat. The mesh is fine and very solid so you can push against it with a spoon without it bending out of shape – perfect for purées and sauces. Happily, we found that despite the mesh being very fine, raspberry purée pushed through it without much force.
It’s worth noting that although it says large in the title, the diameter is just 16cm, meaning it’s smaller than most standard size sieves so, while it does sift flour easily, it’s not the best choice if you want to regularly sift large quantities. It’s dishwasher safe but hand washing is recommended.
Browne Stainless Steel Sieve
Best for stability
This 20cm sieve is great for large quantities of flour or cocoa powder: the fine stainless steel mesh leaves flour light and airy. It has two separate bowl rest hooks, so is more stable and secure on a bowl than sieves with just one hook. The thick pliable mesh springs back into shape easily, is very strong and doesn’t distort when pushed firmly with the back of a spoon. Removing the seeds from raspberry purée was effortless. For easy cleaning it’s dishwasher safe, though hand washing is recommended.
Tala 14cm Sieve
Best compact sieve
Sieves can be tricky to store, so if you don’t use it often and you’re short on space, we think this 14cm sieve is a good compromise. It’s a good quality stainless steel sieve that copes well with flour and cocoa powder, it just isn’t built for large quantities. The sturdy fine mesh also does a great job removing seeds from raspberry purée and you can push a spoon against it without distorting the shape. It’s dishwasher safe and also comes in three other sizes: 8cm, 18cm and 20cm.
De Buyer Stainless Steel Sieve with Interchangeable Mesh
Best for versatility
This drum-style sieve includes four interchangeable mesh options, ranging from the finest at 0.5mm to 1mm, 2mm and even a 3mm gauge mesh. It’s a multipurpose choice that’s ideal for a seasoned cook who wants more control over what can be sifted and how fine the results are. There’s no handle but it’s still easy to hold the side of the drum and shake the contents through.
The large 20cm flat mesh is best used over a larger bowl otherwise you’ll find it difficult to direct the flour into a smaller bowl. The meshes are simple to change and we found it easy to create a smooth raspberry purée using the 1mm mesh but, again, the flat design requires a big bowl to sift into. The meshes are strong and everything is dishwasher safe.
- Available from Sous Chef, £31.50
Jojeys Sieves Strainers Set of 3
Best budget set
If you’re in the market for a set of sieves, this budget-friendly set includes three sieves at 7cm, 12cm and 18cm, offering plenty of versatility. For less than the cost of some other single sieves, you’ll get three dishwasher-safe stainless steel sieves that you can use for anything from straining tea leaves to rinsing grains or sifting flour.
All three are made with the same grade of wire mesh, which isn’t as fine as in some other sieves but flour still passes through quickly as does raspberry purée, with all lumps and seeds removed. The mesh doesn’t spring back if you push it out of shape and the handle on the largest sieve isn’t comfortable to hold for long periods but, for a budget set, this is a better option than plastic sieves.
Lakeland 20cm Diameter Chinois
Elevate your sauces and coulis with this professional-quality chinois sieve. At 430g this a weighty sieve but the quality is excellent and it’s built to last. The cone-shaped mesh of a chinois sieve is ideal for making smooth sauces, custards and purées. It can be used to sift flour but is a bit slower at this task than a round-bottom sieve. It did however excel at removing pulp and seeds from large quantities of raspberry purée.
It’s worth taking note that it’s approximately 14cm from the bottom of the cone to the top of the rim, so is designed for deeper bowls and pans. The handle is very robust but isn’t the most comfortable we’ve tried. It has a good solid hook for resting on pans and bowls, and is also dishwasher safe.
ProCook Double Walled Stainless Steel Sieve
Best budget sieve
If you’re looking for a basic, inexpensive sieve that’ll get the job done, you can’t go too far wrong with this one. Yes, you can get much cheaper plastic sieves, but often they aren’t built to last. This stainless steel no-frills sieve is dishwasher safe and at 20cm it’s big enough for most sifting tasks.
The pliable mesh doesn’t bend out of shape easily and the basic looped handle is tapered to help with comfort. It coped well with all of our sifting tests, including flour, cocoa powder and raspberry purée.
- Available from ProCook, £8
How we tested kitchen sieves
As you might expect, we sifted our way through lots of flour and cocoa powder to see how well the sieves could remove the lumps. We also used them to strain the seeds out of raspberry purée and noted the handle comfort as we went. Other factors that we took into account included size, quality and stability when resting on a bowl.
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