How to Strain without a Strainer

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We use several kitchen tools when we are cooking or preparing a certain type of meal. One of the most necessary tools is a strainer. Unfortunately, not every kitchen has one. So, what do you do when you find yourself in need of a strainer but do not have one? Is there a specific strainer substitute that you can use?  Well, the truth is that there are a couple of items you can use to achieve the same results. This post helps you identify some easy, yet efficient substitutes. Keep reading to learn how to strain without a strainer.

Straining Food without a Strainer

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Before you go any step further, you need to identify utensils that would serve the same purpose as a strainer. The homemade strainer that you decide to use will depend on the type of meal you are preparing, as well as the amount you want to strain at a go. So, how do you do it?

Using Tongs

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You can use tongs to strain your food in different ways. This utensil will work best when you are straining some big noodles such as spaghetti. It is quite easy, to be honest. All you would have to do is grab the food and hold it out of the water so that the water drips into the pot. You should wait until the water drips very slowly, or stops dripping completely. You should then put the food inside the serving dish and continue the process until all the food is strained and served.

Another way you can use the tongs would be to tilt the pot slowly above a sink. The water should drain out of the pot with ease. To prevent the food from following the water to the sink, use the tongs to hold it back. This method is not always very efficient because no matter how you try, some food will always drop in the sink.

Using Slotted Spoons

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The great thing about a slotted spoon is that it already has some holes that will allow water to pass through. So, how do you use this strainer substitute? There are two main methods.

First, you can tilt your pot slowly over a sink so that water pours out slowly. Make sure not to tilt it too much since the food might fall to the sink. You should then place the spoon against the pot’s edge to hold the food. Tilt it some more until the water is completely drained.

The second method is much slower but is equally as efficient. You should scoop out the food using the spoon, allow water to drip back to the pot, then place the food inside a serving dish. This homemade strainer is most efficient when you are handling vegetables, small pasta noodles, and beans.

Mesh Bag, Pantyhose, or Cheesecloth

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A clean pantyhose or cheesecloth would work well as a mesh strainer substitute. The main idea is to stretch your chosen fabric around the pot’s top, after which you need to tilt the pot over a sink. It is important to be careful if you choose to use this method. Position your hands properly. Also, make use of a potholder to prevent your hands from scalding.


This process might take longer. In fact, you might even need someone else to squeeze the cheesecloth using some utensils for a faster straining process. You can also choose to use a mesh bag for this task.

Using a Lid

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The pot’s lid can be the mesh strainer substitute you need to dry off your food. But first, before you start, you need to make sure that you have adequate strength to hold your pot using one hand for a while, around 20 seconds. If not, you can ask for help from someone else. For a good grip, you might need to use a potholder.

It is quite easy. All you have to do is place the lid on the pot and hold it over a sink. Hold the lid firmly in place and tilt the pot. You can then move the lid slowly so that a small gap is shown. The water should start dripping from the pot. As it drips, tilt the pot some more until the water is completely drained.


  1. How to drain ricotta without a strainer?

In case you do not have a strainer, you can place a couple of paper towel layers on top of a cutting board. You should then spread the ricotta using a spatula, then add a couple more paper towels to the ricotta. This process will use more paper towels but it is a perfect substitute.

  1. How to strain oil without a strainer?

For the best results, we recommend that you purchase large filters. You can use two conical strainers, place large coffee-like filters between these two to avoid slipping down too much. In case you have access to a ladle, you can use it to force the oil through faster. Use the ladle in the same manner as a plunger. If the oil is hot, you should be careful to avoid it splashing it to you. You should know that the more particles you have to filter out, the longer the process will take.

  1. How to strain soup without a strainer?

First, you should know that specs in soup are completely okay. However, if you need to clear it out by straining, you can make use of a coffee filter or a paper towel. These are quite efficient when it comes to straining soup and leaving it completely clear.


If you are ready to finish the preparation of a meal and do not have a strainer, you should not worry. There are several effective options you can use to drain out the water from your pasta or other meals. These methods will take different efforts and the time it takes might be different. So, the best method to use would be one that meets your speed requirements. Have fun!

Feel free to share your observation with me in the comments section!

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