The Absolute Best Uses For Your Salad Spinner

Everyone knows the importance of eating greens, and healthy eaters incorporate fresh vegetables into every meal. One of the best ways is a green salad, a perfect side dish that elevates any meal. If you love the idea of salad but don't like the mess of cleaning and preparing lettuce, you need a salad spinner. This handy kitchen utensil cleans your greens by spinning them through a perforated plastic bowl. The spin quickly removes water and grit, thus cutting down your precious prep time. 

If you are looking to buy a salad spinner but are worried about adding another utensil to your arsenal of kitchen tools, you'll be pleased to learn that salad spinners can be used for more than just salad. And when you discover all of the other uses for a salad spinner, you'll agree that it is money well spent.

Salad spinners come in two styles: the push and pull cord models. Both use centrifugal force to spin greens. A pull cord spinner has more power, causing a faster spin than the pump, but both get the job done. According to Cook's Illustrated, the top two best models are affordable at under $30. You will love having this multipurpose tool in your kitchen.

Clean your crunchy vegetables

While salad spinners are great for leafy greens and herbs, did you know they are also great for other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage? Like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals essential to a balanced diet (via WebMD).

For many busy home cooks taking the time to clean and prepare vegetables doesn't always happen. In comes your salad spinner to save the day, making it easy to clean vegetables and get them on the dinner table. Just fill the spinner bowl with water and place your vegetables in the basket. Let them soak for a few minutes, then give them a spin to get all the dirt and grime off. Once clean, dump the excess water and use the spinner to dry them. If you are spinning vegetables from your garden or the farmer's market, you should soak and spin at least one extra time. Fresh veggies pulled from the garden tend to have more dirt and bugs, but the upside is they have more flavor.

Remove the grimy bits in dried beans

Cooking with dried beans is the most affordable way to make beans (via The Bean Institute). If you need to feed a lot of people on a budget, then beans are a great option. Beans are versatile and filled with healthy protein and make an excellent dish, from hearty refried beans to savory Texas chili.

But for some home cooks, the long cook time and tedious task of cleaning beans make using them an unappealing option. Taking the time to clean beans is essential because pebbles and other debris can get mixed in the bag. Using a salad spinner to clean dried beans and remove gunk makes the task much more manageable. Just do a quick soak of the beans and skim the floaters off the top. The floaters are the beans you don't want. With the floaters gone, spin the beans, and you can quickly remove any pebbles and debris.

Of course, a salad spinner can't make dried beans cook any faster. But according to Central Bean Company, the fastest way to cook dried beans is to boil them for a few minutes, then set them aside and let them soak for an hour. 

Remove moisture from vegetables

One of the most crucial techniques for cooking moisture-rich vegetables, such as eggplant and zucchini, is to salt them. These vegetables benefit from salting because the salt sucks the moisture out, giving them more texture when cooked (via Popular Science). And in the case of eggplant, salting neutralizes the bitter taste and keeps them from absorbing extra oil. Missing this crucial step could ruin a dish like spicy garlic eggplant, where the texture of the eggplant can make or break the meal.

Using a salad spinner to salt your vegetables makes the whole salting process easier. While you want to use a heavy hand to salt your veggies, you won't want all that salt going into the final dish. Here's where the salad spinner comes in, allowing you to salt and rinse the veggies in the basket. Using only one container for this process means less of a mess and a happy home chef.

Make super crispy french fries

If you have a salad spinner, chances are you aren't new to healthy eating and probably are a star salad maker. But everyone needs to indulge sometimes, and salty, crunchy french fries are a tasty way to treat yourself. While the salad spinner helps you stay on track with healthy eating, it can also do double duty and be your friend on cheat days.

The best french fries are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. According to Idaho Potato, the best way to make a crispy french fry is to soak the cut potatoes in cold water to remove the excess starch. Then, dry them before frying them in oil. 

The salad spinner is the best tool to aid in soaking and rinsing your spuds. Soak the cut potatoes in the spinner bowl for an hour, then drain the water and spin them dry. While potatoes may not be the healthiest vegetable, they are still a vegetable, so count that as a win.

Clean oodles of noodles

Do you love noodles? Noodles come in all types, from wheat to gluten-free to rice noodles. Of course, your classic salad spinner basket can substitute a colander in a pinch. But it can also dry your noodles for dishes like a cold noodle salad.

Cold noodles need to be drained and dried, and your trusty salad spinner can dry your noodles much faster than just laying them out on a paper towel. Once cooked, the trick to making cold noodles is to run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. If you are a die-hard noodle lover, you might follow the rule of never rinsing cooked noodles because the starch is washed away (via Smithsonian Magazine). While this is true for hot noodle dishes where the starch helps noodles hold the sauce, it doesn't apply to cold noodle dishes.

Another way to use your salad spinner for noodles is to soak the noodles in the bowl of the spinner. According to Exploratorium, you can save energy and water by soaking noodles for a few hours and mixing them with a pre-heated sauce for a minute.

Defrost and dry frozen shrimp

Frozen shrimp are a freezer staple in many households and are great for a quick and easy weeknight meal. If you are a home chef looking to cut down on prep time, use your salad spinner to defrost and dry shrimp. Unfortunately, your salad spinner has some limits and can't peel the shrimp, so it's best to buy peeled frozen shrimp to keep it easy and mess-free.

Simply put the frozen shrimp in the basket and fill the bowl with cold water. Cold water is the best way to quickly thaw frozen seafood (via Food and Drug Administration). Once the shrimp are thawed, give them a whirl to remove excess water, and you are ready to cook up some delicious recipes, such as sweet and spicy grilled shrimp. A helpful tip — if you are using raw shrimp, thoroughly disinfect your salad spinner before using it again.

Remove tomato seeds like a pro

There are a lot of good reasons to remove the seeds from fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes seeds are part of the ooey-gooey center of the tomato. They can be bitter, and not removing them changes the flavor and texture of a dish. If you are making a ragu or marinara sauce, you can avoid removing the seeds by using a pinch of sugar or baking soda to cover that bitterness.

However, if you use fresh tomatoes for a salad or a salsa, that little trick can't save you. The seeds must go, and the extra water adds too much moisture to the salad ruining crispy greens and making a chunky salsa too thin. Luckily, your handy salad spinner can help you with this kitchen task. Yes, that's right, you can use your salad spinner to de-seed tomatoes. Of course, you can de-seed them one by one by hand, but who has time for that? Instead, throw those juicy tomatoes in the salad spinner, removing the seeds all at once.

Before you fry, make sure your protein is dry

When planning a fried feast, you may not have thought about using your salad spinner. Salad spinners aren't just for making healthy foods; they can be useful in frying too. For experienced home cooks, there are several standard tricks to breading chicken and other proteins. To start, you need to set up a breading station, have a bowl for flour, another for egg, and a third for breading. Also, use one hand for dry ingredients and the other for wet. 

But one technique that isn't well-known is the importance of starting with dry protein. According to NPR, the secret to getting the perfect crispy breaded crust begins with a dry protein. A great way to do this is in a salad spinner. Spinning protein is an easy way to remove excess water and prepare your protein for dredging and breading. The result? Delicious fried food encrusted in crisp, golden perfection.

Get your berries clean

Colorful berries like raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are healthy treats. Packed with vitamins and nutrients, they are an excellent way to indulge your sweet tooth. Use them in desserts, oatmeal, and smoothies. But before adding them to your favorite dishes, they need to be cleaned. 

According to the Food and Drug Administration, cleaning fresh fruits like berries is essential in preventing food-borne illnesses. Your humble salad spinner can help keep you and your family safe by cleaning your berries. When cleaning your berries, only clean what you plan on eating. Just throw them in the basket with water, let them soak for a minute, then remove the water and spin them dry.

It's important to always store berries dry. If they have moisture in the container, they will go bad quickly. You don't want to start making a smoothie and realize your berries are a pile of mush. So spin them dry and have them ready when you want a healthy snack. Also, when fresh berries are in season, it's easy to overbuy them. Luckily they freeze well. To prepare them for storage, wash and spin them before throwing them in your freezer.

Protect your precious desserts

Family picnics are a fun way to get everyone together and enjoy nature while indulging in yummy picnic foods. But annoying mosquitos and flies can put a damper on your meal. Keeping your food safe from pests becomes a top priority on a picnic. While a salad spinner can't keep mosquitos from feasting on your legs, it can protect your picnic foods from nasty bugs.

Create a DIY dessert cover from the bowl of your salad spinner. Keep those pesky pests like fruit flies and gnats out of your decadent desserts. According to Pest Pointers, these little flying nuisances are attracted to sugar, and if you leave desserts out, they will invade chocolate cakes and other desserts. Wrapping desserts in plastic wrap or foil can damage the frosting or smush your sweet treats. So, make your salad spinner useful and turn it upside down to protect leftover cake and pies. Next time you pack a picnic, don't forget to bring the salad spinner.

Proof yeast doughs

Next time you make bread or pizza dough with yeast, turn to your salad spinner for help. In doughs with yeast, the flour interacts with the yeast, starting the fermentation process. At this stage, the dough needs warmth and room to rise. The plastic bowl of a salad spinner is perfect for proofing dough because plastic holds heat better than glass (via Sciencing). So it makes sense to use a plastic bowl when proofing yeast doughs, making the multi-use salad spinner an excellent tool in the kitchen.

Before using the spinner to proof your dough, make sure it is completely dry, as any extra moisture can ruin the dough. So wipe it down and then sprinkle a little flour in the spinner to keep the dough from sticking. And always keep yeast doughs covered as they rise to keep the dough's temperature consistent and prevent them from drying out (via Red Star Yeast).

Blend salad dressings and vinaigrettes

As the name implies, the salad spinner is second-to-none when preparing a salad — it gets your greens dry and ready to be coated with dressing. But did you know your salad spinner can also make your favorite salad dressing?

Popular salad dressings like vinaigrettes, honey mustard, and Caesar are made by whisking together the ingredients with an emulsifier. According to Science Friday, emulsifiers are binding agents that connect substances like oil and vinegar, creating something new. Commonly used emulsifiers in salad dressings are honey, mayonnaise, tahini, or in the case of Caesar dressing, egg yolks. Once combined, they need to be whisked together, which is a perfect kitchen task for the dynamic salad spinner.

Don't waste time digging through your kitchen drawers for a whisk; use your salad spinner instead. You already have it out to make a salad, so why not use it to make the dressing? Remove the lettuce from your spinner and add your favorite salad dressing ingredients. Then spin a few times to ensure they come together and won't separate. The centrifugal force of the spinners will blend the ingredients to perfection.

Clean and disinfect outdoor toys

Every parent knows the pain of cleaning the little toys that kids seem to accumulate. Those little dolls, ponies, and plastic soldiers that populate your house are filthy from getting thrown in the dirt, buried in the sandbox, and tossed under the seat in the car. Washing each little toy takes time. Luckily for busy parents, the salad spinner is a great way to clean a bunch of small toys at once.

According to Good Housekeeping, baby toys should be cleaned daily, especially since these often end up in little mouths, and plastic toys should be cleaned and sanitized weekly. A salad spinner makes it easy to get those toys sparkling clean. Dump the toys in the basket and soak them in soapy water to loosen the grime. Then, spin them clean.

Bath toys may need more than just a soapy spin. After their turn in the spinner, lay them on a towel and spray with a mix of equal parts vinegar and water. This process disinfects without the harshness of bleach. If you are out of vinegar, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice will work as a disinfectant in a pinch (via The Maids Medway).

Clean your swimsuits

For many people, choosing a swimsuit and finding one that is flattering and within your budget is challenging. When you finally find one that looks and feels great, you want to take care of it. Thanks to your salad spinner taking care of your swimsuit just got easier. If you have ever forgotten about your wet swimsuit, you know it can get smelly. But a few runs through the spinner removes that old chlorine smell in no time.

According to SwimOutlet, the best way to care for a suit is to rinse it in cold water and let it dry — no soapy detergent is required. This is where the salad spinner can help. Throw your swimsuit in the basket with cold water and spin it dry.

Using a spinner is an incredible hack when you are at the beach too. Not only does it wring out your suit, but it also removes sand. So for your next family trip to the shore, throw a salad spinner in your beach bag.

Get a little help hand-washing your delicates

Delicates are well, delicate, and need to be hand-washed. If you hate taking a trip back in time and hand-washing your clothes like a pioneer on the prairie, let your salad spinner step up and take over.

Proper hand-washing requires a lot of splashing around and scrubbing. Instead of using your muscles to rinse, wash, and repeat, relax and let the centrifugal force of the salad spinner do the work. Throwing your delicates in the spinner with some soap and a few quick spins is an effortless way to get your undies clean. If you need to get your tidy whities whiter, add a drop of bleach in the water before you spin.

According to Bio Zip Detergent, hand-washing clothes gives them a longer life in your closet, thus saving you money. While you may not like hand-washing clothes, you definitely like saving money. Just don't forget to clean your salad spinner before returning it to your kitchen.