Cooking Tips

There's a Reason You Should Be Baking Your Wooden Salad Bowl

You can use your oven to clean and maintain your favorite serving bowl.

Published Nov. 1, 2021.

If you have a wooden salad bowl, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the slick, tacky residue that often coats your well-worn veggie vessel.

Much like the memories of nights spent enjoying dinners paired with a delicious Cobb or Greek salad, greasy dressings can stick around long after the evening has ended. Built-up oils form a film on the inside of your serving bowl after years of use, not only contributing a slimy outer layer but also imparting a rancid taste to your freshly spun greens.

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This is where your oven comes in. While you would think that a generous glug of dish soap and a little bit of elbow grease would be enough to fend off this unctuous residue, there is often more to the issue than meets the eye. Oils and other greasy elements can be absorbed by the porous wood of your salad bowl, meaning that even the grittiest scrubber won’t reach deep enough to clean the vessel properly.

How to Clean Your Wooden Salad Bowl

According to this ingenious tip from the team over at Cook’s Illustrated, to extract every last oily drop from your salad bowl, you simply need to slip it into a preheated oven and let it bake.

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 275 degrees. 
  2. While that’s heating up, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set a wire rack on top.
  3. Once the oven is fully preheated, turn it off (this is important to ensure that you don’t burn your bowl!) and place your salad bowl, inverted, on the wire rack.
  4. Within a few minutes, you’ll begin to see oils beading on the surface of the bowl. Leave it there for 1 to 2 hours and allow the residue to run off the sides and collect on the baking sheet. If you find that the bowl is still sticky after 2 hours, repeat the baking process.
Wooden salad bowl leaks sticky dressing residue in the oven
To help maintain and clean your wooden salad bowl, you should bake it.

The best thing about this set-and-forget process is that it takes a fraction of the effort you would otherwise spend scrubbing your bowl. It can be carried out the morning, or even afternoon, of your next dinner party. Then, once you’ve rid your bowl of that sticky residue, check out these helpful tips to reseason and maintain it.

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Your wooden bowl is clean—how should you reseason and maintain it? Learn what the experts at Cook's Illustrated recommend.  
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Of course, an important caveat: This method is not to be used on bowls that aren’t ovensafe. Since your wooden salad bowl is the only dish that this advice applies to—so long as you remember to turn the oven completely off after preheating—this is the most effective way to get your favorite serving bowl looking fresh and to keep your salads crispy and delicious.

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