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The Best Small Strainers

These mini strainers may be small, but they are mighty useful. We scouted to find a small fine-mesh strainer that could not only sift and strain a variety of ingredients but also perform these tasks well.


Published Feb. 17, 2022. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 23: Hearty Soup and Salad

More on Strainers

Looking for larger models? Check out our fine-mesh strainers review.

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

Small strainers are endlessly useful; we grab them to strain citrus juice, tea, and cocktails; dust counters with flour; sift confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder; and even get pesky clumps out of baking powder. Our winners succeeded at sifting and straining a variety of ingredients with ease and refinement. Both the Rösle Stainless Steel Fine Mesh Tea Strainer, Wire Handle, 3.2-inch and Küchenprofi Heavy Duty Fine Mesh Stainless Steel 3-Inch Classic Strainer produced crystal clear lemon juice, evenly dispersed cocoa powder, and separated the fine bran from wheat flour (a test of mesh fineness). The weights of the handles and baskets were also evenly balanced. 

What You Need to Know

Have you ever whipped out a large strainer to strain a few tablespoons of lemon juice and thought, Maybe this is excessive? While we love our winning fine-mesh strainer, the basket clocks in at nearly 8 inches across, and for some tasks we just need something smaller. Enter small strainers, sometimes known as tea strainers, which are about 3 inches wide and can be used for a variety of small kitchen tasks: straining citrus juice, loose-leaf tea, and cocktails and sifting small amounts of cocoa powder or confectioners’ sugar for decorating. We wanted to find a strainer that excelled at a variety of tasks and was also durable and easy to clean. 

What to Look For

  • Fine-Mesh Baskets: While many strainers were advertised as having fine mesh, some were finer than others. We preferred baskets made of more tightly woven mesh since they proved most effective at catching all different sizes of debris. 
  • A Wide, Rectangular Stabilizing Hook: We found that models with these types of hooks sat more securely on a variety of surfaces, including small bowls and cups, than those with smaller triangular or rounded hooks. 
  • Balanced Handle and Basket Weights: Strainers with balanced handle and basket weights were easier to handle than unevenly balanced ones, which felt tippy. They also sat more securely on cups and bowls.
  • Welded Handles: It’s common to whack strainers on a trash can or compost bin to dislodge anything stuck in the mesh (lemon pulp, for example). We found that strainers with welded-on handles had little risk of breaking off when whacked. This is likely because welding creates a strong bond once the melted metal hardens. 

What to Avoid

  • Baskets with Wider Mesh: Though these strainers caught big pieces of debris, they let smaller particles fall through. While this isn’t a huge deal in certain circumstances (such as when straining lemon juice), a finer mesh guarantees a finer sift when decorating a cake with confectioners’ sugar. 
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Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.