How To Strain Pasta Without A Strainer?

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Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by Share My Kitchen

Imagine this: you’re boiling spaghetti pasta for dinner but realize that you need to drain the food and do not have a strainer; perhaps you’re traveling and there are no strainers in your rental apartment or house; perhaps you’re at home and the only strainer is too dirty to clean, and the dish will end up being overcooked. Don’t fret! There are many ways to strain pasta without a strainer.

Did you overcook your pasta? Check out 6 ways to fix your overcooked pasta and make a great meal out if it.

8 Ways To Strain Pasta Without A Strainer (Or Other Food)

There are several ways to strain the water from your pot if you don’t own a strainer.

  1. Tongs
  2. Slotted Spoon
  3. Lid
  4. Cheesecloth
  5. Coffee Filters
  6. Bandana
  7. Pantyhose
  8. Fine Mesh Bag

You might have some of these items in your pantry or kitchen, but you don’t know how best to use them to strain pasta without a strainer. Also, the amount of food that you’re cooking and how much you need to strain will determine what you choose. Continue reading to learn how to use these items to strain your food.

How To Strain Pasta Without A Strainer


You can use tongs in a variety of ways to strain. This is a great utensil for larger noodles like spaghetti. Grab the food using the tongs, then hold it above the pot until water stops dripping or dripping slowly. Place the food into a plate, but continue to grab the food using the tongs. This will allow the excess water to drip off.

Another method you can try: tilt the pot slowly above the sink. You can tilt the pot and use the tongs to keep the food in place. However, it is more likely that you will drop some food into the sink.

Slotted Spoon

The holes in a slotted spoon allow water to drain from your pot. Slowly pour the water into the sink, but make sure to tilt the pot just enough so the food doesn’t fall out. And to stop food falling into the sink, place the spoon against the post. Continue to tilt the pot until the water runs out completely.

You can strain the food slower by using the slotted spoon to scoop it out. Then, drain the water and place the strained food in a dish. Using a slotted spoon works well with beans, small pasta noodles, vegetables, and other foods.


It is possible to strain using the lid. You should be able to hold the pot in one hand for at least 20 seconds without dropping it, or call someone for help. A potholder is helpful to hold the lid in place, because there was steam released from underneath the lid.

Place the lid on the pot, and then hold the pot over the sink. While holding the lid in place, tip the pot over to the side. You should move the lid to create a small gap to let the water out. Keep tipping slowly and holding the lid properly until the water runs out.

Cheesecloth, Pantyhose, Or Mesh Bag

Use a cheesecloth or clean pantyhose to strain food, not pasta. Stretch the fabric around the pot’s top and tip it over the sink. However, you should position your hands correctly to avoid burning them. This method takes more time to strain the water. Ask someone to squeeze the cheesecloth using two kitchen utensils. The same method can be used with a fine mesh bag.

Coffee Filters Or A Bandana

The coffee filters are small and will not be able to strain large quantities of food. These filters can be used to strain loose tea leaves or small quantities of food. However, use unbleached coffee filters for straining. You can also use a clean bandana in the same manner as a coffee filter. But use one that you do not plan on wearing again. It is likely that your bandana will get stained.

Can You Use Paper Towels As A Strainer?

Although paper towels can be used for straining, they are more susceptible to breaking when exposed to a large amount of boiling water. Now, if you are separating solids from liquid soup, the paper towel can absorb most of the liquid soup. You may want to avoid using paper towels that contain formaldehyde or chlorine, since these are byproducts that have no business being near your dinner. Paper towels that are heavy-duty, bleach-free towels are the right ones to use.

What is the Difference between a Strainer and a Colander?

A colander can also be called a kitchen sieve. These colanders and sieves are all considered to be strainers. But not all strainers are colanders. Colanders are typically bowl-shaped with small holes that allow water to drain through. They can be used for almost any food as long as there are no tiny herbs or rice that can easily fall through the holes.

Can You Use A Plastic Strainer For Pasta?

Any strainer large enough to hold your pasta will work. However, keep in mind that hot water can cause the plastic to leach chemicals. And straining pasta or other foods usually entails having hot water. Although plastic strainers can be purchased and are considered safe for use in the kitchen by their manufacturers, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have been tested to ensure that they are safe to be used in hot water. This is why it is still the best choice to use a stainless steel strainer or colander.

How Will You Strain Your Pasta Next Time?

Don’t panic if you’re just about to finish cooking your  meal and realize that you don’t own a strainer. There are many options that can drain the pasta water or make sure you get rid of the solids from your soup. You can always tilt the pot gently to drain the water and hold the food in place with a lid, spoon or tongs. Tongs or a slotted teaspoon can be used to pull the food out and strain it.

Straining your food in cheesecloth or pantyhose is also an option. You can also save the solids by placing the cheesecloth or pantyhose over a plate. You can strain the liquids over the sink if you are saving the solids. Also, you might need to squeeze the food if it is still holding too much water. Ask someone to hold two kitchen utensils to squeeze the food, while you hold the cheesecloth over the sink or dish.

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