Cooks' Tools
Kitchen Utensils
Food Prep Tools
Kitchen Gadgets
Specialty Kitchen Tools
Bar & Beverage
Sale & Offers
Shop by Brand
Learn More
Learn More About Our Top Brands
Buy Online, Pick Up In Store
Earn 5% back with Williams Sonoma Credit Card Apply NowLearn More
1px-white-dot Registry Checklist >Dream Sweepstakes >

Colanders & Strainers

Strainers, colanders, sieves and skimmers are all indispensable kitchen tools. From draining a pot of potatoes to rinsing fresh greens for a salad to making a big pot of chicken stock, there’s a tool from us at Williams Sonoma to make your job in the kitchen easier.

Comparing Colanders and Strainers

People often use the terms “colander” and “strainer” interchangeably. They serve the same basic purpose – separating foods and liquids – but there are a few slight differences. A colander is usually a large bowl with holes that you use to drain liquids or rinse food. These have larger holes, and you typically use them when you don’t plan to save the liquid. Strainers are often smaller in size. The holes are much smaller, allowing you to capture smaller solid pieces in broths. Both come in different sizes to handle a wide array of kitchen tasks.

Colanders with legs or elevated bases allow liquids to drain in your sink faster. Those that don’t have bases often come with handles, hooks or extendable arms that secure to the side of the sink to suspend the colander above the drain. Strainers with long handles make it easy to scoop solids out of a large pot or sift powdered sugar and flour with more accuracy. Strainers are also essential canning supplies for removing large chunks of fruit, vegetables or other foods before preserving.

Plastic or silicone colanders are lightweight and easy to store. Collapsible colanders fold down to a space-saving size to slide inconspicuously into a cabinet. Choose from bright and fun colors to add a bit of excitement to your kitchen. The materials used to make these colanders are durable, so they can handle boiling liquids with ease. Metal colanders are even more heat resistant than their plastic counterparts. They often have enameled coatings that give them a smooth finish that help them take on different designs and colors. The spacing of holes varies. Colanders with holes spaced farther apart drain slowly, making them useful for rinsing greens, fruits and vegetables. Smaller holes spaced closer together drain quickly and make it easy to strain an entire pot of pasta in seconds.

Skimmers and Spiders

Strainers, skimmers and spiders look similar, but they have different uses. Strainers have round, fine-mesh baskets attached to long handles. There’s often another hook on the opposite side for balancing over a pot or bowl, so you can pour the liquid directly through the strainer. It also works well for sifting because of the small holes. Skimmers are round and flat with larger holes. They work well for lifting or turning foods in hot oil or water. Spiders are commonly used in Asian cooking. They have bowl-shaped baskets that are great for removing foods from boiling liquids or skimming foam from the top of a pot.

Fat Separators

The liquids from cooking meat and poultry have a lot of flavor and are ideal for making sauces and gravies. They often have a lot of fat, too. As the name suggests, fat separators separate the fat from the flavorful liquids to make healthier dishes. With these utensils, simply pour the drippings into the strainer that’s attached to the container. The strainer traps the small bits of food to make sure you have smooth sauces. After a few minutes, the fat floats to the top. An opening at the bottom of the separator makes it easy to add the liquid to your recipe while leaving the fat in the container to discard or use for another purpose. Glass fat separators with volume markings help you see how much you’re using for greater accuracy in your recipes.


Traditionally, cheesecloth is useful for making all types of cheese, but that’s not all you can do with it. Cheesecloth is so fine that even the smallest bits of meat or vegetables are strained out of your broth or stock. It’s also useful in conjunction with a cold-press juicer or slow juicer to remove even more pulp for a smoother juice that’s packed with nutrients.

With several sleek designs and durable materials to choose from, our colanders and strainers are attractive, functional tools to add to your kitchen. See how the right strainer can improve your dishes with ease.

Related Products
Oil-based salad dressings will only adhere to greens ...
Oil-based salad dressings will only adhere to greens that are perfectly dry and this spinner makes child's play of drying them. The stainless-steel bowl doubles as a salad bowl and the entire spinner is dishwasher safe. Efficiently dries leafy ...
Designed exclusively for Williams Sonoma, this salad spinner ...
Designed exclusively for Williams Sonoma, this salad spinner was developed with innovation in mind. Rigorous testing resulted in features like a super-efficient gear system for ultrafast spinning and a one-touch stop button. The plastic exterior bowl works beautifully as ...