How to Drain Pasta Without a Strainer or Colander?

Sure, your apartment measures three square feet without windows and there’s practically no cabinet space to speak of. But it’s your first home!

You’ll need to be more creative with your recipes. You won’t have access to many kitchen instruments, so you’ll have to think on your feet a bit more. Why would you get a colander? What’s the point of getting a huge metal bowl with lots of tiny holes in it? That takes up precious storage space, doesn’t it

Here are the alternatives for fishing pasta or blanched veggies out of a pot of boiling water:

Slotted Spoon

Better yet, watch all the water seep out through a spoon that’s just a mini-colander (because, holes). (The same could be said for a strainer, but since that’s basically a handheld colander, we’re not talking about it here.)


Do not attempt this with bigger, coarser pastas. For tiny pasta, beans, and blanched veggies, use a spoon (the biggest one you have). Scoop out what you want, then cradle the spoon’s edge against the pot and gently tilt it to drain. It takes some effort, but it works.

Tongs (or a Fork)

You may use tongs to grab a spaghetti bundle out of the water if you’re careful about filling your kitchen and bought them. When cooking spaghetti or other long pasta, those tongs may be utilized to pluck a good sized bundle from the boiling water. A fork can also be used if you don’t have them. However, understand that extracting one strain of spaghetti from bubbling hot water may take a long time.


Place a salad plate in the pasta pot. It’s 10mm smaller in diameter than the sauce pan, which is approximately the same size as a normal dinner plate. Before draining the pasta, place it face-down over the cooked pasta. The narrower plate will keep the pasta in place as the water rushes by on both sides of the plate. Hold the pot handle with one hand and, with the edge of the lid, grip the hot plate to keep it from falling out as you tip the sauce pan to drain away the water.

Clean Dishtowel

Make sure you hold the pot very carefully so that you don’t burn your hands, pour the noodles with water into the towel so that the water can go through but the noodles are caught in the towel. Note that this only works with unseasoned noodles and you should always use a clean dish towel.

The Lid

Yes, putting the lid on sometimes is as simple as it gets. Leave the lid a little askew, about ¼ inch open. Using insulated oven mitts, hold the lid down. Keep your hands away from the surface of the water when pouring, or you risk steam burns. Pour out the water and let the lid catch your food after.


So, there you have it! A few options for draining pasta or blanched vegetables without a colander or a strainer. Be sure to use caution when handling hot water and pots, and always consult a recipe before attempting to cook something new. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.