You’ve Been Using Colanders the Wrong Way Your Entire Life

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Update: We’ve gotten a lot of notes about the safety of this method for draining pasta. We want to emphasize that if you’re draining hot water you need to take necessary precautions to prevent burns. Make sure to wear pot holders and use an appropriately sized colander for your pot.

When you’re learning how to cook for the first time, there are a few recipes that are pretty easy to start with — and one of them is cooking pasta from a box. Just boil, dump, cook, drain, and enjoy, right? Not too hard. I mean, outside of learning how to properly salt your water and getting your pasta perfectly al dente, there aren’t too many tips you need to know about. That’s what I thought — at least, until I saw this trick about how to properly use a colander on TikTok.

You see, I normally strain my pasta in a colander that sits in my clean, empty sink. The water drains through, and then I add the pasta back to the pot and add whatever cheese, herbs, or sauce strikes my fancy that night. I’ve done this since forever and have never questioned my technique.

But according to an ingenious TikTok video, there is, in fact, a much smarter and more efficient way to use a colander. I learned it from @athomewithshannon, whose life hack has already amassed nearly half-a-million likes and dozens of “How could I not realize this?” comments. 


How was I doing this wrong my whole life? This was one of those LIFE HACKS that I use EVERY DAY! #hack #lifehacks #learnontiktok #hacks #lifehack

♬ Ultimate life hacks – Kelly – The Life Bath

You ready? Here’s the trick: Instead of dumping out the entire pot of whatever you cooked into a colander, place the colander inside the pot, on top of your food. Then dump it out while holding the edges of the colander to the edges of the pot. Be extra careful if the pot is still hot, and use two pot holders. You’ll notice in the video that the creator touches the colander with her hands while she’s draining the water — if your water is hot, do not do this.

Not only are you saving yourself an extra step in the cooking process, but you also don’t have to worry so much about your sink being extra clean before placing the colander in the bottom of your sink. Brilliant!

Once you see this trick, it feels so obvious. Of course this is the easier way to drain pasta! I’m only mad that it took me so long to figure it out.