The Brilliant Ina Garten Meal Prep Hack That Will Save You Time, Money and Space

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Ina Garten never ceases to amaze. From her giant cosmopolitans that saved us during the pandemic to the 35-year-old vanilla extract chilling in her pantry, she's a full-on cuisine queen.

And now people are excited about her hack for drying salad greens without a salad spinner, which is a great thing for kitchen minimalists and/or folks who don't have much room for storage. Fans are claiming it works just as well (if not better) than a salad spinner, but we wanted to test it out to be sure. Here's what happened when we gave it a try.

Related: The 9 Best Trader Joe’s Salad Kits, According to Fans

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What is Ina Garten's salad spinner hack?

We saw the demo on @nursekelcey's TikTok and were immediately intrigued. It's super simple. Instead of spinning your greens dry in a salad spinner, you place them in a large, clean kitchen towel, gather the corners together and proceed to whip the bundle around your head like you're Michelangelo from the Ninja Turtles with a pair of nunchucks. Garten says that properly dried greens will hang on to dressing more efficiently, resulting in a tastier salad.

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Related: 'I Made Cameron Diaz's Summer Crunch Salad & It's Everything I Want to Eat Right Now'

Does Ina Garten's salad spinner hack work?

I took to the kitchen with a brand-new kitchen towel, a bunch of greens and a salad spinner I borrowed from my friend Cherie to test out this hack. I was excited to try this since my tiny kitchen doesn't allow for salad spinner. I picked up a big bunch of curly kale and some dandelion greens, so I had one hearty green and a more delicate green to test this hack.

Dandelion greens in a little blanket<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Dandelion greens in a little blanket

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

I started with the dandelion greens. After trimming, I plunged them into my salad spinner bowl with some cool water and my trusty Trader Joe’s veggie wash. As I washed them off, I was reminded how easy it was to dump the sudsy water by lifting the basket of a salad spinner. Perhaps I can find the room in my kitchen...

I transferred half of the washed greens to the towel, closed it tightly, and swung it around the room. ("Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift came on shuffle at this exact moment. You can't make this stuff up.) Then I dried the ones in the spinner and compared them.

The dandelion greens in the towel had a tiny bit more bruising but were a tad bit drier than the ones coming out of the salad spinner, which is a shame because it was way more satisfying to see all of the water pouring out of the bottom of the salad spinner than dealing with that soggy towel.

Spun dandelion greens versus towel-dried <p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Spun dandelion greens versus towel-dried

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Now for the kale. After trimming and washing, I got out a fresh towel and started the experiment over again. The towel-swung kale was definitely wetter than the bone-dry kale that came out of the spinner. Plus, I had some difficulty containing my bits of kale within the towel (see tips below).

The towel method was way more fun (even if it did make a tiny bit of a mess), so if you don't have the room, using a large kitchen towel is a good hack in a pinch (or as Ina would say, a "fabulous" hack). But if you make a lot of salads and have the room, it's probably worth investing in a salad spinner just for ease and the fact that there's way less mess. After spinning and swinging both bunches, I think this is a cool hack, but there's a time and a place for a salad spinner. So Cherie, if you're reading this, don't expect your salad spinner back because I might be a convert now.

Towel-dried kale<p>Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel</p>
Towel-dried kale

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Tips for Ina's salad spinner hack

  • Go big or go home. Unless you have a really big towel, you can’t do all of the greens at once as you can in a large salad spinner.

  • Swing and a miss. Make sure those corners are tightly closed and you're holding on tightly. I learned this lesson the hard way. When I was swinging the kale, tiny bits of greens flew out into the corners of my kitchen, so I am guaranteed to find it next year much like I find Christmas tree needles when I’m spring cleaning.

  • Get ready to clean up. The towel method leaves a soggy towel you have to deal with (that may or may not be tinted green depending on your veggie) and I also found little bits of kale clinging to the towel in the most stubborn way. Be prepared to shake it off outside or in your sink.

  • Start fresh. Make sure your kitchen towel is squeaky clean. Commenters on this hack online smartly note that kitchen towels can have lint or errant hair on them even when they've been washed. And that isn't something you want in your food.

  • Be gentle. Keep in mind that delicate greens like butter lettuce or even herbs will need a bit more TLC in order to dry without bruising. Heartier greens, such as dinosaur kale or Swiss chard, are good choices for this method.

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