Ina Garten Uses This Simple Hack for Crispy Lettuce Without a Salad Spinner

If you have a clean kitchen towel and some arm strength, you’re ready to go.

Ina Garten on a designed background
Photo: Getty Images / Taylor Hill

Winter, spring, summer or fall—at EatingWell, every season is salad season. We love grabbing seasonal greens like kale, romaine, escarole and spinach and loading them up with all our favorite toppings, from wintry roasted sweet potatoes to fresh summer corn. But unless you're using prewashed lettuce, your salad journey has to start with washing and drying whatever greens you plan to use.

If you keep a salad spinner around, drying your lettuce is as simple as pushing a button, pulling a cord or twisting a handle—but if you don't want to keep around single-use kitchen tools, you could end up dabbing your lettuce with a kitchen towel forever. That's where Ina Garten's salad spinner-free hack comes in.

When Garten appeared on TODAY last week, she showed off her simple hack to Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. "If you don't have [a salad spinner], this is what you do," Garten said. She then placed her chopped romaine in the middle of a large kitchen towel, then pulled the corners together in one hand, like a bag. She twirled the bag around in the air 10 times, basically doing the work of a salad spinner with her own hands—and getting in a quick workout at the same time.

While drying your lettuce may seem like an extra step when you're craving a salad for dinner, Garten says it will work wonders for your final product. "The dressing will stick to a dryer lettuce," Garten says, which means each bite of your salad will be packed with flavor.

When it comes to using this method on delicate greens, like butter lettuce or baby spinach, you might want to be a little more gentle with your drying. Try a slower spin or fewer turns if you're working with greens that you don't want to injure. But if you're using sturdy greens like romaine and kale, they'll surely be able to stand up to the centrifugal force. Two more tips from Sean Kenniff, our senior digital food editor: head outside or stick your arm out the window to avoid getting water everywhere and be sure to pick lint off the towel before giving it a whirl.

On TODAY, Garten paired her crisp, dry romaine with a creamy Caesar dressing for a classic salad. You could take that as inspiration to make one of our favorite Caesar recipes tonight, like our Best Caesar Salad with Crispy Parmesan or our new Caesar Salad with Crispy Artichokes. In either case, you'll have some deliciously savory salad dressing to cling to your nicely dried lettuce.

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