Coffee Filters Belong in Your Kitchen, Even If You Don’t Drink Coffee

February 20, 2017

I keep a package of large basket type coffee filters on hand even though I use a different, smaller filter for my morning coffee. Why? They’re a lot more versatile than you think.

Here’s what I do with coffee filters:

  • Drain yogurt for labneh or yogurt cheese.

  • Drain cottage cheese to make it thicker and less watery.

  • Remove oil from natural nut or seed butters—the ones you have to stir, made only with the nuts or seeds and optional salt. I do this when I want a thicker nut or seed butter to flavor frostings or fillings without making them runny. You can fold bits of partially defatted nut butter into meringue for decadent melt-in-your-mouth cookies, or mix with coconut butter and spread on toast. To remove excess oil, spread nut or seed butter over a double layer of coffee filters. When filters become saturated , scrape the nut/seed butter onto a set of fresh filters to hasten extraction. Stop when the desired consistency is reached.

  • Bundle and tie herbs and spices (bouquet garni), or even loose tea leaves for soups and stews.

  • Clarify simple syrups that have been infused with puréed or crushed fruits or vegetables.

  • Absent a juicer, strain herbs, petals, or leaves liquefied in your blender/food processor. This works for small quantities, perhaps for cocktail making.

Do you have a use for coffee filters? Tell us about it in the comments!

Alice Medrich is a Berkeley, California-based pastry chef, chocolatier, and cookbook author. You can read more about what she's up to here.

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My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


HalfPint February 22, 2017
I use coffee filter whenever I am straining fine particles from a liquid. The cone shaped filters fit perfectly into my OXO funnels.
Doug R. February 22, 2017
Chemex filters are one of my go-to kitchen tools. Line a colander with them and you can strain the fat from broths and stocks in no time. It may take a lot sometimes, but it's worth it when you're in a hurry.
kwellestatum February 20, 2017
Put them on top of bowls/platesof food you heat up in the micro to prevent splattering, especially for foods that have a tendency to explode (like beans or chicken).
Betsy D. February 20, 2017
I use it to collect cork bits out of wine if the cork breaks when opening. Strain the wine into a decanter, slowly. It is particularly helpful for aged wines as it will also collect sediment. Cheers!
marc510 February 20, 2017
Some great ideas above -- the oil removal tip is brilliant.
Years ago, when I was drinking coffee, I bought one of those Swiss gold filters -- this one is plastic, cylindrical in shape, with the very fine gold filter at the bottom. Since giving up coffee, my filter still finds regular use: 1) straining the kombu and dried mushroom pieces from a Japanese stock (dashi), 2) straining soaked dry mushrooms, which can often have grit on them, especially wild varieties, 3) straining brown butter (important to let it cool a little bit, as very hot butter can melt plastic!).
Katara February 20, 2017
Love this article! Not a super conventional use, but my Mom always used a folded coffee filter to grease pans for baking and such. I carry on this tradition, because it's a cheaper solution than using paper towels and it's how Mom did it!
Azora Z. February 20, 2017
Love this! One of my favorite things about coming home to the Bay Area is a pit stop at Philz (Silicon Valley's most beloved coffee shop) for a labneh toast, almost always handed to me across the counter wrapped lovingly in a coffee filter.