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!