DIY Food

7 Ways to Use a Tea Towel

April  2, 2013

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Introducing the underrated kitchen workhorse: the tea towel.

Studiopatro tea towels

Shop the Story

Cast iron pans. Cutting boards. Chef's knives. Baking sheets. These are the traditional kitchen workhorses, the tools we turn back to again and again, the hulking, all-purpose, hack-able items that make our kitchens work.

We've got another workhorse for you, the dainty, white-haired pony that pulls a lot of weight: the tea towel.

Because we're always looking to make our kitchens better -- more efficient, more useful, more fun -- we're breaking down all the ways you can use tea towels in your kitchen. Yes: seven of them. (Got even more ideas? Let us know in the comments!)


Cushion. Put a tea towel under a mixing bowl, and whisk away; the towel will prevent the bowl from moving.

Place Setting

Place setting. If you've got fun, colorful tea towels -- like the Studiapatro ones in our Shop! -- jazz up your table by using them as place settings (or placemats). See our tips on setting a table here.

Washing greens

Wash greens. Never break out the salad spinner again. Dunk your greens in a bowl of water, lay them out on a tea towl, roll the whole bundle up, and pat dry. Here's our video demonstration.


Dry. Lay your dishes out on them, or use them to wipe up the water.


Serve. Line a bowl or plate with a tea towel, and then lay your food right on top. Here are some ideas of what to put in your tea towel-lined vessel!

Wrap. Use a tea towel to wrap a bottle -- of wine, of liquor, of oil -- and then gift them to a friend. See more of our classy gift-wrapping ideas here.


Protect. When dealing with anything hot, use a tea towel as protection. Plus, they're a stylish addition to tea time.

How do you use your tea towels?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Picholine
  • marianne kalsbeek
    marianne kalsbeek
  • mamajo
  • pwk
  • witloof
Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.


Picholine April 11, 2016
Roll out pie dough, biscuits and scones.
marianne K. May 1, 2015
I wrap fresh bread in a tea towel. Soft flat Moroccan bread, Mococcan bread with crunchy crust, speltbread, anything really. The bread dries out a little (but much slower than in paper), so it keeps its crunch. It doesn't get soggy, so it doesn't ever mould.
mamajo November 21, 2013
And for all these reasons/ uses all my friends and family will be getting a hand embroidered tea towel from me for Christmas along with a list of uses! Great ideas!
pwk October 1, 2013
How about putting ice cubes in the center of the towel, twist it , and wham it on a cutting board to make great crushed ice for drinks.
witloof April 3, 2013
I use tea towels to squeeze grated potato dry when I make latkes. I also quite often make a recipe of Amanda's that requires drying freshly boiled green beans on a tea towel before dressing them with oil and salt. I always use tea towels to line the fruit bowl to keep the fruit from falling through the bottom and bruising.
elizrauh April 2, 2013
I have linen tea towels that are beautiful but I find that I don't use them for anything but drying because they are so wrinkled out of the wash. To use them as a bread basket liner or napkin would require the iron!
witloof April 3, 2013
I don't put my fancy tea towels through the dryer for just that reason. I snap them out and hang them dry.
jamcook April 2, 2013
Line a roasting pan that you may be using as a Bain Marie. This will keep custard cups or ramekins from sliding around in the water bath.
Demington April 2, 2013
Pot holders
christina W. April 2, 2013
Love these ideas! Check out our video "12 Ways to Use a Tea Towel" for a few more.
darksideofthespoon April 2, 2013
Oh, I also roll my knives in tea towels when I'm going to work. (I work in a kitchen, duh.) One day I'll buy a knife roll, but until then... I'm cheap! :)
vvvanessa April 2, 2013
I do that, too. I have a knife roll but I like the towel because I feel like the blade is more protected that way.
darksideofthespoon April 2, 2013
The classic "towel under the cutting board"! Much like the towel under the bowl, it keeps the cutting board from sliding away while you bruinoise or juilienne.
Reina H. April 2, 2013
Hi there not sure if this is already mentioned but I use tea towels as aprons, stuffed in my jeans (maybe this is Dutch.?)
AntoniaJames April 2, 2013
Dampen lightly to cover a bowl of rising dough. Blot dry tofu or fish. (Yes, fish! See if you can make one roll of paper towels last for 2 months or more. It can be done.) A thin, old tea towel makes the best strainer for ricotta. Very lightly roll up cleaned parsley and cilantro leaves in a dry tea towel for use the next day. (Put it in the crisper, without a bag. It will do fine!) Flour heavily to use as a baker's couche for baguettes and batards. (See Photo #10 in this recipe: ). Oh, there are so many other ways. I'll post more this evening. ;o)
Cheri S. April 2, 2013
There's currently a tea towel quilt challenge going on, the idea of Bumblebeans (Victoria Findlay Wolf, who won Best in Show at Quiltcon):
These tea towel quilts would look great hanging in a kitchen or breakfast nook.
zephyr050 April 2, 2013
Oh. And, i use favorite souvenier ones from foreign lands as an antimacassar for my favorite TV watching chair.
zephyr050 April 2, 2013
my cat uses them to get my attention: racing into the room and pulling them off the oven door handle/towel rack.
aargersi April 2, 2013
Gently used tea towels are used to dry dog paws after the mud has been washed off them in the sink. Applies to small dogs only.
vvvanessa April 2, 2013
All of the above! Plus I'll use a tea towel to wrap up an apple or pear in, hobo-style, if I need to tote it around in my bag; it helps to keep the fruit from getting bruised and banged up. And the towels are great for using as doilies between a plate and a bowl of soup.
Marian B. April 2, 2013
I roll hobo-style, too. Plus it's like a built-in napkin!
lisina April 2, 2013
i never make fresh pasta without a tall stack of tea towels on hand. i line my countertops with the towels and lay the sheets out to dry a bit before cutting them up. even when i'm making lasagne, i can lay the blanched sheets out on the towels until the cooking water evaporates and they are cool enough to handle. wet or dry, the pasta never sticks to the towels and always comes out perfect. plus, it makes cleanup SO easy.