What is a Spatula?

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If you do any kind of cooking in the kitchen, it’s highly likely that you own a spatula of some kind! They are an essential cooking tool. However, many people don’t realize that there are different kinds of spatulas, all designed to do different things.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at what a spatula is. Then, we’ll explore the different techniques these spatulas can pull off.

What Exactly Is a Spatula?

Before we explore the many uses of a kitchen spatula, let’s define what exactly a spatula is. It may come as a surprise to discover that the word spatula refers to a kitchen tool that is meant for flipping, turning, scraping, or spreading food.

While this definition is a bit vague, it is essentially any utensil that features some kind of long handle, with an ending “blade” made of metal, or even rubber or silicone.

That means a stainless-steel spatula, made for flipping pancakes or scrambled eggs, is in the same family as a scraper spatula, which features a rubber head for scraping batter and other liquids out of a mixing bowl.

Some spatulas are made especially for specific foods, like spatulas for frosting cakes, or a specific fish spatula. You can expand your kitchen to have a fish spatula, rubber spatula, and grill spatula to have specific tools for specific tasks. However, there are often spatula set options or multipurpose spatulas, that can get a wider variety of jobs done with fewer tools.

You can learn even more about these different kinds of spatulas in our detailed, spatula buying guide. Now that we know what a spatula is, and what they’re used for, let’s take a look at some spatula cooking techniques.

What Is a Rubber Spatula Used For?

A common staple in baking, most rubber spatulas have a long wooden handle, and a flexible blade head made of rubber or silicone. This flexible spatula is ideal for the scraping you need to do in baking. If you need to scrape batter into a baking pan or combine your wet and dry ingredients in a bowl, this is the spatula for the job.

To get the most out of your rubber spatula, try to use it any time you are baking. Use it to mix your pie fillings in a bowl, then expertly scrape it into the crust. You can also use them to mix frostings or to combine cookie dough batter.

Some people also swear by using a rubber spatula for scrambled eggs, including Gordon Ramsay himself. Check out this recipe to see the magic!

Rubber Spatula


What Is an Offset Spatula Used For?

An offset spatula is also a baking staple. These have small short handles, with long curved metal blades. They’re used for icing work, handling everything from frosting a cake top, to crafting delicate details.

Next time you want to frost a cake, use an offset spatula to coat your entire cake in a thin layer of icing. It doesn’t matter if crumbs make their way into the frosting!

Once coated in a thin layer, pop it back in the fridge to chill, then take it out, and add another frosting layer. Your crumbs should stay caught in the “crumb coat” you applied, and now you can frost your cake to perfection with your offset spatula!

Offset Spatula


What Is a Metal Spatula Used For?

Many different versions of spatulas are made of metal, including the offset spatula, the fish spatula, and flipper and turner spatulas.

While metal spatulas do have a tendency to cause damage to your nonstick pan or cast iron pan (as with any other metal kitchen utensil) they’re still a solid, dependable choice. This is especially true if you’re looking for a spatula to use on a griddle or the grill.

To get the most out of a metal spatula, why don’t you try using it on the grill for something like smash burgers! To make a smash burger, you’re going to take your seasoned ground beef, get it on your griddle top, and smash it down with your spatula. Hold your spatula on the surface, pressing down until you flip the burger. Hold your burger down until it’s cooked through!

Metal Spatula


What Is a Plastic Spatula Used For?

A lot of kitchen utensils today are made of plastic, including the trusty spatula/ You are likely to encounter all kinds of spatulas made of plastic, or materials like rubber or silicone.

That’s because metal tools can absolutely destroy a nonstick pan with regular use. With a plastic spatula, you can flip to your heart’s content without damaging your pans.

If you want to use a plastic spatula, use it for any of your basic flipping needs! Consider making some delicious fluffy pancakes, pan frying plantain, sauteing vegetables, or even making some classic fried eggs. Your plastic spatula will do the trick.

What Is a Plastic Spatula Used For


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