When talking kitchen essentials, a spatula is likely the first tool that comes to mind! No cook’s kitchen is complete without the presence of a trusty spatula by their side, to help them cook at their very best.
But what exactly is a spatula? For most home cooks, an image of a tool used for scrambled egg and flipping pancakes on the griddle probably comes to mind. However, the definition of a spatula goes far wider than you’d assume. There are all kinds of different spatulas out there, meant for different cooking techniques.
Whether you’re looking to invest in a spatula set, or simply learn more about this amazing tool, this article is here to help. Let’s take a look at what a spatula is, what you should think about before you buy, and the best spatulas available today.
What Is a Spatula?
First, let’s take a look at what exactly a spatula is. As we mentioned above, the world spatula is actually used quite widely, to define all kinds of different tools. Think of a spatula like a pan: while they’re all similar in nature, different pans are suited for different foods and cooking styles.
At its most basic, a spatula is a kitchen utensil that is used for stirring, flipping, and/or turning foods. It has a long handle and a thin, flexible “blade” of some kind on its end. (In fact, the word spatula actually comes from the Latin word, “spathe” which roughly means a “broad blade.”)
Hearing this definition, you may be picturing a small sword. But when it comes to the spatula, the “blade” does not have to be metal. A spatula blade can be made from any number of materials.
The type of material used on your spatula will define what its intended use is. This is why there are so many kinds of spatulas. There are the broad, perforated spatulas you commonly use for flipping eggs at home. There are rubber spatulas used for scraping cake batter out of bowls. There are even miniature, metal spatulas used for delicate icing work. However, we’ll get more into the different kinds of spatulas below.
Spatula Buying Guide
What should you keep in mind before you buy? There’s a lot of things you need to think about before you purchase the spatula that is right for you. Let’s take a look:
First, and foremost, you need to consider what kind of spatula you want to purchase. There are all kinds of different spatulas meant for different cooking techniques. Let’s break down some of the more common types of spatulas:
A flipper spatula, sometimes called a turner spatula, are spatulas that have long handles and a wide blade on the end. These blades are often in the shape of a square or trapezoid.
These spatulas can also be called a perforated spatula, as the blade often has some holes in them. This is because these spatulas are meant for flipping and turning food in a pan, without picking up any sauces on the blade.
As a flipper, these spatulas are best for flipping foods! If you want to turn over a fried egg or a pancake in a pan this is the best choice.
A flipper spatula is commonly made of metal, but there are rubber spatula or plastic spatula versions that are best for non stick cookware. This is because these gentler materials won’t damage non stick pan linings.
A slotted spatula is extremely similar to the flipper. It has a long handle and wide, flat blade but instead of small holes, these blade heads often have long slits, taking up a lot of the blade surface.
These often come in the form of a nylon spatula or plastic, making them great for anything non stick and dishwasher safe. However, they can come in metal, too.
The purpose of these slits is to allow the spatula to get under food much easier while draining liquid similar to the flipper. These are great for more delicate foods that need flipping, such as fish or crepes.
The fish spatula is similar to the slotted, featuring the long slits on the blade. However, a fish spatula is almost always made of metal or some kind of stainless steel.
Their metal spatula blades also have a distinct curve, and the handle tends to be much shorter than the spatulas we listed above. They are great for delicate food like fish, but can also be used for other things.
A grilling spatula is similar to a slotted and flipper spatula. These spatulas often have a plastic or wooden handle with a stainless steel core, going into a rectangular metal blade. These spatulas don’t often come with holes or slots in the blade, though.
A stainless steel spatula is great for grilling, withstanding high heat. They often have smooth, beveled edges for minor chopping. These are mainly meant for meats, including flipping and stamping down burgers on the grill.
The spreader spatula is long and skinny, much more similar to the latin definition than other spatula variants. They have short handles, but long, thin, flexible metal blades, with a curved end.
These kinds of spatulas are most often used with baked goods. Particularly, the spreading of icing and fillings on cakes and pastries. They’re not too good at flipping foods in pans, but they’re a go-to tool for professional bakers and pastry chefs.
Also a staple in baking, the scraper spatula has long handles and distinctly flexible, rectangular rubber heads. If you purchase any kind of silicone spatula set, it will likely include this tool.
The flexibility of the rubber head in this baking spatula makes it the ideal tool for scraping mixtures out of bowls without missing a drop. This makes them great for scraping cake batter into tins, or even pie filling into crusts.
Sometimes, these spatulas’ heads will be in a slight bowl spatula form, earning them the name spoon spatula. These are still great for any scraping needs.
While we’re going to be sticking to cooking utensils in this article, there are other types of spatulas out there, meant for creative uses! You’ll want to avoid them if you’re shopping for the kitchen, but they’re great for other creative hobbies.
There are many, miniature rubber and silicone spatulas out there today meant for beauty products. If you want to put on a face mask or cream without using your fingers, these are becoming a go-to tool.
There are also small, metal spatulas with triangular blades, used by artists. These are mainly used for mixing paints, though some painting techniques do use them in place of a brush. (This is often referred to as palette knife painting.)
If you get creative enough, I’m sure there’s a way to embrace these tools in the kitchen! However, we suggest sticking to ones meant distinctly for cooking, like the ones in our recommendations below.
The different kinds of spatulas above tend to stick to different materials. Let’s see what you can expect your spatula to be made of:
Plastic is a super common spatula material these days. Go into any home goods store, and you’re likely to encounter a ton of plastic spatula products.
The appeal of a plastic spatula is its gentleness compared to metal. Plastic utensils are less likely to mess up your nonstick cookware linings. They’re also dishwasher safe, and are typically super affordable!
However, plastic is not immune to the effects of heat. If you leave one on a hot pan or element too long, you can expect them to melt. They’re also a bit fragile, prone to warping, bending, and losing their shape.
Metal is also super common for cooking utensils! You’re likely to encounter stainless steel when looking for a spatula.
Metal is great for maintaining its shape, and won’t suffer if put through extreme heat. However, metal can get hot if its handles aren’t coated or reinforced, so be careful! Metal can also damage cookware, scraping up non stick and cast iron sets.
Rubber isn’t super common for flippers, but they are definitely popular among scraper spatulas. This is because rubber is super soft and flexible, so it can scrape along the edge of a bowl with ease.
They’re also great, as the rubber causes little to no damage to bowls, pots, and pans. However, they can suffer in heat if exposed for too long.
Silicone, like rubber, is an amazingly gentle material that’s great for scrapers. Some cooks even prefer it to rubber.
However, silicone does have some faults. They’re not great with heat, and silicone tends to hold onto smells stronger than other materials. If you’re cooking with fragrant ingredients like garlic, you may want to go for a metal utensil rather than a silicone one.
Wood isn’t the most common material for spatulas, but they are rising in popularity as of late. Wood is a material that is super eco-friendly compared to plastic, rubber, or silicone, putting it above other materials in the eyes of some.
Wood is comfortable, great for nonstick pans, and can last a lifetime if cared for properly. However, that comes with caring for it.
Wood spatulas should be hand washed after use, as the dishwasher can warp or damage the wood. They need to be thoroughly cleaned, as wood is porous, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. It also makes the wood more prone to holding onto strong smells.
Our Top Picks for the Best Spatula
Let’s take a look at the best spatula products available today:
1. Top Recommended Product: OXO Good Grips Nylon Square Turner
If you’re looking for something super reliable, we recommend this spatula from OXO. This is a classic flipper spatula with perforated holes.
This spatula is perfect for basic pan cooking, including flipping eggs, sauteing vegetables, and basic stovetop grilling. It’s made of 100% nylon and is heat resistant up to 400°F.
2. Best Budget Product: Dexam Wooden French Spatula
If you’re looking to save money, it doesn’t get better than this wooden spatula from Dexam! This spatula is super low on the cost scale, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a dependable kitchen tool.
This is a wooden spatula with a slight curve. It’s perfect for basic stirring and turning in the pan, and can even help with scraping things out of bowls thanks to its curve.
3. Best Premium Product: Wusthof Gourmet Offset Slotted Spatula
If you want to splurge on something more high-end, you should go for this slotted spatula from Wusthof. Here you’ll find a high carbon stainless steel spatula, with a comfortable plastic handle. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can return it if needed.
This spatula is perfect for delicate foods like fish, but can still be utilized for other basic flipping, sauteing, and stirring if needed!
4. Best Spatula for Nonstick Pan: Pack of 2 Silicone Solid Turner, Non Stick Slotted Kitchen Spatulas
Protecting your nonstick cookware from the damages of cooking utensils is important if you want them to last a long time. That’s why we recommend using spatulas like these, made from silicone.
With a silicone spatula, you won’t have to worry about damaging your cookware with scratches and scrapes. These spatulas are made of high-quality silicone, heat resistant up to 446℉. They also have durable, stainless steel handles for a comfortable hold.
5. Best Spatula for Eggs: OXO Good Grips Silicone Everyday Flexible Turner
Cooking eggs requires a certain amount of delicacy and flexibility, which is why we recommend a spatula like this one from OXO! This silicone turner spatula is perfect for eggs, with a beveled edge designed to get under foods with ease.
This spatula is also heat resistant, and won’t damage your cookware. Its blade is nice and flexible, but its handle is reinforced with a metal core to make it easy to handle.
6. Best Spatula for Cast Iron: DI ORO Chef Series Flexible Silicone Turner Spatula 2-Piece Set
We know that for many cooks, their cast iron cookware is their pride and joy. To increase their longevity, we recommend using soft, silicone spatulas for your flipping and turning needs. This set is a perfect fit.
Here, you’ll be getting two spatulas, one wider and rounder with slots, and another with a solid, rectangular blade. Both of these spatulas are made of heat-resistant silicone, with sturdy metal handles.
The round spatula is great for breakfast cooking, things like pancakes and eggs, where the rectangular one is great for any kind of meats or vegetables you want to cook up in a cast iron.
7. Best Spatula for Grill: Metal Spatula Set – Griddle Long Spatula
When it comes to the grill, you need a spatula that can withstand the heat! That’s why we think these metal spatulas from Anmarko are perfect.
Here you’ll find two stainless steel spatulas, including a long, curved cooking griddle spatula, and a rectangular grill spatula. These spatulas are of professional quality, made of stainless steel with beveled edges. These spatulas will be able to handle anything on the grill, from burgers to steaks, with ease.
Here are some frequently asked questions about spatulas:
What spatula should I buy?
There are many different kinds of spatulas available today. They can be easily broken down into baking spatulas and cooking spatulas.
If you’re looking for spatulas to flip foods in pans, stick with the flipper, slotted, and turner spatulas. However, for baking, you’re likely looking for scraper and spreader spatulas.
The spatula you buy depends entirely on how you intend to use it!
What are spatulas used for?
Spatulas have a wide variety of uses, and can do many things in the kitchen. They’re used in cooking for any kind of flipping, turning, or spreading.
This means a spatula is great for flipping foods in pans or sauteing vegetables, or turning over meats on a grill. Different baking spatulas can also be used to scrape the batter out of bowls, scrape fillings into pastries, or fold ingredients into a recipe.
Do I need a spatula set?
If you’re a regular cook in the kitchen who doesn’t own many utensils, the answer to this is yes! A spatula set is a perfect solution if you’re not sure what kind of spatula you’re looking for. Here, you can expect to get a great spatula for basic flipping, cooking, and sautéing, as well as a spatula for baking and scraping out bowls.
However, if you’re a professional, you may be looking for something more specific. Maybe you only need a spatula for fish, or you are looking to only upgrade stuff for the grill. In that case, it can be more worth it to invest in an individual spatula.