Skip to Content

How To Choose From The 7 Varieties Of Spatulas

I was ignorant of the controversy around the word spatula during the first 2 decades of my life. I didn’t understand how many various tools people refer to as spatulas until I began working at a neighborhood cafe. They are considered broad and flat by some and are used to turn eggs or burgers. Others see them as tiny metal blades suitable for spreading sweet icing on cakes. Additionally, these are gentle rubber-tipped instruments that were obviously made to wipe the cookie dough dish clear for individuals like myself. We had some decent, if not little heated, disputes over what constituted a real spatula at that restaurant. In conclusion, we were all somewhat correct and partially incorrect.

As it turned out, the term spatula’s origins are as varied as its contemporary use – literally. This word comes from the Latin word spathe, which relates to a broad-bladed sword. It first showed up in English in 1525, when it transitioned from a type of weapon to a utensil that was most used in apothecaries. It is now used to refer to any culinary instruments that have long handles and a thin, flexible blade. While you’re unlikely to spend a lot of time pondering about spatulas, chances are you’ve used one of these fantastic cooking implements.

Whichever part of the spatula debate you choose, I believe we can all accept that the spatula, in any shape, is an extensively used and sometimes overlooked kitchen tool. Without any further ado, let us discuss the types of spatulas in all their magnificent manifestations.

Spatula Types

As previously stated, spatulas are classified into three types. These are scrapers, flippers, and scrapers.  Each is designed for a certain function and comes with a variety of various choices and features. Choosing the correct one for the task is half the fight; the other half is picking which model you like.

Flippers or Turners

KitchenAid Classic Slotted Turner, One Size, Black 2, 13.66-Inch

Click image for more info

How does it appear?

This spatula has an elongated handle and a broad, thin edge that is often trapezoid-shaped. (For those that slept through geometry that day, this is a trapezoid.) It is either solid or slotted, with a “blade” around the size of a large hand. The tip is frequently tapered to facilitate sliding under meals.

What material is it constructed of?

Numerous turners were constructed of metals such as steel or aluminum, which are both robust and durable, as well as simple to clean. Additional materials such as silicon, nylon, or plastic are soft on your cookware and will not damage them. They are often heat-resistant but be cautious not to keep it in the pan too long, or you may end up serving melted spatula (yuck!).

Finally, you may choose between a wood or bamboo spatula. Certain individuals swear by these old tools since they do not transmit heat, scratch pans, react with acidic meals, and leach chemicals or strange odors into your food. Simply wash them immediately and never leave them in moisture (they can split if they are left wet for too long). We really like this one, which doubles as a spoon, and this one, which doubles as a spoon rest.

What Is it Excellent At?

As the category name says, it’s being used to turn or flip items such as grilled steaks. They can also flip grilled cheese, poached eggs, burgers, and diced vegetables. Any seasoned barbecue master has a preferred grill spatula. A few are thicker or may be thinner, more or less flexible, have a gentle grip and or an extra-elongated handle, or even have a serrated edge for easy cutting in the pan. Each is intended for a distinct function, yet they may all be substituted for one another.

What Can They Be Used For?

Perforated spatulas are designed with several tiny holes that enable extra fat or oil to drain, making them ideal for flipping greasy burgers. BBQ spatulas are a form of perforated spatula; they are exceptionally long, extra durable, and constructed of high-quality metals that can resist tremendous heat and added weight. They’re also available in personalized designs (these would make excellent Father’s Day presents).

Slotted spatulas include long slots that make them ideal for delicate meals such as latkes and crepes. We have no idea how they manage to keep these flaky and delicate dishes in shape, but they do!

The Fish spatula is a very special type of slotted spatula with very long slots and a thin, gently rounded outer layer that assists you in expertly turning flaky fish.

Spatulas with a solid surface are frequently the most elastic of the lot. They are ideal for floppy dishes like French toast or even pancakes.

Inventive Applications

Man in white shirt holding a blue fly swatter.

According to a widely believed legend, spatulas were really designed in 1798 by Horace Spatula to exterminate troublesome house flies. While we know this is inaccurate, a flipper-style spatula would make an excellent fly swatter. Additionally, if you want additional high-quality protein, you may grill the fly (eeew! really, do not do this).

Numerous objects in your house may serve as a reminder of your angled spatula. Typical look-alikes are drywall spreaders, flat razors, and paint scrapers.  However, we do not advocate cooking with any of these.

Which One Should You Pick?

You are unlikely to need numerous flippers in your home, but if you must choose just one, we suggest a medium-sized, durable angled spatula with a handle that has a gentle grip.

Spreaders

ZYLISS Sandwich Knife and Condiment Spreader, Orange

Click image for more info

How Does It Appear?

These spatulas are long and thin, like their eponymous forebears (swords). Although the sword is too dull to be useful in combat, the flexible blade and spherical head make it a deadly weapon for culinary conflicts.

What Material Is It Constructed of?

Although the majority of spreader spatulas are composed of metals such as stainless steel, there are also many variations available made of rubber or plastic.

What Is it Good at?

As you can imagine, they work best for spreading soft toppings such as cake frosting, cheese spreading, and sandwich condiments. The spherical end is ideal for gathering up the ideal amount of creamy sauce, and the elastic blade makes spreading toppings simple without breaking the baguette or cake foundation. Each baker and bagel filling enthusiast must have one in their drawer.

Possible Options of Use?

Offset and straight/flat are the two primary kinds. Offset spreaders include a curve in the neck of the handle that enables you to cover a big flat area without having your hand caught in the product. (Consider icing a big cake with a blade that is flat; things might become messy quickly!) Rubber models are very flexible and ideal for light and fluffy icings, such as buttercream. Straight spreaders are often shorter and rounder in shape, are frequently seen at delis and are good for spreading cheese. Additionally, they are useful for icing the shorter, rounder edges of cakes.

Inventive Application

Girl hand mixing oil paint using a palette knife.

Artists are acquainted with spreader spatulas since they function similarly to palette knives (there isn’t much distinction between them actually) and are handy for mixing colors and even spreading paint and producing texture on the board.

Comparable Instruments

Other close relatives of the spreader spatula are Trowels and putty knives; you could certainly use them to spread cement in a hurry. Scientists also use spreaders; you may have seen one used by your pharmacist to swiftly count tablets and refill prescription bottles. They are used by laboratory personnel to split and transport powdered material.

Which One Should You Pick?

This is subjective; however, many expert decorators swear by their favorite spatula for applying smooth and faultless layers of sweet buttercream without putting any on their fingers. On the other side, bagel fans should pick a straight model, which will facilitate the application of deli-style toppings quickly and easily.

Scrapers

High Heat Resistant Silicone Scraper Spoon Commercial Spatula for Cooking, Rubber Spatula Set of 2, (16.5'')

Click image for more info

How Do They Appear?

Rubber-tipped spatulas feature a rectangle head with at least 1 rounded edge attached to the tip of a vertical handle. They come in a variety of lengths and widths and are available in a spectrum of vibrant hues that makes them seem more enjoyable than other, more mundane cutlery.

What Material Are They Constructed of?

Rubber spatulas are constructed entirely of… you got it… rubber! Silicone variants are also popular, since they are resistant to heat, allowing them to be used with hot substances. The slim handles are quite basic and may be made of a variety of materials such a plastic, wood, or even rubber.

What Is It Excellent At

You should avoid placing a spatula made of rubber on the cooktop since it may melt (burned rubber is not delicious, ask me how I know!). It is optimal for combining cold and wet components in a mixing basin. It is also good at folding or scraping them. No other instrument is more effective at removing dough that is sticky from a flat surface; it’s similar to a squeegee for bakers. Anyone who has to handle dough must keep at least a few of them. Always have at least two on hand so that one can also be used to scrape the other spatula. They are reasonably priced and readily available, so do buy a few. These spatulas can also be used to make omelets.

What Are the Possible Options of Spatulas Usage

Because rubber spatulas are relatively simple, the choices mainly come down to size and color. Silicone versions serve as both hot and cold tools but frequently lack the capacity necessary for true cooktop cooking. Additionally, wooden spatulas fall within this group. They are frequently used to mix salads and whisk together tomato sauces.

This is a one-of-a-kind rubber spatula that is long and thin and designed to scrape the last bit from oddly shaped small containers. While it is intended for food, we see no reason why it should not also be used in cosmetic items such as shampoos and lotions.

We also like this one, which is meant to make extracting food from cans simple and efficient.

Inventive Applications

Woman applying a pink peel-off face mask using a spatula on her client.

Due to its ultra-soft head and non-toxic composition, a silicone spatula may be used to apply and remove sticky cosmetic products without making a mess or staining your hands. This can include body masks, tanning lotions, or creams.

Just because it is designed for the kitchen does not mean it cannot be used in other areas. The mouths of silicone or rubber spatula’s, their long handles, and nonstick surface make it an excellent paint stirrer. It will assist you in mixing in all of the pigment that has settled to the base of the can, and you will avoid wasting any expensive product.

Which One Should You Pick?

Silicone and rubber both have their advantages and disadvantages. If you want a spatula that is more resistant to heat, pick a silicone spatula. If you’re just going to use it for chilly ingredients, take a rubber-based spatula. Another distinction is that rubber stains more readily, whilst silicone readily absorbs strong odors and will not absorb them without some effort on your part.

Choose the spatula with a handle that is appropriate for your requirements. While wood is resistant to heat but is prone to splitting with time, plastic is simple to clean but is prone to melting when exposed to extreme heat.

The majority of individuals own a few spatulas, which makes it easy to select the correct one every time.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Spatula Materials

Now that you’re familiar with when to use each kind of spatula, here’s a helpful summary of the most prominent advantages and disadvantages of the materials used for making them:

Rubber

Silicone Spatula 3-piece Set, Ergonomic Handle High Heat-Resistant Spatulas, Non-stick Rubber Spatulas with Stainless Steel Core, Black

Click image for more info

Advantages

  • flexible and soft, won’t scratch pans
  • reasonably priced and widely accessible in a number of shops

Disadvantages

  • not heat-resistant
  • easily stains

Silicone

Silicone Spatulas for Nonstick Cookware, GEEKHOM 600F Heat Resistant Extra Large and Wide Flexible Spatulas Rubber Turners, Kitchen Cooking Utensils Set for Pancake, Eggs, Fish, Omelet(4 Pack, Black)

Click image for more info

Advantages

  • nonstick surface that is simple to clean
  • kind to pans

Disadvantages

  • retains cooking smells
  • prone to being cut by sharp blades

Metal

KLAQQED Metal Spatula for Cast Iron Skillet, Grill Spatula Stainless Steel Spatula, Burger Spatula, Fish Turner Spatula, Griddle Spatula, Spachulas Egg Flipper, Flat Top Metal Spatula for Cooking BBQ

Click image for more info

Advantages

  • long-lasting and durable
  • capable of coping with heavy meals and strenuous tasks

Disadvantages

  • more costly
  • efficiently transmits heat

Wood/Bamboo

OXO Good Grips Wooden Turner

Click image for more info

For further information, please click on the picture.

Advantages

  • environmentally safe and non-toxic
  • long-lasting

Disadvantages

  • requires frequent maintenance (see FAQs – How do I clean my spatula?)
  • the porous substance may function as a reservoir for microorganisms or food particles (not for use with raw meat)

Plastic

Westmark Germany Non-Stick Thermoplastic Spatula, 11.8-inch (Red/Black) -

Click image for more info

For further information, please click on the picture.

Advantages

  • inexpensive
  • simple to clean

Disadvantages

  • has the potential to leach chemicals
  • decreased lifespan

Spatula – Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the most convenient location to purchase a spatula?

There are several spatulas to pick from, and they are widely available. They are available in gourmet food stores, supermarkets, grocery stores, and even discount stores. While gourmet and specialty stores are likely to offer the highest-quality and most imaginative selections, anybody seeking a basic daily spatula may easily get one at any store.

What price range should I aim for when purchasing a spatula?

Unless you’re looking for the most premium versions, you ought to be able to locate a spatula that meets your demands and fits your budget. While costs vary greatly, most retailers have spatulas at reasonable rates. Ensure that the spatula you choose has the attributes you like (heat-resistant, simple to clean, etc.).  Purchasing a second product due to a mistake may cost you more in the long run.

What is the proper way to clean my spatulas?

Always clean and preserve your spatulas according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. While the majority of today’s versions are dishwasher safe, do check the box before making a purchase.

It’s worth noting that certain materials require more care than the others; wood and bamboo, for example, provide several advantages but do require extra attention. The following suggestions will assist you in maintaining your wood or bamboo spatulas:

– avoid cleaning them in the dishwasher and avoid leaving them submerged in water.

  • fully dry them before storing them
  • promptly clean them; do not allow food to dry on their surface.
  • if they are smelling or have spots, try a sodium bicarbonate and mild detergent soap combination.
  • grease them once per month with mineral oil of food grade
  • sanitize them with hydrogen peroxide

Are there any spatulas that are green/eco-friendly?

A wooden or bamboo spatula is the finest alternative for someone looking for an eco-friendly spatula. Choose a brand that help sustain logging, responsible farming, organic manufacturing processes, and recyclable packaging to leave the least environmental impact possible.

When should I replace my spatulas?

Unless you get a higher filler stainless-steel product, you will almost certainly have to replace your spatulas at some point. Watch for cracked or missing handles, brittle rubber, splintered wood, musty odors, and warped surfaces. All of these factors will impair performance and increase the likelihood of the spatula harboring germs or mold. You may also want to replace your spatulas if they are stained excessively; choosing bright or dark colors can help conceal stains, and you may also try matching colored spatulas to similar-hued meals (red one for tomato-based sauces, white one for cream cheese dips, green one for pesto, etc.) Fortunately, spatulas are often inexpensive and readily available, so replacing old goods should be rather inexpensive.