Cooking spatulas come in handy throughout the whole process, as there are types of spatulas available that are suited for either preparation or cooking. They are one of your most important kitchen utensils.
Continue reading to learn more about spatulas!
What is a Spatula?
A spatula is a kitchen utensil with a long handle that extends into a broad, flat blade, which is blunt and can be flexible. A spatula that is designed for cooking is a hand-held kitchen utensil that can be used to mix and spread ingredients, as well as lift and flip food (such as a pancake) as it is being cooked. A spatula’s long handle is meant to keep the holder’s hand away from what is being spread or lifted over a hot surface, while the spatula blade is wide and thin to allow for a wide surface area which makes spreading or lifting food from cookware easier.
Top Rated Spatula
Cooptop Silicon Spatula Set
With multiple colors to choose from, this spatula set gives you the option of three spatulas for all of your kitchen needs. The small- and medium-sized spatulas are for regular use, and that heat-resistant large spoon is perfect for baking.
With premium-grade, BPA-free silicon, and a robust steel core for strength, these spatulas are durable, functional, and beautiful.
Best Stainless Steel
Mannkitchen Stainless Steel
This spatula looks beautiful, is extremely durable, and perfect for all cast iron skillets and flat top bbq grills. The hardened stainless steel turner has a precision beveled straight edge for functionality and easy food release from the pan. A steel spatula that is perfect for any kind of dining.
Tovolo Flex-Core Silicon
With a durable, smooth surface, this spatula is great for spreading, and the angled edges are great for scraping, making cleanup a breeze. The silicon spatula head is reinforced, and the square corner allows you to get into corners when you are cleaning up after dining. An esthetically pleasing spatula that can do it all.
Di Oro Rubber
This rubber spatula is one piece, so there are fewer weak points, and it is easy to clean. The material is BPA-free and certified silicon, so you don’t have to worry about any contamination in your food. The spatula is also heat-resistant up to 600F. You can used this spatula for stirring, scraping, and folding.
Best for Baking
PortoFino 6pc. Baking Set
The spatula in this set is great, but it is the extras that elevate this set and make it amazing for baking and making pastry for brunch. The ergonomic handle of the spatula provides extra grip, the natural wood provides durability and beauty, and the spatula’s silicone ends are functional and flexible. You can scrape pastry, whisk, brush, and more with this set.
Best for Fish
The wooden handle is ergonomic, giving you a sturdy hold when you are dealing with the fish, and the beveled edge on the slotted spatula makes it easy to pick up your fish without damaging it. The fish turner spatula is also thin and flexible, allowing you to scoop and flip your fish filet with ease. With rivets attaching the handle, this is a durable slotted spatula that is going to last.
With a natural wood handle and a 4.5” stainless steel blade, this thin and flexible spatula can do a lot in the kitchen. The flexible spatula blade is perfect for icing or for flipping delicate seafood and other grilled foods for fine dining. The spatula blade is made in Japan and is designed to stand the test of time.
Sabatier Stainless Steel
This wide spatula is perfect for flipping both small and large foods, especially fish and other meats, allowing you to cook your food to perfection. Both the handle and turner head are stainless steel and dishwasher safe, and the rivets in the handle mean that you can lift heavy items with the spatula without worrying about bending or breaking. A wonderful turner spatula that does its job and looks good too.
Mr. Art Walnut
Who said that a spatula couldn’t be a work of art? This walnut spatula features a different design to most, but still offers the same functionality. The spatula’s streamlined design means that it fits seamlessly into your utensil drawer, and you can use if for almost anything, including flipping, scraping, mixing, and stirring. This is a durable spatula that looks beautiful, perfect for fine dining.
Best for Cake
Legerm Cake Spatulas
This set of three cake spatulas give you everything that you need for all off your baking and brunch needs. The three spatula sizes allow you to frost any size of cake or pastry from large cakes down to cupcakes. The ergonomic wood handle has a nice grip and is lightweight too. The hole in the handle also allows you to hang the spatulas to free up space in your utensil drawer.
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When was it Invented?
It is not quite clear when the spatula was exactly invented and by whom. Spatulas have a past, but one that is not well documented.
The word ‘spatula’ has been used in the English language since 1525 to describe a small tool with a broad and flat blade. It is similar to the word ‘spade,’ which describes a digging tool.
Spatulas may have come about in either three ways. The first possibility is by a Roman physician named Galen in the second century, who created it for medical purposes by mixing pharmaceutical preparations and spreading ointments. The second possibility is that it was invented by Horace Spatula in 1798 as a tool to kill common house flies. The last possibility is John Spaduala inventing the spatula the 1890’s, as a way of continuing to cook food in the kitchen of Hans Kruger, where he worked, when one of his hands had become almost ‘unusable’ as a result of a kitchen accident.
The History Behind its Name
The spatula goes by many names, depending on the country one is in and what food is being prepared, some of which include ‘fish slice,’ ‘flipper,’ ‘tosser,’ ‘egg flipper,’ and ‘scraper,’ but they are all essentially spatulas
The etymology of the word ‘spatula’ itself is derived from the Greek word spathe and the Latin word spatha, both referring to long swords that are often with broad blades. The word had also gone under several transformations in spelling and pronunciation; the origin of the word spay, meaning to ‘cut with a sword’, was then added with the diminutive suffix “-ula,” which means ‘little sword’, hence arriving to the modern word we have all become familiar with: spatula. In a way, this makes the spatula a kitchen sword!
The Difference Between a Turner and a Spatula
A turner is what is commonly perceived by people when they are referring to a spatula; it is a kitchen utensil that has a broad, flat head attached to a long handle. Basically, when one refers to a spatula that is used to flip burgers on a bbq grill, they are actually referring to a turner.
There is a variety of turners and spatulas for different heat levels and kinds of food. There are some that are designed uniquely in order to withstand contact from heated surfaces and fire, while some have an angled edge which allow for easy turning of food and a slotted surface to let liquids from food drain away easily.
What essentially differentiates a turner from a spatula is their use. Turners are basically the bbq grill spatulas or slotted spatulas for fish.
A scraper can also be mistaken or referred to as a spatula. This tool is what is often used by bakers and cooks to scrape food from a surface or cookware, like getting dough from the inner walls of a bowl, or moving food from one place to another, like moving the dough onto a baking tray. A typical model for scrapers or scraping spatulas is to have a blade made from silicone or plastic shaped to have a straight edge on one side and a curved edge on the other. This makes it similar to a concave, spoon-like shape.
Another is a spreader, which can also be known as a ‘palette knife.’ This is frequently used in baking, particularly for spreading frosting on cakes and other forms of dessert. A typical model for spreaders is to have a straight blade with a rounded tip.
Spatulas are also available outside of the kitchen; they can be used in a scientific laboratory setting (or for more scientific cooking like sous vide), however in a different form and, obviously, for much different purposes. These medical instruments, such as microspatulas, are made of steel to prevent any reaction when it comes into contact with chemicals, powders or other medicinal ingredients and for withstanding heat.
The common materials used are plastic or metal, but wooden, rubber and silicone are used for spatulas as well (most will not damage your cookware). Metal spatulas, for instance, tend to have an insulating material, such as rubber or a thick coat of plastic, wrapped around the end of the spatula handles to prevent the user from getting burned when heat travels throughout the metal.
The best material for spatulas is perhaps silicone, as it is one of the most versatile material, handles high amounts of heat well, and does not scratch surfaces of pots or pans when scraping with a spatula.
Can a Baking Spatula be Used for Stove-Top Cooking?
Although baking spatulas are designed typically for cold or room-temperature foods, a spatula can be if they are heat-resistant, preferably a slotted spatula that can withstand temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Rubber spatulas, especially if they have been heavily stained, can be cleaned with water that has been mixed with a cup of white vinegar. After the spatula has been soaked in the liquid mixture for around a minute, it should be scrubbed with a cleaning rug, then rinsed with hot water, and lastly dried with a clean cloth.
Silicone spatulas can also pick up stains which can be difficult to remove from just using soap and water. While soap can help break up and wash away oil, intense stains can only be removed by a stronger cleanser, such as a hydrogen peroxide or bleach solution. After soaking the silicone spatula in the strong solution, it should be rinsed with warm, soapy water.
Wooden spatulas should not be put into a dishwasher as the intense steam and hot water could disintegrate the wood. After use, the wooden spatula should be washed in hot, soapy water then dried with wiped dry with a clean cloth. To preserve wooden spatulas, a lemon slice can be rubbed along it when strong flavors have seeped into the wood and mineral oil can be applied to prevent the wood from drying out and cracking.
Stainless steel spatulas do not pick up stains quite easily, but may change color or rust after long periods of use. On a regular basis, they can be washed with soap and water, with a gentle sponge or cloth so as to not scrape the metal and get into the slotted parts. For removing discoloration or stains, these spatulas can be washed in warm, soapy water with ¼ cup of vinegar or baking soda.
When Should it be Replaced?
Spatulas tend to have a long life span and can be used for a while, as long as they cleaned and stored properly. Though, it is good to pay attention to the state of the spatulas; any signs of tear and wear, such as cracked or loose handles, warped surfaces, bad odor, or split wood, as well as irremovable stains would mean that the spatula needs to be replaced.
Yes- there are spatulas that are made of wood or bamboo. These spatulas can be found under brands that promote responsible and sustainable logging and farming and focus on using recyclable packaging and materials.
Is Having One Really Necessary?
This would depend on one’s cooking habits and needs. If a person prepares their own meals or bakes in their kitchen from time to time, having any kind of kitchen spatula will come in handy. Flipping something in a frying pan over a heated stove can still be done by using a fork or even using the pan alone, such as when one flips pancakes, but using a spatula can help make the task easier.
Baking, Cooking, or Grilling
Spatulas come in various forms that can help flip food or scrape it off of flat surfaces that they have gotten stuck to, all while keeping its user away from any heat or mess thanks to their long handles. Spatulas can be made of various materials, each of which have their own unique way of care and strength. These spatulas are quite versatile and can be used for more than one purpose in cooking.
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- “Kitchen Utensil: The Spatula”, 2013, S Dixon, https://prezi.com/ebqce6wrj0sw/kitchen-utensil-the-spatula/
- “The Difference Between a Spatula and a Flipper or Turner”, Leaf.tv, https://www.leaf.tv/articles/the-difference-between-a-spatula-and-a-flipper-or-turner/
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- “The best spatula”, 2019, Chicago Tribune, https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-kitchen-the-best-spatula-20190924-story.html
- “How to clean rubber spatulas”, Hunker, https://www.hunker.com/12566922/how-to-clean-sticky-rubber
- “Removing Stains from Silicone Spatulas”, Cook’s Illustrated, https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/8614-removing-stains-from-silicone-spatulas
- “How To Clean and Care for Wooden Utensils”, 2014, Apartment Therapy, https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-care-for-wooden-utensils-206883
- “The 10 Best Spatulas”, 2020, Wiki Ezvid, https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-spatulas
- “8 Different Types of Spatulas (How to Choose the Right One)”, Home Stratosphere, https://www.homestratosphere.com/types-of-spatulas/
This page last updated October 25, 2022