Spatula Buying Guide
Most cooks and chefs use the spatula that works the best with what they are cooking at the time. If the food you are cooking typically has a lot of grease, using a slotted spatula will allow the grease to pour off before you put it on the plate or serving platter.
There are many different types of spatulas on the market to choose from. Most kitchens, professional and residential, have several types and sizes of spatulas on hand for the various cooking jobs that a cook normally encounters. Below we have listed the main types of spatulas that are normally found in kitchens
Types of Spatulas
- Silicone Spatulas – These are good for scraping batters, custards, and sauces off the sides of mixing bowls. They are able to withstand high heat.
- Metal Spatulas – Metal spatulas are used often for fish and can also be used for hamburgers, chicken, pork, seafood and any other type of food that needs to be flipped or moved. If the spatula is a fish spatula, it may have slots and will be slightly curved as well. They are good for flattening burgers, lifting casseroles out of the dish and even turning cookies.
- Plastic Spatulas – Straight plastic spatulas are probably the least desirable of all the spatula varieties. They tend to be very flimsy and can’t handle much if any weight. They also have a tendency to curl at the ends and melt easily when used on heated pans and cookware.
- Wooden Spatulas – Wooden spatulas are great for scraping the browned bits of food off the bottom of the pan and can be good for stirring. They are not very efficient for scraping since they do not have any flexibility.
- Offset Spatulas – Offset spatulas are used in baking to frost cakes and lift thin, fragile cookies of the cooking sheets.
The Most Popular Spatulas
Out of all the different kind of spatulas on the market, there are a few that are more popular than others. We have gone into greater detail about these popular types below.
- Fish Spatulas – It is important to note that although the name states a very specific use, fish spatulas are suited for a number of tasks in the kitchen including flipping pancakes or French toast, grilled cheese and even omelets. Their sturdiness and shape lends itself well to lifting fragile fish fillets out of the frying pan while letting the grease drain off. In most cases the head of the spatula is large enough to encompass the entire fillet. Fish spatulas are made from durable and long lasting stainless steel but the spatula itself is very light. The metal ends of these spatulas can scratch nonstick pans unless you opt for the variety that is silicone coated which is a good choice to make. The silicone used on the head of the metal spatula can withstand up to 600 degrees.
- Rubber or Silicone Scraper– Many times these are also called rubber spatulas or scrapers. This is not the kind of spatula that is used for flipping and transferring food. Where they shine is in scraping sauces and softer foods out of mixing bowls, for stirring or folding dry ingredients into wet ingredients and for frosting as well. When looking for the right silicone or rubber spatula, you want to make sure that the head of the spatula is strong enough to stir what you are preparing but flexible enough to be good and efficient at scraping the bowls. Many silicone spatulas are made of one piece which makes them stronger and also much healthier and safer.
- Silicone Spatulas – Silicone spatulas are great for using on any kind of cookware. They are designed to handle high heat such as when stirring hot sauces on the stove. They will not melt or become misshapen. The handles of silicone spatulas are cool to the touch so there is no fear of the user getting burned, even if it is left on the stop top or somewhere else that is hot. They are extremely durable and made to last decades. They won’t flake, peel, break, crack or even fade. Silicone spatulas look the same year after year unless they are purposely destroyed. They can handle extreme heat as well as extreme cold and can be washed in the dishwasher. Another popular benefit to silicone spatulas is that they are naturally non-stick. They also come in a variety of bright colors that can really spruce up your kitchen.
Care and maintenance of Spatulas
If you want your spatulas, regardless of the kind you choose, to last a long time, it is important that they are cared for and maintained properly. One thing that is recommended is that you separate the silicone spatulas according to the foods you are using them for. Keep your frosting spatulas separate from those that are used for spicy foods, etc.
Don’t use rubber spatulas or plastic ones for high heat tasks, the rubber or plastic can melt. Plastic or rubber spatulas are best used for low heat tasks and preparation of foods to avoid ruining the heads.
Wooden spatulas are popular, but they need specific care. They can easily become cracked and worn from too much water and soap. One of the best ways to keep your wooden spatulas from getting ruined is to rub them with a tiny amount of mineral oil once a month. This restores the wood, keeps it in good condition and keeps it looking polished as well. Don’t use olive oil or other vegetable oils to do this task, only mineral oil. Other oils can become rancid and transfer off into your food during preparation. You also do not want to wash your wooden spatulas in the dishwasher.
Be careful when using spatulas for scraping around food processors that have stainless steel blades. Sometimes, when care is not taken, the ends can be nicked. It is best to remove the blade attachment before you scrape the mixing bowl. This will extend the life of your spatulas.
If you use offset spatulas which are used for frosting cakes and baking tasks mostly, it is better to not keep them in the utensil drawer with everything else. The slender end of the spatula can get bent and once they are out of shape, getting them back to their original shape in pretty much impossible.
Last but not least, keep the spatulas, regardless of their materials, off of direct high heat to avoid weakening or damaging them.
Spatulas are a mainstay of every type of kitchen from restaurant to bakery to home. There are many different kinds of spatulas that are suited for all kinds of cooking, baking and preparing tasks. Having a good variety of spatulas on hand is very important and benefits the cook or chef in many ways. When you have the utensils you need, you will have a much more enjoyable time cooking and preparing food.
If you want to have a well stocked kitchen, be sure to include a variety of spatulas in your tool kit including silicone spatulas, silicone scrapers, a fish spatula and one or two excellent quality metal spatulas. It is also recommended for home kitchens to have a good quality BBQ spatula with a long handle in your tool kit as well.
Having all of these types of spatulas on hand will prepare you for any cooking and baking task you could encounter whether it’s scraping bowls or removing a piece of delicate fish from the frying pan. A prepared cook is a happy cook because they don’t have to struggle with preparation or serving. The more you are equipped to handle, the more you will enjoy cooking all types of foods.