What better way to say "I love you." than with the gift of a spatula?
March 13, 2018 7:52 AM   Subscribe

My wife has actually asked me to buy her a spatula as a gift. She is tired of spatulas that melt when they hit the pan, or spatulas that are too thick to get under something and flip it. Not just any spatula will do--I want to buy her the BEST SPATULA IN THE WORLD! But...what is it? Where can I find the perfect, all-purpose spatula?
posted by arniec to Home & Garden (33 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
To really answer this question, we need to know whether your pots and skillets are coated with some kind of nonstick surface, and therefore subject to scratching by a metal implement, or traditional stainless steel, cast iron, or what-have-you which is not susceptible to such scratching?

If your pans are the traditional sort and scratching is not an issue, I recommend this wonderfully thin and flexible turner from OXO.
posted by gauche at 8:00 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's this one.
Thin, strong but flexible, unmeltable, and well weighted.
posted by phunniemee at 8:01 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sweethome has never steered me wrong (although I have not purchased their recommended spatulas).
posted by AmandaA at 8:01 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

We just went through the same gifting situation in my house! I got a bunch, and the one recommended by the Wirecutter is pretty freaking good - Get It Right 11" Ultimate silicon spatula.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:01 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Gauche -- yes, several of our pans are non-stick, the Rachael Ray brand. So it is I'd imagine susceptible to scratching
posted by arniec at 8:04 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

The best spatula is the one suited to the task at hand. You'll need more than one spatula, and, ideally, a way to hang them all up so they're _right there_ and she/you can quickly grab the one that's right for the job.

Metal ones are the thinnest and best for, say, crepes made in a metal skillet, or sausage. The other kind are fine if you're using non-stick cookware.

I have used cafe hooks screwed into a handy wooden shelf on the wall (the shelf also holds small mixing bowls, the hooks hold metal measuring spoons and dry measure cups also).
posted by amtho at 8:08 AM on March 13, 2018 [16 favorites]

And Get it Right has an 11" flipper too; they're only around $10-15 so you could get her both.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:09 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I also like the OXO flexible nylon. I think it is, theoretically, possible to melt it, but I've been using the same ones for a decade over pretty high heat, nonstick and metal, and there's only a bit of bubbling at the edge of one. They do curve with use, you won't be lifting a whole chicken out of a pan with one, and I use a flat-ended spoonula for the heavy-duty breaking up, like browning ground beef, but that spatula is great for flipping eggs, pancakes, eggplant, potatoes, all the tricky stuff.
posted by wnissen at 8:10 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you need more than one spatula. You at least need a super-flat stainless spatula, a couple of rubbery (or ideally, silicone) spatulas in different sizes for scraping down bowls, and a flat plastic or silicone one for your non-stick pans.
posted by adamrice at 8:11 AM on March 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

I knew this day would come! Someday SOMEONE was going to need my expertise here.

Ok. There are two broad categories of spatulas. One is for using to turn/lift things cooking in pans. The other is for folding/scraping batters in bowls.

The best of the first category (pan turner) is this one. Very thin, stiff (but fine for nonstick); the right size, long enough handle.

The best of the second category (batter master) is this one. Correctly sized and angled for mixing bowls; the right flexibility for folding and scraping; very comfy handle; one piece for easiest and most thorough washing; unbreakable; stands up to the silverware thingy in the dishwasher.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:13 AM on March 13, 2018 [14 favorites]

It all depends on what you want the spatula for.

For a simple "turner" in a nonstick pan, look no further than the OXO Good Grips Silicone Cookie Spatula. It's thin enough to easily slide under food items, strong enough to lift most things, and the curved corner makes it good for getting into the rounded spaces at the edge of a frypan.

For delicate items you will want a peltex-style spatula (often called a "fish spatula." These are very thin and have good flexibility, but are also surprisingly strong. The edge is a bit sharp, which makes it great for situations in which you have to scrape it under a food item to loosen it from the pan but want to make sure you don't damage delicate skin, etc. This is the spatula I use more than any other.

For hamburgers and things where you need a heavier, more rigid spatula so you can press down on meats, etc., I like the Due Buoi Wide Spatula. This is also good for scraping up bits of fond in the pan after you've finished browning proteins, for turning griddled onions, etc.

Although not a spatula in the same sense as the above, I also get a lot of spatula-like use out of an offset icing spatula.

If you have these spatulas (spatulae?), I think all your spatula needs are met.
posted by slkinsey at 8:22 AM on March 13, 2018 [13 favorites]

The correct answer is this $5 Fish Slice that has been stolen from me in professional kitchens more than a few times.

The right answer is that you need silicon + more than one type for your non-stick needs.
posted by jbenben at 8:22 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have the GIR mini and I like it, especially after melting one too many handles against the sides of pans. The one thing it's not so great for is breaking things up in the pan (like ground beef, or if some of your chopped vegetables didn't completely separate), because the edges are too thin and flexible. Out of the nonstick context, I've found the Oxo steel fish turner to be way, way more useful than I'd ever thought it could be. Despite the name, it works for almost everything (e.g., the last thing I used it for was transferring cookies from a parchment-lined sheet to a cooling rack).
posted by praemunire at 8:25 AM on March 13, 2018

I'm an ex-chef. The best metal spatula for fish is the thin, wide, flexible one above, but that's not sturdy enough for flipping things that aren't soft, like scraping a bit under browning meat before lifting it to turn. I went to a restaurant supply store thirty years ago and bought a set of stainless spatulas, large spoons and sheet pans, and they remain my go-to tools. For flexible bowls-scrapers accept only 100% silicon blades. You can tell it's 100% silicon if you can bend the blade back and there is no hint of white at the bend site. The color of the blade should be the same throughout, bent or not.

And while I appreciate the qualities of coated cookware, you'll never get a good fond unless you saute in an aluminum-core pot with a stainless or aluminum surface.
posted by citygirl at 8:30 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

My mother got a set of All-Clad silicone cooking utensils for Christmas, and they are fantastic. Well weighted, very sturdy, nice-looking, and most importantly with that perfect balance of softness and stiffness that makes them great all-around tools for just about any job you care to throw at them. They're sizeable too, big enough that when you go to lift up a fried egg you're not worried about it slipping off and tearing the yolk.

This is the spatula from that set. It's on the pricy side, but not too bad for a gift (Williams-Sonoma's business model in a nutshell) and it's certainly the best all-around spatula that I have ever encountered. The only thing better are those one-big-piece-of-stainless-steel commercial-style spatulas, but those are no good for nonstick pans.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:30 AM on March 13, 2018

Not a spatula, but if you don't have some nice silicon tippped tongs, sometimes those are a better answer to some problems than spatulas, so I'd recommend grabbing at least one of those as well.

My main spatula is one of the fish style ones but that's not going to work with the non-stick pans.
posted by Candleman at 8:31 AM on March 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

The right number of spatulas is n+1, but at a minimum:
- thin, flat silicone or nylon turner like the OXO linked above
- silicone blade scraper like the GIR linked above
- shallow spoon and ladle
- small and medium jar scrapers

This Le Creuset crock is nice, with removable heads and colour options, but doesn't include a turner or spoon.
posted by a halcyon day at 8:31 AM on March 13, 2018

This is my all time favorite spatula. I originally bought one at a dollar store when I was in college (around 2003-2004ish) and it is still going strong today.
posted by sperose at 8:45 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

You need to get down to Spatula City, my friend.

As slkinsey has said, you really need different spatulas for different purposes. He's covered them well, but I'm also very fond of this one for things like scraping cake batter out of a pan or cleaning a jar of peanut butter until it's clear and dry.

oh and now I see you made a Spatula City reference in your title, but that's ok since this thread needed a link to the clip anyway.
posted by bondcliff at 8:52 AM on March 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

Seconding Candleman's tongs recommendation. If you're like I once was, maybe tongs never really entered your mind before, and so you don't even know that what you sometimes want is not a spatula, but tongs.
posted by smcameron at 8:56 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have a previous iteration of this Thermoworks spatula, and it's a good all-rounder for scraping, stirring, and flipping.
posted by momus_window at 8:57 AM on March 13, 2018

If you are getting a metal one, take a moment and sharpen the edge. Yes, use a file and put a bit of an edge on it. It will make quite a difference as you lift delicate edges.
posted by sandpine at 9:02 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

The one I use most often is the winco fish spatula, as linked above.

(in fact, a few years ago an ex wanted a fish spatula because the chefs on every cooking show were using them, and I got them a heavier-duty version, but then we broke up and I got that one for myself at the restaurant supply store and it was so much better I felt a little guilty for getting them a more expensive but less-good one)
posted by jeweled accumulation at 9:54 AM on March 13, 2018

The news today was grim, the joy I feel right now seeing all of the wonky spatula undercover pros letting loose here in this thread is incalculable!

Not a flip type spatula tip, but I wanted to add earlier that silicon bowl scrapers tend to have very breakable plastic handles that drive me nuts. The solution? Usually the slicon part pops off for cleaning and the handles are uni-fitting. I bought rubber bowl scrapers from the dollar store and put those handles on my silicon bowl scraper spatulas. More joy.
posted by jbenben at 11:10 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love, love, LOVE your title. :) People mostly hit the high points already, but here's the Sweethome's review. Much like Consumer Reports used to do, they take a bunch of [item], test them, rate them, and come up with recommendations. Their ratings are usually pretty nuanced.
posted by WCityMike at 11:30 AM on March 13, 2018

For fewest tangles in drawer or utensil crock, you want handles with no holes or gaps that some other tool could stick through.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:18 PM on March 13, 2018

I also love Oxo flexible turner. I have both sizes. The only drawback is that it's not great for vigorously scraping or for removing very stuck-on food.
posted by wryly at 1:55 PM on March 13, 2018

WARNING on silicone spatula. I got the OXO one and it had a funny smell (flowery or something odd like that) that transferred to my fried eggs. I washed it several times, soaked it in white vinegar, and I still couldn't get the smell totally gone. I thought maybe it was because I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond but apparently I'm not the only one who found a smell in a silicone spatula. So if you buy one in person, I recommend sniffing it first!
posted by evening at 4:47 PM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think they are still making them, but I can usually find a perfect, flexible, gently angled, thin-edged Ekco spatula at my local Goodwill. Nothing is better for eggs and pancakes. They last for decades.
posted by mneekadon at 6:50 PM on March 13, 2018

Ekco Is my favorite
posted by blueprinter at 12:39 AM on March 14, 2018

FYI, a lot of the nylon/silicone spatulas will melt eventually around the edges, if you leave them resting against the hot part of the pan. So handling is still relevant for those.
posted by Lady Li at 12:56 PM on March 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Someone already mentioned it upthread but I think it's worth repeating: If you don't already have silicone tongs, get some! They're not a spatula replacement but an essential complement. If you need to turn something that isn't floppy (e.g. steak), tongs are way easier to use than a spatula.
posted by serelliya at 1:29 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

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