We all regularly use different types of spatulas. Whether for cooking, baking, or grilling, we can no longer do without this accessory in our kitchen drawer.
A quick refresher on the origins of the different types of spatula: It turns out that the word “spatula” has a history that is as varied as its present-day usage., literally.
It dates back to the Roman Empire and comes from the Latin word spathe, which refers to a broad-bladed sword.
It first appeared in English in 1525, which, from a weapon, it became an accessory that is more often used in apothecaries.
Today it describes any kitchen tool with a long handle and a thin, flexible blade.
You probably don’t spend too much time thinking about spatulas, but you’ve probably used one of these wonderful gadgets that are integral to kitchens worldwide.
Spatulas were originally all-purpose kitchen utensils, but like everything from spoons to forks and bowls in the modern kitchen, they slowly became specialized.
There are now different types of spatulas in the market made of different materials that you use to cook various things.
There are much more differences here than just their aesthetics. It’s possible to be very versatile with your cookware in your kitchen, but you don’t want to wait until you’re trying to cook a special meal for a crowd to figure out how to use each one best.
We’ll cover 12 different types of spatula you might have in your home, along with the pros and cons of each type of material used to help you choose and buy the right type of spatula for cooking every meal.
How the Different Types of Spatula Are Categorized
As we have established, spatula falls into three main categories; flippers, spreaders, and scrapers. Each of them has its specific purpose and comes in a variety of different options and features.
Flippers (aka Turners)
This spatula is made of a long handle and a wide, thin surface that is generally trapezoidal in shape. It can be solid or slotted, and the “blade” is about the size of a human hand.
The tip is often tapered to facilitate sliding under food. It is used to flip foods such as grilled cheese, fried eggs, hamburger patties, chopped vegetables, and so on.
This is a different type of spatula that comes with a long, narrow blade. Most spreader-type spatulas are made of metal, such as stainless steel, although there are also many plastic and rubber models.
They are best used for spreading soft fillings such as cake frosting, cheese spreads, sandwich condiments, and so on.
The rounded end is ideal for scooping the perfect amount of creamy filling, and the flexible blade makes it easy to spread the filling without tearing bread or pie crust.
Hard to describe but easy to recognize, a rubber-tipped scraper that has a rectangular head with at least one rounded edge placed on the end of a straight handle.
They come in a variety of widths and lengths and can be found in a range of bright colors that make them more fun than the average kitchenware.
Ideal for mixing, folding, scraping, etc., cold, wet ingredients in a mixing bowl. No tool does better cleaning sticky dough off a flat surface than a baker’s scraper spatula.
Different Types of Spatulas
1. Fish Spatula
One of the most popular types of the different types of spatulas is the fish spatula, and it is also included in the slotted spatulas.
It is one of the most important kitchen accessories you can have on hand. A fish spatula is a metal spatula that can be used to turn fish and meat.
The spatula has a rigid, strong, flexible, and thin blade. The sharp edges and beveled head are very useful for flipping in tricky situations.
They usually have a metal or stainless steel design to make them more durable and larger in shape with slotted holes, making them ideal for flipping fish fillets or pancakes and draining liquid or oil from food before placing it on a plate.
2. Perforated Flipper Spatula
Sometimes called turners, this type of spatula comes with a long handle with a thin, wide trapezoidal surface to hold food.
This surface can be called the blade and usually has small holes that allow excess oil to drain.
The purpose of this spatula is to turn things over in a hot pan. Because of this use, many are made of metal, which allows you to have a thinner blade that can slip under food without damaging it.
Due to their design and construction, perforated spatulas are ideal for flipping burgers.
3. Slotted Spatula
Slotted spatula types have the same characteristics and shape as perforated spatula.
However, they usually have slots running along the length of the blade rather than a series of holes, with each slot being about ¼ inch wide.
All holes are generally larger than what you find in a perforated spatula. These spatulas have slots to help the blade slide under food without breaking it.
This makes it a great option if you’re making meatballs, crepes, or any other food you want to maintain the shape.
In addition to using this type of spatula for slicing food, they work well for flipping food and filtering substances or food by keeping the solid part on the blade and releasing the liquid through the slots.
The flipper, turner, and fish spatula are part of the slotted spatula family.
4. Solid Spatula
A variation of the slotted spatula, the solid spatula comes with no holes or slots, making it ideal for flipping pancakes and eggs.
Like the Slotted Spatula, the Solid Spatula is available in various materials, including Teflon, stainless steel, and wood.
5. Grill Spatula
The grill spatulas are some of the most durable and are designed to withstand the harshness of direct contact with embers and the outdoors.
This different type of spatula is similar to a flipping one but has no holes or slots in the design.
Instead, you’ll get an ultra-smooth blade that won’t catch chunks of meat or whatever you’re cooking inside.
Some models may also have a bent handle, which will help keep your hand about an inch from the hot surface.
This spatula is very common for turning and transferring food from the grill to the plate.
On the other hand, heavier metal spatulas work well as a smasher to press down on a piece of meat while cooking to ensure it’s done.
6. BBQ Spatula
As the name implies, this type of spatula is widely used for grilling.
It has a slotted design with holes that allow liquids and oils to flow through. It is also made of materials that can withstand enough heat due to its use.
However, you don’t have to limit the use of this spatula to grilling. You can also easily use it for burger flipping, flipping steaks, or sautéing vegetables.
7. Giant Spatula
A giant spatula is another type of flipping spatula, ideal for flipping large items like cakes and pizzas. It has the same characteristics as a fish spatula and is usually metal.
Even though sometimes the giant spatula has no metal construction, it will still be made of heat-resistant material.
8. Flat Frosting Spatula
A flat frosting spatula has a blade that sticks out of the handle. Sometimes, the blade is in line with the handle without moving or bending.
A flat frosting spatula is a type of spatula, and you may hear it referred to as a palette knife. It is specially designed for applying substances to a flat surface, including cake icing.
If you are hosting a sandwich party for guests, this type of spatula is ideal for fluffing up the sandwiches.
It comes in a very thin form that looks like a knife with a rounded tip, and you can also use it to cut cakes.
9. Offset Spatula
In short, an offset spatula is a narrower and more extended version of a spreading spatula.
They come with a bend just in front of the handle, allowing you to cover a larger area without straining your wrists.
An offset spatula is an essential baking tool. The blade of this knife is usually bent under the handle by half an inch. Thanks to this shape, it is easy to handle and manipulate.
You can apply frosting/icing to intricate parts and areas of your cake. With this spatula, your fingers won’t get in the way when applying the frost.
You can use an offset spatula for more than frosting cakes, like spreading the cookie dough evenly.
You may also use this spatula to loosen the edges of cakes when they come out of the oven.
This type of spatula is usually made of silicone or metal and rarely available in plastic.
However, they are rarer because they have a narrow range of action, so it is not uncommon for professional bakers to buy only these spatulas.
10. Multi-purpose Or Silicone Spatula
In terms of quality, these types of spatulas are slightly better than rubber ones.
They are an excellent alternative to a metal spatula if you use them with non-stick pans and dishes.
The silicone spatula can be used for cooking, mixing, and baking, and you can also use them with other traditional utensils. These spatulas are made of silicone and are very heat resistant.
If you like to bake, this spatula will come in handy for sticky bread dough. You can also use it to make soups and stews, so nothing sticks to your pan.
There is a smaller variant of this spatula that you can use for removing peanut butter from the jar, and since they are heat resistant, you can also use them for sautéing.
Silicone is available in almost all the different types of spatula designs, but they are very popular in baking or sweet making.
It tends to retain stronger odors, so if you’re dealing with intensely flavored foods like fried onions, you can easily transfer the flavor to the spatula material.
11. Scrapers Or Rubber Spatula
Scrapers are similar to silicone spatulas but are made of plastic or rubber and rigid.
This kind of spatula is one of the most widely used and most affordable options you can get. Please do not use these spatulas on hot surfaces, as they will melt.
They are also available in many colors, which makes them fun compared to other accessories.
These are the spatulas you loved to play with as a kid while helping your parents in the kitchen.
They typically have a very rough rectangular blade with rounded edges, and this rounded edge is on one of the two sides of the blade. And you can also find them in different lengths and widths.
While this type of spatula works well for scraping cookie dough from the bottom of a bowl, it can also be used as a flipper and serving dish from the cooking pan.
You should be able to reach the edges of the bowls with this spatula. It can also be used to mix ingredients.
Scraping paddles tend to be thicker, so they can damage more delicate foods if you’re not careful.
12. Half Spatula
A half spatula is a rubber spatula with a blade about half the size of a normal spatula.
Due to its size, it has many uses. First, half a spatula can be used to scoop the jam out of the small jars, and it can also be used for mixing while cooking.
Materials Used for the Different Types of Spatula
Different types of spatula are made from different kinds of materials, and of course, each material has its pros and cons.
Some of the most common materials that spatulas are made from are stainless steel, wood, plastic, silicone, and Teflon. Let’s take a closer look at each spatula materials are made.
As the name suggests, stainless steel materials are made of stainless steel and are based on their construction.
Stainless steel blades are the strongest of the different types of spatula and are also more durable.
They can easily withstand contact with very high temperatures, making them good material for grilling or flipping.
Additionally, these spatulas can be molded into a very thin shape, making it easier to handle crumbly items.
However, whichever model you choose, it should come with a thicker wooden handle to make it safer. Metal can go from barely warm to red hot very quickly, but the wood does not heat up.
Stainless steel spatulas can scratch your non-stick pots and pans if you’re not careful. In addition, they are also not suitable for use in enamel pans and cast iron pans.
Another material often used in spatulas is wood. Both are environmentally friendly and economical.
Unlike stainless steel spatulas, wooden or bamboo spatulas are a popular material for preserving non-stick cast iron pots and pans. They also have a comfortable grip that won’t get hot or burn your hand.
If properly cared for, this spatula can last for decades. You want to wash it immediately after use and dry it completely.
However, wooden spatulas often do not have sharp edges and, therefore, cannot be used for flipping. Additionally, since wood is a porous organic material, it provides a comfortable environment for bacteria to grow.
However, you should be able to get rid of it by washing it well after each use. You should also avoid using this type of spatula when handling raw meat.
Plastic spatulas are an economical alternative to wooden spatulas. They’re usually very easy to find and cheap to buy.
Almost every one of the different types of spatula in the market has a plastic version available, an excellent option to choose if you’re trying to set up your kitchen on a budget.
They are easy to clean and withstand heavy washes, dishwashers, and accidental drops.
However, they can leach chemicals into food, and if you ever put a plastic spatula on a hot pan and leave it on, it will melt and lose its shape.
So plastic spatulas can make great scrapers for scraping bowls while baking or mixing; they are not advised to be used in cooking.
Silicone is probably the most common material used to make spatulas.
Like stainless steel spatulas and wooden spatulas, silicone spatulas are heat resistant. Plus, it won’t scratch your non-stick or enamel pans and pots.
Because these qualities make this type of spatula a good choice for frosting and baking projects; however, before buying a silicone spatula for your kitchen, ensure you know its heat resistance range.
Another material used in the production of spatulas is Teflon. Also an ideal option for non-stick pots and pans; however, just like silicone spatulas, you should be aware of the heat resistance range of your Teflon spatulas.
A spatula is an essential kitchen tool whether you stir-fry, bake, or cook food. And now that you have more clarity on what qualifies as a spatula, you’re better positioned to decide which is right for you. So what are you waiting for?