Have you ever walked into the spatula section of your favorite department store and started hyperventilating? You wouldn’t be the first one. It’s perfectly normal to get so overwhelmed by spatulas that you find it hard to breathe. After all, we are living in a golden age where there are more ways to enjoy a spatula then there have ever been in recorded history. Spatulas come in different shapes, sizes, colors, materials—no matter what life you lead, somewhere out there there is a spatula for you. So how do you find it without finding yourself having a full-on panic attack while hiding behind a display of state-of-the-art toaster ovens? Just pull this handy spatula guide up on your phone, and you’ll be able to walk out of the store holding the spatula of your dreams instead of being dragged out by security.
This family of spatulas gets their name from the act of turning, which is when you flip a food over so it can cook on the other side. The have a long handle, a sharp bend before the flat flipping surface, and are very rigid. There are three major subsets:
Perforated Turners: These have a bunch of small holes in it so that when you pick up the food, extra liquid or grease can drip off.
Slotted Turners: Highly versatile, as they can not only drain grease, but also be used on delicate foods thanks to the power of the slots. How does this work? Highly complicated physics I most definitely understand, but you won’t so I’m not telling.
Solid Turners: These don’t have holes or slots. They’re solid. Good for pancakes, and people who are scared of holes.
Fish Spatulas: The odd-looking cousin of the turner family, these don’t have that characteristic sharp angle, instead being one gently curved surface. This design makes it incredibly flexible, giving you the most control over ultra-delicate foods (fish!). If you only have room in your life for one turner, this should be the one you take home.
Offset Spatulas: They have the angle of turners, the flexibility of fish spatulas, and are very thin. Use mostly for baking and frosting cakes, though they’re quite good for precision work like coaxing stubborn waffles off an iron, or making itty-bitty hamster-sized pancakes.
Cake Spatulas: The offset's completely straight first cousin that’s used for frosting (surprise!) cakes. Come breakfast, it’s a good upgrade from the lowly butter knife if you need to put a whole bunch of schmears on a whole bunch of bagels. If you’re prone to breakfast mitzvahs, you should buy one.
Flat Silicone Spatulas: These are another must for any kitchen, particularly if you like to bake. It’s ideal for stovetop cooking, as its flexibility allows it to scrape the bottom of any pan as well as get itself into the corners to prevents sticking and scorching.
Spoonulas: A rigid hybrid between a flat silicone spatula and a spoon, meant for people who are bad at spatula-ing. Buy the former and learn how to use it.
Scrapers: These look like flat silicone spatulas, except they’re rigid and plastic and utterly useless. Any tool in your kitchen that will potentially touch cookware should be heatproof, because you will forget that it’s plastic and you will end up with burnt plastic in your food.