Spatulas originally started as versatile cooking tools, but just like any other utensil from spoons to forks to bowls in a more modern kitchen, they’ve slowly become specialized. Now, there are several types of spatulas on the market available in different materials that you use for various cooking things.
These differences are much more than aesthetic. It’s possible to be very flexible with your utensil sets in your kitchen, but you don’t want to wait until you’re trying to prepare a special meal for a crowd to figure out how to best use each one. We’re going to touch on 16 types of spatulas you can have in your home and how to use them below.
1. Baking Spatula
Baking spatulas are those types of spatulas that come with a narrow blade, and they have a flexible, thin stainless steel blade on them. This is why you could classify this is a metal spatula too. For the name, this type of spatula is best for decorating cakes or pastries. You can also use it to serve slices of bars, cake, or pies.
2. BBQ Spatula
As the name suggests, this type of spatula is very commonly used in grilling. It’s a slotted design with holes that allow liquids and oils to drain through. However, you don’t have to limit this spatula’s use to BBQs. You can also easily use it to flip burgers, turn steaks, or toss vegetables.
3. Fish Spatula
One of the most popular types of slotted spatulas you can buy is the fish spatula. This is one of the most essential kitchen utensils you can have on hand. These spatulas usually feature metal or stainless steel in the design to make them more durable. They have a larger shape with slotted holes, and this makes them great for flipping fish filets or pancakes and draining the liquid or oil from the food before you plate it.
4. Frosting Spatula
This type of spatula is a common spreader type. It comes designed especially to use to spread a substance onto a flat surface, including cake frosting. If you’re organizing a sandwich party for guests, this type of spatula is great for having to put spreads on sandwiches in large quantities.
5. Grilling spatula
Grilling spatulas are one of the most durable you can get, and they get created to withstand the roughness that comes with being in direct contact with the hot coals and being outdoors. This type of spatula is very similar to a flipping one, but it doesn’t have any holes or slots in the design. Instead, you get an ultra-smooth blade that won’t trap any pieces of meat or whatever you’re cooking inside of them. Some models may also come with a bent handle, and this will help keep your hand an inch or so away from the hot surface.
This type of spatula is very common to flip and transfer items from the grill to your plate. However, heavier metal spatulas work well as a smasher that you use to press a piece of meat while cooking it to ensure that it’s cooked through.
6. Icing Spatula
The icing spatula is a type of spreading spatula, and you may hear it referred to as a palette knife. The main thing you use it for is to spread the icing or frosting, or another substance on cakes, bread, and more. It comes with a very thin shape that looks like a knife with a rounded tip, and you can use it to slice cake too
7. Metal or Stainless Steel
A metal or stainless steel type of spatula is more resilient and durable. It can easily resist contact with very high temperatures, so it’s a good material for a grilling or flipper spatula. Also, these spatulas can be cast with a very thin shape to them, and this can make it easier to use them to handle crumbly items.
It’s rare that this type of spatula will use the shape due to exposure to direct height. They usually have a beveled edge with a square shape and rounded corners to prevent you from cutting your hands on accident. However, whichever model you pick out should come with a thicker wooden handle to make it safer to use. Metal can go from barley warm to scorching hot very quickly, but the wood won’t heat up. This type of spatula can also damage non-stick coating on pans or pots if you’re not careful.
8. Offset Spatula
In short, an offset spatula is a narrower and longer version of the spreading spatula. They come with a bend right before the handle This allows you to cover a wider surface without your wrist tiring out. This type of spatula is usually silicone or metal, and they’re rarely available in plastic. However, they are more rare as they have a narrow field of action, so it’s not uncommon for professional bakers only to buy these spatulas.
9. Perforated Flipper Spatula
Sometimes called turners, this type of spatula has a long handle with a thin, wide trapezoid surface to hold the food. This surface is also called the blade and it usually comes with holes that allow you to leave any liquid like sauce or grease behind. The purpose of this type of spatula is to flip your items on a hot pan. Because of this use, many are made out of metal. This allows you to have a thinner blade that can slide under the food without damaging it.
10. Plastic Spatula
Plastic spatulas are usually very easy to find and cheap to buy, and virtually any type of spatula on the market will have a plastic version available if you’re trying to set up your kitchen on a tight budget. They’re very easy to clean, and they’ll resist heavy scrubbing, dishwashers, and accidentally dropping them. However, they can leach chemicals into your food, and if you ever sit your plastic spatula on top of a hot skillet and leave it, it’ll melt and lose its shape.
11. Rubber Spatula
Rubber is a softer material that is decently good at regulating heat. Additionally, it can also be cheap without carrying the risks that plastic does. These qualities make this type of spatula a good pick for spreading frosting and baking projects. On the other hand, it’s a good idea to keep these spatulas away from tomato-based dishes or curries as it stains very easily.
12. Scraping Spatula
Typically made out of plastic or rubber, this type of spatula is one of the most popular and budget-friendly options you can have. These are the spatulas that you loved to play with as a kid when you helped your parents in the kitchen. They usually have a very rough rectangular blade with rounded edges. They can have a rounded ridge on one of both sides of the blade.
Even though this type of spatula works well to scrape the cookie dough off the bottom of the bowl, they can also work well as flippers. Scraping spatulas are usually slightly thicker, so they can cause damage to your more delicate food if you’re not careful. You don’t want them to be near open flames or on hot pans.
13. Silicone Spatula
Quality-wise these types of spatulas are slightly better than rubber ones. They’re a nice alternative to metal spatula if you’re going to use them with non-stick pans and cookware. Silicone is available in virtually any type of spatula model, but they’re very popular with baking or making sweets. It has a tendency to hold stronger odors, so if you’re going to be dealing with food with a strong aroma like fried onions, it can easily transfer the scent into the spatula material.
14. Slotted Spatula
Slotted types of spatulas have the same features and shape of the perforated spatulas. However, they usually have slits along the blade instead of a series of holes, and each slot is roughly ¼ inch wide. All the holes are usually bigger than the ones you’ll find on a perforated spatula. The reason these spatulas come with slits is to help the blade slide under the food without breaking it. Because of this, they’re a great option if you’re making meatballs, crepes, or any other food that you want to hold a shape.
Besides using this type of spatula to slice food, they work well to flip food and filter substances or food by keeping the solid portion on the blade and draining the liquid through the slots. Turner, flipper, and the fish spatula are all part of the slotted spatula family.
15. Spreading spatula
This type of spatula is a lot less popular than flippers, but you don’t use them for frying. Intead, they’re niche uses that you use for plating your meals or in food decor. Spreading spatulas work to help you spread a thick sauce, gravy, or frosting on a flat surface. They’re usually long, thin, and straight in the design, and they don’t come with any holes or slits. The blade is usually plastic or metal, and it has dull and rounded edges.
This is a spatula that you’ll use whenever you want to get an even layer of cream cheese besides a large loaf of Pullman bread. Silicone or rubber spreaders are also great to help cover the sides of a sheet cake with buttercream or icing.
The final type of spatula on the list is a wooden one, and they’re both eco-friendly and inexpensive. This is a very popular material for anyone who wants to preserve their non-stick cooking pots or pans. They also have a comfortable grip that won’t heat up and burn your hand. If you take care of it correctly, this spatula can last for decades. You want to wash it immediately after you use it and dry it thoroughly.
Since wood is a porous, organic material, it does offer a nice environment for bacteria to grow. However, you should be able to get rid of them by washing it thoroughly after each use. You also want to avoid using this type of spatula when you handle raw meat.
How to Clean Your Spatulas
Keeping your types of spatulas clean is essential before you pop them into your drawer to store it. The best way to clean most types of spatulas is to look at any instructions the manufacturer gives you when you buy it. Most of the spatulas you’ll buy today are safe to put in your dishwasher.
If you’re going to use a wooden spatula, keep this in mind. You don’t want to put it into the dishwasher, and you shouldn’t soak them in water for long periods. Before you store them, it’s critical that you dry them completely, and you can use a cooling rack for this purpose. If there is an odor, you can use some dish soap or baking soda to strip it off. Just make sure that you rinse it thoroughly to remove any residue.
Pros and Cons of Popular Spatula Materials
Spatulas can come in five main materials, and each has pros and cons attached to them. The following list will highlight the biggest things to consider when you’re trying to figure out a material for your type of spatula.
- Long-lasting and durable
- Conducts heat and can burn
- Slightly more expensive
- Very easy to clean
- Doesn’t tend to stick
- Won’t damage pans
- Can leach chemicals into the food
- Not durable
- Relatively cheap
- Widely available
- Won’t scratch cookware
- Can easily stain
- Not heatproof and can melt
- Doesn’t stick to a lot
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Widely available
- Can hold scents of what you cook
- Easy to cut with a knife
- Very cost-effective
- Can’t withstand the dishwasher
- Can hold bacteria and food particles
We’ve outlined 16 types of spatulas you can use around your kitchen for various projects, and you can easily have several on hand for different uses. You can start with plastic versions and move to the more durable wood or metal versions when you figure out which ones meet your needs the best.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.