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Spatula or Turner?


There are three basic categories for spatulas – the classic spatula, a turner and an icing spatula.

First, the classic spatula.

This is what most people think of as a spatula. The first spatulas popular with homemakers were made from plastic and/or rubber. The main purpose is to scrape bowls to get all the batter or soft dough from a mixing bowl. They are also used for folding and blending ingredients where a more gentle approach is needed. The lesser expensive plastic ones are not, nor have been heat tempered and will melt if left in contact with a high heat source.

Classic spatulas generally have a flat head and come in various widths and colors. If made of plastic, they are typically molded from a single piece and tend to be the most affordable options. The basic rubber spatulas will have a plastic handle.

The newer and more popular spatulas made from silicone rubber have heat tolerances up to 800°F (425°C). This may seem excessive but if you are using the spatula to stir a cream sauce or something similar in a saucepan on the stove, you will find the high heat silicone invaluable. The handles on these newer silicone versions are made from wood, metal and sometimes, silicone formed over a metal core. Also, these colored silicone spatulas won’t stain like the lesser expensive rubber/plastic ones. The higher the heat tolerances, the higher the price.

A turner, sometimes known also as pancake turner, is a tool for lifting or removing food from a pan, or for turning food so the other side can cook. We have all used them while cooking foods like pancakes, bacon, ham, hamburgers, fish, potatoes, eggs and cookies.

The turner is the product that some people have in mind when they ask for a spatula and sometimes get frustrated when kitchen shop employees direct them to the “other” spatulas.

Some turners have slots in them to allow fats and juices to drip through when the food is raised out of the pan. There are very specific versions of turners are known as fish spatulas. The fish spatulas tend to be longer and/or wider to enable the cook to lift an entire fillet without breaking. These fish turners come with or without slots, but most have slots.

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