Spatulas: The Secret to Perfect Cooking- Here’s How to Use Them

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A spatula is “a small implement with a broad, flat, flexible blade used to mix, spread and lift material” including foods, drugs, plaster and paints. It derives from the Latin word for a flat piece of wood or splint (a diminutive form of the Latin spatha, meaning broadsword), and hence can also refer to a tongue depressor. The words spade (digging tool) and spathe are similarly derived. The word spatula is known to have been used in English since 1525.

When you’re cooking, you need to use a spatula for almost everything. From flipping burgers to scraping bowls, there are many different types of spatulas to choose from.

In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about choosing the right spatula for your needs and how to use it properly.

What is a spatula

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Getting to Know Your Spatulas

A spatula is a versatile kitchen tool that is mainly used for scraping, mixing, and stirring ingredients. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, and is an essential tool for any cooking enthusiast. Spatulas are meant to help you work with food in different ways, such as spreading, folding, or protecting ingredients while cooking.

Types of Spatulas

There are different types of spatulas, each with unique features and uses. Some of the most common types include:

  • Rubber spatulas: Ideal for scraping bowls and folding ingredients together. They come in different shapes and sizes, including rectangular and rounded.
  • Metal spatulas: Excellent for flipping grilled or prepared food, such as burgers or pancakes. They have a straight edge and a long handle, making it easy to turn food without getting too close to the heat.
  • Wooden spatulas: Meant for stirring and mixing ingredients in hot pans. They are made of wood, which helps to prevent excess moisture from sticking to the pan.
  • Scraper spatulas: Designed to help you remove excess food from cans or bowls. They have a wide, flat blade that can be pushed against the sides of the container to remove as much food as possible.

How to Choose the Right Spatula

Choosing the right spatula is crucial for proper cooking. Here are some tips to help you choose the ideal spatula for your needs:

  • Consider the size and shape of the spatula: Make sure it is the right size and shape for the job you want to do.
  • Look at the materials: Different materials have different uses, so choose the one that best fits your needs.
  • Check the quality: Make sure the spatula is well-made and durable enough to stand up to frequent use.
  • Think about the features: Some spatulas come with unique features, such as a tip that can be used for stirring or reaching into tight spaces.

Choosing the Perfect Spatula: A Guide to Different Types

When it comes to spatulas, the type of material used can make a big difference in how it performs. Here are some common materials to consider:

  • Metal: A metal spatula is great for heavier work, like flipping large proteins or running under foods to scrape them off the grill. They’re also easy to clean and store, but be careful not to use them on delicate dishes or non-stick pans, as they can scratch the surface.
  • Wood: A wooden spatula is perfect for stirring and scraping in a hot, dry pan. They’re gentle on delicate foods and won’t scratch non-stick surfaces. Just be sure to choose a solid, close-grained wood that won’t splinter or break easily.
  • Silicone: A silicone spatula is a convenient tool for cooking, as it can be used for a wide range of tasks. It’s heat-resistant, easy to clean, and won’t scratch non-stick surfaces. Plus, it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes to serve different purposes.

Styles and Shapes

Spatulas come in a variety of styles and shapes, each serving a specific purpose. Here are some of the most common kinds:

  • Traditional: A traditional spatula consists of a thin, slightly rounded blade and a long handle. It’s great for flipping and turning foods on a grill or griddle.
  • Slotted: A slotted spatula has small holes in the blade, allowing excess water or grease to drain away. It’s perfect for preparing greasy or sticky foods.
  • Offset: An offset spatula has a bent blade that allows you to get close to the surface of a dish without getting your hand too close to the heat. It’s great for spreading frosting or smoothing out a layer of chopped nuts.

Benefits and Features

When choosing a spatula, there are a few key features to consider:

  • Size: Make sure to choose a spatula that’s the right size for the dish you’re preparing. A small spatula may be great for delicate work, but won’t work well for larger dishes.
  • Edges: Look for a spatula with smooth, rounded edges to avoid scratching delicate surfaces.
  • Heavier blades: A heavier blade can make it easier to flip larger proteins or run under foods to scrape them off the grill.
  • Proper storage: Some spatulas come with features like holes in the handle for easy hanging or a flat edge for standing upright on a counter.

Mastering the Art of Using a Rubber Spatula

Before you begin cooking, make sure your rubber spatula is clean and dry. If you’re using a new spatula, wash it with warm, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly. If you’re reusing an old spatula, check for any remnants of food or batter and wash it off.

Scraping the Bowl

When you’re mixing ingredients in a bowl, use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the contents are well incorporated. This is especially important when working with thicker mixtures like cookie dough or pastry batter.

Pushing Food Around

When you’re cooking on the stove, use a rubber spatula to push food around in the pan. This is especially useful when you’re making scrambled eggs or a sauce that needs constant stirring.

Turning Food Over

Use a rubber spatula to turn food over in the pan. This is useful when you’re cooking pancakes, eggs, or anything that needs to be flipped.

Measuring Ingredients

A rubber spatula can also be used to measure ingredients. Use the flat end of the spatula to level off ingredients like butter or flour.

Working with Silicone Spatulas

Silicone spatulas are great because they can bend and conform to the shape of the bowl or pan. However, they can also be a bit flimsy when working with thicker mixtures. If you’re having trouble incorporating ingredients, switch to a rubber spatula.

Using a Spatula Attachment on a Mixer

If you have a mixer with a paddle or whisk attachment, use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl while the mixer is running. This will ensure that all the ingredients are well incorporated.

Stopping Food from Running

If you’re working with a saucepan and need to stop the contents from running, use a rubber spatula to create a barrier.

Melting Chocolate or Butter

When you’re melting chocolate or butter, use a rubber spatula to stir the contents. This will prevent the chocolate or butter from sticking to the sides of the saucepan.

Placing Croissant Dough on a Mat

When you’re making croissants, use a rubber spatula to spread the dough into a rectangle and then use the spatula to lift the dough and place it on a mat.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to using a rubber spatula. With time, you’ll become a pro at scraping, mixing, and turning food with ease.


So, there you have it- all the tips you need to know about using a spatula when cooking. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types and sizes, and remember to have fun!

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Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.