The Tests

  • Remove 1 cup of peas from stockpot of simmering water

  • Remove four poached eggs from nonstick skillet of simmering water

  • Remove 12 meatballs from medium saucepan of oil

  • Remove 12 meatballs from medium saucepan of tomato sauce

  • Remove 1 pound of jumbo shrimp from large skillet of scampi sauce

  • Test with cooks of different genders, dominant hands, and hand sizes

  • Submerge in 24 ounces of pasta sauce with chopped onion for two hours, then run through 10 dishwasher cycles

  • Measure spoon dimensions and weight

We rely on slotted spoons to remove and drain small or delicate foods from boiling water, hot oil, or sauce. To find the best model, we rounded up eight dishwasher-safe nylon, silicone, and stainless-steel spoons, priced from $6.99 to $34.00, and used them to fish out green peas, poached eggs, meatballs, and jumbo shrimp from liquids in different kinds of cookware.

The first things we noticed were the differences between handles. Long handles were better because they kept our fingers away from the heat. Additionally, we preferred rounded handles over flat ones, and we preferred handles without dedicated grips, which limited our holding options. Drainage was not an issue; despite different perforation areas, sizes, and configurations, all the spoons filtered out water, oil, and sauce equally well. While we generally preferred spoons that held more food, the depth and shape of their bowls mattered more than capacity. Shallow bowls slid under food more easily than spoons with deep bowls, and broad bowls held large, irregular foods like jumbo shrimp more securely. The material of the spoon gave us mixed benefits. Nylon and silicone slotted spoons were lighter than stainless-steel models and thus easier to use for extended periods. Silicone spoons were easy to hold, but their tacky exterior meant that their bowls tended to catch and drag on the bottom of pans. More problematic, nylon and silicone bowls tended to be thicker, making it harder to get them up and under food in skillets and saucepans; these spoons tended to push slippery shrimp and meatballs around instead. By contrast, stainless-steel spoons were heavier but typically had much thinner bowl edges, making it easier to slide them underneath food. The metal spoons were also more durable.

The depth and shape of the spoons’ bowls made a big difference when scooping up slippery ingredients or gathering quantities of small foods.

Tastings and testings assistant editor Miye Bromberg sniffs the spoons to check if the nylon and silicone used in some models absorbed any off-odors.

Removing meatballs from tomato sauce was a snap across the board, even with the differences in slot size and configuration.

Our new favorite, the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Slotted Spoon ($9.12), provided the best of both worlds. It had a wide, shallow, very thin bowl that slid under food easily, and because its comfortable, rounded handle was hollow, it was almost as light as a nonmetal spoon.

Winning Traits

  • Lightweight

  • Wide, shallow bowl

  • Thin-edged bowl

  • Long, comfortable handle