Stir mix-ins into thick cookie dough in stand mixer bowl
Stir scrambled eggs in 10-inch nonstick skillet
Stir onions in 4-quart saucepan
Stir risotto in 4-quart saucepan
Stir chopped carrots in Dutch oven
Scrape chopped carrots from food processor with blade in place; check for cuts
Fold whipped egg whites into cake batter in large mixing bowl
Fold fruit puree into whipped cream in stand mixer bowl
Scrape fond from 12-inch traditional skillet
Scrape scrambled eggs from skillet without breaking up curds
Scrape honey from 1-cup measuring cup and small mixing bowl
Submerge in warm tomato sauce, minced garlic, and curry powder for 2 hours; wash
Rest in 450-degree cast-iron skillet for 10 minutes
Wash 35 times in dishwasher or 35 times by hand if not dishwasher-safe
Wash an additional 12 times by hand throughout testing
Whether we’re baking or cooking, scrambling or sautéing, flipping or folding, a heatproof silicone spatula is one of the busiest tools in our kitchen. Nine years ago, we gave top honors to a heatproof model that is ubiquitous in restaurant kitchens but can sometimes feel too big and unwieldy at home. So we rounded up 10 spatulas priced from $6.95 to $18.67 from the dizzying array available, including our previous winner and a retooled version of our old runner-up. We subjected each to a slew of recipe tests, as well as evaluations of cut resistance, stain and odor resistance, heat resistance, and durability to see which stood out from the pack. With some products, comfort was an issue. Performance was also an issue, with some spatulas failing to reach into the edges of saucepans or leaving pockets of unmixed food. Others left streaks of batter on the sides of bowls.
To understand the differences, we first looked at the spatulas’ heads. Models with smaller heads moved less food with each pass, so it took more work to mix cookie dough or stir risotto. But larger heads weren’t necessarily better. Two models barely fit inside a food processor bowl or a 1-cup dry measuring cup. In general we found that midsize heads (roughly 4 by 2½ inches) were fast and effective at almost every task.
The shape of the head proved very important, too. Models with sharply angled top edges lacked breadth, so we struggled to empty measuring cups and efficiently stir scrambled eggs. Those with handles that were inserted into the head, much like a Popsicle stick, often created annoying ridges on the blade where food got stuck, which prevented thorough mixing and made it difficult to wipe the blade clean.
Thickness and rigidity also mattered. One chubby, stiff-headed model skidded over bowl sides, cut too-wide swaths through food, and threatened to deflate fluffy whipped cream and egg whites. Meanwhile, the flimsy heads on two other models curled up when we gently pushed them against a skillet or bowl. The best options had a fairly straight top edge and one gently curved corner that matched the contours of bowls, and they struck the right balance between rigidity and flexibility.
Hard to Handle
Handles were also key. Narrow handles were uncomfortable to grip. One chunky handle was comfortable only when we gripped it with a fist, which forced us to stir inefficiently and awkwardly. Others were slick and slid around in our hands. A couple of spatulas with short, fatter handles were impossible to grip effectively; another had holes that made for awkward grasping.
Our favorite handles boasted a fairly even width and were neither too hefty nor too narrow. We liked textured silicone handles because they stayed securely in our hands. Most silicone handles also resisted melting when we left them resting on the lip of a hot skillet. (Wood came out unscathed in this test, but plastic handles developed deep grooves.) In terms of length, the best spatula was on the shorter side and also had good affordance, meaning a shape and design that allows for multiple grips.
In general, we preferred models made from one seamless piece of silicone. In one model with a two-piece design, dishwater accumulated in the crevices and later dripped into freshly whipped cream.
Bad Spatulas in Action
Our new all-purpose winner, the di Oro Living Seamless Silicone Spatula ($10.97), has an exceptionally comfortable handle, strikes the right balance between strength and flexibility, and has straight sides that made for thorough scraping. Its head was a bit small for maximum efficiency in folding tasks, which is why we are also recommending our former winner from Rubbermaid ($14.50), whose large head and long handle make it highly effective for use in deep pots and bowls. With these two spatulas on hand, any kitchen will be well equipped.
Fourteen Separate Tests, Four Testers
We put each spatula through a gauntlet of tests in a wide range of kitchen equipment and using a diverse group of testers (short and tall, lefty and righty).
1. Fold whipped egg whites into cake batter in large mixing bowl.
2. Fold fruit puree into whipped cream in stand mixer bowl.
3. Stir mix-ins into thick cookie dough in stand mixer bowl.
4. Stir scrambled eggs in 10-inch nonstick skillet.
5. Stir onions in 4-quart saucepan.
6. Stir risotto in 4-quart saucepan.
7. Stir chopped carrots in Dutch oven.
8. Scrape scrambled eggs from pan without breaking up curds.
9. Scrape fond from 12-inch traditional skillet.
10. Scrape honey from measuring cup and small mixing bowl.
11. Rest in 450-degree cast-iron skillet for 10 minutes.
12. Scrape processor bowl with blade in place; check for cuts.
13. Submerge in warm tomato sauce, minced garlic, and curry powder for 2 hours; wash.*
14. Wash 35 times in dishwasher or 35 times by hand if not dishwasher-safe.
*washed an additional 12 times by hand throughout testing