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The Best Compact Spatulas

The surprisingly versatile utensil that can handle (almost) anything.

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Last Updated Apr. 1, 2018. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: Butter-Basted Fish and Succotash

UpdateAPRIL 2018
Our winning spatula, the KitchenAid Cookie/Pastry Lifter, is being phased out and will ultimately be discontinued by the manufacturer, though there are still some available for sale. In light of this eventual elimination, our new winner is the OXO Good Grips Silicone Cookie Spatula.
See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

Compact spatulas—often marketed as cookie spatulas—are bigger than jar scrapers but smaller than standard spatulas. They’re made from a variety of materials, including plastic, silicone, and stainless steel, and can be narrow and elongated or short and squat—but they’re all designed to deftly navigate tight spaces such as crowded baking pans and cookie sheets.

Our previous winner, the OXO Good Grips Cookie Spatula, earned high marks because it easily slid under cookies. Since we last tested, though, we realized that these utensils were useful not only for desserts but also in frying pans. So with new models available, we retested, setting out to find a compact spatula that could handle baked goods as well as skillet fare. We selected seven models priced from about $7.00 to about $15.00, including our former winner. We tested them on cookies and brownies; although our recipes recommend an aluminum foil sling for easy brownie removal, we realize that many people slice them in the pan. And because people also use these small spatulas when cooking foods in skillets, we used them to make over-easy eggs and pancakes. In each task, we compared them with our winning metal spatula, the Wüsthof Gourmet Slotted Turner/Fish Spatula.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that some compact spatulas excelled where our winning metal spatula struggled—namely, desserts—and that they were great for some skillet tasks. Most of the compact spatulas had a fairly rigid head with minimal “bend,” which allowed us to scrape (and eat) every bit of brownie crust from the pan—a definite plus. The one model with a more flexible head couldn’t remove those brownie remnants. But the most crucial factors in a great compact spatula were material, head dimensions, and handle length.

Plastic and silicone spatulas outperformed metal ones for two reasons: First, plastic and silicone gripped cookies more securely, so we could easily transfer them from baking sheet to cooling rack with no slipping or sliding. With the metal spatulas, all made of stainless steel, we could easily lift cookies but found that they frequently slid around on the spatula heads—and sometimes fell off altogether.

Metal spatulas were generally slicker than plastic and silicone ones—we could tell by just running our hands over them—so it made sense that the cookies slipped off them more readily. But we also learned from our science editor that the fat from the cookies creates a certain lubricity, or slipperiness, on the surface of the spatula. That fat adheres well to plastic and silicone materials because they’re hydrophobic—they repel water but are typically drawn to fat. Metal, however, is ...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.

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