A good grill spatula should be agile and sturdy and should keep cooks’ hands cool.
Published Jan. 7, 2021. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 22: Pork Chops and Blondies
When you’re cooking on a hot grill, you need a grill spatula that’s not going to let you down. It should be agile enough to slip between wall-to-wall burgers and get right under the one you want to flip. It should feel balanced and not too heavy, and it should be long enough to reach all the way to the back of the grate without roasting your forearms. It should be thin enough to slide under fish fillets but strong enough to help you hoist a big turkey or pork butt off the grill without dropping the food. It should wash up easily and stay in good shape so that it’s ready for your next cookout.
When we last tested grill spatulas, we chose a Weber model that we found comfortable, secure, and maneuverable enough for any job. But when that spatula was relaunched under a new name and model number, we took the opportunity to compare it with new competitors and bought a total of seven, priced from about $8.50 to about $37.00. We grilled dozens of burgers, flipped skin-on salmon fillets, and grilled pizzas to see how the spatulas fared with a variety of recipes, rating them on their performance, ease of use, cleanup, and durability. To evaluate how sturdily they were constructed, we dropped them onto the pavement from grill height, and then, to simulate lifting heavy roasts, we used them to lift bags of flour. We washed those that were dishwasher-safe in the dishwasher and hand-washed the rest to see how easy they were to keep clean and in good condition.
We tried our favorite “indoor” metal spatula and our favorite offset turner on the grill, and while we loved their agility, we quickly gave up that notion when our hands and arms felt scorched. All the long-handled, dedicated grill spatulas in our lineup did a better job keeping us comfortable, especially while reaching toward the back of the grill. So unless you plan to wear heatproof elbow-length grill gloves all the time, get a grill spatula. Our lineup ranged in overall length from 16¼ inches to 21 inches. The 21-inch model sometimes felt slightly too long, giving us a bit less leverage and control. The rest were all acceptable and helped keep us cooler over the heat.
The biggest determinant of success in a grill spatula was the shape and flexibility of its head. The front edge of the spatula with the widest head measured 4 inches across, and it was a challenge to get it under a single burger without knocking into its neighbors. On the other hand, its breadth came in handy when we were lifting wider pizzas and supporting fish fillets.
At the other end of the spectrum, the spatulas with the narrowest heads (less th...
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Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.