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June/July 2014

Grill Spatulas

Is there one all-purpose model that’s nimble enough for a grillful of burgers and sturdy enough to flip heavy swordfish steaks?

How We Tested

Grill spatulas are long-handled turners designed to keep your hands away from the flames while grilling. In our lineup of eight models priced from $10.99 to almost $41, we hoped that at least one would pass all our tests—turning large swordfish steaks, grilled pizzas, and closely packed hamburgers—with assurance, proving to be comfortable, secure, and maneuverable enough for any job.

Wondering if a dedicated grill spatula was even really necessary, we also tested our favorite indoor metal spatula. Quickly it became apparent that a long handle and a larger head were essential, so we set the indoor model aside.

Ideally, a spatula head will be wide enough to support the pizzas and broad swordfish steaks but not too large to maneuver between crowded burgers. Extra-wide heads of about 5 inches were great with swordfish steaks but a liability with crowded burgers: Testers had to ease the corners of these spatula heads under the burgers, requiring concentration and finesse. (If you’re grilling just a couple of burgers with ample space between them, practically any long-handled spatula will turn them without incident.) Conversely one model, with the narrowest head of the bunch at 3 3/8 inches, made it easy to turn the burgers but left some testers feeling less sure while turning the broad swordfish. Spatulas with heads of medium width, roughly 4 inches, offered the best compromise of support and dexterity.

The spatulas’ handles were no less important. We included people of varying heights and strengths among our testers because some of the spatulas seemed quite hefty. That turned out to be a good call because those who were taller, with larger hands, didn’t notice variations in weight, grip size, and position. But for smaller testers, heavy spatulas felt like baseball bats, and thick handle grips, or grips that required you to hold the very end of the handle, were awkward and unwieldy.

All testers agreed, however, on handle grip shape and material. Rounded grips without any edges were universally comfortable, and everyone favored plastic and wood over the metal grip, from one maker, which got hot if left right next to the body of the grill.

Testers were also unanimous in their enthusiasm for the offset handle of one model, the only such design in the lineup. The handle was set 45 degrees above the head, providing extra clearance between the griller’s hand and the grill. Testers felt that this design improved leverage and gave this spatula a remarkably nimble feel, far and away the best of the bunch.

So which spatula handled swordfish, pizza, and bunches of burgers with equal aplomb? None worked perfectly (hence none fall into the Highly Recommended category), but one stood out as the best possible compromise. Its midsize head got all the jobs done, and its nimble offset handle and comfortable, rounded plastic grip made it the class leader, hands down. As an added bonus, this was among the least expensive of the grill spatulas in our testing.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB