Grill Spatulas

From Cook's Country | June/July 2014

Overview:

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… read more

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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