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March/April 2017

Silicone Spatulas

A spatula should feel like an extension of your arm, nimbly stirring, scraping, and folding any food you put in its path. Why is a good one so hard to find?

How We Tested

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.

Heads Above

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, 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.

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.

Methodology

We tested 10 silicone spatulas, rating them on their ability to stir, scrape, and fold a wide variety of foods. We also evaluated their compatibility with our favorite pots and pans, mixing bowls, food processor, and stand mixers. A panel of testers evaluated them on general comfort and ease of use. We also rated them on heat resistance and ease of cleanup. All models were purchased online and appear in order of preference.

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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.