Do these supersize restaurant spatulas deserve a place in your kitchen?
How We Tested
Nine times out of ten, we grab a metal or nonstick-safe fish spatula when we want to flip or transfer food. Their heads are thin and flexible enough to get under the food without damaging it and long enough to do a good job of supporting most foods once they’re off the cooking surface. But occasionally we find ourselves wishing we had a tool that was a bit bigger or beefier—something that could help pick up larger or heavier foods, such as a roast or a cake, or corral and flip more pieces of food, such as roasted vegetables, at a time.
The solution can be found on the short-order line at your local diner. Offset metal turners look like supersize offset spatulas: Their heads are broad and long, making them ideal for heavy-duty or high-volume tasks. And, as their name implies, there’s a large “offset” angle between the head and the handle, which can make it easier to scoop up lots of food at a time. We wanted to know whether these tools would be worth stocking in home kitchens, so we bought eight models, priced from about $7 to about $32, and put them to the test, using them to lift and transfer large, delicate tarts and heavy hams; to flip and transfer Roasted Cauliflower from How to Roast Everything and Sheet Pan Hash Browns; and to smash, flip, and transfer Griddled Smashed Burgers from The Ultimate Burger.
Head Dimensions Are Important
We liked most of the turners, though some were better at certain tasks than others. As we’d seen in other spatula testings, the design of their heads was key. Testers liked heads with plenty of surface area—about 23 square inches was ideal—that could pick up a significant amount of food in a single pass without being unwieldy.
The dimensions of the heads mattered, too. We preferred models with long but relatively narrow heads measuring about 7.5 by 3 inches. These longer heads allowed us to easily flip large swathes of hash browns, smash two burgers at a time into thin, crispy patties, and securely pick up large tarts. These models also provided a little more distance between our hands and the surface of the screaming-hot stovetop griddle when we were flipping the burgers. Although turners with smaller heads were better at maneuvering in tighter spaces and a touch easier to control when flipping food, they took about the same number of passes to turn food as our favorite fish spatula, and they could only smash one burger at a time. Plus, transferring tarts with these smaller heads felt a bit precarious.
Models with broader, square-ish heads offered the greatest security when transferring tarts, owing to their large surface area. They were also good at smashing two burgers at a time. But because they were so broad and heavy (they weighed nearly a pound), they were awkward to maneuver and tired our arms quickly.
Heads of Tapered Thickness Were Best
The thickness of the heads was also important. Those that were 1.6 to 2 millimeters thick were rigid and didn’t bend when picking up heavy items such as an 8-pound ham. But these same heads were too chunky to get under food easily, instead chipping the edges of delicate tart crusts and pushing cauliflower florets around the baking sheet. Our favorite turners offered a good compromise, with head thicknesses that tapered from 1.3 to 1.5 millimeters at the back ends to 0.6 to 0.9 millimeters at the front ends. As a result, they were sturdy enough to support a whole tart but flexible enough to wiggle under food easily. Most couldn’t support a whole ham, but we found this to be only a small detractor.
Rounded Edges and a Solid Construction
Two final notes about the design of the heads. Heads with square corners did a good job of dislodging food from cooking surfaces, but those with sharper edges often nicked burgers and flaky tarts or gouged the aluminum foil under the cauliflower. Testers preferred heads with rounded edges that slipped under food more fluidly. And while the holes on one model’s head helped drain excess grease, they occasionally caught on the exteriors of soft burgers and cauliflower, tearing them; most testers preferred solid, unperforated heads.
Handle Angle, Length, and Material Are Important
A few other details helped determine our favorites. First, the “offset” angle between head and handle. We preferred models that had a large, nearly 90-degree angle between head and handle; they gave us more leverage and kept our hands farther from the hot cooking surface than models with smaller angles did.
Handles that were about 5 inches long were long enough to accommodate hands of all sizes and allowed for more control when flipping or lifting. Longer handles made the turners feel poorly balanced, forcing us to position our hands closer to the heads to get better control when flipping or transferring food.
We liked handles made from soft or textured plastics, which were easier to grip than models with handles made of slicker, harder plastics, especially when they were wet or greasy. We also voted against wood handles; one was unpleasantly rough, and both of these turners had to be hand-washed—we prefer models that can be thrown in the dishwasher after use.
The Best Offset Turner: Dexter Russell Steak Turner
The Dexter Russell Steak Turner is our winner. Its solid head is long and spacious, so it can scoop up plenty of food at a time. While the back end of the head is thick and sturdy, helping it support large tarts easily, its front edge is thin, flexible, and rounded, allowing it to slip easily under food. And with a 5-inch-long handle made from textured plastic and set at a steep angle, it’s easy to grip and allows for good control. For a less expensive option, we also liked the Mercer Culinary M18310 Hell’s Handle High Heat 8" x 3" Perforated Rounded Edge Turner; its head is perforated, causing it to occasionally tear delicate foods, but otherwise it’s an excellent choice.
We tested eight offset turners priced from about $6 to about $32, using them to lift and transfer large, delicate tarts and heavy hams; to flip and transfer hash browns and roasted cauliflower florets; and to smash, flip, and transfer Smashburgers. We washed them according to the manufacturers’ instructions five times. We evaluated them on their performance, ease of use, and durability/ease of cleanup. All models were purchased online and are listed in order of preference.
Performance: We rated the turners on how much food they could hold and flip and how securely they lifted hams and tarts.
Ease of Use: We evaluated the turners on how comfortable and secure they were to hold and how nimbly they maneuvered around cookware of different sizes.
Durability/Ease of Cleanup: We rated the turners on how durable they were and how easy they were to clean.