Looking For A Plastic Or Rubber Spatula? Here’s What You Want!

If you’re like me, you do a huge amount of your cooking in a nice nonstick skillet (like this great 12″ Green Earth Frying Pan from Ozeri).  And of course, if you use one of these kinds of pans, you have no intention of ruining it by scratching away the nonstick part with a metal cooking utensil.  That means you need a good rubber spatula, right?  Or maybe a plastic spatula?  Like, maybe you can use one of those $1.35 deals like I saw at the grocery store last, you think?

Well, actually, no.  You don’t want one that’s actually made of plastic or rubber.

No worries, though.  Like I talked about in my article about types of spatulas, this is just a language thing.  You’re probably thinking of the same thing I’m thinking of, you just don’t realize what it’s actually made of.

It’s Actually Silicone, Not Rubber OR Plastic

Modern spatulas, the softish, semi-pliable ones (in other words, the ones that aren’t made of metal), are actually made with a metal core that is enclosed in a layer of soft silicone.  Silicone is actually made of the same stuff as glass (sand), which it gives it some properties like strength that make it great for kitchen utensils, but it’s also pliable like rubber, which makes it absolutely ideal for the kind of spatula you want for cooking in a nonstick pan without scratching it all to hell.

Let’s take a look at some of the properties that make silicone the ideal material for spatulas.

  • It doesn’t conduct a lot of heat, keeping your hands safe
  • It doesn’t react with chemicals (metal cooking implements sometimes react badly with acids in your food)
  • It’s non-toxic
  • It’s heat resistant; it’s not going to melt and leave plastic/rubber in your food
  • Water resistant; it won’t get ruined in your dishwasher
  • It doesn’t stick!
  • Microbes don’t want to grow on it

Okay, So What Spatula Should I Get?

Well, assuming you’re looking for the turner type spatula most people are looking for, my main recommendation and go-to spatula, again, is the OXO Good Grips Silicone Flexible Turner.  It will run in the sub-10-dollar range, will last you a nice long time, and has all the above listed properties of silicone.  It’s got a nice size that is suitable for most applications.  It is probably the BEST VALUE SPATULA FOR MOST PEOPLE!

If you’re looking for something a little bigger, like something that it would be easy to flip things like pancakes and omelets with, I recommend getting the OXO Good Grips Silicone Flexible Pancake Turner.  Honestly, I would get both.

What If I Want A Real VALUE Spatula?

Well, you could go throw your money away on one of those dollar-store specials, but it’s not going to last you very long, and you’ll probably end up with plastic in your food.  If you want to save a few bucks, literally, the Zyliss Silicone Slotted Turner is not a bad bet, but I think it’s worth the trivial amount extra for the OXO, which has a better grip and design, and will last you longer. (Update- This sucker has actually gone up in price since I bought mine. See? Just go with the OXO!)

Okay, Well What’s The Cadillac Of Rubber Spatulas? I Mean, Silicone Spatulas?

If you’re looking for a rubber spatula, I mean a silicone spatula, that is going to last you practically forever, I recommend the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pure Silicone Turner.  It costs a bit more than the OXO, but it’s BASICALLY THE BEST SILICONE SPATULA YOU CAN GET!  I mean, this isn’t rocket science here, folks, it’s still a spatula, and while incredibly important in the kitchen, it’s still a fairly simple machine.

This thing is professionally designed and manufactured, and used by professional cooks around the world.  If you want to cook like a pro, and you don’t want to mess up your pots and pans, this is the spatula for you.  I mean, just look at that thing.  That is a sexy spatula!

Hopefully I’ve convinced you not to damage the integrity of your kitchen and cookware with, ugh, an actual rubber spatula, or a real plastic spatula.  Silicone is usually the way to go when it comes to turners like these, and you’ll get a ton of use out of any of the spatulas that I’ve recommended.

Know Your Types Of Spatulas

In 7th grade, I took a cooking class.  One of the things that sticks out in my head from this experience, besides learning to make a one-minute omelet, was the teacher’s lecture about how the thing I always called a spatula simply isn’t.

“It’s actually called a rubber scraper,” she said, holding up the implement in question, a spatula of the turner variety.  She then showed us what I now as a frosting spatula, and told us that this was what was properly called a spatula.

It’s confusing, and kind of a silly argument over semantics.  In truth, the word is generically used to describe “a small implement with a broad, flat, flexible blade used to mix, spread and lift materials including foods, drugs, plaster and paints”, according to Wikipedia.

In the interest of clearing things up for my readers, here are the utensils most commonly referred to by the word “spatula”.

The Turner

In my mind, this has always been the true spatula.  It’s what almost everybody uses for cooking food in a frying pan or for serving hot food.  It stirs, it flips, it scrapes, it serves.  It’s a jack of many trades, and probably the most useful of these three devices.  If you’re using a pan to cook, you’re also almost definitely using one of these.

A good turner for general use that I recommend to most people is the OXO Good Grips Silicone Flexible Turner pictured above.  It’s AROUND 10 BUCKS, comfortable and easy to use, and heat resistant up to 600 degrees, so you don’t end up with little flakes of melted plastic in your food like you do with really cheap plastic spatulas (don’t get me started; I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate that).

The Scraper

Interestingly, this seems to be what is referred to officially by manufacturers and many cooks these days as a “spatula”, though to me it’s just second fiddle to the turner.  These do what it says on the tin: they scrape.  These are very useful, much more so than a spoon, whisk, or knife when it comes to getting that last bit of batter or sauce out of a bowl or jar.  They’re also great for certain mixing applications.

For the last few years, my main tools in the scraper arena have been the Wilton Easy Flex 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set you see here.  They’re pretty tough for AROUND 10 DOLLARS FOR 3 SPATULAS, and mine show little wear and tear for their years of use.  They’re flexible enough to scrape whatever you need out of whatever it’s in, and the silicon is surprisingly stain resistant.

The Frosting Spatula

This is what Mrs. Dimitrius taught us was the real spatula.  It’s also referred to as a palette knife, as it’s identical in form and function to the tool used to mix and apply paint.  In our case, though, the thing we’re talking about is used to mix and apply frostings and sauces, mainly.

Baking cakes is, admittedly, not my specialty, and I find myself using it more often to apply spreads to sandwiches than to apply frosting to cakes.

My weapon of choice is the Wilton 9 Inch Angled Spatula, which will run you UNDER 10 BUCKS!  My advice is to always get an offset spatula like this if you need one of these, because the bends in the blade part will help prevent you from dipping your fingers in the frosting or sauce while you’re applying it.

There are, obviously, various sub-types of three kitchen utensils, but I’ll delve into those more in future articles.  In the meantime, I’ve provided some insight on the various types of spatulas.

Why Spatulas?

As I began building this site, my wife kept asking me why.  Why was I going to devote my valuable time and energy to a site absolutely dedicated to spatulas?  “It seems like a trivial thing to build a site around,” she told me.

But let me ask you this: when you cook, how often do you use a spatula?

Spatulas are our hands when we don’t want to reach into a hot pan to stir our stir-fries, flip our pancakes, or scramble our eggs.  They are extensions of our body that allow us to serve ludicrously hot food straight out of the oven without harm.  They are the tools we need to mix, to stir, and to apply frostings and sauces without getting ourselves all filthy with delicious, nourishing sustenance.

Can you really call a spatula “a trivial thing”?

They are, without a doubt, one of the most important tools in our war against bad cooking, and with it, bad food.  With the right spatula at your disposal, you can cook damn near anything.

Frankly, I can’t believe nobody has really tried to build a good site on the matter until now.

That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that a big part of my inspiration for all of this, and the seed of my love affair with the most vital of cooking implements was a film from my childhood.

In the film UHF, starring longtime pop-parody superstar “Weird Al” Yankovic, there is a commercial for a store called Spatula City.  They sell nothing but turner-type spatulas, and encourage such things as giving the gift of a spatula to express your undying love.

It’s all a big gag, yeah, but I think that underneath the comedy lies an important truth: life without spatulas would be very different, some would say terrible.  How long do you think you could go without one?

On this site, I hope to present you with all the best information, articles and pictures of these incredible devices, as well as the best prices you can find on the web or anywhere in the world.

Stay tuned. Keep checking the site, because I intend to add a ton of content related to this simple but absolutely vital kitchen tool.