Spatula, scraper, flipper, turner; there are so many of them! Or are they the same thing? What would the shop assistant give you if you asked for a spatula?
So what is the difference between a spatula and a turner? There are numerous tools in the spatula category. However, the rubber-headed scrapers are what we commonly refer to as spatulas, used for mixing and flipping food. Turners are also spatulas, but they are meant to be used for lifting and turning food.
If you’ve ever been asked to hand someone the spatula and turned around to see a whole mess of tools that could go by that name, we’re about to clear the air. Read on to learn all the differences between spatulas and turners.
What Are the Differences Between a Spatula and a Turner?
Kitchen utensils, as simple as some of them may be, get very confusing at times.
This is because we buy a number of them and throw them all in the same drawer or without category or reason and simply pull them out as needed.
We see all types of spatulas collected in a single drawer. We know how to use them and when to use them, but when it comes to differentiating between the spatulas we own, things get slightly confusing.
One of the most perplexing questions one can ask about kitchen utensils is, what is the difference between a spatula and a turner?
As we have already mentioned, a turner is a type of spatula. So how do you spot a turner among other spatulas? What makes a turner a turner and what is the kind of spatula we refer to when we say spatula?
We have compared these two kitchen utensils to find out the key differences between them and in which aspects they overlap.
What Is a Spatula?
A spatula is a staple kitchen tool. In comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.
The thing with spatulas is that we call everything that turns, spread, scrapes, and flips a spatula.
So, the term spatula is often very broadly used. We use it to refer to any tool that presents a wide, flat head attached to a long handle.
The heads of spatulas are usually rubber or silicone, but can also be made of wood or metal.
Those who have a more profound kitchen knowledge like to differentiate between tools and call them by their specific names.
In this respect, the term spatula often describes the kitchen utensil that has a bendable silicone head. In fact, if you google a spatula, the prevailing majority of pictures that appear are silicone scrapers.
What Is a Turner?
Turners, as their name suggests, are used for lifting and turning or flipping food.
To answer your question about whether a turner is not the same as a spatula, yes it is. A turner is a type of spatula.
While many people associate scrapers with the term spatula, the first thing that comes to the mind of others when they hear it may a turner. This depends on what cooking tasks one undertakes the most.
In short, turners are spatulas designed for turning and flipping food. This can be anything from pancakes to patties.
Spatula Vs Turner – Comparison [Chart]
As you can see from the chart above, there are a few other differences that set turners apart from the broader categories of spatulas.
|Common head material||Silicone, metal, wood||Stainless steel, nylon|
|Head shape||Rounded or rectangular||Straight, slightly angled or slightly rounded|
|Types||Baking spatulas (scrapers, spreaders) Cooking spatulas (turners)||Perforated turners Solid turners Slotted turners|
|Thickness||Varies depending on the type of spatula||Very thin to slide under food|
|Best used for||Scraping bowls clean, mixing food, spreading icing||Lifting food, turning and flipping|
|Reaction to heat||Not always designed for heat cooking||Always designed for heat cooking|
Some of these key differences include the shapes and materials of spatulas and turners.
Turners are for flipping flat items, such as patties, pancakes, fish fillets, cutlets, etc. They have a straight or slightly rounded tip. Angled tips are common for turners, as they make sliding under delicate food easier.
Spatulas come in a range of shapes. However, with all kinds of spatulas except for turners, straight edges are uncommon.
The main functions of spatulas are scarping mixtures off mixing bowls, mixing food in the pan, or spreading icing on cakes. You won’t find straight and angled tips on most spatulas.
Spatulas come in a variety of materials. They may or may not be heat-resistant depending on the type of spatula and what it should be used for.
Scrapers are usually either plastic or silicone. Spreaders, on the other hand, almost always have a metal head.
Turners, unlike spatulas, are always heat-resistant. The best turners are the stainless steel ones, as they can withstand very high heat.
However, you can also find turners with nylon heads. The melting point of nylon is 515°F, which is way lower than that of stainless steel.
Types of Spatulas and Turners
As we have already mentioned, spatula is a broad term. This name is used for a variety of kitchen utensils, including turners.
Types of Spatulas
All in all, spatulas can be divided into two groups – baking spatulas and cooking spatulas.
Baking spatulas include the well-known scrapers, which many people think are true spatulas, and spreaders.
Silicone-headed spatulas (scrapers) are very popular among bakers.
These rubber-like tools are widely used for scraping cake batters, creams, and frostings off mixing bowls. Due to their flexible and nicely shaped-heads (straight on one side and curved on the other), these tools leave the bowls very clean.
Some scraper spatulas can withstand heat cooking if they are not made from plastic. You can use these not only in preparations but also in heat cooking.
If you want to have only a few kitchen tools but have the ones that will help you out in all kitchen tasks, a silicone spatula, or scraper, should certainly be one of them.
Spreaders, as you can probably guess, are used to spread frosting or cream on cakes. They can also be flat paddles of metal rather than flexible silicone, called offset spatulas.
They have a long, straight, flat blade. The tip has a round shape to make spreading frosting evenly very easy. Spreaders are also known as icing spatulas.
As for cooking spatulas, there are turners and wooden spatulas.
Wooden spatulas are very popular in Asian cooking. These cooking utensils are lightweight, long-lasting, and very convenient to toss the food around in the pan to fry or sauté it.
Wooden spatulas are not convenient for turning food, as they are not thin enough for that purpose.
Types of Turners
A turner is a type of spatula, but even turners have their subcategories. When it comes to these kitchen utensils, every detail matters and has a purpose. There are three types of turners.
- Perforated Turners – These have a bunch of holes in them. The function of these holes is to drain the liquid or grease while flipping the food.
- Solid Turners – The head part of a solid turner doesn’t have holes or slots. It is solid and good for flipping such items as pancakes. Solid turners are also good for crumbly food, as turners with openings allow loose food to fall apart and crumble through the openings. Solid turners, if they have a sharper edge, are also strong enough to cut food if it is not to stiff. When made with durable steel material, solid turners are also a great tool for smash burgers.
- Slotted Turners – These are one of the most useful turner varieties. You can use them to flip greasy food. The opening on the head help to drain oil and liquid. Slotted turners are ideal for flipping delicate food. In comparison with perforated and solid turners, slotted ones are more flexible. They can slip under any food with ease, especially if they are not too thick.
Now that we’ve gone over the differences and similarities between spatulas and turners, let’s talk about how to choose the best one for your needs.
What Makes a Good Spatula or Turner?
First off, to buy a good spatula you have to first decide what kind of spatula it is that you need. Secondly, consider the material to see if it fits what you will be using the spatula for.
As for turners, look for something thin and slightly bendable. A beveled edge is another characteristic of turners. It makes sliding the turner under food easy. Additionally, you can cut food with solid turners that have beveled edges.
There are a few properties that make for a good spatula or turner:
- A handle that is long enough to prevent you from burning yourself when cooking with high heat
- High quality, heat-resistant materials
- Ergonomic handle design
- Hanging holes for hanging your instruments close at hand while cooking
- Sturdy and durable handle
We hope this article has proven to be helpful to your culinary quests in the kitchen.