It's an unfortunate truth that sometimes, the simplest things are the hardest to do well. It can be maddening to make a half-dozen purchases and returns while looking for a toaster that makes good toast, or a can opener that opens cans consistently well. The same goes for turners, the specialized spatulas you use for flipping eggs and burgers.
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It should be the most basic and infallible of kitchen tools, but somehow that's not always the case. A poorly designed one will feel awkward and unbalanced in your hand, be difficult to maneuver in a crowded pan, and have an unfortunate tendency to push your eggs and burgers around (or even break them!) rather than sliding deftly underneath. So sit back and give us a few minutes of your time, and we'll break down why our handful of top picks are the best turners you can buy in 2022.
Points to Consider When Buying a Turner
First, let's address the whole "spatula" versus "turner" question since you'll often see both words used for these utensils. We've opted to stick with "turner" for this review since a spatula could also mean the kind you use to scrape a bowl, or the long and thin variety used to spread icing on cakes. Even the history of the word is confusing: It comes to the kitchen via the Latin word spatha, which was a sword; but that in turn was borrowed from the older Greek word spathe, a flat blade-like wooden tool used by weavers, which— yeah—looked kind of sword-like.
So with that settled, let's talk about what you should look for in a turner:
Materials: Traditionally turners had steel blades with wooden handles, but in the age of nonstick pans those metal turners have become problematic. They're fine on steel or cast-iron but will abrade or gouge the linings of nonstick cookware, shortening the life of the product. Turners intended for use with nonstick cookware can be made of nylon, silicone, or—less commonly—wood or bamboo. They all have their weaknesses: Nylon can melt if left unattended, silicone is floppy and must be reinforced to be usable, and wood is fragile if it's thin enough to be usable.
Thickness and Flexibility: Which brings us to the issue of thickness, which is also crucial. The best turners are thin enough to slide easily under your food and have a little bit of flex to help you work around any stuck-on spots. Steel excels at this. Nylon has some flex, but to make it sturdy enough to lift heavier foods (a big burger rather than an egg) means they're sometimes inconveniently thick. Silicone is flexible on its own and must be applied over steel to add rigidity, but sometimes that makes the turner too thick. Wood and bamboo can be made thin enough, but then the edges will typically begin to split and splinter after they've been in use for a while.
Size and Maneuverability: Unless you want an oversized turner for pancakes and big burgers, most will fall into a relatively narrow range of sizes. That being said, the size and shape of some turners makes them relatively difficult to use in a crowded pan. You might be surprised to find that a relatively compact turner rapidly becomes your favorite "daily driver," just because it's easier to manage in close quarters.
Handle: Some turners have short handles, while some are long. Some are relatively slender, and others are bulky. They all have their benefits: Short handles are maneuverable, while long ones keep your hands from the heat; slender handles work well for small hands, while bulky ones are good for people with arthritis or dexterity issues (or big hands). Wood handles are beautiful but need hand-washing, plastic is practical but can leave crevices for dirt (and germs) to enter. Needless to say, personal preference plays a large role here.
So with all that in mind, which turners do we like best in 2022?
The Best Overall Turner
OXO Good Grips Small Silicone Turner
Although this is the "small" version of the turner (there's a larger one available for a slightly higher price), it's definitely big enough to be your go-to for general purpose use. It's plenty big enough for eggs, omelets, burgers, chicken breasts and anything else you're likely to cook in a pan, but the slightly smaller blade and shorter handle make it highly maneuverable inside the pan. Once you've used it, you'll notice that your regular-sized turners feel awkward and clumsy in comparison. The steel-reinforced silicone blade is thin, especially at the edges, and will slide neatly under your eggs. Best of all, food won't stick to silicone the way it sometimes will with nylon turners.
The Best Compact Silicone Turner
This spatula is marketed primarily at bakers, as the name suggests, but it's also a fine compact turner for general-purpose use. Even the relatively trim dimensions of our best-overall turner can feel bulky and clumsy if you regularly prepare large batches of eggs (or sliders, or fish cakes) in a pan, and this one is even smaller and nimbler. It's still plenty big enough to turn individual eggs or even a burger patty with ease, and the small, thin blade works perfectly in tight spots (picture parallel-parking a Smart car versus a big SUV). It's similarly deft in its intended role as a way to get your cookies off the sheet and onto the cooling rack, or shoehorning that first brownie out of the pan in one piece, but it deserves a place in your kitchen even if you aren't a baker.
The Best Nylon Turner
Westmark Nonstick Thermoplastic Spatula
This manufacturer diligently avoids using the word, but the "high-quality heat resistant polyamide" used in this sleek German-made utensil still translates as "nylon" (though admittedly, a high grade of it). There's a lot to like about the Westmark: The handle is comfortable to hold, the blade is thin enough to be usable but stiff enough for most foods, and the compact and well-designed shape of the blade means it's almost as maneuverable as the OXO turners. Unlike the OXO turners, this one is perforated, which allows your cooking oils to drain away as you work, which is a nice feature. It must be said, the Westmark is also a lot more stylish than the OXO models. On the downside, because it's made of nylon, it's less resistant to high temperatures.
The Best Fish Spatula
Tenta Tenta Slotted Fish Spatula With Silicone Soft Edge
Within the broader category of turners, fish spatulas occupy a specialized niche. They're intended for use with (obviously) fish, as well as any other delicate foods that must be handled with special care. They're also almost always made of steel, which gives them a perfect balance of thinness and flexibility but also makes them problematic for everyone with nonstick pans. The obvious sisolution to this quandary is to apply a thin edge of silicone to a steel fish spatula, retaining its practical virtues but making it safe for use on nonstick surfaces. The silicone is likely to wear away over time, but at this price, it won't hurt too much to replace them periodically (and you can still use the old one on other kinds of pans).
The Best Bundled Set of Turners
Di Oro Chef Series 3-pc Silicone Turner Spatula Set
The individual turners in this set didn't quite nose out their OXO equivalents in their respective categories, but as a set they're impressive. They're well designed, almost as thin and nimble as the OXO, and very well made. The set includes a compact silicone turner that's similar in size to the OXO; a wider perforated turner for pancakes, burgers and other larger items; and an "angled long turner" that's essentially a silicone fish spatula, well suited to delicate items. All three have the heat resistance and nonstick characteristics that make silicone a popular and practical choice. The virtue of getting all three in a set is that they're similar in feel, length and flexibility, meaning you can switch from one to the other seamlessly depending on what you're cooking.