The spatula flipped when it was told it had a big head.

Size. Materials. Thickness.  And why the design of the spatula flips food so well.


spatula - Homemade roasted chicken drumsticks with fried potatoes and vegetables on pan, isolated on white1-Minute NomNom

The spatula is a simple example of flipping good design. It is used in the kitchen to flip pancakes, fillets, steaks, burgers and crab cakes. The design elements that make the spatula such a great tool for flipping are a thin front edge, a big head, shape and slots, and choice of materials.

Thin Edge, Big Head, Slots

spatula - thin front edge, big head and slotsAccording to The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School,

“A thin front edge will glide under food without tearing it, while a large head.. will hold even big items… [while] long vertical slots let excess grease drip away.”

Plating fresh lasagna onto porcelain plate with black spatula

The handle of a spatula is typically made of wood and plastic. Wood and plastic are both thermal insulators i.e. heat does not flow as readily. This protects our hands, from the high heat usually used in cooking foods mentioned earlier, as we are flipping and turning the foods.

flipping pancakes with a spatulaThe head of the spatula could be made of metal or plastic. These can be used on the pans we usually find in a kitchen. With the increasing use of non-stick pans though (read all about non-stick pans and materials in the 1-Minute NomNom “Single but unavailable“), care must be taken that the spatula does not scratch the non-stick coating.


a non-stick spatula could be made of silicone
Such spatulas are thus typically made of silicone, which are…

“… polymers that include any inert, synthetic compound made up of repeating units of siloxane, which is a chain of alternating silicon atoms and oxygen atoms… [and] is becoming an important product in the cookware industry, particularly bakeware and kitchen utensils.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Silicone spatula in a Set of kitchen utensils in mitten on wooden planks backgroundMaterials, thickness, size, and shape, these are common considerations in the design of any product. The spatula provides a simple example of how these can be combined to create a very useful tool that cooks delicious dishes. That’s flipping cool!


Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 6.02.39 pmLike us? Our NomNoms are flipping cool too, so like me to discover more. All you need is a minute a day to explore the world’s marvels through the phenomenon of food!

photos: in order – depositphotos/belchonockdlpnarvebettumKuzmichtudioBy Sei [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commonsbelchonock


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