The Best Fish Spatulas (a.k.a. Slotted Offset Spatulas), According to Our Tests

Our top pick is the Victorinox Chef's Slotted Fish Turner.

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Fish spatula and a pair of tongs flipping a crispy piece of chicken in a cast iron skillet

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Straight to the Point

The best fish spatula is the Victorinox Chef's Slotted Fish Turner. It's nimble, precise, and lightweight, but still strong enough for tougher tasks.

The word "spatula" describes a variety of very different kitchen utensils. It might mean the rubber kind of spatula that's used for mixing batters and scraping bowls, or it might refer to a hefty, long-handled grill spatula. Any well-equipped kitchen will probably have several types. But if you have to get just one spatula, the most versatile, comfortable option for almost anything but baking is the one with the most specific name: the fish spatula, sometimes also called a slotted offset spatula.

The fish spatula is an essential part of every chef's tool kit and is useful for all kinds of everyday cooking tasks—not just fish. That bladelike edge and thin metal flipper make it the best spatula for sliding under pieces of food without accidentally jamming into them. If a piece of chicken or fish is sticking slightly to the pan, these features can make all the difference between a clean flip and a shredded chunk of meat. A good fish spatula is just as adept at handling half-pound burgers or neatly flipping pancakes as it is at turning fragile fish fillets. It is one of those wonderful and inexpensive yet endlessly helpful kitchen tools.

So, to sift out the bad from the good, we studied reviews from sources like Cook's Illustrated and The Sweethome, combed through products on Amazon, and eventually narrowed it down to a list of eight different fish spatulas to test. We'll get into the details of that testing shortly, but first, here's what came out on top:

The Winners at a Glance

The Best Fish Spatula: Victorinox Chef's Slotted Fish Turner

Victorinox Flexible Slotted Spatula (Fish Turner)

The Victorinox Chef's Slotted Fish Turner is an all-around great spatula. The curve of the flipper and the angle of its front edge are just right for slipping under a delicate piece of fish or scraping the bottom of a pan. It's lightweight, flexible, and easy to control but still strong enough to lift a half-pound burger. The wood handle is comfortable, though it's also the only downside—it means this spatula is not dishwasher-safe.

The Best Left-Handed Fish Spatula: LamsonSharp Chef's Slotted Turner

Lamson Flexible Slotted Spatula (Fish Turner) for Lefties

Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers, including our overall favorite, don't make a left-handed version of their spatula. So if you're a lefty, go for the LamsonSharp Chef's Slotted Turner. The flipper doesn't curve as much as the Victorinox, which makes it trickier to slide under things. But overall, it's quite comparable to the Victorinox, and you can get it with either a walnut handle or a dishwasher-safe polyoxymethylene (POM) handle. (It also gets a stamp of approval from Serious Eats' resident lefty, Daniel.)

What We Look for in a Fish Spatula

A good fish spatula should have an angled front edge that makes it easy to get underneath the food. The construction of the metal should be flexible but sturdy enough to handle a hefty piece of meat. It should also have a comfortable handle. Look for the following details in a fish spatula.

Flexibility and Strength

Fish spatula pressing down on a piece of salmon cooking in a carbon steel skillet
A fish spatula: Great for fish, but not only fish.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

The flipper of a fish spatula should be thin and flexible so that it slips smoothly under even delicate items and is easy to maneuver around a crowded pan. If it's too stiff, it can be hard to move the short handle (and your knuckles) away from the hot edge of the pan or to slide the blade under a fillet at an angle that won't disturb its neighbor. Wide slots in the flipper help with flexibility and allow oil to drain off quickly. But the spatula shouldn't be too flexible: It still needs to be sturdy enough to lift a big burger or steak without buckling or sagging. The last thing you want is your food sliding off onto the floor.

Shape

Three fish spatulas on a white background
Our ideal fish spatula (center) is just right: A nice angled head that's not too narrow or wide, making it easy to maneuver food around in a pan.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The shape of the spatula is important, and even small differences can make a big impact. The flipper of a good fish spatula should angle upward near the edge—enough that it can squeeze into tight spaces and cradle a piece of food securely. A flipper without enough curve or enough of a bevel on the end can be difficult to manipulate. Too flat, and foods roll off easily while your hand is forced too close to the hot pan. Too blunt, and you end up pushing into foods rather than sliding under them.

The size and shape of the handle are also important. If the handle is too long or too heavy or too chunky, it can give you less control or, at the very least, be a little more uncomfortable to hold. A good handle is lightweight but balanced and close enough to the flipper to allow you to work with precision.

Material

Most fish spatulas have stainless steel flippers, but a handful of manufacturers make a nylon version for use on nonstick pans. We tested one of these, and it confirmed our suspicions: A plastic spatula can't be made thin enough to function well as a fish spatula. It has almost no flexibility and is too thick to slide under delicate items, like tilapia fillets, without damaging them. For a fish spatula to do what it's supposed to do, it needs to be stainless steel. The corollary, of course, is that metal spatulas are not a good choice for most nonstick cookware, given their propensity to scratch the pan's coating. A plastic spatula is a better bet when cooking with nonstick, and since a nonstick surface allows food to slide around more easily anyway, the spatula's thicker construction will be less of a problem.

The material of the handle may also matter if you have a dishwasher. Spatulas with wood handles aren't dishwasher-safe, so if you're averse to the idea of hand-washing anything, go for one with a poly handle. That said, it's pretty quick and painless to hand-wash a spatula, and some may prefer the feel and grip of a wood handle (not to mention the fact that it won't melt if left in contact with the edge of a hot pan).

The Best Fish Spatula: Victorinox Chef's Slotted Fish Turner

Victorinox Flexible Slotted Spatula (Fish Turner)

What we liked: We put all eight spatulas through three rounds of testing. First, we tested how each handled the potentially messy process of flipping blueberry pancakes in a crowded pan. Then we cooked tilapia fillets, looking to see how gently each spatula lifted and turned the flaky fish. Finally, we cooked half-pound burgers to test the strength of each flipper, as well as how it handled scraping drippings from the cast iron pan. In every test, the Victorinox Chef's Slotted Fish Turner felt the most comfortable and precise to use.

The flipper has just the right amount of curve: It maneuvered easily in the narrow gap between two pancakes, and it cradled a tilapia fillet gently and securely. It also had the most sharply angled edge, which turned out to be a good thing—those that curved less felt clumsier to use. (With those, we sometimes had to slide the spatula under the tilapia at such a low angle that our fingers felt at risk of grazing the pan.)

Flexibility might have helped some of those flatter spatulas feel easier to use, but the Victorinox came out on top there, too. The flipper has a nice spring to it and curves easily under pressure, bending to just the right angle for flipping items in a crowded pan or sliding under a wide pancake. Other, stiffer spatulas immediately felt awkward to use next to the Victorinox: With little or no give, they shoved their way under a pancake rather than sliding.

But, for all its spring, the Victorinox still lifted a half-pound burger easily. It didn't droop or wobble under the weight, the way a couple of the weakest spatulas we tried did, and the burger never felt at risk of falling off on the journey from pan to plate. The beveled, angled blade on the flipper is also sharp and strong. It cut easily through a pancake and efficiently scraped up stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan. In comparison, a few other spatulas felt dull. The worst had a slightly U-shaped blade, which made it difficult to scrape flush against the pan.

The walnut handle on the Victorinox does mean that it's not dishwasher-safe, but we think the overall quality outweighs this small downside. The wood handle on the Victorinox is light, well-balanced, and easy to grip. It feels, as the best fish spatulas do, like a natural extension of your hand.

What we didn't like: Besides the fact this fish spatula isn't dishwasher-safe, we think it's truly an invaluable addition to any kitchen.

Victorinox fish spatula

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Best Left-Handed Fish Spatula: LamsonSharp Chef's Slotted Turner

Lamson Flexible Slotted Spatula (Fish Turner) for Lefties

What we liked: The LamsonSharp Chef's Slotted Turner actually comes in a left-handed version that's less expensive than its right-handed counterpart. If you're left-handed, you know it's next to impossible to use most of the fish spatulas on the market, including the Victorinox and the Wüsthof. The angled ends of their flippers make them strictly right-handed. 

The Lamson is also very similar to the Victorinox. It's light and well-balanced with great flexibility, but it's still strong enough to feel sturdy underneath the weight of a burger. The beveled edge on the end is nice and sharp and angled well for scraping the bottom of a pan.

One nice thing about the Lamson is that it comes in a wood-handled version as well as the dishwasher-safe POM-handled version. We liked the grip on the wood handle and recommend that if you don't own or use a dishwasher, others may prefer synthetic materials. Having the option of either is especially great since, if you're a lefty, the Lamson is quite possibly the only good choice out there.

What we didn't like: The biggest difference between the two is that the Lamson, while still curved, is noticeably flatter than the Victorinox. The flatness makes it more difficult to get in between two pancakes and to keep our hands away from the pan.

Lamson fish spatula with wood handle

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

FAQs

Is a fish spatula safe for use with nonstick cookware?

Generally speaking, it is never a good idea to use metal on nonstick cookware. Unless your nonstick cookware is specifically designed to withstand metallic tools, using one can scratch your pans and ruin them. Instead, we recommend getting a nonstick-safe spatula.

What's the difference between a fish spatula and a metal spatula?

The specific size, shape, and thickness of its metal head are uniquely designed to get under fish fillets (and other delicate items) and flip them with ease. There are dozens of other kinds of metal spatulas on the market, but only a fish spatula has this exact design, making it the most versatile. 

Are fish spatulas dishwasher-safe?

In short, some are and some aren’t. If a fish spatula has a wooden handle, it shouldn't go in the dishwasher (as is the case with all wooden utensils). Some fish spatulas feature durable plastic handles that are dishwasher-safe.