Published July 1, 2006. From Cook's Illustrated.
What's helpful—and what's not—in a specialty grill spatula?
Flipping burgers on the grill can be tricky—or so it would seem, given the number of spatulas designed to make the task easier. The basic difference between a regular spatula and a "grill spatula" is a few extra inches of handle to keep hands farther from the heat. While flipping cheeseburgers in our back alley, testers were most comfortable with handle lengths of 12 inches or longer (and least comfortable with one 7-inch model).
Most of the fancier designs weren't that helpful. Raised sidewalls, meant to keep food from slipping off, were an elegant solution to a seemingly made-up problem. Spatula/tong hybrids proved too much trouble: The tong half got in the way during spatula tasks—rudely "de-cheesing" two of our cheeseburgers. The most gimmicky spatula of the bunch actually handled core tasks well. Testers weren't impressed with its "tenderizer" (metal spokes that riddle the meat with tiny holes) or its chintzy grill scraper, but the cutting edge made quick work of halving a hamburger. And we can think of plenty of uses for the bottle opener built into the base of a generous 14 1/2-inch handle—especially at a weekend barbecue.