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Grill Spatulas

By Cook's Illustrated Published June 2014

How we tested

Grill spatulas are long-handled turners designed to keep your hands away from the flames while grilling. In our lineup of eight models priced from $10.99 to almost $41, we hoped that at least one would pass all our tests—turning large swordfish steaks, grilled pizzas, and closely packed hamburgers—with assurance, proving to be comfortable, secure, and maneuverable enough for any job.

Wondering if a dedicated grill spatula was even really necessary, we also tested our favorite indoor metal spatula. Quickly it became apparent that a long handle and a larger head were essential, so we set the indoor model aside.

Ideally, a spatula head will be wide enough to support the pizzas and broad swordfish steaks but not too large to maneuver between crowded burgers. Extra-wide heads of about 5 inches were great with swordfish steaks but a liability with crowded burgers: Testers had to ease the corners of these spatula heads under the burgers, requiring concentration and finesse. (If you’re grilling just a couple of burgers with ample space between them, practically any long-handled spatula will turn them without incident.) Conversely one model, with the narrowest head of the bunch at 3 3/8 inches, made it easy to turn the burgers but left some testers feeling less sure while turning the broad swordfish. Spatulas with heads of medium width, roughly 4 inches, offered the best compromise of support and dexterity.

The spatulas’ handles were no less important. We included people of varying heights and strengths among our testers because some of the spatulas seemed quite hefty. That turned out to be a good call because those who were taller, with larger hands, didn’t notice variations in weight, grip size, and position. But for smaller testers, heavy spatulas felt like baseball bats, and thick handle grips, or grips that required you to hold the very end of the handle, were awkward and unwieldy.

All testers agreed, however, on handle grip shape and material. Rounded grips without any edges were universally comfortable, and everyone favored plastic and wood over the metal grip, from one maker, which got hot if left right next to the body of the grill.

Testers were also unanimous in their enthusiasm for the offset handle of one model, the only such design in the lineup. The handle was set 45 degrees above the head, providing extra clearance between the griller’s hand and the grill. Testers felt that this design improved leverage and gave this spatula a remarkably nimble feel, far and away the best of the bunch.

So which spatula handled swordfish, pizza, and bunches of burgers with equal aplomb? None worked perfectly (hence none fall into the Highly Recommended category), but one stood out as the best possible compromise. Its midsize head got all the jobs done, and its nimble offset handle and comfortable, rounded plastic grip made it the class leader, hands down. As an added bonus, this was among the least expensive of the grill spatulas in our testing.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*
Best Buy
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*