How we tested
We rely on slotted spoons to remove and drain small or delicate foods from boiling water, hot oil, or sauce. To find the best model, we rounded up eight dishwasher-safe nylon, silicone, and stainless-steel spoons, all priced under about $35.00, and used them to fish out green peas, poached eggs, meatballs, and jumbo shrimp from liquids in different kinds of cookware.
The first things we noticed were the differences between handles. Long handles were better because they kept our fingers away from the heat. Additionally, we preferred rounded handles over flat ones, and we preferred handles without dedicated grips, which limited our holding options. Drainage was not an issue; despite different perforation areas, sizes, and configurations, all the spoons filtered out water, oil, and sauce equally well. While we generally preferred spoons that held more food, the depth and shape of their bowls mattered more than capacity. Shallow bowls slid under food more easily than spoons with deep bowls, and broad bowls held large, irregular foods like jumbo shrimp more securely.
The material of the spoon gave us mixed benefits. Nylon and silicone slotted spoons were lighter than stainless-steel models and thus easier to use for extended periods. Silicone spoons were easy to hold, but their tacky exterior meant that their bowls tended to catch and drag on the bottom of pans. More problematic, nylon and silicone bowls tended to be thicker, making it harder to get them up and under food in skillets and saucepans; these spoons tended to push slippery shrimp and meatballs around instead. By contrast, stainless-steel spoons were heavier but typically had much thinner bowl edges, making it easier to slide them underneath food. The metal spoons were also more durable.
Our new favorite, the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Slotted Spoon, provided the best of both worlds. It had a wide, shallow, very thin bowl that slid under food easily, and because its comfortable, rounded handle was hollow, it was almost as light as a nonmetal spoon.
We tested eight nylon, silicone, and stainless-steel slotted spoons priced from about $7.00 to $35.00, using them to extract different foods (small green peas, poached eggs, meatballs, and shrimp) from cooking vessels of varying sizes and heights (skillets, saucepans, and stockpots). We rated the spoons on their weight, balance, dimensions, maneuverability, bowl design, handle design, durability, and stain and odor resistance. All models were purchased online and are ranked in order of preference.
BOWL DESIGN: Spoons with large, wide, shallow bowls made of relatively thin material made it easy to get under food; they received more points.
EASE OF USE: We gave more points to lightweight spoons that were comfortable to use for extended periods and didn’t drag on the bottoms of the pans.
HANDLE DESIGN: We awarded more points to spoons with long, comfortable, balanced handles without dedicated grips (which limited our hand position options).
CLEANUP AND DURABILITY: We docked points from spoons that scratched, stained, or retained odors after more than one wash.