A spatula is a hand-held tool that is used for lifting, flipping, or spreading. Spatulas have a handle that is long enough to keep the holder's hand away from what is being lifted or spread, as well as away from a hot surface.
The blade of the spatula is wide and thin. The shape of the blade varies, with square and rectangular shapes being most common. The blade is usually somewhat flexible. Spatula blades are often longer on the right side than the left, as this is more effective for right-handed people. There are also left-handed spatulas, but these are rarer.
Spatulas are usually made of plastic or metal, but wooden, rubber and silicone ones are also sometimes used. Metal spatulas generally have a wood or plastic handle to insulate them from the heat.
A spatula is essential for many types of cooking. They are especially needed when frying foods that need to be flipped. Spatulas can also be used to serve food. The blade of a cooking spatula is often slotted to allow liquids to flow through. In British English, this slotted utensil is called a fish slice.
There are many varieties of spatula. A frosting spatula has a long, thin blade. Spatulas designed to be used with a barbecue or other open flame have longer handles. A Chinese spatula is designed to be used with a wok; one edge is curved and they are firmer, to handle large amounts of food.