There’s some debate around just how useful (or not) spoon rests are in the kitchen. Never heard of one? It’s essentially just a small tool that sits on your workspace and props up your in-use utensils, to keep them from getting the stove or counter dirty while you’re in between flips, whisks, or stirs.
The Kitchn once included spoon rests on their list of top 10 most useless kitchen gadgets. This went on to spur an outcry from all the spoon-rest-lovers in the crowd, of which I am proudly one. Whether you buy something especially for the job or sub in something you’ve already got, spoon rests are handy, sanitary, and a life-saver for neat freaks.
My hunch is that the folks at The Kitchn weren’t opposed to the idea of a spoon rest so much as investing money in something particularly designed and marketed as such. The truth is, you can use any number of things as impromptu spoon rests. One of my favorites is a flattened glass bottle, which you can make yourself in the oven or toaster oven.
In a pinch, reach for a saucer or other small plate, the overturned lid of a large jar or (heat-resistant) plastic container, a piece of tile, a hot pad, or trivet. Take a look around your kitchen, and chances are you’ll find something you’ve already got on hand that will do the job just fine.
That said, I personally prefer to have a dedicated doohickey especially designed for cradling my sauce- or grease-covered utensils. I’ve found that the need for a spoon rest typically dawns on me in the midst of cooking, and that if it’s not already in place or easily accessible, I’m scrambling to find something, or just setting my utensil right down on the bare stove to free up a hand.
Having used every other spoon rest stand-in imaginable, I also have to say these things came into kitchen fruition for a reason. Their shape ensures that your whisk or spoon or spatula stays put and doesn’t roll or tilt off the side, and that anything dripping off of it is caught and contained. Some even come with a non-skid base to prevent them from sliding around.
In the same way that you can use many different types of materials and shapes as non-official spoon rests, the official ones come in so many different styles that they’re sometimes difficult to identify. I’d never walk by this gaudy, kitschy thing and say, “Oh yes, just what I need to rest my dirty spoons!” (Sorry, cat lovers.) On the flip side, I might mistake this sleek, leaf-shaped piece as a cookie plate or fruit platter. It could probably be used for all of the above.
This is the kind I use—plain, ceramic, white, easy to clean, affordable, and even elegant-looking. Got more than one pot brewin’? Check out this stainless steel double spoon rest for $10. This molded rubber “splat” design is pretty cool, too, and only about $6, but a little small for my taste. This gorgeous Talavera piece doesn’t boast that tailored spoon rest shape, but it could also double as a small serving tray. Frankly, though, it’s way overpriced at more than $40.
My favorite spoon rest of all time is this freaking awesome mini cast-iron skillet by Lodge. Not only is it ridiculously affordable at right around $6, it’s actually functional. The spouts on the sides hold up the handles of your utensils, and it’s pre-seasoned and perfectly apt for cooking with. My only issue would be that I’d constantly be using it for something else and doing the spoon-rest-scramble mid-dish.
It seems to me that spoon rests can be so multi-purpose and diverse that they’ve come to be misunderstood as useless. You can use so many things as spoon rests, and use many spoon rests for many other things. That’s super-useful in my book!
Whether you splurge on something special or make up/sub-in something of your own invention, I think you’ll find using a spoon rest to be helpful in keeping your utensils free of germs and your workspace free of mess. Just make sure it’s on its mark before you get to cooking!