Guide to different types of spoons

When you think of the superior utensil, you think about spoons. Or at least you should. Their shape has so many applications that dozens of specialty spoons are available for niche use cases.

Of course, at home, you’re in charge, so feel free to eat cereal with a demitasse spoon. Also, take pictures because that sounds equally impossible and adorable.

Cooking and Serving

2018 will go down in history for many culinary reasons and the “year of the egg spoon” is certainly one of them. There are two kinds of eggs spoons when it comes to cooking eggs.

Alice Waters egg spoon

Alice Waters’ egg spoon, Permanent Collection

One is the frequently fought about hand-forged iron spoon that you ideally slide into the fireplace/wood-burning range—which you definitely have—to cook a single egg. You could also just use a camping skillet. The other is essentially a slotted spoon with one or more holes that nestles boiled or poached eggs.

The slotted spoon is a type of skimmer, a broadly interpreted sieve tool for removing solid foods from water or broth. Slots can be rectangular or circular with a wide variety of opening widths.

Mixing spoons can have round or flat tips, but they usually have shallow bowls for tasting. On the other end of the spectrum, you’re familiar with ladles serving up portions of soups, stews, and chili.

serving spoon

Serving spoon (aka tablespoon), Sur la Table

Serving spoons are also known as…tablespoons. Yep, everything you know about spoons is a lie. Tablespoons specifically hold three teaspoons and are great for dishing out foods at the table. Tablespoons originally had some soup eating and dessert applications, but have fallen to the wayside of smaller, mouth-sized spoons.

You have a few different options when it comes to sauces. The more common sauce spoon is a shallower serving spoon (but bigger than a tablespoon) used to disperse sauce over a dish. A French sauce spoon, used to scoop up the sauce from a meat dish, is fairly flat with a notch on the side. A saucier or spoon drop has a spout which funnels sauce for more precise plating of savory and sweet foods.

amuse bouche spoons

Amuse bouch spoons, Sur la Table

An amuse-bouche spoon’s design often sits in between a saucier and a Chinese spoon. It’s technically a plate and a spoon, and you only really use it for these one-bite appetizers.

Dining and Soup Spoons

A place spoon can be used for anything you want. No rules. Pure anarchy. Okay, it shines with cream soups and desserts, but really, go wild! It’s a little bigger than a teaspoon, but smaller than a tablespoon. You’re probably thinking of a place spoon or a soup spoon when you think “tablespoon.”

Teaspoons are fairly informal, often used to stir tea and coffee, but they can also be used as a dessert spoon in a pinch. Dessert spoons are the precise volume midpoint between a tablespoon and a teaspoon, and they are used for their named purpose.

bouillon spoon

Bouillon spoon, Amazon

In the world of European soup spoons, you have three essential types: a bouillon spoon, soup spoon, and a cream soup spoon. Bouillon spoons are round and have the shallowest bowl because they’re used for light soups. A soup spoon (or dinner spoon) has the deepest bowl to help it handle foods like vegetables or ravioli, and it’s oval-shaped, so you can put the entire bowl in your mouth. The round cream soup spoon’s bowl depth and handle length sit in the middle of these two.

Bouillon and cream soup spoons are usually sipping spoons, but the latter are sometimes called gumbo spoons (used for chunky dishes like gumbo, chili, and chowder).

Chinese spoon

Chinese spoon, Crate & Barrel

In Asia, two spoons dominate: the Chinese soup spoon and the Korean spoon. The Chinese spoon is used in several Asian countries and is easily recognizable by its flat-bottomed bowl and hook handle. These spoons can be used for soups or to hold foods like dumplings.

The Korean spoon can also be called a sujeo, but that term often refers to the common metal spoon-chopstick set. The Korean spoon has a bowl similar to a bouillon spoon with a longer handle, finding its home in soups or rice.

Beyond the Teaspoon: Beverage Spoons

When it comes to cold drinks, you’re dealing with two very similar spoons featuring shallow, teaspoon-capacity bowls and long handles. The iced tea spoon is a summer staple in the southern states, allowing guests to adjust the sweetness of their drink, but also works in tall parfaits, sundaes, floats, and thick milkshakes.

bar spoon

Bar spoon, Williams Sonoma

Bar or cocktail spoons facilitate the pouring and stirring of alcoholic drinks with their (usually) grooved handles. They occasionally have bowls that sit at a 45 degree or less angle to the handle for swizzling rum cocktails.

After dinner or at your local small coffee shop, you can find a demitasse (a.k.a. espresso) spoon. These little spoons can also be used to stir in sugar and milk into tea cups. Speaking of sugar, sugar spoons tend to look like a sea hell or a little shovel. You should never use them to stir because they have to return to the sugar bowl!

demitasse spoon

Demitasse spoons, Amazon

Very Specific Spoons

Grapefruit spoons, can actually be used for any citrus fruits, but they are most often carving into their namesake with their serrated edges.

Guess what? There’s another type of egg spoon! This one is for eating soft boiled eggs out of the shell. This dining habit has gradually fallen out of style, but some people still swear by it.

Eating bone marrow has had waves of mainstream popularity over the centuries and it’s back in the culinary lexicon. Marrow spoons have long, shovel-like bowls on both ends—one for larger and the other for smaller bones—for easy scooping.

ice cream spoon

Sur la Table

Speaking of scoops, the ice cream spoons have more rounded, shovel-inspired bowls with long handles (but not quite as long as an iced tea spoon). These spoons are used with ice cream, gelato, and shaved ice.

Silver baby food spoons are still gifted, but practically speaking, there are some pretty cool options for the littlest mouths these days. You can get a spoon that dispenses puréed food from a reservoir for one-handed feeding or fun silicone spoons for when your tiny tykes start wanting to feed themselves.

Related Video: How to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs with a Spoon

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