A rubber spatula is a cooking tool that has a rubber head. The handle may be made of plastic, metal, or wood. It is common for these spatulas to be used when cooking with pots and pans that are easily scratched by metal utensils. Also, it is common for people to use these types of spatulas instead of those with a metal head because they can usually be washed in a dishwasher instead of requiring hand washing.
A metal spatula is more commonly used for grilling whereas a rubber spatula is often used for cooking on the stove and for baking. The slightly curved head is helpful when removing batter or dough from a bowl or transferring the dough into baking tins. In addition to having a curved head, this type of spatula is also slightly flexible, a quality that aids in these processes. This kind of spatula can also be used during a mixing process if mixing must be done by hand. A metal spatula, however, would not be ideal for any of these uses.
In addition to the design with the solid curved head, there are also rubber spatulas that are designed with broad, flat heads with open slats in the center. These kinds of spatulas are best for cooking on the stove, for turning ingredients in a pot or pan, and for stirring ingredients that are being sauteed or caramelized. In addition to being slightly flexible, the broad heads of these spatulas allow cooks to turn large quantities of ingredients at one time, more than with a spatula with a solid curved head. There is also a kind of rubber spatula with a thin, flat head that is used specifically to ice cakes and cup cakes.
It is common for kitchen tool companies to sell a rubber spatula set. These sets include a number of spatulas with heads of varying sizes and shapes and handles of different lengths. Spatulas can come in almost any color, but the most common colors are white and black. Many times sets of spatulas will have handles that are the same color but heads that are a number of colors.