Palette Knife

Use the palette knife to get things that have stuck to the pan off

The palette knife is equally good at spreading things in the kitchen and the artists studio.


The palette knife is a kitchen utensil which is never far from controversy. Opinion is polarised on this argument, which centres on the nature of the palette knife as a kitchen utensil. One school of thought contends that its origins are firmly set in cake and biscuit making, the other in art, and this dichotomy of opinion is often expressed in the dilemma: which came first - the oil painting or the egg?

Those convinced of the artistic origins of this utensil, calling themselves Acrylicists, cite many examples of early use of the palette knife in painting and sculpture, as well as documentary evidence on Wikipedia as solid evidence of their argument. They also point out that use of the word palette in the utensil's name is a dead giveaway. However, the Spatulists who favour its origin in early bakery contend that in fact the name is a bastardisation of the more accurate palate knife, which itself derives from the latin lamina palatina (top quality bread knife). A third possibility, ridiculed by the others, has recently been put forward by a radical Acrylicist splinter group calling themselves Trowellists who fervently believe its origins to instead lie in Ancient Roman DIY.

Regardless of its history, the modern palette knife continues to be used for its primary purposes of spreading and lifting in both art and cookery, which, as many great chefs and painters have pointed out, aren't so very different really anyway. In terms of its practical use in the kitchen, we recommend that the palette knife is restricted for use in spreading and lifting activities only as it has evolved after many years to be eminently suitable for this purpose alone. It does not share the properties of sharp edges and a distinct way up to be used as do almost all other knives. For this reason alone, it should not be used for cutting things with as it won't be very good at it.

An example of the palette knife being used inappropriately. Remember this is not a knife suitable for cutting things with.
Use this utensil to make Curry Biscuit With Chocolate Vanilla Vinaigrette, particularly when separating the biscuit from the baking sheet.



  • use the palette knife for spreading things with;
  • use the palette knife for lifting things with (with reservations: see below);
  • clean the palette knife before using it for baking if you have been using it to spread or lift oil paint.


  • use the palette knife to lift very heavy objects around the kitchen;
  • use the palette knife to cut things, particular when you really need a bread knife;
  • set a place setting with a palette knife instead of an ordinary knife. As well as it not being practical for cutting with, this will just look really silly;
  • use the palette knife for kitchen activities other than spreading and lifting unless it specifically advises you to do so in the recipe. Palette knives are designed for spreading and lifting and not much good for anything else.

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