I stir fry a pound of ground beef on a stove-top pan (made of ceramic titanium) on a daily basis. That is my "cereal" meal.

I use a spatula and a second one that looks like a large spoon (all nylon) to do this.

But is there an ideal utensil?

Pictures for reference

What I currently use: enter image description here Stir-fried meal: enter image description here

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    I've been using an off-hand remark one of the judges on Chopped mentioned and it works great, a garden variety whisk. Everybody has one and it does a great job of breaking up the ground meat. Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 22:21
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    funnily enough i found out that using chopsticks is the best tool for stir fry. Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 11:54

4 Answers 4


I haven't cooked beef for a while, but a wooden spatula works very well, as it can break up clumps and is safe for non stick. I prefer the straight shape of the one I've got to any of my nylon spatulas, that are more designed for lifting.

The second implement matters less, but I may use a slotted nylon spoon so it's ready to lift the meat out of the fat, or if I'm not going to do that, a wooden spoon.

  • Just one spatula? Not two (for better stirring)? Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 20:14
  • Also: is there a reason to go for wooden spatulas as opposed to nylon ones? My pan is made out of ceramic titanium. Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 20:15
  • Two implements, but the second can be anything. I'll add a bit
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 20:42
  • Apart from the shape aspect in my answer, I have a bit of a preference for wooden stuff. For me it outlasts anything else that works with non stick despite being put through a dishwasher (I know one of my wooden spoons is 20 years old because it's a funny shape and I know where I lived when I modified it).
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 20:47
  • I always pour the fat back on the bowl. I'm a carnivore. Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 21:33

No, use whatever tool you have on hand that works.

If you use a teflon (or other non-stick) pan, maybe try to use something that will not scratch the surface.

Anecdotal, I've used everything, wood, silicon, metal, "plastic" , wood thingies (like the epicurean kitchen tools)


While "ideal" is somewhat subjective, there is a tool designed for this purpose, a "meat masher" or "meat chopper" (names vary). This is a tool resembling a nylon spatula, but with a cross or star of blades aligned with the handle rather than a single blade angled off the end.

The tool is used by pressing and twisting it vertically into the ground meat (or other products) to break it into smaller pieces while cooking, as well as stirring it to cook it evenly; as it is designed to be pressed and twisted in this way, it flexes and bends less than a nylon spatula may when used in the same manner.

Representative image from Amazon (no affiliation):

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    ..otherwise known as a drawer-filler & -jammer. I've never seen such tosh. What can that do that a 50 cent wooden spatula can't? That's a utensil for people who don't cook much. (Your answer is good, sorry, it's just the pointless utensil I'm railing against here. I gave you a +1 for even finding such a one-trick pony ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 20:10
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    I've seen this in store. A downside is that you can't "flip" pieces of ground beef with a single-handled tool action like this; and with two spatulas I "flip" in this manner to stir it really well (esp. mixing with the fat being rendered out). Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 20:12
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    It's a solution without a problem, honestly.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 20:13
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    @Tetsujin hence why I didn't call it "ideal." :) It does exist, and I do actually have one (weighed as "I cook a lot of ground beef"), and honestly I don't find it much better or worse than just a spatula. It would probably be the first to go if I trimmed my utensil crock.
    – Allison C
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 22:02

If you want to get decent browning on the meat and want to separate it into smaller pieces rather than lumps, a potato masher is useful for pressing it well into the pan. You can get plastic ones that will not damage your pan.

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