Why You Should Cook with a Wooden Spoon

Wondering when you should reach for the wooden spoon? You’re not alone. The Never Cook Naked guys explain when and why you choose wood.

Wooden spoon with a black smiley face painted on it with a gray background.

Why You Should Cook with a Wooden Spoon

Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: Many recipes say you should “stir with a wooden spoon.” I love my wooden spoons, but I’m curious: What is it about them that so distinguishes them in cooking? Is this just old-fashioned recipe-speak?—Still Spooning in the Kitchen

Dear Spooning: Once upon a time, when the world was young and forested, wood was cheap. In prototypical engravings from eighteenth-century France, scullery maids fended off the drunkards with raised wooden spoons, the tool of the trade. Those maids, it seems, begat food writers.

Today, metal’s more abundant. But ye olde culinary lingo still has some merit. You want to use a wooden spoon on tinned copper and enameled cast iron, at the very minimum. After all, you’ve foregone contributions to your IRA to get the highfalutin cookware, so you want to keep it nice. That’s where the wooden spoons come in, as metal ones can nick or scratch the surface.

That said, wooden spoons are not fit for some pots and pans, like those with nonstick surfaces which need the soft touch of heat-resistant silicone gadgets.

So yes, a wooden spoon is a cliché. But a worthwhile one. Like France.

Our very clever, very clothed Never Cook Naked columnists are at your disposal, able to troubleshoot everything from questionable table etiquette to tricky cooking techniques (as well as, natch, proper cooking attire). Curious to learn more solutions to culinary conundrums? Just ask! Drop us a comment below.



  1. I use metal spoons with the black cast iron and carbon steel or stainless pans. And wood with the rest. Love the carbon steel and cast iron pans. Old, well seasoned, and nearly indestructible.
    1 reason I have a slight aversion to wooden spoons. Mother used to use them to discipline us kids way back when. Don’t know how many of those cheap, grocery store wood spoons she busted on our backsides. Good thing she didn’t buy the heavy professional grade spoons. Guess that is why I don’t like wooden school rulers either.

    1. Laughs. Well, you certainly have a good reason for your aversion to those spoons, Vincent!

  2. I’m just too, too lazy to use wooden spoons. The dishwasher utters it’s siren call and I can’t resist. And then, it’s all sadness, as I survey the sodden shapes of my once-spoons. Instead, I’ve amassed a collection of wood composite spoons, scrapers and spatulas which are just as kind to my pots and pans but thrive in 140F water and harsh detergents for an hour and thirty minutes at a time.

  3. “…wooden spoons are not fit for some pots and pans, like those with nonstick surfaces…”

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