Bench vs. Bowl Scrapers: Why You Need Both

We break down the differences between bench and bowl scrapers, plus give our recommendations for both from our equipment reviews.

Using the OXO bench scraper to scrape up gnocchi dough on a floured marble countertop
Serious Eats / Eric King

When considering “essential” kitchen tools, bench and bowl scrapers are often overlooked. Yet the moment these scrapers are remembered, they soar to the top of must-have lists. Perhaps not quite as imperative as a sharp knife or a mixing bowl, but nothing else works as well at scooping, transferring, and well, scraping, as a bench or bowl scraper. Whether you’re collecting chopped vegetables, slicing cinnamon buns, or neatening up the edges of a layer cake, you’ll find a use for them.

However, while bench and bowl scrapers perform many of the same tasks, they are unique tools—and we’d argue that home cooks should own (at least) one of each.

What Is a Bench Scraper?

Using a bench scraper to scoop up chopped leek rounds
Serious Eats / Eric King

A bench scraper is a flat, metal rectangle that typically has a rounded handle and is around six inches long and three to five inches tall. They don’t bend, making them durable tools for scooping up and moving ingredients. They can’t scrape the curved interior of a bowl and are typically so firm that their edges—though not blades—can act like knives when it comes to neatly slicing soft items, like butter or dough. 

What Bench Scraper Should You Buy?

“It's like a windshield wiper for your cooking surfaces,” says Natasha Pickowicz, chef and author of the forthcoming cookbook More Than Cake. “It creates a seal with a flat countertop so you can drag wet things, like a spilled cracked egg; or dry things, like loose flour grains, and not dirty up a towel.” Pickowicz goes on to note that bench scrapers shine when it comes to transferring items from one place to another—be it minced onions, feathery chopped herbs, or even the juiciest chopped tomato—from the cutting board to a bowl or skillet. She prefers the bare-bones Ateco Stainless Steel bench scraper. 

Most bench scrapers have handles, be they metal, silicone, or wood; that material (or whether you want your tool to have a handle at all) is ultimately a personal preference—it will also determine whether or not the tool can go in the dishwasher. For example, our favorite bench scraper from our review, from OXO, has a slightly bouncy, non-slip handle and is dishwasher-safe. Many also have a ruler function running along the bottom edge, so you don't need to pull out another tool for measuring when, say, trying to cut dough into even portions. 

Justine Doiron, a recipe developer and food blogger, sings the praises of her Williams Sonoma Olivewood model, which includes the ruler element, and often makes appearances in her popular Instagram and TikTok videos. “[It’s] my coverall tool,” she said. “I use it to transfer ingredients from my cutting board, I use it to slice and portion bread dough, I use it to scrape and clean my counter surfaces. I generally use my bench scraper to ‘work clean’.”

What Is a Bowl Scraper?

bowl scraper lineup on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

A bowl scraper is a fairly flexible tool without a handle that comes in an array of materials, sizes, and shapes. Typically made of plastic, silicone, or nylon, the most commonly found versions in professional kitchens come in a “D” shape and are about the same size as a bench scraper. While some bowl scrapers are essentially flexible bench scrapers, others look more like thin silicone spatulas without the long handle. 

“Those are great for neatly clearing out anything in a round mixing bowl, leaving nothing behind, [be it] a thick hummus, a sticky bread dough, or a chocolate ganache,” Pickowicz says. “In that way it functions more as a kitchen spatula, but with more surface area.” She went on to note that they work “as an extension of your hand”. Pickowicz will coat a bowl scraper in cooking spray or olive oil to fold loose high, hydration bread doughs like focaccia, to prevent her hands from getting coated in dough while kneading.  

What Bowl Scraper Should You Buy?

using the indigo scraper to cut gnocchi
We preferred bowl scrapers with textured, grippy holds.Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

While the many vastly different styles of bowl scraper technically complete the same tasks, some perform certain tasks particularly well, while others are generally multipurpose. For example: D-shaped bowl scrapers (like our favorite from Indigo True) are typically made of plastic, are more rigid, and have a uniform thickness. This means they can scrape out moist doughs, batters, or pastes from a bowl on the curved side, then be flipped to the flat side to scoop up chopped ingredients, scoot refuse over to a side of a work surface, or slice butter and firm dough. Others, D-shaped or otherwise—we’ve seen dozens, from those that look like beans to the top half of a shark in the water—can have beveled edges, strong curves, and be extremely flexible, ensuring you’re able to scrape every nook and cranny of a vessel, ideal for some bakers. Some are also heatproof and can be used to scrape and scoop from hot pots and pans as well. 

Pickowicz thinks it’s best to look and hold bowl scrapers before purchasing, as there’s such variation between each model, and its uses tend to be catered to each individual owner. Otherwise, we recommend reading our bowl scraper review prior to purchasing, to make an informed decision.

Do Home Cooks Need a Bench Scraper and a Bowl Scraper?

As both tools are affordable and easy to use, Pickowicz thinks cooks and bakers of all levels should own both a bench and bowl scraper: “Because each tool is so versatile, I find myself using them for multiple purposes all the time. They stack flat and are easy to clean.”  We agree. In total, our favorite bench and bowl scrapers (from OXO and Indigo True) will run you just $22—not a bad investment for two versatile pieces.

FAQs 

What’s the best bench scraper? 

In a recent test, Serious Eats named the OXO Good Grips Stainless-Steel Scraper & Chopper and Norpro Grip-EZ Scraper/Chopper the best bench scrapers.

What’s the best bowl scraper? 

In a recent test, Serious Eats dubbed the Indigo True bowl scraper and the KitchenAid Gourmet Bowl Scraper set the best models.