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Why do we need ice cream scoops, anyway? Doesn’t a big spoon work just as well? The most important way a scoop can be more useful than a spoon is that it’s designed to avoid hand and muscle strain. This makes life much easier, and really, nothing to do with ice cream should be difficult or tiring at all!
Scoops are also designed to shape the food they’re being used for, whether it’s ice cream, muffin batter, cookie dough, or meatballs. And they also save time since the struggle of plowing a regular spoon through hard ice cream does take a lot of time. These scoops are built to minimize that time and effort.
When looking for an amazing and effective scoop, take into account features like spring release levers, curved edges, ergonomic handles, and spade-like scoops that work with sharp edges when cutting into hard ice cream. For example, our top pick, the Sur La Table Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop, is a spring lever scoop made of stainless steel. Also consider materials that do not conduct heat or cold—or materials that work to reduce the freeze on the surface of the tool.
Here are the best ice cream scoops to have in your kitchen drawer.
Best Overall: Sur La Table Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop
What We Love: Stainless steel design, spring lever release, consistent measurements
What We Don't Love: One size
Sur La Table is known for carrying high-quality kitchen tools and appliances, and this dishwasher-safe ice cream scoop is no different.
Designed to last for years, this scoop is solid stainless steel with a spring lever release. All you have to do is scoop out your ice cream, then press the lever, and it's released in a seamless round ball shape. These easy-to-use lever scoops used to be more available in the market than they are currently, so it’s awesome to see this upgraded, excellent quality tool available. The bonus of a spring-loaded scoop is that it works really well with all kinds of ice creams as well as scooping batter for muffins, meatballs, and cookies.
Best Overall, Runner-Up: Midnight Scoop Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop
What We Love: Solid stainless steel, ergonomic design, dishwasher safe
What We Don't Love: Pricey
A lot of attention was put into making this ice cream scoop easy to use, and it shows! It was once featured as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things,” and for good reason. The handle is slightly curved and fits everyone well while the solid stainless steel design doesn’t have any potential breakage points. The scoop itself works to create beautifully round scoops of ice cream or any other food. The idea behind the design is to reduce stress on the hand and wrist while scooping. Instead, it's more evenly distributed up to your arm and into your shoulders, which helps immensely.
In addition to Oprah, Andrew Arndt, executive chef at Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa in Newport Beach, California, recommends the Midnight Scoop Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop. "I like the handle and ability to do multiple scoops, and the handle still stays smooth and at an appropriate temperature," he says. "That is important so you do not have to constantly bring it back to temperature. The product is also dishwasher-safe and great for the home chef."
Best Budget: Presto Ice Cream Scoop
What We Love: Stainless steel design, curved tip, hanging hook
What We Don't Love: Hand-wash only
This is a no-nonsense tool that does its job well! Presto's stainless steel ice cream scoop works well for all ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and budgets.
The scoop's curved tip and rounded edges work to make the sleek oval or round scoops easy to release. The con to this shape is that the scoop size can slightly vary, which is important for consistency with baked goods. It can be stored in a drawer or on a wall with its hanging hook and comes with a 12-year warranty. However, it is hand-wash only, so make sure not to place this in your dishwasher.
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Best Design: MoMA Dip Ice Cream Scoop
What We Love: Playful design, made from aluminum alloy
What We Don't Love: Hand-wash only, pricey
Designed by award-winning team Aruliden for the Museum of Modern Art's design store, this ice cream scoop is quite different from the others.
To start with, it’s shaped like an actual ice cream cone, which fulfills the designer’s goal of the product having “an unexpected magic.” It’s made of cast aluminum alloy, a material that does not conduct heat or cold and gives it a different surface than the traditional stainless steel. It’s totally chic and truly capable! Scoopers are encouraged to wash this product by hand.
Best Weighted Handle: Spring Chef Ice Cream Scoop With Soft Grip Handle
What We Love: Well-balanced weighted handle, available in various colors, dishwasher safe
What We Don't Love: Slightly heavy
Weighted handles mean you’ll have an easier job when you’re scooping hard ice cream. And this 8-ounce ice cream scoop will cut through that ice cream like butter.
The design is closer to a spade than a rounded scoop, with edges that are thinner than its center. This translates to less strength being needed to cut through and scoop out solid ice cream. Made of zinc alloy—which won’t transfer heat or cold—and a rubber handle, it’s a heavy-duty tool. The scoop is available in nine gorgeous colors and offers a lifetime warranty. It's also safe to put in the dishwasher, an added bonus.
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Best Pointed: Balci Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scooper
What We Love: Rubber grip, pointed tip, dishwasher safe
What We Don't Love: Heavy
The most interesting thing about this ice cream scoop is its pointed tip, which is also somewhat spade-shaped rather than rounded.
It's made of solid stainless steel, including the handle, and covered with rubber for comfort. The weight is well-balanced, the pointed spade powers smoothly into hard ice cream, and the solid strength makes scooping easier. The rubber grip is available in six colors, and the whole thing is dishwasher safe.
Best Anti-Freeze: Norpro Nonstick Anti-Freeze Ice Cream Scoop
What We Love: Unique anti-freeze design, ambidextrous
What We Don't Love: Hand-wash only
Surprisingly, the idea of an electrically heated ice cream scoop hasn’t really come to fruition, though there have been attempts to create one. Somehow, they never really work right.
Norpro's Anti-Freeze Ice Cream Scoop is the closest thing we have available, and this model works well. The smooth, solid handle is filled with a liquid that defrosts the outer surface of the aluminum scoop, making it easier to spoon out cold ice cream. The nonstick surface allows the ice cream to slide off into your bowl. It's recommended you hand-wash only.
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The Midnight Scoop Ergonomic Ice Cream Scoop (view at Amazon) is your best bet if you have to scoop a lot of ice cream or if you’re working on trying to keep your lifestyle as ergonomic as possible. Meanwhile, the MOMA Dip Ice Cream Scoop (view at Food52) is useful, interesting, and beautiful.
What to Look for When Buying an Ice Cream Scoop
Scoop and Handle Shape
If not thoughtfully designed, an ice cream scoop can cause wrist and hand strain. If you'll be scooping ice cream often, you'll want a shape that conforms to the hand comfortably and feels light in your palm. A slightly curved handle is easy to grip and allows you to use your arms and shoulders for leverage into hard ice cream rather than relying on your wrists. Weighted handles add a nice touch but might be too heavy for some people to use effortlessly.
Left-handed people should also consider ice cream scoops that are ambidextrous since many are tailored to people who are right-handed.
Ice cream scoops aren’t large tools, but they should be sizable enough to scoop ice cream in just a couple of swipes. Ice cream scoop sizes are measured by diameter, and they do vary in size, from a teeny 2 teaspoons (1.12 inches in diameter) to a full cup (3.6 inches in diameter). Paying attention to size is especially important if you plan on buying a disher-style scoop that can also be used for cookies, rice, and other foods. You'll need to know how much a scoop holds in cups or fluid ounces to perfect any baked recipe.
Most scoop-style ice cream scoops will hold between 2 and 3 ounces of ice cream. A small scoop just means more trips back to the carton, though it can be easier to use and more comfortable to hold. A large ice cream scoop can be heavy and difficult to use since they require more force but will, naturally, result in larger scoops of ice cream.
When using your ice cream scoop, you don't want to wet it first, whether that water is hot or cold. That wetness will leave behind moisture in the ice cream that will harden into ice crystals when you put it back in the freezer. If you need to avoid cross-contamination, ice cream scoops are easy to clean. Simply rinse with soap and water and let it air dry or dry with a kitchen towel. While some are dishwasher-safe, hand-washing is gentler on your ice cream scoop.
How many ounces are in a standard scoop of ice cream?
A scoop is subjective. Some consider a scoop of ice cream to be a third of a cup or about 2.7 ounces. This will roughly give you a 0.5-cup to 0.66-cup serving size with two scoops. For kids, the average size is about 3 ounces. Of course, your ice cream portion depends on the ice cream scoop you use.
Should you dip your ice cream scoop in warm water?
Dipping your ice cream scoop in warm water can make it easier to scoop hard, frozen ice cream. However, this can add moisture to the ice cream and interfere with its consistency. The leftover moisture will cause crystallization in the freezer, which translates to an icy texture—or worse, freezer burn. Both will ruin your ice cream, and ice cream is a terrible thing to waste.
How do you scoop hard ice cream?
Using a pointed ice cream scoop makes it easier to scoop hard ice cream. You can also wait a few minutes for it to soften. Unless you're standing in a walk-in freezer or outside in below-freezing temperatures, the air temperature will quickly warm up the ice cream to an easier-to-scoop consistency.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Karen Resta is a New York City-based writer specializing in food culture and history, cooking, pastries, restaurants, and particularly ice cream. A former executive chef who began her professional journey as a pastry chef, she travels around the globe as a photographer and writer, always finding the best authentic food and pastries along the way. She spends a lot of her free time in her kitchen and is passionate about finding quality within your given budget. Having the right tools and knowing how to use them makes all the difference in baking, cooking, and eating, and she curated this list with that in mind.
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