The Best Ice Cube Trays for Perfectly Cool Sips Every Time

OXO's Good Grips Ice Cube Tray is simple, sturdy, and easy to use

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Best Ice Cube Trays

Simply Recipes / Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

It seems like the simplest of conveniences. Run water into a tray, pop it in the freezer, and presto change-o, you have yourself some ice. 

But once upon a time, ice was a luxury. Now, it has definitely come a long way from the BCE ice houses—buildings and underground areas insulated with straw or sawdust and packed with ice chunks—to the through-door ice dispenser we see on fridges today. And ice cube trays themselves have changed: The first versions by Lloyd Copeman were made from rubber; the next generation by Guy L. Tinkham was flexible stainless steel (similar to this one) and the first to eject ice cubes.

Today, you have your choice of material, from metal to food-grade silicone, an almost endless variety of shapes and sizes, and to lid or not to lid. To help narrow down your list of options, we decided to test the best ones, chosen based on customer reviews and manufacturer information. We then sent these trays to our tester, having her look at their construction (including how easy it is to release the ice cubes), how easy it is to store them in the freezer, the shape and size of the cubes, whether the ice retained freezer smells, and more. Based on these tests, the OXO Good Grips Ice Cube Tray was our winner.

Whether you want mini cubes, extra-large cubes, or ice spheres, here's our list of the best ice cube trays, tried and tested.

Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Ice Cube Tray with Lid

4.8
OXO Good Grips Ice Cube Tray with Lid

Amazon

What We Love: Sliding cover keeps ice from smells, stackable, affordable

What We Don't Love: Can’t twist the tray without removing fully the lid

Prefer something familiar and affordable? OXO’s got you. These sturdy plastic ice cube trays freeze, stack, and store the way you’re used to, only a little bit better. Like most of our picks, these come with lids to protect against freezer odors and save you freezer space by stacking without ice sticking to the bottom of the tray. Plus, the glass of water our tester chilled with these ice cubes had no odd flavors or aftertaste.

Furthermore, if you're done with the ice tray shuffle (like we are), the easy-to-grip, thick top handles (in addition to the lid) help quite a bit when transporting the newly filled tray to the freezer. Our tester notes that while she still had to slowly move from the sink to the freezer to prevent spills, it wasn't a problem if she didn't overfill the tray.

What really sets this OXO ice cube tray apart, though, is how the 2-inch ice cubes come out. Like all plastic ice cube trays, the twist method works for releasing several cubes when the lid is fully removed. But the unique, semi-rounded shape of the molds allowed our tester to release cubes individually with a push of a finger on the edge, even with the lid still partially on.

"This seems like a good everyday ice cube tray that's easy to use and takes up less space due to the stackable design." Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, Writer and Product Tester

Material: Plastic | Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.2 x 5.6 x 1.75 inches | Yield: 14 ice cubes | Dishwasher Safe: Yes (top rack)

Best Silicone: GoodCook Prep and Freeze Easy Release Silicone Cube Tray

4.2
GoodCook Prep and Freeze Easy Release Silicone Cube Tray

Amazon

What We Love: Stability of plastic meets the material advantage of silicone, all or single-release capability

What We Don't Love: Larger ice cubes may not suit everyone's taste

Most of the complaints about silicone sets are that releasing the cubes can get t-e-d-i-o-u-s. The majority of silicone ice cube trays require you to push them out individually from the bottom of the mold. But not this one! 

Although you can individually eject the large 2-ounce cubes for your sangria, this 2018 Housewares Design Awards-winner’s sturdy inner spine lets you use the twist method to knock ‘em all out at once, something few other silicone trays can do.

Plus, the rigid support addresses another common grievance against silicone trays, in that they flop and spill in transit. Not our pick, though! "I had to walk slowly to the freezer, but the snap-tight lid helped keep the water from spilling," says our tester. "Maybe I shouldn't have filled the water all the way to the top." She notes that the lid also kept the ice from absorbing freezer smells.

In terms of storage, things were a little bit trickier. "It fit in my freezer OK, but the bottom silicone made it easy for water to spill over if not put into a totally flat space (which my bottom drawer freezer is not; it's too full of other things!)," she says, adding that the lid somewhat makes up for this by making multiple trays easier to stack. And, while the 1.75-inch ice cubes themselves weren't perfectly square (they were a bit rounded at the top), they are larger than a typical cube, which our tester liked because they took a long time to melt.

Material: Silicone | Dimensions (LxWxH): 14.5 x 4.5 x 2.25 inches | Yield: 12 ice cubes | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best No-Mess: Icebreaker Pop Silicone Ice Cube Tray With Lid

4.2
Icebreaker Pop Silicone Ice Cube Tray With Lid

Amazon

What We Love: Sanitary and compact, stackable, does not acquire freezer smell or taste, comes in several colors

What We Don't Love: Pricey, a little tricky to release ice, smaller ice cubes means they melt quickly

We’ve all been there: wrestling with an ice cube tray, trying to twist all of them victoriously free only to have them pop every which way except into your glass. That’s exactly why we want a self-contained one. All you need to do is fill this like a water bottle and freeze it. Its compact design lets you pop it in the freezer anywhere you need to. Our tester also liked that the cap means no spillage when transporting it from the sink to the freezer, and also that she could store it anywhere in the freezer on its side or flat.

Our tester says that it was also easy enough to operate once she figured out the logistics of the design. When it's frozen, push the top and bottom against each other, then pull it apart to expand using the straps. Thanks to its silicone construction, the ice cubes were easy to release by shaking, she adds. It’s ready to pour out into the glass without ever having to touch the ice—meaning you can whip up a batch of Palomas without any concern for contamination.

As for the quality of the ice cubes themselves? "The cubes were free of any freezer smells, [and] the water tasted fine with no off-taste from the ice maker," our tester notes. The one downside was that the cubes were smaller than she usually prefers, meaning they melted more quickly. But for its versatility and ease of cleaning (the whole contraption disassembles for a thorough cleaning by hand or dishwasher), "it's a smartly designed ice maker," she concludes.

Material: Silicone | Dimensions (LxWxH): 9 x 6.6 x 2.4 inches | Yield: 18 ice cubes | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Related: The Best Drinking Glasses

Best Extra-Large: Tovolo King Cube Ice Tray

4
Tovolo Large King Craft Ice Mold Freezer Tray of 2-Inch Cubes, Stratus Blue

Amazon

What We Love: Thicker silicone resists ripping, large cubes, slow-melting, beveled bottom for easy removal

What We Don't Love: A little wobbly, easy to overfill

These large silicone ice cube trays are perfect for chilling those craft cocktails you’re perfecting. The 2-inch cubes are large enough to chill your drinks without diluting them too much, while small enough to fit into a standard cocktail glass.

Made of flexible, food-grade silicone, the ice molds come in an array of fun colors. They also have a beveled bottom that makes it easy to push the mega cubes out one at a time while saving the rest for future beverages. Just make sure you don’t overfill the trays: Because of the floppy silicone bottom (and the lack of a lid), our tester had to be sure not to overfill hers to avoid spills as she walked carefully to the freezer. The absence of a lid also means there is a risk of freezer odors or residue, though our home cook noted that the water she chilled with these cubes tasted fine. Bonus: They melted slowly, too.

These trays' seamless silicone design makes them safe for your dishwasher or easy to clean by hand. Great not just for regular ice, but also to freeze broth, coffee, juices, or anything else you’d like. Comes in single or two packs for double the fun. The trays stack fine as long as you don’t overfill the tops. Just note that the trays are about 2 inches high; they took up a lot of height real estate in our home tester's freezer.

"I fully endorse the Tovolo silicone ice cube molds. It's really easy to pop the ice cubes out of the molds, and they make the perfect size for cocktails!"Emma Christensen, Editor in Chief

Material: Silicone | Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.25 x 4.5 x 2 inches | Yield: 6 ice cubes | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Related: The Best Coolers

Best Mini: Kyelsee Ice Cube Bin Bucket Tray Set

4.2
Kyelsee Ice Cube Bin Bucket Tray Set

Amazon

What We Love: Trays nest in the box, comes with a serving accessory and airtight storage bin

What We Don't Love: Tray is basic plastic

Teeny tiny ice cubes aren’t just adorable, they can be practical, too. Smaller pieces are great for smoothies or to substitute for ice chips. They also melt faster, which is great for iced coffee in two ways: if you want to water it down more quickly to make it an iced Americano, like our tester, or if you want to freeze your coffee in the trays and drink that concentrate without waiting too long. Then there are the Sonic fans out there that just plain prefer their drinks on pebble or nugget ice. 

She adds that the water she cooled with tasted great. "The tiny cubes cooled the water fast, but they also melted quickly as well," she says. "But not all the cubes melted quickly, since they cooled the liquid faster." She also found it very easy to release all the ice at once and found the cubes to be uniform in shape and size, but notes that she couldn't take them out one at a time.

Either way, this all-plastic set can have you covered, with four stackable trays that nest in a clamp-sealed plastic bin to keep freezer smells out and all of your ice contained. It’s also great for storage if you want to make and store a second batch, with an included pair of ice tongs to keep things clean.

If you want to stay small and prefer silicone or a more novel shape, this easy-release hex set is the best of them. Sure, it’s wobbly and soft like most silicone trays, but a hard plastic lid helps it keep its form once you get it safely to the freezer.

"I loved the number of cubes they made and the convenient outer container. The cute little ice tongs were fun, but a little impractical to use. Was worried about the flimsy plastic, but releasing the ice was surprisingly easy." — Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, Product Tester

Material: Polypropylene | Dimensions (LxWxH): 11.5 x 6.8 x 4.75 inches | Yield: 144 ice cubes

Related: The Best Water Filters

Best Craft: Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds Set of 2

4.6
Tovolo Sphere Ice Mold

Amazon

What We Love: Large sphere, ice melts slowly, fun shape for great for craft cocktails

What We Don't Love: A little difficult to release, takes a bit of practice to use

A large 2.5-inch ice sphere is perfect for your highball or other craft cocktails. It chills the drink while melting slowly, making your drinks less diluted and more enjoyable. This two-part ice mold maker comes with a plastic bottom and a tight-fitting silicone lid, which made it easy for our tester to transport it from the freezer to the sink. The lid, in addition to keeping freezer smells out, is nicely designed with a little hole on top for air to escape during expansion. But note, "I did overfill them in my enthusiasm, so water spilled out when I put the top on," she says.

Tovolo also makes a special set for the holidays (view at Amazon): four-pack ice molds so you can make ice spheres shaped like Christmas ornaments. The large spheres are wonderful for cocktail parties or just to sip your Old Fashioned alone in front of a warm fire. Just be sure to hold the mold over the sink when you place the lid to catch any extra water from overflowing. The airtight design also keeps freezer odors out.

Our tester loved the shape and size of these molds, especially the holiday-themed ones, which she thinks are fun and would be great to use for a holiday party. Her one caveat is that the spheres were a little tricky to release. "I had to get my husband to help me or waited until they melted slightly enough to be able to be released," she explains.

Material: Plastic and silicone | Dimensions (LxWxH): 3.4 x 3.4 x 6.5 inches | Yield: 1 ice sphere per mold (2 molds) | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Related: The Best Stemless Wine Glasses

Final Verdict

For those who want a more conventional take on this tried-and-true kitchen gadget with the added benefit of modern updates, the OXO Good Grips Ice Cube Tray with Lid (view at Amazon) offers exactly that. If you're open to change, the all-in-one, zero-contact “tray” and dispenser Icebreaker Pop Silicone Ice Cube Tray With Lid (view at Amazon) combo keeps things clean and doesn’t take over your freezer.

What Are the Other Options?

Yeppiko Freezer Food Trays (view at Amazon): We tested these as a best pick for meal prepping and they do work for that. They have built-in date markers, grip-tab shake-tested lids, and are easy to transport to the freezer when filled, but, unlike glass food storage containers, you can't pop these in the freezer. And quite honestly, the Ziploc freeze-flat method is the most space-efficient way to store your future meals.

What to Look for in an Ice Cube Tray

Material

Although the first ice cube trays invented were rubber and metal, plastic and silicone are the most common ones you’ll find today. No matter which material you go for, look for easy-to-grip edges and keep durability in mind. Cracking is often the cause people need to replace their plastic ice cube trays, while ripping is the reason silicone versions get tossed with the (ice) bathwater.

Plastic forms are great for holding their shape, which is great for making uniformly shaped ice cubes. Another benefit is that plastic ice cube trays allow you to release multiple units of ice with a simple back-and-forth twisting motion. Additionally, they tend to be affordable and stackable. Just make sure they’re BPA-free for safety.

Silicone, on the other hand, releases ice easily. What most don’t love is that more often than not, they do it one at a time. However, these durable, dishwasher-safe trays are lightweight, easy to store, will not absorb weird smells or flavors, and are tolerant of both high and low temperatures—handy if you’re looking to freeze food. Look for ones with reinforced infrastructure, whether it’s in the rimmed edges or cube separators, to avoid the hassle of floppy bases and inevitable spills. A good lid can also serve as a tray against accidents. Also, keep an eye out for assurances that what you’re getting is food-grade silicone.

Lids

Ice cube trays with lids are tops, particularly compared to ones without. The lids are functional in a variety of ways: they seal against freezer smells or odors leached from nearby foods, prevent contamination by other food or items falling into or onto your cubes, and save you the headache of cleaning up after a spill. 

Lid material also matters. Many ice cube trays will mix and match plastic bases with silicone tops or vice versa. Both have their benefits. Plastic lids are ideal for stacking and add structure to your tray. They can seal tightly into snap seams to better contain any spillover. Silicone allows for the natural expansion of the ice, and can also be leakproof in the right design and with proper use. Cubes made under the protection of a silicone lid that presses flush into the frame may also be more uniform, as they prevent spillover between dividers.

FAQs

Are ice cube trays dishwasher safe?

Many are, but it depends on the material, thickness, and manufacturer. Because they’re so lightweight, ice cube trays are known to warp, so even if they’re labeled as dishwasher-safe, it’s typically best to hand wash them.

How do you wash ice cube trays?

Like any other food receptacle, use soap and water. The only thing is, you’ll want to use unscented detergent to avoid any soapy or artificial flavors or smells transferring to your ice. Alternatively, you can soak trays in diluted white vinegar to sterilize them or return them to neutrality if they’ve already picked up some funk.

Why is the lid of my ice cube tray sticking?

There are usually two reasons for this: you’re either overfilling the tray and the expanding ice has attached to the lid or there’s some spilled water at the seam that’s holding the lid too securely in place. It’s best practice to leave some room at the top of each ice cube to accommodate the greater volume ice takes up than liquid. This will also keep your cubes from linking together. 

Can you freeze food in ice cube trays?

Yes, but make sure you do it properly. All ice cube trays should be graded food-safe, but make sure they’re clean and dry before you attempt anything. What you freeze should also be suspended in a liquid or already in liquid form. If not, they’ll just be frozen chunks of random blueberries or the like rattling at the bottom of your tray. 

And don’t forget to cool the food first. Sure, silicone trays will tolerate high heat, but if you toss them in the freezer right away, you’re raising the overall temperature of your appliance suddenly and quickly. This can be detrimental to everything else you already have in there and create frost and freezer burn. 

How do you keep the freezer smell out of ice?

The first thing is to buy an ice cube tray with a lid. This is your preliminary line of defense against freezer odor. The next one is to keep your freezer clean. That means cleaning it regularly with white vinegar and water, baking soda and water, or diluted bleach. It also means getting rid of any food that could be past its prime, freezer burnt, and otherwise stinking up your icebox. Finally, clean your ice cube trays regularly. Keeping them fresh will keep your ice the same. 

What about reusable cubes?

For a time, reusable plastic ice cubes were all the rage. They’re easy, stay dry, seem eco-friendly, and won’t water down your drinks. But they've fallen out of style for many reasons.

One is that even if they’re BPA-free, they can still break down into your beverages over time. They also absorb odors and flavors easily. And yes, that includes the yucky freezer air. Silicone reusable ones may not absorb as much of these unsavory elements, but the gel can leak.

Then there are soapstone cubes, which have developed a fan base among whiskey drinkers. However, they don’t hold low temperatures as effectively or as long as could be hoped for. Stainless steel ice cubes are safe when food-grade, easy to clean, will last a lifetime, stay cool for an average of 30 minutes, and remain relatively neutral smelling and tasting with minimal metallicness. On the other hand, they take the longest to freeze and are expensive. 

In other words, good old-fashioned water should do you just fine.

Why Trust Simply Recipes?

This guide was authored by Su-Jit Lin, who has over a dozen years of experience writing about food, twice that in cooking it, and thrice in enjoying all of it with extreme and likely unseemly gusto. Up until recently, she hasn’t had a refrigerator with an icemaker, and so was forced to wrestle with a lot of lousy ice cube tray models—uncool. Her goal for this buying guide is to help you maintain your chill in your search for the right one.

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee tested these ice cube trays and updated this piece. The writer, photographer, former restaurant owner, recipe developer, and chef also makes it her job—when she's not globe-trotting—to find and test the best-value kitchen tools and appliances (both well-known and niche, like those fun Tovolo holiday molds) that make cooking and entertaining easy for the home cook.

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