Best Ice Cream Scoops
Yes, there's a best ice cream scoop. After testing seven popular models, we found one that blew away the competition by allowing us to produce perfectly rolled orbs of ice cream with minimal effort.
| Credit: David Cicconi / Food & Wine

The Best Ice Cream Scoops, According to Our Tests

We tested seven popular scoops to find the best and found the Zeroll Original is a classic for a reason.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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Ice cream is the food of my people. I grew up on Cape Cod, where every teenage townie spends at least one summer scooping ice cream for tourists. I did it myself at the excellent Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium. When I set out to test ice cream scoops to find out which one produces the prettiest, most effortless scoops, I thought it best to call a real expert: Jeni Britton Bauer, of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

Jeni has been in the business for two decades, owns dozens of shops, and is the author of two ice cream cookbooks, so she knows her way around a scoop. She has an all-time favorite model that she uses at her shops. In general, she says to choose a model that's all one piece, without moving parts like a release lever. "The spring/lever ones don't work well for American hard body ice cream," she says, "Too many pieces and they pop apart when scooping. I don't recommend them."

That narrowed the field considerably, so I restricted our testing to 2- to 3-ounce ounce scoopers. Starting with Jeni's recommendation, I looked at the brands and models recommended by competitors, as well as best sellers at online retailers, and gathered a group of seven contenders. As it turns out, yes—there is a best ice cream scoop. After testing seven popular models, we found the Zeroll Original blew away the competition by allowing us to produce perfectly round scoops of ice cream with minimal effort. Read on for more of our favorite picks.

Our Top Picks

Related Items

zeroll ice cream scooper
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Overall: Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop 

View at Amazon ($23)

Also available at Williams Sonoma.

Pros: The heat-conducting tool makes it easy to make perfect scoops with little to no effort.

Cons: It's not dishwasher-safe so it requires some care for cleanup.

The Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop, Jeni's go-to scoop, is the one that shows up on top of most lists, and for good reason. "They are the gold standard in ice cream dishes," Jeni said. It's made of lightweight aluminum with a simple, easy-to-grasp handle that's filled with a heat-conducting fluid. That fluid transfers warmth from your hand to the bowl of the scoop, helping it glide through the ice cream and then release the scoop easily. The lip of the bowl is a bit sharp, too, which helps it scoop rock-solid sorbet. Because the scoop is so light, you do need a little bit of elbow grease to get going. Once you do, it works like a dream, and it makes perfectly rolled balls of ice cream—the best-looking scoops of all. It's not dishwasher-safe, but it takes seconds to rinse it off, so that's not much of a problem.

Comfort: 3/3 stars; Ease: 2.5/3 stars; Release: 3/3 stars; Attractiveness of scoops: 3/3 stars

  • Weight: 4.9 ounces
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Dishwasher-safe: No
zyliss ice cream scooper
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best for Small Hands: Zyliss Ice Cream Scoop

View at Amazon ($15)

Also available at Bed Bath & Beyond and Sur La Table.

Pros: The ergonomic design and heft makes big, beautiful scoops easy.

Cons: It's on the heavy side and the large scoop shape isn't ideal for getting the last bits of ice cream out.

It might seem odd that the heaviest scoop—this one weighs in at 8.7 ounces—is best for small hands, but this scoop's well-balanced heft gives great leverage for cutting through hard ice cream or sorbet. The ergonomic handle of the Zyliss Ice Cream Scoop is super comfortable and made testers feel like their grip was secure. Minor quibbles: The scoop is too big and blunt to be very effective at getting the last bits of ice cream from the corners of a container; ice cream sometimes sticks a bit and need a nudge to come off the scoop; and the scoops themselves aren't as pretty as those made by Zeroll. It also makes bigger portions than the other models I tested, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on your perspective!

Comfort: 3/3 stars; Ease: 2.5/3 stars; Release: 2/3 stars; Attractiveness of scoops: 2/3 stars

  • Weight: 8.7 ounces
  • Material: Stainless steel and plastic
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes, top rack
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop
Credit: Courtesy of OXO

Best Grip: Oxo Good Grips Solid Ice Cream Scoop

View at Amazon ($16)

Also available at Bed Bath & Beyond and Oxo.

Pros: Sturdy handle makes it easy to dig into deeply frozen treats, and the stainless steel head won't chip.

Cons: Ice cream tends to cling to the scoop, so might require some shaking or prying.

The Oxo Good Grips Solid Ice Cream Scoop has a very comfortable and sturdy rubber grip on its handles that prevents slipping, so you can have total control of your scoop. It's also got a narrow bowl, flat edges, and a pointed tip, which helps it get close to the corners of the ice cream container and create a prettier scoop. The downside is that the more you scoop, the more the ice cream sticks, so you'll have to shake or pry it out.

*Note, the original Oxo Good Grips scoop used in our test is no longer in production, so we've linked to the newest edition (the handle construction is the same).

Comfort: 3/3 stars; Ease: 2/3 stars; Release: 1/3 stars; Attractiveness of scoops: 2.5/3 stars

  • Weight: 9.36 ounces
  • Material: Stainless steel and plastic
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
ice cream scoops
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Most Durable: Sumo Ice Cream Scoop

View at Amazon ($11)

Pros: The pointed top can easily reach corners of ice cream pints, and it has a few color options.

Cons: Scooping can be messy as the cold foods will stick slightly to the head.

Similar to the Oxo scoop in terms of shape, the Sumo Ice Cream Scoop stands out from other scoops for its stainless steel construction, which is a plus because some online user reviews claim that models made from coated plastic—like the Zyliss—can flake after long periods of heavy use. It's a solid, well-made model that will last a long time. But like its Oxo companion, the ice cream is more inclined to stick, making for a messy scooping experience. On a more positive note, it's available in four fun colors, each of which will brighten up your utensils draw. 

Comfort: 3/3 stars; Ease: 2/3 stars; Release: 1/3 stars; Attractiveness of scoops: 2.5/3 stars

  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Material: Stainless steel and BPA-free food-grade rubber
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Conclusion

Though other scoops offered great results, overall the Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop proved to be the most useful ice cream scooper we tested. The heat conductive handle allows for smooth scoops without introducing freezer burn to your favorite pints of ice cream.

The Tests

To test the scoops, I spooned up cookies and cream ice cream from a 1.5-quart oblong container, mango sorbet from a pint container (both of which I put in a deep freeze for a few hours to make sure they were very solid), as well as a few pints of assorted rock-hard, freezer-burned ice cream that were hiding in the back of my freezer.

There were never going to be any true disasters here. No matter what you use to scoop—even a regular spoon—it's all going to end with a dish of ice cream. But in an ideal world, there are a few important criteria a good scoop should meet. Imagine, for instance, you are dishing out ice cream for a big birthday party. You want a model that's comfortable and balanced in your hand, one that glides easily through ice cream or sorbet (no matter how hard or how chunky), corralling it into a tightly curled, round orb for either a bowl or on a cone. Then you want the ice cream to release fairly easily from the scoop. You want the scoop to be compact enough to easily fit into a pint and nimble enough to navigate a container's bottom corners to get out every last bit of ice cream.

I rated each scoop from one to three stars (three being the best) on all the criteria above: comfort in my hand, ease of scooping, ease of release, and attractiveness of scoops. I also had my husband and a female friend with smaller hands than me try them to see if different hands prefer different scoops.

zeroll ice cream scoop
Credit: David Ciccone

Factors to Consider

Comfort 

Only one scoop was a complete flop. Most of the scoops performed well, especially in comfort and ease of scooping. A few that were otherwise great ran into trouble on releasing the ice cream; the colder they got, the harder it became to get the ice cream out of the container. A few were too large or blunt to get into nooks and crannies at the bottom of the carton.

Weight 

The scoops fell into two general categories: light and heavy. Three were in the 4- to 4.5-ounce range and four were in the 8- to 8.5-ounce range. But design mattered more than weight. There were winners and losers in both groups—a well-designed heavy scoop can give leverage cutting through hard ice cream. A well-designed light scoop can feel more comfortable and nimble.

Features 

Two of the scoops have heat-conducting or defrosting fluid sealed inside the handle: Supposedly, that fluid transfers heat from your hand on the handle to the bowl, warming it just enough so that it glides smoothly through the ice cream and then releases the ice cream easily from the bowl. Both performed well—one better than the other—though the downside is that you can't put them in the dishwasher. However, washing an ice cream scoop by hand really isn't much of a hardship, so I didn't hold that against those models.

Pro Panel Q+A

What's the best way to scoop ice cream?

Jeni Britton Bauer recommends: Make sure the scoop is completely dry and at room temperature. A wet scoop or a hot scoop will leave behind ice crystals in the ice cream that will spread and cause freezer burn. You might see ice cream shop workers dipping their scoops into a container of water between uses, but Jeni says that's not a good practice, and it's only done for expediency.

How much ice cream is in a standard scoop?

Generally, an ice cream scoop is 1/2 cup of ice cream or 4 ounces. There are usually 32 scoops in a gallon of ice cream, and about 4 scoops in a pint.

Who invented the ice cream scoop?

Alfred L. Cralle, a businessman and inventor, first patented the "ice cream mold and disher" in 1897 after noticing servers struggling to release ice cream from spoons in the hotel he worked for as a porter. His original tool is reflected in the design of modern-day scoops that include the scraper mechanism.

In the early 1930s, Sherman Kelly was vacationing in Florida when he noticed that a woman working at an ice cream shop had calluses and blisters all over her hand from scooping frozen ice cream. He saw it as an opportunity: In 1933, he patented his idea for a self-defrosting model that would make scooping ice cream painless and set up the Zeroll Company in his garage. Now the scoop is made in Florida, but the product hasn't changed much in the years since.

What Didn't Make the Cut

Related Items

ice cream scoops
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Norpro Nonstick Anti-Freeze Ice Cream Scoop 

View at Amazon ($6)

Also available at Walmart.

Like the Zeroll, the Norpro Nonstick Anti-Freeze Ice Cream Scoop is filled with heat-conducting fluid that helps with ease of scooping and release. This one also has a nonstick coating, so it was the most effective of all in releasing the ice cream from the bowl of the scoop. However, if you're going to get a self-defrosting scoop, there's no reason to choose this one over the Zeroll. The handle is thinner than the Zeroll and feels slippery from the nonstick coating, so it's hard to get a good grip on it. The shape of the bowl is more oblong than round, so the scoops are not as neat and pretty.

Comfort: 1/3 stars; Ease: 2.5/3 stars; Release: 3/3 stars; Attractiveness of scoops: 1.5/3 stars

ice cream scoops
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Tovolo Tilt Up Ice Cream Scoop 

View at Amazon ($11)

I could have sworn that the Tovolo Tilt Up Ice Cream Scoop was the heaviest scoop at 8.2 ounces, but once I weighed them all it turned out that the Zyliss (8.68 ounces) was heavier. It feels hulking because it's unbalanced—it's top-heavy, with a very thin neck, which makes it feel like it's going to fall out of your hand. The two little feet that prop the scoop up off the table when you set it down are supposed to minimize mess, but the ice cream just drips down the feet instead. It makes large, clunky scoops. If you want the leverage of a heavy scoop, the Zyliss is a much better choice.

Comfort: 1/3 stars; Ease: 2/3 stars; Release: 2/3 stars; Attractiveness of scoops: 1/3 stars

KitchenAid ice cream scoop
Credit: Courtesy of Target

KitchenAid Classic Ice Cream Scoop 

View at Amazon ($9) 

Also available at Target.

Everyone who picked up the KitchenAid Classic Ice Cream Scoop had one thing to say: It feels cheap. (I was surprised since I usually like KitchenAid products.) It's very light, but unlike the other aluminum scoops, this one is plastic. It's slippery and hard to grip. The lip of the bowl is rounded and blunt, so there's nothing to help you cut through hard sorbet or ice cream, and you have to use a finger to pry it out. The scoops are fairly neat and attractive, but really you'd be better off saving the eight bucks and using a soup spoon.

Comfort: 1/3 stars; Ease: 1/3 stars; Release: 1/3 stars; Attractiveness of scoops: 2.5/3 stars

Our Expertise

Sarah DiGregorio is a freelance journalist who has written for various publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Saveur. Her work has been included in the Best American Food Writing yearly anthologies three times. For this piece she spoke with Jeni Britton Bauer, of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams for expert tips and developing the testing methodology.