The Best Ice Cream Scoop

We spent more than 25 hours researching and testing five scoops (after considering 40), and even enlisted the help of employees at three ice cream parlors, to find that for perfectly round scoops with minimal hassle, you can’t beat the classic Zeroll scoop ($25). It cuts into hard ice cream more cleanly than other scoops, thanks to its heat-conducting core, and its shape produces gorgeous scoops out of even the densest of desserts. The Zeroll is easy to clean and less likely to break than mechanical scoops, and its simple handle fits most palms comfortably.

Last Updated: July 15, 2015
We tested our top pick and runner-up against the Sumo ice cream scoop in hand-packed pints of homemade ice cream. The results are the same: We think the Zeroll ice cream scoop is still the best. If you’re looking for a dishwasher-friendly alternative, though, we also like the OXO Good Grips scoop, our runner up.
Expand Most Recent Updates
May 12, 2015: We tested our top pick and runner-up against the Sumo ice cream scoop in hand-packed pints of homemade ice cream. The results are the same: We think the Zeroll ice cream scoop is still the best. The shape gave us the best leverage for making perfectly rounded balls of rock-hard ice cream. We'll be updating the guide with details from those tests very soon.
Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop
Favored by ice cream shops everywhere, the Zeroll cuts into hard ice cream more smoothly, produces better spheres, and is easier to clean than any other scoop we tried.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.

Don’t just take our word for it: The Zeroll is the prefered scoop of many ice cream shops. All the experts we spoke to and the multiple servers at multiple ice cream parlors unanimously recommended the Zeroll. Its simple design has been virtually unchanged since it was introduced 75 years ago. Buy this scoop, and you probably won’t ever need to get another (or, at least, not for a long time!).

The Zeroll cleanly digs into rock-hard ice cream with greater ease than any other scoop we tested.
We picked the Zeroll in our original 2013 review, and after testing again this year, our original verdict still stands. The Zeroll cleanly digs into rock-hard ice cream with greater ease than any other scoop we tested.The secret is the heat-conducting fluid in the handle that transfers the heat of your hand to the bowl of the scoop for easier scooping and releasing. The large round handle is easy to grip, which lets you make beautiful balls of ice cream with less effort. While it’s not dishwasher safe, we don’t think hand washing an ice cream scoop is that big of a deal.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.

OXO Good Grips Solid Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop
This close runner-up receives good marks for its cushy handle and tapered scoop, but it doesn’t glide through ice cream quite as well as the Zeroll. If you absolutely need a dishwasher-safe scoop, this is a good choice.

The shape of the OXO scoop didn’t give us the stellar leverage of the Zeroll, but it still did a decent job of cutting through ice cream. The cushy handle might be a little easier on tender hands, too. When it came to making tightly packed orbs of ice cream, it wasn’t on par with the Zeroll, but if you’re going into a bowl and not a cone, then that shouldn’t matter much. This scoop is really for people who must have something that’s dishwasher safe.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

For this piece, we looked to editorial reviews in Cook’s Illustrated, Serious Eats, The Kitchn, and the Chicago Tribune. We interviewed enthusiast ice cream bloggers (are you really surprised that’s a thing?) like Bethany Schlegel Shaw of Scoopalicious, Lindsay Clendaniel of Scoop Adventures, Dubba Scoops of On Second Scoop, and Chad of The Ice Cream Informant to figure out what are must-haves (and must-avoids) for home scooping. We also asked bloggers Karina Sinclair of The Ice Cream Initiative and Mattie Hagedorn at Veganbaking.net what they thought. And to get some pro opinions on how scoops stacked up after hours of high-volume use, we worked with three ice cream stores in San Francisco: Bi-Rite Creamery, Humphry Slocombe, and The Ice Cream Bar.

We also have plenty of firsthand knowledge of the subject: One of us (Lesley Stockton) has scooped a fair amount of ice cream as a restaurant line cook dishing up 50 orders of Bananas Foster each night, learning that you want a scoop that can cut through rock-hard frozen ice cream with as little hand and arm fatigue as possible. Tim Barribeau, the other half of our scoop team, has written for The Sweethome and The Wirecutter since 2012, covering both gadgetry and cooking tools with experiences including interviewing James-Beard-award-winning authors and chefs; performing blind taste testing with Japanese rice experts; and reviewing rice cookers, sous vide circulators, tea kettles, and more.

Who should get this?

Although you can certainly get by scooping ice cream with a soup or serving spoon, those tools tend to bend when confronted with really hard ice cream. A designated scoop is much easier to use and produces perfectly round servings that are more aesthetically pleasing.

If you have an old ice cream scoop, spring-loaded or otherwise, and it’s difficult to get into hard-frozen ice cream or it’s just uncomfortable to use, consider upgrading. It’s not worth struggling with a bad scoop that can’t smoothly gather up rounds of ice cream and cleanly release them into bowls or cones.

How we picked and tested

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This year we tested, from left to right, the OXO Good Grips, Sumo, and Zeroll Original scoops.

Ice cream scoops often suffer from the affliction of being over-designed. There are mechanical scoops, scoops coated with Teflon, ones that are electrically heated, ones that remove a perfect cylinder core of ice cream, and others made out of nearly every possible combination of materials and shapes on the planet. But it turns out the most straightforward models seem to be doing everything right.

The basics of what you should look for in an ice cream scoop are pretty simple. You want a sharp edge for cutting through the ice cream, a nice round head for scooping it out well (and so the ice cream slides easily out), a comfortable handle, and ease in cleaning. (After scooping ice cream for a birthday party, you’ll want to be able to get out all the melted stickiness as easily as possible.)

Complex levering and scooping mechanical designs do little to help you scoop ice cream.
Complex levering and scooping mechanical designs do little to help you scoop ice cream. While a portion scoop—also called a disher—with its moving pusher may be great for evenly dividing up cookie dough or muffin batter, the mechanical parts jam and stick when dealing with hard frozen ice cream. Chad from the Ice Cream Informant told us, “I prefer [one-piece designs] over the moving units that always stick and take multiple movements to release the scoop anyways.” Lindsay Clendaniel of Scoop Adventures agreed. “Dishers are great for portioning food such as scooping/sizing cookie dough or mashed potatoes, but I think they are horrible for scooping ice cream,” she said. “Because the ice cream is harder in consistency, the disher mechanism often gets stuck on the ice cream and falls off-track, making it very frustrating to scoop. It also seems that dishers wear out pretty quickly and make long-term use difficult.”

Instead, go for a solid, easy-to-grip scoop that doesn’t have any moving parts.
Instead, go for a solid, easy-to-grip scoop that doesn’t have any moving parts. There’s plenty of room for variation among handle size and shape and scoop form, and mechanical gewgaws add little to the endeavor.

The things you want to avoid most with ice cream scoops are low-quality materials and overly complex construction. Scooping through frozen dairy products is tough, and if the ice cream scoop is poorly constructed or made of crappy plastic, its coating may flake, it can bend, or it may simply break.

We looked at ice cream spades and paddles, but since they are an ungainly size and better suited for cutting into large vats of ice cream, we opted not to test them. Even though they have the advantage of being able to cut through large amounts of hard frozen ice cream thanks to a design that takes advantage of a lot more leverage, they’re not as practical for home use as a scoop is. If you do want one, the the Zeroll Ice Cream Spade is loved as much as the scoop is.

After consulting our experts, editorial reviews, and scouring Amazon reviews for our initial 2013 review, we picked four scoops that met our criteria and asked employees at three San Francisco ice cream parlors (The Ice Cream Bar, Bi-Rite Creamery, and Humphry Slocombe) to give them a whirl. After a few hours of work, they gave their impressions on the tools.

For this update, we looked at new models that came out in the intervening two years. There weren’t many. We only found one—the Sumo ice cream scoop— that we deemed worthy of putting up against our top pick and runner-up from last round, the classic Zeroll scoop and OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop.

Because scooping out of an immense tub at an ice cream parlor is a bit different from carving out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, we tested all three scoops through home use this round. Conveniently, we had just finished testing ice cream makers, so we filled pint containers with homemade ice cream, let the batches freeze overnight, and scooped them up the next day. We tested for how efficiently the scoops cut into the ice cream, how well the tools released their frozen cargo, the roundness of the resulting ice cream spheres, and ease of cleaning the scoops.

Our pick

Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop
Favored by ice cream shops everywhere, the Zeroll cuts into hard ice cream more smoothly, produces better spheres, and is easier to clean than any other scoop we tried.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.

There’s no better tool for digging into frozen treats than the Zeroll ice cream scoop. Its large, smooth handle was one of the easiest to hold in our testing, even compared to those with silicone grips. And thanks to a heat-conducting fluid inside the scoop that slightly warms the metal, it cuts into ice cream more efficiently than any of the competition. The Zeroll also makes more beautifully-formed and well-proportioned spheres of ice cream than any other scoop out there. And because it has no moving parts, it’s less likely to break than mechanical scoops. This tool has stood test of time; it’s remained essentially unchanged for 75 years and is considered an icon of modern design, even sitting in the MoMA’s permanent collection.

02-ice-cream-scoop-zeroll-classic-630

The Zeroll scoop is incredibly easy to hold thanks to its large handle. It’s big, round, smooth, and easy to grip. Although it doesn’t have the cushy rubberized handle of our runner-up, the actual scoop cuts into hard ice cream easily, so you don’t have to bear down so much in the handle as you do with either the OXO or Sumo scoops.

This scoop features a core of heat-conducting fluid—the first to boast this design—that transmits the warmth from your palm into the metal, helping it cut through ice cream more easily.
This scoop features a core of heat-conducting fluid—the first to boast this design—that transmits the warmth from your palm into the metal, helping it cut through ice cream more easily. According to Zeroll, the fluid is a “non-toxic, safe, water-soluble oil”1—not antifreeze, as some people suggest. There are many cheap knock-offs, but none are as sturdy as the original. The difference really is noticeable when compared side by side with the OXO Good Grips or the Sumo. These solid steel scoops take more elbow grease to maneuver since they don’t have heat-conducting fluid to help warm the aluminum, which is already a great heat conductor.

Scraping the ice cream with the front beak of the Zeroll’s rounded bowl curls the ice cream onto itself, creating perfect spheres for ice cream cones, brownie toppings, and sundaes. And those perfectly rounded portions of ice cream release cleanly and easily from the bowl. Since they’re made with help from the warming core fluid, there’s no need for mechanical levers or scrapers. After a few scoops, both the OXO and Sumo need a gentle shake to release (although nothing too aggressive).

Since the Zeroll has no moving parts to break, there’s less chance of it breaking over the long run. The only thing that can really do harm to the Zeroll is the dishwasher. It should only be hand washed to avoid damaging the aluminum casing.

All three ice cream parlors that we talked to in our testing had already opted to use these scoops in a professional environment.
The Zeroll is one of the most famed and widely lauded ice cream scoops ever crafted. If it’s any indication of just how popular the scoop is, all three ice cream parlors that we talked to in our testing had already opted to use these scoops in a professional environment. The ice cream shop employees complemented it, saying it’s easy to grip, effortless to use, and lightweight, and that it makes good-looking, consistently-sized scoops.

Different-colored caps at the base of Zeroll scoops denote size. The classic Zeroll scoop comes in six sizes: brown for 4 ounces, blue for 3 ounces, green for 2½ ounces, gold for 2 ounces, silver for 1½ ounces, and red for 1 ounce. For our testing purposes, we used the 2-ounce scoop.

Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) and The Kitchn’s roundups of best ice cream scoops both gave top awards to the Zeroll. Donna Currie at Serious Eats also vouched for the Zeroll, as well as bloggers Lindsay Clendaniel of Scoop Adventures, Karina Sinclair of The Ice Cream Initiative, and Mattie Hagedorn at Veganbaking.net. It receives a 4.5-star average rating on Amazon.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The Zeroll isn’t dishwasher safe. It’s made of aluminum, which reacts to dishwashing detergent.

The warranty isn’t that great, covering only defects from first purchase. However, as long as you wash it by hand, you can expect it to last decades. Apparently there are scoops from the 1940s that are still in use. Juliet Pries of The Ice Cream Bar told us that in their 15 months of operation, often pulling more than a thousand scoops per day, not a single one has needed to be replaced. She said, “they show little wear and I don’t think they’ll need to be replaced any time soon.”

The runner-up

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.

OXO Good Grips Solid Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop
This close runner-up receives good marks for its cushy handle and tapered scoop, but it doesn’t glide through ice cream quite as well as the Zeroll. If you absolutely need a dishwasher-safe scoop, this is a good choice.

The OXO Good Grips Solid Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop ($15) is a decent ice cream scoop in its own right. It didn’t take our top spot because it just couldn’t form clean spheres of ice cream like the Zeroll. The Zeroll also slipped into hard ice cream a bit more effortlessly. If you really value just being able to throw something in the dishwasher, though, or think the more molded grip might be easier on your hands, it’s an excellent alternative to the Zeroll.

The Zeroll, left, forms much cleaner spheres of ice cream than the OXO scoop, right.

The Zeroll, left, forms much cleaner spheres of ice cream than the OXO scoop, right.

The OXO features a solid single-unit design that is dishwasher safe. Its slightly pointed shape aids in getting ice cream out of the corners of the tub and carving through hard-packed, very cold ice cream. It’s very comfortable to hold because of its classic OXO Good Grips cushy handle.

Even though the OXO is sturdy with a comfortable grip, it simply doesn’t scoop as gracefully as the Zeroll. With the OXO, you really have to work to get a compact portion, and even with the best finessing it still can’t give you a presentation-worthy round scoop like the Zeroll. It also takes more effort to get into ice cream fresh out of the freezer.

On Amazon, it has just more than 500 reviews, of which 91 percent give it five stars, many praising it as the best ever made. And since the head is a single piece of stainless steel, there’s no chance of it flaking, unlike the Zyliss. This scoop is also well-reviewed by the Chicago Tribune and Almost Vegan in Paradise.

The OXO came in second in the ice cream parlor tests. Shop employees praised it for its ability into hard-to-reach areas, lack of sticking ice cream residue, pleasant weight and grip, and excellent handling of hard ice cream. But it was also criticized for its narrow head and turning out less-than-perfect scoops. But if you want a scoop that you can simply throw in the dishwasher when done, and you don’t mind what the portions look like, the OXO is a good fit.

Care and maintenance

As far as care and maintenance go, ice cream scoops are pretty easy, with one tiny caveat. The Zeroll cannot be put in the dishwasher. We don’t see this as a real issue because how hard is it to clean an ice cream scoop? Just wash it by hand with warm water and some mild dish soap; let dry.

The competition

The Sumo is almost identical to the OXO Good Grips ice cream scoop except the handle is purple. We liked the OXO a little better because of the hole in the handle for hanging. It performed the same, and it’s also dishwasher safe.

We don’t recommend the Zyliss ice cream scoop because of worries about the longterm life of the tool. Amazon reviews complain of the metal’s coatings coming off after just a year or two of use. In our testing, the Zyliss scoop had some fans for its weighted handle and ability to curve perfectly around a pint container. But it was widely critiqued for making too big scoops, shovelling rather than rolling, and for ice cream sticking to it.

The Rösle ice cream scoop was not a favorite with our testers. The three ice cream joints were unanimous in saying the Rösle scoop was by far the worst of the four testers in our original review. It was criticized for being unpleasant to use with hard ice cream, awkward, having too short a handle, and having trouble with ice cream sticking because of its low thermal mass. As one person put it, “it’s no more efficient for scooping than a large spoon.” This scoop was once a Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) favorite, but the Amazon reviews raise some worrying questions about long-term life.

The OXO Steel Ice Cream Scoop ($12) has a lever that is supposed to help pop the ice cream out. Instead, ice cream gets everywhere inside its mechanical works. One Amazon reviewer calls the button activated lever “useless.”

The Cuisipro Scoop and Stack is an overly complex contraption, which by many accounts barely works. The ice cream has to be in a very specific state of frozenness for this to be functional.

The Good Cook Twister ($12) boasts a “patented auger system.” The handle twists to scoop the ice cream. It has an extremely sharp point that some Amazon reviewers see as a safety hazard, and others complain of the metal flaking.

Good Cook Smart Scoop ($11) has to be squeezed while ice cream is scooped, which can make for tired hands really fast. Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) doesn’t recommend it for that exact reason, along with the flattened scoops it makes.

Dragonn Scoop ($9) has eight five-star reviews on Amazon, most from people who received a free scoop from the company. Its bent lip and thin steel bowl tell us it’s flimsy and wouldn’t put much of a dent in hard ice cream.

New Star Dipper ($7) is a cheap knockoff of the Zeroll. It has the same shape and fluid inside the handle. Amazon reviewers complain about the metal flaking after a few uses.

Tovolo Tilt Up Scoop ($6) looks almost exactly like the Zyliss we tested and dismissed. It has a really deep bowl that doesn’t release ice cream easily and the same complaints about the metal pitting and flaking.

Footnotes:

1. We’re not sure what oil is water soluble. We reached out to Zeroll several times to ask but didn’t get a response in time for publication. Jump back.

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Sources

  1. Ice Cream Scoops, Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2015
  2. Cambria Bold, The 5 Best Ice Cream Scoops, The Kitchn, May 21, 2012
  3. Donna Currie, Gadgets: Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop, Serious Eats, August 2, 2012
  4. Karina Sinclair, The Zeroll Original Scoop-Gold, The Ice Cream Initiative, October 17, 2012
  5. Dubba Scoops, On Second Scoop, Interview
  6. Chad, Ice Cream Informat, Interview
  7. Lindsay Clendaniel, Scoop Adventures, Interview
  8. Bethany, Scoopalicious, Interview
  9. Lisa Futterman, Pictures: Get the scoop, Chicago Tribune
  10. "tennis player", Good design except CORROSION of scoop, Amazon User Review, April 22, 2008
  11. Nicole Weston, Zyliss Ice Cream Scoop, Reviewed, Baking Bites, August 26, 2010
  12. Ice Cream Scoops, Cook's Illustrated, July 1, 2008
  13. "Ben "Ben"', China not the problem, Amazon User Reviews, May 3, 2009
  14. 'Doc Dave "world music fan"', Design flaws from cost cutting, Amazon User Reviews, July 13, 2009
  15. "4alina", Product Review Ice Cream Scoop by Oxo, Almost Vegan in Paradise

Originally published: July 15, 2015

  • Karina S

    We are delighted to have our blog, theicecreaminitative.com, quoted in this article. We still love our Zeroll, and even recently added their packer to our tool kit!

  • eaadams

    I love this blog!

  • Blake Hill

    An ice cream scoop seems like overkill for 99% of people. Regular large spoons everyone already has work as well or better & that’s one less thing you have to have in your drawer.

    It’d be neat to see thesweethome include the option, consider the recommendation of not having the object at all. Thesweethome is a bit different than thewirecutter in that sense.

    Love both sites.

    Thanks,

    Blake

    • http://TheSweethome.com Joel Johnson

      I think you’ll find we’re pretty good about dissuading people from purchases when we think there’s a better option. (Knife Sets, for instance, suggests buying knives piecemeal right in the title.) But it would be overkill to put that sort of consideration on every single item, because when you shake it all out, there are very, very few things anyone really needs, especially in housewares. We trust that most people can trust their own judgement when it comes to their own true need when buying something.

    • RudimentaryDiode

      My ice cream bent my spoons by 90 degrees because it was so hard and warped many others over time. I’ll use a dedicated scoop, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/timothymcn word is bond

    Any word on the Amco serrated scooper? I read about it some time ago, but it was out of stock at the time. Looks like it’s back now: http://www.amazon.com/Amco-Serrated-Ice-Cream-Scoop/dp/B008DSIBXO

    • tbarribeau

      I’ve heard mixed things about serrated scoops, and that they apparently aren’t notably better than a good normal scoop, plus they make for ugly serving as they scrape up the ice cream pretty badly.

  • mce

    It should be made clearer here and on Amazon that the different colors of Zeroll scoop indicate different sizes, as indicated here: http://www.zeroll.com/pages/en/products_scoops.php

  • Flexic

    “We took the four most popular and well reviewed scoops, from Zeroll, Zyliss, Oxo, and Rösle, ”

    The link to the Zyliss is a dupe of the Rosle, just a heads up

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for the tip! Fixed it!

  • eaadams

    What is the best portion? the regular scoop size at Baskin Robbins is 4oz but when scooping out of a smaller hagen daz or Ben and Jerry’s pint perhaps that is too big? Amazon has lots of sizes.

    • tbarribeau

      Sorry to take so long to get back to you! Yes, 2oz is pretty standard, but there’s definitely something to be said for going both larger and smaller, depending on how big your punnet of ice cream is. And if you treat these things right, they’re just about indestructible—there’s one in my parent’s house that’s older than I am.

  • eaadams

    Ok so I got one. The 2oz one. This thing is so weird. You put it in the ice cream and the handle gets all cold. Then pour some hot water on it between scoups and it gets warm. It works so well. I honestly am amazed. Why didn’t I have one in the first 35+ years of my life. It cuts right through the ice cream. 2oz works well for smaller pints. I think I would have gotten smaller hindsight 20/20. I got so sick of bending spoons trying to get icecream out. This thing is worth the money. I had no idea.

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  • Susan Kritzik

    If you didn’t try the Cutco scoop, you haven’t tried the best.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      It’s $50, and they don’t have a great reputation/have been known in the past as a pyramid scheme.

      • Susan Kritzik

        All true, but nevertheless, it is an awesome scoop. I’ve never used better. I saw it on eBay for less, by the way.