Product Review: Ice Cream Scoops

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Introduction
Three Types of Tools
Scoops
Spades
Dishers
Recommended Products
Oxo Good Grips "Points" Scoop
Zeroll
Cuisinart
KitchenAid
Norpro
Cutco
Deni Electric Scoop
Manufacturer Links

Beyond choosing the right flavor, and pacing your intake, the biggest challenge you face as ice cream gourmand is extracting the frozen food from its container without pulling a muscle, or bending what used to be your grandmother’s good silverware. You could let the ice cream sit at room temperature for a few minutes to let it soften. You could zap it in the microwave for twenty seconds. Or you could equip yourself with a tool designed to meet the challenge. Do the latter, and tomorrow you won’t have reason to complain about ice crystals in what’s left of your $5 pint of Haagen Daz as a result of the partial thawing you inflicted on it.

 

 

The main attributes of ice cream scoops are:

  • how well the tool's design facilitates ease of scooping hard packed ice cream
  • the ease with which you can release the scooped ice cream
  • the comfort of the handle
  • the durability of the tool

 

Three Types of Tools: Scoops, Spades and Dishers

Cutco Scoop - exploded view

There are three basic categories of scoops on the market: spoon-like scoops; spades, which are larger and flatter; and the classic half-globe-shaped scoop with spring-loaded ejector.

Scoops

Among our experts, the spoon-like scoops are the favorite for dishing out ice cream taken from a 0-degree home freezer. Often of one-piece, cast-metal construction, with ergonomically-designed handles, the best scoops are proportioned to enable the scooper to leverage a lot of force, with minimum effort, to the leading edge of the scoop, making it easier to push through the hardest ice cream, curling it into balled ribbons which, depending on the material and temperature of the spoon’s surface, are easily transferred to your bowl.

Twister scoop
Twister scoop

We are partial to serving ice cream in chilled bowls, preferably glass, in which the confection melts more slowly and retains it’s shape longer. Each of our recommended spoon-like scoops has at least one distinguishing design feature that adds to the utility of each model.

Spades

Ice cream spades work the same way as the scoops described above, using leverage and somewhat sharp-edge, slightly curved blades to cut through and curl the ice cream. They are larger and flatter than scoops, and are more suitable for scooping bigger servings from large containers. They're less suitable for getting into pint containers or negotiating the corners of a rectangular half-gallon box, though, in fact, many manufacturers have switched to containers with rounded corners.

Zeroll spade W-S disher Pedrini disher
Zeroll Spade Willams-Sonoma Disher Pedrini Disher

Dishers

We like the round, spring-trigger-loaded scoops, also called dishers, for doling out balls of all sorts of food other than hard ice cream: cole slaw; tuna, chicken and egg salad; whipped potatoes; purees; sorbet; cookie dough, and muffin batter. The motion of using a disher to scoop hard ice cream forces the wrist to do almost all of the work—it’s more strenuous than using a straight, non-mechanical scoop, which is why we feel dishers are better-suited to scooping softer materials. Dishers are available with varied bowl sizes, typically ranging from 1—5.5 ounces. The specific measures and the quick-serving capabilities of these scoops make them popular tools for caterers and cafeteria line servers. The best dishers are made of stainless steel, and have welded, rather than soldered, parts. The swiveling band, which ejects the food from the bowl, is activated either by a side-mounted thumb trigger (usually made for right-handers) or a two-part, ambidextrous, squeezable handle, which utilizes a cog-and-ratchet mechanism.

Dishers work well with gelato, an Italian ice cream that is softer than a typical American ice cream. If you would like to be able to easily scoop decorative balls of hard ice cream, we suggest you consider a disher with a smaller rather than a larger bowl. The smaller bowl makes scooping hard ice cream easier because there is less surface area on the tool to create friction/drag as it moves through the ice cream. Bowl sizes of 1"—1.5" work well.

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kitchenCritical Recommends:

Except for the Zeroll, the manual scoops we recommend below are dishwasher-safe. The models range from $9 to $22.

 

 

 

Oxo Good Grips 'Points' scoop

This is an excellent, inexpensive, all-around scoop with a comfortable handle. We’re big fans of many of the OXO GoodGrips tools because of their affordability, good design, and soft-touch handles. We’ll register a minor complaint about the tendency of their chrome plating to tarnish, especially where acidic foods are used, as is the case with the lemon reamer, but this doesn’t keep us from relying on our OXO products on a daily basis.

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Zyliss ice cream scoop

For it's curvy ergonomics, splashy colors, and low price, the Zyliss scoop has become the #1 bestseller in the category in the last couple of years. It's half an inch shorter than the Oxo but heftier, and has a thumbrest for additional leverage. Relatively sharp edges help you get through hard ice cream.  The handle has a hanging hole at its end. Available in pistachio green, mango, lemon yellow, white, and bubblegum pink, this is as comfortable and as good-looking a utensil as you'll find in a kitchen drawer.

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Zeroll scoops are probably the most popular ice cream scoops of all time, and have earned a place in the Museum of Modern Art's design collection. Invented in 1935, made of high-luster aluminum, and filled with anti-freeze, which absorbs warmth from the scooper's hand, slightly warming the entire tool, they make scooping and releasing easy. These are the scoops you'll find most often in ice cream parlors; their handles are noticeably longer than other scoops to keep hands from coming into contact with the ice cream being served. Their endcaps are color-coded to indicate one of six sizes, from 1-4 ounces. These fluid-filled scoops are not rated dishwasher safe.

Zeroll also makes a $20 spade, called the tubMate, that also has size-indicating color-coded endcaps, and the EZ Disher—a half-globe scoop with a fast-release ejecting blade—that comes in 13 different sizes (and colors) ranging from 1 3/16" to 3".

Zeroll scoop Zeroll TubMate spade Zeroll EZ disher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cuisinart scoop

This is a stainless steel scoop with an ergonomic, molded plastic/stainless handle. The pointed end makes scooping easy if you use the tip to pull the ice cream toward you.

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Kitchenaid KG1170 scoop

This one-piece cast metal scoop is a little longer and heavier than the Zeroll; its heft translates into more leverage for easy scooping, especially for the large-handed. One drawback is that the baked-on finish sometimes starts to peel after a couple of years of use. Available in black or red.

 

 

 

 

 

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Washington state-based Norpro makes hundreds of kitchen, dining and entertaining products, including conventional scoops and spades, anti-freeze scoops and spades, and dishers. Norpro's anti-freeze scoops and spades are dishwasher safe, unlike the Zeroll, and have a non-stick coating.

Norpro scoop Norpro disher
Norpro anti-freeze, non-stick scoop
 
Norpro stainless steel
3 tablespoon disher
 

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Cutco scoop

This North American cutlery company’s entry into the category resets the bar for ice cream scoop design and performance. The same attention to detail that Cutco puts into its knives results in an evolved scoop that comes with a "forever" guarantee. The head, with sharp, leading, almost triangular edges, and the shaft are cast and plated zinc. The handle has compound curves to maximize comfort and ergonomics, and is made of an injection molded structural piece covered with an over-molded soft grip that includes a rim at the back top of the handle, which keeps the scoop off the counter when you lay the tool down.

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Deni electric scoop

If you're in the "Leverage shmeverage—isn't there something I can just plug in?" group, this heated scoop is for you. It has a large, comfortable handle, a non-stick finish, and a drip guard—those averse to using a little elbow grease can't be getting ice cream on their hands while scooping! For best results, you must allow the tool to heat up for a few minutes before use. This product should not be immersed in water, and is not dishwasher safe, but it's easy to clean. Just remember to let the tool cool down before you wipe it down with warm water.

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Manufacturers Links

The following links will take you to a manufacturer's website when one exists. In other cases, the links will take you to a relevant web page.

Manufacturers of Recommended Models:

Cuisinart
Cutco
Deni
KitchenAid
Norpro
Oxo
Zeroll
Zyliss


 

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Updated: February 20, 2010