It looks like an odd variation of a spoon, but it isn’t designed for eating. Instead, it’s used to pile double helpings of Rocky Road into a waffle cone or fill a bowl with savory vanilla topped with nuts and chocolate fudge. Since they’re generally only made for one purpose, you wouldn’t expect much variation when it comes to ice cream scoops, but they’re not all the same. Here’s an overview of the different types and how they impact the way you dish up your favorite sweet frozen treat.
Types of Ice Cream Scoops
While you may just think that an ice cream scoop is an ice cream scoop, there are actually three different types to choose from: scoops, dishers, and spades. These scoops have different shapes and abilities that make them ideal for different people.
How Different Types of Ice Cream Scoops Work
Standard ice cream scoops consist of bowl and handle with no additional components. Their simple design makes them a top choice among ice cream enthusiasts. Bowls sometimes come in different depths and sizes, but they should be wide enough to accommodate a standard-sized cone.
Dishers, also known as trigger ice cream scoops, are equipped with a moving sweeper that helps release ice cream from the scoop. Unlike other scoops, dishers are made for a specific hand, so if you’re a lefty, you’ll need to hunt for one that has the trigger on the correct side. Many people love dishers for how easy they make scooping and dishing out ice cream.
Spades are much more flat and narrow compared to other ice cream scoops. While they aren’t good for all ice cream, they’re excellent for scooping up softer types. This makes them invaluable among ice cream enthusiasts who love gelato, sorbet, and fresh, homemade ice cream.
Features and Variations
Ice cream scoops also vary in terms of:
- Handle style
- Bowl shape
There are also some other variations in the way scoops work. For instance, heated ice cream scoops take the natural heat from your hand and use it to slightly melt the ice cream and make it easier to scoop.
Some scoops have a simple rounded handle. Others have an ergonomic grip that allows you to dig for ice cream without putting excessive strain on your wrists. Some handles are even covered with a grippy material for easier handling. While handles can be solid or hollow, the latter tend to be easier to use because they’re lighter in weight.
There are different bowl shapes too—round, oval, and shovel-style. Dishers and shovels don’t always do the best job in releasing the ice cream compared to oval scoops, leading to inconsistent portion sizes and fragments that don’t stack well on a cone. The oval type lends itself well to forming the rounded servings you expect to find in ice cream shops or pictured on ice cream tub labels.
Ice cream scoops can be made from materials such as plastic, stainless steel, and aluminum. Those who prefer eco-friendly items will be happy to know that metal bowls are sometimes paired with handles made of natural materials, such as bamboo. If you’re looking for a scoop that will stand up to the test of time, try finding one that is made in one solid piece so it’s less likely to break or have one part age faster than another.
These scoops use a food-safe liquid that transfers heat from your hand to the utensil to make it easier to dig into ice cream even when it’s rock-hard out of the freezer. If you add one of these to your culinary collection, there’s just one caveat: because of the liquid, these scoops are hand-wash only, and putting them in the dishwasher is off-limits.
The best ice cream scoops are comfortable to handle and easily release frozen concoctions in the desired sphere shape, without leaving remnants in the bowl. Whichever one you choose, this highly task-specific tool is an essential addition to any ice cream-lover’s kitchen.