We all love ice cream, but sometimes, when you pull a big tub from the bottom corner of your freezer, that stuff is a rock. I personally have developed a callous on my hand from digging my spoon into completely frozen ice cream — it was worth it, but there had to have been better options.
Luckily, there are specialized ice cream scoops available for purchase, just like the ones they use in the ice cream shops. While there are several different kinds of scoops, experts we spoke to universally recommended Zeroll’s ice cream scoops, which have heat-conductive fluid inside that slightly melts the ice cream on contact for a smoother scoop. Experts also provided insights into the different types of ice cream scoops, which ones work better than others and how to use an ice cream scoop most effectively.
Of all the ice cream scoops on the market, Zeroll’s ice cream scoops were the clear winners, according to experts we spoke to.
“Nothing beats a Zeroll scoop,” said Jeni Britton Bauer, ice cream maker, cookbook author and owner of Jeni’s Ice Creams. “It’s what we use in our scoop shops.”
Michael Laiskonis, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, also recommended the Zeroll and other disher-style scoops, noting their ease of use and simple design.
The 1020 Original scoop seems to be the most popular choice in the company’s lineup. Made of aluminum alloy, the scoop contains heat conductive fluid in the handle that transmits heat from your hand to the scoop, which helps cut through ice cream easier. According to the company, using this scoop will provide 20 percent more scoops per gallon of ice cream because it’s “eliminating compression” while scoopng. On Amazon, it has an average rating of 4.6 stars from over 3,400 reviews.
It is, however, important to note that this scoop should not be used in the dishwasher. Select editor Michael Y. Park said that he accidentally ruined his scoop by putting it in the dishwasher, noting that the heat conductive fluid leaked out of the handle. So be sure to hand-wash your Zeroll scoop, should you decide to purchase one.
Britton Bauer also said that, when using any ice cream scoop, make sure it’s completely dry before scooping, since “water will glaze your ice cream with a thin layer of ice. Hot water or a hot scoop will melt the ice cream too much, and then the remaining ice cream will crystallize faster when you return it to your freezer.”
How to shop for ice cream scoops
There are a few different types of ice cream scoops available on the market, but these are the main ones:
- “Old-school” style: These scoops have heat-conductive fluid in the handle and no moving parts. They include the Zeroll.
- Handle-spring style: These scoops have a spring mechanism in the handle that, when compressed, scrapes the ice cream out of the scoop.
- Thumb-spring style: Same principle as the handle spring, except the spring isn’t in the whole handle but near your thumb and the scoop.
The experts we spoke to both recommended the old-school scoops over both spring styles. Britton Bauer said of using a Zeroll scoop specifically: “You get a clean release every time.”
When it came to spring styles, experts were mixed. Laiskonis said that handle-spring scoops are “easy to use” and can be found in many shapes and sizes but that the moving parts involved present challenges, especially when the spring mechanism breaks. He called the apparatus “difficult to reassemble” if the spring busts — which may happen if you scoop ice cream (or another product) too firmly. The thumb-spring scoops are “easy to find” and more durable than the handle spring kind, Laiskonis said.
Britton Bauer, meanwhile, told us flat out that the spring style scoops “don’t work well for ice cream.”
Laiskonis also suggested using a quenelle spoon, usually a spoon “with a deep but long and pointed cavity.” He said that many professional pastry chefs opt for these spoons over any kind of scoop because you can create a scoop with a tapered oval known in the culinary world as a quenelle.
“Perfecting the spoon-scooped quenelle takes some practice but offers an elegance that conventional scoops sometimes can’t provide,” Laiskonis said.
Other ice cream scoops to consider
Here are a few highly rated alternatives from notable brands that are worth checking out, especially if you don’t want to pay more than $20.
Laiskonis recommended Vollrath spring scoops, noting that they offer a wide variety of sizes — the sizes are also color-coded for easier selection. This scoop has a 3.25-ounce capacity and uses a thumb-spring mechanism for scooping. According to the company, it’s dishwasher-safe. The scoop has an average rating of 4.7 stars from 146 Amazon reviews.
This ice cream scoop comes with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars from 465 Amazon reviews. This scoop looks more like the Zeroll — it’s simple, without any moving parts or springs — but doesn’t contain the heat-conductive liquid. So while it might not cut through ice cream like butter, it is a solid, dishwasher-safe alternative, especially if you’re on a budget