Updated September 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best ladles

There’s just something hearty and satisfying about a bowl of homemade soup or stew. But when you’re serving something with a liquid consistency, a regular serving spoon won’t do you much good. Instead, you need a top-notch ladle to dip into your pot and scoop up a full serving of your delicious soup, stew, broth, or gravy.

A ladle is a kitchen utensil with a long handle and a deeper bowl than a spoon. Its design allows you to easily dip it in a large stockpot and remove a large amount of soup or stew. While ladles usually work best for liquid recipes, you can use one to scoop any type of food out of a deep pot without worrying about an accidental burn. Ladles are made of a few different materials, but they should be somewhat heat resistant, so you can use them with hot foods.

On the hunt for the best ladle? Our buying guide offers tips to help you choose the material, size, and other features for your needs. We’ve also included some specific product recommendations to help narrow down your options even further.

ladle
A slotted ladle works well for lifting foods stored in liquid out of their container. It’s also ideal for removing hard-boiled eggs from hot water.

Key considerations

Material

Ladles are made of a few different materials, so you want to choose carefully.

Stainless steel ladles are usually the highest-quality options. They are naturally heat resistant, so you never have to worry about them getting damaged in hot soup or stew. Stainless steel doesn’t absorb stains and odors as readily as some other materials and is highly durable, so these ladles can last for years. A stainless steel ladle is usually more effective at scooping up meat and veggies in chunky soups and stews too.

Wooden ladles aren’t as durable as stainless steel models, but they are heat resistant. They won’t scratch the nonstick coating on cookware either.

Plastic ladles are usually the most affordable, and they won’t scratch nonstick pots and pans. But they aren’t as durable as stainless steel ladles and aren’t naturally heat resistant. You should always check that any plastic ladle you choose can withstand at least 450°F, so you don’t have to worry about it melting. Plastic can absorb stains and odors pretty easily too. If you do choose plastic, be sure to pick a BPA-free plastic ladle that won’t leach chemicals into your food.

Size

Bowl: A ladle should have a generously sized bowl so you can easily scoop up a good amount of soup, stew, gravy, or sauce no matter how thick or chunky it is. You usually want a ladle that can hold at least 1/2 cup (4 ounces). Many ladles aren’t marked with an exact size, but most hold approximately 6 ounces. Smaller 4-ounce ladles can work well for transferring jams and jellies into jars, while larger 8-ounce ladles work well for chunky soups and stews or serving punch.

Handle: It’s also essential to consider the length of the ladle’s handle. It should be at least as deep as your pot or pan, so you can use the ladle without losing control of it. For most stockpots and other deep cookware, you want a ladle with at least a 9-inch handle, so you can safely scoop out a serving without your hand getting too close to the hot food. If you’re making a recipe in a shallow pot like a Dutch oven, you’re better off with a ladle with a shorter handle that can rest against the side of the pot without falling over.

Some high-end ladles come with a warranty or lifetime guarantee. These are usually stainless steel models that are designed to last for years.

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Features

Handle design

The design of a ladle’s handle can affect how easy it is to use. Some ladles have a straight handle, which works well. However, models with an angled handle are typically easier to keep clean and have a more ergonomic design, so you can serve the perfect scoop each time.

Hook: It also helps to choose a ladle with a hooked end. While longer-handled ladles typically have enough length to balance against the edge of a pot without falling in, you may not want to use a longer ladle in a shallow pot where it’s difficult to stay balanced. A ladle with a hook at the end is easy to secure on the edge of your pot, so you don't have to worry about it falling.

Spout

Some ladles are designed to make it easy to pour liquid into a small vessel without making a mess. Some have a curved rim, while others have a spout in the rim. You can also find some ladles with two pouring spouts in the bowl.

Heat resistance

If you’re choosing a nonmetal or wooden ladle, it’s important to check that it’s heat resistant so you can use it on the stove without worrying about it melting or warping. For the most versatile ladle, look for a model that can withstand at least 450°F.

Drainage

Some ladles have drainage holes on the sides of the bowl to allow you to separate the liquid and solid parts of your soup or stew when necessary.

Dishwasher safe

If you want the easiest cleanup, opt for a ladle that’s dishwasher safe. Some ladles, such as those made of wood, shouldn’t be cleaned in the dishwasher because they could be damaged. These ladles must be washed by hand.

ladle 2
DID YOU KNOW?
In addition to stainless steel, ladles are sometimes made of other metals like aluminum and copper. These aren’t as versatile, however, because they don’t work well for acidic foods like tomato soup.
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Accessories

Stockpot: All-Clad BD55512 D5 Stockpot with Lid
You can’t make a delicious batch of soup or stew without a stockpot. This one from All-Clad is a favorite because it’s made of durable brushed stainless steel and features a wide bottom that’s perfect for sautéing and making sauces. Its sturdy handles stay cool to the touch too.

Immersion blender: Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender
If you’re making a creamy soup, an immersion blender allows you to blend it right in the pot. We love this model from Breville because it offers 15 speeds and enough power to crush ice. It also has a contoured handle that’s extremely comfortable to hold.

Soup spoons: ADLORYEA Soup Spoons
You should have a good set of spoons to enjoy the soup you dish up with your ladle. These surprisingly lightweight spoons from ADLORYEA are made of rustic wood with a smooth finish. They don’t conduct heat the way metal spoons do either.

Ladle prices

Ladles vary in price based on the material, size, and other features. Most cost between $3 and $60.

Inexpensive: The most affordable ladles are made of plastic or nylon, and some have a combination of plastic or nylon and stainless steel. These usually hold about 6 ounces, but they don’t all have a hooked handle or pouring spout. These ladles generally cost between $3 and $13.

Mid-range: These ladles are usually large plastic or nylon models or average-size options made of stainless steel or softwood. They typically hold 6 ounces or more and have a hooked handle and a pouring spout. These ladles generally cost between $13 and $33.

Expensive: The most expensive ladles are usually made of stainless steel or hardwood. They hold at least 6 ounces and have a hooked handle and pouring spout. These ladles generally cost between $33 and $60.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly ladle, opt for one made of bamboo rather than wood. Bamboo is a naturally fast-growing, sustainable, biodegradable grass.

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Tips

  • Follow the ladle’s care instructions carefully. This will help you avoid damaging your ladle. It’s particularly important with wooden ladles, which are more prone to moisture damage.
  • Use a small ladle for gravy. You can find ladles specifically designed for serving gravy. They’re meant to be used at the table, so they’re smaller and fit easily inside a gravy boat.
  • Use a ladle to prepare poached eggs. A ladle comes in handy when cooking poached eggs. Crack the egg into the ladle and then carefully lower it into the simmering water until the water just seeps over the edge. Hold the egg in the water for approximately 5 seconds so the white starts to set. Next, pour the egg in the water to finish the process.
ladle 3
A ladle makes it extremely easy to measure out equal amounts of batter for muffins, pancakes, and waffles.

FAQ

Q. Do I really need a ladle?

A. If you don’t make soup or stew regularly, you may not think you need a ladle in your kitchen. However, it doesn’t just come in handy for serving soup. It works well for any liquid recipe, so you’ll need one for serving sauces and gravies too. You might even want one for chunkier recipes that you prepare in a large pot, because it’s easier to reach down into the pot with a long-handled ladle.

Q. Do I need ladles in more than one size?

A. It depends on the recipes you prepare. If you make many soups and stews, you might like to have ladles in several sizes, depending on how thick or chunky the recipe is. Extremely large ladles that hold 8 to 10 ounces also work well for serving punch. If you preserve your own jams and jellies, you’ll also want a smaller 4-ounce ladle to spoon these into jars. Small ladles also work well for serving gravies and sauces at the table.

Q. What type of ladle is best for stews and chunky soups?

A. For heartier recipes, you’re usually better off choosing a ladle with a fairly shallow bowl that’s a bit wider than average. You’re better able to see the contents that way, so you can be sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

 

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