3 Best Ladles, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
Dole out soups, stews, batters and more easily and cleanly with the best ladles.
Our Top Ladle Picks
Tested by Beth Lipton for Food Network Kitchen
A ladle fits squarely in the category of “extremely functional tools you don’t think much about.” Maybe you got a cheap one in that 10-piece kitchen utensil set you bought three apartments ago, or perhaps you inherited one from your dad’s kitchen.
But having a well-designed, sturdy ladle is one of those simple steps you can take to make so many of your cooking and serving endeavors that much easier and more efficient. If you didn’t choose yours carefully before, now’s the perfect time to add the best ladle to your kitchen — and we’re here to take the hassle and guesswork out of the process.
Why Do You Need a Ladle?
If you eat soups or stews with any frequency, a ladle is a must. The long handle allows you to dip into large pots without getting your hands too close to the hot liquid. And the head is perfect for scooping a serving of soup and transferring it easily into a bowl or mug.
But that’s not all. Along with dishing out soups and stews, a ladle can come in handy to portion pancake batter onto a griddle, to drizzle meat with gravy, or even to serve punch.
What to Know About Ladles
Though a ladle is a fairly simple tool, there are a few factors to consider when buying one.
- Shape and Capacity: Ladles come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Depending on what you’ll use it for most (gravy vs. soup, for example), you may want to consider a larger or smaller size. Also, consider the volume of the cup relative to the length of the handle; one that we tested was fairly large, but didn’t have enough capacity to make it worth the drawer space.
- Materials: Ladles are frequently available in stainless steel or plastic; silicone is less common. All are sturdy, but stainless steel and silicone can withstand higher heat, while plastic is often less expensive.
- Special Features: Some ladles have spouts built in, others have a hole at the top of the handle so you can hang them up, some feature different-shaped heads or etched-in volume markers.
If you’ve ever worked in a professional kitchen, you’ll be right at home with this ladle, which looks very similar to the ones restaurants use, if a bit more dressed up. The hooked handle allows you to hang it up, so it won’t take up drawer space and it’s easy to grab when the soup’s on. Stainless steel construction means you can give it a beating, and the 12.5-inch size allows you to reach into any pot. The nearly 4-inch-wide head has a 3/4 cup capacity, so you can serve out soup or stew to all of your guests quickly and efficiently. The rim of the head is angled out ever so slightly, thoughtfully designed to prevent drips. One small nitpick: Note the size of your bowls before buying, as this ladle has a relatively large, nearly 4-inch-wide head.
Silicone has made its way into an array of cooking and baking tools over the years, and it’s easy to see why. This sturdy ladle has good capacity at 3/4 cup and at about 12 inches long, it’s good to go into your biggest pot — but it’s also relatively lightweight. (As with the Rosle, the head is 4 inches wide, so make sure your bowls are big enough to accommodate it.) It’s heat resistant up to 550 F, too, so it can do just about any job a stainless steel ladle can. Some soup dripped a little bit when we transferred it from pot to bowl, but very little, especially compared to some other models we tested. The etched volume markings on the inside of the head are a bonus; we found them a bit hard to read on the red color we tested, but the ladle also comes in a light blue that may have easier-to-read markings.
At just under 9 1/2 inches, with about 1/3 cup capacity, this is smaller than most other ladles we tried. It’s highly functional and well designed; the head has a slightly triangular shape, which gives it a spout quality. A slight lip on the edges prevents drips when you retract the ladle after pouring. The handle is indented in the center, which makes it easy to grasp, and it has a hole at the top so you can hang the ladle instead of taking up drawer space. If you have limited room and want a smaller ladle, or if you want a smaller one for jobs like serving gravy, along with a larger one, this is a great option.
How We Tested
We purchased nine well-reviewed ladles. We weighed and measured each one to determine how much space it would take up in a kitchen drawer and how comfortable it is to hold. Then we used each one to transfer chicken noodle soup (because of its variety of vegetables, noodles and chicken pieces, and loose broth) from a saucepan to a bowl, and evaluated each one based on capacity, ease of use, and whether the soup dripped out or off at any stage of the serving process. We noted how well the head fit into the bowl. Then we filled each with water and poured into a liquid measuring cup to check the volume. We also noted any special features, such as built-in spouts or etched volume markings. Finally, we washed each one both by hand and in the dishwasher (all the ladles we tested were dishwasher safe).