We Tested 9 Ladles—3 Scooped the Winning Title
Posted in Serious Eats
August 30, 2022

We Tested 9 Ladles—3 Scooped the Winning Title

Ladles on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Ladles are an essential, no-frills kitchen utensil that deserve some attention. No, they don’t have the eye-catching appeal of a fancy knife or the dexterity of kitchen tongs, but a good ladle makes slinging liquidy dishes—soups, stews, chilis, broths—effortless. 

We tested metal and silicone/plastic ladles, since both have their merits. Metal ladles are often slightly more expensive than plastic or silicone ladles (although our winning silicone ladle was actually pricier than our two metal favorites combined); they are also often heavier and sturdier. Silicone/plastic ladles are lighter, but tend to be flimsier than metal ladles; and while we aren’t huge fans of nonstick cookware, a silicone or plastic ladle is a good option if you do use nonstick pots and pans, since the soft material won’t scratch them.

No matter the material, ladle bowl shapes vary widely, with some curving upwards, some sitting shallow, and some going the experimental-shape route. Read on to learn the qualities that make a great ladle and to find out which were our favorites.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Metal Ladle: Cuisinart Stainless Steel Ladle

We went into this testing expecting to dislike this ladle, so it’s saying a lot that it was one of our favorites. The extreme curve of the handle turned out to be a boon, since it easily swooped over various pot’s rims without hitting them, allowing us to angle into the bottom edges of the pot when scooping stews. It was also grippy and comfortable to hold, since the handle is rounded. Though the ladle bowl looked shallow, it still scooped smoothly and poured cleanly. 

The Comfiest Ladle: OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Ladle

The textured plastic on this ladle’s handle made it easy and comfortable to grip, and the spouts on both sides of the bowl poured soup without spilling. While the handle’s angle wasn’t as curved as our other winning pick, we were still able to maneuver easily into the bottom of deep pots. 

The Best Non-Metal Ladle: Le Creuset Revolution Bi-Material Ladle

While the handle on this ladle was a little short, it was nice and grippy. The ladle was also the perfect weight; it wasn’t a struggle to scoop up hearty stews. We also liked how sturdy, yet flexible, the bowl was; it deftly scooped hearty stew and scraped up stubborn straggler carrots stuck to the bottom of the stockpot. 

The Tests

Hand using cuisinart ladle to pour stew into a white bowl.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
  • Chicken Noodle Soup Test: We heated up chicken noodle soup in a large stockpot and used each ladle to serve it. 
  • Beef Stew Test: We made All-American Beef Stew in a Dutch oven and served it with each ladle. 
  • Durability Test: We brought chicken broth to a boil and placed the ladles into it, felt if the handles were hot to touch, then left them there until the soup cooled, about 20 minutes. We then checked to see if they had any damage (melted handles, warped bowls).
  • Usability Tests: Throughout testing, we evaluated how comfortable the ladles were to hold and how grippy the handles were.
  • Cleanup Tests: We hand washed each ladle with a sponge and soapy water, noting how easy or difficult it was to clean.

What We Learned

Lighter Ladles With Rounded Handles Were More Comfortable to Hold

A hand holding the all clad ladle with the bowl in a large stock pot
The heavy All-Clad ladle also sported a flat, slightly concave handle that was difficult to hold.Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

While you might think a big, hefty ladle would feel more balanced, we actually found the opposite: the heavier the ladle, the more tiring it was to hold when doling out soup and stew. The All-Clad Stainless Steel Soup Ladle was 10.4 ounces, the heaviest ladle in our lineup. This heft, combined with its slightly inward curving, flat handle, was very tiring to hold and hard to maneuver. While the Rösle was slightly more comfortable to hold, it was still awkward to grasp because the handle was flat; it was also rather heavy, around eight ounces. Conversely, two of our favorite ladles—the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Ladle and Le Creuset Revolution Bi-Material Ladle—were on the lighter side (five-and-a-half ounces and three ounces, respectively) and had rounded handles, which were easier to grasp. 

A Wider, Shallower Bowl = A Better Bowl

using the cuisinart ladle to empty water into a bowl to demonstrate the bowl shape.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Most of the ladles we liked had wider, rounded bowls that made it easy to scoop and serve; with a small turn of the wrist, we could quickly and smoothly empty a bowl of its contents. In contrast, bowls that curved upward, like the one on the KitchenAid, were difficult to empty; we really had to twist our wrists and turn the ladle near-upside down to completely empty it. These acrobatics also made for messy serving. While some bowls had sloped edges in an effort to make pouring seamless, they weren’t any more helpful than flat-edged bowls.

Handle Angle Mattered

cuisinart ladle being held in a pot to show the curve of the handle
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

We were surprised by the variety of handle lengths and angles, with some curving only very mildly, some curving in the opposite direction (looking at you, All-Clad), and some near straight. We found ladles with slightly curved, convex handles were the easiest to maneuver in and out of both a large Dutch oven and a large stockpot. The upward curve helped them clear the rim of the pot and also reach the bottom edges. While the OXO was slightly less curved than the Cuisinart and Le Creuset, it still had enough bend in the handle near the bowl to make it easy to maneuver.

Material Was Important, But Not the Be-All and End-All 

the gir ladle pressed into the bottom of a stock pot to show how malleable it is
The GIR Premium Silicone Ultimate Ladle was a little too flexible, collapsing when pressed into pot edges.Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

All of the ladles handled the heat of soups and stews well; none melted or warped. However, the All-Clad handle did get a bit warm to the touch when left in hot broth. When it came to scraping the bottom of the pot for the last bits of stew or soup, we found sturdier materials did a slightly better job. For example, the very pliable GIR Premium Silicone Ultimate Ladle, while not a bad ladle overall, was just too soft for scraping; the bowl bent quite a bit when pressed against the bottom of the pot rather than scraping up against it. 

The Criteria: What To Look for in Good Ladle

annotated winning ladle: lightweight; convex curved handle; wide, shallow bowl
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The best ladles had longer, convex curved handles and sturdy bowls that easily scoop up hearty stews and chilis. They also have wide, shallow bowls that scoop and pour smoothly. We preferred ladles that were lightweight, so your arm doesn’t get tired lifting in and out of the pot.

The Best Metal Ladle: Cuisinart Stainless Steel Ladle

What we liked: The rather extreme, convex curve of this long-handed ladle proved to be a good thing; it allowed us to reach deep into both a Dutch oven and large soup pot without hitting the pot edge or having to stick our hand deep inside. In addition to this, the rounded handle was pleasant to grasp and the flat, wide bowl made scooping and pouring soups and stews a smooth endeavor.

What we didn’t like: Our only qualm with this ladle is it’s rather thin where the handle attaches to the bowl, and we wonder if it could degrade and snap after lots of use.

Key Specs

  • Bowl capacity: 100 milliliters (a little less than ½ cup)
  • Handle length: 10.5 inches 
  • Weight: 5.5 ounces
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher-safe
The cuisinart ladle on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Comfiest Ladle: OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Ladle

What we liked: With a grippy, textured plastic-coated handle, this ladle combined the best of a metal ladle and a composite/plastic/silicone one: it was easy to grip, but also had a sturdy bowl that was good at scraping the bottom of pots. The spouts on either side of the bowl made it especially easy to smoothly pour thin soups.

What we didn’t like: It was a bit heavier than we would have liked.

Key Specs

  • Bowl capacity: 125 milliliters ( ½ cup)
  • Handle length: 9.75 inches
  • Weight: 7.1 ounces
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher-safe
the oxo ladle on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Best Non-Metal Ladle: Le Creuset Revolution Bi-Material Ladle

What we liked: This lightweight ladle was easy to maneuver in and out of different pots, and the dual silicone and nylon bowl was strong, but also malleable enough to get into nooks and crannies. 

What we didn’t like: The handle was a bit slippery when wet, and we would have liked if it was a tad longer. It’s also pricey, for a ladle.

Key Specs

  • Bowl capacity: 100 milliliters (a little less than ½ cup)
  • Handle length: 9.5 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher-safe
the le creuset ladle on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Competition

  • Rösle Stainless Steel Hooked Handle Ladle with Pouring Rim: The hook on this ladle was nice, since you could leave it in a pot of soup and it wouldn’t sink inside. But, we found the flat handle hard to grip, and it didn’t help that the ladle was also quite heavy, weighing nearly eight ounces. It’s also quite expensive for a ladle, clocking in at $40 at the time of testing. 
  • GIR Premium Silicone Ultimate Ladle: While this ladle had a nice grip to it because the whole thing is made from silicone, it was the silicone that was also its undoing. The very large silicone bowl felt unwieldy and floppy. While it scooped up massive servings of soup and stew, it also wasn’t very sturdy; it mashed into the bottom of the pot when we tried to scrape the last bits of stew. 
  • KitchenAid Classic Soup Ladle: This all-plastic ladle was slippery and difficult to hold, and the extremely curled up bowl made it hard to serve anything from it; we had to flip the ladle over and shake it to get stew out. 
  • Zulay Soup Ladle: This ladle had the most out-there design of them all, with a bowl that was almost triangular and angled inward from the handle. While the shape of the bowl was actually good for serving soups and stews, the angle and overall shape of the ladle was a bit awkward to hold. 
  • All-Clad Stainless Steel Soup Ladle: This ladle was way too heavy; serving with it was tiring. We also disliked the slight concave curve of the handle, which made it difficult to scoop and serve; We had to turn the ladle over and shake it to get stew out. 
  • Staub Soup Ladle: This wasn’t a bad ladle, but it had the shortest handle of the lineup—a mere eight-and-a-half inches. This caused it to sink deeply into the pot when left inside and made it a little more challenging to maneuver. The angle of the handle to bowl was also a bit too straight to reach comfortably into a deep pot. 


What are the different kinds of ladles?

We focused on soup ladles in this review, and they are the most common style of ladle you’ll see out there. But you can also find slotted ladles (for scooping up solid items; the slots allow liquids to pass through) and sauce ladles, which are smaller, have shallower bowls, and sometimes feature a divot on one side for pouring.

What is a ladle used for?

A soup ladle, like the ones we tested, are generally used for serving soups, stews, and chili. But they are a versatile kitchen tool, and can be used to ladle pasta sauce with meatballs or to scoop up vegetable stock to strain it through a sieve.

Is a metal or silicone ladle better?

It really is a matter of preference. A silicone ladle is often cheaper and lighter than a metal ladle, but this doesn’t mean it’s either is better or worse. And while we aren’t a huge fan of nonstick pots and pans, if you do use them, a silicone or plastic spatula might be a better option since it won’t scratch the surface.

Grace Kelly August 30, 2022 at 07:55PM

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