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If you like to keep your drinks cool but don’t have an ice maker, odds are you need an ice tray. It’s likely that at some point or another, all of us have owned a cheap, plastic version that snapped in half amid twisting and turning to extract at least one measly cube to chill lukewarm water. Those days are over. With so many durable, easy-release options on the market, you no longer have to worry about damaging your tray or compromising the integrity of the cubes—or other ice shapes—inside. With no-transfer materials, you can even meal prep without worrying about today’s iced coffee tasting like last week’s baby food.
To help you find the best ice trays for your needs, we tested them side by side and evaluated each on material, cube size and shape, design, ease of cleaning, and overall value. In addition to water, our testers also froze baby food, herbs and spices, and more in order to make sure these ice cube trays are truly the best.
Give your drink the chill it deserves with the best ice trays, according to our tests.
Best Overall: Adoric Ice Cube Trays Silicone, Set of 2
Ice melts more slowly than typical cubes
Easy to clean
Fun ice shapes
Sphere mold is tricky to use
Who else recommends it? NBC News also picked the Adoric Ice Cube Trays Silicone.
What do buyers say? 82% of 19,700+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
It’s good to have a few different ice options at your disposal. This set includes two molds: one for creating 2-inch cubes, and another for crafting ice balls. Both the large cubes and spherical ice are perfect for drinks that you don’t want to dilute quickly. Big ice pieces melt more slowly and therefore add less water to the drink over time. If you’ve ever been to an in-the-know bar, you’ve likely experienced this ice trend—and these molds bring it right to your home.
When our tester shared these trays during a cocktail workshop, the participants thought the large cubes and spheres added style points to their concoctions. Still, that style wasn’t effortless. The spherical ice tray needs to be sealed together properly to keep liquid from freezing between it and the base. Furthermore, no smells or freezer debris got into the enclosed molds, but excess water froze over the dividers. Both trays nest together securely and can be carried without spilling.
Out of all the options on this list, these ice shapes lasted the longest. One of the cubes, which is all that fits in a water-filled whiskey glass, was still visible at two hours, 30 minutes, and two balls stuck around for three hours when tested in a glass of water.
What’s Included: 1 cube tray, 1 ball mold, 1 funnel | Material: Silicone | Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.7 x 2 inches | Number of Cubes: 6 per tray | Cube Size: 2 x 2 x 2 inches
"It takes a little practice to get the shapes uniform. But if you want maximum cooling without diluting your drink, or fun shapes to watch as you sip, you’ll like this design." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
Best for Easy Release: Arrow Home Products Arrow 60 Cube Ice Tray 3 Pack
Trays are sturdy and easy to stack
Cubes can fit into soda and water bottles
Ice shapes are uniform
Ice melts quickly
These "pebble" ice cubes fall out of the tray with just a couple of twists of the plastic, and they fit through the small necks of water and soda bottles. Small cubes are best for drinks that are gone before you know it—drinks like a glass of iced tea or a mojito. Our tester found that these cubes melt quickly, even when you pile them into a glass, so you’ll need to make your drink disappear with some speed if you don’t want it to be watered down.
Each tray in this set of three makes 60 tiny ice nuggets. Adults can toss them into their favorite cocktail and kids can have fun playing with them in their next cup of juice. Our tester was happy that the trays stack easily and securely right on top of each other. Stacking still requires care: With such tiny cubes and no lids, each tray can stick to the cubes below it as they freeze.
What’s Included: 3 trays | Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 10.5 x 4 x 1 inches | Number of Cubes: 60 per tray | Cube Size: 0.75 x 0.63 x 0.5 inches
"I used them when I taught a cocktail workshop, and they were popular for tiny sampling glasses and full pours of mixed drinks." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
Best Leakproof: OXO Good Grips No-Spill Ice Cube Tray with Silicone Lid
Easy to fill and store
Comes with leakproof lid
Cubes come out easily
Lid can be difficult to remove
Ice cube trays create a problem in a disorganized freezer: They need to be placed on a completely flat surface to prevent spills. That means you have to push aside your bags of frozen vegetables just to accommodate a dozen or so ice cubes. Conveniently, the OXO Good Grips No-Spill plastic tray comes with a sealable silicone lid, so you can carry and stack it without creating a mess. The lid keeps your cubes from absorbing unpleasant freezer odors, and it comes off to be cleaned on the top rack of your dishwasher.
Our tester found that the lid did indeed prevent spills on the way from the faucet to the freezer, as well as when the tray was tipped at an angle while freezing. It may take some practice to smooth the lid until sealed and tip it over the sink to remove all excess water from the rim. Water trapped there may build up underneath the lid as it freezes, making it a bit difficult to remove.
All of the cubes came free simultaneously with a single twist, our tester observed. When the tray was set flat in the freezer, the ice formed identical half-moons. The peel-back lid kept freezer residue out of the ice, and none of the cubes had an unexpected scent from the freezer’s other contents.
What’s Included: 1 tray with lid | Material: Plastic and silicone | Dimensions: 15.5 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches | Number of Cubes: 14 | Cube Size: 2 x 1.13 x 0.63 inches
"I filled and sealed the tray, poured off excess water, and immediately froze it at an angle. The next day, the freezer shelf was dry and ice-free." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
Best Silicone: Tovolo Perfect Cube Ice Mold Trays
No flavor transfer
Popping out the cubes requires a little elbow grease
This pair of trays create about as many 1.25-inch ice blocks as two full-size ice cube trays but take up less freezer space thanks to their minimalist silicone frame. This makes them ideal for small or crowded freezers. The pair stacks together smoothly and even stays steady on other ice cube trays. They’re easy to grip, but the rim is quite narrow and may be awkward in large hands.
The silicone material clings to the cubes, but once our tester started to flex the tray, it let go. She found it easiest to push up on the bottom’s center to pop up an ice block or two at a time. With the cubes’ perfectly symmetrical shape, unneeded ones could be pressed back into the tray for later use.
Whether you’re using it just to freeze plain water or to save sauce, soup, buttermilk, juice, or even leftover eggs, the food-grade silicone will not affect the flavor of your ice. This tray is dishwasher-safe, but it’s recommended that you rinse with water and vinegar every so often for the best results. Get this set of two in a rainbow of vibrant colors, including candy apple, stratus blue, charcoal, cayenne, deep indigo, oyster gray, and pesto.
What’s Included: 2 trays | Material: Silicone | Dimensions: 7.25 x 4.5 x 1 inches | Number of Cubes: 15 per tray | Cube Size: 1.25 x 1.25 x 1.25 inches
"I was nervous about moving these trays after I filled them to the brim—they don’t have a raised rim. But the silicone supported these trays so that I didn’t spill a drop." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
Best for Large Cubes: W&P Peak Silicone Everyday Ice Tray With Protective Lid
Individually molded compartments
Trendy designs and fun colors
Fewer cubes than similarly sized trays
This silicone tray from W&P makes 12 square ice cubes that measure 1.25 inches each, giving your beverage a quick chill and slower dilution. The perimeter is rimmed with stable steel, so you don’t have to worry about morphing or messy spills on your voyage from the sink to the icebox.
The included lid not only keeps water in place but also blocks odors and allows you to stack the tray among other items in your freezer. Our tester thought that a more secure lid would be helpful when sliding other items on and off the tray, and the sturdy design means fewer cubes compared with other models, but this set’s pros outweigh these cons.
Getting the ice out was really easy, according to our tester. Each compartment is individually molded, so you can pop out a single cube without having to twist and turn the tray. It’s safe for the freezer, dishwasher, and microwave, and it’s BPA-free. It comes in lots of fun colors, including charcoal, marble black, marble white, peak blue, speckled pink, speckled white, and white.
What’s Included: 1 tray with lid | Material: Silicone with steel frame | Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.6 x 1.6 inches | Number of Cubes: 12 | Cube Size: 1.25 x 1.25 x 1.25 inches
"The cube size was ideal for many glass shapes and sizes, and I liked that I could easily remove just the cubes I wanted without touching the others." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
Best Stainless Steel: Onyx 18/8 Stainless Steel 18-Slot Ice Cube Tray
Super durable construction
Easy and fun to extract ice
Can be used for more than just water
May have to run under warm water to loosen cubes
Your parents or grandparents may have owned a metal ice cube tray. The construction of this one (18/8 stainless steel) not only ensures durability, but it also won’t absorb any odors like a plastic tray might. That means you can freeze all the soup broth, basil, fruit juice, and baby food you want without having to worry about one thing tasting like the other.
This old-school tray makes 18 parallelogram-shaped cubes, and while it’s certainly not flexible, the handle at the center flips up to help extract the ice. For best use, our tester suggests filling the tray just three-quarters of the way with water and then adding the divider.
Once frozen, our tester followed the manufacturer’s instructions and let the tray sit on the counter for five minutes before trying to pop free the divider and cubes. It still took a fairly good tug to pull the handle. She found that running warm water along the back of the tray for about two seconds melted the tiny layer of ice formed under the separating walls and made it easier to remove the cubes.
Despite its unique size and shape, this ice tray fitted well amid frozen food, our tester observed. She also liked its vintage look and feel, as well as its unique cube shapes.
What’s Included: 1 tray | Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 11.25 x 4.75 x 2 inches | Number of Cubes: 18 | Cube Size: 1.5 x 1.25 x 1 inches
"The dense, medium-sized cubes cooled water quickly and melted slowly. And the iced water tasted clean and fresh." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
How We Tested the Ice Cube Trays
We sent some of the top-rated ice trays to our home tester, Julie Laing. She tested six trays in total. We first had her fill each tray with water and freeze it for several hours or overnight. She made sure to freeze all the trays for the same amount of time. If a product had more than one tray in a set, she stacked them if that was possible. During this portion, Julie made sure to note how easy the trays were to transport from her sink to her freezer, and whether there were any spills along the way. She also observed how well each fit in her freezer, and whether it had a lid.
After the ice cubes or ice shapes were finally frozen, she then released them from the trays, and observed whether they came out easily. Julie cooled a glass of water with each finished set of ice, noting any off tastes and recording how long it took for the cubes/shapes to fully melt. Finally, Julie rated each on its material, size and shape, design, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
What to Look for When Buying Ice Cube Trays
Traditionally made of plastic, ice cube trays are now also made of silicone and metal—and each has its pros and cons. Plastic trays tend to be durable and release cubes relatively easily, but they’re also susceptible to cracking. It’s a little more tricky to extract cubes from steel trays, but they're also more crack-resistant. Silicone trays are more flexible than both metal and plastic, and they're durable, but they tend to absorb unsavory freezer odors if not taken care of properly.
Cube size and shape
There’s a wide variety of trays that produce a range of ice cube sizes. Ice cubes that are larger than the average cube melt more slowly, making them ideal for drinks like cocktails that you don’t want to be diluted too quickly. On the other hand, while small cubes melt more quickly, they also work well for concentrated drinks that need to be icy cold, such as iced coffee or cold brew. And there are also other shapes besides cubes—large, spherical ice, for example, is becoming more popular with cocktail connoisseurs.
Many ice cube trays nowadays are designed to be stackable, making it easier to make a lot of ice and still take up a relatively small amount of space in your freezer. Some trays also come with lids, which help not only with stacking but also to keep odors and other items out. Just make sure that the lid secures properly and that it’s not difficult to release them after the ice is frozen.
Can you freeze milk in ice cube trays?
In short, yes. Freezing milk in ice cube trays is an efficient way to save ready-to-expire milk or buy in bulk without risk of spoilage. Just make sure that when you pour your milk into the tray, you leave some room for it to expand as it freezes. Once frozen, you can transfer the cubes to an airtight plastic storage bag to free up your ice cube tray and save space in the freezer. You can even pop one of these cubes in your morning coffee or use it for recipes that call for milk. Two cubes in an average ice cube tray work out to about 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) of milk. Frozen milk is best used within three months.
How do you freeze eggs in an ice cube tray?
Like milk, eggs can also be saved from expiration with a simple crack and transfer to your ice cube tray (do not freeze eggs in their shells). Separate them for baking use or scramble ahead of time for an easy breakfast defrost. Once they freeze, it’s best to transfer them to an airtight container, like a freezer-safe bag, to stave off freezer burn. To make this process even easier, spray your ice cube tray prior to adding the eggs or use a silicone ice cube tray, so your eggs pop right out.
How do you freeze herbs in an ice cube tray?
It’s disappointing to buy a beautiful bunch of Italian parsley, only need a teaspoon, and have no way to use the rest. That's where freezing comes in, and you have two options for doing so in an ice cube tray: water or olive oil. Be warned, though: When you thaw your herbs, they will no longer be suitable for salads or garnishes. The liquid they’re frozen with makes them a little mushy, but still delicious for use in sauces, dips, and marinades.
To freeze herbs, prep them by removing the stems and chopping. Place about a tablespoon in each section of the ice cube tray, and then top with water or olive oil. Press down to submerge the herbs in the liquid, and then set them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or container and label them with the date.
How do you fill an ice cube tray?
If you’ve ever splattered water everywhere while trying to fill an ice cube tray, you’re not alone. It’s more intuitive to pour your water directly over the flat spot in the tray—the space between the cubes. With this method, water disperses evenly to each cube with no spillage.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Julia Warren is VP of Commerce at Dotdash. She received her BS in food science from Cornell University and graduated from the culinary arts program at the International Culinary Center.
Carrie Honaker updated this article. She is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine, travel, and culture. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast, Allrecipes, and more.
Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and writes the food blog, Twice as Tasty. Her freezer typically holds one tray of ice cubes and a stack of others filled with minced garlic, curry paste, pesto and pizza sauce, juices for cocktails, berry and green purees for smoothies, and more. Julie published her first cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Pickling," in 2020. She personally tested all six trays for this roundup.
7 best ice cube trays in 2021. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/select/shopping/best-ice-cube-trays-ncna1269046
Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application.