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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 today, you no longer have to worry about damaging your tray or compromising the integrity of the cubes inside. With no-transfer materials, you can even meal prep without worrying about today’s iced coffee tasting like last week’s baby food.
Give your drink the chill it deserves with the best ice trays.
Best Overall: Adoric Ice Cube Trays Silicone Set of 2
Ice melts more slowly than typical cubes
Easy to clean
Made of durable silicone
Sphere mold is tricky to use
It’s good to have a few different ice options at your disposal. This set includes two molds: one for creating two-inch cubes and one for crafting ice balls. Both large cubes and spherical ice are perfect for drinks that you don’t want to dilute quickly. Big ice pieces melt slower 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. These molds bring it right to your home.
Customers love how they can impress by serving cocktails with these stylish cubes and spherical ice, and also how much longer the ice lasts. However, a few note that the spherical ice tray needs to be sealed together properly in order to produce the proper sphere shape.
Best for Easy Release: Arrow Home Products Arrow 60 Cube Ice Tray 3 Pack
Easy to empty trays
Cubes can fit into soda and water bottles
Trays are thick and sturdy
Trays don't stack easily
People love that these "pebble" ice cubes fall out of the tray with minimal effort and can 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. It melts fast, so you’ll need to make your drink disappear with some speed if you don’t want it to be watered down.
This tray, which comes as a set of three, makes 60 tiny ice balls. Adults can toss them into their favorite cocktail and kids can have fun playing with them in their next cup of juice. However, some reviewers warn not to stack the trays right on top of each other, as the bottoms of the trays tend to stick to the cubes in the trays beneath them as they freeze.
Best Leak-Proof: OXO Good Grips No-Spill Ice Cube Tray with Silicone Lid
Easy to fill and store
Comes with leak-proof 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 your trays 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. Most customers agree that the lid indeed prevents spills on the way from the faucet to the freezer, earning the set positive reviews. Some note, however, that sometimes ice crystals build up underneath the lid, making it a bit difficult to remove. The tray makes 14 cubes in all.
Best Silicone: Tovolo Perfect Cube Ice Mold Trays
No flavor transfer
Popping out the cubes requires a little elbow grease
Tovolo Perfect Cube Ice Mold Trays create 1.25-inch ice blocks using durable, fade-resistant silicone that lasts through many freezing cycles without becoming discolored or brittle. The silicone material makes it easy to remove as few cubes as you want at one time without a fight. Just push up on the bottom of each compartment to pop out an ice block.
Whether you’re just using it to freeze plain water or sauce, soup, berries, buttermilk, coffee, 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 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.
Best for Large Cubes: W&P Peak Silicone Everyday Ice Tray with Protective Lid
Individually molded compartments
Lid isn't attached
This silicone tray from W&P makes 12 square-shaped ice cubes that measure 1.25 inches each, giving your beverage the ultimate 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. Plus, the included lid not only doubles down on keeping your water in place, but it also blocks out pesky odors and allows you to stack among other items in your freezer.
Getting the ice out is really easy, too. Each compartment is individually molded, so you can pop out a single cube without having to twist and turn the tray. It’s freezer, dishwasher, and microwave safe, and BPA-free. It comes in lots of fun colors, including charcoal, marble black, marble white, peak blue, speckled pink, speckled white, and white. For even bigger cubes, check out the W&P Extra Large Cube Ice Tray. W&P's eco-friendly efforts include eliminating waste, practicing responsible manufacturing, and supporting Edible Schoolyard NYC.
Best Stainless Steel: Onyx 18/8 Stainless Steel 18-Slot Ice Cube Tray
Easy and fun to extract ice
May have to run under warm water to loosen cubes
Your parents or grandparents may have owned a stainless steel 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 large cubes, and while it’s certainly not flexible, the handle at the center makes it easy to extract your cubes. When your ice is cold, flip the handle and remove the dividers, then collect your ice. For best use, reviewers suggest filling the water 0.75 inches from the top and, once frozen, running warm water along the back of the tray for about 20 seconds to separate the cubes and melt the tiny layer of ice formed under the separating walls.
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 needing a teaspoon, and having no way to use the waste. 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.