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Ladles are not the most glamorous of kitchen tools—chances are you’ve never given them much thought—but the moment you try to transfer hot soup to bowls or storage containers by either pouring it directly from a heavy stockpot or endlessly going back and forth with a shallow spoon (leaving a trail of drips on your counter), you’ll quickly realize how indispensable a ladle is. And they're not just for soups and stews, either—they’re also valuable for portioning batter for pancakes or broth for risotto; doling out sauces or gravy; saucing pasta, lasagna, or pizza dough; poaching eggs; and serving drinks like lemonade, mulled wine, or punch.
Now that you’ve realized how much your kitchen needs one, here are our picks for the best soup ladles.
Best Overall: Rösle Stainless Steel Hooked Handle Ladle with Pouring Rim
This durable stainless-steel ladle has a long handle with a central groove for more comfortable and stable handling, with a hooked end that can hang on the rim of a pot (to avoid the ladle sliding into your soup) or on a kitchen rail for neat and accessible storage. The handle is angled, making it easier to balance the ladle while serving and pouring, and the bowl has a curved rim to facilitate drip-free pouring in any direction. This solid, single-piece tool is dishwasher-safe, for easy cleanup, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Best Ergonomic: OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Ladle
This stainless-steel ladle features an angled handle for easier balancing, with a soft, comfortable, and non-slip grip that’s easy to hold even when wet. The bowl of the ladle has a spout on either side, to help both right- and left-handed cooks avoid drips and spills when pouring. The ladle is dishwasher safe and the handle features a hole for easy hanging storage.
Best Large-Capacity: Winco 12-Ounce Stainless Steel Ladle
This stainless-steel ladle is available in several different sizes, with the largest featuring a bowl that holds up to 12 ounces (1 ½ cups) of liquid. It’s perfect for quickly serving soups or drinks or transferring leftovers to storage containers without making a mess. The bowl features a curved rim to avoid drips and the 12.5-inch handle is marked with the bowl’s capacity in both fluid ounces and milliliters. The handle has a central indentation, for a comfortable grip, and a hooked end, for hanging the ladle on the edge of a pot or on a kitchen railing. Last but not least, the ladle is dishwasher-safe and rust-resistant.
Best for Stock: Williams Sonom Signature Stainless Steel Fat Skimming Ladle
A Williams-Sonoma exclusive, this stainless-steel ladle features an ingenious design that holds back fat while pouring. It’s excellent for using stocks and broths as soon as they’re ready, without having to wait until they cool so the fat naturally separates out, and for serving soups, sauces, and gravies. The heavy-gauge steel handle is weighted for balance and control and rounded so that it fits comfortably in your hand without any sharp edges. The ladle is dishwasher-safe and matches the other utensils in the Williams-Sonoma Signature Stainless-Steel collection.
Best for Gravy: Buy Go! Gold Drizzle Spoon with Spout
This sleek gravy ladle tapers to a spout on one side, for precise pouring of sauces, gravies, and salad dressings. The solid stainless-steel ladle has a gleaming, gold-colored finish, which makes it elegant enough for table serving. The gently curved handle is comfortable in your hand and has a hole at one end for easy hanging storage. The ladle is dishwasher safe.
Best Set: CucinaPrime Stainless Steel Soup Ladle, Set of 4
This handy set of stainless steel ladles includes four sizes: 2 ounces (¼ cup), 4 ounces (½ cup), 6 ounces (¾ cup), and 8 ounces (1 cup). The volume capacity of each ladle is clearly etched on its handle, so these are great to use as a combination ladle-measuring cup for portioning out batter for pancakes or crêpes or gradually adding broth to a risotto. The ladles feature a curved lip, for easier pouring, long handles, for use in even deep stockpots, and a hooked end, for storing them on a kitchen rail or hanging them on the edge of a pot without the risk of slipping in. The stainless steel ladles are heat-proof, stain-resistant, and dishwasher-safe.
Most Fun: OTOTO Nessie Ladle
“Fun” is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking about ladles, but this quirky and playful kitchen utensil from innovative design studio OTOTO is just that. Inspired by the legendary Loch Ness Monster, the cute Nessie-shaped tool stands upright on her four legs on your kitchen counter or in a pot of soup. Made of BPA-free, heat-resistant nylon, the curved ladle is dishwasher-safe and fits comfortably in your hand. It’s available in three bright colors: lime green, turquoise, or magenta.
What to Look for When Buying a Soup Ladle
Soup ladles are made from many different types of materials, including plastic, wood, silicone, aluminum, and stainless steel. Some kinds of materials will eventually discolor depending on what foods you use the ladle for. Other materials, like wood, require a bit more care and cleaning. Metals, like stainless steel, are easy to clean.
When ready to serve soups, stews, or drinks, it's handy to have a ladle that was designed with a hooked end on it. That way, the ladle doesn't fall into the pot and is readily available for the next serving round. A ladle with a spout can make it easier to pour liquid. When choosing a ladle, try to think of all you will, or could be, using it for before you buy one.
Ladles can have features including being heat resistant, stain resistant, dishwasher safe, and rust resistant; some come with a lifetime warranty. These can be great features for a ladle to have. How many of you can relate to having a ladle, or another kitchen utensil, that once upon a time was a gorgeous shade of light blue, for instance, until you dipped it into a tomato-based sauce? That's why the stain-resistant feature should be on your checklist. There are even ladles that have marked measurement amounts, so you know the volume of whatever is in your ladle. Decide what all you need, take note, and check it off your list.
What can soup ladles be used for besides soup?
Soup ladles are not just for serving soup. Go ahead and use them for serving soup and other liquids, but ladles are also great for stirring liquids during cooking, putting liquids into containers for freezing, and skimming off the fat when making gravy, too.
How do you clean and care for a soup ladle?
Check the manufacturer's instructions, look on the ladle itself, and see if it's marked as dishwasher safe. Some are, and some aren't. If handwashing, you can wash your ladle with liquid detergent and hot water.
When were soup ladles created?
No one knows for certain, but it is thought that soup ladles originated sometime in the 1800s.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This article was written by Danette St. Onge, formerly the Italian Food Expert for The Spruce Eats and a features editor at Cook’s Illustrated magazine (part of America’s Test Kitchen). An avid kitchen appliance and utensil junkie, she spends hours combing the internet, comparing options, reading reviews, and testing to find the best tool for every job.