Imagine the scene…
You’ve just whipped up a delicious bowl of your favorite stew or soup – the air in the kitchen hangs heavy with spices, herbs and you’re moments away from that final taste test.
Stirring it slowly, you lift a bite towards your lips and after blowing off the steam; you enjoy the fruits of your labor.
If you’re like most of us, the kitchen utensil you used in these final moments was the humble ladle but did you ever stop to think about how many different types of ladles there are?
If so, the answer might surprise you and in this article, we’ve got them all covered – from soup to sauces and everything in between.
Although it’s not known for certain exactly when the ladle was created, some think that they originated in the 1800s.
The first formally patented tool that resembled a ladle was described as a “cup holder” and the man who filed the patent in 1876 was Joseph Sherer.
Today, ladles are one of the most common kitchen utensils in use so let’s do a deep dive on the ones you know and some you may not!
Table of Contents
1. Crepe Ladle
A crepe ladle is not to be confused with a crepe tool (or spreader).
The ladle is used for dispensing the batter on your crepe maker while the tool is used to smooth the batter across the surface of the crepe maker ensuring that it’s distributed evenly.
In order to ensure you’re getting the correct sized crepe ladle, you’ll need to know two things:
- How big your crepe maker is by measuring its diameter;
- What kind of crepes you intend to prepare since some types of batter will be thicker than others and require a ladle with a greater holding capacity
Most crepe ladles are made from stainless steel but there are some hybrid crepe ladle/spreaders available today if you’re interested in cutting down on the amount of utensils you’ll need. Since these tools come in contact with the heating surface, they are usually made from silicone.
2. Frying Ladle (Deep Fryer Ladle)
Frying ladles are used when handling foods prepared in hot oil or water.
Whether it’s fried chicken, french fries, or anything else you can think of throwing in a deep fryer, this is the ladle for you.
They often have longer handles that protect you from spattering grease or other heated liquids.
Constructed from stainless steel, deep fryer ladles will often feature a mesh strainer spoon at the end of the ladle handle to catch the food and remove it safely.
3. Gravy Ladle
These ladles are used during meals to serve gravy from gravy boats.
Because of this, both the bowls and the handles are much smaller than ladles that are used for cooking.
Some gravy ladles will feature spouts as part of the design so that once the gravy is scooped out, it can be drizzled over the food evenly.
4. Pancake Ladle
Strictly speaking, pancake ladles are not a specific type of ladle but this is just more evidence of the versatility of this kitchen tool.
Since most pancake recipes call for pre-measured amounts of batter, it’s best to look for ladles that fit the criteria you need.
In terms of material, silicone would be a good candidate for a pancake ladle since it’s flexible and will give you the ability to scrape the inside of your mixing bowl and measure accurately.
5. Punch Ladle
Punch ladles have longer handles (12 inches or more) and deeper bowls (5 ounces or more) than other ladles to accommodate larger serving sizes.
Most punch ladles are made of plastic but other common types are stainless steel and glass in more elegant designs.
For easier pouring of liquids, some punch ladles may also feature a molded pouring spout.
6. Salad Dressing Ladle
These kinds of ladles are usually used in restaurants that offer a salad bar and are almost always constructed of stainless steel.
Often measuring around 12 inches, they have very small bowls of about 1 ounce to accommodate salad dressing servings which are usually smaller than sauces or gravy.
7. Sauce Ladle (Drizzle Spoon)
Sauce ladles, also called drizzle spoons, are similar in function to gravy labels but without having their use limited to gravy boats.
Most sauce ladles feature a pouring spout that permits even spreading. Handle lengths, bowl sizes and bowl depths can also vary widely depending on the usage.
While most sauce ladles are constructed from stainless steel, there are also plastic and glass versions available.
8. Skimmer Ladle (Fat Skimmer Ladle)
Skimmer ladles feature either a mesh design or a design that takes advantage of the difference in density between fat and water to separate the two.
The mesh design will trap the fat molecules in the ladle when it is dipped in the liquid. After removing the ladle, the fat can be disposed of or saved for later use.
In designs featuring a hole, the portion of the liquid containing water will sink to the bottom of the ladle bowl while the fat floats on top. Once separated, the fat can be poured out from the hole, leaving only the liquid behind.
9. Slotted Ladle
Slotted ladles are similar to frying ladles in that they can be used to handle foods that are being prepared in heated oil or other hot liquids. They allow you to scoop the food out while simultaneously draining the liquid away through the slots carved in the bottom of the ladle.
Like frying ladles, slotted ladles often have longer handles (for safety) and shallower, wider bowls. By designing the bowls in this way, it allows you to remove large amounts of food at once, further reducing any risk of being burned or scalded by hot grease or water.
Most slotted ladles are fabricated of stainless steel but silicone slotted ladles are also quite popular.
10. Soup Ladle
We’re back to where we started our article – the soup ladle.
Soup ladles are one of the most commonly used types of ladles due to their versatile design and large, deep bowls. Some soup ladle designs may also feature a pouring spout to prevent hot soup from splattering inside the serving bowl.
Most soup ladles are made of stainless steel (or silicone), have handles of 12 inches with bowl sizes ranging from 4 to 6 ounces.
11. Straining Ladle (Pasta or Spaghetti Ladle)
Straining ladles are the Swiss Army knife of the ladle world.
Also referred to as pasta or spaghetti ladles, most designs allow you to scoop, strain and pour with the same utensil. It features the typical bowl design you would see with other types of ladles, but one side of the ladle is raised with perforated holes in it.
Because of this multi-functional purpose, the bowl sizes of staining ladles are usually quite deep – most have holding capacities of 6 ounces or more.
12. Wok Ladle (Chinese Ladle)
At first glance, wok ladles, also called Chinese ladles, more closely resemble an oversized spoon than the typical bowl shaped design of most ladles.
But this is for a very good reason since wok ladles are made to be used with the wok’s unique curvature.
If you’re a lover of Chinese food dishes like stir-fry, chop suey or chow mein then no doubt you are familiar with how versatile a wok can be so why not considering adding the handy wok ladle to your kitchen?