The Basics Bar Tools

The 8 Best Ice Cube Trays in 2021

For chilled, non-diluted drinks.

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While the concept of ice is simple, a decent ice cube tray can do wonders for your cocktail game. The first step towards better ice? Ditch the chunky plastic ice trays that come with your fridge. “Avoid using those foggy ‘half-moon’-shaped ice that comes out of your freezer door,” explains Jordan Hughes, the cocktail expert behind High Proof Preacher. “Partly because of aesthetics, but mainly because they break down and melt easily, diluting your cocktail too quickly.”

Instead, opt for an ice cube tray that meets your drinking needs. There are crystal clear spheres for whiskey lovers and crushed ice trays for Tiki-style cocktails, as well as trays for everyday ice and ice molds for perfectly clear cubes.

To help decipher the world of ice cubes, we've rounded up our favorite ice cube trays for all drinkers.

Best for Whiskey: Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds

Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds

Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to extract

  • Slow to melt

Cons
  • Sphere mold can be tricky to use

  • Will not fit in all glasses

Tovolo’s plastic-silicone molds pop out perfect, spherical circles of ice. Half the mold is sturdy plastic and the other is flexible silicone to easily extract ice from the mold. Pop the mold together, fill with water, and 24 hours later you will have clear, 2.5-inch circular ice (for the clearest ice, use distilled or pre-boiled water). This set comes with two BPA-free, dishwasher-safe molds.

Hughes notes that larger cubes work best for drinks that don't need dilution, like whiskeys, Scotch, sipping rums and the sort. The larger the ice, the slower it melts, preserving the taste and strength of your favorite spirit. In addition to the sphere, Tovolo offers mustache, rose and highball-shaped ice molds. Plus, you can fill the mold with flowers or colorful juices and freeze to add visual appeal to cocktails or punch bowls. 

Best Silicone: W&P Everyday Ice Cube Tray

W&P Peak Silicone Everyday Ice Tray

Food52

Pros
  • Bendable and flexible

  • Great for shaker ice

  • Stacks well

Cons
  • Lid isn’t attached

If you’ve run into the common issue of cracking a vinyl ice cube tray when removing the ice, a bendable silicone tray is a great solution—like this W&P option. The low-effort, flexible ice mold pops out 12 square cubes.

Measuring 1.25 inches, the tray’s ice cubes are small enough to pop into a cocktail on the rocks, yet large enough to shake without quickly diluting. “For shaker ice,” explains Hughes, "you don’t want [it] to break down too quickly in your shaker, which would over-dilute the cocktail before you even serve it.” He also points out that, “those bags of ice pellets you get from the grocery store make horrible shaker ice because they break and melt almost instantly.”

All of these trays stack nicely in a freezer and are dishwasher-safe. Plus, they come in neutral and fun colors like blue, charcoal, marble, confetti and more.

Best Stainless Steel: Onyx Ice Cube Tray

Onyx Ice Cube Tray

Food52

Pros
  • Durable

  • Larger cubes

Cons
  • Removal may require tapping or warm water

  • No lid

The stainless steel construction of this Onyx ice tray not only means it's incredibly durable, but it also keeps the contents from absorbing freezer odors—making it great for freezing broths, herb cubes or fruit juices without the flavors lingering. While this tray isn’t as flexible as a silicone mold, the stainless steel handle and removable divider make it easy to extract ice: when your ice is frozen, flip the handle up, remove the dividers, and ice will pop out with ease.

Each tray prepares 18 large cubes, each measuring 1.5 x 2 inches. The larger the cube, the slower the ice melts, so your drink will stay cool for longer without dilution. “Typically, large-format ice like big cubes or spheres are used for serving spirit-forward drinks, like an Old Fashioned,” says Hughes. 

Related: The Best Ice Buckets

Best for Clear Ice: W&P Peak Clear Ice Mold

W&P Peak Clear Ice Mold
Pros
  • Makes perfectly clear ice

  • Easy to use

Cons
  • Only makes one cube

  • Takes a while to freeze

For serious cocktail enthusiasts, invest in a mold that creates show-stopping cubes. This W&P model makes one large, crystal-clear 2-inch ice cube, and it's made up of steel-based silicone molds that come together to make the cube.

Fill the mold with water and slip the insulated sleeve on top—its top-down design freezes the ice without any bubbles or impurities, while gravity pushes bubbles to the bottom of the mold and a small section captures impurities. When you’re ready for a drink, simply break apart the mold. 

Note that this ice mold makes one cube at a time and stands quite tall in your freezer (at 5.75 inches high). Additionally, as these ice cubes are larger than the average cube, they take up to 24 hours to freeze thoroughly.

What Our Editors Say

"Sure, it only makes one ice cube at a time, and it takes more than 24 hours in my freezer, but that one ice cube is wonderfully, perfectly clear. It's by far the easiest and most foolproof way to make clear ice cubes that I've found."

— Kathryn Maier, Editor

Best Easy-Release: Kitch Ice Tray

Kitch Ice Tray

Amazon

Pros
  • Releases easily

  • Stacks well

Cons
  • Will crack over time

If you often struggle with getting ice out of a tray, consider an easy-release option like these trays from Kitch. These flexible, yet sturdy trays are designed to pop out ice cubes with a simple twist. They also stack nicely in the freezer for convenient storage. A great value, each tray easily makes 16 ice cubes and is available in a pack of two (for a total of 32 cubes) or four (for a total of 64 cubes)—perfect when making cocktails for large parties. The ice cube trays are also 100 percent BPA-free and dishwasher safe.

Related: The Best Coolers

Best for Crushed Ice: NiceCube Mini Ice Cube Tray

niceCube Mini Ice Cube Trays

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • No need to crush ice

  • Freezes quickly

Cons
  • Ice melts quickly

  • Cubes are tough to remove

If you’re eying a Julep-fueled happy hour, NiceCube helps you create crushed ice, sans bag. The set of two tiny ice cube trays make 160 small (1 cm or ⅜’’) cubes each. The small size of the ice cubes mimic the effect of crushed ice, making them a welcome addition in cobblers and swizzles.

The smaller cubes also freeze far quicker than your standard ice cube mold, so if you’re in a pinch and need ice stat, this tray will help. Each tray is made with high-grade, BPA-free silicone. The flexible molds will pop out ice with ease.

For coffee fans, the crushed ice cubes lend themselves well to iced coffees, frappuccinos, and smoothies. Or, use the small cubes for water bottles or other small vessels. 

Best Set: Aibast Ice Cube Tray Set

Aibast Ice Cube Tray Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Includes a range of molds

  • For fancy ice and normal ice

Cons
  • Will take up space in your freezer

Consider this your starter kit for all things ice. Inside this kit are the materials to craft every type of cocktail ice you could need. There’s a large round ice cube tray for slower-melting spheres (think for Scotch or other sipping spirits) and a standard large cube tray for making big rocks (it makes 1.8’’ by 1.8’’ cubes). The sphere mold makes six cubes at 1.8’’ in diameter and comes with a funnel and measuring cup for filling the trays.

For your average small ice cubes, there is a honeycomb ice with a lid that makes 37 small cubes at a time. All of the trays are made with non-toxic, odor-free, non-stick silicone material. The silicone is temperature resistant between 104℉ to 446℉; use it to freeze coffees, simple syrups, fruit juices, and everything in between. 

Best for Highballs: Voloop Ice Cube Tray with Lid

VOLOOP Ice Cube Tray With Lids

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Ideal for highballs and Collins

  • Easy to remove the ice

Cons
  • A bit large for some water bottles

The secret to an excellent highball is the temperature. You want the outside of the glass frosty and the drink, hyper-chilled and perfectly refreshing. While chilling the glass beforehand is essential, note that top bartenders opt to use long spears of ice in their highball rather than a collection of regular cubes. 

This set includes a non-stick silicone mold for making long sticks of ice. Outside of highballs and Collins, these sticks will fit inside water bottles. The tray is crafted from non-toxic, high-grade silicone and makes six cubes.

Also included is a lid to protect your ice from lingering fragrances and a bar spoon for stirring up an icy highball.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for excellent everyday ice, W&P’s standard ice cube tray (view at Amazon) crafts perfectly square cubes (plus the tray comes in a variety of colors). If you’re looking for massive, crystal-clear cups, the brand’s larger mold makes impressive rocks with minimal effort.

What to Look For

Material

The standard ice cube trays of yore were made of hard plastic. To remove the cubes, you were required to do a good deal of banging or running the tray under out water. Today’s trays require no such headaches - the best are made with silicone and metal. Steel trays are trickier to extract cubes from, but they are strong enough to resist cracking or breaking over time. Silicone trays are bendable and flexible, allowing you to remove your cubes with ease. That said, silicone will pick up the odors of your freezer over time.

Design

Consider your ice cube tray will largely live in your freezer. That said, look for a tray that can be easily stacked amidst pizzas and other freezer essentials. A lid will certainly help, plus, a lid also keeps odors and other freezer scents out of your ice cubes. Ensure the lid secures properly to avoid spilling.

Cube Size and Shape

Ice cube trays can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. There are teeny, tiny cubes that freeze quickly and lend themselves well to Mojitos or Juleps. There are average sized cubes that are excellent for all manners of drink making, and massive molds that make larger cubes that melt far slower than an average ice cube (take note, Scotch fans). Alternatively, there are creatively-shaped cubes - flowers, spears, spheres, and more.

FAQs

How do you clean/care for an ice tray?

To clean, wash the tray with warm water and soap after each use. If you find your silicone tray has picked up unsavory scents, mix a bit of baking soda with warm water and scrub.

Does some material freeze faster?

How quickly your material freezes will depend on the size of your cube and the material of your tray. The thinner the tray, the quicker it will freeze. Likewise, the smaller the cube, the more quickly it will completely solidify.

What's the key to clear ice?

Start with distilled water - not your standard tap water. From there, processes like directional freezing will help achieve that crystal-clear look, or, opt for an ice maker (like W&P’s peak ice mold) that will do the job for you.

Why Trust Liquor.com?

Kate Dingwall is a seasoned sommelier and spirits writer. She has spent six years writing about the field, and ten years working as a bartender slash sommelier. Her freezer is always stocked with large cubes to pair with her favorite Scotch. For this article, she interviewed spirits expert Jordan Hughes.

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