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What Are Ladles Used For: An In-Depth Look at Ladles

July 22, 2023 4 min read

What Are Ladles Used For: An In-Depth Look at Ladles - Maria's Condo

The ladle, an integral part of any kitchen, serves a wide range of purposes. This seemingly simple utensil is a versatile tool, adding convenience to various cooking and serving tasks. From pouring soup or stew to dispensing sauces and gravies, ladles are indispensable in the culinary world. This article will delve into the history, types, uses, and materials of ladles, providing an in-depth understanding of this essential kitchen instrument.

What Exactly is a Ladle?

A ladle is essentially a long-handled spoon with a deep bowl at one end. Its design primarily caters to serving or transferring liquids such as soups, stews, sauces, and other liquid-based dishes. The bowl of the ladle is typically deep and round, ensuring a substantial serving per scoop. The handle, usually 13" to 14" long, keeps your hands at a safe distance from hot liquids. The curved end of the handle allows the ladle to rest on the edge of pots or bowls without toppling over.

Historical Context of the Ladle

Tracing the roots of the ladle leads us to ancient times. The term "ladle" originates from the Latin word "lada", referring to a large vessel with a long handle used for measuring goods during Roman times. Archaeologists have found ladles dating back to 3000 BC in China, made from bronze. Over the centuries, the design and materials of ladles have evolved, making them an irreplaceable part of modern kitchens.

Different Types of Ladles

Ladles come in many shapes and sizes, each designed to serve a specific purpose. Here are some of the common types of ladles found in kitchens worldwide:

Soup Ladle

Soup ladles, as the name suggests, are primarily used for serving soup. They feature large, deep bowls and often come equipped with a pouring spout to prevent spillage. These ladles are usually made of stainless steel or silicone, with handle lengths around 12 inches and bowl capacities ranging from 4 to 6 ounces.

Sauce Ladle

Sauce ladles, also known as drizzle spoons, are typically shorter than soup ladles, typically around 5 inches long. This makes them ideal for serving sauces or condiments. Many sauce ladles feature a pouring spout for even spreading of sauces. They can be made from various materials, including stainless steel, plastic, or glass.

Slotted Ladle

Slotted ladles are a hybrid between a sieve and a traditional ladle, featuring slots or holes in the bowl. These ladles are perfect for serving foods stored in liquids, allowing the liquid to drain away while retaining the solid food items. Slotted ladles are particularly useful for extracting items like hard-boiled eggs from boiling water.

Punch Ladle

Punch ladles are designed for serving drinks or punch. These ladles usually have long handles (about 12 inches) and deep bowls (about 5 ounces) to accommodate large serving sizes. Punch ladles may also feature a pouring spout for easy dispensing of liquids.

Frying Ladle

Frying ladles are used for handling foods cooked in hot oils or water. These ladles usually feature longer handles for safety, and some come with a mesh strainer spoon at the end to safely remove and drain the food.

The Multifunctional Ladle: Straining Ladle

Straining ladles, also known as pasta or spaghetti ladles, are the Swiss Army knife of ladles. They allow you to scoop, strain, and pour with the same utensil, making them extremely versatile.

Ladle Materials

Ladles are made from a variety of materials, each with its own set of advantages. Here are some of the common materials used for ladles:

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel ladles are highly durable and resistant to staining, warping, or odor absorption. They are dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean.


Wooden ladles possess a unique charm and are ideal for serving purposes. However, they require hand washing and are not suitable for the dishwasher as they may crack and warp.

Plastic, Nylon, and Silicone

These synthetic materials are lightweight and easy to clean. They are ideal for non-stick cookware as they won't scratch the surface. Silicone ladles, in particular, are heat-resistant and flexible, making them a popular choice among cooks.

Ladles: A Part of Cultural Rituals

Ladles are not just confined to the culinary sphere; they also play a crucial role in cultural rituals in many societies. For instance, in Japanese temples, a wooden ladle known as a "hishaku" is used in the ritual of "chozu", signifying self-purification before entering the temple.


The ladle, though a simple kitchen tool, plays a vital role in food preparation and serving. With a variety of types and materials available, it caters to diverse culinary needs and preferences. Whether it's serving your favorite soup or straining pasta, ladles make the process efficient and mess-free. So, equip your kitchen with this versatile tool and enhance your cooking experience!


  1. Cooking Instrument (Wikipedia)
  2. What is a Ladle Used For? (Food Devise)
  3. Types of Ladles (Kitchen Apparatus)
  4. Ladle: The Essential Kitchen Tool (The Culinary Exchange)
  5. What is a Ladle? (WebstaurantStore)
  6. Ladle: The Kitchen Accessory (Buffet Plus)

Marias Condo
Marias Condo

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