The art of mixing fruit drinks and cocktails requires more than the base ingredients. For true connoisseurs, the ice cube adds the finishing touch. Ice that melts too fast can dilute a drink’s flavor and potency. That’s where ice ball molds enter the picture. The best ice ball mold offers ice in sizes, shapes, and densities that keep drinks cool while preventing premature dilution of flavors or alcohol.
- BEST OVERALL: Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds – Set of 2
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: TGJOR Ice Cube Trays 2.5” Ice Sphere Tray with Lid
- BEST INDIVIDUAL MOLDS: Classic Kitchen Store Chillz Extreme Ice Ball Molds
- BEST STACKABLE: Zoku Set of 2 Silicone Ice Sphere Molds
- BEST DESIGN: Shaped 3D Skull Ice Mold Silicone Ice Cube Mold
- MOST VERSATILE: Samuelworld Ice Cube Trays 2.5 inches Sphere Ice Mold
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Ice Ball Mold
The best ice ball mold is one that enhances the type of drinks you typically make. However, a few other factors come into play. There are practical considerations as well, like how many ice balls the mold makes, how much space the mold occupies in the freezer, and how easy it is to remove the ice. Keeping these things in mind can help you narrow down the mold that will work best in any given circumstance.
Size and Number
If you’ve ever seen a cocktail with a single large ice cube or ball dominating the glass, there’s a reason why. Size matters—and not just for how long the ice keeps the drink cold. The right liquid-to-ice ratio can release the flavors of some spirits. Larger pieces of ice dilute slower than small pieces, allowing you to sip the drink longer. Consequently, the type of drinks made should determine the best ice ball size.
Large or “jumbo” ice balls typically have a 2- to 2.5-inch diameter and melt very slowly. They’re typically used when sipping straight spirits, like whiskey, gin, scotch, and bourbon. A large ice ball melts much slower than a standard ice cube, preventing too much water from diluting the drink before it’s finished.
The next-size mold creates ice that ranges in diameter from 1.5 to 2 inches. These ice molds create ice that melts faster than the 2.5-inch ice balls but slower than the ice from a standard ice cube tray. These ice balls work particularly well in a cocktail shaker for mixing drinks that prefer to be shaken rather than stirred, like a martini or vesper. The larger 2.5-inch ice balls don’t allow much mixing during the shaking, whereas these slightly smaller ice balls do.
Ice balls smaller than 1.5 inches are typically used when making mixed drinks like tiki cocktails or mint juleps. These drinks should be mixed knowing there will be more dilution from the ice. The right mix can create a great flavor even as the ice melts. These molds create ice that works well for nonalcoholic drinks, too, like fruit punches and smoothies.
Ice ball molds come in single/individual, double, triple, or quadruple molds. Individual molds can be placed throughout the freezer, saving space. But for group gatherings or parties, opt for molds that make multiple ice balls, allowing you to quickly fill an ice bucket.
For years, ice cube trays and molds have been made from plastic. However, as BPA and other chemicals found in plastic became more of a concern, many consumers turned to silicone. Today, most ice ball molds are made of silicone, plastic, or a combination of both.
Plastic is still inexpensive, relatively durable, and more resistant to odors than silicone. The hard plastics used to make ice ball molds offer a sturdy stacking surface in the freezer, too. While you should opt for BPA-free plastic when selecting the best ice ball mold, keep in mind that there still may be other leaching chemicals in the plastic aside from BPA. Plastic may also crack as water freezes and expands and may require hand-washing to prevent warping in the heat of a dishwasher.
Ice molds made from silicone are soft, expanding with the water as it freezes without cracking. Silicone also offers the benefit of being free from hidden leaching chemicals. In addition to being a softer material, it’s flexible, making ice removal easier than with hard plastic molds. Most silicone is dishwasher safe and won’t break down due to heat exposure. However, silicone is more prone to absorbing odors, so keep silicone molds stored outside of the freezer until they’re ready for use.
Some molds have a plastic base with a silicone lid. The hard plastic bottom stays stable in the freezer while the silicone lid expands with the water as it freezes.
Storage and Usability
Ice ball molds may come in a traditional tray-type style or as individual, stackable molds. As far as storage goes, the single, stackable ice ball molds take advantage of vertical space. However, it’s more work to fill and stack individual molds than a tray.
Tray-style molds that make multiple ice balls provide more ice for the time it takes to fill the mold. For those who want to fill a cooler, bucket, or backpack with ice, a tray makes more sense than individual molds.
The right size and type of mold depend on the kind of drinks for which the ice balls will be used as well as the available freezer and storage space. Since ice ball molds aren’t usually kept in the freezer all the time, you’ll want to be sure you have enough storage space in a cupboard or pantry when they aren’t in use.
When it comes to out-of-freezer storage, hard ice ball molds win because they can stack without toppling over. Soft silicone molds, on the other hand, may compress and tip over if other items are stacked on top. In general, that makes them more difficult to store when not in use.
- Stability: Ice ball molds that tip over are more work than they’re worth. Silicone molds with flat bases remain more stable than those with a rounded mold base. Stability features also include extra “feet” on the mold to prevent collapsing or tipping. Flat tops/lids also provide more stability because other items can stack on the lid.
- Leakproof designs: Leakproof designs feature snaps and locks that hold mold pieces together. Snap-on and twisting lids are some of the best designs because they tend to hold in liquid even when tipped over.
- Trays: For convenience, ice ball trays can make up to six ice balls at once. Some are even designed to make ice cubes in addition to ice balls.
- Funnels: Some ice ball molds have a small opening on the top where the water enters; these typically come with a funnel specifically for this job. If they don’t, a small funnel will make filling the mold easier.
- Shape: Molds are typically round or cube-shaped. However, some molds make ice balls with a bit more whimsy. For example, skulls, diamonds, baseballs, and golf balls are some fun options worth considering, especially for themed events.
Our Top Picks
The ice ball molds on this list are easy to use, offer consistent results, and have the durability to last for years. There’s a range of options, including individual, stacking, and versatile molds. The list wouldn’t be complete without at least one fun design, too.
For consistent results, consider the easy-to-use Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds. Loading the molds is simple. Fill the plastic cup to a visible fill line, then seal it with a silicone lid. When it’s time for removal, run the cup under warm water, remove the lid, and give the cup a gentle squeeze to release a 2.5-inch ice ball that will keep drinks cool for a long time.
The cup’s wide base snaps into the silicone lid of another Tovolo mold, offering stability and stackable storage in and out of the freezer. The lid fits tightly to keep the water inside even if the mold tips over. The entire mold is BPA-free and dishwasher safe.
Prepping for a party? Make up to six 2.5-inch ice balls at once with this economical tray. With its specially balanced design, the plastic base provides stability while the silicone lid offers easy removal. After snapping the lid on top, use the included funnel to fill the individual molds with ease.
The nature of this design opens the doors to creativity. Add fruit, fresh herbs, or other decorative items to the mold cavities, then fill with water for practical and decorative ice balls. The silicone lid offers easier removal than plastic alone. Both pieces are dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
No need to worry about ice balls tipping over in the freezer; each 2.5-inch silicone mold in this set of four features a flat bottom that helps maintain stability. Their individual design allows placement in or out of the freezer, wherever there’s enough space. This design allows for creative ice enhancements as well, allowing users to place fruit, herbs, or other items in the mold before filling.
Once the top is screwed onto the base, water can be poured through the top hole. The silicone then expands with the water as it freezes, preventing cracks and breaks, even if dropped.
Don’t worry about these molds absorbing and holding on to unpleasant odors, either, as they’re dishwasher safe for ease of cleaning.
Those with limited freezer space should consider this stackable silicone ice mold set. Thanks to their slightly flared silicone tops and stackable construction, they take up less space than other individual molds or trays. Because silicone has a bit of stick to it, molds stay stacked with ease over the long term.
Making ice balls is as easy as screwing the molds together, filling, and putting them on a flat surface in the freezer. The silicone construction allows the water to expand while the mold flexes. When it’s time to take out the ice, unscrew the lid, and press the soft bottom of the mold to pop out the ice. Each mold makes a 2.5-inch ice ball. When the work is done, the molds are safe to put in the dishwasher.
Add a festive touch to a punch bowl or cocktails with these skull-shaped ice ball molds. The Shaped 3D Skull Ice Mold uses the same principles as other ice molds but puts some personality into it. The flexible, dishwasher-safe silicone mold has a stable two-piece design. Securely place the top piece to the bottom, which features stabilizing bars so the mold stays upright in the freezer, then fill the mold through the hole on top.
When ready to use, simply run the mold under warm water, remove the lid, and pop out the ice skulls by pressing on the silicone. This mold can make four skulls at a time. Details like eye sockets, jawbone, and teeth are visible on each 2.36-inch ice skull.
Drinkers who prefer a more traditional cube shape when adding ice to a beverage should consider this two-in-one set. The Samuelworld Ice Cube Trays 2.5 Inches Sphere Ice Mold actually includes two molds: a 2.5-inch sphere mold and a 2-inch cube tray. The sphere mold includes a plastic bottom with a silicone top that snaps into place. Once connected, a built-in funnel helps control water as it’s poured. The cube tray functions like a traditional ice cube tray, except it creates larger square ice cubes.
The plastic bottom of the sphere mold offers the stability of plastic, while the flexible silicone top offers ease of use and makes popping out the cubes hassle-free. All pieces are dishwasher safe.
FAQs About Ice Ball Molds
Before choosing the best ice ball mode to add a new level of coolness to your next cocktail, you might have a few more questions. If size, shape, or material has you pondering on the right choice, here are a few common inquiries and answers to get the first ice balls clinking into your cup.
Q. Is a silicone ice ball mold better than a plastic one?
Silicone expands with the water as it freezes, reducing the chances of the mold cracking. It also contains no BPA and is dishwasher safe. However, silicone may absorb odors more than plastic.
Q. How do I fill an ice ball mold?
Filling the mold will depend on its design. Most molds have a bottom with a removable top. Once the two pieces are connected, water is poured into the top of the mold. However, other designs feature a cup that’s filled with water then sealed with a lid.
Q. How long can my ice ball mold last?
Ice ball molds usually last for years. Silicone molds typically last the longest because there’s less chance of cracking or warping in the dishwasher.