Whether you’re serving chilled colas or classy cocktails, fresh ice is an entertaining essential. While there are many ways to store ice during a party, some options are more creative than others. The ice bucket has been around since refrigeration was invented and for good reason. If you need to have ice handy when throwing a large party or even just a simple gathering of friends, the ice bucket is undeniably convenient. If you choose from one of the many stylish and chic designs on the market today, you’ll also have an elegant centerpiece for your home bar or party table.
However, keep in mind that there is more to the humble ice bucket than meets the eye. This guide will explore the most essential features of this convenient tool for storing ice and help you discover some of the best ice buckets available for the coolest shindig you can host.
- BEST OVERALL: Ice Bucket with Lid and Strainer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Rubbermaid Ice Bin
- BEST UPGRADE: OXO Ice Bucket and Tongs Set
- BEST LARGE: Igloo 70 QT Lockable Insulated Ice Chest
- BEST FLIP TOP: Oggi Double-Wall Stainless Steel/Black Insulated
- BEST STAINLESS STEEL: malmo Stainless Steel Double Walled Ice Bucket
Features to Look for in the Best Ice Bucket
As you begin shopping for the best ice bucket for your home bar or party, consider several factors. The overall construction of the ice bucket, the materials used to craft it, how convenient it is for your particular setting, and the availability of useful accessories comprise the main features that need your attention. Here’s a handy rundown of the considerations to weigh as you search for the best ice bucket for your home bar.
The most important job of your ice bucket is to keep your ice cubes fresh and frozen for as long as possible. Insulation should be efficient but not so large or cumbersome as to compromise the ease of accessing the contents. When metal is the primary material used for construction, a vacuum-sealed, double-wall of steel surrounding the contents is an effective, efficient, and space-saving way to keep cubes cold.
A sturdy lid is another requirement for keeping the contents insulated as well as preventing contaminants from entering the bucket. A flip-top style lid makes it easier to seal the bucket when it’s not in use.
Stainless steel is the most popular material for ice buckets for many reasons. First, for its sturdiness: if you drop it, it’s much less likely to break. Second, it’s easy to clean and naturally resistant to bacterial growth and rust. Stainless steel is also a food-grade material, meaning it won’t leach chemicals into edible items that contact its surface. Most importantly, when the ice bucket is of high-quality construction, it can keep your ice cubes intact for many hours. Additionally, stainless steel is perennially in fashion due to its sleek and clean appearance.
Plastic is also an effective material for ice buckets since it is durable, lightweight, and significantly more convenient for outdoor and rugged party scenarios. Whatever the material, the best ice bucket should last many years with the proper maintenance and care.
The most likely scenario for any party is that everyone will migrate to the kitchen at some point. Without an ice bucket, any cubes your guests need must be stored in the freezer. Especially if your kitchen is small, this will cause a bottleneck if partygoers have to grab ice cubes themselves—or they’ll have to ask an already busy host for assistance.
Having an ice bucket in a dedicated location where drinks are also available, along with glasses and perhaps crudités or a cheese tray, will keep your kitchen area less congested. This will free up your time as the host and make drink maintenance easier on your guests.
Tongs are the most common accessory for most ice buckets, as they add a touch of elegance and cleanliness to the festivities because guests won’t have to use their hands to retrieve ice. A scoop can be useful if you want to add a large amount of ice to a container in one go. Some ice buckets feature a grill or grate that fits inside the center cylinder of the bucket to separate cubes from the melted water that seeps to the bottom.
A reliable handle is also important for carrying the ice bucket back and forth from the kitchen or other location to refill with fresh cubes. Sturdy handles are especially crucial for ice chests when you want to have ice at outdoor or parties in remote locations. For these larger ice chests, a reliable latch or another effective way to secure the lid will also be necessary.
Our Top Picks
Considering the above criteria, our top picks cover some of the best ice buckets available today in a variety of categories. Read on to discover a selection of the best ice buckets for your home bar to ensure the drinks at your next party stay cold.
This ice bucket from WENEGG is made of quality stainless steel, ensuring it can keep your ice cubes frozen for the duration of an all-night party. With double-wall construction and a secure lid, the highly functional design makes this ice bucket both an excellent insulator and a stylish addition to any bar top or tabletop. The innovative strainer separates the ice cubes from the melted water at the bottom of the bucket, thus maintaining your ice cubes’ pristine appearance during an event.
A polished, stainless steel exterior is naturally BPA-free and makes cleaning effortless; just wipe the bucket with a wet cloth or sponge. Stainless steel also significantly resists denting, scratching, and rust over its lifetime, so this ice bucket is likely to last for years to come. The entire set includes a 3-liter ice bucket, lid, scoop, pair of tongs, strainer plate, and a user guide for your convenience.
One of the best benefits of using an ice bucket is that it stops guests from repeatedly opening your freezer during a party. The Rubbermaid ice bin makes it extra easy to provide a container full of cubes for your casual get-together. If you still use traditional ice cube trays to make cubes, this bin can hold up to four full trays of loose cubes. Otherwise, if your freezer makes its own ice or you simply want to purchase bulk ice from a party store, you can easily pour a moderate amount of ice into this bin.
The compact structure of the bin is designed to take up minimal space in your freezer despite being able to hold a pretty significant amount of ice. It measures 12.25 by 6.125 by 5.5 inches, weighs 8 ounces, and is also BPA-free to ensure your ice is as healthy as possible.
This ice bucket from OXO features a super-insulating, double-wall construction that keeps internal temperatures ice cold and ensures the stainless steel exterior remains free of condensation. A grid of deep channels in the bottom of the bucket separates melted ice from the remaining whole cubes, keeping them intact for longer. The clear lid allows the ice level to be completely visible for refill maintenance, and the easy flip-top function ensures one-handed access and a secure closure after you’ve retrieved the ice.
A soft and comfortable nonslip grip makes the ice bucket easy to transport, and a nonslip base keeps it stable on any surface. This set includes a pair of brushed stainless steel tongs with sharp teeth to easily grab ice. For serving convenience, the tongs attach to the side of the bucket and are safe to toss in the dishwasher. This ice bucket boasts the construction standards and elegance to bring class to your party.
The injection-molded body and lid of this ice chest from Igloo, with Ultratherm insulation and UV inhibitors, keep the contents colder longer than standard coolers or ice chests. There is plenty of food and beverage storage space in this 70-quart chest with exterior dimensions of 31.11 by 20.32 by 18.25 inches and interior dimensions of 26.68 by 14.43 by 12 inches.
A durable, marine-grade rubberized lid locks in the cold, and an integrated detent hinge on the lid keeps the ice chest open even if you’re sailing on the high seas. The manufacturer’s Cool Riser Technology improves performance by elevating the ice chest body off hot surfaces, and anti-skid feet on the base ensure the chest remains stable and secure regardless of where you place it. It also features molded-in side handles for two-handed lifting and loading, while nonslip and comfort-grip, steel-braided cables allow seamless transport in wet conditions, which is especially important because it weighs 25.8 pounds when empty.
This stylish double-wall, stainless steel ice bucket from Oggi features a convenient acrylic flip-top lid that seals the unit for maximum insulation and, at the same time, gives you extra visibility to check on the number of cubes left while avoiding contamination. It also offers a comfortable carry handle for easy transport and a large stainless steel ice scoop with a drip-proof holder to keep surfaces dry.
The ice bucket is easy to clean; just hand-wash with soap and water. The large capacity holds 4 quarts (3.8 liters) making it the optimal choice for wine, cocktails, champagne, beer, and even soft drinks and bottled water for any party.
This double-walled ice bucket from Malmo features a two-tone quality in its design: a brushed stainless steel interior keeps ice well-insulated, and a sleek copper exterior prevents condensation and resists fingerprints. Additionally, the copper finish of this ice bucket makes it unique and elegant enough to be the centerpiece of your party table as well as a handy drink cooler.
The bucket includes a convenient set of stainless steel tongs for handling the cubes. Using the tongs instead of your hands helps avoid contamination, and they can be stored in a storage slot located in the lid.
FAQs About Your New Ice Bucket
Do you still have some lingering questions about your new ice bucket? Chill out, stay cool, and don’t worry: we’ve assembled some of the most common questions and answers regarding ice buckets for you below.
Q: How long does ice last in an ice bucket?
Depending on the ambient temperature, moisture, and whether the lid remains sealed, an ice bucket should keep cubes fresh for several hours.
Q: How do you clean an ice bucket?
Hand-wash an ice bucket with mild soap and water. Dry well and keep the lid secured when not in use to avoid dust coating the inside.
Q: What can you use an ice bucket for besides ice?
An unused ice bucket can double as a wastepaper basket, a compost bucket for kitchens and bars, a flower vase, or a container for holding clean washcloths in the bathroom.