Here's why it deserves a place in your kitchen drawer.

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piazza ice cream scoop with color
Credit: Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Here's the scoop: Even if you never serve ice cream at home, an ice cream scoop is a must-have kitchen tool. The ice cream craze in this country began sometime between 1876 and 1900. During this time, there were more than 20 different patented ice cream scooper designs because everyone wanted and needed a tool to scoop the frozen goodness. Some versions are now equipped with a lever, which makes it easy to release ice cream, cookie dough, or cupcake batter. Others, such as the Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop ($19.95, williams-sonoma.com), release the perfect scoop easily by warming up from the natural warmth of the hand holding the metal scoop. Ahead, we're sharing a little bit more about the history of the ice cream scoop, how to use it, and our must-have pick.

What Is an Ice Cream Scoop?

The basics of an ice cream scoop are pretty simple: You want a sharp edge for cutting through the ice cream, a nice round head for scooping it out (so the ice cream slides easily out), a comfortable handle, and easy cleaning. They're often made of aluminum and ice cream scoops (sometimes called dishers) come in a wide range of sizes, with capacities ranging from as generous as one full cup to as dainty as two teaspoons.

How Is an Ice Cream Scoop Used?

There's a clue in its name, but the ice cream scoop does have uses well beyond ice cream or gelato. With a few different sizes of scoops in your arsenal, you can scoop, scrape, and portion cupcake or muffin batter, cookie dough, or even meatballs neatly and quickly.

Why We Love Ice Cream Scoops

In short, an ice cream scoop is essential because it can take on so many tasks in the kitchen. When you try to fill muffin tins using a regular spoon, it's inevitable that you'll get blobs of batter in between the cups and slightly different amounts of batter in each one. Using an ice cream scoop helps you leap both of these hurdles at once. The same goes for cookie dough: When it comes time to whip up a batch of chocolate chip (or oatmeal, or peanut butter) cookies, all you need is a small ice cream scoop to portion out perfectly shaped, evenly sized treats.

The tool has savory uses, too—next time you make meatballs, use your ice cream scoop to skip the gooey, sticky mess while also portioning out picture-perfect rounds. (If you find that your meat mixture is still sticking to your scoop a little bit, give the scoop a quick spritz of nonstick cooking spray after every few meatballs.) The sharp edge of an ice cream scoop is perfect for scraping all the seeds and strings from winter squash such as butternut, acorn, delicata, and Halloween pumpkins.

Our Editors' Favorite Ice Cream Scoop

Our favorite all-purpose model, with its lever-action design that releases the contents of the bowl with a single squeeze, was designed in 1897 by Alfred L. Cralle, a businessman and inventor. Today, there are dozens of cleverly designed scoops intended to transfer frozen treats from carton to cone, but when it comes to the tried-and-true all-purpose kitchen utensil, Alfred L. Cralle's lever-action scoop is still the best. The Piazza Ice Cream Scoop ($29.95 for medium size, williams-sonoma.com) is our go-to pick.

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