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Ladle vs. Spoon: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 3, 2023
A ladle is a large, deep spoon with a long handle used for serving liquids, while a spoon is a smaller utensil used for eating or stirring.

Key Differences

A ladle is typically larger than a spoon and is designed to serve soups and stews. It has a deep bowl-like cup and a long handle to reach into deep pots. A spoon, on the other hand, is a utensil of various sizes that can be used for eating, stirring, and serving smaller portions of food.
Ladles often have a hook or curve on the handle for hanging or resting on a pot without slipping in. Spoons are made to fit comfortably in a diner's hand and balance on the edge of a bowl or plate. The design differences reflect their distinct uses.
The capacity of a ladle's bowl is much larger, capable of holding approximately half a cup to a cup of liquid. A spoon typically holds only a few teaspoons and is more suited to individual servings or small tasks like mixing sugar into coffee.
Materials for ladles and spoons can overlap, including metal, wood, or plastic, but ladles often have handles made from materials that can withstand high heat without transferring it, as they are used in cooking. Spoons, especially those for dining, may have handles with decorative designs and are not necessarily made to resist high temperatures.
A ladle is an essential tool for serving while a spoon is a versatile utensil used in both preparation and consumption of food. The form and function of each reflect their specific roles in cooking and dining.

Comparison Chart


Serving liquids
Eating or stirring

Bowl Size

Large and deep
Smaller and shallower

Handle Length

Short to medium

Typical Capacity

Half a cup to a cup
Few teaspoons

Common Use

In pots and large bowls
In individual servings and cups

Ladle and Spoon Definitions


Serving Tool.
She used the ladle to serve the hot soup.


Measuring Device.
He measured a teaspoon of sugar.


Large-Bowl Utensil.
A ladle is perfect for transferring stew from the pot.


Stirring Implement.
She stirred her tea with a silver spoon.


Long-Handled Dipper.
A ladle was hung next to the pot for easy access.


Eating Utensil.
He ate his cereal with a small spoon.


Soup Server.
At the dinner, a silver ladle was used for the punch.


Serving Accessory.
A serving spoon is often used for sides at dinner.


Liquid Scoop.
I need a ladle to portion out the gravy.


Culinary Tool.
A wooden spoon is essential for cooking.


A long-handled spoon with a deep bowl for serving liquids.


A utensil consisting of a small, shallow bowl on a handle, used in preparing, serving, or eating food.


To lift out or serve with a long-handled spoon.


A shiny, curved, metallic fishing lure.


What is a ladle used for?

A ladle is used for serving soups, stews, and other liquids.

Is a spoon suitable for serving soup?

A spoon can serve soup, but a ladle is more efficient for larger quantities.

Can you eat with a ladle?

While possible, ladles are impractical for eating due to their size.

What is the typical material for a spoon?

Spoons are commonly made from metal, plastic, or wood.

What is the main feature of a ladle's handle?

A ladle's handle is long to reach into deep pots and often heat-resistant.

Do ladles come in different sizes?

Yes, ladles come in various sizes for different serving needs.

Can a ladle be used for cooking?

Yes, a ladle can be used for cooking, particularly for ladling stock or sauces.

Is a ladle considered a type of spoon?

Yes, a ladle is a type of spoon specialized for serving.

Are there specialized spoons for desserts?

Yes, there are dessert spoons with a shape ideal for sweets.

Are there spoons designed for infants?

Yes, there are specially designed spoons for infants with small, soft bowls.

Can spoons be decorative?

Yes, spoons can be decorative, especially those used for dining.

What makes a spoon ergonomic?

A spoon is ergonomic if it is designed for comfortable and efficient use.

Do all spoons have round bowls?

No, spoons can have various bowl shapes depending on their specific use.

Are wooden spoons good for cooking?

Yes, wooden spoons are ideal for cooking as they don't conduct heat.

Why might a ladle have a hook on its handle?

A hook prevents the ladle from slipping into a pot and for hanging storage.

Can spoons be used for measuring ingredients?

Yes, measuring spoons are precisely sized for culinary measurements.

Can ladles have a spout?

Some ladles have a spout to aid in pouring.

What's the best way to store ladles?

Hanging them or storing them in a utensil holder is efficient.

How do you clean a ladle?

A ladle can be cleaned by hand or in a dishwasher, depending on the material.

Is a slotted spoon the same as a ladle?

No, a slotted spoon has openings to drain liquid, unlike a typical ladle.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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