Published March 1, 2007.
Is one ladle pretty much the same as the next? No.
You might think one ladle is pretty much the same as the next. But after we had dunked eight stainless steel models (plastic stains and can melt on the stovetop) into pots of chicken noodle soup and hearty beef stew, scattered puddles on the test kitchen countertop made it clear that not all ladles are ergonomically equal.
Ladles with handles shorter than 9 inches simply sank in deeper pots; what's more, their small bowls were better suited to sauces than soups. However, more than 10 inches of grip proved cumbersome to maneuver, as did their lack of offset handles. Without some slight bend in the handle, cleanly transferring the ladle's contents into a bowl is nearly impossible.
A handle that bends too dramatically, however, makes it difficult to dip the ladle into a tall, narrow stockpot. All of these concerns left one model that worked very well. It had a hook handle and a drip-prevention pouring rim, which kept even wiggly noodles intact all the way to the bowl.