These scoops are one of the most used tools in my kitchen, for baking and cooking. I use them to measure out cookie dough and royal icing, but we also use them to portion things like rice and mashed potatoes, for scooping out uniform sized meatballs, scooping ice cream, and for filling muffin and cupcake tins.
In the kitchen industry they’re typically called dishers, servers, or portion scoops. If you’ve never worked in a restaurant, you probably call them a cupcake, cookie, or ice cream scoop. But all of those names refer to the same thing, a spring-loaded scoop that is used for scooping and measuring out portions of food.
For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to be talking about how to use these for “drop cookies,” which are the kind of cookies you make by “dropping” a spoonful of batter onto a cookie sheet. Common drop cookies are chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies…etc. Using these scoops to measure out your cookie dough is going to be faster and easier than spoons, and you’ll also get uniform sized cookies.
Disher scoops come in various sizes, and are usually color coded (though some brands use slightly different colors). The # of the scoop refers to how many scoops are in a quart of food. So a #30 scoop will give you 30 scoops out of a quart of ice cream, and a #12 scoop will give you 12 scoops. The larger the # scoop, the smaller the portion, and vice versa.
Sizes I use in my kitchen:
- Size 12 disher
- Size 16 disher
- Size 20 disher
- Size 24 disher
- Size 30 disher
- Size 40 disher
- Size 12, 24 & 30 set
- Size 16, 20 & 40 set
- All sizes set
So what’s the best size scoop to use? It’s going to depend on the size of cookie you want, how much that particular dough spreads when baked, oven temperature, altitude, ambient temperature, dough temperature, humidity…you get the idea.
These are the sizes of cookies I got from my chocolate chip cookie dough recipe using various sizes of scoops.
I used a #30 scoop for my chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, apricot molasses, sugar, peanut butter, and snickerdoodle cookies, and they all baked pretty uniformly and produced 2.5″ cookies. I used a #40 scoop for my red velvet cookies, because they puff up and expand quite a bit. And I also used a #40 scoop for my chocolate brownie cookies, because that batter is quite thin, and the cookies spread.
How to use a cookie scoop:
Much like when you are measuring out flour or baking soda, you want to make sure to level off the cookie dough you are scooping out. Scoop out your dough, and then remove any excess dough, so that the top is flat and level with the rim of the scoop.
If your recipe calls for you to roll out the dough into balls, measure out with your scoop, level off the top, remove dough from scoop, and then roll the dough into a ball.
Most drop cookies freeze well, so you can scoop out all your dough, place the scoops on a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet, pop them in the freezer until they are frozen, and then transfer them into an airtight container in the freezer until you are ready to bake.