The Tests

  • Measure true capacity of each product

  • Make lemonade ice pops in each product

  • Make blueberry ice pops in each product

  • Make coconut ice pops in each product

  • Make layered strawberry and yogurt ice pops in each product

  • Have testers of different genders, hand sizes, and dominant hands sample ice pops made in each product

  • Wash each product by hand or in the dishwasher 10 times, according to manufacturer instructions

Ice pops are an easy summer treat—just fill a mold with juice, yogurt, or pureed fruit and stick it in the freezer overnight. There are two basic types of molds. The simpler type is a rectangular frame with the pop molds fixed in place; this type includes a separate lid and usually requires disposable wooden sticks. Another style has individual molds that detach separately from the base or frame; these commonly come with reusable plastic sticks. To find the best ice pop mold, we bought seven models priced from $11.96 to $34.88, including both fixed- and removable-mold models. We put them to the test, making lemonade, blueberry, coconut, and layered strawberry-yogurt frozen pops.

All the models made acceptable ice pops, but we preferred those with detachable molds. We liked being able to remove one or two pops as needed by simply running the desired number under hot water—with the fixed-mold models, you’re forced to put the whole frame under the water, making it hard to control the number you release. The detachable-mold models were also easier to pour liquids into, as they had wider openings, and they often had maximum-fill lines etched around the tops of the molds, which decreased the chances of the pops expanding out of the molds once frozen. Wider-mouthed molds were easier to clean, too. By contrast, the fixed-mold models had no fill lines and tended to be a bit narrower, requiring us to aim and clean more carefully.

Our lineup of products included both detachable-mold and fixed-mold models. We found the latter to be perfectly acceptable but preferred models with detachable molds, which gave us more control over the number of pops we released at a time.

The classic disposable wooden sticks included with the fixed-mold and one of the detachable-mold models were perfectly functional. But they’re small, and because most models did nothing to secure them within the molds, the sticks tended to float and set crooked in less dense liquids such as lemonade, making it harder both to remove the mold lid and to eat the finished pops.

We preferred the reusable plastic sticks that came with most of the detachable molds. Each stick is centered on a piece of plastic that attaches to the top of the mold, serving as a lid and ensuring that the sticks always freeze straight in the pop. The lid itself doubles as a drip guard once the pop is removed. While we were ambivalent about the drip guards, which contained messes but got in the way when we tried to eat the last bites of the pops, we liked the handles, which were generally longer and easier to grip than wooden sticks. There was one small problem with the reusable sticks: They make it difficult to make layered pops. Because the sticks are attached to the lids, once they’ve frozen into the first layer of your pop, you can’t remove the lids again to add the next layer.

Our winning ice pop mold, the Zoku Classic Pop Molds ($15.45), was the most user-friendly of the bunch. Its detachable molds had clearly marked fill lines and wide mouths that made them easy to pour liquids into and clean. Testers liked its reusable plastic sticks best, too: They came with very slim, unobtrusive drip guards and had long, slightly textured handles that were easy to grip. Our only gripe? Those fixed drip guards mean that this model can’t make layered pops. If you’re planning to make layered pops, we recommend the Onyx Ice Pop Mold ($34.88); it was a bit finicky to fill and store but did layers well.

This nostalgic testing brought out the kids in us. Here, books team test cook Afton Cyrus (left) and tastings and testings associate editor Miye Bromberg share a laugh over an ice pop.

Zoku also makes the Zoku Quick Pop Maker, which we’ve recommended with some reservations in the past because it’s not that quick—you still need to freeze the console 24 hours ahead. When we compared the Zoku models, we preferred the Classic over the Quick Pop; it’s easier to use, and its sticks were easier to eat from.

Winning Traits

  • Easy to fill, transport, and store

  • Easy to remove pops and clean

  • Long, grippy, reusable sticks