Whether you want retro-styled popsicles, striped rockets for kids, a DIY Calippo or an instant ice pop maker to satisfy a cold craving, we have tried and tested the best ice lolly moulds and makers to bring you our must-have list for this summer.
We still hanker for the Zooms and Fabs of our youth, but we also know that making ice lollies at home allows us to know exactly what is going into our kids’ summer-time treats, save money and get creative with flavours and designs. And there is certainly no shortage of inspiration on the creativity front: a quick glance at Pinterest confirms the recent explosion of ice lolly recipes across the internet – everything from avocado to an array of after-bedtime cocktails has been given the ice lolly overhaul.
Of course, armed with nothing but an old weaning tray and some wooden sticks you are perfectly equipped to make ice pops, but investing in a proper mould definitely makes life easier (and more fun) if you plan on making them regularly in the summer.
There is a bewildering selection available, so we’ve done the road testing (we won’t pretend it was a great hardship) and whittled down the options to bring you our pick of the best moulds and makers.
Mr Fox favourite: Zoku Round Pop Maker
What We Love: Zoku’s range of silicone ‘slow pop’ makers is in a league of its own as far as we’re concerned. Unlike plastic, silicone doesn’t become brittle at low temperatures and it simply peels away from the lolly, meaning you can wave goodbye to the days of melting half your finished lolly under the hot tap (or desperately smashing it against the work surface to release it).
They are easy to fill without spills and simple to clean as the mould inverts and the silicone means there is little, if anything, left behind in the first place. And if the word silicone fills you with dread, fear not: these moulds impart none of that awful silicone smell to the ice lollies in the same way that bakeware does to your muffins.
The ’round pop’ is our favourite size from the range. The 100ml servings are perfect for the whole family and are small enough that they won’t melt and collapse before you are halfway through. The spherical shape minimises dripping and comes out perfectly each time using a variety of ingredients. For toddlers (or kids parties) they also make a 9 hole mini-pop maker. BPA and phthlatate free.
The Downsides: The fixed base means you do need to clear a section of the fridge (roughly 20cm x 12cm). Maximum 4 ice lollies at a time. Spherical shape means they are no good for layered or other artistic creations, or for people who like to bite their ice lollies.
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Best for…Traditionalists (and Food Stylists): Norpro Ice Pop Maker
What We Love: If you dream of making the wooden-sticked, groove-sided retro ice pops that currently adorn a million Pinterest boards, then this is the mould for you. The go-to choice of legions of food bloggers, these are what we use when we have the time and inclination to create beautiful layered creations or when we have a party and need to make several at a time.
Being plastic, it does mean that a good dunk under hot water is required to release the lollies, but the visual results are worth the effort. 90ml capacity makes these a good choice for kids too and the 10 piece mould is hard to find outside professional catering stores. The plastic is heavy-duty and they last much longer than other plastic moulds we have tried. The plastic lid seals well, provided you don’t overfill the moulds, keeping the sticks in place. BPA free.
The Downsides: These are at the more expensive end for plastic ice lolly moulds and only worth the investment if you will get good use from them. The one piece design makes it tricky to release single lollies. Non-reusable sticks (but comes with initial set of 24).
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Best for…Novelty Value: Zoku Fish Moulds and Tovolo Rockets
What We Love: Yes, it is Zoku’s silicone range again but we absolutely couldn’t leave out these hilarious ocean-themed lollies that are firm favourites with our kids. The silicone allows the mixture to get right into the moulds meaning that while they don’t look quite like the marketing pictures, the level of detail on the finished lolly is really quite intricate, especially with fruit/juice-based mixtures, and the fin/flipper/tentacle detailing on the sticks and skeleton inside is brilliantly fun.
Like the round pop maker above they are simple to release, easy to clean and single lollies can be removed as needed. BPA and phthlatate free.
The Downsides: At the more expensive end of the mould market but designed to be used over and over. Novelty of the ocean theme may wear off quickly with older kids.
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What We Love: While there are countless plastic moulds on the market we love the shape of the Tovolo rockets (especially when layered) and, as far as plastic moulds go, these are easier to remove without dissolving the entire shape in boiling water than many others we’ve tried. They come with a rack (which requires some freezer space) but you can remove individual moulds and wedge them between items in the freezer if space is tight.
The 85ml portion size is perfect for kids and the tapered shape means they are less susceptible to breaking apart than many other regular shaped lollies. The drip guards are pretty effective too, or at least as far as they ever are with children on a hot day. BPA free.
The Downsides: Only the usual plastic mould complaints: some hot water and a decent pull is required to release them. The sticks can be a little fiddly to secure into the base.
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Best for…Push-Up Ice Pops: iNeibo Silicone Popsicle Mold
What We Love: First up, full disclosure: we are yet to find a push-up style mould that we 100% love. The issue? That old silicone smell that taints the ice pop, and is seemingly exacerbated by eating the pop directly from the casing. In terms of picking a favourite though this is the clear winner. The odour is extremely faint (even when new) and disappears completely after a couple of uses. So, if you want to create your own Calippo-style ice pop, these are your pick.
Great for kids, generating a lot less mess than standard ice lollies, they are good value for money and can be stashed individually around the freezer saving on space. They are easy to eat too – just wait a few minutes for them to begin to defrost and press up. BPA free.
The Downsides: At 20cm tall these have a pretty big capacity, especially for younger kids. Kinderville makes a Little Bites version, which are around half the size but unfortunately three times the price.
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Best for…Instant Gratification: Zoku Quick Pop Maker
What We Love: What to buy the kitchen gadget-freak who has everything? The Zoku quick pop maker. No need to plan ahead with this – just remove from the freezer, pour in the mixture and your lollies will be ready in under 9 minutes. Perfect for impatient children (and adults who find planning ahead overrated). The instant-freezing action means that even layered lollies can be made in minutes and there are now a whole raft of add-ons and tool kits to help you create artistic designs, add character faces, fruit pieces and more.
The standard model makes 3 lollies at a time but smaller double and solo models are available if freezer space is at a premium. In theory, the maker can be used three times before being re-frozen, meaning nine ice lollies in one outing from the standard model.
The Downsides: While it claims to make three sets in one go, much depends on how elaborate your designs are. Three sets of simple juices are fine but once you start adding layers (and therefore setting time) to the equation, you are realistically looking at 2 rounds before you need to refreeze, making this better for small families or a play date snack rather than a grand gathering. The instant freeze action means you need a very steady hand to pour the mixture in as any splashes will immediately freeze to the sides, potentially leaving an unwanted stripe down your carefully crafted concoction.
Buy Now (£37.99)Kate Douglas-Hamilton is Mr Fox co-founder. She has one son, aged 3. She writes a food blog at The Buckwheat Adventure or you can find her on Twitter @katedh.