Tell me you've never done this before…you go to fill up your ice cube tray only to have water splash and spill everywhere. Or you've successfully filled the tray only to spill water on the water to the freezer or while putting the tray in the freezer?!
Having fresh ice is great, but sometimes filling trays can be annoying. However, there are some super simply techniques that allow you to fill up your ice cube trays without ever spilling a drop. I've been doing these for years and I'm shocked more people don't know about it.
The best ways to fill an ice cube tray without spilling is to tilt the tray about 30º and pour water into the slot and allow it to overflow and spill down – giving you evenly filled ice cubes with no mess. Alternatively, keep your tray flat and pour onto the flat surface in between each 4 ice cube compartments, not into the compartments themselves.
Of if you want to absolutely guarantee no mess then just invest into a easy-fill no-spill ice cube tray with a lid that makes spills basically impossible.
I'm going to show you my best hacks for easily filling ice cubes without spilling a drop plus I'll let you know some of the biggest mistakes people make when making ice cubes so you can avoid them.
1. Fill Your Tray Over The Sink Using The Waterfall Effect
This is my #1 ice cube tray filling hack and I've been using it for years with amazing success.
Tilt your ice cube tray approximately 30º and place the top ice cube slots under the sink and turn it on (slowly).
Think about a nice water fountain in someone's backyard, you have a nice, smooth stream of water that slowly cascades down from the top to the bottom. This is what we are trying to replicate when filling our ice trays.
By tilting the tray to a 30° incline, you can watch the water fill up the top cube slots first before spilling over and filling out each one of the cube slots beneath.
Eventually, each slot will be filled the same amount, and you’ll stop the pour. Then bring the tray level once each cube slot is full.
If done correctly, the ice tray should be filled evenly, with each cube slot nearly full to the brim with water (but no overfilled which we will talk about).
This technique ensures that one cube slot is never overfilled and that all slots are filled equally and doing it over the sink means you don't have to worry about any spills or mess.
However, you can do this using a water bottle over your bench and it won't spill. You just have to go a bit slower and be careful to not overfill as water will then spill out the bottom. You can see someone demonstrating it in the video below:
2. Pour Water Onto The Flat Surface Between Ice Cube Slots
Rather than trying to fill up each ice cube tray slot individually a better method (which leads to less spills) is to actually pour the water on the flat part of the ice cube tray in between the 4 compartments.
You need an ice cube tray like this cheap common and great Rubbermaid ice cube tray that has the indentations in the corner but if you do this works amazingly to fill 4 slots at a time without any spills.
Water will hit the flat part and be pushed into each slot filling them up almost equally.
At the end you may need to add a tiny bit of water to on slot as sometimes one will fill move than other but overall this works extremely well.
3. Get A No-Spill Easy-Fill Ice Cube Tray
Rather than battling with your old ice cube tray you can get ice cube trays they are designed to be super easy to fill and are protected from spills.
This way you don't have to learn any clever filling techniques or hacks and the ice cube tray protects you from spills in the first place. Some of the best stackable ice cube trays with lids are also easy to fill and because of their lids they are a lot less likely to spill.
They might feature a no-spill lid with an easy fill spout or in the case of the Icebreaker Pop ice cube trays you just have to fill them up like a water bottle and throw them in the freezer anyway you want and it'll never spill.
This unique ice cube tray design makes for easy filling and allows you to serve ice without ever touching it. Easily cleaned in the dishwasher and completely stackable in the freezer these are a convenient space saving option.
4. Fill From Closer To The Tray
When you have a waterfall, the higher the waterfall, the bigger the splash at the bottom. The same is true for ice trays. This is because gravity speeds up the water and this energy needs to go somewhere.
By bringing the water source closer to the tray itself, you remove the chance of splashes going out of the tray because the water isn't traveling as fast.
If pouring from a sink, take the faucet and place it 1 to 3 inches away from the cube slot itself without touching the tray with the faucet head. It is important to pay attention to the pressure of the faucet as this will affect the splashes as well (See next tip)
If pouring from a bottle of water or pitcher, try to get the mouth of the container as close as possible to the tray without touching it.
Using this technique, you can make sure that there is no spillage from distance with your ice tray.
5. Fill Up The Tray Slowly
Just because the ice tray is close does not mean that water pressure will not cause spillage.
A faucet turned on high or a water bottle squeezed will shoot water into the tray at a high speed, causing it to bounce out of the tray and into the sink, counter, or all over you.
To prevent this, when using a sink, always turn it on to no more than half on – ideally even less. This will limit the speed and force at which the water comes out of the faucet, allowing for even distribution.
Some sinks are more powerful, so pay attention to your water pressure before placing the tray beneath.
When pouring from a water bottle or pitcher, do not squeeze the sides or exert pressure on the container to force water out faster. This will increase the speed at which the water comes out of the container, causing spillage and loss of water.
Instead, tip the water bottle slowly to allow a slow steady stream to come out and fill your ice cube tray gently and with care.
Using this technique, you can help prevent spillage from excess water pressure on your ice tray.
6. Get An Ice Cube Tray With A Lid/Cover
Sometimes it's not filling the ice cube tray that is the problem but rather the transporting it to the freezer and putting it on the shelf. Many a times I have spilled water inside the freezer and had it freeze to the bottom of the freezer if I don't clean it off.
To stop this invest in an ice cube tray with a non-spill lid.
Something like the OXO Good Grips No-Spill Ice Cube Tray has a silicone lid that slides over the tray and holds the water in place when transporting and whilst in the freezer.
The OXO Good Grips can actually be placed on a 45º angle and still water won't pour out of it. It's also the best easy release ice cube tray on the market.
Additional benefits of an ice tray with a no-spill cover includes being able to stack trays, keeping the ice sanitary during storage, and preventing the ice from tasting bad while stored in the freezer.
This easy release ice cube tray makes 14 ice cubes and features a silicone spill-proof lid that allows you to place your tray at up to a 45º angel without any water spilling out in your freezer.
This is one of my favorite ice cubes trays and it's extremely easy to use. It's worth the slightly extra cost compared to cheaper alternatives.
7. Fill Up Tray While It's In The Freezer
Rather than filling up your tray on the bench or in the sink and having to do the wobbly carry to the freezer why not just fill up your ice cube tray in the freezer.
To do this place the ice cube tray exactly where you want it in the freezer.
Slide it forwards slightly towards you so you can fill the back slows using a water both or pitcher/jug and then slide it into place and fill the compartments closed to the front.
If you're careful it shouldn't spill at all and all you need to do is close the freezer door.
8. Find A Safe Spot In The Freezer
While the walk to the freezer can be one of the toughest parts to prevent losing water, the spill most often occurs when trying to place the cube tray into the freezer.
If your freezer is full of frozen food and dessert, it can be tough finding a spot to stick your ice tray that is flat enough to prevent spillage.
Instead, you should make a small space in the freezer, protected from a bag of frozen fruit or meat falling on it that is also flat enough to prevent a spill. Additionally, it should be easy to access, near the front of the freezer, so placing trays in and taking them out doesn’t run the risk of spillage.
If the tray will sit flat against the bottom of the freezer, doesn’t run the risk of another item falling on it or knocking it over. Also make sure it's easy to access every time you open the door, then it is in the perfect spot.
By making an easy-to-access spot for your ice tray, you prevent spillage when filling your tray.
While there are other ice cube tray hacks, such as using metal ice cube trays to prevent spillage or buying uniquely shaped trays, these are my 5 best ways to fill your Ice Cube Tray without spilling.
9. Don't Overfill Your Ice Cube Tray
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when filling up their ice cube trays is they over fill them right to the brim.
Ice expands as it freezes and trying to fill your ice cube tray to the very top will not only lead to spills but will also lead to your ice cubes being too big and merging together (as seen above).
To avoid spills and to get better sized ice cubes consider only filling your ice cube tray compartments about 3/4 full.
10. Avoid Silicone Ice Cube Trays
Silicone ice cube trays can be great as they do not impart chemicals into your ice cubes (like plastic trays might) and they come in all fun shapes and sizes.
However, they can be notoriously difficult to fill and also difficult to get the ice cubes out.
Most silicon ice cube trays don't have the overflow feature that plastic trays have in this makes them harder to fill up without spilling. Silicone ice cube trays can also make your ice taste bad or they can get a white residue from hard water.
Silicone ice cube trays aren't bad and they are a more eco-friendly ice cube tray when compared to plastic, but for avoiding spills they are probably the worst type of tray you can buy.
11. Invest In Some Metal Ice Cube Trays
Metal ice cube trays are unique in the fact that you don't fill up individual slots.
With metal ice cube trays there is one large compartment that you fill with water and then the divider goes in and will separate the ice cubes once they are frozen (using a lever to break the cubes).
One of the major advantages of this is that there is no back-splash when filling up metal ice cube trays and they are much better at avoiding spills. Just make sure you don't overfill them as then the ice cubes can be hard to break apart.
You can check out my list of the best metal ice cube trays but I recommend the trays by Vintage Kitchen as they are identical to other brands but you get 2 trays for the price of what one metal tray would cost you with other brands.
These vintage style metal ice cube trays feature a lever-style handle that cracks the ice in a single action. Made from 18/8 kitchen grade stainless steel this brand of durable ice cube trays are around half the price of other metal ice cube trays.