12 Best Ice Cube Tray Substitutes (Best Alternatives)

Sometimes you don't have an ice cube tray handy or you don't have enough of them to make as much ice as you want.

If you're finding yourself stuck and you need to make ice cubes without a tray there are a variety of good ice cube tray substitutes that you can use to make ice cubes ready to go.

Some of these methods make small ice cubes like you'd get out of a tray and some make larger ones which are great for keeping drinks cold in coolers or can be broken up into small pieces to serve in drinks.

1. Glad Ice Cube Tray Bags

Disposable Ice Cube Bag 42 Pack (1176 Ice Cubes, 42 Bags)

Probably one of the easiest, cheapest, and most versatile substitutes for an ice cube tray you can look at are ice cube bags.

These bags can be divided into individual blocks or kept as a pack (whole). This means you can use it for ice blocks or, in other cases, as an ice pack to support injuries.

What is great about these bags is that you can stuff them into corners of your freezer so they won't take up space, and most of them come with a self-sealing valve. They are a great way to make a lot of ice really quickly without having to invest in expensive stackable ice cube trays.

I personally recommend this disposable ice cube bag at Amazon. You get 100 packets for under $10 and it can make 2,400 ice cubes. You also don't have to dispose of them but can use them for ice packs as mentioned.

See the latest price of Disposable Ice Cube Bags at Amazon

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2. Chocolate Gift Box Trays

Have you ever wondered what to do with those decadent chocolate box trays besides throwing them away or trying to recycle them? You have your solution if you have ever wanted to make fancy ice cubes. 

Simply fill the chocolate trays with water and freeze them. One thing to keep in mind is that the trays should be plastic. You are going to have a problem if you attempt to do this with cardboard or paper. 

You could attempt to line the trays with plastic or aluminum (tin) foil. However, due to the size, this could be problematic and I wouldn't recommend it.

3. Egg Cartons Lined With Plastic or Aluminum Foil

Another DIY method of creating ice cubes is to use egg cartons. This method actually proves to ber way more difficult than it looks but it is a good way to make ice if you don't have an ice tray.

Line the bottom of the egg carton with aluminum foil or plastic, effectively making it waterproof. I found plastic worked much better as aluminum foil tended to rip or leak.

Pour in the water and let it freeze. Voila! Egg-shaped ice blocks….kind of

4. Empty Yogurt Tubs

If you enjoy yogurt or pudding, you're lucky because those tubs can be used as ice cube containers. The smaller containers tend to work better here than the large ones because they'll make smaller ice cubes that can fit into cups.

Simply clean the tubs, fill them with water, and freeze them.

The large containers can be used but for drinks you would need to break up the ice. You can do this with a hammer (cover the ice in a tea towel first) or you can use a knife or blender. There are lots of ways to make small soft ice cubes from one large block.

5. Ziplock or Freezer Bags

Ziplock and freezer bags can be filled up with water and frozen to make large ice cube blocks.

You can stick them in cooler bags or lunchboxes and use them to ice down injuries and as ice cubes. The tricky part is turning them into ice cubes. 

You generally have to rip the bag to get the ice out (unless you leave it to melt for a bit). It just tends to form into weird shapes due to the water spreading out and this makes it near impossible to get the ice out without ruining the bag.

This is why they are great as ice packs. As the water melts they won't leak. You can even make a homemade gel pack so it's not a frozen solid brick.

6. Paper or Plastic Cups or Shot Glasses

Don't go tossing your paper coffee and plastic party cups away. These are great for making ice cubes. Plus, they don't require you to use any foil or additional plastic.

The plastic cups should be reusable because you can push the ice out from the bottom. Fill them with water after rinsing them and freeze them.

Shot glasses are another fun way to make ice. Plastic shot glasses are great for this as they won't break. You can use glass shot glasses but there is a small chance they will break so don't fill them up all the way.

7. Ice Machine

You can always get an ice machine as an alternative to ice cube trays. Most refrigerators nowadays come with them built-in or you can buy a variety of different countertop ice cube makers that can make ice much faster than your freezer would.

Did you know the Opal Nugget Ice Maker can make 1 pound of ice per hour or 24 pounds a day?!

See the latest price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Amazon
(or compare to the price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Walmart)

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8. Baking Pans

Anther great ice cube tray substitute is baking pans (trays) or even molds. These trays can be either stainless steel, aluminum (disposable ones), or silicone molds. Whatever you have on hand will work great. 

Silicone bakeware can smell funny and this can in turn make your ice taste bad. But if you wash and clean the baking tray well it should be fine.

Depending on what you have available, the shapes and sizes will vary.

9. Gelatin and Candy Molds

If you enjoyed my idea of the chocolate gift box trays, then the silicone and gelatin molds in various shapes and sizes for making candy should also excite you.

What's great about using silicone molds for baking or candy is that they come in fancy, cute, and unique shapes making your ice cubes anything but dull. 

10. Measuring Spoons

Another baking utensil or tool you can use to make ice cubes is measuring spoons.

These come in different designs so you need to have measuring spoons that sit upright and won't fall over. The ones that are bound together with a ring could be problematic. 

You will also need a lot of baking spoons if you want to make a decent amount of ice. Still for small quantities this could work. 

11. Reusable Ice Cubes

Reusable ice cubes are trendy and come in a variety of designs, colors, and materials. It may seem strange, but these cubes work well.

Freeze them and place them into and drink you like. When they unfreeze, wash them off and put them in the freezer again for reuse. 

You can also get some really cool designs like these bullet ice cubes from Amazon. These will really spice up your drink and make them more interesting. They also won't dilute your drink so they are great for whiskey and iced coffee.

See the latest price of Stainless Steel Bullet Ice Cubes at Amazon

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12. Use A Cooler To Make Clear Ice Cubes

If you fancy making clear ice and impressing your guests at your dinner party, there is an easy DIY method that only requires a cooler box and a chest freezer.  

Ice is typically white in color because the freezing of the water takes place from all directions pushing the air into the center. By pouring cold water into a cooler and placing it into a chest freezer, the water is forced to freeze from the top down (omni-directionally). 

You will only need to fill your cooler with cold water and place it in the freezer with the lid off for between 18 and 24 hours. The sheer amount of liquid will take this long to freeze. 

After that, remove the block of ice and cut blocks of clear ice cubes using a serrated knife.


I hope that I showed you in this article that there are easy ways to make ice cubes even if you don't have ab ice cube tray. These ice cube tray substitutes are a great way to make ice when you need it.