31 Unconventional Uses For An Ice Cube Tray (FAK Friday)

31 Uses For An Ice Cube Tray (other than making ice)
31 Uses For An Ice Cube Tray

Have you ever stopped to appreciate how much modern technology has become a part of our every-day lives? It’s amazing how much we rely on, and take for granted, the electronic world that surrounds us. I’ve had plenty of time to be thankful for the simple things in life since a snowstorm blew in earlier this week left us without power for a couple of days. Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel more like a caveman than being snowed-in and without power. I managed to shovel my way out, and quickly made myself at home in the corner of a coffee shop, hoarding the power outlets with devices and taking advantage of the free-refill policy. I would’ve taken my sleeping bag, if they’d let me. As comfy as my little corner was, by the end of the second day I was more than ready to return to normal living. The whole scenario put a major damper on my ability to get anything done, and with the contents of my fridge scattered across the snow in my yard, I was beginning to think there would be no post this week at all!

To my relief, the power was restored by the time I got in last night. Not so much to my relief, much of my perishables had, well, perished.

Question: what do you do with a half dozen bags of once-frozen fruit? Make a giant smoothie, that’s what! What do you do with almost a gallon of smoothie? Well, besides drinking as much as I could hold, I decided to pour some into ice cube trays and freeze them for future smoothie making. That got me thinking about all of the many things that can be frozen in an ice cube tray besides, well, water. As it turns out, the list is pretty long…

It’s FAK Friday (Feeding my Appetite for Knowledge) and this week I’ve compiled a list of all the possible uses I could think of for an ice-cube tray. Who knew they could be so versatile? If you can think of anything to add to the list, please share in the comments at the bottom of the page!

(P.S. – there will be no FAK Friday next week, as it is my birthday, and I will probably be too busy Feeding my Appetite for Cake.)


31 Uses For An Ice Cube Tray
Besides Making Ice

When I started this list, I came up with about twenty or so uses. Then I did a quick search, and found almost a dozen more! Many of these are things I use my trays for on a regular basis, and are not only convenient, but a great way to save money and stop throwing away perfectly good food. When I use one of my trays for something besides plain water, I freeze the cubes until solid, then pop them out into a labeled freezer-safe bag for storage. Be sure to clean your ice-cube tray with soap and water before going back to making ice!

How To Make Clear Ice

  1. Blended Fruit & Juice for Smoothie Cubes – blend fruit and berries with fresh juice and freeze for future smoothie-making. (You can also freeze fresh fruit/berries whole, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, but this requires a large flat area in your freezer.) In the summer I like to go berry picking and freeze several pounds of perfectly fresh berries to use all year ’round!
  2. Greens – freeze chopped spinach, mashed avocado, or other greens for adding to smoothies.
  3. Baby Food – by making homemade baby food, you not only save yourself money, but can also choose what goes into your baby’s tummy. Make a big batch, and freeze the rest!
  4. Stocks, Sauces, & Soups – freeze homemade stock or sauces, and add to the pot whenever you need a boost of flavor.
  5. Fresh berries, lemon wedge, & mint leaves – to keep your drink cool and refreshing, freeze berries, citrus, and mint with a little water. Or, make cubes of lime and mint to spruce up your mojitos! For crystal clear ice cubes, be sure to boil and cool your water first, or use distilled water.
  6. Tomato Paste – freeze 1-2 TBSP tomato paste per cube, this way you know how many cubes you will need for a recipe. When you need some, just grab a cube and add it directly to your sauce, soup, etc., and let it melt. No more throwing out half-used cans! The same goes for stewed tomatoes and pasta sauces.
  7. Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (or other canned peppers) – this is just like the tomato paste. I like to make sure there’s one pepper and about a TBSP of adobo per cube. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a can for one little recipe and ended up tossing the rest because I didn’t have another immediate use for it. (Note: be sure to clean your ice cube tray thoroughly after this one, or else you might wind up with spicy ice.. or, buy an extra ice cube tray and dedicate it to savory foods.)
  8. Pesto – this is one of my favorites, and is especially great in the summer when you’ve got an over-abundance of basil or other herbs growing. Make a big batch of pesto, and freeze it for later. When you’re ready to use some, you can pop a cube straight into a hot sauce or freshly boiled pasta, or thaw the pesto in the microwave with a little drizzle of olive oil.
  9. Fresh Herbs – if you grow your own herbs, chances are there comes a time when you’re gardens are just overflowing with greens (and if you don’t grow your own, you know just how expensive they are in the store!). Chop fresh herbs and freeze them with a little water, stock, or olive oil – then simply melt the cubes into your recipe!
  10. Egg Whites – got a recipe that calls for yolks? Save the whites for later (perfect for making meringue cookies, or angel food cake – just be sure to bring the whites to room temperature before whipping!) Always make sure your ice-cube trays are perfectly clean when freezing egg whites, especially if you’ve used them for things containing oil or grease. Egg whites will last in the freezer for about three weeks.
  11. Freeze Whole Eggs – okay, this was a new one on me. Apparently you can freeze eggs. According to the interwebs, you can crack your eggs straight into an ice cube tray and freeze them. I don’t know about you, but my eggs are a little big for that. The solution? Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk lightly, and add a pinch of salt (this will supposedly help stabilize the yolks when thawing). Pour into your tray (or other freezer-safe container), and thaw in the fridge when you’re ready to use.
  12. Make Popsicles – fill your tray with juice or pudding, cover with tin foil, and poke a Popsicle stick through the foil into each compartment.
  13. Coffee Ice Cubes – freeze coffee and add to a glass of dairy or non-dairy milk for a quick and easy iced latte!
  14. Juice, Tea, & Punch – freeze cubes of whatever you’re going to be drinking, that way the ice won’t water down the beverage.
  15. Wine – if you’ve got an open bottle of wine, freeze the leftovers into cubes to use in soups and sauces (I haven’t tried this one, but I keep hearing about it so it’s on my list!)
  16. Sink Freshener – freeze chunks of discarded lemon rind with a bit of water, and use the cubes as an easy way to freshen and clean your garbage disposal.
  17. Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, & Orange Juice – for those recipes that just need a tablespoon.
  18. Yogurt & Coconut Milk – frozen into cubes are perfect for adding to smoothies, or using in sauces.
  19. Buttermilk, Heavy Cream, & Whole Milk – this is another one where I buy a carton of buttermilk, or cream, and never seem to find enough ways to use it all up. Freezing the rest for later is an easy solution, and a great way to always have them on hand. When you need some, thaw overnight in the fridge and shake well before using.
  20. Make Jello – in an ice cube tray for easy to eat bites.
  21. Cola – got a favorite soft drink? Freeze your favorite soda into cubes with a wedge of lemon or lime, maraschino cherry, or whatever you like, and use them in your next pop. (Did I just offend everyone by using “Cola”, “Soda” and “Pop” all in the same sentence?)
  22. Cookie Dough – make a batch of cookie dough, bake a few, and freeze the rest. Whenever you’re ready for a cookie, pull at as many chunks of dough as you’d like and bake!
  23. Gravy – this is another one I didn’t know, but I hear you can freeze leftover gravy into cubes that can be easily reheated for later use.
  24. Candy Mold – if you have a flexible or silicone ice cube tray, use it as a mold for chocolate or hard candies.
  25. No-Bake Energy Bites – take a simple no-bake protein bar recipe (like my Banana Nut Protein Bars, for instance) and press the ‘dough’ into ice cube trays and freeze. Pop them out as you need them for easy bite-sized energy!
Of course, there are plenty of uses for ice cube trays outside of the kitchen, too:

  1. Use them as a painter’s pallet to keep colors separate.
  2. To organize bolts and screws when assembling furniture or doing fix-it jobs.
  3. To keep track of pills or medications.
  4. To easily organize a junk drawer or store small, loose items.
  5. Use it to play a game – like Mancala, with dried beans, small stones, or marbles.
  6. Or try this – freeze cubes of water with a few drops of essential oils (such as lavender  eucalyptus, or rosemary) and drop a couple of cubes near the shower drain when you’re taking a hot shower to help relieve a stuffy nose, or just to clear your mind. (Note: be careful not to get these cubes mixed up with your regular ice! Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a labeled zip-top bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.)
Huh…I think I’m going to need some more freezer space. Can you think of anything to add to the list?

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Still hungry? Try these:

24 Responses to 31 Unconventional Uses For An Ice Cube Tray (FAK Friday)

  1. leaf (the indolent cook) March 2, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Cool ideas, and your fruit + herb ice cubes look so pretty! I’ve got a post for passionfruit ones in my blog from ages ago. :)

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      Mm, passionfruit ice cubes sound amazing! Need to find me some passionfruit juice. :)

  2. mail4rosey March 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    My son would love Jello in here, what a great idea!
    I’m visiting today from Harvest of Friends.

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Deb March 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Great post! What an astonishing variety of ideas for the humble ice cube tray!

  4. Carrie Anderson March 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Oh, Willow, I feel your pain on the being snowed in thing. Been there, done THAT, hopefully no more for a LONG time. Love the post though! I would like to add “earring organizer” to the list. And for those that have babies, “baby socks” organizer. I like organizing small things. Found you via the HOF Weekend Blog Hop. Have a BLESSED weekend!


    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

      Thanks, Carrie – those are some great ideas! I have to say I’m pretty disorganized most of the time, but maybe if I had a few extra ice cube trays… ;)

  5. Abby March 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    ok I love this! Especially the smoothie and pesto ideas, and I had no idea egg whites could keep like that. Happy early birthday :)

  6. Ruthy @ omeletta March 4, 2013 at 4:19 am #

    ^ This! What a helpful post. I’ve been freezing my leftover smoothies in regular old plastic tubs, but now I feel like a moron because I never thought to freeze anything in the ICE-CUBE tray. Thanks for the tip!
    And, that photo of fruit & goodness in little melting cubs is awesome. Great shot!

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Haha, don’t feel bad! For some reason I still convince myself to pour things into ziploc baggies and try to lay them flat in my freezer (not gonna happen). What am I thinking!? :P

  7. shannon weber March 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    i learn so much from FAK fridays! i knew maybe half of these, but i’ve never thought of the other ones. Also, that teal ice cube tray makes me unreasonably retro happy. like, gleeful. :)

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks, Shannon! I’m glad you said that, because I’m actually a little sensitive about my teal ice-cube trays… I may have broken the one I had before (and liked better), and this is the replacement. Apparently I am going to feel bad about that for awhile still. :P

  8. Eileen March 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    Great ideas! I also use my ice cube trays to hold homemade wontons or dumplings while they freeze. That way they don’t unfold randomly into random shapes. :) And I second the lemon juice–when I made limoncello a few weeks ago, all the leftover juice went straight into the freezer!

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      That is an AWESOME idea! I never would have thought of it, thank you for sharing!

  9. Courtney @ The Fig Tree Blog March 9, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    I love this post! What a fantastic round-up of ideas. Love it. I adore your FAK Fridays Willow! :) I’m learning so much!

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      Thanks, Courtney!

  10. Hari Chandana March 13, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Very interesting post.. First time here.. Your blog is amazing.. Happy to follow your space :)

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      Thanks – glad to have you as a reader!

  11. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes March 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    I keep hearing about the wine one too…my problem with that is never having any wine leftover- leftover wine what’s that!

    The best purchase i made was a double sized silicon ice cub tray from crate and barrel – I only use it for my savories, Chipotles, Pesto & Tomato Paste, I just saw the herbs in olive oil and need to remember this one more often!

    • Willow March 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      Ooh, I’ve been eyeing those silicon trays for awhile now… will have to look for a big one, because there are definitely times when I wish I could make bigger cubes (let’s face it, it’s pretty rare that I only need one TBSP of something, haha)


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