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What is a Dessert Spoon?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A dessert spoon is a spoon which is designed specifically for eating dessert. In a traditional table setting, the dessert spoon appears above the plate, separated from the rest of the cutlery so that diners do not confuse it with one of the spoons used for a main course. The use of dessert spoons around the world varies greatly; in some areas, they are very common, while in other regions, the use of the dessert spoon is almost unheard of, with diners using forks or teaspoons for their desserts instead.

In terms of scale, a dessert spoon is usually similar to a soup spoon in size, although the bowl is ovoid, rather than round, with one end coming to a graceful point. The capacity of a dessert spoon is usually around two teaspoons, allowing people to fit a healthy portion of dessert into each spoonful; the large capacity is also useful when eating layered and complex desserts, as it ensures that a bit of every flavor can be gracefully fit into each bite.

Depending on region and formality, the dessert spoon may be set out at the beginning of the meal, or it may be brought out later, with the dessert. In areas where dessert spoons are not very common, many restaurants and hosts prefer to wait to bring the dessert spoons out, because otherwise guests might accidentally use them earlier in the meal. As in any situation where matched tableware is used, a dessert spoon's handle always accessorizes with the rest of the tableware.

Some people are intimidated by the size of a dessert spoon at first, because these spoons are not really designed to be fit whole into the mouth. Rather, consumers eat from the side of the spoon, making the large size less of an issue. In addition to being used to serve desserts, dessert spoons are sometimes incorrectly used as serving utensils, especially for relishes and condiments.

On occasion, you will see the term “dessert spoon” used as a unit of measurement, because the standard capacity is two teaspoons, and two dessert spoons makes up a tablespoon. Incidentally, for those who prefer their measurements in milliliters, the capacity of a dessert spoon is approximately 12 milliliters.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By sunshined — On Aug 07, 2011

When I was invited to an elegant wedding reception, I was both excited and nervous. The reception tables were beautifully decorated and the place settings were perfect.

They had a dessert spoon and fork at each setting because they had more than one dessert that was offered. It was a lot of fun to dress up and attend such an elegant event.

Until then I had never given much thought to a separate dessert spoon and fork. I was familiar with soup spoons and salad forks, but didn't have special eating utensils for desserts.

It does make sense to have a separate utensil for eating dessert. In an elegant setting like that, it also adds to the atmosphere and helps guests feel like they are being treated in a special way.

By Mykol — On Aug 07, 2011

We are pretty casual when it comes to our family gatherings, so I had never even used a dessert spoon until I was in my late twenties.

When I went on my first cruise is when I was introduced to a dessert spoon. A small dessert spoon was brought out with each dessert that was requested.

I really got an education not just on dessert spoons, but all of the silverware settings! It might have been the special spoon, the delicious dessert or maybe a little bit of both, but those desserts were the best.

By irontoenail — On Aug 07, 2011

@bythewell - I'd rather have custard and homemade apple pie than a more "sophisticated" dessert!

My grandparents have a lovely set of silver dessert spoons as well, which have been passed down a few times, I think.

I absolutely love them. They have very decorative handles and are heavier than you might expect.

My granny still uses one of them as her measuring spoon in the kitchen.

I don't think she could make her recipes from memory if she had to use conventional measuring cups and spoons.

By bythewell — On Aug 06, 2011

@mitchell14 - I know what you mean! I always choose to eat pudding with a dessert spoon rather than a teaspoon or a tablespoon. The round shape just seems to add an extra layer of enjoyment.

I guess it's not so hard to see why. People get pleasure from all aspects of food, including the shape of it.

My grandmother used to have some mini dessert spoons to go with her dessert forks and I adored using them as a child as well. It always made me feel like the dessert was that much more sophisticated, even when it was just custard and apple pie.

By mitchell14 — On Feb 01, 2011

I love eating food with spoons. Cakes, ice creams, pies, and puddings are all better with spoons in my opinion. I know this has very little logic, but especially with a silver dessert spoon or another one that equally elegant, they are just best eaten this way.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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