Disher Buyers' Guide

Keeping a close eye on the portions you serve is a sure way to keep your food costs in check and ensure your guests are served a consistently sized meal on each visit. Operators adopt many portion control strategies, but few tools are as simple and effective as the disher. Dishers come in many sizes and colors, and those sizes and colors correspond to the amount that the tool will dispense.

The numbering system used to mark dishers tells you approximately how many portions a disher will scoop out of a quart of product. A quart is equal to 32 ounces, so a #8 disher will yield roughly eight 4-ounce servings from a quart of product. Manufacturers follow a universal color-coding scheme to make their dishers. The following table will show you the relationships between disher sizes, colors, and portions.

ColorSizeCapacity in oz.Capacity in ml
White#65.33157.7
Gray#84.00118.3
Ivory#103.2596.1
Green#122.6778.9
Dark Blue#162.0059.1
Yellow#201.6348.1
Red#241.3339.4
Black#301.0029.6
Orchid#400.7522.2

Note: Actual capacities may vary by as much as half an ounce between manufacturers for dishers of the same nominal size and color.

Disher Features

Dishers come in a few variations and with a number of different options.

  • Dishers come in two main types: thumb-lever dishers and squeeze dishers. Your choice will largely depend on your preference and that of your staff. Some users may find they are able to scoop servings more quickly with a squeeze-type disher, while others may favor thumb-lever dishers because they find them more comfortable to use.
  • Despite being such simple tools, dishers are made with a number of moving parts that actuate the bowl-clearing mechanism. This complexity creates several nooks and crannies in which food debris may become lodged. To satisfy the health inspector and put your mind at ease, look for NSF-certified dishers that have been designed with ease of cleaning in mind.
  • Standard dishers typically measure 9 or 10 inches in length, making them suitable for reaching into 212-inch-deep food pans and similar vessels. Extended-length dishers are generally about an inch longer than standard dishers, giving staff the ability to comfortably dispense servings from deeper vessels such as ice cream cartons.
  • Shaped dishers dispense food molded into unique shapes such as diamonds and half moons, which can put a visually interesting spin on your food presentation. These dishers are valued in long term care and healthcare kitchens where staff must find ways to make mechanically reduced food more visually appealing.