There’s nothing better than creating your own frozen treats with the best ice cream maker. However, most of the ice cream makers on the market look very similar, so it can be difficult to discern between all the options. Plus, how much do you really need when it comes to ice cream machines? To find out, we purchased the top 10 ice cream makers available today and put them to work churning up some delicious treats.
During our testing (and subsequent ice cream eating), we paid special attention to features like total bucket capacity, different modes, built-in compressors and automatic timers. After eating our fill of the most delicious ice cream we’ve ever had, we were most impressed with the Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream Maker. It features a built-in compressor and 2 different paddles for mixing different kinds of treats, which propelled it to the top of our list. Keep reading to learn more about the ICE-100 and the other ice cream machines that topped our list of best ice cream makers.
- 1 Top 5 Ice Cream Makers Compared
- 1.1 #1 Cuisinart ICE-100 – Top Pick/Best Compressor Ice Cream Maker
- 1.2 #2 Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop – Honorable Mention/Best Smart Ice Cream Maker
- 1.3 #3 Cuisinart ICE-21 Ice Cream Maker – Best Value
- 1.4 #4 Nostalgia ICMP400WD – Best Retro Ice Cream Maker
- 1.5 #5 Hamilton Beach 68330N – Best Budget Ice Cream Maker
- 2 How We Choose the Best Ice Cream Maker
- 3 Why You Should Buy a New Ice Cream Maker
- 4 Key Factor and Features of the Best Ice Cream Maker
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid
- 6 What Else You Should Think About
Top 5 Ice Cream Makers Compared
#1 Cuisinart ICE-100 – Top Pick/Best Compressor Ice Cream MakerWHY WE LIKE IT: Cuisinart makes fantastic kitchen appliances, and the ICE-100 is no different. This ice cream maker has its own commercial grade compressor, two unique paddles and an excellent design, making the whole process of making your ice cream easier than ever before.
The first thing that stands out about the Cuisinart ICE-100 is its built-in compressor. With a compressor like this already included with the machine, you won’t have to worry pre-freezing the ice cream bucket for 24 hours in between batches. Instead, you can make multiple batches of ice cream or gelato back to back. This is the biggest selling feature on the ICE-100 and one that’s well worth the increased price point.
The design of the ice cream machine is also consistent with Cuisinart’s typical high quality. It includes 2 unique paddles: one for ice cream and one for gelato. The gap between the paddles and the sides of the bowl are very minimal, which leads to consistently smooth ice cream. The ICE-100 features a touch pad control system, which is definitely clunky, but you get used to it over time. There’s no question about it, the Cuisinart ICE-100 is the best ice cream machine we tested.
#2 Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop – Honorable Mention/Best Smart Ice Cream MakerWHY WE LIKE IT: The Breville BCI600X takes the meaning of ice cream machine to the next level. This top-of–the-line ice cream maker features smart functionality and a wide variety of settings so you can make the perfect treat to just your liking.
You’re probably wondering what the Breville Smart Scoop offers over the other, much less expensive options on our list. Fortunately, this beast of an ice cream machine pulls through with a bunch of different features that enhance the entire process of making frozen treadts. With 12 different hardness settings, you can essentially make any kind of frozen yogurt, gelato, ice cream and sorbet you want. Plus, the included Auto and Manual modes let you fine tune the machine to your preferences.
The Smart Scoop also includes its own self-refrigerating compressor so you won’t have to pre-freeze the bucket before use. This alone is worth the added price since it allows you to make multiple batches without having to wait for the bucket to freeze again. You also get a very impressive keep-cool functionality that keeps your ice cream cold enough for up to 3 hours, which is incredibly convenient. If you’re looking for the most custom options, the Breville Smart Scoop is the ice cream maker for you.
#3 Cuisinart ICE-21 Ice Cream Maker – Best ValueWHY WE LIKE IT: The Cuisinart ICE-21 is perhaps the simplest ice-cream maker on our list, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can quickly and easily make ice cream with this powerful little machine and you won’t even have to deal with a ton of cleanup afterward.
The Cuisinart ICE-21 carries with it the same high-quality design and durability you should come to expect from all Cuisinart products. It features an overly simple design, which takes the complication out of making ice cream. Simply pre-freeze your bowl, add your ingredients and flip the switch. Unfortunately, the machine doesn’t include any kind of built-in timer, so you’ll need to pay closer attention to the ice cream to ensure you don’t over-freeze it.
We were impressed by the smoothness and creaminess of the ice cream we made in the ICE-21, especially considering its simplistic design and lack of automatic features. We were even more impressed by how easy it was to clean the machine and bucket after we had eaten our fill of frozen goodness. If you’re looking for a no-fuss ice cream machine, this Cauisinart ICE is the one for you.
#4 Nostalgia ICMP400WD – Best Retro Ice Cream MakerWHY WE LIKE IT: Looking to remember the good old times while you’re making your own ice cream by hand? Then the Nostalgia ICMP400WD is the right ice cream machine for you with its unique design and extra-large capacity.
The fun barrel design of the Nostalgia ICMP400WD isn’t the only great thing about this ice cream machine, but it’s definitely one of the highlights. This super-affordable product can make up to 4 quarts of ice cream in a single batch, the largest capacity on our list. And it makes the ice cream quick, too! In around 25 minutes, you can be enjoying some frozen deliciousness.
While this Nostalgia ice cream maker makes a ton of ice cream in a short time, you’ll have to worry about keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t over-freeze the ice cream due to the lack of timers or automatic modes. There’s also quite a bit of a gap between the side of the bucket and the paddle, which means you’ll likely experience a build up of over-frozen ice cream on the sides. All in all, however, this ice cream machine is an excellent choice for someone who wants a fun design with a short churning time.
#5 Hamilton Beach 68330N – Best Budget Ice Cream MakerWHY WE LIKE IT: The Hamilton Beach 68330N ice cream maker offers 4 quarts of capacity at an incredible price point, making it an easy choice for people on a budget.
The Hamilton Beach 68330N is the best value ice cream maker on our list because of its low price, powerful motor and 4-quart capacity. While it doesn’t offer a lot of flashy features, it can still keep up with even the most expensive ice cream makers, especially when you factor in the automatic function that turns off for you when the ice cream is done. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to use ice and rock salt, which can make for a messier clean up, but the ice cream comes out creamy and tasty.
One of the biggest downfalls of this 4-quart electric ice cream maker is how noisy it can be, which is a product of the powerful motor. If you’re making ice cream for a social gathering, you’ll want to do it in a place away from all the conversation. For the price, you’re getting a great ice cream machine that doesn’t sacrifice on taste or quality.
How We Choose the Best Ice Cream Maker
One of the key benefits of an ice cream maker is how easy they are to use. Virtually all of them have automated processes that are simple to understand. Cleaning ice cream makers is another thing. Many ice cream makers require cleaning by hand, which can be tedious. All the ice cream makers on this list have a removable bowl and are dishwasher safe, which means they are fast and easy to clean.
The size of the bowl is also an important factor to consider. An automatic ice cream maker can be tedious if you have to remake ice cream over and over. You will want an ice cream maker with a nice-sized bowl. All our picks for this list have 2 qt. bowls. As a point of reference, 2 quarts is half a gallon, where as most store brand ice cream comes in 1.5 or 1.75 qt. containers.
The best ice cream maker should be able to make more than just ice cream. By adjusting the settings and ingredients, you can make anything from frozen yogurt to sorbet. All the ice cream makers on this list are capable of making ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and gelato.
Why You Should Buy a New Ice Cream Maker
First off, ice cream makers have come a long way since you were a kid. Our #1 and #2 picks require no freezing thanks to their built-in compressors, allowing you to make multiple batches without significant downtime in between. Plus they offer timers and features to make the process far less tedious.
Everyone knows that homemade goods are so much better than anything you could go out and buy on your own, and making homemade ice cream is no exception. The real wonderful thing about owning your own ice cream maker is being able to experiment and create any flavor combination you desire – the possibilities are as endless as your imagination. If you’re looking to expand your dessert making abilities, an ice cream maker is a pleasant addition to any kitchen and will let you flex your creative muscle in the kitchen.
What if you already make ice cream by hand? Well, owning an ice cream maker takes out all the hardship of manually mixing ice cream taking it from a long, tedious process to simply adding your ingredients to the bowl, pressing a button, and walking away.
Key Factor and Features of the Best Ice Cream Maker
- Programmable features are great for simplifying the ice cream making process, but they also provide a myriad of safety features.
- Many ice cream makers include an automatic shutoff/cooling period, as well as different settings for mixing the ice cream. Programmable features often include a timer, treat settings (such as hard/soft ice cream), and motor protection.
- A removable bowl makes cleaning ice cream makers a heck of a lot easier, and you’ll also want to check and see if the bowl and mixer are dishwasher safe.
- If you want to keep your clean-up simple, make sure these are the only pieces you have to remove from the machine.
- Ice cream makers are great tools, but they can be tedious if you have to make batch after batch. A 2 quart ice cream machine features a nice size bowl that holds quite a bit of ice cream, which is the minimum output of these machines.
- This is more ice cream than you would get in a standard container of ice cream from the store, which as we already mentioned, hold anywhere from 1.5 to 1.75 quarts (unless you’re buying generic gallon buckets of ice cream).
Crank vs. Electric
- One last thing to consider is whether or not you want a crank or electric ice cream maker. While there aren’t any crank machines on our list, they do offer a few benefits. Crank ice cream makers, according to enthusiasts, offer a more authentic feel to the ice cream. Crank ice cream makers can also be used outside or without a power supply. However, that does mean you have to manually churn the ice cream – which can be tedious. Electric ice cream makers are generally more expensive, but they come with more convenience. It ultimately comes down to you and what is more important to you: cost or convenience. A top-rated crank ice cream maker is the White Mountain FX4304-X is a little cheaper than our #2 and #3 Picks.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Paying Too Much: Ice cream makers are fantastic machines, but you don’t actually need to pay an arm and a leg to get a quality one. Many ice cream makers that cost $700-800 do the exact same thing a $200 machine does. Bottom line, don’t overspend on ice cream makers.
- Ignoring Instructions: Make sure you read the instructions. Some ice cream makers require you to freeze the bowl, while others don’t. If you don’t read the instructions, your ice cream won’t turn out properly. Worse yet, not following the instructions could cause your motor to overheat, which will break your ice cream maker. Read the instructions first!
- No Warranty: With any appliance, you will want a good warranty on your device. Don’t accept anything less than a year, and definitely don’t buy something without a warranty.
What Else You Should Think About
While special utensils and bowls are not as essential to homemade ice cream making, they can add that extra touch to your frozen treat. An ice cream scoop with a heat conducting handle makes dishing out ice cream a breeze, and using special ice cream bowls makes the experience all the better.
If you need to learn how to use an ice cream maker ,or how to make homemade ice cream with an ice cream maker, you may be interested in looking for a recipe book on that very subject.
For more on the best ice cream makers around and other frozen treat products, stick to Gadget Review for more in the months to come!