Today, this article is going to help you with finding the best ice cream maker brands in various price ranges, so you can downsize your broad list of possible options when seeking a companion in your cooking adventures.
Why need an Ice Cream Maker
Obviously, an ice cream maker isn’t an essential kitchen appliance, but if you’re a big fan of ice cream, chances are high that you will fall in love with this cooking gadget.
Let me tell you a little fact! Since the coming of ice cream maker invention, making ice cream at home is no longer a difficult task. Although there are a couple of ways to make homemade ice cream without electronic support, it’s always easier, faster and more convenient when you do have an ice cream maker.
Not only does the machine churn out much smoother results, it also allows you to make your own frozen desserts with your choice of ingredients – best suited for those who want to stay away from food additives, or reduce the total fat intake.
More interestingly, instead of limiting yourself to no-churn recipes, you can experiment with a lot more chilling options, such as fruity sorbets, gelato and frozen yogurt, as well as soft-serve ice cream.
So, while you may not need an ice cream maker to make homemade ice cream, investing in one is definitely worth the money if you’re planning on preparing this frozen treat on a regular basis. It always brings about faster process and top-notch outcomes, saving you tons of time and hassle.
Alternatively, if you feel an ice cream making machine costs too much money with not enough needed functions, a stand mixer that can serve multiple functional purposes will be an appropriate substitute.
I’ve made cereal milk ice cream with my KitchenAid mixer. In general, it does a fine job at replicating the churning movement of a standard ice cream maker. If you want to make ice cream only a few times during the summer months, and you’re not looking for the smoothest texture possible, this kind of machine might be a good option
That being said, before producing a batch of luscious homemade ice cream or any frozen dessert, you will have to pre-freeze the empty mixing bowl for at least 15 hours so that it can get cold enough for the liquid ice cream mixture to churn. Sounds like a big deal for many busy housewives, like me.
Moreover, the result, albeit fairly good first coming out of the process, will melt very quickly. Though you can put it into a freezer for later use, it just doesn’t taste nearly as good as it being freshly mixed, which makes a huge distinction between a proper ice cream maker and an electric mixer.
Key Differences Between Various Types Of Ice Cream Maker
For those who didn’t know, the machines come in two main versions with a wide range of prices, from as low as $40 to hundreds of dollars. Normally, how well it performs will depend on how much you’re willing to spend. To be more specific, the cheaper ice cream makers do require you to pre-freeze the mixing bowl before using. While this option is budget-friendly, you will have some pre-planning to do and the setup can get pretty messy.
Alternatively, you can buy the high-end models with a built-in freezer. They are the easiest to use. You can get a batch of fresh homemade scoop of ice cream with very little effort. Besides ice cream, they’re also featured to make gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt and even icy drinks. So, if money is not on obstacle, the self-refrigerating ice cream maker is the machine to buy.
Our picks of the Best Ice Cream Makers
Here we will present to you a list of six best ice cream makers as well as a couple of tips on purchasing. Hopefully, this post can help you single out the most suitable unit for your needs and budget.
- Cuisinart ICE-30BC: Best Ice Cream Maker to Buy 2018
- KitchenAid KICA0WH: Best Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker
- Cuisinart ICE-21R: Best Homemade Ice Cream Maker
- Whynter ICM-201SB: Best Commercial Ice Cream Maker
- Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE: Best Kids Ice Cream Maker
- Hamilton Beach 68330N: Best Soft-serve Ice Cream Machine
1. Cuisinart ICE-30BC – Best Ice Cream Maker to Buy 2018
Reasonable pricing, usability, technology and aesthetics all coming together in one piece of work, I can surely state that Cuisinart has designed one of the best ice cream makers in the market.
Built to North American Electrical standards, firmly, the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Ice Cream Maker can live up to all of your expectations, making homemade ice cream one of the easiest things ever. No mess, no fuss, no hassle. From start to finish, it takes just less than an hour for the ice cream to be done. Believe me, this machine couldn’t be simpler to use.
One thing to note: the mixing bowl needs to be frozen solid. This means you either need to store the bowl in your freezer all the time so it’s ready when you want to make some ice cream or you have to think in advance for when you want ice cream and have to freeze it ahead of time.
If you skip this step, your ice cream will never freeze. The colder it is, the better the ice cream turns out. I know, the process is clearly time-consuming, but that’s the kind of machine you get at this low price point.
Another feature I love it for is the capacity of making fruit smoothies. You can also try a lot of other recipes for the ice cream base, and all seem to come out great, too. Just make sure that the bowl is thoroughly frozen.
The machine is a little noisy, and that’s the only drawback that can be really listed. But who cares? All ice cream makers, mixer, blenders, food processors motors make sounds. It’s not a big deal at all.
Verdict: If your family likes experimenting with different flavors and ingredients without preservatives and fillers, the Cuisinart ICE-30BC is really worth the investment. With this tool, you’ll no longer want to buy store-bought ice cream again.
2. KitchenAid KICA0WH – Best KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker
First of all, allow me to state clearly that this product is to be used with the KitchenAid stand mixers, meaning the attachment itself cannot make ice cream, but must be powered by the stand mixer base to be thorough.
A lot of the reviews said that the machine is quite difficult to assemble, but I had no trouble at all. I do agree that the instructions are a little unclear, but the process is so easy that you can successfully do it without even consulting the instruction.
Plus, the bowl and paddle easily attach to the mixer and it is very simple to operate. It is possible to have fresh, homemade ice cream without ice crystals in about 20-30 minutes with this attachment. Remember to start the paddles moving before pouring the mixture into the frozen bowl unless you want to see the mixture immediately freeze to the sides of the mixing bowl, which will then prevent the paddles from turning.
Like the Cuisinart ICE-30BC, it is necessary to have the bowl frozen in your freezer ahead of time (at least 15 hours). I highly recommend keeping it in your freezer with parchment paper lining the inside at all times so it is always ready to go, and because it also helps prevent a leak from the blue ice in the middle of the bowl.
I also recommend freezing the ice cream after mixing it to allow it to firm up a bit. Although this ice cream maker does finish with a soft serve ice cream, the result is still very soft, much softer than the consistency of a runny milkshake. No one likes drinking ice cream, right? So, transfer it to a container that has been put in the freezer for a couple of hours before use to have a higher quality outcome.
Verdict: So far, this machine works as advertised and is very simple to use, bringing about excellent results. The only downside is the length of time it takes to freeze everything prior to use, but that’s just the type of ice cream maker this is.
3. Cuisinart ICE-21R – Best Homemade Ice Cream Maker
Another model from the famous and popular Cuisinart collection that can make soft-serve homemade icecream without the hassle of purchasing bags of ice and rock salt is the Cuisinart ICE-21R Ice Cream Maker.
To my surprise, this model does deliver remarkable good ice cream made with sweetened condensed milk. Thanks to the new patent-pending mixing paddle, you can now make your favorite frozen desserts at home in just 20 minutes or less.
Even though it is advertised to make 1.5 quarts of ice cream, usually the most you can get into a storage bowl to store in the freezer is a quart. This means the yield is probably no more than 4 small servings. If you’re planning on holding an ice cream party, buying an additional freezer bowl will absolutely be a smart choice.
Apart from praises on the ice cream quality improvement, the reason this product is so welcomed by the American homes is that it’s super easy to install. No technical knowledge is required.
For cleaning, it’s worth noting that the bowl is not dishwasher safe as the dish soap will react with the aluminum on the inside of the bowl. Instead , you can rinse the cover and toss the paddle in the dishwasher. Both are completely dishwasher safe.
In comparison with the Cuisinart ICE-30BC, this plastic unit seems to be quieter. Of course, both of them make noise, but the stainless one is so much louder with a high-pitched sound. Plus, our best to buy unit may be more appealing because it has a capacity of 2 quarts, while the ICE-21R is featured with a 1 and 1/2 quart capacity.
For those who complain about the texture of the ice cream/yogurt, let me explain. Firstly, this is your homemade ice cream, not store bought, and you probably do not add all the scary ingredients to make it soft when frozen. Secondly, homemade ice cream is also NOT supposed to be hard, I mean really hard. If you want it to be firmer, put it in the freezer. Basing on the ingredients, it will then freeze fairly solidly.
Verdict: Overall, this little gadget seems like a great purchase for experimenting with flavor options for healthy alternatives, and would be super fun to do with kids. It is not too loud, works fast, and couldn’t be any easier to operate.
4. Whynter ICM-201SB – Best Commercial Ice Cream Maker
Designed with an upright, small footprint profile, this space efficient ice cream maker fits easily on any countertop. It isn’t big, but is quite heavy (as all compressor machines are), so it’s not something you would want to put on a lower shelf.
The model is impressively convenient in the way that it makes ice cream which always comes out as a soft-serve. However, unlike those, this unit contains a built-in compressor that automatically freezes the mixture and does not require to pre-freeze the mixing bowl.
It also has an automatic shut off mechanism once it finishes the job, which is essential to safeguarding the motor against overheating. Simply add your pre-mixed liquid into the bowl, push a button, and then let the machine do the rest. Just keep in mind: do not pause it while it’s churning – the mix freezes onto the side of the bowl, and due to the close clearance of the mixing blade, it’s really difficult to restart.
Normally, it takes 35-60 minutes for the ice cream to achieve the hardness state, before getting scooped into a freezer-safe container and sticked in the freezer to firm up for two more hours.
One thing to note before purchase: while the capacity of the stainless steel bowl is 2.1 quarts, the ingredients will often become ice cream before increasing volume to that level. So, if you expect 2 quarts, you won’t get it unless you slow down the freezing process. The great news is it will beat the taste and texture of any grocery store ice cream without any additives other than cream milk, sugar and eggs.
To be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised at how quiet it is. I was expecting it to be really loud since it has the compressor in it, and while it isn’t whisper-quiet, it’s actually quieter than any rock salt maker. Instead of a high-pitched annoyance from a cheap motor, it’s more of a smooth mechanical hum, like maybe a loud refrigerator, which is less disturbing.
Verdict: All in all, the Whynter ICM-201SB is an excellent commercial ice cream making machine. Probably, it will be one of your best cooking appliance investments this year.
5. Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE – Best Kids Ice Cream Maker
Coming with a powerful locking electric motor, handy carrying handle, easy-to-clean plastic bucket and so much more useful parts, this item promises to surpass all the expectations for years to come.
In fact, this type of freezer has been used for over 100 years with good results. There is no magic to the design. A tub with a scraper/paddle rotates in a bucket of ice and salt. Salt is used to lower the temperature below 32°F. Too much salt will make it too cold and will crystalize too fast creating granular/icy ice-cream. While too little salt will not freeze the ice cream.
Putting the machine together is relatively easy. Just put the metal container in, fill around it with a mixture of rock salt and ice, then place the mixed ingredients inside along with the mixer and the motor on top. My kids love watching it work and playing around with the ice and salt. This reminds me of summers at my grandparents house: gathering together and eating homemade ice cream to cool off under the summer heat.
Another things I really like about this ice cream maker is the amount of ice cream you could make as well as how quickly it chills. You can get up to 4 quarts of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet or gelato in a matter of minutes. It may be a little confusing at first but once you figure it out, it runs perfectly without any manual effort. Simply put all the ingredients into the container, place in the middle of the bucket, then layer with ice and salt to the top, and let the electric motor do its magic.
From my first test, I did notice ice crystals which from what little we know may be due to the churning. However, I still ended up with great tasting ice cream and my kids had a blast. The only factor that leaves a lot to be desired is the recipe book which appears to have missed some key steps.
Verdict: The machine does what it is supposed to do very well. It even produces better ice-cream than any in-freezer automatic type, but does require a bit more attention to the ice levels. We can’t just set it and forget it. So, if you’re looking for a good “old fashioned” ice cream maker like your grandparents had in your childhood, but with a more modern touch, this is your guy.
6. Hamilton Beach 68330N Automatic – Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine
With the Hamilton Beach 68330N Automatic Ice-Cream Maker, you can enjoy delicious homemade ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and gelato right in your own kitchen. Add your favorite healthy ingredients, sit back and wait the motor to stop — the machine will help you create a one-of-a kind treat without chemical preservatives. Just, don’t forget to prepare some rock salt and plenty of ice at hand.
It’s a churning machine so noise is expected. The noise however isn’t like a screeching wheel or a fork on a plate like some other people have described in other reviews of ice cream machines. Its level is even less than that of a blender or food processor, sounding like a motor turning a bucket around a bigger bucket of ice.
It is not a heavy appliance and very easy to clean too. The mixing paddle is a little harder to clean than the old wooden ones but of course those are things of the past. For the price, one really can’t complain and should just enjoy being able to make homemade goodies at a reasonable price and length of time.
The only thing I do not like about this type of ice cream maker is that there is no gap to add the nuts during the last 5-10 minutes of mixing. But all things considered, I’m still so excited about this product and all the possibilities it can offer.
Verdict: Whether you want to eat healthier or would rather spend your evenings hanging out with your family than being stuck in the kitchen, do yourself a favor and give this handy pot a go. So far, it has been doing an incredible job, richly deserving to be a trustworthy addition to your kitchen armament.