Unitasker Wednesday: Ice Cream Maker

I scream, you scream, we all scream for an ice cream maker? Summer is just about here and everyone is going to be hitting up their favorite ice cream joints, but some people may stay home and make themselves a tasty treat using an ice cream maker.

Does anyone out there actually own one of these things? Is it worth the effort to make a 1.5 quart batch of ice cream in your own kitchen? The maker that is pictured has a ton (582) of reviews on Amazon, but at 9.5 pounds and an rather large size (15 inches x 10 inches x 10.25 inches) does its use constitute the space it takes up?

Last time I went out for ice cream, I don’t remember paying an arm and a leg for a cone. So the idea of saving money while making your own ice cream doesn’t really add up. I’m really at a loss as to why someone would feel the need to make their own ice cream. Do we have any readers that make their own ice cream? Please enlighten me as to why.

If you happen to have one sitting in your cabinet and you haven’t used it since the 1990’s, get rid of the thing.

57 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Ice Cream Maker”

  1. posted by Steve on

    I have one, and don’t use it much anymore..I don’t know that I can justify keeping it, but I can provide reasons for why someone would want one. 1. Homemade ice-cream tastes different / better. 2. Homemade ice-cream can be healthier as it doesn’t contain all of the gum and preservatives and what not that store bought ice-cream contains. 3. It is a fun activity with your kids.

  2. posted by Misty on

    My father-in-law bought a really expensive one last year (without consulting his wife). He’s used it a number of times, especially when guests are over. They all compliment the taste and enjoy the treat. It does taste good, but not so much better than regular ice cream. It’s also a PITA because his ends up sitting in the sink so it doesn’t leak.

  3. posted by rositta on

    I have an ice cream maker, albeit somewhat older than your pictured model. It was given to me as a gift by my offspring, who loves ice cream. I probably use it twice a summer to make unusual flavours,like hazelnut. The ice cream is just incredible, nothing like you could buy in a store. Worth the little storage it takes…ciao

  4. posted by Chris on

    I have one, and love it. The ice cream tastes so much better, and you know exactly what’s going into it since you put it in there. I also got mine on crazy discount, so it wasn’t a big monetary investment, and it doesn’t take up all that much space above the kitchen cabinets.

  5. posted by amanda on

    We have the ice cream maker that you show, and we love it. This particular machine is very easy to use, which makes us more likely to use it frequently. We use a very basic recipe, and it is very rich and definitely tastier than what we’ve bought at the store. It doesn’t really save us money, but we enjoy it and use it regularly during the summer.

  6. posted by Beth H on

    I think an ice cream maker would be fun, but what’s even more fun is to use old coffee cans! We did it when we were in like 3rd grade and just had two cans nested inside each other and the space between packed with ice and salt. Add ingredients in the small can and roll it back and forth! It’s a lot better when you have plenty of ‘rollers’ because it take a little while, but it’s so fun and the kids feel like they really did it. If you’re looking for the dump it in and press a button though…this isn’t for you!

  7. posted by Matt on

    Wow, the ice cream maker contingent is making their voices heard.

  8. posted by dana on

    We have this and love it. Lent it to my folks and they won’t give it back. Bought one for kid brother, too.

    Perhaps it is just our old-fashioned midwestern thang, but we love homemade ice cream and this takes less time and space than the traditional wooden tub with the suspended metal can that we had at Gram’s…

    Unitasker, yes – waste of space, not for us.

  9. posted by Daphne on

    It’s not about saving money – homemade ice cream is fantastic! Much better than anything you can get at most ice cream shops. If you enjoy homemade ice cream and making your own flavors, an ice cream maker is well worth the space it takes up.

  10. posted by Cody on

    We use ours once a week. Every week we get milk from the local farmer and use fresh cream. Try getting that at B&R. It’s not about saving money. But it’s easy to throw all the ingredients in, and let it churn. Cleanup is a breeze. And we have a $10 plastic tub with canister model bought at Target years and years ago.

  11. posted by Michael on

    Ditto — it’s not about saving money. It’s about being able to control the quality and ingredients and make whatever new flavors I care to try.

    Besides, I think it *does* save money in the long run. The ice cream produced by my machine (same as pictured) is as good and as dense as any premium brand, so at the going rate of $4 per pint, each batch I produce is easily worth $10 or more.

    Remember, measure ice cream by weight, not by volume. Store-bought ice cream can be up to 50% air, by volume. And then there’s all of the thickeners and gum… in the end, how much of it is really ice cream?

  12. posted by Rodney on

    I have friends that STILL rave about the blackberry ice cream I made two summers ago (it was an exception blackberry season). And the chocolate recipes from Ben and Jerry’s cookbook?? *drool* Oh, and butter pecan with little flecks of butter-fried pecan?

    Yeah, it unitasks. So instead buy the one with the compressor, then it also will make continuous margaritas for your summer parties. 😉

  13. posted by Metrozing on

    Hi-Ho-the-Dairy-Oh. This is a group that won’t settle for faux.

    Since it seems the authentic ice cream makers have united, why don’t we (as s group) borrow an idea from another famous ice cream company?

    Let’s cleverly name our flavors!

    How does, “Unclutterer Nutter-Butter” sound for the first batch?

  14. posted by Erin on

    Matt, you are seriously on your own with this one. I know that you have two good ice cream spots near your home, but those of us who don’t need really good ice cream on hot summer days. Heck, even Alton Brown has one! 🙂

    Let me suggest that you borrow an ice cream maker from a friend, and then make any one of the recipes from this book … and then get back to me. I think that you might change your mind.

  15. posted by gothmom on

    I have the smallest one in the world (1+ cup capacity?), I got it at a thrift store and my teenage daughter uses it with juice to make slushies — it doesn’t take up much space in the freezer/cabinet for the pieces so we have the best of both worlds.

  16. posted by rob on

    i made the world’s best ice cream this weekend in my model, which is pictured above. roasted strawberries with fresh cream.

    it’s impossible to find organic ice cream, and i frequently have friends with kids over in the summers, so this thing has paid for itself time and time again.

    yeah, it’s big and clunky. but i really do enjoy it. the worst part is finding room for the bowl in the freezer. 🙂

  17. posted by PJ Doland on

    The multitasking (read Margarita making) models with compressors seem much more expensive in general. Amazon does have reconditioned ones available for about half the price of new ones:


    Might be a better alternative if you entertain frequently and/or use your ice cream maker all summer.

  18. posted by shelli on

    You don’t need an ice cream maker – all you need are a few zip lock bags, a dish towel, and some willingness to do some kneading or squishing for about 10 minutes – or some kids to do it for you.

    Here’s a link!

  19. posted by doxiediva on

    I concur with most of the group! Making your own ice cream is great! I actually have two (and that maybe is a problem – although i store one at my parents house). I have a 6 qt electric freezer and also my grandmother’s old hand crank. I make a lot of ice cream although don’t crank it unless i have lots of people to help. Little kids love to see the cranking and it gets them involved. I am always popular when i bring homemade ice cream somewhere. A good trade off for a little cupboard space.

  20. posted by riona on

    Homemade avocado icecream.

  21. posted by Ana on

    I’ve got the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer.

    I use it often and the ice cream does taste better.

  22. posted by dw on

    When the strawberries start appearing at our local farmers’ markets, I go early, buy a flat, de-stem and liquify them, add simple syrup and a little bit of orange juice, then put it in the very unitasker you so despise (i.e. the Cuisinart countertop). And then my wife eats the sorbet and thinks it’s the greatest thing, ever.

    I also make Philadelphia (no-egg) vanilla with it, and occasionally some other frozen desserts. And admittedly, it’s a summer-only thing, so it sits in the garage and not in my cabinet. And the rest of the year we’re eating Americone Dream or some such thing. But in summer, when you have fresh ingredients and a little time, it is well worth the garage space.

    One person’s unitasker is another person’s essential. I use my waffle iron pretty frequently and my ice cream maker seasonally. Meanwhile, my Fry Daddy hasn’t been used in years.

  23. posted by adora on

    I own one. It’s actually more expensive to make ice-cream yourself than to buy them.

    My mom bought it because she kept hearing my complains of not being able to find those “strange” icecream flavors I like.

    The result is very good. But now that I’m on diet, I haven’t use it for myself for over a year. When my brothers and friends wants icecream, they only like chocolates. What’s the point? So it’s not only taking up my space, it’s taking up my time. Many friends known me for my great icecream. I was so tired that I once put store-bought in my box and say I made it.

    The enjoyment is a lot lower than the maintainence. So it’s clutter.

  24. posted by Kimberly on

    I have one and use it regularly. I’m Peanut Allergic, and can’t eat ice cream in most ice cream stores. If the person before me buys peanut flavored ice cream, and they use the same scoop after rinsing it – I can have a deadly reaction.

    Many types of ice cream sold in stores contain peanut warnings (Made on the same machine/facility that processes peanuts). Homemade ice cream is a safety thing for me.

  25. posted by Mike F on

    We have one as well — and use it weekly, or nearly so. My wife couldn’t eat dairy for awhile while nursing, because the baby was so sensitive to cow’s milk that she would break out in a rash if my *wife* ate dairy. So we learned how to make an excellent dark chocolate soy ice cream in the machine. We have made some regular ice cream in it as well (strawberry), which was also excellent.

    We have the model you picture above. It’s a little bit of a pain in terms of counter space (as well as freezer space, since you keep the cannister in the freezer until you make the ice cream), but we think it’s worth it.

  26. posted by angorian on

    I have a 1-pint Donvier that is awesome. I use it in the summer to turn healthy smoothies into healthy frozen desserts. The design of the donvier means it’s small (no bigger than an ordinary pot) and easy to use quickly (assuming you keep the cylinder in the freezer). Mine came from a garage sale, so it was also super cheap.

  27. posted by mata on

    Homemade ice cream is almost always better, as are homemade sorbets, and the ice cream maker means you can use any flavor you like, not just what’s at the store. And the size is just right for a 1-4 person family: it all gets eaten and you don’t have half-empty containers with freezer burn.

  28. posted by Melanie on

    Yay! Ice cream lovers win the debate!!! REAL ice cream, that is… Don’t knock it til you try it.

    I will say that I made the choice to purchase an ice cream maker that requires you to use actual ice and rock salt. If I had one of these convenient ones that only requires a frozen insert, I would make homemade ice cream every day of my life – and have the waistline to prove it!

  29. posted by NatalieMac on

    Yeah, it’s definitely not about saving money and saving space – it’s about the satisfaction of creating your own treat, knowing exactly what’s in it, tasting better than most stuff from the store and being able to experiment with unusual flavors that you can’t buy in the grocery store.

    If I told you it made frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato, and granitas too, would you consider it a multi-tasker?

  30. posted by koos on

    I have the exact same model pictured above and l-o-v-e it. We probably make a batch every few weeks, although that tapers off in the winter months or when we get really busy. If you’re into homemade ice cream, I can’t recommend enough the book “The Perfect Scoop” — it has completely reinvigorated my ice-cream making. The machine itself certainly takes up a lot of space (both on our baker’s rack and in the freezer, natch), but even though I am a space freak I don’t end up minding the loss if it means I get to eat fresh mango-lime sorbets whenever I feel like it. Of all the frivolous kitchen gadgets out there, this (even more than my bread maker), is the one I’d have on hand.

  31. posted by Kirk on

    Hmmm… all this passion makes me want homemade ice cream. But I’m not ready for that big thing in my house.

    For those who want to try it without the unitasker, an alternative to the ziploc bag method is the coffee can method: http://www.kidsdomain.com/craft/coffeecn.html

  32. posted by Debbie on

    You can make interesting flavors like peanut butter, grape soda, you favorite cookies, or peppermint without added dye. Also, once you find a recipe you like, you can have it whenever you want and not have to hope the company doesn’t go out of business or change their formula. And you can make it with some skim milk or artificial sweetener or less sweetener, etc.

    I have the old-fashioned crank kind. So I also get good exercise and/or can use it to occupy children. The salt water that drips out can kill weeds growing from the cracks in my patio. And I think it’s pretty and makes a nice decoration.

    That said, I’ve only used it once in the last ten years. Now that I have a roommate who doesn’t eat ice cream, one half-gallon can last me several months. And, as another poster pointed out, you can make ice cream without an ice cream maker. Or if you can just find a good basic flavor, you can add your own peanut butter, cookies, or peppermint. So in my case, you’re probably right, and I probably should get rid of mine.

  33. posted by chaddq on

    Use mine all the time. I’m not trying to save money when I make ice cream at home, nor am I saving a trip to the neighborhood DQ; ice cream just tastes better – cleaner – when you make it at home. AND, when you gather up all your ingredients, you’re reminded of just how much fat is in ice cream and you tend to eat less.

    My favorite thing about home ice cream makers is the freezable bowl; I keep mine in the freezer at all times and use it a number of different ways. Today I made potato salad and, after the potatoes finished boiling, dumped them and some cold water into the frozen ice cream maker bowl so that they cooled down more quickly.

  34. posted by Elizabeth on

    can we agree, if a person uses and values something, it’s not clutter, no matter how much space it takes up? or how much it sheds? (i’m still laughing at the pets as clutter post, almost as idiosyncratic as this one!) to each his own.

    thanks for a great blog, and if anyone sends you an ice-cream maker, you can always forward it to me if you don’t want it!

  35. posted by bwbradley on

    I have one, and I use it frequently. I live in the deepest South, on the edge of a swamp, where ice cream is fun to make and delightfully cooling in the summer. We mostly use it for making our own fruit sorbets, which is much cheaper than buying them, and I like knowing exactly what we are eating (or not). So for us, especially in the summer, this is a very necessary, daily-use item and I wouldn’t be without it. However, I am willing to give up the bread machine . . . .

  36. posted by phishie on

    It’s funny you made this post because I’ve been itching to pick one up or ask for one for my birthday recently. I suppose your point is valid for most people but I’m a ice cream junky and would never run out of ideas for a new flavor.

    So if anyone out there has one gathering dust on a shelf, I would certainly pay to take it off your hands :), send me a message- [email protected]

  37. posted by Kate on

    Like angorian, I have a Donvier that I got at a garage sale and wouldn’t trade it in for anything; aside from ice cream, I also buy fat free flavoured yogurt to churn. Both are yummy, and my friends have standing orders for my Pecan Pie with Bourbon ice cream.

  38. posted by Lee2706 on

    Unitasker (unit asker?), yes. A waste for us, no. Like most posters in previous comments, I like how we can really control what goes into our food.

    Haven’t done the price breakdown yet, but someday soon I want to get a pint of store-bought premium and compare to my homemade version. Especially how much air there is in those brand-name pints.

  39. posted by Shannon on

    @chaddq: Great tip about multiuses of the bowl–I hadn’t thought of that. Beats having a gignatic bowl of ice cubes and water on hand to cool things in.

    I love my ice cream maker. Have the one pictured. We don’t use it often, but it is totally worth it for the unique taste of homemade ice cream and the ability to make sorbets in non-standard flavors (like strawberry-red wine!).

  40. posted by Perri Kersh on

    We have an electric ice cream maker (not the freezer kind) that makes 4 qts. and we use it regularly throughout the summer. I like that we can use fresh fruit, control the amount of sugar that goes in, and feed our children ice cream without loads of artificial ingredients. Plus, our kids get a clue about how food is made. I grew up with the old hand-crank type of ice cream maker and we would all take turns cranking the ice cream. I love that concept…but you can’t beat the ease of the electric ice cream maker. I typically agree with you about single-use appliances…but in this case, I have to disagree! I’ll scream for ice cream any day!

  41. posted by Nora Rocket on

    I just used my ice cream maker (pictured model) last night to make a buttermilk-lemon sorbet from the NYT online yesterday. From thought to treat in about three hours, and all I had to pick up was $1.69 worth of buttermilk. I’m with Shannon on non-standard flavours, too–I’m trying to work together a balsamic sorbet and also a honey ice cream this summer.

    Oh and: we got the maker because we do not have a car and getting ice cream home from the store in non-soup form was impossible. Try biking a pint home on your back–or even in a pannier–in July!

  42. posted by Heather on

    Unitasker? Well, if you expand the definition a bit, it makes frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelatto, sorbet, etc. And it makes it with quality ingredients. We make lovely unique flavors as well as the most amazing coffee and chocolate ice creams. It doesn’t really take up much storage space for the amount of pleasure we derive from this

  43. posted by J Bell on

    Where we live – Taiwan – real ice cream costs around $3 US a dip. The more “common” brands are less but only come in flavors such as Corn, Red Bean, or Green Tea. We have one of the pictured makers so that we can enjoy more “Western” flavors 🙂

  44. posted by Meags on

    I bought an ice cream maker with the intention of using it all the time, thinking it would be loads of fun. (It was a crank type). I never even took it out of the box! I’d just rather scoop it out of the carton!

  45. posted by cary on

    You’ve got to be kidding me!! This many Unclutterer readers have, love, and regularly use ice cream makers? Knock me over with a feather. I mentioned mine in last week’s Waffle Maker comments. It is the largest small appliance I own, dwarfing even my beloved Kitchenaid mixer. (I learned too late that Kitchenaid makes an ice cream maker attachment for it.)

    Now, Rodney – the Ben & Jerry’s cookbook? Hmm.

  46. posted by vertigo on

    I bought that exact ice cream maker in the picute. Used it once and returned it. Granted the sorbet I made was delicious but I don’t have the patience to wait 24 hours for the container to freeze, then another 6 hours for the contents to mix and yet anouth 24 – 48 hours for it to actually set up to a really ice cream consistency. I don’t know about everyone else but when I want ice cream I want it now, not 3 days from now. If you really want an ice cream maker I would suggest actually making the investment for one that has the ability to actually cool itself. The ones that come with the container you freeze blow.

  47. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    An ice cream maker is an essential if you are lactose-intolerant and allergic to nuts. All the soy ice cream I can find on the market may have been in contact with nuts or peanuts.
    If we didn’t have this problem in the family, I would be buying my ice cream because when on sale it is litre-for-litre cheaper than the milk & cream needed to put in the ice cream maker!

  48. posted by Patia on

    I just bought the machine pictured. I’ve only made one batch, but am pleased so far. I’m lactose intolerant and I’ll be able to use my favorite Silk soy creamer instead of dairy. I also plan to experiment with sugar alternatives such as stevia, agave and lo han.

    I’m following the advice to keep the bowl in the freezer at all times and it was only in there overnight before I made my first batch. Also, it took me 30 minutes of “churning” to make a soft-serve consistency.

    I can’t wait to try whole-fruit sorbets and frozen yogurt this summer!

  49. posted by Kenny on

    Definitely disagree here. If you like your ice cream (and have a little patience) nothing beats making your own. You control what goes into it and its a lot cheaper (well again I guess this depends on what goes into it) and you could make any number of flavours you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.

  50. posted by D-Day on

    We love ours even though we only use it a few times per year. We spend more than cheapy store ice cream but save as compared to the premium ice creams by using the highest quality ingredients possible. The Cuisinart model is fantastic but if you’re looking for less of a Unitasker, the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment to the stand mixer is a great choice. The ice cream maker part is bulky but at least you’re not buying and storing two motors.

  51. posted by Anonymous on

    We got ours with a gift certificate to a department store. We use it every summer. We like knowing our ice cream is both cheaper and healthier than what we can get in the stores. We also can make more than 1.5 quarts at once – it wouldn’t be worth it for smaller quantities. We like being able to serve homemade ice cream to guests – especially at larger parties.

  52. posted by Patia on

    I posted before, but I wanted to add that last night I made peach frozen yogurt with my new Cuisinart and OMG, it was SO good. Thirty minutes of churning and I got a nice, thick consistency.

  53. posted by K1rk on

    If you like to cook, making ice cream is one of the best things to make. It is SO MUCH BETTER when you make your own.

    I was going to be snotty and just drop this URL. It is a recipe for the best ice cream you’ll ever taste…well, at least it is this week’s best ice cream you’ll ever taste:


  54. posted by maja on

    Another reason for making your own ice cream is if you suffer from celiac disorder (gluten allergy). It is a serious problem, one that can lead to cancer. Gluten is in EVERYTHING it seems. If you make your own ice cream you know exactly what goes in it.

  55. posted by melsky on

    I make frozen yogurt in mine, that I like to eat with granola for breakfast on hot summer days like today. I had some this morning actually.

    I make ice cream in it too.

  56. posted by Anonymous on

    I make egg free ice cream for my egg allergic daughter. Plus I can make a bunch of ice cream for family parties and it’s cheap. And it does really taste good and if I get a hankering for say, cinnamon ice cream, well, it’s easy to whip up a batch.

  57. posted by Unclutterer » Archive » Unitaskers we love on

    […] cream maker. Much to Matt’s disdain, I love my ice cream maker. I fill it with fresh cream from my farmer’s market and invent […]

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