- 1. Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker
- 2. Whynter ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker
- 3. Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
- 4. Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream Maker
- 5. Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
- 6. Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
- 7. Whynter ICM-201SB Stainless Steel Bowl Ice Cream Maker
- 8. AmazonBasics Automatic Homemade Ice Cream Maker
- 9. Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker
- 10. Nostalgia Electric Ice Cream Maker
The Best Ice Cream Maker
Although an ice cream maker isn’t really an essential kitchen gadget, it is one that is guaranteed to put a smile your face. There is no need to wait for the ice cream van to pay your neighbourhood a visit on a hot day, or to be disappointed when your local shop has sold out of your favourite flavour.
Be it a refreshing treat on a summers day, or a dessert that is bound to please your family, ice cream is always a winner. And while an ice cream maker is an extravagant appliance, it caters to your creativity, so you can enjoy experimenting with flavour combinations to your heart’s content. Who said ice cream has to be unhealthy or even sweet?
Ice cream makers come in different shapes, sizes and styles, so we describe some of the best machines available, together with the key features to consider when selecting the best ice cream maker for your taste buds.
Fully automatic ice cream maker
Brushed stainless-steel casing
Large ingredient spout
8.25 x 8 x 11.2 inches
Double-insulated freezer bowl
Removable paddle and bowl
Our best choice for an ice cream maker, the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker is a fully automatic, very easy to use frozen bowl model.
Once the freezer bowl is ready, place it on the base of your ice cream machine, close the lid and start the power. Then, once the machine is operating, pour your cold ingredients in, and wait for about 20 minutes. Although it may sound strange, for best results you should only put ingredients in your ice cream maker once it is operational. The ICE-30 makes great soft serve ice cream in a short period of time, and with a very easy to use operation.
Some reviews have stated that this freezer bowl doesn’t freeze properly after a few uses, but this is likely due to the maintenance of the maker. We recommended that you never put this bowl in a dishwasher or wash it with extremely hot water, as this could damage the freezing liquid in the bowl.
Large capacity (2 quarts)
Dessert ready in 25minutes (once freezer bowl is frozen)
Very simple to use
A little noisy
Self-contained frozen dessert maker
Removable bowl and churn blade
Built-in audible timer
Motor shuts off if the mixture freezes solid
11 x 18.5 x 10 inches
The ICM-15LS is a compressor-style machine. This Whynter ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker claims to have changed the way we view home use ice cream makers. This is primarily due to the quick-freezing operation. There is no need for any pre-freezing of bowls or components. You simply add your ingredients, set the timer and wait.
The built-in timer has an audible alert for when your product is ready, so you don’t need to keep a close watch on the operation. The motor will also automatically shut off if your mixture becomes too thick or frozen, preserving your ice cream and the machine. The digital display is basic but shows you everything you need to know at a glance.
The Whynter iCM-15LS also comes with a spatula and measuring cup, which makes mixing and serving ice cream even easier. Plus you don’t have to buy additional utensils. There are a few downsides to this ice cream maker, although it is still a popular choice.
Digital timer and controls
No need for pre-freezing
Small and fast for a compressor
Not a very attractive model
Not easy to add ingredients
Not great value for money compared to other brands
Firstly, if you are attracted by the stainless steel title that comes with this machine, be warned that this only refers to the top and sides. The bowl itself is plastic, so not as durable as a stainless steel version.
Secondly, you should be aware that while the removable bowl function means that it is easier to clean, this does mean your best ice cream won’t be as smooth or freeze as quickly as other options. This is because models with removable bowls have slightly reduced insulation, compared to built-in container versions. As a result, they don’t freeze your mixture quite so quickly. The quicker the freezing, the smoother your ice cream will be.
Lastly, the clear plastic lid allows you to watch what is going on inside the maker, but it has only a small window through which you can add ingredients, so it is often easier to take the whole lid off when adding ingredients.
12 different settings including sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato, and ice cream
1.5 quarts capacity
15.8 x 11 x 11 inches
Self refrigerating compressor
Fully automatic or manual functions
Keep cool setting
Pre cool setting
Musical tune when dessert is ready
Our premium pick for the best ice cream maker is the Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker. It is a compressor model, so no need to freeze any bowls between uses and it pre-cools in 10minutes.
The unique feature of this model is that you can easily set the firmness of your chosen product using the manual dial. The smart scoop machine will then determine how long it needs to work. The Breville is the first ice cream maker to automatically detect the firmness of the mixture based on your selection. This means you can get gelato, frozen yogurt or other frozen desserts and drinks made perfectly, without the guesswork.
The settings are also accompanied by a selection of melodic tunes, alarms, and a silent function so you can personalize your notifications. It won’t impact the quality of your ice cream, but it is a nice little touch.
Versatile – 12 different settings
Weight and size
Gap between paddle and sides
The Smart scoop ice cream maker also comes with a keep cool function that lasts for three hours and operates relatively quietly for a large compressor.
The only criticism of this machine is that there is a relatively large gap between the paddle and the sides of the container, which means that it doesn’t make the smoothest ice cream and leaves a small quantity of the recipe frozen solidly on the side of the bowl.
As it is an expensive choice that takes up a considerable amount of counter space (and is heavy to move around), this is a great machine if you are planning to make ice cream or frozen desserts on a regular basis. It is one of the best ice cream makers available.
Makes frozen desserts in 20 minutes
Double insulated freezer bowl
Easy lock transparent lid
9.5 x 9 x 11 inches
The large spout makes adding ingredients simple
Limited 3-year warranty
Machines don’t get much easier to operate than our best value choice. You just add your ingredients and press ON! Another offering from Cuisinart is the Cuisineart Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream Maker. This is a frozen bowl ice cream maker, so the bowl must be cleaned, dry and completely frozen before it is ready to use. Once the freezer bowl is prepared and attached to the base, the heavy-duty motor makes the 20 minutes of mixing time quicker than many other models.
Our best value choice is so easy to operate, is lightweight, and very reasonably priced. And, given the low price point of this machine, an unexpected added feature is the 3-year guarantee.
As it is a freezer bowl model, the ICE-21 isn’t as quick to use as a compressor model, so you will need to ensure your bowl goes into your freezer a good 24 hours before along with your ice cube trays. It is also best used just for ice cream or frozen yogurt products. This will work well with your ice machine.
Large spout to easily add ingredients
Simple to use
Fast and even freezing due to double insulation
Best results only with frozen yogurt or ice cream
Commercial quality compressor
16.7 x 12 x 9.3 inches
Two paddles – gelato and ice cream
60-minute countdown timer
10-minute keep cool feature
Cuisinart keeps their machines coming, this time with the ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker. This is a compressor ice cream maker, so no need for pre-freezing, and it can make both ice cream and gelato with no trouble. The digital display and touchpad controls, combined with the 10-minute stay-cool feature help to make this a very user- friendly design. However, it is doesn’t have a huge capacity considering its weight and size.
It has two different paddles, one for gelato and one for ice cream so you can make high-quality versions of both desserts. The ICE-100 has an automatic countdown of 60 minutes, but the transparent lid will let you keep an eye on the texture of your concoction in case it is ready before the timer finishes.
If you are someone who knows the difference between gelato and ice cream and you want to make both frozen desserts regularly, then this is a good, albeit pricey, investment.
Easy to use
1-hour start to finish
Nice looking design
Expensive compared to other Cuisinart models
Small spout to add ingredients
Tricky to clean thoroughly
Heavy if you plan to keep moving it in and out of a cupboard
An ingredient window to pour ingredients directly through the top
Heavy-duty motor to make and dispense ice cream
Removable dispensing bracket with handle
Rubber non-slip feet
1 1⁄2-Quarts freezer bowl
Three Condiment Containers
Removable Drip Tray
9.7 x 9 x 18 inches
Firstly, the Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker looks fantastic, like something you would find in an old fashioned ice cream parlor. In addition to it making ice cream, it also has a cone holder for your soft serve dessert and three condiment dispensers so you can add multiple toppings.
Cuisinart has designed this to be user friendly, with a simple, fully automatic operation and many removable parts to make even the washing up quite manageable. However, with all the removable parts, it is a little complicated to assemble and may not be worth the effort if you only want to make one serving.
The ICE-45 does produce delicious soft-serve ice cream, but the condiments or toppings need to be really tiny to fit through the dispenser, and it does get quite messy. It also is not ideal for making large quantities of ice cream as part of the mixture gets left behind in the 1.5-quart bowl, rather than coming through the dispenser.
Double insulated bowl
Quick preparation (approx. 20 minutes)
Only dispenses a quart of ice cream as excess is left in the bowl
Freezer bowl needs up to 24 hours freezing
A little messy to prepare and operate
Removable stainless steel mixing bowl
BPA-free churn blade
Motor Protection Function to prevent damage if the mixture freezes
LCD timer control
Built-in audible timer
10.7 x 12.5 x 14.25 inches
The Whynter ICM-201SB Stainless Steel Bowl Ice Cream Maker compressor model is one of the largest capacity compressor options, which stands out from the competition because of its generous capacity and its stainless steel bowl, making it a safer, more durable choice.
Safety was clearly at the front of the manufacturers’ minds when they designed this, as in addition to the stainless steel construction, all components are CFC free, and the motor will shut down it becomes too hot, or the mixture becomes too hard. Thus protecting you, and the machine.
It is a pretty hefty machine, so you won’t want to move it around your kitchen regularly, but it has very easy to use functions and comes from a brand that is best known for its ice cream makers.
No pre-freezing required
Stainless steel bowl and casing
Easy presets – ice cream mode, cooling only, or mixing only mode
Make ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet, and sherbet
Less than 30 minutes to make a frozen dessert
Mess-free design with easy-lock lid
Large spout to add ingredients easily
Double-insulated freezer bowl
Freezer bowl must be hand washed
8.8 x 7.5 x 10.5 inches
For those of you that have always fancied an ice cream maker but have been put off by the cost, then our budget choice AmazonBasics Automatic Homemade Ice Cream Maker may be the best solution for you.
It is a frozen bowl model, so remember you will need to freeze the bowl thoroughly before use, but then it can produce desserts in less than 30 minutes, which is pretty good for a budget model. It has the same capacity of many more expensive brands and even has a larger spout than many of them, which helps to make it user-friendly. What is particularly great about this model is how lightweight and compact it is, so if you don’t want your ice cream maker to take up much space, or you need a machine that is easy to store then this meets your needs.
Granted, from a design perspective, it looks more like a small rubbish bin than a kitchen gadget, but the AmazonBasics automatic machine is a cheap and cheerful option to try making ice cream.
Easy to use
Large spout to easily add ingredients
Double insulated bowl
Small and lightweight
24 hours pre-freezing of freezer bowl required
Improved paddle with a faster processing time
Control panel with LCD screen
Countdown timer with automatic shutoff
Ingredient spout with an integrated measure
Limited 3-year warranty
If you are familiar with the Cuisinearts’ ICE-21 model, you may consider the Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker as an upgrade. It has a very generous 2-quarts bowl, instead of the standard 1.5-quart capacity and has a faster mixing and processing speed due to the paddle design. The increased speed accounts for the additional noise.
The ice cream isn’t necessarily any better with this machine than the other Cuisinart versions, but the gelato and sorbet do have better results due to the amount of air that this machine can whip around. The machine also comes with the easy to use features such as the LCD display, a timer that automatically stops the motor when it is complete and a weight of only 14llbs. You also get the reassurance of the 3-year warranty.
ICE-70 is an excellent option if you want to switch between ice cream, gelato, and sorbet, or if you are planning on making larger quantities of dessert.
Makes extra creamy ice cream
Has a gelato slow-spinning mode
Count down timer with shut off when complete
Automatic shut off if the motor gets too hot
Makes ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato
No manual effort needed
Electric motor locks into place to keep all parts secure
Nostalgia is one of the best ice cream maker brands when it comes to making ice cream the old-fashioned way. The ice and salt ice cream makers give you the ability to make ice cream the traditional way, but without the elbow grease! The Nostalgia Electric Ice Cream Maker has a powerful built-in motor that will do all the churning and mixing for you.
It is highly portable, one of the best ice cream makers in terms of capacity, and can also be used to make gelato and frozen yogurt. All you need is ice, rock salt, and your ingredients but you will need a lot of ice, and while it says you do not need to pre-freeze anything, you will get the best results if you freeze the aluminum canister before use.
Most of the Nostalgia machine is made of plastic so it may not last as long as some stainless steel options, but this is an excellent value for money homemade ice cream makers.
Easy to assemble
No manual effort required
Need to freeze aluminum container for several hours
A little messy compared to compressor and freezer bowl machines
Takes up a lot of space
Features To Consider With Ice Cream Makers
The capacity of the main container of an ice cream maker will determine how much ice cream or frozen dessert you can make. Most ice cream makers are around 1.5 quarts (1 liter) with some of the more compact versions only creating 1quart. If you want to make large batches of dessert, for example for parties or large family gatherings, then a machine that can handle 2 quarts may be the best choice.
Ease Of Cleaning
Eating and making ice cream is an enjoyable experience, and you don't want to sap all of that joy out with tedious washing up. Many ice cream makers now come with removable containers and paddles, which makes it easier than trying to wash the entire machine. Although you may be tempted to fast track your cleaning by putting the freezer bowls in the dishwasher. This may be quick and easy, but it will damage the cooling element, affecting its ability to freeze in the future.
Start to finish freezing times will vary according to the ingredient you use to make your frozen dessert, but on average, most ice cream makers claim to freeze in between 20 and 60 minutes. It is important to note that this refers to the amount of time it takes to make ice cream once the ingredients are added. It does not include the time it takes for a machine to pre-cool (for compressor machines) or the chilling of the freezer container (frozen bowl machines), which can take between 8 and 24 hours depending on your freezer. The best ice cream usually has comes from a maker with fast freezing time. The quicker a machine can freeze your mixture, the creamier it is likely to be.
Many ice cream makers come with a timer that automatically counts down during the operation. Some devices will announce the end of a program with an audible alert. If you will be varying the type of desserts you use your maker for then an adjustable timer that lets you set different programs could be worth the additional cost.
Types Of Ice Cream Makers
The more basic ice cream makers produce relatively soft dessert, that can be eaten immediately. For ice cream that takes longer to melt, and that is more comparable to shop-bought versions, it is best to put your ice cream in the freezer for a couple of hours after mixing.
If you are using a soft scoop maker then this is not necessary. Some ice cream makers can be used to make gelato with a different paddle and a slower speed, so you should adjust your recipe accordingly.
Ice cream makers freeze your mixture using three different methods, meaning that there are three different ways to hit your sweet spot.
- Compressor - The compressor model comes with a built-in freezer, and this is what freezes your mixture. Because of this built-in freezer, there is very little preparation required from you before you use the machine, so it is one of the most convenient options available. Typically they will produce ice cream in around 30 minutes, depending on your ingredients and desired texture. The downside of the compressor-style makers is that they can be quite cumbersome and quite expensive.
- Frozen Bowl - Frozen bowl machines have an insulated bowl that contains a sealed chiller liquid. This bowl is removable and has to be placed in the freezer for up to 24 hours before use. It is the cooling properties of this bowl that, once attached to the motorized base turn your churned ingredients into a frozen dessert.
- Ice-Salt - In these models, ice and rock salt are used to chill its container and therefore freeze your ingredients. Ice, mixed with rock salt, is placed between a bucket and an inner canister, and this keeps the ingredients chilled while they are churned. This is the closest maker you will get to the old fashioned method of preparing ice cream.
Such models are great for making back to back batches in quick succession, provided you have a good supply of ice. They are a little messy, as the melted ice has to go somewhere, but they are fast, affordable, and generally come with large containers.
The advantage of ice cream makers without a built-in freezer unit (either ice-salt or frozen bowl) is that they are considerably cheaper than a compressor model. However a compressor model allows you to make multiple batches of ice cream in one day, you don't have to wait for a bowl to refreeze or make more ice.
Ice Cream Maker FAQ
Q: How long does it take to make ice cream in an ice cream maker?
The time it takes to make ice cream depends on your ingredients, how chilled the ingredients are, the temperature of the machine, etc. which is why it is a good idea to keep an eye on your ice cream maker to make sure you get your required consistency. The average time is around 30-40 minutes, but this is once the machine is ready for operation. Depending on the type of machine you choose, this could mean freezing the bowl (several hours) or pre-cooling the compressor (around 15 minutes). You should factor this in when preparing your dessert.
When ice cream comes out of the ice cream maker, it is perfectly safe and delicious to eat; however, it will only be partially frozen. If you want to have a slightly harder ice cream that won't melt instantly, you can put it back in your freezer for a further 2 or 3 hours to get the best results.
Q: Is it cheaper to make your own ice cream?
Before investing in an ice cream maker, many people want to know if it will save them money in the long run, compared to buying shop-bought ice cream. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer as it depends on a lot of variables, namely the quality of your ingredients, how much you have spent on the machine, and the brand of ice cream you buy.
Generally speaking though, homemade ice cream will be a little bit more expensive, due to the cost of the ingredients and the fact that you can't make large quantities at one time, so you don't really get any economies of scale.
Q: How do you make homemade ice cream creamy and not icy?
If you are using a compressor method, many manufactures will state that you don't have to pre-cool your ice cream maker, but to get the best, creamiest dessert, we recommended that you do. You should also ensure your ingredients are well chilled.
If you are using a frozen bowl ice cream maker, you need to ensure the freezer bowl is completely and utterly frozen. This is why the recommendation is to leave it in your freezer for up to 24 hours.
The creamier, smoother texture comes from the speed at which your mixture becomes frozen. So, if you add a chilled mixture to a pre-cooled container, it freezes much faster to give you smoother ice cream.
Lastly, if you have decided to freeze your mix further once it has been churned, to get a more solid dessert, it is best to transfer it from the maker to the freezer immediately. This will stop ice crystals growing and stop your ice cream from having a crunch, icy texture.