Last updated on August 31st, 2022 at 07:41 pm
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There is something nostalgic about making ice cream at home.
It is almost magic to watch ingredients like cream and sugar transform into a silky, delicious treat.
While you could do the traditional churn using a bucket of ice, ice cream makers are countertop appliances that help you whip up a pint of your favorite ice cream at home with minimal effort.
The decision to buy an ice cream maker is easy – like the decision to add a chocolate drizzle to your homemade vanilla bean ice cream.
The only question is which ice cream maker is best.
There is no shortage of brands and models to choose from today, but to help save you the hassle of sifting through them, we’ve created a list of the very best.
How We Chose Our Best Ice Cream Makers
Making ice cream at home is easy when you have the right appliance to do the work for you.
You toss in the ingredients, hit a few buttons, and you have homemade ice cream in no time.
Some machines are more complicated, others simplify and even speed up the process. All of them come with a budget – and sometimes that budget can be overwhelming.
To make the process of picking out the right ice cream maker easier, we rated our top units based on:
- Convenience: We looked at the overall convenience of using each ice cream maker, including how much manual labor you must invest to get out those scoops.
- Budget: Whether you have a budget ready to rival the local soft serve store or you are operating on something tighter, we looked at the expense of each unit, so you know how much you can expect to pay.
- Settings: Can you only make soft serve? Does it do gelato or sorbet? We let you know the settings and styles of ice cream each manufacturer can deliver.
- Wait Time: Most importantly, how long you must wait to enjoy your hard work.
Top 6 Best Ice Cream Makers for Everyday Use
From that velvety smooth churned ice cream to a crisp sorbet, you are ready to dive in and enjoy ice cream making at home.
To get you started, here is our list of the very best ice cream makers money can buy – including a few nostalgic brands.
1. Whynter ICM-200LS Automatic Ice Cream Maker 2 Quart Capacity Stainless…
Anyone that buys a Whynter raves about the ice cream quality this machine provides. It makes the smoothest ice cream, but it is also incredibly easy to use. While it is churning away on the counter, you don’t have much noise, and it has a self-refrigeration compressor, which means no pre-freezing the bowl a day before the big ice cream day.
One batch yields 1.6 quarts of ice cream, and you can get scoops in 30 to 40 minutes.
Not only can you do traditional American ice cream, but you also have gelato, sherbets, and frozen yogurt options.
Cleaning is easy with the Whynter model, and the blade pops out, so you can scoop right from the machine when ice cream is done.
The Whynter is incredibly convenient and only requires you to dump in the ingredients and press a button. Even better, you can immediately rinse out the bowl and start on the second batch, because you have no prep work required when using the Whynter models.
2. Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker, Brushed Stainless Steel
The Breville Smart Scoop offers up creamy ice cream and more features than the Whynter. It also has a pre-programmed 12 settings, LCD screen, and a keep-cool function, so you don’t have to worry about your ice cream melting if you don’t get to it right after it turns off.
The Breville is incredibly easy to use – even the kids can help make ice cream at home. Each batch yields up to 1.5 quarts, and it requires minimal effort on your part. The only thing you need to do is add the ingredients and pick the right setting. From there, the machine does the rest.
Clean-up is pain-free with the Smart Scoop too, and because you don’t pre-freeze the bowl, you can start on the next batch right after the first.
3. Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker, Brushed Chrome, Ice Cream…
The Cuisinart ICE-100 is another compressor ice cream maker that offers the convenience of mixing and freezing the ice cream for you. Luckily, this model is slightly cheaper than the Whynter and Breville models but still delivers a scoop-worthy product.
It takes less than one hour to make a frozen dessert, and you get 1.5 quarts per batch.
It also has a countdown timer, so you know when to retrieve it, and it comes with an authentic gelato paddle too. Unlike the Breville, it only keeps cool for 10 minutes after the cycle, so keep an eye on that countdown timer.
4. Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Mix Serve 1.5-Quart Soft Service Ice Cream Maker,…
- Easy-lock Lid with Window – Lid is designed to remove and lock easily. An ingredient window allows you to pour…
- Mixing Arm (not shown) – Mixes and aerates ingredients in freezer bowl to create smooth soft ice cream, Dispensing…
- 1 1⁄2-Quart Freezer Bowl (not shown) – Contains cooling liquid within a double-insulated wall to create fast and…
Most of the ice cream makers in our top list can do soft serve and other ice creams equally well, but the Cuisinart ICE-45 is still worth putting up at the top because it delivers on its promises.
This dedicated soft serve machine turns your home into an ice cream parlor – complete with sprinkle dispensers.
It is fully automatic, so you add and start and walk away until it’s done. It makes 1.5 quarts of soft serve, which is about 10 to 12 servings. You need to pre-freeze the bowl before use, but most consumers find it is well worth the wait.
5. Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker, Brushed Chrome
You can upgrade to 2 quarts of ice cream with the Cuisinart model. It includes an LCD screen with three-speed options, an ingredient spout so you can add liquids and solids without spills, and a recipe book to help get you started.
Cuisinart’s version takes 20 minutes to reach scoop time, and you can make ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and gelato in this single unit. It has a countdown timer on the outside, and it shuts off automatically, so you don’t have to worry about over-churning.
The only catch is that the Cuisinart requires pre-freezing of the bowl, and it needs to reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit before you can use it. So, if you want ice cream on the fly, you won’t find that here.
6. Yonanas Classic Original Healthy Dessert Fruit Soft Serve Maker,…
- Fruit soft serve machine: Easily create yummy vegan tasting treats by adding any combination of chocolate, or fruits…
- Healthy goodness: With Yonanas, you can instantly churn 100 percent frozen fruits to create a healthy vegan dessert…
- Easy and fun to use: Transform 100 percent frozen fruit into dessert in just seconds by simply inserting frozen banana…
Yonanas takes fruits and turns them into something delicious (not to mention healthy).
While it is not your traditional ice cream maker, it makes extra-creamy soft serve in a matter of minutes. The only catch is you must pre-freeze (and peel) your fruits before passing them through.
You push the frozen fruits through the machine’s chute and press gently on the plunger. From the bottom comes fresh, homemade ice cream without milk or sugar.
The Yonanas is loud compared to other ice cream makers and clean up requires some disassembly after everything is done, but worth it for those who are lactose intolerant or want healthier ice cream in the house.
A Buyer’s Guide for Purchasing the Best Ice Cream Maker
Whether you go off the list above or shop for yourself, you need to know a few critical details for picking out the right ice cream maker.
Not all ice cream makers cover the various styles of ice cream, so be sure to educate yourself on the ice cream index. Serious Eats says the main types are hard custard (your traditional type of ice cream), gelato (an Italian variation using a higher volume of milk), frozen yogurt (using yogurt and sugar for a tangy desert), sorbet (a blend of real frozen fruit that is dairy-free), soft serve (a low-butterfat ice cream from milk fat), and sherbet (an ice cream using equal amounts of milk and another liquid).
When looking at your ice cream maker options, consider the types of ice cream it makes (and what you like to eat). Then, consider the following:
- Electric versus Manual: Yes, you can still buy manually churning ice cream makers that use the rock salt and ice. Consider the amount of effort you want to put in, and whether you want an electric model that does some (or all) the work, or a manual churn bucket.
- Compressor Freezing Units: Some ice cream makers require you to pre-freeze the bowl. If you are not the patient type, then you want to shop for compressor units. These freeze the ice cream themselves and can whip up a batch in less than one hour.
- Serving Time: Again, consider your patience. All machines do not have the same serving times. Even high-end models vary on how long they take to finish. If you want a device that allows you to whip up a midnight snack and not take all night, look for one that can complete the job in 30 to 40 minutes. Most compressor units take under an hour, while freezer bowl varieties can take anywhere from two to five hours.
- Machine Size: While you want to know the serving size (which is usually in quarts), you also need to consider machine size. How much counter space does the ice cream maker take up? Will it fit in a cabinet or need space in your pantry? Also, consider the weight. If you want to stuff your ice cream maker on the top shelf of your pantry, how difficult will it be to pull it back down for on-the-fly use?
- Budget of the Machine: The Budget and how much you are comfortable spending on an ice cream maker is entirely personal. If you are a connoisseur of frozen treats, a high-end compressor style model might be something you’re comfortable paying for. If your budget is not as forgiving, consider the cheaper models that use a freezer bowl. While it takes a little extra effort, you save a few hundred dollars.
- Warranty: Ice cream makers are a significant investment for your home, and one you want to last. Look at the manufacturer warranty, especially when buying a more expensive model. Most warranties go from one to three years, with a few spreading into the five-year mark.
A Few Last Tips Once You Buy Your Ice Cream Maker
Don’t be afraid to play around with your ice cream maker. Experiment with different flavors, mix-ins, and branch out. While you could make your garden-variety vanilla and whip up sundaes, use this opportunity to flex your culinary muscles and have some fun making your homemade treats.
Just think of the wild concoctions you can make at home – like bacon maple gelato or a wine-based sorbet.
When you have the right ice cream maker, the possibilities are endless.