They say that everyone screams for ice cream, and while people may not actually shriek at the sight of the frosty treat piled high atop a cone or in a dish, the dessert is a true crowd-pleaser.
If you’re a true ice cream connoisseur, you may grow tired of having to leave the house to visit the ice cream parlor to get your frosty fix or grow weary of the basic flavors that you can buy in stores. Ice cream makers allow you to produce your own ice cream from scratch to treat your family and wow guests. An electric ice cream maker takes the work out of whipping up your own batches of ice cream, and there are hundreds of models available today.
This guide is designed to help you determine which of the many models out there is the best ice cream maker for your needs. Read on to learn more.
What to Consider When Shopping for an Ice Cream Maker
The truth is that there is no one single best ice cream maker for the money. Some models may be affordable or fully featured, but have little benefit for you because of your specific needs.
You’ll need to consider a number of factors to determine which of the models covered in our best ice cream maker reviews is the right one for you. Before you read them, think about the following:
What Type of Ice Cream Do You Want to Make?
Some ice cream makers produce hard ice cream. Others whip up soft serve. You’ll need to figure out what type of dessert you want to fill your cones with.
How Much Ice Cream Do You Want to Make at Once?
Are you planning to just use your new electric ice cream maker to serve your family or to treat yourself? Do you need to be able to whip up a huge batch for a party? Models come in a wide range of sizes, so think carefully about your serving needs before you shop.
How Much Time Do You Have to Make Ice Cream?
Some machines can make ice cream very quickly and require very little clean-up. Others are more time-consuming or may have you spending more time cleaning the kitchen after use.
Will You Want to Make Ice Cream on Demand?
Do you want to be able to make ice cream with no advanced notice whenever you’re in the mood for a treat, or are you fine with having to plan ahead? Some ice cream makers will need hours of freezing time before you can serve your frozen treat.
How Much Storage Space Do You Have?
Even if you’re an ice cream addict, you’re unlikely to use an ice cream maker every day. As a result, you’ll want to make sure that the model you choose will fit in your cupboard or cabinet on its off days.
How Much Do You Want to Spend?
The cost of an electric ice cream maker can be as little as $35 to $40 to over $500. While all of the models that we discuss in our ice cream maker reviews offer value for the money, you’ll need to come up with a budget and figure out how much you’re willing to invest in a unit.
Types of Ice Cream Makers
How an ice cream maker works can vary from model to model. Generally, there are four main types that you should know about before you shop:
– Rock Salt and Ice Machines.
These ice cream makers are old school models that make ice cream the same way that you would by hand, only faster. They work by churning your ingredients with a layer of rock salt and ice. While they require less prep and often can make large batches of ice cream, they are messier and require more work on your part than other models.
– Freezer Bowl Machines.
One of the most popular types of ice cream makers, these models are very simple to use. Once you have them set up and ready to go, you can let them do their thing and then come back just to check on the results. Freezer bowl models do need some advanced planning to work properly. Their interior bowls must be frozen for a few hours or overnight to make them cold enough to encourage the ingredients to freeze.
– Compressor Machines.
More expensive than other types of ice cream makers, compressor models freeze ingredients using the same type of technology as the freezer in your refrigerator. They are very simple to use, but they are typically large in size and may be hard to store.
– Novelty Machines.
These unique machines have their own technologies for producing ice cream that fall outside the standard categories. Their costs, benefits and drawbacks can vary greatly. Some do an excellent job, while others just aren’t worth the money.
Now that you’ve had a crash course in all thing ice cream maker, let’s get into our list of the top models, so that you can find the best ice cream maker for the money and for your needs.
Top 10 Best Ice Cream Maker Models
10. VonShef Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker
A model that has won some awards from publications, the VonShef Fully Automatic is an excellent choice for someone who wants the benefits of a compressor-style ice cream maker but is shopping on a budget. The unit can be used to make frozen yogurt, ice cream, sorbet and sherbet.
Key benefits of the VonShef Fully Automatic include:
– Price. Selling for less than $200, this unit is one of the least expensive compressor ice cream makers on the market.
– Digital Display. An LCD display allows you to easily set up and monitor this ice cream maker. It’s nicely sized and easy to read.
– Timer. A built-in timer makes it easy to keep track of the process and ensures that you won’t forget to take out your ice cream.
Some drawbacks of the VonShef Fully Automatic include:
– Large Size. Although the VonShef Fully Automatic only makes 1.6 quarts of ice cream, it measures 26 inches by 21.5 inches by 17 inches in size, making it one of the biggest compressor models out there. It may be hard to find a place to store it.
– Volume. Although the manufacturer boasts about the ice cream maker being quiet, it’s actually quite noisy, according to customer reviews.
– Speed. It takes 60 to 90 minutes to make a batch of ice cream with the VonShef Fully Automatic, which is a lot longer than the wait with other compressor models.
9. Whynter ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker
An entry-level compressor-style ice cream maker, the Whynter ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker makes 1.5 quarts of frozen yogurt, ice cream or gelato. Known for being easy to use, the model performs well and gets good reviews from customers.
Key benefits of the Whynter ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker include:
– Digital Display. A digital display shows the amount of time remaining and the internal temperature of the ice cream maker.
– Speed. The Whynter ICM-15LS can make ice cream in as little as 30 minutes. That’s slightly faster than some competitors.
– BPA-Free. While many parts in this model are plastic, the unit is BPA-free, making it popular among those who are concerned about the effects of the plastic additive.
Some drawbacks of the Whynter ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker include:
– No Advanced Features. As an entry-level model, the Whynter ICM-15LS does not have extra features like a keep cool setting. It’s a basic, straightforward model.
– Price. For an entry-level compressor ice cream maker, this unit is expensive. It sells for more than some other models that have more advanced features.
– Size. At 18.5 inches by 11 inches by 10 inches in size, this model is bigger than other compressor ice cream makers, even some with larger capacities. It may be challenging to store.
8. Nostalgia ICMP400WD Vintage Collection 4-Quart Wood Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker
Inspired by the old-time ice cream churn, the Nostalgia ICMP400WD Vintage Collection 4-Quart Wood Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker is a rock salt and ice unit that can make up to 4 quarts of ice cream, gelato or frozen yogurt. It’s fully automatic and has solid ratings from customers.
Key benefits of the Nostalgia ICMP400WD include:
– Large Capacity. The 4-quart capacity of the Nostalgia ICMP400WD makes it perfect for large families and for those who want to make ice cream for a crowd.
– Style. The rustic chic look of this unit gives it a little extra charm. Many people like to use it for parties because people are drawn to its style.
– Simple to Clean. A BPA-free plastic liner in the bucket of the Nostalgia ICMP400WD makes the ice cream maker simple to wipe out after use.
Some drawbacks of the Nostalgia ICMP400WD include:
– Size. At 12.25 inches by 12.25 inches by 15.75 inches in size, the Nostalgia ICMP400WD is very large. It may be difficult to store in homes where space is at a minimum, and it takes up a lot of space on the countertop.
– Volume. Rock salt and ice-style ice cream makers tend to be the loudest types of ice cream makers, but the Nostalgia ICMP400WD is louder than most.
– Durability. Because this model is made out of wood, it can be damaged and could potentially rot or develop mold over time. Still, the ice cream maker costs less than $50, so it’s not expensive to replace.
7. Whynter ICM-200LS Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker
A compressor style unit, the Whynter ICM-200LS Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker can make 2 quarts of gelato, sorbet, ice cream or frozen yogurt effectively with no advanced prep time required. The model gets good reviews from customers and is made by a brand with a solid reputation.
Key benefits of the Whynter ICM-200LS include:
– BPA-Free. All of the parts of the Whynter ICM-200LS are made out of stainless steel or BPA-free plastic. It’s one of the lowest priced compressor units on the market to boast this feature.
– Digital Display. The digital display allows you to set this ice cream maker quickly and monitor the progress of making your dessert.
– Audible Timer. The timer dings when your ice cream is complete, letting you know that it’s time to go and enjoy it.
Some drawbacks of the Whynter ICM-200LS include:
– Basic Design. Compared to other compressor models, the Whynter ICM-200LS is lacking in features. It doesn’t have adjustable settings or a keep cool feature.
– Price. The Whynter ICM-200LS costs more than some other compressor models that have more features. If you’re not concerned about BPA, it’s hard to justify the difference in price.
6. Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
A deluxe compressor model, the Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker is designed for the ice cream connoisseur who wants more control when preparing frozen desserts. You can use it to make any type of frozen dessert, including sorbet, ice cream, gelato, custard and frozen yogurt.
Key benefits of the Breville BCI600XL include:
– Hardness Settings. You can set this unit to 12 different hardness settings to get your frozen dessert the perfect consistency. As a result, what comes out of the unit is just like what you’d get if you visited a gourmet ice cream shop.
– Long Keep Cool Setting. You can keep ice cream frozen inside the unit for up to 3 hours, making it very convenient.
– Pre-Cool Feature. The Breville BCI600XL can be pre-chilled before you add your ingredients, so your ingredients begin to freeze faster.
– Digital Display. An easy-to-ready LCD display makes setting and monitoring this ice cream maker simple.
Some drawbacks Breville BCI600XL include:
– Price. Really, the only downside to the Breville BCI600XL is its cost. The unit is usually sold for more than $350. Many people will find it hard to justify spending this much; however, for someone who makes ice cream often or wants true ice cream parlor quality ice cream, the model still offers value for the money.
5. Cuisinart ICE-45 Mix It In Soft Serve 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker
Inspired by the soft serve makers used at ice cream parlors, the Cuisinart ICE-45 is a freezer bowl model that can produce up to 1-1/2 quarts of soft serve frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelato, sherbet or sorbet. The model is popular for those who want to allow guests to make their own ice cream treats.
Key benefits of the Cuisinart ICE-45 include:
– Self-Serve Style. For the right person, the self-serve style of the Cuisinart ICE-45 is a big benefit. You simply pull the handle to dispense as much or as little ice cream as you want. Then, you can add the mix-ins you prefer from the three separate chambers.
– Ice Cream Cone Holder. A tray is built into this model to hold cake and sugar ice cream cones.
Some drawbacks of the Cuisinart ICE-45 include:
– Mix Ins Are Separate. The Cuisinart ICE-45’s mix-in design is fun because it allows people to create their own custom ice cream treats, but it doesn’t allow you to make ice cream with mix-ins in it. This makes it less than ideal for preparing a batch of ice cream to serve to guests premixed.
– Long Freeze Time. The freezing bowl needs to be frozen for 15 to 24 hours before use. Most customers report that a full day of freezing is needed to get the ice cream to set properly.
4. Hamilton Beach 68330N 4-Quart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker
If you want to go for a rock salt and ice-style ice cream maker, the Hamilton Beach 68330N is likely your best bet. Very affordable, the high-capacity ice cream maker is fully automatic and consistently receives good reviews from customers. You can use it to make gelato, custard, sherbet and frozen yogurt, not just ice cream.
Key benefits of the Hamilton Beach 68330N include:
– High Capacity. You can make 4 quarts of ice cream with this unit at once, so it’s a great choice if you want to make desserts for large parties.
– Price. Typically, you can buy the Hamilton Beach 68330N for around $30.
– Speed and Convenience. Ice and rock salt models can be more labor intensive than other types of ice cream makers and often take longer to get ingredients set. The Hamilton Beach 68330N outperforms many competitors, as it doesn’t require you to do any stirring or churning and can make a full batch in 20 to 40 minutes.
Some drawbacks of the Hamilton Beach 68330N include:
– Size. This model is very large at 12.5 inches by 15.3 inches by 11.1 inches in size. In homes with limited space, it may be difficult to store.
– Longevity. The parts of this ice cream maker are all plastic, so it will end up wearing out faster than some other rock salt and ice models. When you consider the price, though, it’s not much of a hardship to have to replace it.
3. Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker
For those shopping on a limited budget, the Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker is the perfect solution. This ultra affordable freezer bowl ice cream maker can produce a nice-sized batch effectively and quickly, and you can pick one up for less than $50.
Key benefits of the Cuisinart ICE-21 include:
– Speed. You can make frozen yogurt or ice cream in just 25 minutes with this model. It’s faster than many of the freezer bowl models that cost more.
– Wide Spout. A large spout makes it easy to pour your ingredients into the unit without ending up with splashes and a big mess.
– Simplicity. You can have this unit loaded up and ready to use in just seconds once the freezer bowl is ready. There is just one switch to flip to get started.
Some drawbacks of the Cuisinart ICE-21 include:
– Basic Design. As you might expect for a value-priced model, the Cuisinart ICE-21 doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. It’s a solid unit for the price, but it doesn’t have any of the handy extras than some of the other best ice cream maker models have.
– Long Freeze Time. For best results, the bowl in this model should be left in the freezer for 20 to 24 hours, so you’ll need to plan your dessert-making in advance.
2. Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
If you’re looking for a compressor model, the Cuisinart ICE-100 is likely the best ice cream maker for the money. Completely automatic, this compressor model can be used to make ice cream and gelato and is incredibly easy to use.
Key benefits of the Cuisinart ICE-100 include:
– Simplicity. You don’t have to do anything but load up this ice cream maker to get it ready to go. Even if you’ve never made ice cream before you can get delicious results on your first try.
– Mix-In Opening. A mix-in opening allows you to add in chocolate chips, candies, nuts and other goodies at precisely the right time.
– Digital Display. A countdown timer is included in the design and lets you see how much time is left before your ice cream is ready. You can set it from 10 minutes to an hour.
– Keep Cool Setting. With this feature, you can keep your ice cream frozen for up to 10 minutes after it’s finished, so you don’t have to worry about being at the ready when the batch is done.
Some drawbacks of the Cuisinart ICE-100 include:
– Cleaning. Ice cream maker reviews indicate that the interior of this model accumulates a thick layer of mess that can be very hard to clean. For best results, you should wipe it out thoroughly immediately after using it. That means that you’ll have to use some willpower and not dig into your frozen treat until clean-up is through.
– Price. While more affordable than many compressor units, this model does cost more than $200.
1. Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet and Ice Cream Maker
The number one best-seller on Amazon in the entire ice cream maker category, the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence comes in on top as the best ice cream maker for the money. It’s a 2-quart freezer bowl model that can be used to produce frozen yogurt, sorbet and ice cream, and it’s boasts a large number of benefits despite its low price.
Some key benefits of the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence include:
– Quality Craftsmanship. The housing of this ice cream maker is made out of durable stainless steel, and its motor is powerful, allowing it to work incredibly well and making it able to last through many uses.
– Speed. It only takes 25 to 35 minutes to make ice cream with this model.
– Mix-In Spout. A large spout in this unit allows you to pour in candies, fruit pieces, crushed nuts and other ingredients, so that you can make chunkier ice cream.
– Cost. You can purchase this ice cream maker for less than $100, so it’s a great choice for those who will be making ice cream occasionally.
Some drawbacks of the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence include:
– Long Freeze Time. Cuisinart says that the freezer bowl can be ready for use in as little as 6 hours; however, ice cream maker reviews indicate that for best results, you need to freeze the bowl for 18 to 22 hours.
Best Ice Cream Maker Under 500 Dollars
While too expensive to be ranked on our top 10 list, the DeLonghi GM6000 Gelato Maker with Self-Refrigerating Compressor is an impressive model that produces gourmet-quality gelato. Its powerful, efficient compressor instantly brings your ingredients to the freezing temperature, so you end up with perfect gelato in under 30 minutes. A hermetic lid seals cold inside, which also contributes to the fast performance. When you’re finished making your gelato, you can put the bowl, paddle and lid in the dishwasher to clean it up in a hurry. Keep in mind that this model is used to make ice cream with a gelato consistency only, so it is slightly limited.
Best Ice Cream Maker Under 400 Dollars
Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
With the Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker, you can make any type of ice-cream type treat and end up with a dessert that guests will swear came from an ice cream parlor. Geared toward the serious ice cream enthusiast, this advanced compressor ice cream maker puts you in full control of the process. You can learn more about its features in the review above.
Best Ice Cream Maker Under 300 Dollars
Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
The Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker came in at number two on our best ice cream maker list. A fully automatic compressor model, this unit can be used to make gelato or ice cream, and it will do so in an hour or less. Features like a digital countdown timer and a Keep Cool mode set it apart from the pack. Check out our full review on the model above for more information.
Best Ice Cream Maker Under 200 Dollars
VonShef Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker
The least expensive compressor model that we reviewed, the VonShef Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker is a good choice for someone who does not want the hassles of rock salt and ice and wants to be able to make frozen treats on the spur of the moment. You can read our full review of the model to learn more about its benefits and drawbacks.
Best Ice Cream Maker Under 100 Dollars
Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker
Rated as the best ice cream maker on our countdown, this freezer bowl model is the number one best-seller on Amazon and produces nicely sized batches of frozen yogurt, sorbet or ice cream in as little as 25 minutes. Check our full-length ice cream maker reviews to learn more about its features.
Best Ice Cream Maker Under 50 Dollars
Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker
You’ll save money with the Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker, but you’ll still be able to make a tasty batch of ice cream that’s more than enough to feed 2 to 4 people. This value-priced model was ranked third on our list due to its low price, speed and ease of use. You can read our full description of the model in the ice cream maker reviews above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Invented the Ice Cream Maker?
A housewife from Philadelphia named Nancy Johnson patented the first hand-crank ice cream maker in 1843.
How Does an Ice Cream Maker Work?
How an ice cream maker works depends on its type.
With rock salt and ice models, salt is used to lower the freezing temperature of the ice that you place in the bowl. This causes the heat from your ice cream mixture to be lost to the ice and allows it to set up. Churning the ingredients causes the liquid ice cream to gradually solidify.
Freezer bowl and compressor ice cream makers work by directly cooling down your ingredients. With freezer bowl models, the pre-frozen bowl does the job. With a compressor unit, refrigerant is placed under pressure, causing its temperature to rise. The refrigerant then starts to rapidly absorb the heat from the inside of the ice cream maker, drastically lowering its temperature to help the ingredients freeze.
How Do You Use an Ice Cream Maker?
There is no single set of instructions for how to use an ice cream maker. Each model will have its own instructions. Generally, rock salt and ice models must be loaded with the key ingredients. Then, you add your liquid ice cream mixture and switch the unit on. For freezer bowl models, you start by freezing the bowl. Then, you add ingredients into the freezing bowl chamber and turn the unit on. With compressor models, you simply pour in the ingredients to get started.
How Do You Clean an Ice Cream Maker?
The process of how to clean an ice cream maker will vary depending on the model that you purchase. Some models have removable parts that you can clean in the sink or even put in the dishwasher. Others must be wiped out with soap and water. Your electric ice cream maker will come with cleaning instructions to guide you through the process.
What’s the Difference Between an Ice Maker and an Ice Cream Maker?
An ice maker is used to freeze water into cubes or chips. An ice cream maker is used to freeze a mixture of milk, cream or yogurt with other ingredients into ice cream. You cannot make ice in an electric ice cream maker or ice cream in an ice maker.