We analyze consumer reviews to find the best products on the web. We buy products with our own money and test them in our lab. We also interview experts and conduct independent research to pick the winners. We have affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of revenue from purchases. It’s how we fund our Research Lab and bring you better reviews and comparisons. Read more.
Best Ice Cream Makers Updated November 2018
BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
Check Price at:
If you’re an ice cream lover, treat yourself to this high-tech, super adjustable machine from an industry-leading brand.
This high-performance appliance includes 12 settings for a custom consistency. It’s also great for parties since you can keep ice cream cold inside the machine for up to 3 hours.
You’ll have to dish out a pretty penny for this ice cream maker. It’s also large and doesn’t have handles, so it’s difficult to store and awkward to pick up and move.
Traditional Fir Wood Ice Cream Maker
Check Price at:
Patience is key for this traditional-looking ice cream maker, but you and your family will enjoy ice cream for several days after just one use.
Kids will love the classic look and hand crank that resembles an old-fashioned ice cream maker.
This ice cream machine is much slower than others on list (a few hours), but it makes the most ice cream per batch.
Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker
Check Price at:
If you’re looking for a healthy dessert alternative, you’ll love the fruity soft-serve this machine can whip up in 15 minutes or less.
It’s perfect for those who are lactose-intolerant or health-conscious. It’s also the fastest machine on this list for nearly instant gratification.
Although lightweight and fast, this machine is tall and quite loud. Since it uses frozen fruit, you won’t achieve a creamy ice cream flavor.
Automatic Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker
Check Price at:
The consistency may not be as smooth as the Breville, but the Gourmia is a great user experience. It’s easy to use, clean, and store.
This compact appliance is easy to store in small cabinets and full pantries. It only takes 20-30 minutes to make ice cream, and customers love how simple it is to breakdown and clean.
We read a few reviews that mentioned ice crystals and problems with properly closing the lid.
ICE-30R Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker
Check Price at:
Despite a longer process, the Cuisinart ice cream maker’s results are comparable to the high-end Breville model at a much lower price.
Cuisinart is a trusted name brand in home appliances so you can count on a quality product and good customer service if something goes wrong.
Some pre-planning is necessary. You have to put the drum in the freezer overnight before you intend to use this ice cream maker.
Our team has chosen five appliances that make a variety of frozen desserts in a few different ways. Whether you want the high-tech best-of-the-best appliance, or if you’re craving the authentic experience of a hand crank, we’ve found a few options for you. These machines have been tested with consistency, usability, and storage in mind because we know ice cream should be a treat—not work. Read our ice cream maker reviews and how-to’s to find the best ice cream maker for you.
Ice cream maker reviews guide
Ice cream makers certainly fall into the nice-to-have category. They’re by no means essential to daily life, which is why it can be difficult to justify the purchase. But if your kids are begging you for soft-serve, or if you just want to sweeten a mundane meal plan, an ice cream maker might be worth it.
We know that if you’re going to purchase on an ice cream maker, it better be the best ice cream you’ve ever had. That’s why we chose a variety of machines with different ice-cream-making methods and settings. Continue reading to learn how ice cream makers work, the different types of dessert they can make (think soft serve versus gelato), and some tips for making homemade ice cream.
How it works
There are three types of ice cream makers, which we discuss below: the salt and ice method, canister-style ice cream makers, and compressor-style ice cream machines. Despite these differences, ice cream makers essentially work in the same way with a drum and paddle.
The drum, freezer bowl, or canister contains the ice cream mixture. It keeps it cold and slowly freezes the mixture as it’s churned.
The paddle scrapes the ice cream batter from the sides of the drum. It mixes and aerates the mixture into harder texture. The speed at which it is turned and the amount of air mixed into the batter will determine the ice cream’s hardness, which we’ve also discussed in more detail below.
Best ice cream maker for frozen dessert aficionadosBREVILLE BCI600XL SMART SCOOP ICE CREAM MAKER
If you’re particular about your ice cream, you’ll appreciate the 12 consistency settings on the Breville ice cream maker. The pre-cool feature on this compressor style ice cream maker eliminates the prep work of homemade ice cream. You don’t have to pre-freeze any ingredients before mixing them in the Smart Scoop. If you plan to pull this machine out for a party trick, you’ll also love the three-hour setting that keeps ice cream cold inside the machine. This way, guests can continue to serve themselves instead of constantly opening and closing the freezer.
The Breville Smart Scoop (a compressor-style ice cream maker) offers the most hands-off approach to making your own ice cream.”
3 Kinds of ice cream makers
Salt and ice—Layer rock salt and ice around the bowl or bag that contains the ice cream batter. This maintains a freezing temperature around the ice cream as the mixture is churned.
Pros—If you appreciate nostalgic appliances, you’ll get an authentic homemade ice cream experience with these ice cream makers. Bonus points if yours includes a hand crank option.
Cons—You’ll have to work hard and wait a while for dessert. These machines take the most time and effort to produce ice cream.
Canister—These ice cream makers have a removable canister (also called a drum) that you’ll have to freeze first. The canister is what will freeze your batter. The frozen canister sits on a motorized base, which rotates while a paddle mixes and aerates the batter inside the canister.
Pros—Canister-style ice cream machines cost less than compressor-style.
Cons—You’ll have to freeze the canister for at least six to eight hours. This requires some pre-planning. Without a built-in compressor, the canister begins to thaw immediately after you remove it from the freezer, which can affect the ice cream’s hardness.
Best ice cream maker for the health-consciousYONANAS FROZEN HEALTHY DESSERT MAKER
If frozen yogurt is your jam, but dairy (or calories) is not, you’ll love the Yonanas Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker. Simply thaw frozen fruit for about 10 minutes before you press it down the chute gently with the plunger. You can also use this dessert maker for cold cakes, pies, and other treats. Affogato, anyone? This appliance is also a great way to minimize waste at home. Save over-ripe fruit from the trash by turning it into soft-serve.
Types of ice cream
Soft serve—Churned constantly at a lower temperature for a smoother, lighter texture than ice cream.
Ice cream—Contains at least 10% milk fat to create a truly creamy texture and taste.
Frozen custard—Contains egg yolk and is churned constantly to minimize aeration for a dense texture and rich taste.
Frozen yogurt—A yogurt mixture that is churned like ice cream.
Gelato—Contains less than half of the air content as ice cream does, which maintains gelato’s creamy texture despite using milk over cream. Also served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream.
Sherbet—Fruit, sugar, and milk churned ice-cream-style.
Sorbet—Only fruit and sugar are churned ice-cream-style for a scoopable fruity dessert.
Differences in the churning process change the ice cream’s hardness. For example, soft serve is churned constantly, which gives it a lighter texture than ice cream.”
Best ice cream maker for kidsGOURMIA AUTOMATIC STAINLESS STEEL ICE CREAM MAKER
Kids will love to play a part in making their favorite dessert. Rather than going with a totally hands-off approach (the Breville ice cream maker) or testing the kids’ patience with a drawn-out process (Aroma Housewares Traditional Ice Cream Maker), we think the Gourmia Automatic Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker is a happy medium in terms of involvement and “cook” time.
5 Tips for making homemade ice cream
You should refer to your owner’s manual for instructions, but here are the basic steps for making your own ice cream.
Don’t count calories. Unless you’re using the Yonanas Frozen Dessert Maker, you’ll need to use a dairy product as the base of the ice cream. The higher the fat content in the milk or cream, the better texture your ice cream will have.
Chill ingredients. The colder the batter is, the faster it’ll freeze.
Double-check the freezer bowl. If your machine has a removable bowl (or drum), make sure the outside is completely dry before you turn the machine on. If it’s damp or wet, it could freeze to the machine.
Handmix add-ins. Add all fruit, chocolate chips, and nuts before you “ripen” the ice cream in the next step.
Too soft to serve? After it has been churned, you might have to pop your ice cream in the freezer until it reaches the hardness level you prefer.
Best ice cream maker for the priceCUISINART ICE-30R PURE INDULGENCE FROZEN YOGURT, SORBET, AND ICE CREAM MAKER
Cuisinart is a well-regarded brand name in the kitchen appliance vertical. You know you’ll get a high-quality machine at a decent price when you buy from Cuisinart. With a 4.5-star rating on Amazon and more than 3,000 reviews, this Cuisinart ice cream maker is obviously very popular. It costs less than $100, won’t take up much counter or cabinet space, and takes only 25 to 30 minutes to produce two quarts of ice cream. You can even add mix-ins, like chocolate chips or nuts, while the ice cream is still churning in the machine rather than mixing them in by hand.
Canister-style ice cream makers require the bowl or drum to stay in the freezer between six and 24 hours before the machine can be used.”
Frequently asked questions
What is the best ice cream maker?
We like how high-tech and hands-off the Breville ice cream maker is. Getting the consistency just right was important to our team. If you share our values, but you’re not down with the Smart Scoop’s price tag, we’d suggest the Cuisinart ice cream maker.
If you plan to use your ice cream maker every day (we don’t blame you), try the Yonanas Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker. You’ll save time, money, and calories with this versatile dessert maker.
The ice cream makers we compared have a price range of $40 to $380. Canister-style ice cream machines will save you money, but compressor-style ice cream makers will save you time.
What does an ice cream maker do?
An ice cream maker makes ice cream, of course. Some machines have hardness settings, so you can make frozen desserts on both ends of the spectrum: soft-serve to gelato.
What are the ingredients to make homemade ice cream?
Most ice cream is made of milk and/or cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and sometimes egg. You can then add in your favorite flavors: cocoa powder, strawberries, peppermint extract, etc.
How much rock salt is needed to make ice cream?
Most recipes call for five to six cups of rock salt for four quarts of ice cream. A general rule of thumb is one cup of rock salt to five cups of ice.
What is overrun?
Overrun refers to the amount of air mixed into the ice cream as it is churned. Most sources cite 50% to 60% overrun is optimal for ice cream and soft serve. Hence how a Dairy Queen Blizzard “defies gravity” when it’s turned upside down before it’s served.
What is the difference between American- or Philly-style ice cream and French-style ice cream?
French-style ice cream contains egg; Philly-style ice cream does not.