When it’s warm outside, or you’re craving a sweet treat, nothing will hit the spot quite like ice cream. We’re convinced that the best way to enjoy this frozen treat is by making it from scratch. While transforming sugar and cream into smooth and delicious ice cream can seem like magic, but all that’s needed is the best ice cream maker.
One of the main benefits of owning the best ice cream maker is that you can experiment with different flavor combinations. Plus, you can have parties where you make your own ice cream flavors and share with your family and friends. There’s nothing as communal as sitting around an ice cream maker and taking turns churning the ice cream.
To make the best ice cream, you need the best ice cream maker that quickly freezes to prevent excess air and crunchy crystals. There are three types of ice cream makers: compressor, frozen-bowl, and hand-crank ice cream makers.
When it comes to finding the best one for you, several different things need to be considered. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the top ten best ice cream makers on the market today.
Best Compressor Ice Cream Makers
Compressor ice cream makers have built-in refrigeration, which means that you can churn the ice cream with the push of a button, and you don’t have any wait time between ice cream batches.
If you make your own ice cream regularly, the ease that comes with using a compressor ice cream maker is well worth the money.
Best Overall: Whynter 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker
If you’re looking for the best ice cream maker that even professionals use, look no further than Whynter’s 2-quart ice cream maker. It’s a powerful compressor that gets rid of the need to pre-freeze your bowl and will automatically turn off the motor once the ice cream has hardened to avoid damaging it.
The compact machine is made from stainless steel on the outside and can be effortlessly wiped down after you’re done making your ice cream. It also has a removable churn blade and removable bowl for fuss-free cleaning, storage, and scooping.
Those who have purchased this ice cream maker praise its user-friendliness and durability. Additionally, it can make unbelievable ice cream in under an hour, that’s quick for a 2-quart ice cream maker.
- Makes the best ice cream
- Easy to use
- You don’t have to pre-freeze your mixing bowl
- Terrible customer service
Best Premium Compressor: Breville Smart Scoop
For anyone serious about producing the best ice cream from the best ice cream maker, the Breville Smart Scoop is the best machine to have. It features a prechill function, which allows you to let the maker prechill for half an hour in advance, so you don’t have to wait for the machine to cool down before making your ice cream.
It also has variable speeds for the churning blade, which is great for making various ice cream styles (i.e., sorbet). Additionally, the barrel comes out for easy cleaning and is also dishwasher safe.
Some of the other benefits of this best ice cream maker is that it has 12 calibrated settings that you can choose from depending on how soft you want your ice cream. It also has internal thermometers that ensure that the maker stays at the right temperature the entire ice cream making process.
Something that you need to be mindful of is that this piece of equipment is an investment and does require a lot of room, so it’s not ideal for those with a budget or a small kitchen. Additionally, this is one of the heaviest compressor ice cream makers on this list; the Breville weighs in at 30 pounds.
- Ready to make ice cream in a few minutes
- 12-calibrated settings for the softness of the ice cream
- “Keep cool” feature
- Heavy and large
- Warms up quickly when the cover is open
Best Budget Compressor: Cuisinart ICE-100
If you’re looking for the best ice cream maker that’s also a compressor, but you’re on a budget, the Cuisinart ICE-100 is worth looking into because it costs hundreds of dollars less than the Breville of Whynter.
Cuisinart makes spectacular frozen-bowl ice cream makers, and this compressor ice cream maker is no different. It’s similar to other compressor ice cream makers. You don’t have to wait to freeze your mixing bowl. Additionally, the two different mixing paddles and a sixty-minute timer help ensure that you get the right consistency for your sorbet, ice cream, or gelato.
This is a great machine to get started with, especially if you love Cuisinart’s frozen-bowl ice cream makers. You’ll find that it is a bit heavier and bulkier than other models, but it’s worth it for the ice cream you get. This is by far the best ice cream maker if you’re on a budget.
- Built-in countdown timer
- Two mixing paddles
- 1 ½ qt ice cream bowl capacity
- Takes a long time to clean the machine after using it
Best Frozen-Bowl Ice Cream Makers
To use a frozen-bowl ice cream maker, you have to freeze the liquid-filled canister at least a day in advance. Once the canister is frozen, you put the frozen bowl into the machine with a paddle, add your ice cream mixture, and the paddle will stir.
When the paddle mixes the ice cream mixture against the sides of the frozen canister, it slowly freezes the mixture until it’s ice cream. Since they need a long time to pre-freeze, you can only make a single bowl of ice cream at a time, and they’re not great for spontaneous spinning.
If you’re looking for the best ice cream maker for occasional use, try a frozen-bowl ice cream maker.
Best Overall: Cuisinart ICE-21P1
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional at making ice cream, the only way to get great ice cream is with the best ice cream machine. The best frozen-bowl ice cream maker is the Cuisinart ICE 21P1. It’s even recommended by some professionals.
It features a powerful motor, the canister is double insulated so that it stays extremely cold, and it features a unique mixing paddle. With all of these amazing features, this machine can make the best ice cream in about 20 minutes.
This model is very inexpensive, and you’ll always get amazing results. It’s so simple to use and produces delicious ice cream every time. All you have to do to use this machine is to stick the canister into the freezer for a day or two, get your ingredients ready, pour it into the frozen canister, and mix away. In about 20 minutes, you’ll have delicious ice cream.
- Makes ice cream fast
- Very inexpensive
Best Premium: KitchenAid Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment
You might be worried about adding another appliance to your already full kitchen, and that’s okay. But if you have a KitchenAid mixer, you can get the best ice cream maker attachment to go with your mixer – you’ll have two appliances in one!
If you don’t have a KitchenAid mixer, you might have an easy time convincing yourself that you need one. They’re very versatile and can be used for a variety of cooking and baking projects. But we’re not here to sell you on a KitchenAid mixer, so let’s go back to the ice cream maker attachment.
What’s great about this ice cream maker is that since it’s an attachment, it doesn’t take up much room in your kitchen and makes amazing ice cream. Plus, using the attachment is so simple.
All you have to do is freeze the insulated bowl, attach the dasher to the mixer, turn it on and pour your ice cream mixture inside. After around 30 minutes, you’ll have two quarts of ice cream.
You’ll love how convenient this attachment is and how it’s compact. Additionally, when you purchase this attachment, you also get a book of ice cream recipes that you can try out.
- Works with your stand mixer
- Simple to use
- You do need to have a KitchenAid stand mixer in order to use this attachment
Best Budget: Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker
Like the larger competitors, this Dash ice cream maker will make creamy ice cream at the push of a button. This mighty machine can make 1.6 cups of ice cream in about 30 minutes and even comes with its own plastic spoon to help mix in your toppings. It’s also incredibly compact, so you can tuck it into any of your kitchen cabinets.
This is the best ice cream maker if you’re on a budget and want a single serving of ice cream at any given time. Cleaning up this machine is easy and preparing for the next batch of ice cream is as easy as rinsing the container out, drying it off, and putting it back into the freezer.
- Small but powerful single-serve ice cream maker
- Quickly makes delicious ice cream
- Can be too small for some people
Best Hand-Crank Ice Cream Makers
Hand-crank ice cream makers, which use salt and ice, tend to be messier than the other two types of ice cream makers, but there’s a reason that professionals love them.
The key to making the best ice cream is to freeze your ice cream mixture into ice cream fast. The longer that it takes for the mixture to turn into ice cream, the more time there is for ice crystals to form.
The old-fashioned hand-crank ice cream makers that use salt and ice are must faster at turning the mixture into ice cream because of the chemical reaction between ice and salt. A one-quart hand-crank ice cream maker can make a batch of ice cream in around 12 minutes, which means smooth and creamy ice cream.
Best Overall & Premium: Immergood Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker
Overall, this is the best ice cream maker in the hand-crank category because it was designed with longevity in mind. Bear in mind that this isn’t the cheapest ice cream maker you’ll find on this list, but it’s also one that you know will last for years to come.
It’s a leak-free ice cream maker made in the USA and is made of stainless steel. The tub is insulated with two plastic layers that are sandwiching a thick foam layer to keep ice cream colder for longer.
With this ice cream maker, you’ll be able to make six quarts of ice cream at any given time in roughly 30 minutes. It’s incredibly easy to use, so it’s great for beginners.
- Made from stainless steel
- Made in the USA
- Easy to use
Best Budget: Elite Gourmet 6-Quart Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Maker
This is a traditional hand-crank ice cream maker and is by far the best ice cream maker if you’re on a budget. It requires ice and salt, but you can use the manual hand-crank or an electric motor to churn the ice cream mixture.
Additionally, the pinewood bucket and aluminum freezer canister are easy to clean and use, and the motor is protected against overheating. Whether you choose to manually crank your ice cream or use a motor is up to you, but regardless you’ll get the best ice cream you’ve ever had using this ice cream maker.
What makes this the best ice cream maker is that it’s well-made, works the way it’s supposed to, and gives you the option of manually or electrically churning your ice cream. What more could you want?
- Features manual hand-crank and electric motor for churning
- Made from solid materials
- Easy to use
Best Ice Cream Maker Buyers Guide
When you crave a bowl of ice cream, store-bought ice cream can be convenient. But they often lack unique flavors and high-quality ingredients. Instead, think about all the possible flavors you could make if you only had the best ice cream maker. Think about cinnamon ice cream over a freshly baked apple pie or vegan pumpkin pie ice cream.
With the best ice cream maker, you can make this and so much more in a matter of minutes. You’re also able to control what goes into your ice cream. So, if you don’t want any dairy products, only want to use organic products, or avoid artificial flavors and dyes, you can do that.
No matter what type of ice cream maker you end up choosing, most machines are simple to use and are used similarly. You make your ice cream mixture, pour it into a frozen bowl, and then mixed constantly to turn the liquid into solid ice cream.
While the mixture is being mixed, you need to make sure that you’re scraping the sides of the bowl and moving it toward the center of the bowl. This continuous stirring and scaping motion will add air to your ice cream, which helps it achieve that smooth texture you desire and prevents it from turning into a hard block.
From freezer bowls and manual ice cream makers that don’t take up too much space on the counter to the old-fashioned hand-crank models that use ice and salt to freeze the ice cream, there’s an ice cream maker out there for you.
When deciding on which of the best ice cream makers to go with, there are several things that you should consider. Below you’ll find a buyer’s guide to help show you what you should look out for when picking the best ice cream maker.
Size of the Machine
Let’s be real for a minute: ice cream makers aren’t essential kitchen appliances, so it can be tough justifying keeping one on your kitchen counter. However, they’re a bunch of fun to play with and experiment with different flavors.
Additionally, most people enjoy having a bowl or two of ice cream throughout the year. So, if you’re able to find the best ice cream maker that you’ll have room to store, then that’s the best choice for you.
The best ice cream makers will range in size from single-serve models that take up little to no room to large compressor models that are impossible to move. Choosing which one you go with depends on how many people you plan on making ice cream throughout the year and how often you plan to use it.
If it’s only for you, consider going with a smaller model that only makes a single serving, especially if you live in a small apartment. But if you have the room for it, and you’ll be making ice cream a lot for a bunch of people, consider going with a larger model.
You’ll find that the best ice cream makers range in capacity as well as size. When you go shopping for your ice cream maker, it’s important that you keep in mind how much ice cream you’ll want to make at a single time.
The most popular ice cream maker capacity is between one and two quarts of ice cream. That’s about four to eight cups of ice cream being made in a single sitting. Remember, there are models out there that only make a single serving of ice cream, as well as larger models that can produce six quarts of ice cream at a single time – that’s 24 cups!
The best ice cream maker for a large family is one that has a larger capacity. Larger models are less efficient at maker smaller batches, so if you want to experiment with flavors and make smaller batches, you’d be better off with a smaller model.
Options and Settings
Basic ice cream makers will typically only have an on/off switch, while other models come with different features. Some of these features include different settings to make different types of iced and frozen desserts (i.e., gelato), extra freezer bowls, a “keep cool” feature, automatic shut-off, or timers.
Typically, you’ll find that a compressor ice cream maker has more features and controls than a hand-crank model. For instance, you’re more likely to find a setting to make gelato on a compressor ice cream maker than you are a freezer bowl or hand-crank model.
While it can be great to have options and versatility when it comes to making ice cream, there’s nothing wrong with a basic model that does its job extremely well.
What style of ice cream maker you go with will ultimately decide if you can make more than one batch at a time. Freezer bowl ice cream makers require you to freeze the canister before it can be used again, and that can take a day or two. But if you get an extra freezer bowl, then you’ll be able to make more than one batch.
Compressor ice cream makers can produce multiple batches easily. Additionally, hand-crank models can accommodate more than one batch, as long as you have enough ice and salt.
While you could make multiple batches with most ice cream makers, churning the ice cream can cause stress to the motor and cause them to overheat in some models. If you want to produce multiple batches of ice cream, you might want to consider purchasing a low-end commercial-grade model than one that’s designed for light home use.
Ice cream makers powered by electricity do all the mixing for you, so making your ice cream is incredibly simple because you only have to add your ice cream mixture, push a button, and let the machine do the churning for you.
Manual ice cream makers will require you to do more work because mixing the ice cream can take on average 20 minutes, and the job requires more muscle as the ice cream hardens. But because they don’t need to be plugged into a power source, they’re incredibly portable.
You can take a manual ice cream maker anywhere you want and let everyone – including kids – help churn the ice cream. Some manual models are easier to use, only requiring you to stir the ingredients in the frozen canister.
(ice cream and sprinkles)
Several ice cream makers use a freezer insert or bowl that needs to be frozen before you can even make your ice cream. If you don’t have enough freezer space, this can be incredibly inconvenient – additionally, if you want another batch of ice cream, you have to wait for the bowl to freeze again.
Compressor models allow you to make one batch after another, but they’re more expensive and take up more room. These models use electricity to freeze the ice cream mixture as it’s being churned. You’ll also find that there are models that use the traditional salt and ice method.
You’ll find that many of the best ice cream makers, on average, cost between $50 to $100. However, you may find a couple of basic models for under $35, while professional and commercial grade compressor ice cream makers will cost you hundreds of dollars.
Even though the supplies aren’t super expensive, ice and salt machines will require you to purchase more bags of ice and salt whenever you want ice cream, which can add up over time.
The best time to buy [When is the Best Time to Buy Appliances?] best ice cream maker is during the off season. This is typically in the fall and winter when people aren’t trying to make ice cream as often. Chances are, if you look during this time, you can find a great deal on the best ice cream maker.
Most ice cream maker lids, paddles, and bowls should be washed with warm, soapy water by hand. It’s best to avoid putting your ice cream maker components in the dishwasher because it can damage the components and prevent them from freezing properly.
All parts need to be completely dried before reassembling the machine and using it again. This is especially true for freezer bowls because they can accumulate ice on the sides of the bowl, which will interfere with the ice cream making process.
The Best Ice Cream Maker Types
Ice and Salt
Hand crank, or ice and salt, ice cream makers have been used since the mid-1800s and is a method that still works to this day. Some models require you to manually crank the handle to move the mixing paddle, while others have electric motors that will move the mixing paddle for you.
To make multiple batches, you simply have to wash out the container, add more salt, ice, and ice cream mixture, and start mixing again.
If you decide to go with this ice cream maker style, you need to make sure that you have enough salt and ice on hand when you want to make ice cream. You have to bear in mind that since these machines are filled with salt and ice, the salty water that’s made when the ice melts can go into your ice cream and ruin it if you’re not careful.
The most popular ice cream maker for home use is the freezer bowl model. Most of these models are electric, so they can be easy to use and don’t require a lot of counter space. The freezer bowls need to be placed in the freezer before using them, typically about a day in advance, so make sure to plan ahead.
The ice cream mixture also needs to be cold before mixing it; otherwise, it might not freeze as much as you would like before the freezer bowl starts to become warm.
Making a single batch of ice cream using a freezer bowl typically warms up the bowl enough to where it can’t be used again right after the first batch. Some freezer bowl models come with a second freezer bowl so you can make more than one batch at a time.
The only downside to these ice cream models is that the freezer bowls can take up a lot of room in your freezer.
Compressor ice cream makers are like small freezers. Instead of needing to be chilled before mixing the ice cream mixture, these machines will start chilling after the mixture has been added. However, some models have a pre-chill setting.
These are the best ice cream makers if you want to have a ton of features to play with and make different types of frozen desserts, such as gelato or sorbet. Some of these models have timers as well to alert you when it’s time to add your mix-ins and keep chilled features to keep the ice cream cold if you aren’t going to transfer the ice cream to the freezer immediately after it’s been made.
This is the easiest style of ice cream maker, especially for making multiple batches because you only need to clean the bowl between uses. These tend to be the most expensive models, but you might find one that’s the best ice cream maker.
Remember that these are heavier and bulkier than the other types of ice cream machines. While they might be overkill in the ordinary kitchen, they’ll always make the best ice cream and are always ready to be used.
The two factors that are the most important when it comes to finding the best ice cream maker for you is the method of making ice cream you prefer and how much ice cream you’ll be making. You also want to think about your budget and how much storage space you have for the machine.
Hopefully, this article has shown you how to pick the best ice cream maker and which ice cream makers are the best on the market today. We hope that you’ll be able to make an informed decision and buy the best ice cream maker for your needs. No matter what type of ice cream maker you decide to go with, you’ll always end up with the best ice cream.