If the idea of a peanut butter ice cream kicks up a craving in, you might need to get an ice cream maker. Not only are these machines cost-efficient, they’re also a great way to monitor what goes into your ice cream, particularly true for those who have allergies or prefer organic food. If you’re into homemade or frozen cream, here’s a rundown of our top ice cream makers on the market.
The Best Ice Cream Maker
Gelato, sorbets, ice cream or yogurt, the minimal designed Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker is up to any frozen task you throw at it. This model costs less than fifty dollars, featuring a 1.5-quart freezing bowl that is wide enough to contain all your ingredients and mix-ins. It has a white exterior (and other colors to choose from) and four main components- the locking lid, mixing arm, freezing bowl, and base/motor.
Although the ICE-21 might feel heavy, it’s not. It’s also considerably durable and made with quality plastics. It has an easy to navigate toggle switch to turn the machine on/off. As a whole the ice-cream maker small and ideal for homemade ice cream and might not match up to large scale ice cream making. Unlike the old school, nostalgic way of making ice-cream, you won’t require ice or rock salt, thanks to the double insulated freezer bowl. In terms of performance, this machine takes 20 minutes to make a soft serve ice cream, and for hard ice cream, it takes a little bit more to get you the delicious home-made ice-cream you crave. If you have a sweet tooth, check out our guide to the best milkshake makers.
15-20 thickening time
Double insulated freezing bowl
Makes yogurt, sorbet, and ice-cream
Easy on/off switch
- Weight9 pounds
It is easy to use
It takes as little as 15 minutes to thicken
You can easily add more ingredients with the top lid
It can be a bit noisy
The lid can be hard to secure
The bowl is not dishwasher safe
If you have a larger family, then this model’s 4-quart bowl will be more than enough. The Hamilton Beach 68330N 4-Quart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker produces delicious home-made ice cream, frozen yogurt, custard, sorbet, gelato, and sherbet, with the use of the old-fashioned ice and salt method. Skip the stirring and cranking, and enjoy this fully-automated no sweat machine. Simply pour salt and ice to freeze the canister, add your ice-cream or sorbet ingredients and get your frozen treat in 20-40 minutes.
The four-quarts of ice cream this machine produces is enough to get a small sized party, filled up on delicious frozen treats that takes only 20-40 minutes. That’s enough time to set up and wait for your guests. For four quarts of ice-cream goodness, this machine is extremely affordable and thanks to its salt and ice method, it makes superior creamy tasting ice-cream. For some healthy alternatives, check out our guide to the best smoothie blenders.
20 to 40 minutes of thickening time
Uses ice and rock method
- BrandHamilton Beach
- Weight6.25 pounds
It has a big mixing bowl
The ice-cream maker is affordable
It is fully automatic, no need to stir of crank
The ice and salt method is old-fashioned
It can be very loud
The Cuisinart ICE-45 Mix It In Soft Serve 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker resembles a mini water dispenser, but this machine sure dispenses more than water. The ICE-45 features a nifty compartment that allows you to store your top three toppings, hence the name “mix-it-in.” This machine is a little fancier and pricier than our top two ice-cream makers that precedes it. Rather than scooping out the ice-cream, this machine dispenses it for you, making you feel like the owner of an ice cream parlor in the comfort of your home.
Like our best choice, this machine only makes 1.5 quarts of ice cream, enough for a small family or group of friends. The machine is completely automatic, so no manual labor here. It also mixes and aerates your frozen treat in the 1.5-quart freezer bowl. To the left of the dispenser, there’s a hollow space for stacking up cones. The double-insulated freezer bowl makes you sweet treats in just 20 minutes. You won’t have to worry about getting chemicals, salt or ice because this machine gets all the job down in effortlessly. You may also like to check our guide to the best immersion blenders.
Includes a cone holder
20 minutes thickening time
- Weight16.7 pounds
It is easy to get the ice cream out
The parts are removable, making it easy to clean out
It does not require ice or salt
The topping dispensers do not work well at dispensing
No other model might be able to match theCuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker. This machine comes with two paddles, one for ice-cream and the other for making the special Italian icy gelato. This machine from Cuisinart makes a 1.5 quart of frozen treats in 40 minutes, not the fastest on our list. One incredible feature about this machine is its commercial-style compressor that eliminates waiting, allowing you to produce batch after batch of icy goodness. If you have a large crowd, this is the ice cream machine for you.
You can watch TV, work or get started on other party arrangements with the 10-60-minute countdown on this 23-pound machine. Its automated feature allows you to take your mind off the ice-cream, being assured that the machine would stop at the appropriate time. Once your frozen treat is done, it automatically switches to “Keep Cool” mode for ten minutes. This mode allows your ice-cream or gelato to rest without melting, enabling you to transfer it easily. Our guide to the best waffle makers offers more great products like this so check them out.
Two paddles for gelato and ice cream
Touchpad control panel
1.5-quart mixing bowl
- Weight23.7 pounds
It has a timer
The gelato paddle comes in handy
Built-in compressor keeps it frozen for longer
It takes too long to solidify
For the price, the mixing bowl is not that large
In just 20 minutes, you can expect a delicious 2-quart bowl of icy heaven. This is the last Cuisinart machine in this guide, but the Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker is the definition of a 21st century upgrade. It features a control panel with an LCD screen, that lets you to choose between three settings with multiple speeds. By simply touching the button on the LCD screen, you can set a countdown timer with an auto shutoff feature, which is exceptionally helpful if you need to run other errands.
You can separate the freezer bowl from the machine, which makes it easy to clean up after 2-quarts ice cream has been served. The whole design of the ice-cream maker will fit any home décor. It is made from brushed stainless steel with an adjustable timer display and four touch-sensitive buttons including start/stop, ice cream, gelato, or sorbet options. These features gives you the option of choosing the type of frozen dessert you want to make. Once you select the dessert type, a pre-set time lights up in the display. All these features take the whole chunk of the load off your hands, so you can relax and wait for the countdown to tell you when it’s ready. Like sweets? Check out our guide to the best donut makers.
2-quart mixing bowl
LCD screen control
Ice-cream, Sorbet and Gelato settings
- Weight13.5 pounds
The 2-quart mixing bowl is large
It has an automatic countdown and auto shutoff
It has an ingredient spout with a measuring cup
It can be a bit loud
The ice cream can freeze to the side of the bowl
This ice-cream maker from Whynter looks funny. The Whynter ICM-200LS Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker makes 2 quarts of any cold desert and has a removable stainless-steel bowl as well as a BPA free churner blade. You’ll get the extended cooling feature in this model. This helps prevent melting in the mixture, keeping it cool enough until you’re ready to transfer it. It also has a motor protection function that stops the motor from churning to prevent overheating or damage to the motor when the mixture thickens.
Like most new ice-cream brands, the ICM 200LS includes an electronic timer, and easy to use control that lets you choose from the three modes available— the ice cream, cooling only and mixing only options. Understanding these modes and when to use them will save you a lot of headache. The ice cream mode mixes and freezes, the mixing only mode mixes without cooling, and the cooling mode is to keep your ice cream from melting once it’s ready. Depending on the frozen treat you’re making the ICM-200LS delivers your treat in 30-to-60 minutes. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best blenders.
Soft touch LCD control panel
Extended Cooling Function to prevent ice-cream from melting
2-quart mixing bowl
- Weight24.2 pounds
Soft touch LCD control panel
Extended Cooling Function to prevent ice-cream from melting
2-quart mixing bowl
It stops automatically
It has a built-in compressor freezer that allows for continuous use
Avid ice-cream fans with no budget limit will appreciate this model. The Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker is an ice cream machine that also serve as a self-refrigerating compressor ice-cream maker, that keeps your ice-cream from melting 3 hours after it is done. You can make 1.5 quarts of ice-cream with this machine, which takes about 30-40 minutes. It has six main parts including the body which houses the motor, compressor, and control panel, a removable bowl, a dasher, a transparent lid, a spatula, and a cleaning brush.
On top of the machine, there a big LCD screen that features a ton of buttons including the manual timer arrows adjustable from 5 to 180 minutes. Other buttons include the pre-cool, keep cool, temperature units, sound (adjust the sound from loud, quiet or mute), and a power button. One of the interesting features of this model is the unique hardness dial that allows you to adjust to the desired hardness of the ice cream in auto mode.
12 hardness settings
3 hours self-refrigerating compressor
Automatic and manual features
1.5-quart mixing bowl
- Weight30 pounds
It has 12 settings, which is versatile
It is easy to scoop and clean
The compressor keeps the ice-cream from melting
It is quite expensive
It freezes the ingredients slowly
If you don’t have enough counter space, the Whynter ICM-201SB 2.1 Quart Upright Stainless-Steel Bowl Ice Cream Maker is the best option for you. The machine is built to take up as little space as possible, with its upright footprint profile. The ICM-201SB is a recent Whynter model to the ICM-200LS. They have similar features but different designs. While the older version takes up ample counter space, the ICM 201SB is more space-efficient and a bit pricier.
Like its predecessor, the ICM-201SB has three convenient modes: ice cream mode, cooling only mode, and mixing only mode. On the model, you’re given a pause button, that allows you to add more toppings or fruits into the mix. You can also press the pause button to let you check the consistency of your ice cream which is unique to this model. The mixing bowl has a capacity of 2.1 quart which is quite large and an extended cooling function that prevents the frozen dessert from melting. To avoid overheating and damage, the ICM-201SB has a motor protection function that prevents your machine from overheating when the mixture becomes solid. Our handy guide to the best juicers features more great products like this.
Motor protection function
LCD timer control and temperature display
2.1-quart mixing bowl
- Weight25 pounds
Takes up less counter space
The bowl and churn blade are removable for easy cleaning
It has a compressor cooler
Ice cream tends to stick to the sides of the bowl
It is quite expensive
The Aicok Ice Cream Maker is a counter saver and weighs only 7 pounds. This portable ice cream maker is for people on a budget. It has a bowl capacity of 1.6-quarts which is quite large for its size. For its price range, the machine has a sturdy and sleek build with a click-on secure lid and large ingredient feeder. The Aicok has a nifty large ring with four handles that are placed around the mixing bowl to protect your hands while moving it from the freezer to the ice-cream maker.
Like most modern ice-cream makers, the Aicok needs 15-20 minutes to solidify your ice cream or sorbet. Although the Aicok doesn’t have a ton of features like the other models in this guide, it’s still quite easy to use and it lets you pour down ingredients through a conveniently sized funnel without taking the lid off. You can also choose between the six pre-set times that would be appropriate for your recipe.
It takes 15-20 minutes to thicken
- Weight7 pounds
It is really affordable
It takes up less counter space
It is easy to clean
The instruction manual is hard to follow
Although it says 20 minutes, it can take up to 40 minutes to get done
Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide
How We Chose Our Selection Of Ice Cream Maker
From culinary experts to ice cream enthusiast, we broke down the top ice cream makers that have been consistently spinning out delicious frozen treats for users across the U.S. We went a bit further to detail other factors that formed our decision making process such as the brands, reviews and price. If you're still unsure on the ice cream machine to choose from, our guide has highlighted the features to look out for before buying an ice cream maker.
Brand - We chose brands that are easy to access online as well as in stores. Brands like Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, and Breville are one of the most trusted brands that have been in operation for years. The other brands that were included in our guide, like Aicok, and Whynter are relatively new companies but their manufacture quality products, which explains how they got into our list.
A company like Cuisinart featured more in our guide due to an insane obsession of constantly improving the quality of their ice-cream makers, providing customers with a variety of models and price range to choose from.
Whynter, who is quite new on the scene, specializes in the production of Air Conditioners, so it is no surprise they have finally moved into ice-cream makers. We featured two of their products that received positive rave and support from current users.
Review - A quick scan through numerous reviews showed us one thing: users are tired of the crank style, elbow working ice-cream makers. All the products listed in this guide are newer models, except the Hamilton Beach 68330N that uses the old-fashioned salt and ice. Most of the models here also have new features like the sorbet and gelato option, that came with the Cuisinart machines and the LCD timers. These features are entirely new to ice-cream makers which most reviewers preferred.
Price - Price and features are quite important when choosing ice cream machines. People seem to lean towards ice cream makers that produce professional tasting/looking ice cream. For this sort of aesthetic, the expensive compressor ice cream models won.
Some customers seem to prefer the old-fashioned ice and salt models, which are quite affordable. In terms of cost, the models we reviewed are priced from $30 up to almost $400. The priciest model in this review was the Breville with the unique hardness feature, while the cheapest was the Hamilton, which came with the old-fashioned ice and salt ice-cream method.
Features To Look For In Ice Cream Maker
Type Of Ice Cream Maker - There are three types of ice cream makers: Ice and salt, electric frozen bowl, and compressor ice cream makers.
The Ice and Salt option is manually operated, and is quite outdated compared with the newer models. If you're on a budget, this is your best bet. The Electric Frozen Bowl requires you to freeze the bowl in a deep freezer for a day or two before making ice cream which requires a ton of patience. They are quite affordable compared with the compressor ice cream maker. Compressor Ice cream makers produce the right consistency of your frozen treat with zero hassle. However, you’ll have to splurge a little more.
Capacity - Most of the ice-cream makers in our guide, have a total capacity of 1.5-2 quarts. There are some exceptions like the Hamilton Beach, which has a 4-quart capacity, which is quite large. If you're making ice cream for two, the 1.5 or 2-quart ice cream makers should be more than enough. However, if you'd like to make in large capacity for a party or a large family, we recommend the 4-quart machines or compressor models that allow you to make more batches in a day.
Speed - Most ice cream machines take about 15-20 minutes to thicken while others take about an hour. However, if you’re trying to make more in one day, then splurge a little on the compressor ice cream makers, they take less time to make delicious ice cream treats.
Hard or Soft - The flavor depends on the ingredients used, while texture depends on your machine. Not to oversell compressor ice cream makers, but they make the smoothest ice creams than the other types. If you're on a budget, ice and salt, and electric frozen bowl machines allow you to control the texture of your ice cream to an extent.