Do you love eating rich, creamy ice cream or frozen yogurt year-round?
Would you like to create custom-made versions of these deserts at home and enjoy them just the way you like it and much cheaper than store-bought?
Make sure to read on then and get the latest scoop on the best ice cream maker for all of your frozen sweet tooth desires!
Navigate Our Top 10 Ice Cream Makers
|Ice Cream Maker Image||Ice Cream Maker Name||Capacity||Makes Yogurt||Price|
|Whynter ICM-200LS Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker||2 quarts||Yes|
|Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker||2 quarts||Yes|
|Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker||1.5 quarts||Yes|
|Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker||4 quarts||Yes|
|Cuisinart ICE-45 Mix It In Soft Serve Ice cream Maker||1.5 quarts||Yes|
|Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker||1 quart||Yes|
|Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker||1.5 quarts||Yes|
|Yaylabs SoftShell Ice Cream Ball||0.5 quart or 1 quart||n/a|
|Zoku Ice Cream Maker||1 quart||Yes|
|Gourmia GSI170 Automatic Ice Cream Maker||1.5 quarts||Yes|
Making your own frozen treats does require a bit of time and effort, but think of the positives – not only do you get any flavor and condiment combination imaginable like that, you’re also creating fresh and natural treats for everyone you love while saving money. You can experiment with new flavors, create signature sweets and even make healthy treats for people suffering from diabetes or other ailments making an ice cream maker a purchase that can actively help you live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
In this guide you get to read all about what makes ice cream makers great and what makes them tick. I’ve rounded up ten models that differ in the way they operate, how much ice cream they can produce at once and how much one will cost you, but if anything connects them it’s the amazing taste of the treats each is capable of producing. Their reviews are followed by a buyer’s guide that gives additional ice cream maker purchasing tips, and is worth taking a look at too.
Be sure to check out the Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide!
With that being said, let’s find you an ice cream maker, shall we?
1. Whynter ICM-200LS Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker – The Overall Best Ice Cream Maker
There’s nothing like freshly prepared ice cream to brighten your day up, and when it comes out of an ice cream maker that’s as easy, intuitive and safe to use as the ICM-200LS from Whynter is, the delight is even greater as all you need to do is set the machine up and wait for that delicious, mouthwatering treat to appear half an hour later!
The ICM-200LS is powered by a quiet and capable motor which drives a compressor that’s very effective at freezing the ice cream mixture you put in very fast. In no time at all you’ll have up to 2.1 quarts of soft-served ice cream which you can then eat straight away, or put in the freezer to harden just a bit more.
Both a thermostat and a timer can be easily viewed on its large blue LCD display, making planning your next serving a cinch. Even if you forget to turn the timer on, the motor will stop churning as soon as the mixture reaches a certain hardness, protecting the machine from overheating and other faults.
The ICM-200LS is the overall best ice cream maker currently available. It turns ingredients which don’t need a pre-chill into enough delicious, flavorful ice cream to treat the whole family and guests with hassle-free and very quickly. If you can’t imagine life without a good scoop or two every now and again, it’s the model to get.
2. Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker – The Best Home Ice Cream Maker without a Compressor
While Whynter’s model produces excellent ice cream in large quantities, it may not be suitable for kitchens where counter space is sparse since it takes up a lot of space horizontally. To save space without sacrificing taste or features, you need a good alternative that doesn’t rely on a compressor, and Cuisinart’s ICE-70 is the first and best home ice cream maker that comes to mind.
Rather than have a compressor freeze its contents, the ICE-70 uses a freezing bowl you place in the freezer a day before making the ice cream. Then that bowl rotates around a stationary arm and its sides slowly turn the churning mixture into a cold tasty treat.
There are three speed settings for making gelato, ice cream and sorbet respectively. Each has a set time which you can also adjust manually via the ICE-70’s controls. The timer automatically shuts off the motor when done and gives off beeps for a while so you never have to pay attention to it during the actual ice-cream making process.
As a space-saving, versatile and generally well-made machine, the ICE-70 is a reasonably-priced solution to all of your frozen dessert cravings. Get one, and pretty much the only major problem you’ll need to worry about is the state of your waistline.
3. Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker – A High-end Machine for Frozen Desert Enthusiasts
Are you very particular when it comes to the frozen yogurt and ice cream you consume? Is fine-tuning its taste, consistency and flavor almost as fun to you as actually eating the frozen treat? Breville definitely appreciates an ice cream gourmand, and has created the BCI600XL Smart Scoop with people like you in mind.
The gorgeous-looking, stainless steel ice cream maker has a built-in compressor which makes desert preparation fast and pre-chilling unnecessary. If you insist on it though, the compressor will cool the machine down in a few minutes so you can chill everything before creating your culinary masterpieces.
Choices for those are plentiful – four different desert settings from sorbet to frozen yogurt as well as three smoothness modes for each mean that you really get to take control not only of the desert’s hardness, but its texture too. Other ingredients like chocolate chips or crushed nuts can be added during the mixing process, making your creation even more luxurious in taste. Once done, the treat can be kept cool inside the Smart Scoop for up to three hours, eaten or set to freeze some more.
When handled with the attention it demands though, the BCI600XL Smart Scoop may very well turn out to be the best compressor ice cream maker you’ve ever had. With detailed settings to choose from and useful unique features like keeping your ice cream cool, it’s a wonderful, if pricy, upgrade to almost any old model you might have.
4. Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker – The Best Ice Cream Maker that Uses Rock Salt & Ice
I’ve talked about great examples of models with compressors and without. Now it’s time to introduce a third alternative in the creation of frozen desserts, the use of ice and rock salt. The best ice cream maker which uses this old-fashioned but still very effective method comes from Nostalgia Electrics.
The principle behind it involves a little science. Water’s melting point decreases when salt is added to it. In order to melt, the water has to draw a lot of energy out of its surroundings, even more so when mixed with salt, cooling the mixture placed inside of it.
The ICMP400BLUE has everything you need to get started except the salt and ice. There’s a bucket for the slurry, a canister the ice cream base goes into, and a quiet motor which goes on top that stirs everything evenly while the slurry does its thing. Best of all, you get to make a whopping four quarts of your favorite-flavored ice cream in as little as half an hour.
A little common sense and a few precautions will keep the canister in good shape though. Considering the amount of the ice cream created, its price and the great-tasting results, there’s hardly a better solution to treating your guests with a home-made dessert on short notice.
5. Cuisinart ICE-45 Mix It In Soft Serve Ice cream Maker – Sprinkle some Fun onto Your Soft-served Ice Cream
There are people who enjoy the icy, crunchy texture of ice cream or froyo that has been churning for ages, but there’s definitely something to be said about the airy, creamy goodness only soft-served can enchant your taste buds with. If you and your family fall into the latter camp, purchasing Cuisinart’s ICE-45 is probably the worst thing you can do for your diet.
You would be forgiven if you were to confuse it with a coffee maker at first glance since it really does kinda look like one. Take a closer look at its three condiment dispensers and the handy cone holder to set things straight. The paddle and mixing bowl are hidden away inside the top plastic compartment while the finished desert comes out from the bottom in a spiral of deliciousness.
As with the ICE-70, the bowl needs to be frozen for a day before use. Once you get it out and it locks into place, you can watch the ice cream freezing process through a small window on the lid that secures it. Multiple bowls are easily interchangeable so you can make raspberry sorbets and switch to something like pistachio ice cream right away. The three dispensers are designed for differently-sized condiments and can be active at the same time or separately, giving each family member the option of making their bowl or cone unique.
Those few extra minutes of prep work shouldn’t be a deal breaker though as the ICE-45’s other convenient features make it the best electric ice cream maker for soft-served. Easy to use, clean and spruce up every individual bowl on top of all that? Sounds like a great buy to me.
6. Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker – The Best Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker
Making homemade ice cream with an electrical appliance is all fine and good, but the finest degree of control in its texture is only achieved when you take matters into your own hands. For that you need an ice cream maker that relies on your expert judgement and a bit of elbow grease, like this manual model produced by Donvier.
It’s essentially a large plastic jug with a smaller metal one inserted inside and shut by a lid that has a crank and paddle attached to it. The inner container goes in the freezer for a while and is where the magic happens. Your role is to turn the crank every few minutes to ensure that the base doesn’t freeze too much. After about 25 minutes of this relaxing and surprisingly easy activity a quart of freshly made frozen yogurt, gelato or ice cream will be your hard work’s reward.
That’s all there is to it, so this is a good time to mention that it comes with a great little recipe book containing a handful of dessert ideas you should definitely try out.
Personal touch can make all the difference between ice cream that tastes alright and an amazing after dinner treat your friends will be raving about for days. Given how straightforward it is to operate and how awesome the results can taste with comparably minimal physical effort, Donvier’s is not just the best hand crank ice cream maker, but a serious alternative to automatic and more expensive models as well.
7. Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker – A Favorite among Ice Cream Lovers World-wide
The seventh model overall and the third by Cuisinart has a lot of fans across the globe, and rightfully so. The ICE-21 holds the spot of best-rated ice cream maker on almost every online store, and the overwhelmingly positive reviews suggest it’s a great product. What do I think?
After thoroughly enjoying three different flavors of ice cream made with it so far, I can say that there really is something to this model’s hype. It does lack some of the more sophisticated features of its pricier cousins and isn’t geared towards any specific type of dessert, but more than makes up for that with its convenience and price.
Able to make up to a quart and a half in twenty minutes or less, it’s one of the fastest ice cream makers in the guide. Chill the bowl and the base, put everything inside it, lock the transparent lid and wait until everything is finished, or pour some sprinkles in towards the end for extra enjoyment. Sure, you’ll have to suffer through the noises its droning loud motor makes while the ICE-21 is hard at work, but all of that pays off once that flavorful treat is melting away slowly in your bowl.
I must say that you get much, much more than you pay for when choosing the ICE-21. It whips up ice cream in a jiffy, is straightforward to maintain and at this price is a fantastic gift for friends and family members to create their own favorite desserts.
8. Yaylabs SoftShell Ice Cream Ball – Improving Your Game One Batch at a Time
And now, something completely different, an outlandish idea I didn’t put much stock in until I tried it and the surprisingly good ice cream that comes of it – the Yaylabs SoftShell ice cream ball, probably the most ingenious excuse to enjoy your favorite frozen treats guilt-free!
It’s an actual, functioning ball you can take to the park or the soccer field and play a brisk game with only to have well-churned, refreshing ice cream as your and your kids’ well-deserved award! It works similarly to the salt & ice model from Nostalgia Electrics, the difference being its reliance on your being in shape rather than on an electric motor.
The ball has separate compartments for the slurry and the ice cream mix. As you play with it the mixture churns and freezes steadily and can be enjoyed after about half an hour’s worth of shooting the ball about. There are two handles for easy extraction of the compartments which slide back into place when not used, making actually getting to the end result simple.
Yaylabs’ ice cream ball is definitely a novel way to spend some active play time with your kids with the promise of a cool refreshment at its end. In that respect it’s the best homemade ice cream maker by far. It’s understandably not for everyone, but the ball really does work and has all the potential to be a great birthday present and be used in fun activities during the warmer part of the year.
9. Zoku Ice Cream Maker – The Best Small Ice Cream Maker
It’s great when you can turn an ice cream making machine on and make up to four quarts of it, but what if you frequently want to create just one big bowl’s worth? All of the other appliances in the guide would have a lot of trouble turning just a cup full of base into ice cream, and that’s why you need the best small ice cream maker around created by Zoku.
Apart from being cute as a button and available in one of six bright and fun colors, it’s fantastic for whipping up just enough ice cream to make a summer afternoon or movie night perfect. It’s made up of two bowls – the outer, bigger bowl serves as its base, while the inner bowl is where the actual ice-cream making takes place.
You put the inner bowl into your freezer 12 hours before preparation, pour any kind of base into it and start churning manually with the included stirring spoon. Before you know it, the base begins to stick to the bowl’s side and starts hardening. Stir for up to 20 minutes if you want harder ice cream or half as long for soft-served. It’s simple, requires no electricity and gives your arm a bit of exercise to boot.
All in all, the Zoku takes a hands-on approach to making frozen treats and makes it a fun and involved experience. Plus, you’ll lose a portion of the calories in the ice cream just by hand-making it, so you can claim that it’s a healthy way of indulging yourself too.
10. Gourmia GSI170 Automatic Ice Cream Maker – A Modern-looking, Inexpensive Ice Cream Maker You’ll Love to Use Frequently
The last model which undoubtedly deserves a place among the greats is Gourmia’s GSI170. Why you ask? There’s no one clear answer, or to put it less vaguely, it’s an all-rounder that does a lot of things right, ice cream being chief among them.
What first caught my eye though is its smooth cylindrical appearance. There are no unnecessary corners or frills here, just a well-made machine with a plastic and burnished steel finish it’s hard to guess the purpose of at first, but which will definitely attract attention with its clean, minimalist look.
Opening the GSI170 up reveals a smaller freezing bowl and the plastic paddle inside. You’ve guessed how these work by now so there’s no need to repeat myself. One other thing of note is the digital timer you can keep track of on the maker’s LCD screen. Set the desired churning time and speed and don’t worry about overflowing or completely frozen ice cream ever again.
With its nice appearance, fine-tasting ice cream and the 2.2 quart capacity at a great bargain, the GSI170 is the best ice cream maker machine in its price bracket. If salt & ice models are too messy for you but you don’t feel like spending a lot on compressor alternatives, you’ll have a hard time finding an ice cream maker with greater value.
Ice Cream Maker Buyer’s Guide
Type – The first big step in choosing the best ice cream maker is settling on one of the three types available. They differ in the way their contents are frozen. The common means of freezing the ice cream are:
- A compressor – built into the maker and the most advanced method available, compressors freeze the base to an appropriate temperature without relying on other machines. They do a good job of it too, but make the models they’re built into much larger than others of similar capacity.
- A freezing bowl – a thick metal bowl usually filled with liquid which has to spend time in the freezer to be effective. Models which use these can be very small, but the hassle of having to know in advance when you want to make some ice cream can be off-putting.
- Salt & ice – the oldest and still widely used method of frozen dessert making is very much alive and effective. With it you can make large quantities, but the slurry can create a mess, and the ice cream can start tasting salty if the container leaks.
Capacity – After that capacity should be considered. Most electric ice cream makers tend to produce anywhere from 1 to 2 quarts per batch, which is enough to last a family of four for the day. Less can be made in smaller manual models like the Zoku, while more is usually made using salt and ice models. Remember that all except the smallest ones require a certain minimal amount of ice cream base to be able to freeze it evenly.
Preparation and Operating Time – A manufacturer can promise fresh scoops for everyone in 20 minutes, but it’s not exactly that quick if prep work involves setting the maker’s bowl to freeze the day before and having to chill the ingredients on top of that. There are models that take twice as much or longer to finish too. The most hassle-free and overall quickest models are those with compressors, but they’re also the most expensive.
Automatic vs Manual Models – Also characterized as convenience vs. involvement, this aspect of an ice cream maker purchase has to do with how much time you want to actively spend on the process. Automatic models generally offer 3-4 hardness options and some can be tweaked even further. They also have timers and alarms which minimize the risk of hard treats and motor malfunctions. Manual ones let you determine when the ice cream is finished on the spot, can be used to prepare smaller servings and are cheaper.