Who doesn’t like ice cream? Sunny days and rising temperatures go hand in hand with this refreshing delicious treat.
Making your own is fun and easy with an ice cream maker, and you have control over the flavours and quality of your ingredients. From ice cream to frozen yoghurt and sorbet, there are no limits to your creativity, and best of all your freezer will always be well stocked meaning you will never run out!
Ice cream makers are not an essential kitchen appliance, but they are fast gaining in popularity, so here is our guide to help you search which one is best for your needs.
Our selection of best ice cream makers
During our research we found that Cuisinart has the best and largest variety when it comes to ice cream makers and so we are sticking only to this one brand!
- Best soft serve – Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Mix Serve 1.5-Quart Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
- Best freezer bowl – Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker
- Best compressor – Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
- Best budget – Cuisinart ICE21R Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker,120 V, Thermoplastic, 1-1/2 qt
Types of Ice Cream Makers
Freezer bowl ice cream machines are the most common as well as the most popular for home use but using it will require planning. These machines are small, take little countertop space and are user friendly. Well before making ice cream, the bowl needs to be placed in the freezer to chill. The same as with the ice cream mixture, it needs to be chilled before churning begins.
Ice cream makers with a compressor function like small freezers. There is no need to chill bowls in advance as these models begin chilling after the ice cream mixture is added. Compressor style ice cream makers usually are more expensive and larger with multiple functions and settings. This is the best choice if you like making multiple batches because you only need to clean the bowl between batches.
It’s in the name, soft serve ice cream machines are perfect to serve soft style ice cream and frozen yogurt. These models are used in a similar way as models with a freezer bowl but they’re designed to keep the ice cream soft and smooth.
Salt and Ice
It is the oldest method but not very user friendly because of the amount of salt and ice that needs to be added manually and in correct quantities. The salt and ice machines come as manual or electric devices.
Things to consider
Because an ice cream maker is not an essential appliance, the available storage space will be key before deciding which model is best. As with all appliances, ice cream makers range from small, single-serve countertop models to non-electric bowls for freezer use, and large compressor models that are heavy to move around.
It all depends on how large your family is and how much ice cream you need to make per batch. There are single serve models as well as large capacity models that make 6 quarts but most home models produce between 1 and 2 quarts of ice cream at once. If you like to try new recipes regularly, we don’t recommend the larger models.
Timers, automatic features such as “keep cool”, multiple freezer bowls, special settings to make gelato, and many more are options that are usually included with the larger compressor-style ice cream makers. Although this all sounds fantastic, it is not always a necessity for making good ice cream.
The very simple models are available from as little as 30$ and as with all appliances there is also a higher price range for the more advanced ice makers with plenty of options.
Although some parts will fit in a dishwasher, we recommend hand washing the parts in warm water and soap. Placing the freezer bowls in the dishwasher can damage them which could affect the ice cream making. Always dry the parts correctly before reassembling and starting. Be aware that accumulated ice on the walls of the bowl will change the taste and texture of your ice.
Review of ice cream makers
Best soft serve – Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Mix Serve 1.5-Quart Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
This fully automatic soft service machine has the design and the looks with a built-in service lever, 3 toppings dispensers and a cone holder!
This ice cream maker produces small batches of soft ice within 10-12 minutes.
The freezer bowl contains cooling liquid within a double-insulated wall to create fast and even freezing. You can add all ingredients via the chute and therefore it is not messy at all. All parts are easily removable for easy cleaning.
It is a good idea to order a second freezer bowl if you would like to make multiple batches.
Read also: Best ice cream scoops
Best freezer bowl – Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker
With 2 quarts, this is one of the bigger models of Cuisinart ice cream makers. The machine is fully automatic and suitable to make frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream. The bowl is double-insulated and makes your ice cream in only 25 minutes. If you prefer to make multiple batches, it is recommended to buy an extra bowl since it must be kept in the freezer before using it. Clean up is easy as with other models of Cuisinart.
Best compressor – Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
This Cuisinart ICE-100 comes with a commercial quality compressor that is fully automatic and it lets you make batch after batch without waiting or having to cool bowls.
There is a precision timer to set for making the ice cream and a 10 minute keep cool function to keep you relaxed while emptying the machine. It is very important not to fill the machine too much. The volume increases a little during churning which may cause overflow of your ingredients.
Some extra features and benefits of this ice cream compressor machine are a transparent lid, a mix-in opening to add toppings while the freezing is still ongoing, 2 mixing paddles which aerate the ingredients perfectly to a creamy consistency, and a mixing bowl that doesn’t need pre-chilling or freezing prior to use.
Best budget – Cuisinart ICE21R Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker,120 V, Thermoplastic, 1-1/2 qt
This very affordable model works fully automated. The thermoplastic is durable and the freezer bowl is double insulated. Just freeze the bowl before use. There are no complicated functions and buttons, just add all your ingredients, turn the machine on and the ice cream is made for you!