The Best Ice Cream Makers for Your Money
Nothing beats a cold, creamy scoop of ice cream in the summertime. But going to an ice cream shop whenever you have a craving for this delicious treat can be costly. The good news is there’s a simple solution: an ice cream maker. With your own ice cream machine, you can create a never-ending supply of homemade, gourmet ice cream with just a few simple ingredients — all without leaving the house.
Having an ice cream maker allows you to choose the flavors, mix-ins and textures you love the most so you can enjoy a full-flavored scoop whenever you like, without waiting in line or dealing with crowds at your local shop. Since ice cream makers come in several different sizes and with a range of features, picking the ideal model for your needs can be difficult. So, to simplify your decision, we compiled a list of the premium ice cream makers of 2023 that can allow you to enjoy fresh homemade ice cream anytime you want.
Best Overall: Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker
Most Convenient To Use: Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker
Most Affordable: Dash Ice Cream Maker
Charming Design: Nostalgia Vintage Ice Cream Maker
Largest Capacity: Elite Gourmet Ice Cream Maker
Comparing the Top Ice Cream Makers of 2023 in Detail
Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker: Best Overall
List Price: $69.95
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In the top spot on our list, the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is the ideal product for anyone who wants the convenience of making delicious frozen treats at home without taking up much time or space. It's a great option for satisfying cravings quickly because you can use it to make ice cream in as little as 20 minutes. This option features a patent-pending mixing paddle that helps reduce preparation time and ensures your creations are properly mixed. The wide feeding spout also allows you to add ingredients while it churns without interrupting the freezing process. This ice cream maker is simple to operate thanks to its double-insulated bowl that can be frozen, eliminating the need for ice.
Besides ice cream, this pick can be used to make frozen yogurt and sorbet. It features a capacity of up to 1.5 quarts, making it ideal for households of all sizes. Its easy-lock transparent lid comes with a large spout to make adding ingredients straightforward and mess-free. This model boasts a BPA-free construction with high-quality plastic, making it very durable and reliable so you can use it for many years. It also has non-slip rubber feet for stable use and cord storage to keep your kitchen neat and organized. As further proof of its longevity, this product comes with a limited three-year warranty. If you like to match your appliances with the décor of your kitchen, it’s available in several colors including red, pink and white. This ice cream maker is the best choice on our list due to its large capacity, ease of use and quality construction.
- Easily fits in small freezers for pre-chilling
- Makes consistently great-tasting ice cream
- Makes up to 1.5 quarts one time
- Comes in different colors
- Needs to be pre-chilled before use
- May be loud while operating
Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker: Most Convenient To Use
List Price: $49.99
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Looking for an option that does all the work for you? The Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker is a convenient kitchen appliance for whipping up ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, sherbet, gelato or custard at home with just one machine. This model is fully automatic, so you don’t need to stir or make any extra effort while using it. All you need to do is to add the ingredients, ice and rock salt, and it will churn for 20-40 minutes before automatically shutting off once your frozen dessert is ready. This product also features an easy-lock lid that makes it simple to fit the top section onto the base and secure it in place with just a quick turn.
The large 4-quart capacity of this ice cream machine makes it ideal for special family events and other get-togethers, as well as for preparing large batches for regular consumption. This option also includes over 20 recipes, allowing you to easily get started on your ice cream-making journey. You can follow them as directed, add a twist or invent your own flavors by adding cookies, candies or fresh fruit.
- Makes up to 1 gallon at a time
- Lightweight for easy setup and storage
- Automatically stops when ice cream is ready
- Can be noisy while churning
- May result in condensation when in use
Dash Ice Cream Maker: Most Affordable
List Price: $19.20
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Thanks to its compact design and budget-friendly price, the Dash Ice Cream Maker is the ideal choice for individuals or small households who want to make delicious, healthier desserts from the comfort of their homes. You can prepare ice cream, gelato, sorbet or frozen yogurt in as little as 30 minutes with the help of this small appliance, which can produce up to 1.6 cups (or 0.4 quarts) of frozen dessert at a time. Since it weighs less than one pound and is easy to store, it won’t take up much counter space, making it great for apartments, college dorms, smaller kitchens, RVs or campers.
This product comes with a cooling bowl, mixing spoon, recipe book and access to a recipe database for even more ideas on frozen treats you can whip up with it. It’s available in blue or white, so you can choose a style based on your preferences. Because of its low price, small size and helpful additions, this ice cream maker is also a wonderful gift for special occasions such as weddings, housewarming celebrations and birthday parties.
- Quick setup and easy to use
- Ideal for single servings
- Simple to clean and store in minimal space
- No locking mechanism on the lid
- Not large enough for several people
Nostalgia Vintage Ice Cream Maker: Charming Design
List Price: $57.99
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If you want an ice cream maker that not only works well but looks great doing it, consider the Nostalgia Vintage Ice Cream Maker. Designed to look like an ice cream cone, this pick comes in six styles — each of which resembles an iconic flavor. It also features a see-through lid so you can watch your frozen treats be made or easily check which flavor is stored in the freezer. This model can be used to create delicious ice cream, frozen yogurt, or gelato in 20-30 minutes. It features a large 4-quart capacity and an easy-to-clean aluminum canister.
This product is very portable thanks to its easy carry handle, making it a great choice for parties and backyard BBQs. Featuring a powerful electric motor that locks securely into place, it doesn’t require any manual churning to operate. While you can make your own creations with it, this model is also compatible with the manufacturer’s ice cream mixes and kits.
- Provides excellent insulation
- Container’s design makes ice cream transfer easy
- Comes in a range of colors
- Easily makes one gallon of ice cream
- Motor can be loud when operating
- Construction may not hold up over time
Elite Gourmet Ice Cream Maker: Largest Capacity
List Price: $104.99
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The Elite Gourmet Ice Cream Maker is the perfect appliance for making large batches of delicious homemade ice cream. It has an impressive capacity of up to six quarts, making it perfect for whipping up and serving frozen desserts at events. The three-step process is straightforward and quick; simply mix your ingredients, assemble the machine’s parts, and add ice and rock salt before turning it on. This appliance features automated and manual hand-crank modes, so you can choose the method that best suits you.
In addition to the aluminum freezing canister and solid pine wood bucket, it comes with a hand crank, stirring rod, electric motor, canister lid, mixing spatula and stabilizer ring. The canister and its transparent lid can be used to conveniently store any leftover ice cream and are both dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.
- See-through lid for monitoring progress
- Allows both manual and electric churning
- Quiet and powerful motor
- Takes more time to freeze
- More expensive than other options
Finding a Quality Ice Cream Maker: A Buyer's Guide
Whether you're craving a simple cone of vanilla or a rich and flavorful gelato, an ice cream maker is the ideal appliance to satisfy a sweet tooth. Finding the right model for your needs can be a little tricky, though, which is where this buying guide comes in. While selecting an ice cream maker, it's essential to consider the following factors to make the right decision. So, let's take a look at everything you need to know to choose the ideal ice cream maker.
How to pick the right ice cream maker
It's essential to consider the materials used in constructing an ice cream maker before buying one. Most importantly, they must be safe, durable and easy to clean. Always make sure the material used is sturdy and not prone to breakage. Also, check if the model you’re considering has extra safety features like insulation or safety locks, which can help keep you and other users protected from injury.
Ease of operation
Before picking an ice cream maker, it's important to ensure that it's easy to use and has clear instructions for operating it. Many models only take a few steps and ingredients to use and operate automatically, so you don’t need to do any of the hard work. Look for convenient quality-of-life features such as automatic shut-off timers or digital displays so you can prepare homemade frozen desserts with ease.
Size and capacity
An ice cream maker's capacity indicates how much dessert it can produce in one batch. So, consider how much you want to prepare in a single use before selecting a machine with a suitable capacity for your needs. For larger households or frequent entertaining purposes, consider investing in a higher capacity model of 4 or more quarts with automated programs to streamline the process. For individual servings or small households, a couple of cups or quarts might be sufficient. In addition, you should think about the available counter and storage space before purchasing an ice cream machine, opting for a compact model if desired.
Speed of operation
Depending on the recipe, quantity and type of ice cream maker, it can take 15 minutes to several hours to make a batch of ice cream. For convenience's sake, choose one with a faster output capacity if possible.
Safety features are important to prevent burns due to overheating or spilling excess liquid during operation. Look for features, such as insulated material around enclosures and automatic shut-off. This latter feature can be useful if manual shut-off isn't possible due to user error or some other cause, such as power losses during operation.
Before buying an ideal ice cream maker, always check the power rating on the device so you know how much electricity it will draw with regular use, as this can be an important factor in running costs over time if used frequently enough. It's wise to opt for an energy-saving model with low power consumption levels whenever possible to conserve energy.
Ice cream makers typically come with plastic or metal containers for holding the mixture during freezing. Plastic containers are more lightweight and economical but can crack over time or due to impacts when dropped onto hard surfaces. Metal containers, on the other hand, are more durable but usually heavier and more expensive than plastic models.
Ability to store unused portions
Some models come with lids that allow you to store leftover ice cream without needing to transfer it into another container. This can help save time and prevent waste for those who only need occasional amounts rather than large batches simultaneously each time you use your maker. If you do want to store any leftover frozen dessert in the appliance’s container, make sure to check its size to see if it will fit in your freezer.
When shopping for an ice cream maker, always check to see if it can be used for multiple frozen treats. Some models allow you to prepare a range of treats, including sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurt, frozen custard and more. This can help you save money and space, as investing in multiple appliances can become costly and take up excessive room in your kitchen.
Attachments or accessories
Certain attachments or accessories are important for properly making ice cream. Make sure to check what extras come with your chosen model before purchasing it. Some ice cream makers include extra attachments, such as scoops and spatulas, while others may require you to buy them separately, so make sure you factor this into your budget and purchasing decision.
Before buying an ice cream maker, it's also essential to consider the motor strength of the ice cream maker you want to buy because it is important for successful and consistent results with various frozen desserts. Look for a model with adequate motor strength for your needs. Some options also come with a manual hand crank so you can control the thickness of your ice cream.
Cleaning and maintenance
Regular cleaning and maintenance of an ice cream maker are necessary to ensure that it lasts for long-term use and continues to produce quality results. Look for an ice cream maker that is easy to clean. Select a model with removable parts that can quickly be disassembled for convenient washing and storage after use. Some ice cream makers even come with dishwasher-safe components for added convenience. Additionally, look for built-in features like non-slip pads that keep the machine in place during operation so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up any big messes
Before buying an ice cream maker, check how well it cools the mixture from its liquid form into a frozen treat. Make sure that it has efficient cooling capabilities to get the desired result. Some models may require you to freeze their canisters beforehand while others use ice and rock salt to chill the ingredients as they’re churned.
Benefits of using an ice cream maker
Consistency and customization
An ice cream maker ensures that your homemade frozen desserts achieve a uniform texture and consistency. It also helps you avoid the formation of ice crystals that can negatively affect flavor and texture. Better still, this handy kitchen appliance allows you to make any flavor of ice cream and add any mix-ins you want, so you can whip up all sorts of unique creations. You can also experiment with vegan options using plant-based milk or different sweetener options like maple syrup or honey instead of refined sugar that many store-bought brands contain.
Fun and entertainment
Making your own ice cream can bring friends and family together for fun! This hands-on activity can be a great opportunity to invite friends over for an afternoon or evening of creating new recipes. It’s also a great and interactive way to prepare delicious treats at events like kids’ birthday parties.
Making your own ice cream allows you to make larger batches using less expensive ingredients. It's usually cheaper to buy ingredients like frozen fruit and nuts in bulk rather than a few small containers from the grocery store over time.
Convenient and saves time
With an ice cream maker, you can enjoy ice cream anytime, anywhere without having to leave the house. Making ice cream with an ice cream maker is also faster than the traditional method of making ice cream by hand. You can also usually create larger batches of ice cream in a dedicated machine as compared to a blender.
Ice cream made with an ice cream maker is generally healthier than store-bought ice cream, as you can control the ingredients. This can allow you to avoid added preservatives, artificial flavors and high amounts of sugar.
Tips to properly use an ice cream maker
- Choose quality ingredients whenever possible to ensure tastier frozen treats every time.
- Make sure all parts are dry and free from moisture before starting. Remember, wet parts won't mix properly, often leading to poor texture and flavor.
- Ensure all parts are securely locked into place before starting. Any moving parts need to be aligned properly. Otherwise, ingredients won't mix properly
- Always keep hands away from moving parts because these can be dangerous if mishandled.
- Don't overfill and always read instructions since some models require specific amounts of liquid or solid ingredients.
- Keep the lid closed. Opening the lid too often during the churning process can result in lower-quality results.
- Don't leave the appliance unattended — always stay nearby in case something goes wrong or the churning process takes too long.
- Clean thoroughly after each use. This will prevent bacteria from forming and reduce the chances of foodborne illness.
Different types of ice cream makers
There are two main types of ice cream makers: electric and hand-crank models. Electric models are powered by electricity, while hand-crank models require manual operation.
Electric ice cream makers are more expensive than hand-crank models but offer more features, such as temperature control settings and larger capacity canisters. If you're looking for convenience and don't mind spending a bit more, an electric model is generally a better, more user-friendly option.
Hand-crank ice cream makers are more affordable than electric models, but they do require a bit more effort to use since they rely on manual operation to churn the mixture. They are great for individuals who want a more traditional approach to ice cream making or don't plan to make large batches regularly.
People Also Ask
Are ice cream makers worth it?
Yes, they are! If you love ice cream, have parties often, or have dietary restrictions, an ice cream machine is a worthwhile investment. It is often more cost-effective and convenient to prepare your own ice cream if you plan to make a large quantity or a range of specific, custom flavors.
How can I make healthy ice cream with an ice cream maker?
You can make healthy ice cream with an ice cream maker by using ingredients such as fresh or frozen fruit, natural sweeteners, low-fat dairy products, yogurt and plant-based milk. Additionally, you can enhance the flavor of your ice cream by adding pure extracts or herbs.
Do I need special ingredients to make ice cream with an ice cream maker?
No, using an ice cream machine does not require any special ingredients. Some models can even be used with pre-made mixes or kits for added convenience.
Is it easy to use an ice cream maker?
Ice cream makers are relatively easy to use. Generally, they come with detailed instructions and even some recipes to help you get the desired texture and consistency of your preferred frozen dessert. Depending on the model of the ice cream maker, you may also be able to customize your settings for temperature and stirring speed for a perfect batch every time.
How long does it take to make ice cream with an ice cream maker?
The amount of time it takes to make ice cream with an ice cream maker will depend on the model you have and the recipe you are making. Typically, the mixture takes about 20 to 40 minutes to freeze properly with most electric models.
Why Trust Us
Our commitment to the consumer begins with product selection and ends with the last word we write in each article. Each ice cream maker is carefully vetted quantitatively through star ratings and a number of reviews qualitatively through careful examination of reviews and the features each one has to offer. Leveraging our team of bargain hunters, we’re also always sure to keep your budget in mind while we find the best ice cream makers on the market. Our team of experts is dedicated to accurately depicting the pros and cons of each ice cream maker, translating technical product specifications into information you can understand. Our mission is to help you get the most bang for your buck…or in this case the best ice cream for your hard-earned money.