The Best Ice Cream Maker – Consumer Reports for 2021
When you get the urge to have a cold, creamy dessert, nothing can beat a scoop of homemade ice cream. It seems to taste much better if it’s homemade. It gives it a more refined taste rather than that of the store’s brand. Making your ice cream allows you to regulate the flavors and ingredients you put in. Having control over the ingredients is particularly important if you have food allergies or if your added sugar consumption is restricted in some way.
- The Best Electric Griddle – Consumer Reports for 2021
- The Best Cake Decorating Kit – Consumer Reports for 2021
- The Best Blender/Food Processor Combo – Consumer Reports for 2021
- The Best 3 in 1 Breakfast Station – Consumer Reports
- The Best Grinder for Seeds and Nuts – Buying Guide
If you want to enjoy your favorite fresh food from the comfort of your own home, you can likely save money by not purchasing ice cream from the supermarket or the nearby ice cream store. For delicious ice cream with fresh ingredients, you need to buy the best ice cream maker possible. Ice cream makers aren’t practical or a must-have item in the home, but it’s certainly one that brings the family together and creates a lot of joy.
Choosing the best ice cream maker can be more complicated than you think. There are a variety of outstanding products to select from. Finding the right one for your family’s needs requires a close look at what’s on the market now.
Cuisinart has been designing the electric ice cream maker for quite some time. This product has an easy to read control panel. The ICE-70 can generate two-quarts of ice cream per batch. The ICE-70 has settings available for the mixing of ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. The time for each option is set automatically but can be manually changed. The computer will automatically shut off when the time is running out. Due to its slower churn, it makes a fully rich gelato. The ICE-70 stands out as an exceptional ice cream and gelato maker.
This particular brand provides a removable lid with a measuring cup to measure your add-in ingredients such as nuts and cherries or whatever you like. When the measuring cup is removed, the needed items can be added through the convenient opening. The 2-quart bowl must be chilled in the freezer overnight to get the best results.
Cuisinart is a quality brand that has longevity and proven itself over time. The ICE-21 is an electric ice cream maker with a simple on and off dial. This product, a straightforward machine, can make homemade ice cream in about 20 minutes. The ICE-21 comes with a manual and a recipe book. It has a double-insulated freezer bowl. For best results, it’s best to leave the bowl in the freezer for twenty-four hours; however, the manual stipulates that sixteen hours is all that’s needed. This bowl holds about 1.5 quarts, which is smaller than many other Cuisinart models but produces quality level ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbets.
This fantastic ice cream maker produces up to four quarts for any large gathering. The Nostalgia ICMP-400 is an old-style ice cream maker. A plastic container holds the ice and salt, which is used to freeze the ice cream. Once the ice cream mix is in the bowl, the electronic cranking mechanism churns, creating creamy and delicious ice cream in twenty or thirty minutes. The ice pin is made of plastic and is used with the included lid as a storage container. The machine has a handle for easy transport, and when power is turned off, the engine locks it so that every part is safe.
Nostalgia also has pre-mixes if you want quick ice cream. You can also use a recipe to create your choice of delicious flavors. This product is fast for its size and what’s more important is there is no fuss when it comes to cleaning because the motor is placed on top of the container as a separate part. When you are finished, the interior pieces under the engine come out quickly and are washable.
Chef’n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream makers will make delicious ice cream in seconds. You have to freeze the platter in advance, add your fresh ingredients, and the ice cream starts to shape immediately. This particular ice cream maker model is perfect if you don’t have a lot of storage room. It can be easily stored like a flat baking pan.
The Chef’n Sweet Spot, the most basic ice cream maker, can be a breeze to use. It requires no cranking effort. The Chef’n Sweet Spot, a simplistic machine that produces one cup at a time. It is an excellent activity for you and your child to do on a relaxing evening. It can make up to about six individual portions. This product comes with a scoop, a blade, and a recipe book. For best results, you have to keep the bowl frozen for twenty-four hours in advance. This product does not require any cranking or electricity to make the ice cream. All the pieces are easily washable and stored for the next time.
The Nostalgia Electric Bucket can make six quarts of fresh ice cream, frozen yogurt, or gelato. Depending on the amount and ingredients used, it can take 25 to 45 minutes. The result is smooth and creamy ice cream with a soft serving texture that you freeze for a little while with your regular salt and ice cubes from your freezer tray.
All parts of Nostalgia Electrics Ice Cream Maker, for example, the engine, the bucket, the canister, the lid, the canister cap, all work together to make a delicious dessert. Pour the ice cream mix into the ice cream machine and churn for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the instructions. Then put the ice cream in the canister, cover it, and put it right in the freezer. Serve after 2 to 3 hours when the ice cream is frozen to your desire.
Nostalgia requires lots of ice with 2 cups of salt. Add more ice and two extra cups of rock salt as the ice melts down to 2 to 3 inches. This product is easy to clean and has easily removable access.
This particular ice cream maker makes a softer cream if that’s what you prefer. It has the greatest compartments that you can fill with toppings for your delicious dessert. The ICE-45P1 is for ice cream lovers. The soft-serve makes 1.5 quarts in just fifteen minutes or less, depending on how you like the ice cream’s consistency. Just hit the small lever, producing a full bowl in seconds with no effort outside of pouring in the mix. Like the other Cuisinart models, the interior bowl must be frozen before use.
The ICE-45P1 has various functions, including space for a cone holder to put flat wafer cones and spicy sugar cones. Much like a commercial soft service unit, push the lever to serve. You have three dispensers to put in your choice of toppings. You can use the toppings and mix-ins as you go. Finally, you can disassemble the mechanisms once you’ve finished, then take out the parts that require washing with little fuss in the cleaning up process.
The Whynter ICM-201SB is one of the most straightforward large capacity machines that creates a great dessert and is easy to clean. This Whynter product has churned some of the smoothest ice creams. This big machine has a bowl capacity of two quarts. It has a super easy grinding mechanism and allows you enough space to mix your ingredients. After finishing, cleaning up the bowl is quick and easy.
It may cost more than other ice cream manufacturers, but the ICM-201SB is an excellent quality product that doesn’t need much room to function. This model has a timer and a mixing mode, which automatically switches to the off position when the machine is done. Even though this model is expensive, you are still getting a better ice cream than cheaper models that use ice and salt or need the pre-freezing tub.
This product is for the serious ice cream maker. It’s a large machine even though it only makes 1.5 quarts of your favorite dessert. The homemade ice cream from this product is perfect. The only downside is it’s difficult to clean. The parts do not readily come out like some of the other ice cream makers.
Another small problem is that it’s very pricey for this type of product. Put all that aside, and you’ll find a great machine. It comes with a manual, a one-year warranty, and a spoon. Because of its built-in compressor, you don’t have to worry about freezing your bowl twenty-four hours before you make your dessert be it frozen yogurt, gelato, or ice cream. Because the Lello Musso 4080 does not have a removable bowl, it is easier for the ice cream to freeze. In other words, it can make your delicious ice cream in less than 30 minutes. Of all the machines discussed, this one is the most efficient at churning out as much ice cream as you want for your parties despite its overall capacity.
The Breville Smart Scoop is an excellent machine for those who seriously want to make a great tasting ice cream. This product comes with an instructional manual with a recipe section with interesting dessert ice cream choices. It’s one of the first machines with a compressor with a load sensing that lets you set it and forget about it. The 1.5 quarts machine automatically detects the mixture hardness based on twelve choices, including sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato, and ice cream. Besides, its mixing feature reminds you when to add your favorite swirls and nuts.
The Breville Smart Scoop does have a removable bowl, but you do not have to freeze it overnight because of the compressor. This machine has twelve different hardness settings. It has a timer for pre-cool recipes. This machine is great for parties because it can be set to keep cool for up to three hours. A fun feature that the Breville Smart Scoop has is the jingles, like when you were small, and you heard the ice cream truck coming. This feature lets you know when your dessert is ready. This product is easy to clean with its removable parts.
If you want an ice cream maker, but you also have a budget, then you should purchase the Gelato Maker Cuisinart ICE-100 with a built-in compressor. This product is less than the Lello and the Breville. This ice cream maker has two separate sections; one side makes ice cream, the other side makes gelatos. Both have removable paddles for washing. The Cuisinart ICE-100 also has a removable bowl. There is no need to freeze your ice cream bowl like some units.
By setting the timer, you can make the perfect homemade gelato, ice cream, or sorbet with just the right consistency. This product is simple to use. It has a one-hour timer and a start and stops button. Because it has removable parts, it makes it easy to clean.
What Features to Look For When Buying an Ice Cream Maker
Manual vs. Electric
When buying the best ice cream maker, one of the first things you want to look at is whether you prefer manual or electric. The ice cream machines that are hand-cranked have been around for a while. You do have to turn the handle manually, but the process still works. Each time you want to use it, you must clean the unit, add ice, salt, the ice cream ingredients, and stir again to make several batches. Also, the job can become more challenging as the ice cream hardens. Having said that, because they don’t need to be plugged in, the manual ice cream maker is easy to take with you and your family wherever you go. Some manual versions are also simpler; you only have to freeze the bowl before using.
On the other hand, electric machines can do the cracking for you, making it easy to create your ice cream. All you have to do in these instances is add your ingredients, click the start button and wait for the ice cream to be finished. Some electric machines, like the manual, requires the bowl to be frozen beforehand. Both need a waiting time of about twenty minutes or more to enjoy your dessert.
Freezer Bowl or Compressor
Most ice cream machines use a freezer bowl that requires you to place it in the refrigerator twenty-four hours ahead of time. The bowl has to be frozen to make the ice cream. Having to do this every time can be inconvenient if you are short on time. Should you want a second round of ice cream, you have to wait for the bowl to freeze again. The best part about the freezer bowl, they are practical for removing and cleaning. Having to freeze the bowl in advance is a small price to pay for delicious desserts.
Consider a compressor equipped unit for the ultimate ice cream making experience at home. It uses a similar technology process as your fridge. These devices come with the compressor pre-installed, which allows the mixture to continuously cool as it is churned. In other words, it has its own built-in freezer. With this, you don’t have to take the bowl and put it in the freezer ahead of time. This process allows these units to make ice-cold treats by pressing a button. All you do is mix your ingredients, push the button, and wait. The only drawback is the compressor models can be costly, and take up a lot of counter space.
Next to consider is the overflow. The word overflow refers to the quantity of air that is churned into the ice cream. This air plays a part in the delivery of texture and taste. It helps give a cleaner, lighter feeling to ice cream and also enhances the taste buds. Commercial overrun ice cream can differ between super-dense and fluffy. Brands described as super-premium are generally denser, with a surplus of less than 50%, whereas cheap brands may have a 100% or more. Having your ice cream maker allows you to control the overflow and create it to your particular taste.
Selecting the Size of the Ice Cream Maker
When selecting the ice cream maker’s dimension, one has to consider the family’s size and the ice cream maker’s purpose. If you have a large family of four or more, you likely want the two to four quarts ice cream maker. You might also enjoy the bigger size for large gatherings or events. If your family is small in number or it’s a couple’s night, then two quarts will do nicely. Either way, it’s always best to have too much ice cream. In terms of space on the counter, ice cream makers vary in scale from small single-served models with almost no counter-space to large electric units with freezer bowls for your ice cream creation and massive compressor models too big for moving around.
Cleaning the Ice Cream Maker
Something to look for when purchasing an ice cream maker is whether it’s easy to be cleaned. Most manufacturers use removable bowls and blades to give easy access for cleaning the machine. Some larger models have the bowls built inside due to the compressor. If you take more time to clean the appliance than to eat the ice cream, then chances are you will never use the product.
Easy to Use
Knowing how to operate the machine is another factor to consider when buying your dessert maker. Some products require you to read the manual every time you use it because of its many buttons and complexity. Having to read directions each time can become a frustrating ordeal. The best solution is to find a model that has a simplistic control panel with an on and off switch. A more complex machine that offers a fantastic range of choices should have buttons with clear directions on the board.
Speed of the Ice Cream Maker
The speed of the machine should also be taken into account when purchasing your model. If it takes too long to make the ice cream, then what’s the point. Instead, you might be better off going to the local supermarket to pick up a pint. When you are having a family gathering, time is essential. In this case, you have the option of purchasing systems that have a pre-cooling component in which you must put the bowl in the freezer a few hours ahead of time. Some units need a full twenty-four hours before they can produce ice cream. The alternative could be the embedded compressor to make the ice cream within a reasonable amount of time. This type can bypass the pre-cooling phase and make the dessert within a short time.
A Variety of Functions
You may not want ice cream every time you pull out the machine. Some products make frozen yogurt or sorbets. If you like a variety of cold desserts, then find the machine that has other functions. These machines function in the same basic way, no matter which ice cream maker you choose.
Strength and Capacity
The ice cream manufacturer style you select can decide whether you can produce several scoops in one batch. The bowl should be frozen before use, and most will only generate one set of ice cream before the bowl has to be frozen once again. If an extra freezer bowl is added, several lots would be easier to produce. In the compressor version, the second or third batch can be simplified. The salt and ice model can also hold as many cups as you want and provide enough ice and salt to cool the unit.
In principle, while you can make endless ice cream batches with some ice cream makers, hard ice cream churning can stress the engine and overheat robust models. A low-end commercial model can be a better buy if you regularly want to make ice cream loads for big gatherings and events than a one made for lightweight house use.
Ice Cream Texture
Soft serving machines are designed to provide soft-serve frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream. They are typically equipped with a bowl to freeze before using. The freezer tub is designed to hold ice cream frozen at a higher temperature to prevent the ice cream from getting solid and soft. Some machines have a lever that helps you push out the sweet cream into a cup or a cone. Other more complicated models go as far as having a dispenser for the toppings. All you have to do is add the ingredients and provide the fixings. This process of adding in your extras means that once the ice cream is made or while it’s being made, you can combine sprinkles, nuts, or chocolate chips when the dish is filled with your favorite dessert.
The Importance of Ingredients
Lastly, when buying an ice cream maker, believe it or not, you want to think about the ingredients. Imagine a fresh bowl of ice cream with only natural ingredients from a farmer’s market or, better yet, from your backyard. The rich taste of blueberries or strawberries added to your sorbets, ice cream bowl, or frozen yogurt gives it a crisp, refreshing taste. Using fresh organic milk, be it skim or two percent, can make a difference in taste. For the lactose intolerant or just health-conscious, there is almond milk or coconut milk for your delight.
Most ice cream manufacturers have an average warranty of one year, but you will find those with long or shorter warranty periods as well.
In the end, is it worth purchasing an ice cream maker? The answer is yes, of course. It is not about finding what’s cheaper, but what is functional for your needs. Whether that is a basic model with a manual operation system or a more complex electrical machine with a built-in compressor, that’s up to you. If you are looking for a superb ice cream maker, the above choices are a great starting point. No matter what model you choose, you can enjoy a scoop of sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato, or ice cream after a good meal. It is what spending time with family and good friends are all about.