The Buyer’s Guide To The Best Ice Cream Maker

The Buyer’s Guide To The Best Ice Cream Maker

One of the most universally loved desserts is ice cream, and no matter what flavor you prefer or what you like to mix it with, it’s a taste that is like no other. Ice cream goes well with just about anything but if you have a passion for the frozen sweets you’ve probably found yourself spending way too much money on it.

These days, having a home ice cream maker is the best way to cut these costs, but also give you total freedom over how you make your ice cream. You can make dairy-free ice cream, add in whatever condiments you choose, and even experiment with different recipes and flavors until you find your favorite one.

Making Ice Cream

Finding the best ice cream maker is essential to this process though, as the inferior brands and products will just deliver the same type of ice cream. Therefore, you need to consider all of the essential features and exactly what you’re looking for in an ice cream machine before you can make the right choice.

With that in mind, what is the best ice cream maker? This buying guide has been designed to help with that question and make your search a little easier.

Not only have we shown you the must-have features you’ll want in the appliance, but we’ve also got the best home ice cream makers on the market so you can choose from the top-rated products. With our help, you’ll be making delicious homemade ice cream in no time and wowing your guests with your creations.

Our Recommendations

These days, there are hundreds of different appliances on the market all claiming to be the best homemade ice cream maker. While there are definitely some great choices, if you’re looking for something to suit your specific budget, serving style, and making process, you’ll want to check out our top picks for the best-rated ice cream makers.

Best Home Ice Cream Maker 

Winner: Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker

Hamilton Beach is one of the biggest names in kitchen appliances and it’s no surprise that they have a great selection of dessert makers as well.

The Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker is a fully automatic iced dessert machine that can not only make smooth and creamy ice cream but just about any other cold treat you can think of as well.

The Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker is capable of four quarts of ice cream which is more than enough.

You’ll find it pretty easy to make the ice cream with a few simple instructions and most of the process is automatic. 

It also comes with a bunch of recipes you can try out, so you can make all kinds of desserts like ice cream, gelato, and even custard.

This one does require a bit more than some in terms of setting it up. You’ll need to add ice cubes and rock salt to the appliance before you can turn it on, but once you’ve done this you can sit back and it will do the rest. This includes the painful stirring process which can put you off making your own ice cream altogether.

Although you do have to put ice in, and there were some complaints from reviewers who found this to be an annoyance, there’s no need to freeze the ice cream to get it to set. This means it’s fully portable and you can take it anywhere without worrying if you have room in the freezer to complete the setting process.

All in all, it takes around 20 to 40 minutes to use this device and you’ll get around four quarts of ice cream from. The clean up is also incredibly easy so that saves even more time. You can also add whatever condiments or toppings in that you want during the mixing stage so you have total control over your creation.

The price is a major selling point in this ice cream maker and when you think about how much money you’ll save from buying ice cream it becomes even more attractive. True to their usual style, Hamilton Beach has managed to make a user-friendly and feature rich kitchen appliance that’s well within everyone’s budgets, so their Automatic Ice Cream Maker is definitely one to try.


Runner-Up: Cuisinart Ice 45 Ice Cream Maker

When you think of ice cream as a dessert, it’s definitely not considered a boring one. If you’ve been looking for an ice cream maker that lets you have a bit of fun in the creation process and be totally creative in what you make, you’ll want one like the Cuisinart Ice 45 Ice Cream Make.

This ice cream maker does things a little differently, and you’ll appreciate its uniqueness if you like to do things your own way.

Using a mixing arm, it aerates your ice cream and turns it into soft serve so you can get the perfect texture every time. Not only that, but it lets you add in whatever you like with three condiment containers that you can fill with your favorite toppings and mixtures.

For those who make ice cream with their kids or get bored with plain vanilla ice cream makers, this is the way to go. You’ll have a lot of fun making it and it’ll feel like there’s an ice cream parlor right in your kitchen. You can even store some ice cream cones there with its special cone holder, so you have everything you need in the one spot.

If you don’t usually like to eat a lot or don’t have a large family to make dessert for, this is the best small ice cream maker around. It’s only capable of creating about 1.5 quarts which would suit most single people fine, but if you like a lot of ice cream or make it for friends and family, you’ll want to upgrade to their larger device.

Some complaints regarding this ice cream maker were that it didn’t get the product cold enough. Anyone who’s made soft serve before will know how important cold ice cream is otherwise you’ll get an instant drip, so you may want to consider this potential downfall before you dive in and purchase. 

It comes with a freezer bowl so you can put it in for longer if needed to prevent this from happening, but it will add some time to the making process.

For people who don’t take their desserts too seriously and like to be able to mix in ingredients and have fun with their creations, the Cuisinart Ice 45 Ice Cream Maker is the way to go. This is a fun and enjoyable way to make your favorite desserts and get creative in the process, provided you have a little extra to spend on a commercial grade machine.


Alternative: Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

People understand that to get the best of the best, you usually have to spend a whole lot more.

This is certainly the case with the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker as it costs quite a bit more than others on the market, but some may argue that it’s worth every penny.

What sets this apart from the much cheaper competition is how it does the entire process for you and gives you 12 hardness settings to choose from.

There’s no need to add ice cubes or set the bowl in the freezer while it sets, you can literally program this machine to make your ice cream for you from start to finish.

Best of all, you get the option for manual creation as well if you feel like taking some more control over the process. If you’ve been looking for a way to make your own ice cream or other desserts that are healthier, yummier or have your special dietary requirements in mind, this could be your dream come true. 

While the Breville Smart Scoop might be on the expensive side, it feels like something you’d find in a professional ice creamery and delivers a taste and feel that only this kind of money can buy.

Although you can spend quite a bit on this machine, it’s not without its flaws. One problem that some customers had was with the size because you’ll only be able to make 1.5 quarts of ice cream when you use it. For this price, you’d hope for a little more bang for your buck, so this is a major downfall to keep in mind.

The Breville Smart Scoop uses a self-refrigerating compressor and operates on 165 watts of power. This shows you just how good it is at reaching those cold temperatures that are so important when making ice cream, and there’s no need to rely on any other appliance, tool or ingredient just to make it work.

If you have the money, the Breville Smart Scoop has a lot to offer. However, the serving sizes are small and the warranty is pretty short, so these should all be weighed up when you make your decision. The quality of the ice cream and variety of choices you have for what dessert you can create make it a top contender for the best electric ice cream maker, though.


2nd Alternative: Nostalgia Ice Cream Maker     

Sometimes a kitchen appliance doesn’t have to be just about practicality, but it can be about style and fun as well.

Nostalgia is known for their ice cream making products, and this one is especially unique as it’s made to look like a vintage ice cream bucket from the olden days.

However, this ice cream bucket is fully electric, so you get the image of a vintage maker but with all the modern features of today.

The Nostalgia Electric Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker is a great dessert creator and it’s capable of making four quarts of your favorite frozen dessert.

While its specialty is definitely ice cream, it can also make frozen yogurt or gelato so you have plenty of options depending on your mood. Nostalgia makes other products that go with their ice cream maker, including ice cream mixes.

However, there’s no need to use these if you don’t want and you can create your own recipes, but some might find it easier to mix in the ready-made flavors to save some time. However, these will have to be purchased separately and unfortunately, don’t come with the device.

According to some reviews, this ice cream took a lot longer than others to set so you will need it to spend extra time in the freezer. When you consider you have to add ice cubes as well as set it for a while until it’s ready, the entire process is pretty long. If you want your ice cream within an hour or so, this isn’t the machine for you.

There are plenty of great features that you’ll appreciate like a viewing window so you can see when it’s ready to eat and a powerful motor that mixes it for you. It’s a little bit more expensive than you’d hope for one that doesn’t have its own refrigeration system but you’re paying for the look and feel of it more than anything.

Nostalgia has created this out of wood but placed a plastic liner that can be easily removed. The cleaning part was incredibly simple and great for people who want to avoid the mess. If you can look past the extra setting time and addition of ice cubes, it’s a whole lot of fun to use this vintage style Nostalgia Ice Cream Maker at home.


Best Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker 

Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker

Sometimes, people prefer to do things the old fashioned way to get the best results.

Hand cranking ice cream machines are a popular choice among people who appreciate taking time to make their favorite frozen treat, so if this sounds like it’s up your alley then you’ll want to check out the Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker.

Rather than using an electric motor, you mix the ice cream with a crank that’s operated with your hand.

The crank will do most of the work but you still have to turn it, although many people find that this approach ends up creating softer and creamier ice cream.

Once you’re done stirring, you put the aluminum freezer bowl into the freezer and let it set. There’s no need to add ice cubes or salt like most electric ice cream makers require, so you can truly make your favorite frozen dessert from anywhere you are without the need for electricity.

Using a manual ice cream maker like this means you can also change up what you make with it. When you get tired of eating ice cream, you can use it to create gelato, custard, and frozen yogurt, you just have to know how to adjust the recipe and cooling time. The cost may seem high, but the money you’ll save on desserts and the tastes you’ll achieve make it worthwhile.

You might assume that a manual ice cream maker is cheaper than an electric one, but you’d be wrong. This one retails for about twice the cost of a standard electric appliance and it only makes one quart of ice cream, so have to weigh up whether or not the manual style of ice cream making is really worth it.

There are some great colors to choose from and Donvier makes all of their products look like the highest quality. Because it’s a manual device, it’ll last a lot longer than anything with a motor in it, but you have to be careful to follow the instructions and clean it only as recommended, otherwise, you will be throwing your money away.

Making your own ice cream with a crank-operated device can be helpful for those who want to add flavors, toppings, condiments, or anything else. You control when to stop the stirring and how much to add, making it a perfectly unique treat every time.

For those who don’t mind the extra effort and higher price tag, the Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker creates some of the most delicious desserts around.


What Features To Look For In An Ice Cream Maker

As well as considering the best ice cream maker reviews, we need to know more about what features make up these devices. Once you have in mind what you need to create your frozen dessert, you’ll be able to choose the perfect ice cream machine to make it happen. Here are some essential features you need to weigh up when looking for your dessert maker.


White Ice Cream Maker

The size of the device is important when looking at your own kitchen space. First, you’ll need to ensure the ice cream maker sits comfortably on your benchtop with adequate room.

Secondly, it uses a freezer bowl you’ll need to know how big the bowl is and whether you’ll have room to freeze it. If not, you may need to get a self-refrigerating model that does this step.

How Much Can You Make?

Most ice cream makers are labeled by their capacity and this can range from one to four quarts. Those that make larger quantities usually allow you to freeze what you’ve made so you can enjoy it later, while the smaller ones are really only for single servings.

Depending on how many people you're feeding and whether you want to commit to making it more often, this should guide your decision.

How Long It Takes To Make?

Some people might be happy to wait a few hours or even overnight for their ice cream to be ready, and others want it in 20 minutes. Each ice cream maker has its own time schedule for the stirring and setting, so take this into consideration.

Ease Of Cleaning

Ice cream machines can be notoriously hard to clean if you have one with many parts. For ease of cleaning, look for dishwasher friendly parts or those with a removable bowl that can be washed on its own. Depending on the materials, this could also affect how easy it is to keep clean.

Additional Features

There are plenty of additional features you can choose from including retro designs, timers, control panel screens, lights, condiment containers, and more. Most of these features won't affect the outcome of the ice cream but they do make it easier to create.

Manual Or Automatic

Automatic Ice Cream Maker

The two main types of ice cream makers are manual and automatic. A manual ice cream maker requires you to stir the ingredients yourself, usually using a hand crank. Automatic ones are controlled with an electric motor that does the stirring, and it may also refrigerate the mix as well.


An electric appliance should have a minimum warranty period of 12 months, but depending on the price of the item and materials used in construction, it should last for many more years.

A Must Have Appliance For Sweet Lovers

Nothing can rival the taste of sweet ice cream, and being able to create your own only makes it that much better. Having access to the best ice cream maker in your own kitchen means you can whip up the perfect frozen dessert any time the mood strikes you, and also have some fun with the flavors and ingredients.

Whether you want to go manual or automatic, have a large budget or a small one, there are so many great ice cream makers on the market. As more and more people move towards creating their own whole foods, desserts like ice cream will be the next big thing that we start making for ourselves and enjoying more than ever before.

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