The Best Ice Cream Makers of 2022 – Reviewed

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Whenever the weather warms up, I can’t stop thinking about ice cream. Whether it’s a cone heaped full of frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato, traditional ice cream from my favorite shop, or a few spoonfuls straight from my freezer, these delicious desserts are my summer go-to. But making frozen treats at home can be just as tasty.

Finding the right appliance, however, can be confusing. Should you opt for an electric ice cream maker? Or an old-fashioned variety that’s inexpensive but requires pounds of ice and rock salt? What about a compressor machine?

Each has its pros and cons, but after thoroughly reviewing and testing the best ice cream makers and frozen yogurt machines, I now know that the Cuisinart ICE-21 (available at Amazon for $69.95) is going to become a staple in my kitchen.

Here are the best ice cream makers we tested ranked, in order:

  1. Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart
  2. Cuisinart ICE-70 Cool Creations
  3. Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop
  4. KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment
  5. Whynter ICM-201SB 2.1 Quart Upright
  6. Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic
  7. Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker
  8. Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE 4-Quart Electric
  9. Hamilton Beach 68330N 4-Quart Automatic
  10. AmazonBasics 1.5 Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Other Ice Cream Makers We Tested

How We Tested Ice Cream Makers

We tested ten different ice cream makers with three recipes in each.

The Tester

Hi, I’m Bethany Kwoka—and I’ve been obsessed with dessert since I was a child, and creating delicious new concoctions is a hobby of mine. As a home baker, I typically focus on cakes and cookies during the winter. But come summertime, I want something that doesn’t require me to turn on the oven.

The Tests

To ensure I wouldn’t end up with a one-trick pony, I tested three different recipes in each ice cream maker. I made a classic vanilla, a chocolate rocky road, and a mixed berry frozen yogurt. To help keep each test the same, I chose simple recipes that didn’t require making an egg custard as the base.

I took careful notes of not only how the ice cream turned out, but how intuitive each model was to use, how helpful each manual was, how much counter space it took up, whether there were special features worth noting, how easy they were to clean, and more. I thought not only about how great it would be to have during the summer, but also whether it was possible to store it during the times of year I’m not eating as much ice cream, or whether it was small enough to live on my counter full time.

How to Choose the Best Ice Cream Maker for You

What ice cream maker is right for you depends on a number of factors—including how long you can wait to dig into your creation. When it comes to making traditional homemade ice cream, there are three types of machines to choose from, but they all basically work the same.

After making your ice cream base, pour it into the bowl of the machine. A paddle moves through your batter as it freezes, breaking up ice crystals. After a while, you’ll have a tasty treat.

Types of Ice Cream Makers

Salt and ice: For those looking for a bit of nostalgia, these are the ice cream makers that may come to mind. They consist of a giant bucket you fill with ice and salt, a metal canister in the center, and a motor on top to churn the ice cream mixture.

For people who make ice cream once or twice a year in the summer, this might be the type for you. Typically, they produce a lot of ice cream, but they also require some extra work. They are the least expensive models and require a lot of ice. Additionally, they require a fair bit of storage space.

Freezer bowl: These ice cream makers are the modern version of the classic. They consist of a smaller canister that’s filled with refrigerant, which you freeze overnight before setting on top of the motor and inserting the paddle for churning. This could be the model for people who want to enjoy homemade ice cream on a more frequent basis.

They are more expensive than the classics, but they take up less space and don’t require a trip to the grocery store for ice. They also require a little planning because the bowls need to be frozen beforehand. Typically, they produce less ice cream than salt-and-ice machines, and you can’t make back-to-back batches like you can with compressor machines unless you have more than one freezer bowl.

Compressor machine: These are the most advanced ice cream appliances. They don’t require any ice or pre-freezing and come complete with their own freezing unit along with fancier settings. These models are pricier, but ice cream lovers may want to take the plunge. They can make ice cream at a moment’s notice and you can make multiple batches back to back. However, they take up a good amount of counter space and can be heavy.

Overall, I found the classic ice-filled buckets frustrating and a bit wasteful. And while I loved having a compressor model around, they’re on the expensive side.

Ultimately, the freeze-the-canister style offers the best middle ground between affordability and ease. That said, if you have a lot of kitchen space and need to be able to make ice cream at a moment’s notice, compressor models are slowly coming down in price and might be worth a second look.

Size

Ice cream makers can range from single-serving freezer plates that take very little storage space to large compressor models that could be heavy enough that you’ll want to leave them on your counter. How much space you have to store a machine is one thing to consider when choosing an ice cream maker.

Capacity

Another thing to consider when deciding on a machine is how much ice cream you want. While most of the machines we reviewed produced one to two quarts of ice cream, there also are single-serving options. The larger salt-and-ice machines often will produce 4 quarts at a time, great for a backyard party.

Should You Buy an Ice Cream Maker?

While an ice cream maker might not be an essential item for most people, they can be a lot of fun. However, they can take a lot of storage space and some can be quite costly. Ultimately, it really comes down to how much ice cream you eat and whether you’ll use your machine. If you use them frequently, the cost of an ice cream machine could even save you money in the long run. And don’t forget that they’re fun, too!

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