Ultimate Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide

Making your own ice cream at home can be quite an enjoyable and exhilarating experience. Indeed, not only will you be able to include your kids or other members of your family in the process, but you’ll also be able to cut back on the expenses that are associated with eating out. In fact, investing in your own appliance will also help you avoid the guilt that normally follows a delicious albeit overly sugary and overly creamy treat.

In spite of its multiple pros, however, there’s no denying the fact that selecting your own ice cream maker from the various models on the market can be quite a challenging task for anyone who’s never used such an appliance before. So, to help you make the best choice, here are some of the most important points that you have to consider before buying your own appliance.


Ice cream makers normally come with several capacities. Of course, it goes without saying that a cheaper appliances will undoubtedly produce less ice cream but then again, such appliances require less time to prepare your mixture. On the other hand, more expensive machines can provide up to 3 quarts- or more- of ice cream in the same batch, allowing you to limit the number of times that you’ll use the ice cream maker. This can minimize wear and tear and largely extend the longevity of your appliance. Ice cream makers with larger capacities also tend to have more features than smaller ones.


As most users will agree, the price is one of the determining factors behind your purchase. If you’re not willing to spend a lot or if you’re simply looking for a beginner’s machine to help you get started, it would be better to opt for a cheaper model such as a traditional, hand-crank ice cream maker. On the other hand, however, larger and more expensive models are much more suited to sustain heavy-duty or regular use.

Bear in mind that the type of appliance that you choose to go for directly affects its price. Compressor models, for instance, tend to be the most expensive because they’re usually packed with extra features to shorten the churning process while eliminating tedious tasks such as freezing the bowl or treating it with ice cubes and rock salt before you put in your chilled mixture.

People who are shopping for an ice cream maker should also remember to look for a machine that’s supposed by a solid manufacturer’s warranty to ensure their financial protection if they ever encounter any issue with their appliance. To help you choose the best model within your budget range, here are our top 5 favorite models:

Budget Range
$20 - 50 $50 - 100 $100 - 200 $200 - 300 $300 +
Our Choice Cuisinart ICE-21
ice-21 cuisinart
Cuisinart Pure Indulgence
pure indulgence cuisinart
MaxiMatic Elite

elite maximatic
DeLongi GM6000
gm6000 delongi
Breville Smart Scoop
bci600xl breville

Method of Freezing

Ice cream makers normally ask for different methods of freezing such as:

  • Traditional: While Traditional ice cream makers are more readily available and undeniably on the cheaper side, they do ask for the bowl and ice cream to be frozen both prior to and after the churning process. This can easily add some extra hours to the preparation time, which can be cumbersome if you’re in a hurry.
  • Soft serve: The main advantage with soft serve models, such as the Yonanas 902, is that they require absolutely no freezing time after the churning process. These machines are also favored for other treats with a creamy consistency such as Gelato and frozen yogurt. Depending on the model, you might need to treat the canister with rock salt and ice cubes before use. These appliances are more suited for light to moderate use.
  • cuisinart ice-100 compressor ice cream makerCompressor: The major advantage with this method of freezing is that you don’t need to freeze your mixture after use since it keeps your mixture to freezing temperature right inside the bowl. By this token, machines with compressors, such as the Cuisinart ICE-100, can easily be used to make several batches in one go since you won’t need to constantly freeze the bowl between batches.

Time It Takes to Prepare

Churning time: The churning time normally depends on the appliance’s capacity. For instance, machines with a smaller capacity can easily churn your ice cream in fifteen to twenty minutes. On the other and, larger appliances normally require around thirty or even forty minutes for your mixture to be properly churned. The churning time also depends on whether the machine is automatic or hand-crank.

Freezing time: Some ice cream makers require that the canister be frozen at least overnight before use. On the other hand, other models require that the bowl be treated with rock salt and ice before use and this largely eliminates the need for any pre-freezing. This usually delivers a soft-serve consistency. Therefore, users who would rather go for a harder texture can allow their mixture to freeze for a few hours after the churning process.

Ease of Use

Electric models: Also known as automatic ice cream makers, electric machines are equipped with an automated paddle or mixing blade designed to churn your mixture until it reaches a decadent and creamier consistency. While they’re undoubtedly more expensive than traditional machines, they’re much more practical since you’ll be free to indulge in your daily activities while the appliance does all the work for you.

Hand crank models: If you’re on a budget and if you want to go down the old-fashioned route, you can also go for hand-crank models. These certainly require more effort to operate and take longer to churn the ice cream but they’re much more affordable and ooze of old-fashioned, traditional charm. These appliances are also on the smaller side and perfect for light to moderate use. They are easier to clean their automatic counterparts.

Additional Capabilities

Be sure to watch out for additional capabilities as well. Indeed, you never know when the mood for another type of dessert might strike you so it’s worth looking out for an appliance with additional features. Fortunately enough, most ice cream makers can be used to make various types of desserts like frozen yogurt, Gelato, sherbet or sorbets. In fact, some models can even be used to concoct frozen drinks such as slushies or margaritas.

Along with these features, some more expensive machines are also equipped with additional capabilities such as timers and the likes.

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