These 13 Top Ice Cream Maker Machines Are the Best for Making Frozen Desserts
These are our favorite machines to whip up ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt and more!
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Ice cream is my favorite dessert, so naturally I had to look into the top ice cream maker machines. I mean, who doesn’t love the cool and sweet treat, especially on a hot summer’s day? NO ONE!
Although I love going to local creameries to get my ice cream fix — New York has so many — I also like the idea of making the dessert classic at home. For one thing, it’s healthier, plus some ice cream makers can also be used to create frozen yogurt and gelato — yum!
Making homemade ice cream is fun, especially if you have little ones to help. And unlike baking, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for experimentation, you can get wild with the dessert. Think brownie chunks and peanut butter chips swirled into milky vanilla. Or, what about pumpkin pie flavor for when Thanksgiving rolls around? The options are endless, so why not start experimenting now with one of our best ice cream maker picks? And when you do, tag us on Insta @WomansWorldMag.
What are the top ice cream maker machines?
- Best overall ice cream maker machines : Cuisinart ICE21P1 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt with Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker
- Best compact ice cream maker machine : Ninja NC301 CREAMi Ice Cream Maker
- Best compression ice cream maker machine : Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker, Brushed Stainless Steel
- Best ice cream maker machine for frozen yogurt : Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker
- Best old fashioned ice cream maker machine : Nostalgia Stainless Steel 2-QT. Ice Cream Maker
- Best ice cream maker machine for gelato : Whynter 2.1 Quart Upright Ice Cream Maker with Stainless Steel Bowl
- Best soft service ice cream maker machine : Cuisinart Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
- Best salt and ice ice cream maker machine : Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker
- Best versatile ice cream maker machine : Haimmy Ice Cream Maker
- Best KitchenAid ice cream maker machine : KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment
Is it worth getting an ice cream maker?
If you have special dietary needs, buy ice cream weekly, or like hosting, purchasing an ice cream maker is worth getting. Starting around $60, they’re not expensive, and can last up to six years.
As an amateur ice cream connoisseur, I really enjoy looking at all the different flavors in the freezer section at the grocery. However, as someone who tries to limit extra sugar and avoids dairy, I rarely buy what I see. In my opinion, what makes the top ice cream maker machines worth it is that they let you make the dessert on your terms.
If you don’t believe me, just Google. There are hundreds of ice cream recipes for whatever your eat style. The blog Chocolate Covered Katie has a great keto-friendly chocolate ice cream, for example. Another food blog, Loving it Vegan, has a simple vegan vanilla ice cream recipe which features coconut milk. Sky is truly the limit when it comes to the treat, and you can reach for the top when you have an ice cream maker.
What is the difference between a gelato maker and ice cream maker?
If you’re a budding ice cream connoisseur too, you’ve probably wondered about the difference between gelato and ice cream. In fact, you may have wondered about the different between those, frozen yogurt, and frozen custard – all great questions, BTW!
Gelato is Italian for ice cream but unlike the American version, it has a different ratio of ingredients, and tends to be denser. Frozen yogurt uses cultured milk in substitution of cream, and frozen custard always contains egg yolks.
Now that we’ve covered the basic differences, do you need to buy a different type of machine for each dessert? Depends.
Besides ingredients, both desserts require a different mixing style. Traditional gelato making machines keep air out, which helps create a dense texture. In contrast, ice cream machines require some air to fluff the liquid. Churning speed also plays a role. While gelato tends to be less caloric than regular ice cream because it doesn’t use cream, you’re able to play with ingredients with your own machine.
If you want to make both desserts, one of the top ice cream maker machines for gelato and soft serve comes from Cuisinart. The ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker ($299.95) makes an exceptional frozen dessert. Along with being compact for your countertop, it has an automatic churn system, plus a strong motor. Even if you want to toss a bunch of pecans, hardshell candies or bits of cake, the machine will mix everything to perfection.
Another top ice cream maker machine to create gelato with is the Ninja NC301 Creami (Kohl’s, $259.99). In fact, it’s ideal for all of your frozen creations, has seven one-touch programs and a re-spin function to make ice cream silkier.
What to look for when buying an ice cream maker machine?
If you want to make ice cream ASAP, not all machines will be for you. Depending on the style chosen, you may find yourself waiting up to 24 hours to enjoy dessert. I know — torture!
Here’s a brief breakdown of top ice cream maker machine types:
Compressor: If you’re impatient or have compulsive culinary tendencies, a compressor ice cream machine, like the Whynter Ice Cream Maker (Wayfair, $319.37), is for you. They have a built-in freezer to chill liquid down at the beginning of processing, which means you can enjoy the dessert instantly. They’re not inexpensive but if you’re only interested in making dessert when the mood strikes, they are 100 percent worth it!
Pre-frozen bowl: These types of ice cream makers are just what they sound like. The machines include a stainless steel bowl that needs to be placed in the freezer for a specific time (up to 24 hours), at 0 fahrenheit. Obviously, they’re best if you don’t mind waiting a day.
Ice-and-Salt: This style of ice cream machine requires ice and rock salt to make the liquid cold enough to freeze. Like compressors, there’s no pre-freezing required, but they’re more affordable. Once upon a time, these machines required you to churn the mixture by hand. Fortunately, today’s models, while looking like the originals, are electric and easier to operate.
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This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.
Best Ice Cream Maker Machines
Cuisinart ICE21P1 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt with Ice Cream and Sorbet MakerBest overall ice cream maker machine
What we like about it:
- Makes frozen desserts in 20 minutes
- Available in 3 colors
- 5 star rated on Walmart, more than 2,000 reviews!
No ice? No problem when Cuisinart is your sous chef. The ICE 21P1 comes with a double-insulated freezer bowl to eliminate the need for ice. Features include a lock transparent lid with large spout, so ingredients can be added mess free, and it also has new patent-pending mixing paddles to create your dessert in 20 minutes or less. It can also make sorbet and frozen yogurt!
Promising review: “Making ice cream at home is no longer a chore. Ingredients are simple, and very little prep is needed. Ice cream really does churn in 15 to 20 minutes, and the amount this makes is perfect for my husband and I to have during the week. When I was a kid making ice cream was kind of a production, so I never was interested in making my own until I got this item as a work anniversary gift. Now we’ll probably never buy ice cream again! “
Ninja NC301 CREAMi Ice Cream MakerBest compact ice cream maker machine
Why we like it:
- 7 programs
- Space-saving design
- Re-spin function
If you don’t have counter space to spare, this compact top ice cream maker machine is for you. It’s made by Ninja, so you know it’s high quality, plus it comes with all of the bells and whistles you could want. It has seven one-touch programs to combine different pressures and speeds as you mix. I love the re-spin function, which really comes in handy when adding ingredients like candies into your concoction but prefer a smoother consistency instead of chunky. The steel blades are no joke for shaving ice, and the container, lid, and paddles can be tossed into the dishwasher for easy clean-up. Although it’s on the louder side, unless you’re planning to make dessert late night, does it matter? According to this happy customer, not at all!
Promising review: “I try to manage my weight, and I love soft serve ice cream. Now I can make my own healthy version whenever I want. Yes, it’s noisy but works pretty quickly. It has totally been worth it! You can make sorbet, gelato, and ice cream. It’s very sturdy and well made.”
Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker, Brushed Stainless SteelBest compressor ice cream maker machine
Why we like it:
- Instant ice cream
- 12 hardness settings
- Manual and automatic settings
This monster machine makes monster size treats, so it’s ideal for party hosting or whipping up large amounts. The smart machine has a pre-cool setting to keep frozen desserts at their ideal temperature, as well as automatically sense what you’re making based on the hardness. The mix setting allows different ingredients to be added as you work, which means if you like brownie chunks instead of specs in your blizzards, the machine can make it happen. Your dessert can be left in the machine (which continues to churn) up to three hours. It also comes equipped with four pre-programmed settings to optimize control of the culinary process.
Promising review: “This beast is so easy to use and works so well! I’m on the keto diet and my husband is not. I’ve prepared different types of ice cream for both of us, and everything has turned out amazing! The parts are really easy to assemble, disassemble, and clean! I like the little hatch door for adding your additional ingredients near the end of the process. I like the “pre-freeze” and “keep cold” functions [too]. I love that you can easily choose the softness/hardness setting based on what kind of frozen treat you are making.”
Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream MakerBest ice cream maker machine for frozen yogurt
Why we like it:
- Makes soft serve ice cream
- Double-insulated 2-quart freezer bowl
- Also makes sorbet
This is one of the top ice cream maker machines to consider if you like other frozen desserts like frozen yogurt or sorbet. It’s fully automatic, has a heavy duty motor, and even comes with a handy recipe book. You’ll need to make sure your freezer is at 0 degrees to get the double-insulated bowl ready for use, but according to happy Walmart customers, it’s worth the wait. The ingredient spout is on the larger size, which is great for avoiding spills while adding toppings. Once you’re set up, it should only take 20 minutes to create the vanilla soft serve or chocolate sorbet of your dreams.
Promising review: “I am amazed by how easily this machine makes the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had. Also, it’s wonderful to know exactly what ingredients go into it! No more chemicals or additives. I still have a lot of recipes I want to try with this machine, but it’s hard to move on when the ones I’ve already tried are so [good!]”
Nostalgia Stainless Steel 2-QT. Ice Cream MakerBest old fashioned ice cream maker machine
Why we like it:
- Body made of stainless steel
- Has a candy crusher
- Top opening
This affordable ice-and-salt style ice cream maker machine is super easy to use. An open lid allows ingredients to be added mess-free, plus it’s electric! Add the ingredients, turn it on and in less than an hour you can enjoy sorbet, frozen yogurt and of course, the creamiest ice cream! An old fashioned hand crank at the top works for crushing Reese’s Pieces, nuts, or whatever else you want in the dessert, and the interior bowl is removable, so what isn’t eaten right away can be frozen for later.
Promising review: “It’s a great little machine for the price! Churns the ice cream beautifully, smooth and creamy. Would definitely recommend for a small group of people.”
Whynter 2.1 Quart Upright Ice Cream Maker with Stainless Steel BowlBest ice cream maker machine for gelato
Why we like it:
- Compressor style ice cream maker
- Includes recipe book and scoop
- Easy to use
If you’re like me, you can’t predict when a hankering for Cherry Garcia will emerge. This, understandably, makes working with a freezing bowl a bit problematic. While they’re not hard to use, the wait time can be annoying, especially if you want ice cream in an instant. What makes this one of the top ice cream maker machines is that it has a built-in compressor freezer, so it can always be used — even at a moment’s notice. Make frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet — whatever. It’s all possible with this 2.1 quart, stainless steel machine. Although it’s on the larger size, I think it’s neat to have an ice cream maker on display, and if you can’t stand the space it takes up, store it in a cupboard or the pantry when not in use.
Promising review: “To put it simply, I love it. Very good machine and so simple to use. Maybe too simple! I like the way it has its own compressor so there is nothing to freeze and wait on to chill for the next batch. Made delicious fresh strawberry daiquiris before dinner and it churned up a sinful ice cream for dessert while we were eating. It’s a keeper!”
Cuisinart Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream MakerBest soft service ice cream maker machine
Why we like it:
- Includes freezer bowl
- Topping compartment
- Great to use with the kids
Did you know some people don’t like soft serve? I know, not relatable! It’s so delicious and smooth, and easy to make with this Cuisinart machine. It’s fully automatic, and comes with a double-insulated freezer bowl that makes 1.5 pints of vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream. Three different levers work to add mix-ins of choice, and there’s even a compartment on the side for ice cream cones. It works for any type you like — FYI — so if you prefer waffle or flat bottom, it still works.
Promising review: “Awesome! My husband and I love it. We have tried all different recipes (some good, some not so much) and are staying to the basics in the recipe book…We bought an extra bowl so we keep going with different recipes and fill up the freezer with our favorite dessert.”
Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream MakerBest salt and ice ice cream maker machine
Why we like it:
- Bright color
You may have had one of these old fashioned ice cream style machines as a kid, but trust me, this one is better. Instead of churning the ice until your forearms burn, the Nostalgia Ice Cream Maker lets you plug it in and does all the hard labor. Yes, you’ll need a lot of ice to get started, but the ice cream will come out thick and delicious. The dasher remains still while the canister rotates, so you won’t have to hold it steady, plus the bright blue color is sort of fun. The ice cream machine makes up to four quarts, so they’re will be plenty to go around — twice!
Promising review: I am very happy with my choice of this compact maker. I’ve had a manual one in the past and found the hand churning a chore after a while. The Nostalgia Ice Cream Maker works very well, just as described… The ice cream comes out creamy, has a thick consistency right out of the machine, and tastes like the best store-bought minus the gum, fillers and other stuff. I do slightly cook the egg base before churning as suggested in the recipe booklet. I find the directions true, and the machine auto-stops when done after about 30 minutes. The noise is like that of any mixer.”
Haimmy Ice Cream MakerBest versatile ice cream maker machine
Why we like it:
- Fully automatic
- Compressor style machine
- Easy to clean
There’s no need to choose between gelato, frozen yogurt or ice cream with this machine. You can really have it all, and in only 30 minutes.! It keeps whatever you make cool for four hours, so there’s no need to rush to get everything back in the freezer, and it also comes with an ice cream scoop, as well as a spatula. If you’re at a loss of what to make first, check out the included recipe book.
Promising review: “This thing is fantastic. Took me a while to figure out a good recipe, but now that I have one, I use this all the time. It’s so easy without needing to freeze the bucket first. You can make ice cream on a whim with this thing. Perfect for date night too.”
KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker AttachmentBest KitchenAid ice cream maker machine
Buy from Amazon, $91.95 (was $99.99)
Why we like it:
- Works with KitchenAid mixer
- Easy to put together
Many of you own a KitchenAid mixer, which means you have almost everything to make a big dish of homemade ice cream. The missing ingredient is this mixing bowl attachment. It makes up to two pints — just enough to get started — and is simple to use once everything is set up. It comes with a two-sided adaptor, so it works with bowl-lift models as well as full-sized tilt-head stand mixers, and just needs to be adjusted in a few places to start. You’ll have to freeze the bowl 24 hours prior, so we suggest keeping it stored there even when not in use. Although we know it’s a little pricey for a single bowl, considering it can also be used to make gelato and frozen yogurt, it basically pays for itself.
Promising review: “The KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment is a great addition to any 5-6 quart KitchenAid mixer. With its easy-to-use design, you can create delicious, homemade ice cream, gelato, or sorbet in no time. The attachment is easy to install and operates smoothly, allowing you to create a variety of frozen treats without the need for an additional appliance. The included recipes provide a great starting point, but you can also experiment with your own flavors and ingredients. Overall, the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment is a great investment for anyone who loves frozen desserts and wants to create them at home with ease.”
Vitamix Ascent A3500 BlenderBest self cleaning ice cream maker machine
Why we like it:
- Comes with recipe book
When most of us think of Vitamix, we think smoothies and shakes. However, the restaurant-quality blender also makes ice cream! Best part? No freezing bowl needed. The Ascent A3500 model has an ice cream setting, which spins the blades at the perfect speed to pulverize ice till smooth. Simply add it to the machine, along with your milk, cream, sugar and whatever else, and you’re minutes away from the dessert of your wildest craving. I seriously love this thing and have owned one for years. Is it expensive? Yes, but it’s versatile and can be used for even soups, to chop veggies — seriously, whatever you need, so it’s worth the investment!
Promising review: “The self cleaning pre-set has improved with the ascent series, and I love the timer has been added to customize recipes for the perfect blend. All of the recipes I’ve made so far [have come] out perfectly.”
Americana Collection Elite EIM520M Electric Ice Cream MakerBest ice cream maker machine under $50
Why we like it:
- Compressor style machine
- Simple operation
If you’d like an ice cream maker but don’t want to spend big bucks, try this one from American. It’s under $50, includes a one quart quick freeze bowl, and whips up your frozen dessert in less than an hour. It’s lightweight, compact, and also pretty, so don’t be shy about leaving it on the counter. The bottom has rubber suctions to keep it steady, and the top also has an ingredient shoot for tossing toppings in without sending chocolate bits all over the kitchen.
Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5-Quart Ice Cream MakerBest ice cream maker machines for big batches
Why we like it:
- Makes 3 quartz of ice cream
- Fully automatic
- Easy operation
Yes, this ice cream maker is the opposite of inexpensive. However, if you’re frequently trying to make bigger batches of ice cream, this is the one to go for. The stainless steel machine creates three quarts of the dessert with its easy set-and-forget operation. Simply pour the ingredients into the mixer, close the lid, turn the ice cream maker on, and come back later to sheer heaven. Made in Italy, the kitchen appliance doesn’t make gelato, unfortunately, but can whip up sorbet like nobody’s business.
Promising review: “This ice cream maker is simply the best, most professional one I’ve ever used — and I’ve used several. Admittedly, I never owned one of the industry standard ones ($4k-$10k ones), but for home usage, this one takes the cake EASILY. And honestly, it FEELS like an industry standard unit build and results-wise. Extremely easy to use; literally plug and play. In my opinion, it’s the best for clean up, and the results are ice cream parlor style.”
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