The Sweet Home concluded that after testing automatic ice-and-salt ice cream makers, freezer bowl models, and compressor (self-refrigerating) models, the most convenient style of machine that also delivers a rich and creamy product is the compressor model. The Sweet Home also acknowledges that the compressor models are pricey and the freezer bowl-style is better for the budget-conscious consumer. For their final review, however, The Sweet Home focused entirely on compressor ice cream makers.

We also read through numerous customer reviews posted on Amazon. Many customers got great results from compressor models, but they were also pleased with freezer-bowl models and the automatic ice-and-salt machines. We decided to include each of these in our testing.

The leader in the industry is clearly Cuisinart. The company has several ice cream machines on the market that they upgrade every couple of years. However, there are several other American and European manufacturers who are giving Cuisinart a run for their money, so we included a few of these in our list of candidates to test.

Top 10 Ice Cream Makers

Which Ice Cream Maker Should You Buy?

Ice cream makers are a good investment because they save you time and effort while making ice cream. Fully automatic electric ice cream makers do not require much effort once they start churning the ingredients.

Before buying an ice cream maker, you should check if the price is within your budget, the motor should be quiet and it should be easy to use and clean. I would recommend the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker or the Whynter Ice Cream maker because they are relatively quiet machines. The Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker is ideal if you are looking for a slightly expensive but efficient ice cream maker. It is also easy to assemble, use and clean. The best ice cream maker is one that will suit your specific needs.

Why buy an ice cream maker

At face value, an ice cream machine is a luxury item, but if you enjoy ice cream on a regular basis, it can actually be quite cost-efficient. An ice cream parlor charges around three dollars (or in the case of gelato, four dollars) for a single scoop and that’s without any add-ins. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s can set you back six or seven dollars. When you make your own ice cream, the cost for two quarts is about five dollars.

It may also be important to you to know exactly what’s going into your ice cream, especially if you prefer to eat organic or have a food allergy. With a few of the machines we tested, we were able to reproduce ice creams and sorbets that tasted like those you buy at an ice cream parlor, but with less processed ingredients.

Today’s compressor ice cream makers take ice and rock salt out of the picture altogether (except for the nostalgic, vintage-style machines), so homemade ice cream couldn’t be easier. And let’s face it, making ice cream is fun. Although we used the same recipes for all the machines during our testing, we couldn’t wait to get creative and try out flavors and add-ins after the testing was completed.

Important features to consider

Compressor style: Although compressor models are more expensive, in the long run, we found they couldn’t be beaten in rapidly churning quarts of excellent ice cream in a short period of time. Compressor models are self-cooling, like mini refrigerator-freezers, so you don’t need to pre-freeze the canister. Also, because the machine stays cold, you can churn out continuous quarts without waiting.

Freezer bowl style: A less-expensive alternative is a machine with a removable freezer bowl. The bowl is filled with a liquid gel that must be frozen in your freezer for at least 12 hours before you plan on churning ice cream. Although we could only churn two quarts of ice cream per day in the freezer bowl model, we did find that the freezer bowl did an efficient job.

Capacity: Three of the machines we tested had a 1.5-quart capacity, while two machines had a two-quart capacity. The ice-and-salt model, Hamilton Beach – 68330N had double the capacity at four quarts. For the compressor models, we found a 1.5-quart capacity sufficient, since we could make several quarts one after another. If you want to make more than two quarts in the Cuisinart – ICE-60W, you’ll need to buy an additional freezer bowl.

Add-in spout: If you want to add in your favorite nuts and candy to your ice cream, then look for a machine with a spout. It’s a convenient and practical feature, since removing the lid entirely during the churning process will lower the temperature of the ice cream and lengthen the time it takes to freeze.

Clean-up

One of the factors that you should consider when purchasing an ice cream maker is the convenience of using and cleaning it on a regular basis.

The compressor models we tested were stainless steel and the only parts that can be washed (not in the dishwasher) are their removable metal canisters and plastic dashers. The Whynter, ICE-100 and the Breville were especially easy to clean and ready to use again in minutes. The Breville even comes with its own small brush to clean the hard-to-reach canister cylinder. The ICE-60’s freezer bowl, once defrosted, was also easy to clean.

The Musso gave us a couple of problems. The only removable part is the metal dasher and it freezes tight during the churning, which made it difficult to remove until we defrosted it with hot water. The Musso’s instruction manual advises pouring hot water into the bowl, waiting 10 minutes and wiping it out with a sponge, then repeating until clean. We followed the instructions and needed to do the process several times before all soapy residue was removed.

Hamilton Beach’s canister and dasher were easy to detach and wash, but it was tricky to empty out the ice and salt water from the unit’s bucket without spilling it everywhere.

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