With the average person in the US consuming around 48 pints of ice cream per year, it is no wonder that some of prefer to make it at home instead of buying it from the store. Making our own ice cream, sorbet or gelato allows us to create our own flavors as well as letting us make it for specific diets, such as low fat, or lactose free or dairy free diets.There are three main types of ice cream maker and in this review, we look at the pros and cons of each, as well as some of the bestselling makers currently available. We also have a look at some tips on how to get the most from an best ice cream maker, as well as how to make and store ice cream safely and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
The one touch operation Cuisinart ICE-60W Cool Creations ice cream maker (white) is our best pick for making 2 quarts of ice cream, sorbet, gelato or frozen yogurt in less time.
The Cuisinart ICE-21 frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet maker (white) is our budget pick for making a smaller quantity of frozen favorites.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Ice Cream Makers
1. Cuisinart ICE-60W Cool Creations Ice Cream Maker
The Cuisinart ICE-60W Cool Creations ice cream maker (white) makes 2 quarts of ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato or sorbet. With one touch operation, it has three settings with multiple speeds, as well as an auto shut off function. The lid is transparent for easy monitoring, although it may work loose during vigorous mixing as its fasteners could be of a more robust design.The paddle or dasher is designed to improve mixing time and it has an ingredient spout with an integrated measuring cup. It has a three year limited warranty and comes with a recipe book.
2. Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Maker
The Cuisinart ICE-21 frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet maker (white) is one touch and fully automatic. Able to make up to 1.5 quarts, it has an easy lock transparent lid with a large spout to easily add ingredients. You may find this maker is more suitable for occasional rather than constant use as it is more basic and has a lower capacity than other ice cream makers.The new design paddle allows faster processing which means desserts can be ready in 20 minutes or less. This does come with a three year limited warranty, although if you need to claim under this, you will have to pay shipping costs which may work out around the same as buying a new ice cream maker.
3. KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment
The KitchenAid KICA0WH ice cream maker attachment will fit on to 5 and 6 quart KitchenAid stand mixers, without you needing to buy a separate ice cream maker. It includes a bowl that needs pre-freezing for at least 15 hours, and the paddle/dasher attachment can make up to 2 quarts of ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt in around 25 minutes. It comes with a one year warranty.As some customers have experienced leaking of the freezing solution from the bowl, the manufacturer recommends several things to prevent this from happening. These include that metal utensils not be used to remove the ice cream, or the bowl used as an ice cream store in the freezer. The bowl needs to reach room temperature before cleaning in warm water and it should not go in the dishwasher. It needs to be completely dry before putting back in the freezer.
4. Hamilton Beach 68330N Ice Cream Maker
Suitable for making 4 quarts of ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato or sherbet, the Hamilton Beach 68330N ice cream maker is a traditional maker that needs electric, ice and rock or ice cream salt. The canister or bowl is seam-free aluminum. It also comes with recipes and an easy lock lid and has a one year limited warranty.This traditional type of ice cream maker can be noisier than countertop models, so you may need to use it in the garage or away from your main living space.
5. Nostalgia ICMP40BLUE Ice Cream Maker
The traditional blue Nostalgia ICMP40BLUE ice cream maker uses salt and ice to make the ice cream. This is a BPA-free electric ice cream maker with an easy clean bucket with carry handle and a transparent lid. The canister is aluminum. It comes with some recipes although it is recommended that the manufacturer’s ice cream mixes are used with this ice cream maker.
6. Cuisinart 2 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker
The Cuisinart 2 quart frozen yogurt-sorbet and ice cream maker is a fully automatic maker with a brushed stainless steel housing which can make ice cream in as little as 25 minutes. The lid of the maker is transparent so you can keep an eye on your ice cream, and the lid fastens with an easy-lock.
This utilizes a heavy duty motor along with a double insulated 2 quart freezer bowl and it also has a large ingredient spout to make adding ingredients easier. It comes with a recipe book and a three year limited warranty from the manufacturer. This is also free from any BPA.Some owners have complained about the noise of this machine, so you may want to consider if you can place it in the basement or another space where the noise may not be as much of a nuisance. Some buyers have also had limited success with some of the ice cream recipes provided.
7. Elite Gourmet EIM-506 Ice Cream Maker
The Elite Gourmet EIM-606 ice cream maker is a traditional maker that comes with a hand crank and an electric motor. With the addition of rock salt and ice to its tub, it can make a generous 6 quarts of ice cream frozen yogurt, gelato or sorbet. The tub is hand crafted pine and its canister is heavy duty aluminum. Once ice cream is ready with the electric motor, which has an over-heating protection system, you can then use the hand crank to firm it up further. This comes with a one year warranty.
8. Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5 quart Ice Cream Maker
The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5 quart ice cream maker is fully automatic and produces 1.5 quarts in around 30 minutes. If your ice cream becomes too hard, then the maker automatically shuts itself off. The bowl, housing and paddle are all stainless steel for easy cleaning, although the bowl is non-removeable which may make cleaning slightly awkward. This maker also comes with a recipe book.Suitable for making ice cream, gelato and other frozen desserts, it is made in Italy and has a one year warranty.
9. Breville BC1600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
The Breville BC1600XL Smart Scoop ice cream maker is a self-refrigerating stainless steel model that can automatically sense how hard the ice cream mixture is based on your choice of one of 12 hardness settings. When the ice cream is ready, it sounds an audible alarm and it has a keep cold setting that keeps it frozen for up to three hours.This maker is suitable for making ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato and sorbet and it has a 1.5 quart capacity. The mixing bowl is stainless steel and the smart scoop is BPA-free. This maker also has a child-lock for extra safety and it comes with a one year warranty. Some owners have had problems contacting the manufacturer for warranty queries and if a claim is made outside of the warranty window, the associated costs may be quite high.
10. White Mountain Electric Ice Cream Maker
With an Appalachian Series wooden bucket, the White Mountain electric ice cream maker (PBWMIME612-SHP) will produce 6 quarts of ice cream in 20 to 40 minutes.
This uses a 12,000 rpm electric motor with a triple motion action dasher system to make ice cream that is creamy and smooth. Inside the handcrafted and galvanized hoop bound New England pine wood bucket, there is a stainless steel cannister and lid.This also comes with recipes and a five year limited warranty from the manufacturer, although before you use this ice cream maker you will need to buy rock or ice cream salt. A small number of buyers have experienced issues with the motor on this ice cream maker and some owners have had problems making warranty claims for faulty makers.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Ice Cream Maker
Ice cream was first produced commercially in 1851 in Boston, Mass. and when ice cream was sent to the military during World War II, it became popular as a summer treat. The end of the World War II was also celebrated with, yes, you’ve guessed it, ice cream!
Around 90% of US households eat ice cream and vanilla is still the most popular flavor.
An ice cream maker allows you to make whatever flavors of ice cream, sorbet, gelato, frozen custard or frozen yogurt you want in the comfort of your own kitchen. You also have the freedom to create healthier ice creams or ice creams that are suitable for specific diets, such as lactose free.
How Ice Cream Makers Work
The traditional ice cream maker needs ice and rock salt to form a refrigerant that can freeze the mixture. The salt causes the ice to melt and become brine, which keeps at temperatures of between 8°F and 12°F. This brine quickly absorbs the heat from the ice cream mixture and allows it to begin to freeze.
The body of a traditional ice cream maker is usually a bucket or tub and a canister sits inside of this, leaving enough space to place ice and salt between the two. At one time, it would always need cranking by hand, but nowadays, most prefer a maker with an electric motor on top of the canister to reduce the amount of work needed!
When making ice cream, the canister needs placing into the bucket or tub and the paddle needs attaching and fastening into place. The ice cream mixture is poured into the canister and the lid placed on top. The motor then fastens securely to the lid/drive mechanism and you can then begin to add ice and salt.
The typical ratio is five cups of ice to one cup of salt and ice needs breaking up before use. The ice and salt needs adding to the space between the bucket and the canister, then as the motor runs and the ice melts down, it needs refilling with ice and salt until the ice cream is finished.
The amount of ice and salt also depends on air temperature and if frozen cream starts sticking on the inside of the canister then you can allow the brine to warm up slightly and reduce the amount of salt added.
The other two main types of ice cream maker include the pre-freezing style, which uses a removable coolant lined bowl that is pre-frozen before use and the self-refrigerating type that has its own compressor to chill the canister or bowl.
An ice cream mixture is usually a loose dairy or fruit base, added to either the bowl with frozen coolant around the outside of it, or to a bowl sitting in a refrigeration unit - depending on the type of maker.
The bowl or canister of an ice cream maker has a paddle or dasher that gently stirs the ice cream mixture as it cools. This is to not only keep it smooth, but to stop ice crystals from forming, which can ruin the ice cream. The dasher also helps aerate the mixture as ice cream needs air to stop it from becoming a solid ice brick. Some mixers may have a static dasher and the bowl itself will rotate.
Once the consistency of the ice cream changes to that of a milkshake or soft-serve ice cream you can move it to a clean container and pop it into the freezer for a couple of hours to firm it up further. A home ice cream maker can rarely harden ice cream to the consistency of store-bought ice cream.
You can also buy a kit, usually consisting of a coolant lined bowl and a paddle, that can go onto major stand mixers and temporarily convert them to an ice cream maker.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Ice Cream Makers
An ice cream maker can take up a lot of counter space, and if you have a pre-freezing style machine, you need to ensure there is enough room in the freezer the day before to freeze the bowl. If you want to make a new batch of ice cream straight after in this type of maker, you also must wait for your bowl to re-freeze (usually the following day) or you will need to keep spare bowls in the freezer ready to go.
These pre-frozen styles tend to consume less power though as they just need an electric motor to turn the paddle.
The self-refrigerating types can be power heavy as they need to refrigerate, and they are usually much more expensive to buy. If its bowl is removeable though, it does offer you the choice to start a fresh batch of ice cream as soon as the bowl has been cleaned off and dried.
The size of the ice cream maker not only depends on its type, but also its capacity. Many make around 2 quarts, but most will have a minimum quantity, which you should think about before you buy, as you will need enough room to store the ice cream once made.
Different Types of Frozen Desserts
Ice cream makers are not just for ice cream – many are suitable for making a wide range of frozen desserts. Here is the low down on our favorite frozen treats and what makes each of them different:
Ice cream must be sweet, contain at least 10% milk fat according to the USDA and must be churned during freezing. Usually made with cream, milk and sugar and sometimes egg yolks, an ice cream base varies, but many use a French custard base of tempered egg yolks in milk.
Gelato is Italian for ice cream, but unlike traditional ice cream, gelato has less milk fat and less air added during its production. It can be lower in saturated fats than ice cream, but it may have more sugar content. Gelato is usually churned slower than ice cream, making a denser treat. It needs serving slightly warmer than ice cream as this makes it softer and gives it a glossier finish.
Frozen custard is identical to ice cream except egg yolk is always added. This creates a softer and denser dessert.
Frozen yogurt is made the same as ice cream but has a yogurt base rather than cream or milk. It tends to be lower in fat and calories than traditional ice cream but may have more sugar and calories.
Sorbet is made with sugar and fruit, it does not contain any dairy and its refreshing taste is why it is a popular palate cleanser in restaurants. Like ice cream, sorbet is easy to make at home and it does not contain any fat, although it has a much higher sugar content than ice cream and lacks any calcium source.
Sherbet is always fruit based and like a sorbet, but it has around 1% to 2% of milk fat added as it is made.
Italian ice, or granita is often made like sorbet, with fruit sugar and water. The difference is its texture. When making, granita is scraped as it is freezes to create more of a flaked texture than the typical smooth texture of a sorbet.
Making Ice Cream Safely
Homemade ice cream causes several outbreaks of Salmonella every year – due to raw or undercooked eggs in the ice cream.
The FDA recommend that a cooked egg or custard base be used in ice cream, especially if it will be eaten by those such as infants, older adults and pregnant women as these groups have a higher risk of Salmonella infection.
To make an easy custard base, eggs and milk need cooking gently to an internal temperature of 160°F which will destroy any Salmonella present. The mixture can then be chilled and used as the base for the ice cream. Pasteurized eggs can also be used, as can egg substitute products, although you may need to experiment a little with these to get the best flavor.
The FDA and the USDA also advise us to always use pasteurized milk and cream in homemade ice cream.
The Best Type of Milk for Ice Cream
Traditionally, most recipes need heavy cream, whole milk or half and half. This is because these have the highest fat content to give better texture to the ice cream. When ice cream mixture starts mixing in an ice cream maker, the fat molecules that are already suspended in clusters in the milk and cream start to break apart and keep the pockets of air in place – this makes smoother ice cream.
Because skim milk has little fat, it is not usually as suitable for ice cream as it cannot give the necessary texture and lacks the creamy finish. You can use skim milk if you add extra fat, such as by increasing the ratio of heavy cream, or by adding melted butter or margarine.
Buttermilk can be a lower fat alternative as it is a low fat milk, but with an added bacterial culture. Buttermilk ice cream does have a different taste though, which may take some getting used to. Nowadays, other milks such as coconut, cashew or almond are suitable for making non-dairy ice creams.
There are several reasons as to why the paddle or dasher sticks. Adding chunky ingredients such as chocolate or cookie pieces can cause sticking, so try to avoid adding these until the end of the mixing.
Another reason is if the bowl if pre-frozen, it may be too cold which means if mixture is freezing too quickly when it comes into the contact with the sides, it will make it more difficult for the paddle to mix. Adding the ice cream mixture to the center of the bowl, rather than the sides, can help minimize this.
If a maker has a paddle attached to the top of lid, there can be more chance of the ice cream maker lid coming off. This is because if the paddle sticks as the ice cream thickens, it will change direction to free itself. If this happens frequently it can cause the lid to unscrew from its base. The easiest way to prevent this is by watching it and if the paddle is sticking, you can manually scrape some of the ice cream out of the way.
Non-Freezing Ice Cream
There can be several reasons as to why your ice cream is not freezing, including that the ingredients for the base were not cold enough when you started.
If you have a pre-freezing maker, it may be that the bowl was not in the freezer long enough, or that your freezer is not cold enough to either freeze the bowl or properly set the ice cream. If you do not already have a thermometer in your freezer it is worth investing in one as ice cream needs to drop down to 0°F or lower to properly set.
When you freeze your bowl, also make sure that it is in the correct, usually upright, position in the freezer. If not, it means that the liquid inside freezes unevenly and this can stop the mixture from freezing properly.
If you have added too much ice cream mixture to the bowl it can stop it from setting. Also avoid increasing quantities of ingredients as if the bowl is too full as it begins mixing, the cooling ice cream mixture will expand and spill over.
If you try recipes outside of those provided by the manufacturer, then be prepared to increase or decrease quantities for the best results in your ice cream maker. If a recipe does not say how much ice cream it will make, then you may want to measure it out when ready - it will give you a useful guide for future batches.
Finally, if you add an alcoholic bite to your ice cream, do avoid adding too much as the ice cream will not be able to freeze properly at normal freezer temperatures.
Storing Fresh Ice Cream Properly
Fresh ice cream should be stored in the freezer center as temperature is most constant here and if homemade ice cream does melt, you should dispose of it rather than re-freezing and risking foodborne illness. It is recommended that ice cream be stored at -11°F and fresh ice cream should be eaten soon after it is made.
Before fresh ice cream is served; try leaving in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or at room temperature for 15 minutes as this can really help the flavor to develop.
In this review we have looked in depth at types of ice cream makers and how they work, as well as supplying some tips for un-sticking paddles and freezing ice cream that we hope you have found helpful. We have also reviewed some of the bestselling ice cream makers available and looked at what they offer to home ice cream making.So, whether you are considering investing in a traditional rock salt and ice cream maker, or you prefer a self-refrigerating model, we hope that we have given you all the information you need to choose the best ice cream maker for you and your family.
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