Seriously, who doesn’t love ice cream? It is one of the most popular and enjoyable desserts that always seems to put a smile on everyone’s face. Now you can create that magic in the comfort of your own kitchen. An ice cream maker is one of the few small appliances that you can own that has the power to bring the entire family together. It is also one of the easiest to operate which makes it a simple and fun activity for involving the kids.
Finding the best ice cream maker for your home is typically going to come down to price and convenience. No matter your budget there is something out there for everyone. Our ice cream maker reviews try and cover a wide variety of models at different price points so no one is left out. Whether you want to make the occasional cup of vanilla ice cream or you are more discerning and crave some decadent gelato, there is a machine that is ideal for you.
Here is a quick comparison table highlighting some of the top rated ice cream and gelato maker machines for 2020.
|Ice Cream Maker||Bowl Capacity||Compressor||Price Range|
|Cuisinart ICE-21||1.5 Quarts||No||$|
|Cuisinart ICE-100||1.5 Quarts||Yes||$$$|
|Cuisinart ICE-70||2 Quarts||No||$$|
|Lello 4080 Musso Lussino||1.5 Quarts||Yes||$$$$$|
|Whynter ICM-201SB||2.1 Quarts||Yes||$$$|
|Nostalgia ICMP400WD||4 Quarts||No||$|
1. Cuisinart ICE-21 – Budget Friendly & Easy To Use
Cuisinart produces some of the best ice cream makers on the market and this is one of their most popular models. Coming in generally at just under $50, this is a great entry point to making your own frozen treats at home.
You can make up to 1.5 quarts of your favorite ice cream, sorbet, gelato or frozen yogurt. Most of these can be made in 20 minutes or less. One button control make it one of the easiest machines on our list to operate.
A nice sized ingredient spout lets you add what you want while the process has already started. The ICE-21 also comes with an easy lock lid for safety and to prevent spills. The freezer bowl is double walled to ensure an even freeze and consistent results.
This machine also has a solid base with rubber feet and robust motor to be able to operate steadily on your counter while it churns out your favorite frozen desserts.
Cleanup has seen mixed results with owners. The parts are not dishwasher safe so you will have to hand wash everything. This is something to keep in mind.
- Simple Controls
- Double Insulated Freezer Bowl
- Easy Lock Lid
- Overall Value
- Must Freeze Bowl Beforehand
- No Stainless Steel
2. Cuisinart ICE-100 – Simplifying The Process
The main reason why this is only #2 on our list is that it is nearly 6X the price of the Cuisinart ICE-21. However, you are able to save way more than 6X the time needed to make ice cream or gelato by not having to pre-freeze the bowl. This unit comes with its own compressor which adds the cold for you. A large number of owners find this advantage to be well worth the price. You will not have to plan ahead for when you make your ice cream you can simply make it whenever you get a craving. Convenience is king in this case.
This unit features a 1.5 quart bowl. If you need to make larger amounts the beauty of having a machine with its own compressor is that you can run back to back batches with very little down time.
The ICE-100 also comes with 2 different mixing paddles. One is for gelato and sorbet and one is dedicated just for ice cream. This added versatility is something that owners also praise.
The looks and styling are also a little more modern than some of their other models. With a stainless steel body, LED buttons and an LCD screen, this machine fits in nicely into any type of kitchen.
Cleanup is relatively straightforward and simple. There are just a few parts that need cleaning and it can be done with a wipe of a warm rag. The parts are not recommended for the dishwasher.
- Has Its Own Compressor
- Make Multiple Batches With Ease
- Easy To Use
- 2 Mixing Paddles
- Easy Cleanup
- Convenience & Versatility
- Modern Styling
- Recipe Book Included
- Parts Not Recommended For Dishwasher
3. Cuisinart ICE-70 – A Mid-Range Upgrade
This is a mid-priced ice cream maker that has the same basic functionality as the ICE-21 but with some noticeable differences. For those that want a more robust machine but don’t want to pay for a unit with a compressor then the ICE-70 is a terrific alternative.
This unit comes with a slightly larger 2 quart capacity bowl which can handle a wide range of frozen desserts. You can create not only ice cream, but gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt as well.
An improved mixing paddle increases the machines overall efficiency and reduces the amount of time it takes to complete your recipe. Typically 15 to 20 minutes for ice cream.
Styling and controls are also quite striking. A countdown timer, LCD display, and 3 button speed settings give you the ultimate control over the entire process. It also has a brushed chrome finish, on plastic, which is a nice upgrade from having a white appliance.
The ingredient spout also has a built in measuring cup to make adding your favorite fixings more precise.
Cleanup is pretty straightforward but parts are not dishwasher safe. It is best to clean right after use.
- Larger Capacity Bowl (2 Quarts)
- Improved Paddle – Faster Mixing Times
- Modern Styling – LCD Dispaly
- BPA Free Parts
- Intuitive Controls
- Countdown Timer
- No Compressor – Must Freeze Bowl First
- Noise Might Bother Some
- Step Up In Price
4. Lello 4080 Musso Lussino – The Best Of The Best
This would normally be #1 on our list just due to its prowess for making unbelievable frozen desserts but its price makes that impossible. At just under $800, this Italian made machine is truly for die hard ice cream aficionados with the budget to match. So what makes this model so great?
First, its all stainless steel construction means this thing is built to last. The body, built-in bowl, and paddle are all made to churn out countless batches of ice cream and gelato without skipping a beat.
It comes with its own compressor so you can indulge yourself at your own convenience. You do not have to worry about freezing the mixing bowl beforehand.
It is fully automatic. Simply pour in your ingredients and you will be making a delightful dessert with the press of two buttons.
Operation is also a breeze. The controls are easy to use and a number of users have mentioned that it was quieter than they were expecting.
Despite having a built in bowl that cannot be removed, the clean up process is relatively easy. Because everything is made from stainless steel, a simple wipe down with a warm sponge followed by some paper towels should take care of any mess.
- Has Its Own Compressor
- Stainless Steel Construction – Built To Last
- Simple To Clean
- Professional Grade – Make Batch After Batch
- Easy To Use Controls
- Performance & Quality
- Weight (40 lbs.)
- Only 1.5 Quart Capacity Bowl
5. Whynter ICM-201SB Upright – Smaller Countertop Footprint
This model has the largest capacity bowl of any of the machines on our list. This 2.1 quart upright design is meant to save some countertop space all while delivering the convenience and performance of wider ice cream makers.
Whynter makes some solid ice cream machines that have their own compressor, and this unit is no different. The ICM-201SB has some nice features that make it an attractive option worth considering.
The mixing bowl is stainless steel and it is removable. This should help in the cleaning process. The paddle is made from BPA-free food safe materials.
The controls are also a strong point of this machine. It has three different modes, a pause button, and a LCD display screen. Not only does it let you see how much time you have left but it also shows the temperature. This all lends to its overall modern styling that should make it a real eye-catcher in any kitchen.
The stainless steel bowl helps make the process of cleaning pretty simple. Running under hot water or wiping down with a wet rag or sponge should suffice.
- 2.1 Quart Capacity Bowl
- Upright Design
- Sleek Styling
- Stainless Steel Bowl
- Controls & LCD Display
6. Nostalgia ICMP400WD Wood Bucket – Throwback Design
This ice cream maker from Nostalgia is a wonderful show piece for your kitchen that pays tribute to how your grandparents might have made ice cream back in the day. The wood bucket design does not need the bowl to be frozen but rather it uses ice and salt to provide the cold temperature.
With a large 4 quart bowl, this is perfect for small parties or larger families. It is fully electric so there is not much fuss to making plenty of your favorite frozen treats.
This old fashioned but modern ice cream machine is not only easy to use but it is also light on the wallet. At around $40 this is the least expensive option of all of the models in our ice cream maker reviews.
The outside is constructed of real wood and the bowl is lined with easy to clean BPA-free plastic.
Cleanup should be rather straightforward but you will have melted ice and some salt to contend with. There are no small parts or hard to clean areas.
- Wood Bucket Design
- No Need To Freeze Bowl
- Simple To Use
- Large Capacity Bowl
- Budget Friendly
- Must Use Ice & Salt To Chill Everything
- No Automatic Shutoff
- Could Use A Stronger Motor
There is one main factor when it comes to choosing an ice cream machine for your home and that is whether you get one with its own compressor or one without. The price difference between these two types of machines is significant. Let’s take a closer look so you can best determine which is better for your kitchen.
The main advantage of getting a machine with compressor is convenience. Compressors are what deliver the cold temperatures to the bowl that are needed to make ice cream. This is how your refrigerator and freezer work.
Machines that do not have a compressor typically require you to freeze the bowl for up to 24 hours before making ice cream. You will have to plan ahead for your craving. One way around this is to create room in your freezer and keep your bowl in their full time. Of course, this restricts the amount of room in your freezer for other things.
When using a machine that has its own compressor you can completely skip this step. Whenever you get a craving you can mix your ingredients, add it to the machine, and have delicious desserts in a few minutes. The time savings is a tremendous positive and it is the main reason to go this route. You can also make multiple batches back to back with ease.
Another factor to keep in mind is that machines that contain a compressor are also going to be significantly heavier. If you do not have room on your countertop then getting it in and out of a storage cabinet is going to be quite the chore. These types of ice cream makers are best served staying on your kitchen counter.
If you are on a tight budget and only plan to make the occasional batch of gelato or ice cream then getting a less expensive machine without a compressor is going to make the most sense. However, if you can afford to indulge your cravings then having a machine that can satisfy your sweet tooth on demand is going to be a real and tangible advantage in the kitchen.
This is usually an overlooked aspect of buying any small kitchen appliance, but it is something to be aware of nonetheless. Even though most of the home ice cream machines on the market today are relatively easy to keep clean, this is one area to pay attention to before buying. Not too many machines have dishwasher safe parts, so a quick wipe down with a damp cloth or sponge will be required. It is also best to clean your machine right after use before the ingredients have had a chance to dry.
Ice Cream Consistency
One small note to add is that is important to have realistic expectations about the consistency of the ice cream that most home makers produce. Store bought brands typically have additives and stabilizers that give it a firm texture, but home machines produce more of a soft serve product.
Some owners like to use heavier cream but most just stick the finished ice cream in their freezer for an hour or so to firm it up. Knowing what to expect can reduce any unwanted disappointment.
One of the advantages of making homemade ice cream for your family is that you are in control of the ingredients. You can make it as healthy or as decadent as you wish. If you look at the ingredient list on a store bought brand you may not recognize what a few of the names are. However, when you get to create your own ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt or sorbet at home you are completely in charge. Not only can it bring the whole family together but it can actually be a healthier experience.
Nothing brings people closer like the anticipation of ice cream. Hopefully this guide will help you find the best ice cream maker for your family and friends to enjoy the pure sense of goodness that a delicious frozen dessert can provide.