Who doesn’t love ice cream? These smart machines will help you make delicious fresh ice cream right at home, and many of them also make frozen yogurt, gelato, and sorbet too!
It’s possible to spend hundreds of dollars on ice cream makers, or only a handful. We’ve got different ice cream makers for different budgets, and there’s even room for a manual ice cream maker if you feel like “earning” your guilty pleasures through plenty of churning. Whatever your situation, you’re not far off delicious ice cream with one of these machines.
The Best Ice Cream Maker for Most People: Cuisinart ICE-70 Ice Cream Maker ($113)
Cuisinart has a solid reputation for good-quality kitchen equipment, and that’s certainly the case with the Cuisinart ICE-70 Ice Cream Maker. It can make two quarts of ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, or sorbet in just 20 minutes. You don’t have to think too deeply about it either with three intuitive settings and multiple speeds that do all the hard work for you. There’s a countdown timer too with an automatic shutoff for when it’s finished. There’s also an ingredient spout with an integrated measuring cup, plus there’s a recipe book to get you started.
While this model is a great value, the one downside is that it is a compressor-less model—there’s no internal cooling. You need to make your ice cream and then put it immediately in the freezer to complete the process. If you want a built-in cooling, you’ll need to either upgrade (to the tune of another $100 or so) to the ICE-100 model or take a look at our premium pick below.
The Best Premium Ice Cream Maker: Breville Smart Scoop ($400)
Passionate about ice cream and want to be able to do a ton with your ice cream maker? Buy the Breville Smart Scoop. It’s $400 (which is a chunk of change and 13 times the cost of our budget pick), but it offers an impressive 12 different hardness settings and a host of features. That means it’s equally as perfect for ice cream as it is sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurt, and so forth.
It has fully automatic functionality too so for those times when you can’t be bothered to get too involved with the process; it’ll still give you delicious results. And when we say automatic? It actually senses the hardness of the mixture in the processing chamber and then, based on your selection, adjusts accordingly. Smart, huh?
Once it’s finished doing its job, the Breville Smart Scoop also keeps the results cool for up to 3 hours thanks to its powerful built-in compressor. If you make a lot of ice cream, this is a great investment.
The Best Budget Ice Cream Maker: Hamilton Beach Automatic Ice Cream Maker ($30)
A good ice cream maker doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It can cost as little as you’d expect a set of nested buckets with a motor attached to cost. The Hamilton Beach Automatic Ice Cream Maker lacks the finer nuances of the Cuisinart ice cream maker, but it still produces tasty ice cream, sorbet, and so on. It makes up to 4 quarts in about 40 minutes with smaller amounts taking less time.
The device lacks a display and multiple settings, but it means pretty much anyone can figure it out, including kids. An easy-lock lid means you can’t mess up easily either. Add the ingredients, ice and rock salt, and you’re ready to go. It also comes with a recipe book to get you started. If you’re looking for something novel to do with the kids this summer and you’re not planning on becoming the neighborhood ice cream artist, it’s a solid budget pick.
The Best Manual Ice Cream Maker: Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker ($78)
Do you long for the old days of doing things yourself rather than leaving a machine to do all the hard work? In which case, the Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker is for you. Before you make the ice cream you freeze the insert, so you can skip the hassle of packing the outer chamber with ice.
When it comes time to make the ice cream, you dump all the ingredients in and crank the handle as the ice cream forms along the walls. While the whole process takes about 15 to 20 minutes don’t worry, you won’t be sitting there cranking furiously the entire time. You wait a minute or two for a new layer to form, turn the crank a few times to loosen it and incorporate it into the mix, and then wait a few more minutes. It’s a traditional and straightforward way of doing things.
It won’t be for everyone, and we can’t blame you for preferring a method that you can walk away from. But you know what? It produces delicious ice cream at the end, and there’s a sort of satisfaction in having invested yourself in the process which makes it more than worth the moderate effort involved.