Summer is here, and plenty of families are craving cold treats to beat the heat. But nightly trips to the ice cream shop can get expensive very quickly, particularly for large families. If you love cool kitchen gadgets, this may be the perfect time to invest in an ice cream maker for your family. Making ice cream at home does require a small initial investment, but even high-end machines can definitely pay for themselves over time.
Here are five of the best ice cream makers available to buy in 2015. Whether you want a high-capacity machine that can create gallons of ice cream in a day, or a more modest unit to create small-batch, gourmet flavors, one of these models will definitely suit your needs.
1. Best Electric Ice Cream Maker: Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
Recently declared the best ice cream maker you can buy in 2015 by Bon Appetit magazine, this is a top-of-line kitchen appliance. If ice cream is your favorite food, and you are willing to pay a premium price for a quality ice cream maker, then this is the best model for your needs.
So what makes this ice cream maker worth its high price tag? There are three key features that will appeal to serious foodies. First, this model requires no pre-chilling. Unlike some other ice cream makers out there that require you to freeze the bowl for up to 12 hours before starting to make ice cream, this model has a built-in compressor. When you get the urge to make homemade ice cream, you don’t have to wait around for the bowl to chill.
This model also has three adjustable settings for texture, so you can make the ice cream hard or soft. One last perk is the lid on the top of the mixing tank, which can be opened while the machine is running. It’s also possible to spoon out a taste of the ice cream while the machine is in use, or add mix-ins near the end of the mixing cycle.
The primary drawback here is the hefty price tag. However, for families that go through a lot of ice cream, or for foodies who want the very best kitchen equipment, this really is the best option.
Price: $399.95 (33 percent off MSRP)
- Made from BPA-free materials
- Can be locked to prevent kids from opening it
- Automatic hardness settings
- Audio alerts let you know when ice cream is done
- Takes up a lot of counter space
- Some may prefer a unit that makes larger batches of ice cream
2. Best Homemade Ice Cream Maker: Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker
Looking for an ice cream maker that has an old-fashioned design? This classic-style ice cream maker has a design that harkens back to the days when ice cream was churned by hand. With this model, you get a machine that looks old-school, but still offers modern convenience thanks to an electric motor.
This model is easy to operate, and a bit more child-friendly than some of the more complex models with multiple settings. However, it lacks some of the automatic settings and other “bells and whistles” you’d find on a more expensive machine. Recipes are included, but you’ll have to provide your own ice when you want to start an ice cream project. This model can be used indoors or outdoors.
- Electric motor
- Makes 4 quarts of ice cream at one time
- Some plastic parts
- Requires a large amount of ice to operate
- Can be somewhat noisy and messy when in operation
- Some user reviews indicate issues with achieving ideal consistency
Find more Nostalgia Electrics ICMP400BLUE 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker information and reviews here.
3. Best Gelato & Ice Cream Maker: Whynter Ice Cream Maker
If you’re looking for an ice cream maker that’s good for multi-tasking, this is a good choice. While there are other, more expensive units out there that can make multiple types of frozen desserts, this model offers a nice balance between versatility and price. You can use the Whynter machine to make ice cream, gelato, sorbet, sherbet, or frozen yogurt.
If you were intrigued by the Breville Smart Scoop, but can’t justify spending so much cash, the Whynter is a nice alternative. Like the Smart Scoop, this model has a built-in compressor, which means you can easily make more than one batch of ice cream in a day without having to freeze multiple mixing bowls.
Price: $247.99 (23 percent off MSRP)
- Does not require pre-freezing
- Audible timer
- Automatic shut-down in the event mixture freezes solid
- Built-in compression means you don’t have to wait for a bowl to re-freeze before you make a second batch
- Takes up a lot of counter space
- Some may prefer a machine with a higher capacity than this model’s 1.6 quarts
4. Best Non-Traditional Ice Cream Maker: Yonanas Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker
What do you do if you love ice cream, but can’t tolerate dairy? If you’re lactose-intolerant, or just trying to watch your waistline, a traditional ice cream maker may not be ideal for your home. The Yonanas machine is a nice alternative. It creates all-fruit, completely dairy-free desserts.
Frozen fruit, such as bananas or berries, can be placed in the machine. In seconds, a frozen dessert is produced that has the consistency of soft serve. This machine is kid-safe, though smaller children should only use the machine under adult supervision. There are no bowls to pre-freeze, and everything is dishwasher-safe. The Yonanas machine is also fairly inexpensive, making this the ideal “ice cream maker” for families that want to eat healthy, stay on a budget, and still have a way to make frozen desserts at a moment’s notice.
Price: $39.95 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Dishwasher-safe parts
- Can be run pretty much continuously, ideal for entertaining or large families
- Great for paleo or raw diets
- Desserts are arguably best consumed immediately, though they can be saved for later
- Somewhat loud
- Can be hard to extract all product from interior of machine
- Recipes that use chocolate make machine hard to clean
5. Best Cheap Electric Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker
While this ice cream maker from Cuisinart isn’t the absolute cheapest model on our list, it is the perfect low-cost model for those who are seeking a full-featured electric churner on a tight budget. It even has a higher bowl capacity than some of the more high-end models on our list. This Cuisinart ice cream maker can produce about two quarts of ice cream in under 30 minutes. It also has a smaller profile than some of the higher-end machines, which makes it nice for kitchens with limited counter space.
More into soft serve than hard ice cream? Cuisinart also makes a similarly-priced soft serve maker/dispenser, which has the nice perk of built-in topping dispensers.
Price: $81.99 (50 percent off MSRP)
Buy the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker here.
- Reasonably priced
- Small profile
- Also recommended for use in making frozen drinks
- Easy cord storage, rubber feet keep machine stable
- Large mix-ins can clog up the machine
- There is a known issue with overheating in some defective units
- Fairly noisy when in operation