Because nothing beats homemade.

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Strawberry Sorbet
Credit: Victor Protasio

As temperatures start to rise, nothing hits the spot quite like a scoop (or three!) of refreshing ice cream. And we're convinced the most delicious way to enjoy the treat is making it from scratch. Now, transforming cream and sugar into delicious, smooth-as-heck ice cream might seem like magic, but all you need is a simple ice cream machine.

"The benefits to owning your own ice cream maker is that you can experiment endlessly with flavor combinations," says Brian Smith, co-owner of Ample Hills Creamery in New York City. "It's how we started Ample Hills. I made ice cream at home, invited friends over, and had them taste the crazy flavors. There are few things as communal as sitting around a hand-crank ice cream maker and taking turns churning ice cream!"

For the smoothest, most flavorful frozen desserts, you need an ice cream maker that freezes fast to prevent crunchy crystals and excess air. There are three different types machines to do it: hand-crank, frozen-bowl, and compressor ice cream makers.

But when it comes to figuring out which one is right for you, don't worry about freezing up. We chatted with four expert ice cream makers and sifted through thousands of reviews from real shoppers who purchased and tested out the machines themselves.

Here are the best hand-crank, frozen-bowl, and compressor ice cream makers we recommend, no matter how much you want to spend.

Scroll down to see why we chose each ice cream machine and learn more details about each one!

Best Compressor Ice Cream Makers

Built-in refrigeration means you can churn at the push of a button with no wait time between batches. If you make ice cream regularly, the ease of a quality compressor is worth the investment.

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Breville® Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Bed Bath and Beyond

Best Overall Compressor Machine: Breville Smart Scoop

For those serious about making high-quality ice cream, the Breville Smart Scoop is a gold standard of machines. Tyler Malek, co-owner and ice cream mastermind at Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw, uses his Breville three to four times a week in the R&D kitchen. 

"It has a prechill function, which is awesome because you can let it prechill for half an hour in advance and that way you don't have to deal with the downside of waiting," he says. "It has variable speeds for your blade, which is great for sorbets or a variety of different styles of ice cream. And the barrel comes out, so you can clean it in the dishwasher. " 

Kris Hoogerhyde, partner and pastry chef at Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, loves the Breville for its versatility. "If you have the space and money, Breville is the way to go," she says. "It has multiple settings and will last you a lifetime."

The machine holds 1.5 quarts and automatically senses the hardness of the mixture based on 12 selections, like sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato, and ice cream. Plus its mix-in feature beeps to remind you when to add your favorite swirls and nuts. 

To buy: $496 at amazon.com and $500 at surlatable.com 

Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
Credit: Walmart

Best Entry-Level Compressor Machine: Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

If you want a compressor ice cream maker, but are also on a budget, check out the Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker, which costs hundreds of dollars less than the Lello and Breville. Cuisinart makes great frozen-bowl machines, explains Malek, and its compressor model is no different. Similar to other compressor machines, there's no wait time to freeze your ice cream mixing bowl. And its two distinct mixing paddles and 60-minute countdown timer ensure the perfect consistency in your homemade gelato, ice cream, or sorbet.

Many users shared that the Cuisinart ICE-100 was their first foray into compressor machines. "Prior to this I had the freeze-the-bowl-first kind," wrote a shopper on Williams Sonoma. "This may be a bit bulkier and heavier but it is worth it if you enjoy ice cream. We even decided to have juice slurpees at the last min and they turned out great. It is easy to clean and use."

Another added, "Love this machine! My favorite part is not having to chill the bowl for 24 hours before I can make ice cream. It's very quiet too, which surprised me."

To buy: $250 at amazon.com and $300 at williams-sonoma.com

Whynter 2.1 Quart Ice Cream Maker
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Best Mid-Tier Pick: Whynter 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker

For a phenomenal machine that even professionals turn to, check out Whynter's 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker. It features a powerful compressor freezer that eliminates the need for pre-freezing and automatically shuts off its motor once the ice cream has hardened to prevent damage. Its compact stainless steel exterior is effortless to wipe down, and it's outfitted with a removable bowl and churn blade for fuss-free scooping, storage, and cleaning. 

Reviewers who have purchased the Whynter Ice Cream Maker appreciate its consistency, praising it for its durability and user-friendliness. 

"This ice cream maker is AMAZING," a user on Wayfair wrote. "It makes unbelievable ice cream in less than an hour and a huge amount!"

Another shopper said, "Pros: Makes excellent ice cream, easy to operate and you don't need to keep a frozen bucket in your freezer like other types of machines Cons: None!"

To buy: $220 at amazon.com and $322 at wayfair.com

Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5-Quart Ice Cream Maker,
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Splurge: Lello 4080 Musso Lussino

For the ultimate ice cream treat, check out the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino. Malek uses it daily in his test kitchen, saying, "I love my Lello. It makes an even better quality ice cream than our big 5-gallon machines. We have to remember that when we're doing a small batch test." 

Made of stainless steel, the machine is a workhorse. It holds 1.5 quarts, freezing 3 cups of ice cream or sorbet per hour, without the need for prechilling. Plus it's fully automatic: Just pour all of your ingredients into the bowl, set the timer, press two buttons, and you're on your way to creamy goodness. 

In addition to Malek's glowing review, the Lello also has hundreds of perfect five-star ratings on Amazon. Customers say they love how consistent and quiet it is, with one writing, "I've made about a dozen ice cream and sorbet recipes so far and each one has come out perfectly." However, that quality does come at a premium cost. The Lello is more than double the price of our top pick, although many of those who have bought and tried the machines say it's "worth every penny."

To buy: $715 at amazon.com

Best Frozen-Bowl Ice Cream Makers

These ice cream makers involve freezing liquid-filled canisters at least 24 hours in advance. Once frozen, you put the bowl into a machine with a paddle, add the mixture, and the paddles stir. As the paddles churn the mixture against the sides of the bowl, it gradually freezes into ice cream. Because they require such a long pre-freeze time, you can only make one bowl at a time and they're not ideal for spontaneous spinning. But for occasional ice cream making, they're great.

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Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Walmart

Best Overall Frozen-Bowl Machine: Cuisinart 1.5-Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker

Whether you're a novice or dedicated churner, the Cuisinart ICE-21 has you covered. Universally recommended by our experts, some professionals even said they started out their businesses with the reliable Cuisinart.

"We started off Salt & Straw by going to a thrift store and getting five or so Cuisinarts," Malek says. "You can go to Goodwill and find them for $5, and you can get really great quality ice cream from them. The trick is you need to find space to freeze them in your freezer for 24 to 48 hours, and I recommend on the colder side."

With its powerful motor, unique mixing paddle, and double-insulated freezer bowl, the Cuisinart makes ice cream or frozen yogurt in as little as 20 minutes. 

"Although more expensive, self-contained freezing models exist, I discovered that I actually prefer the less-expensive canister type," says Jeni Britton Bauer from Chicago's Jeni Splendid Ice Cream. "It freezes the ice cream faster. I still like the Cuisinart ICE-21 model. It's inexpensive and if you use my recipe you'll get great results each time." 

Nearly 11,000 Amazon shoppers have left perfect ratings on the machine, with many writing how simple it is to operate. "My kids love how easy it is to make fresh homemade ice cream in just 20 minutes," one wrote. "Clean up is easy and the ice cream stores well in the freezer."

To buy: $70 at amazon.com 

KitchenAid ® Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment
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Best Attachment: KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment

Okay, maybe you're still on the fence about making room for an ice cream machine. Understandable. But it's a lot easier to convince yourself you need a stand mixer—it's one of the most versatile pieces of kitchen equipment we know of: a game changer for big batches of cookies and homemade pizza dough, or whipping up cake batter and frosting. And once you make the stand mixer leap, it's only a matter of time before you explore the attachments. And one of our favorites is the ice cream maker. 

Both Malek and Hoogerhyde are fans of the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment's efficiency. "It's great because it doesn't take up much space and makes a darn good ice cream," Hoogerhyde says.

Using the ice cream attachment is incredibly easy. Just freeze the insulated bowl beforehand, attach the dasher to the stand mixer, turn it on and pour in the ice cream batter in. After 25 to 30 minutes, you're rewarded with 2 quarts of ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet.

Shoppers love how convenient the attachment is to use and that it doesn't take up tons of space in their kitchen. "I bought this because I didn't want yet another appliance in my kitchen," wrote a Crate and Barrel reviewer. "This easily works with my KitchenAid and the recipes that come with it are some of the best ice creams I've made."

Another at Williams-Sonoma added, "This is so freaking easy to use that the hardest thing to do is open the freezer door and put the ice cream maker in it to get to temp for making ice cream."

To buy: $90 at williams-sonoma.com and crateandbarrel.com

DASH My Pint Ice Cream Maker in Aqua
Credit: Courtesy of Bed Bath and Beyond

Best for Single-Serve: Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker

Like its larger counterparts, this Dash ice cream maker churns out creamy creations at the push of a button. The small-but-mighty machine makes 1.6 cups of fresh ice cream in as little as 30 minutes and comes with a plastic spoon to help combine toppings and mix-ins. Plus its compact footprint is easy to tuck into kitchen cabinets and doesn't take up much counter space.

Amazon customers love the small ice cream maker for its size and high-quality results, saying it is great for single servings.

"I thought this would be a 'novelty' item and would be underpowered and probably break after just a couple of uses," one five-star reviewer wrote. "I was wrong and it seems to have PLENTY of oomph to mix up any kind of ice cream I have wanted. The small freezer cup unit does not take up much space in my freezer and I find I can have ice cream pretty much on a whim."

Another added, "Cleanup is really easy and getting ready for the next batch is as easy as rinsing it out, drying it off and refreezing."

To buy: $25 at amazon.com

Chef'n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Best for Kids: Chef'n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Maker

While not technically a frozen bowl, this simple tool is a great way for kids to get involved in ice cream making (without messy rock salt or expensive machines). Just freeze the Sweet Spot dish on a flat surface for 24 hours, then add your fresh ingredients. The base chills the liquid as you use included paddles to scrape and scoop to the perfect consistency. It's not just for kids, though—you can also use the Sweet Spot to mix up frozen cocktails or slushies.

The versatile tool is a fan favorite at Williams Sonoma, where reviewers rate it 4.6 stars. Users say it's fast, easy to use, and makes incredible ice cream. "It has finally gotten warmer and my family loves having ice cream parties," one wrote. "Instead of going to Cold Stone or one of those other ice cream shops, now we can make our own ice cream at home! We've tried a number of different recipes both for ice cream and sorbet and it's fun and easy."

To buy: from $30 at williams-sonoma.com

Best Hand-Crank Ice Cream Makers

Old fashioned hand-crank ice cream makers (which use ice and salt) might be a bit messier, but there's a reason the pros love them.

"The key to making the smoothest, creamiest ice cream is to freeze your liquid mix into ice cream as quickly as possible," says Ample Hill's Smith. "The longer it takes for the product to turn from a liquid to a solid, the more time that ice crystals have to grow. Surprisingly, the old-fashioned hand-crank machines that use ice and salt are much faster because of the chemical reaction of salt and ice. A one-quart hand crank machine can turn liquid ice cream mix into a solid in just 10 to 12 minutes, which means smoother and creamier ice cream!"

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ice cream makers
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Overall Hand-Crank Machine: Immergood Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker

For an ice cream maker you can pass down for generations, check out Immergood's hand crank machine. It's made of sturdy stainless steel, which not only prevents leaks but also keeps contents colder than wooden versions. Plus, its triple-motion dasher churns a generous 6 quarts, which is perfect for sharing at family gatherings    

Amazon shoppers call the Immergood an incredibly durable machine, leaving it an impressive 4.7-star rating. "This thing is built like a tank, all heavy, stainless steel parts and a sturdy bucket," one wrote. "I expect this ice cream maker to outlive me. It will definitely be the last one I ever need to buy."

A second wrote, "My wife and I are in our mid 70s and we purchased the hand crank so that we could take the ice cream maker on picnics. It is not hard to crank. Makes ice cream quickly, 20 minutes or less and your ice cream is done."

To buy: $369 at amazon.com

ice cream makers
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Portable Machine: Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Blue Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker

Whether you've planned a family trip to the beach or the family cabin, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on homemade ice cream. This 4-quart ice cream machine from Nostalgia has a convenient carrying handle to bring your ice cream wherever you need to go. 

Amazon shoppers love their Nostalgia ice cream makers for their convenience and performance, saying the machine has created "special memories." It's no wonder it's earned thousands of perfect ratings, with one saying, "I bought this to replace my very old, about-to-quit ice cream maker. This one is so much better. It seems the motor is stronger so it got the ice cream firmer in 30 minutes."

To buy: $40 at amazon.com