The Best Ice Cream Makers, According to Experts and Home Cooks
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.
- Best Overall Compressor Ice Cream Maker: Breville Smart Scoop
- Best Entry-Level: Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
- Best Mid-Tier Pick: Whynter 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker
- Best Splurge: Lello 4080 Musso Lussino
- Best Overall Frozen-Bowl Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart 1.5-Quart Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream Maker
- Best Attachment: KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment
- Best for Single-Serve: Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker
- Best for Kids: Chef'n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Maker
- Best Overall Hand-Crank Machine: Immergood Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker
- Best Portable Machine: Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Blue Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker
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.
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.
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!"