If you're looking to churn out homemade scoops this summer, we've rounded up our favorite ice cream machines for any budget.
For the smoothest, most flavorful frozen desserts, you need an ice cream maker that freezes fast to prevent crunchy crystals and excess air. The Food & Wine Test Kitchen has you covered. Here are four machines we recommend, no matter how much you want to spend.
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. We like the following two machines:
Jon Snyder, owner of New York City's Il Laboratorio del Gelato, is a fan of the 1.5-quart Lello for his own home spinning. For those looking to make ice cream an art form, like Snyder does with this strawberry-and-cream gelato cake, the premium price tag is worth it for its incomparably creamy results.
Breville Smart Scoop ($330)
A Pre-Cool setting on this 1.5-quart machine chills the canister to a frosty 14-22°F for a head start in the race to frozen. Still, inherently soft homemade ice cream melts fast outside its igloo. So, to preserve the silky, ice-free texture, transfer the canister straight to the freezer for 15 minutes before scooping.
Liquid-filled canisters need 24 hours in the freezer before they see action, so they're not ideal for spontaneous spinning. But for occasional ice cream making, they're great. In this category, we like:
This refreshingly low-tech attachment boasts a faster churn time than some compressors we tested. And, just between us, you may not need to refreeze the canister between batches. Give it a good shake; if you don’t hear any sloshing, you’re good to go. The 2-quart attachment fits all 4.5-quart household stand mixers.
Except for one welcome advancement—an electric crank in place of elbow grease — this machine makes ice cream the old-school way: using ice (you’ll need a large bag of it), rock salt, and agitation. There’s more mess, but the retro model chilled faster and held gelato at its ideal temperature just as well as some machines 10 times more expensive.
Put your ice cream maker to good use with these 17 homemade ice cream recipes.