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What’s the Best Ice Cream Maker?

When you are asking about the best ice cream maker, the best choice for you might not be the best choice for another person. The best way to answer that question is by simply reading on so you can see that there is quite a big difference from the most basic budget hand crank ice cream maker up to more sophisticated high end electric ice cream makers. Listed below is a detailed comparison chart followed by some best ice cream maker reviews of some of the top models in the market.

Top 5 Ice Cream Maker Reviews Chart

Top Ice Cream Maker Reviews

Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker

The Cuisinart ICE-21 is one of the best and most popular homemade ice cream makers for a few very good reasons. First, it is truly a bang-for-your-buck super value. It’s both functional and easy to use, and you get that fine Cuisinart craftsmanship without a high price tag.

The ICE-21 is a 1.5 quart machine that consists of the base, special Cuisinart mixing paddle, double-insulated freezer bowl, and an easy-lock lid. It’s an all white model, but if you desire something a little flashier for your kitchen, the ICE-21R is a red version of the same machine. Both models are BPA free so there is no need to worry about contaminating your ingredients while they are in the mixer.

While it doesn’t have any bells or whistles, it is efficient and easy to operate. Its one button design keeps things simple and with only a few moving parts it’s really easy to clean. Best of all, the newer Cuisinart patent pending paddle design helps mix the ingredients into a frozen treat in less than 20 minutes. The machine is so efficient that some users have made claims that they have been able to make two batches of ice cream back-to-back without have to refreeze the freezer bowl in between.

The Cuisinart ICE-21 is one of the most highly rated machines for home use in the market. It’s priced as a starter unit, but it performs like a more expensive machine. Overall, the homemade ice cream community has given plenty of positive reviews of this budget workhorse. The lone drawback from several sources is that the operator should keep an eye on the machine while it is processing a batch as it can randomly overflow small amounts of ice cream. Though all users did not experience this, it is something to keep in mind. From quality to finished product, the ICE-21 delivers tasty treats with ease.

Donvier 837409W 1-Quart Ice Cream Maker

The Donvier 837409W is a hand crank style ice cream maker. It’s a 1-quart machine that comes complete with the base and double-walled freezer bowl. Donvier even includes their own special ice cream recipes with new machines.

Due to the fact that this machine relies on manual labor for the mixing aspect it does not need to be close to an electrical outlet. You can crank it while watching television in your living room or outside at a picnic table with your family. Don’t assume that you can use it everywhere though as you still need to pre-freeze the mixing bowl, so you can’t just leave this in the trunk of your car and use it without any foresight.

The Donvier 837409W is a relatively simple machine which allows the user to focus more on choosing quality ingredients instead of worrying about settings and timers. The lack of sophisticated high-end electronics also means that there isn’t much on the machine to break or malfunction. Donvier also includes a 10-year warranty against defects, which shows you just how well made these little things are.

In general, the homemade ice cream community is very positive in regards to the Donvier 837409W. Many users rave about how easy and simple it makes the ice cream making process. They are also impressed with the overall quality and durability of this machine considering its inexpensive price point. If you are looking for a no frills ice cream machine that gets the job done, the 837409W is an excellent option.

Hamilton beach 4 quart ice cream maker

The Hamilton Beach 68330R is about as good as it gets as far as low cost ice cream makers are concerned. The machine consists of an ice cream bucket, which the electric mixer attaches to, and a mixing bowl that holds your ingredients while they mix. It’s a very simplistic machine with a maximum yield of 4 quarts.

For all of its simplicity, the Hamilton Beach 68330R is quite the workhorse. It can put out lots of ice cream in a reasonable amount of time. Depending on the consistency that you desire and the types of ingredients you use, the batches usually take about 20 to 40 minutes to mix. The lack of extra parts and fancy features also means that there is a lot less to break over time.

Another benefit of the 6833R’s simplicity is that it’s light and easy to move around and store. It’s only 6.5 pounds and measures about 12 x 12 x 13.4 inches. For something that produces a gallon of ice cream at a time, that’s about as small and light as they come.

Overall, users love this Hamilton Beach ice cream maker. They are impressed with how well it works for a model in this price range. The biggest drawback seems to be that since it does not use the pre-freeze interior bowl system of cooling ingredients, it still requires the use of rock salt during the mixing process. Some people actually see this as a benefit though since it means you do not have to plan a day in advance like freezer bowl equipped machines require.

Yonanas 901 Deluxe

A lot of times when someone sets out to find the best ice cream maker, they end up skipping an entire category of really awesome appliances: frozen treat machines. The Yonanas 901 is a perfect example of a great little tool that many people never stumble upon.

What this cool little device does is it takes frozen fruit, like a bag of frozen blueberries that is commonly available at most supermarkets, and it quickly churns them into a frozen treat resembling frozen yogurt. Other fruits are OK too, like banana or any sliced melon, as long as you freeze it beforehand.

The first thing that makes this frozen treat machine really worth the expense is that it’s super simple and easy to use. You don’t have to worry about freezer bowls or preparing recipes. You simply freeze from fruit and toss it. The other great thing is that it’s a fantastic way to get a healthier dessert made from 100% natural ingredients. It’s perfect for families with young children.

The 901 is fair small, measuring only 14 inches high by 7.5 inches wide by 6 inches deep, so it’s small enough to leave out all of the time, or if your prefer to store it in a cabinet, it won’t take up too much space. It only needs a basic AC power outlet to run, and Yonanas even includes some popsicle molds and a frozen dessert container to store any extra frozen treat you may make during a cycle.

Types of Machines

There are two main categories of ice cream makers and machines. There are those that make regular ice cream  and there are soft serve ice cream makers. A regular or traditional style ice cream machine offers up exactly what you expect it would. Soft serve makers create a softer type of ice cream; this is the type of frozen dessert that you serve directly from the machine without the use of an ice cream scoop. If you have ever eaten ice cream from a fast food restaurant, then you have had soft serve. Many soft serve ice cream machines also serve as frozen yogurt and gelato makers as well.

What to Look for in an Ice Cream Maker

Aside from whether it is designed for regular or soft serve ice cream, you will also want to make sure your new ice cream machine has all of the features that you personally need or want. Here are some of the key options you’ll want to check out.

Hand Crank Ice Maker or Electric Ice Maker

Deciding on if you want a hand crank ice maker or an electric ice cream maker is one of the first decisions you need to make. Both styles have their own inherit benefits and drawbacks.

Best hand crank ice cream maker machines are usually cheaper than electric machines. They also do not require electricity so they are cheaper in that way too. They are also a little more easily moved around since they do not need an electrical outlet to function.

The main drawback of this type of unit is that since it does not use electricity, it uses manual labor. Cranking a kitchen appliance for twenty minutes each and every time you want to make a batch of ice cream might be more work than you are willing to put in.

Output Size

The amount of ice cream that you get from one batch is almost always measured in quarts. Most of the smaller machines typically produce about 1.5 quarts although it is possible to find even smaller ice cream makers if you so desire. These are usually OK for one or two people, but bigger families will want a bigger output.

The other standard sizes for home use are both 2-quart and 4-quart machines. Having a general idea of how much dessert you want to make in each batch and how often you want to run your machine will help you determine which size you should opt for. Keep in mind that the more ice cream a machine makes the larger the machine usually is, so make sure you have proper shelf space for your new appliance.

Method of Freezing

cuisinart freezer bowl

The most common method of freezing the ice cream mix in homemade ice cream maker is by using a pre-freeze bowl that is part of the appliance. To use the bowl the user removes it from the ice cream machine and places it in their freezer. A solution within layers of the bowl freezes while in the freezer, taking anywhere from 12 to 24 hours to do so. The pre-frozen bowl is then placed back into the appliance and the process is ready to start.

Some electric ice cream makers lack this type of bowl and actually require the user to place the entire machine in a freezer.  This is far from efficient as far as space in concerned, and the stand alone machines with pre-freeze bowls have really become more popular.

The other method of freezing the mix in the machine is to actually have an electrical freezing unit housed in the ice cream maker. This saves you the convenience of needing to plan a day ahead and pre-freeze a removable bowl. These style machines tend to be larger and more expensive though, but for many people that’s a tradeoff that’s worth it.

Extra Features

To attract new consumers to their brand lots of manufacturers have experimenting with adding extra features to their homemade ice cream maker appliances. The top selling or best ice cream maker from each brand might include some extra features like:

  • an LCD screen
  • a digital timer
  • automatic timers
  • audible alerts
  • advanced cooling features
  • ice cream softness presets
  • easy-add mix in lids

None of these extras are needed to get you making homemade ice cream in your own kitchen, but they make the process easier. If you are looking for more than an entry level machine, you’ll probably want to get the best ice cream maker that you can reasonably afford with at least a couple of these nice options.

Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

Don’t forget that one of the biggest reasons for making your own ice cream is that you get the ability to make whatever flavors you want. It’s best to start out with some basic recipes if you aren’t totally sure about what you are doing, like this simple chocolate ice cream recipe. This will also help give anyone that is new to making their own ice cream a general idea of what the entire process is like.

Easy Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

This is a simple and fun recipe to get you started with your new machine. It’s great for whether you want to enjoy the cold treat alone, and also for those who want to involve a friend or their children in the preparation. To get started, make sure you have the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (make sure sugar is firmly packed into your measuring cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk (you may not get the correct consistency with a low-fat or skim milk)
  • 3 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (we suggest an organic brand for the best flavor)
  • 1/2 pure maple extract

You can also add 1 tablespoon of ground instant coffee for more of a cappuccino type flavor, but this is optional. Feel free to play around with optional flavor additives to really customize your mix to your preferred tastes.

Once you have all of your ingredients ready to go, just follow these simple steps:

  1. First you will want to mix your dry ingredients. Mix your brown and granulated sugar into a medium sized bowl, then add your cocoa powder. Mix with whisk for best results. Also add ground instant coffee if you choose.
  2. Next, stir in the whole milk into the mixture and mix with hand mixer or mixing bowl on a low speed for up to two minutes. Make sure all of the sugar and cocoa powder is dissolved before moving onto the next step.
  3. Once the the sugar and cocoa are combined, add the heavy cream, vanilla, and the maple. Refrigerate the entire mixture until it begins to harden. Continue to refrigerate until it is ready for use, but don’t freeze it.
  4. Add the chilled mixture to your ice cream maker. Let the machine spin and churn until mixture hardens or until the machine alerts you that it is finished. Depending on the model you have, this process can take up to 40 minutes.
  5. The mixture should harden, yet have a soft and creamy texture. If the texture is not what you desire, store in the refrigerator for up to an hour and it should reach desired softness and creaminess.
  6. Once the mixture is just how you like it, fell free to dig in. You can store any extra in an airtight container. Any form of Tupperware will do nicely and store you freshly homemade batch of chocolate ice cream until you’re ready to enjoy it.

That is just one example of many of the delicious flavors you can now make in the comfort and convenience of your own home. You can make all the basics such as:

  • vanilla
  • strawberry
  • green tea
  • coffee

And, once you get the hang of it, you can start experimenting with your own mixes and variations. There is no end to all of the wonderful and unique ice cream flavors that you can create.

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