Best home ice cream maker

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Ice cream is the most popular dessert in the U.S. An estimated 98% of households purchase ice cream every week. Why not try to make your own with a home ice cream maker?

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Which home ice cream maker is best?

It doesn’t have to be summer to enjoy the creamy chill of ice cream. Kids of all ages enjoy a sweet frosty treat all year round, and there’s nothing more satisfying than creating your own custom ice cream flavors at home. To do that, you’ll need the best home ice cream maker for consistent results. 

For perfect cold treats and everything from frozen custard to sherbet, the Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker is a good choice.

What to know before you buy a home ice cream maker

The process of making ice cream is a relatively simple one. Ingredients are combined and then moved around in a chilly environment until they begin to form the creamy dessert we know as ice cream. 

You don’t technically need an ice cream maker to do this. It is possible to create ice cream by simply placing ingredients in the freezer and stirring every 10 minutes or so. While this might eventually get you to ice cream, you won’t be able to stir air and rearrange ice crystals to create the creamiest textures. For that, you’ll need a proper home ice cream maker.  

The best home ice cream makers create artisan-quality, small-batch ice cream in the comfort of your own home.

Type of ice cream maker

  • A traditional ice cream maker uses an electric motor, plus plenty of ice and salt. Ingredients are placed in a metal bowl, which has been surrounded by ice and salt to keep it extra cold. The electric motor turns a churn inside the ingredient bowl and ice cream is made. 
  • Frozen bowl ice cream makers work on a similar concept, but without the ice and salt. Instead, the vessel for your ice cream ingredients (the frozen bowl) is placed in the freezer ahead of time and frozen solid. Ice cream ingredients go in the frozen bowl, which is then placed in the ice cream maker and the churning begins. While this form of home ice cream maker is less messy than a traditional ice cream maker, you have to plan ahead to make sure the bowl is completely frozen ahead of time.
  • A compressor ice cream maker. This home ice cream maker eliminates the need for planning ahead or ice and salt. The freezing mechanism is housed within the ice cream maker itself. Compressor ice cream makers produce the creamiest and most consistent ice cream results, with very little ice crystal formation. They are convenient, but they are also expensive. 

What to look for in a quality home ice cream maker

Automatic settings

Look for ice cream makers with automatic settings that you can change based on the type of frozen dessert you’d like to create. For example, you would not churn sorbet at the same rate or for the same amount of time as you would frozen custard.

Easy cleanup

Especially if you make ice cream at home with children, easy cleanup is a must. Look for dishwasher-safe ice cream maker components. 

Capacity

If your family loves dessert, look for home ice cream makers that allow you to easily make large quantities of ice cream. Large-capacity home ice cream makers usually make 4 quarts of ice cream. For big families or when hosting ice cream socials, invest in a second ingredient vessel to double that amount. 

How much you can expect to spend on a home ice cream maker

A home ice cream maker ranges in price from $100-$500. 

Home ice cream maker FAQ

How do you make ice cream?

A. The simplest recipe for homemade ice cream requires just four ingredients: 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 2 ¼ cups of whole milk, ¾ cup of white sugar and 2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract.

Slowly heat heavy whipping cream and whole milk over low heat. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Allow this mixture to cool completely before adding it to your ice cream machine and following the manufacturer’s directions for churning.

Customize this simple vanilla ice cream recipe by adding mix-ins during the last five minutes of churning. You might consider chocolate chips, fresh fruit, a swirl of chocolate sauce, sprinkles or any other topping you like on ice cream. 

What else can you make in a home ice cream machine?

A. If it is a frozen dessert, you can make it in a home ice cream machine. Get creative and use your frozen dessert to make other sweet creations. Smother ice cream in torched meringue for a baked Alaska, or batter a ball of frozen custard and drop it in the fryer for fried ice cream.

What’s the best home ice cream maker to buy?

Top home ice cream maker

Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

What you need to know: The Smart Scoop provides consistent, delicious results.

What you’ll love: With 12 hardness settings, churn everything from gelato to sorbet right on your countertop. Manual and automatic sensors help maintain the perfect consistency for up to three hours.

What you should consider: This ice cream maker might be the best, but it is also very expensive.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sur la Table

Top home ice cream maker for the money

Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

What you need to know: This machine is easy to operate and great for beginning home ice cream makers.

What you’ll love: This ice cream maker is compact and easy to store. There is no ice required and operation is simple and straightforward.

What you should consider: The recommended freezing times were not adequate for some ice creams

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Nostalgia Vintage Collection Wood Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker

Nostalgia Vintage Collection Wood Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker

What you need to know: This ice cream maker combines a vintage form with modern function.

What you’ll love: Layer ice and salt in this old-time-style ice cream maker. It makes 4 quarts of ice cream and comes with a lid for storing leftovers.

What you should consider: Using ice and salt to make ice cream may be traditional, but it’s also messy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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