Everybody loves ice cream, and now more than ever, it’s easier to make ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt at home. While people have been making ice cream before the advent of electricity (so yes, you can make ice cream without a machine), there are several options in various price ranges that make the job easier, with results that your friends and family will love.
There are a few options to consider when buying an ice cream maker, but rest assured there’s one that’ll fit within most budgets. I’ve got additional information in my book, The Perfect Scoop, the best-selling guide to making ice cream at home,but here is some additional information about the various ice cream machines that are available, to help you make your decision.
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I’ve used a Cuisinart ice cream machine with a built-in compressor for over a decade with excellent results. Their latest model, the Cuisinart ICE-100 produces great ice cream and the price is right for a self-refrigerating machine. The great thing about a machine with a built-in compressor is that you don’t have to pre-canisters; you can churning your ice cream or sorbet as soon as it’s chilled!
One downside is that some people find the noise bothersome. But it is a machine and machines do make noise. (I’m still waiting for someone to make a noiseless vacuum cleaner!) To minimize noise, keep it in another room when churning ice cream.
The Breville Smart Scoop machine comes with more options, at a higher price point. It offers the ability to pre-cool the machine, change speeds, and will keep the ice cream frozen for up to three hours. Outside of the U.S., these machines are sometimes sold under the Sage brand.
A lower priced option is a machine where you pre-freeze the canister 24 hours in advance before churning, so it requires a little patience, and sufficient freezer room, if you use one.
The upside is the price. These types of machines cost less than $100 (at the time of this writing, the machine above is selling for $69), and machine makes great ice cream as well as being affordable. Krups makes a similar machine, as does Hamilton Beach. (Hamilton Beach also makes a large capacity machine, that lets you freeze 4 quarts at a time, but requires you to add ice and rock salt. White Mountain, founded in 1853, also makes large-capacity machines that require ice and rock salt, and come in both electric and hand-cranked models.)
KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment
If you have a KitchenAid mixer, their excellent KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment works very well. I’ve used one extensively and it churns ice cream quickly, and you can adjust the speed easily.
Like other machines that don’t have a built-in compressor, you need to pre-freeze the canister at least 24 hours before you plan to churn your ice cream. So make sure you’ve got the freezer space for it.
Note: If you live outside the United States, KitchenAid mixers have different features and the U.S. ice cream attachment may not be compatible with them.
A new kid on the block is the Ninja Creami ice cream maker. Unlike traditional ice cream churning machines, this one works on the same principle as a Pacojet, a pricey machine used by professionals that can cost up to $8000! In these machines, you freeze the base in a pint container overnight, then place it in the machine and a rotating blade shaves the ice cream into a scoopable mass. The Ninja machine costs around $200 and although I haven’t used one, people are happy with the results.
You can also find more of my recommendations for machines and ice cream making equipment, as well as recipes for all your favorite ice creams, sorbets, granitas, toppings, swirls, and more in my book, The Perfect Scoop, revised and updated!