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The Best Ice Cream Makers Credit: Getty Images

The Best Ice Cream Makers of 2024

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The Best Ice Cream Makers Credit: Getty Images

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Editor's Choice Product image of Ninja Creami NC301
Best Overall

Ninja Creami NC301

Check Price at Amazon

This versatile and easy-to-use machine makes everything from ice cream and sorbet to gelato and smoothie bowls with quick and delicious results. Read More

Pros

  • It's easy to use
  • Handles chunky frozen fruit with ease
  • It works very quickly

Cons

  • The machine runs loudly
2
Editor's Choice Product image of Cuisinart ICE-21
Best Value

Cuisinart ICE-21

Check Price at Amazon

The simple design—a single on/off switch, plus an open top to facilitate pouring in chocolate chips and scooping out taste tests—meant I could focus on flavors and fixings. Read More

Pros

  • Simple and easy-to-use design
  • Has an open top to facilitate pouring
  • Makes ice cream in just 20 minutes

Cons

  • Small 1.5 quartz capacity
3
Product image of Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop
Best with a Compressor

Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop

Check Price at Amazon

The wonderful thing about this was never having to worry about pre-freezing the canister. That said, it was heavy and huge, and my ice cream batches weren’t always consistent. Read More

Pros

  • Don't have to pre-freeze canister
  • Has a "keep cool" mode to keep ice cream cold
  • Different hardness levels

Cons

  • Inconsistent batches of ice cream
  • Very expensive
  • Large size
4
Product image of Dash My Mug Ice Cream Maker
Best Single-Serve

Dash My Mug Ice Cream Maker

Check Price at Amazon

This space-saving ice cream maker features an adorable design and low footprint. But achieving the right consistency takes patience. Read More

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Ice cream texture leans soft
  • Food chute is small
5
Product image of Cuisinart ICE-70

Cuisinart ICE-70

Check Price at Amazon

The ice cream wasn’t noticeably better than the other Cuisinart model we tested, and the larger canister struggled fit in my freezer. Read More

Pros

  • Simple and easy-to-use design
  • Countdown timer
  • Additional options for making gelato or sorbet

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Large canister is difficult to store inside a freezer
  • Best Overall Ninja Creami
  • Best Value Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart
  • Best with a Compressor Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop
  • Best Single-Serve Dash My Mug Ice Cream Maker
  • Other Ice Cream Makers We Tested
  • How We Test Ice Cream Makers
  • How to Choose the Best Ice Cream Maker for You
  • Should You Buy an Ice Cream Maker?
  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Whenever the weather warms up, I can't stop thinking about ice cream. Whether it’s a cone heaped full of frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato, traditional ice cream from my favorite shop, or a few spoonfuls straight from my freezer, these delicious frozen desserts are my summer go-to. But making frozen treats at home can be just as tasty.

Finding the right appliance, however, can be confusing. Should you opt for an electric ice cream maker? Or an old-fashioned variety that's inexpensive but requires pounds of ice and rock salt? What about a compressor machine?

Each has its pros and cons, but after thoroughly reviewing and testing the best ice cream makers and frozen yogurt machines, I now know that the Ninja Creami (available at Amazon for $199.99) is going to become a staple in my kitchen.

The Ninja Creami, with chocolate ice cream in its pint, sits on a wood counter in a kitchen.
Credit: Reviewed / Melissa Rorech

The Ninja Creami tops our list for its ease of use and how quickly it transforms a frozen concoction into a sweet treat.

Best Overall
Ninja Creami
  • Type: Freezer pint
  • Capacity: 16 ounces
  • Dimensions: 6.52 x 12.07 x 15.95 inches
  • Weight: 13 pounds

Ultra versatile and extremely easy to use, the Ninja Creami was a delight to use from the very beginning.

Beyond ice cream alone, this appliance can make anything from milkshakes and smoothie bowls to gelato and sorbet. And it does so fuss-free; all it requires is the press of a program button on its one-touch interface to get your sweet treat started.

The appliance itself is unique from other ice cream makers in that there are no compressor pumps or bulky bowls to freeze—just a motor base with digital control panel, a paddle, pint containers, and an outer bowl for processing.

All you have to do is freeze your liquid base in one of the provided pint containers ahead of time, and you can always opt for extra pint containers to make ice cream prep easy. Plus, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and soft serve recipes don't require pre-freezing at all.

We found that this machine performs well in transforming everything from canned pineapple chunks to frozen berries into creamy desserts—making eating more fruit an easy feat. There's also a mix-in function that allows you to personalize your ice cream with toppings like candy, nuts, or chocolate chips.

Even cleanup with the Creami is a delight, since the bowls, lids, and paddle are all dishwasher-safe.

The one downside: this machine is pretty noisy. (So if you're trying to secretly whip up a dessert without your housemates knowing, get ready to share.)

But if you're already used to appliances like blenders and food processors making noise in your house, you shouldn't have an issue with the Creami.

Editor's Note: June 29, 2023

Since its growth in popularity, many retailers haven't been able to keep up with the demands of the Creami, leaving it often out of stock. If you're looking for an alternative that will ship ASAP, we have a few suggestions.

Pros

  • It's easy to use

  • Handles chunky frozen fruit with ease

  • It works very quickly

Cons

  • The machine runs loudly

$199.99 from Amazon


$229.99 from Best Buy


$199.99 from Target


$229.99 from Home Depot

Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best Value
Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart
  • Type: Freezer bowl
  • Capacity: 1.5 quarts
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 9 x 11.25 inches
  • Weight: 9 pounds

Easy to use, reasonably priced, and small enough to live on the counter during the summer, the Cuisinart ICE-21 can create a smooth batch of classic vanilla ice cream as well as a well-mixed rocky road.

The simple design—a single switch to turn on and off, plus an open top to facilitate pouring in chocolate chips and scooping out taste tests—meant that we could focus on flavors and fixings. Also, the low price may have already inspired our tester to buy one for her sister’s birthday.

The cherry on top of this fudge sundae is that the Cuisinart ICE-21 was the quickest product we tested (minus freezing the canister). In about 20 minutes, I went from having a sugar-and-cream mixture to a bowl of ice cream.

To be fair, there are downsides: It only makes 1.5 quarts of ice cream—just enough for four small-ish servings (we admit, we overfilled it once, but luckily the design saved us from creating much of a mess). Also, you have to freeze the canister overnight before you can make a batch of ice cream.

The canister is full of refrigerant, which is what chills the ice cream, and takes about 12 hours to freeze. This just means that you need a bit of forethought before indulging. That said, many recipes suggest ice cream base chill overnight in the fridge for the best flavor, so I didn’t find a night of pre-planning to be much of a downside.

Ultimately, we would aim to stash the canister in a corner of the freezer during the summer, to use whenever you want ice cream or frozen yogurt in less than 30 minutes.

Pros

  • Simple and easy-to-use design

  • Has an open top to facilitate pouring

  • Makes ice cream in just 20 minutes

Cons

  • Small 1.5 quartz capacity

$69.95 from Amazon

$79.95 from Walmart
Left: hand removing canister of strawberry ice cream from Breville machine. Right: Breville Smart Scoop on a countertop surrounded by ice cream and ingredients.
Credit: Reviewed / Breville

For a workhorse machine with no pre-freezing required, the Breville Smart Scoop can churn out plenty of frozen desserts.

Best with a Compressor
Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop
  • Type: Compressor
  • Capacity: 1.5 quarts
  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 11 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 30 pounds

The wonderful thing about this product was never having to worry about pre-freezing the canister. This meant we could make multiple batches in a row during the same evening. And the machine’s “keep cool” mode let us leave our finished ice cream in the appliance while we were eating and entertaining—a very handy feature.

It also has settings for different hardness levels and an option for both an automatic and manual mode. These fancy features come at a price, though. This ice cream maker costs more than a KitchenAid mixer!

Despite all of these excellent features, the ice cream batches weren’t always consistent (the vanilla was overly soft despite being on the hardest setting, while the berry fro-yo was rather icy). This ice cream machine is also heavy and huge. It took up a solid half of the available counter space, and we have no idea where we would put it if it wasn’t out on the counter.

Pros

  • Don't have to pre-freeze canister

  • Has a "keep cool" mode to keep ice cream cold

  • Different hardness levels

Cons

  • Inconsistent batches of ice cream

  • Very expensive

  • Large size

$499.95 from Amazon

$499.95 from Abt

$465.92 from Walmart
The Dash My Mug Ice Cream Maker with prepared mango sorbet ready to be served.
Credit: Reviewed / Monica Petrucci

The convenience of enjoying ice cream right out of the vessel it was churned in is definitely a unique advantage.

Best Single-Serve
Dash My Mug Ice Cream Maker
  • Type: Freezer bowl
  • Capacity: 0.5 quarts
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 7.48 x 5.39 inches
  • Weight: 4.81 pounds

The Dash My Mug Ice Cream Maker looks more like a nostalgic ice cream bowl than a countertop appliance. And that's because it functions as both a bowl and a machine, churning out desserts in the same bowl that you can eat out of once it's ready.

During testing, we loved how convenient this machine was to use; it comes with a handy manual and recipes to get you started right away, and the single-button interface means there's no learning curve.

Unfortunately the texture of most ice creams we tried with this machine was extremely soft. We recommend leaving them to harden in the freezer for a few extra hours before enjoying them—which means this ice cream maker requires extra patience.

But if you prefer to make ice cream in small batches, or just can't find space for a large appliance in your kitchen, this is an affordable option that can deliver great results (with the right technique).

Read the full Dash My Mug Ice Cream Maker review.

Pros

  • Small footprint

  • Easy to use

  • Affordable

Cons

  • Ice cream texture leans soft

  • Food chute is small

Buy now at Amazon

Other Ice Cream Makers We Tested

Product image of Cuisinart ICE-70
Cuisinart Cool Creations ICE-70 2-Quart
  • Type: Freezer bowl
  • Capacity: 2 quarts
  • Dimensions: 9.74 x 8.62 x 13.22 inches
  • Weight: 13.5 pounds

The Cuisinart ICE-70 was a close runner-up to the ICE-21. It had a similarly easy-to-use design, with a few added features such as a countdown timer and separate buttons for ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. However, the ice cream (even using the different modes) wasn’t noticeably better than the other Cuisinart model, and the larger canister struggled to find an easy home in the freezer.

For the significantly higher price, we wanted significantly better ice cream or a significantly better ice cream making experience than the ICE-21.

Pros

  • Simple and easy-to-use design

  • Countdown timer

  • Additional options for making gelato or sorbet

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Large canister is difficult to store inside a freezer

$145.22 from Amazon

$193.99 from Home Depot

$149.95 from Walmart
Product image of KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment
KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment
  • Type: Freezer bowl
  • Capacity: 2 quarts
  • Dimensions: 10.9 x 10.3 x 10.3 inches
  • Weight: 6 pounds

If you’re researching ice cream makers but already have a KitchenAid stand mixer, this KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment is an excellent choice. Intuitive to assemble, it makes great ice cream and stores away easily in your cabinet (not including the full stand mixer, of course).

The ice cream did almost creep out of the bowl while churning, but the smart rim design of the freezing bowl kept everything contained. The only real issue with this ice cream maker is that if you don’t already have a KitchenAid, the total cost would be far more than most others on this list.

Pros

  • Easy to store

  • Easy to clean

  • Makes great ice cream

Cons

  • Have to have a KitchenAid

  • Feels expensive for not including the motor

$97.99 from Amazon

$99.95 from Abt

$97.99 from Walmart
Product image of Whynter ICM-201SB
Whynter ICM-201SB 2.1 Quart Upright
  • Type: Compressor
  • Capacity: 2.1 quarts
  • Dimensions: 10.75 x 12.5 x 14.25 inches
  • Weight: 24.25 pounds

The Whynter made our single favorite batch of this testing series. It was objectively the best ice cream our tester had ever eaten. It tasted like the love child of whipped cream and vanilla gelato—quite high praise.

Despite this batch of godly nectar, the Whynter was otherwise disappointing. The paddles stopped moving after we added the mix-ins for the rocky road, and we gave up on the berry fro-yo after an hour and half of mixing produced nothing thicker than a smoothie.

Even the favorite vanilla took an hour to make, which is longer than we really want to wait for ice cream (though we would wait for this one, particularly since the Whynter is another maker that doesn’t require pre-freezing the canister).

Pros

  • Makes great tasting ice cream

  • Don't have to pre-freeze canister

Cons

  • Takes over an hour to make ice cream

  • Paddles stopped moving after mix-ins were added

$333.28 from Amazon

$333.28 from Walmart
Product image of Cuisinart Pure Indulgence ICE-30BC
Cuisinart Pure Indulgence ICE-30BC
  • Type: Freezer bowl
  • Capacity: 2 quarts
  • Dimensions: 8.25 x 8 x 11.25 inches
  • Weight: 13.5 pounds

Cuisinart has many options when it comes to ice cream makers. While this one is solid, it didn’t perform quite as well as the Cuisinart ICE-21 ice cream maker. Despite being easy to use—with a great pour-in opening to add mix and mix-ins—it made loud noises while churning the ice cream.

We were nervous during each batch, as it sounded like the motor was about to die. Fortunately, it lasted and the ice cream was good, but we could do without the added stress.

Pros

  • Easy to use

  • Easy to store

Cons

  • Loud, concerning noises during use

$86.99 from Amazon

$109.95 from Walmart
Product image of Cuisinart ICE-100
Cuisinart ICE-100
  • Type: Compressor
  • Capacity: 1.5 quarts
  • Dimensions: 16.73 x 12 x 9.33 inches
  • Weight: 27.2 pounds

Alongside its freezer-bowl models, Cuisinart also has a compressor model that boasts impressive results. While more expensive than the other Cuisinart models, it has a much lower MSRP than similar compressor models. It makes a good, if soft, ice cream, though it takes a while to firm up.

We loved not having to pre-plan for ice cream (you’ll never have an “oh shoot” moment where you realize you didn’t put the bowl in the freezer far enough in advance), and we enjoyed being able to eat the results immediately.

That said, the “keep cool” function led to slightly inconsistent ice cream texture. And the berry fro-yo mix exploded out of the bowl and over the sides—leading to a difficult cleanup. There are a lot of little crevices to clean on this model, and it can't be tossed in the sink to soak.

Pros

  • Don’t have to pre-freeze canister

  • Has a “keep cool” mode to keep ice cream cold

  • Very easy to use

Cons

  • Very large

  • Difficult to clean

  • Takes an hour to make ice cream

$260.11 from Amazon

$279.99 from Best Buy

$299.99 from Target

$299.95 from Abt
Product image of Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE
Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE 4-Quart Electric
  • Type: Salt and ice
  • Capacity: 4 quarts
  • Dimensions: 15 x 17 x 16 inches
  • Weight: 5.2 pounds

The Nostalgia would be a fun summer activity with kids or friends, but it wouldn’t be our choice for a go-to ice cream maker. Its results were okay but not fantastic, and the added hassle of having to buy and store large amounts of ice any time you want to use it made this one not worth the effort. The low price was nice, but this bright teal ice cream maker seemed better suited to a pool party than a kitchen.

Pros

  • Low cost

Cons

  • Requires large amounts of ice

Buy now at Amazon

$65.52 from Home Depot

$81.19 from Walmart
Product image of Hamilton Beach 68330N
Hamilton Beach 68330N 4-Quart Automatic
  • Type: Salt and ice
  • Capacity: 4 quarts
  • Dimensions: 15.3 x 12.5 x 11.1 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Much like the Nostalgia, the Hamilton Beach requires a substantial amount of ice, salt, and counter space in order to make dessert. But unlike the Nostalgia, you cannot see the results as you’re making them, so there’s a lot of timing guesswork or taking things apart to check as you go.

Once again, the ice cream results were fine but not fantastic. By the end, we realized we’d rather spend a little more money to avoid the hassle of ice and salt and a longer wait for ice cream.

Pros

  • Low cost

Cons

  • Requires large amounts of ice

  • Cannot see ice cream making process

$43.99 from Amazon

How We Test Ice Cream Makers

Testing ice cream makers
Credit: Reviewed / Bethany Kwoka

We tested ten different ice cream makers with three recipes in each.

To ensure we wouldn’t end up with a one-trick pony, we tested three different recipes in each ice cream maker. We made a classic vanilla, a chocolate rocky road, and a mixed berry frozen yogurt. To help keep each test the same, we chose simple recipes that didn’t require making an egg custard as the base.

We took careful notes of not only how the ice cream turned out, but how intuitive each model was to use, how helpful each manual was, how much counter space it took up, whether there were special features worth noting, how easy they were to clean, and more.

We thought not only about how great it would be to have an easy way to make ice cream during the summer, but also whether it was possible to store it during the times of year we’re not eating as many cold treats, or whether it was small enough to live on the counter full time.

How to Choose the Best Ice Cream Maker for You

ice cream makers
Credit: Reviewed / Bethany Kwoka

What ice cream maker is right for you depends on a number of factors—including how long you can wait to dig into your creation. When it comes to making traditional homemade ice cream, there are three types of machines to choose from, but they all basically work the same.

After making your ice cream base, pour it into the bowl of the machine. A paddle moves through your batter as it freezes, breaking up ice crystals. After a while, you’ll have a tasty treat.

Types of Ice Cream Makers

Salt and ice: For those looking for a bit of nostalgia, these are the ice cream makers that may come to mind. They consist of a giant bucket you fill with ice and salt, a metal canister in the center, and a motor on top to churn the ice cream mixture.

For people who make ice cream once or twice a year in the summer, this might be the type for you. Typically, they produce a lot of ice cream, but they also require some extra work. They are the least expensive models and require a lot of ice. Additionally, they require a fair bit of storage space.

Freezer bowl: These ice cream makers are the modern version of the classic. They consist of a smaller canister that’s filled with refrigerant, which you freeze overnight before setting on top of the motor and inserting the paddle for churning. This could be the model for people who want to enjoy homemade ice cream on a more frequent basis.

They are more expensive than the classics, but they take up less space and don’t require a trip to the grocery store for ice. They also require a little planning because the bowls need to be frozen beforehand. Typically, they produce less ice cream than salt-and-ice machines, and you can’t make back-to-back batches like you can with compressor machines unless you have more than one freezer bowl.

Compressor machine: These are the most advanced ice cream appliances. They don’t require any ice or pre-freezing and come complete with their own freezing unit along with fancier settings. These models are pricier, but ice cream lovers may want to take the plunge.

They can make ice cream at a moment’s notice and you can make multiple batches back to back. However, they take up a good amount of counter space and can be heavy.

Overall, we found the classic ice-filled buckets frustrating and a bit wasteful. And while we loved having a compressor model around, they’re on the expensive side.

Ultimately, the freeze-the-product style offers the best middle ground between affordability and ease. That said, if you have a lot of kitchen space and need to be able to make ice cream at a moment’s notice, compressor models are slowly coming down in price and might be worth a second look.

Size

Ice cream makers can range from single-serving freezer plates that take very little storage space to large compressor models that could be heavy enough that you'll want to leave them on your counter. How much space you have to store a machine is one thing to consider when choosing an ice cream maker.

Capacity

Another thing to consider when deciding on a machine is how much ice cream you want. While most of the machines we reviewed produced one to two quarts of ice cream, there also are single-serving options. The larger salt-and-ice machines often will produce 4 quarts at a time, great for a backyard party.

Should You Buy an Ice Cream Maker?

While an ice cream maker might not be an essential item for most people, they can be a lot of fun. However, they can take a lot of storage space and some can be quite costly.

Ultimately, it really comes down to how much ice cream you eat and whether you'll use your machine. If you use them frequently, the cost of an ice cream machine could even save you money in the long run. And don't forget that they’re fun, too!

Meet the testers

Bethany Kwoka

Bethany Kwoka

Contributor

Bethany is a freelance contributor for Reviewed. An avid home baker and aspiring home cook, she reviews and writes mostly about kitchen gadgets (with the occasional fitness review thrown in). Her specialty might be fancy desserts, but she's never met a batch-cooked dinner recipe she didn't like.

Outside of her work for Reviewed, Bethany is a content creator working on clean energy and climate change at a regional non-profit and runs a tabletop game at her local comic book shop.

See all of Bethany Kwoka's reviews
Monica Petrucci

Monica Petrucci

Editor, Kitchen & Cooking

@monicatpetrucci

Monica is Reviewed's Kitchen & Cooking editor and an avid home cook; she's been testing a wide range of kitchen products at Reviewed for two years. Previously the Digital Editor at Culture Cheese Magazine (and a former barista), she's also had her work published in The Boston Globe, Modern Luxury, Boston Magazine, and more.

See all of Monica Petrucci's reviews
Danielle DeSiato

Danielle DeSiato

Managing Editor, Kitchen & Appliances

@kissthecake

Managing Editor, Kitchen & Appliances. Danielle has a B.S. from Syracuse University and a AAS in Culinary Arts from Newbury College. Previously, Danielle was a Test Cook and Associate Editor at America's Test Kitchen, as well as a freelance recipe developer and food writer. She’s the mom of two boys and loves making pizza on Friday nights.

See all of Danielle DeSiato's reviews

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