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Hot weather is almost here and you know what that means … I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. I’m sure you have a favorite flavor from the store, but why limit yourself? With an ice cream maker, you are limited only by your imagination. Do you want strawberry ice cream with Snickers in it? Go for it. Coffee ice cream with chocolate and mint chips? You got it. Mustard ice cream? Hey, we aren’t here to judge. With an ice cream maker, you can make whatever combination of flavors your heart desires.
To help you on this ice cream journey, we have the scoop on the best ice cream machines of 2022 to help you keep you cool while you make frozen treats this summer. Or winter. As far as we’re concerned, ice cream is an all-year food. So sit back, relax, and chill while we churn out the best of the best.
How we selected our products
In a market as saturated with options as this one, finding the best ice cream maker for each situation was no easy feat. There are a lot of factors we took into account. First, the nuts and bolts: We looked at the price of each machine and what features you got for it. We looked at convenience. Did the bowl have to be chilled ahead of time or did the machine come with a compressor that chilled the bowl when turned on? How much or little ice cream did the machine make? Did it come with a timer? How long did it take to make the ice cream?
We parsed through reviews on durability, as well as people’s experiences with returns or repairs. But that’s all very quantitative. We also looked at qualitative considerations. We wanted to know which ice cream machines made the creamiest, smoothest ice cream at home. We looked for an ice cream machine that would give Ben and Jerry a run for their money.
Best overall ice cream maker
With so many factors to consider, it can be hard to decide which is the best overall home ice cream maker. But to us, one ice cream maker stood out among the rest. This upright ice cream machine is made by Whynter, a company that specializes in keeping you and your groceries cool. And boy did they deliver.
Their Upright Automatic ice cream maker ticks almost every box. The unit comes in at about $280, which while not cheap, is nowhere near the most expensive on the market. The Upright Automatic makes two quarts of ice cream at a time. It includes a built-in timer, which, when the ice cream cycle is complete, automatically shuts off the machine to ensure perfectly churned ice cream. The unit also has a built-in compressor, so there’s no need to pre-freeze a bowl or even plan ahead. Its upright design makes it smaller than other compressor models, making it ideal for a home kitchen with limited space. For the price, Whynter is the best ice cream machine on the market.
Purchase the Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic Ice Cream Maker from Amazon starting at $278.47.
Best budget ice cream maker
For those looking for a no-frills, basic ice cream maker that fits the budget, look no further than the Cuisinart ICE-21. Coming in at more than $200 cheaper than the Whynter model, the Cuisinart is a steal.
The Cuisinart ICE-21 unit is smaller than the Whynter, producing only 1.5 quarts of ice cream at a time, but it includes some convenient features. Many ice cream makers have a stick in the middle of the freezer base, which makes it harder to scoop your ice cream out and clean the machine. But the Cuisinart ICE-21 has a blade that hooks onto the lid, leaving the freezer base clear of the annoying stick in the middle that other machines have.
This machine is also simple and easy to operate, featuring just one button to turn it off and on. However, this simplicity also means you must watch it or set your own timer to avoid over- or under-churning your ice cream. There is no compressor on this unit, so to make ice cream the base will need to be placed in the freezer, preferably overnight. If you want to make more than one batch of ice cream in a day, you can purchase additional bases.
With more than 17,000 positive reviews, the Cuisinart ICE-21 exceeds the expectations of a $70 machine.
Purchase the Cuisinart ICE-21 from Amazon starting at $69.95.
Best splurge ice cream maker
If you have the money to spend a little more for a truly exceptional ice cream maker with all the bells and whistles, then the Breville Smart Scoop is for you.
This machine has everything and lets you make a frozen dessert to your exact tastes. Not only do you get to choose between four frozen treats (frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet, and ice cream), but you also get to choose the firmness of the ice cream. Once you have chosen your settings, the machine automatically sets a timer based on your settings to give you a perfect churn. The machine has its own built-in compressor, which gives you additional options to pre-chill the unit for faster ice cream and will even keep your finished and churned ice cream cold in case you can’t get to it promptly at the end of the churn cycle. And it will give you a little taste of nostalgia, as once it’s done churning it plays music from a series of classic ice cream truck tunes.
Food & Wine reports that professionals love it too, with ice cream makers Tyler Malek and Kris Hoogerhyde both professing love for the machine. At $487.95 it is a big investment, but you get everything you could possibly want in an ice cream maker and, as Kris Hoogerhyde said, it will last you a lifetime.
Purchase the Breville BC1600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker from Amazon starting at $487.95.
Best single serving ice cream maker
Sometimes you want ice cream, but you don’t want to commit to lugging out a big ice cream maker, cleaning lots of parts, and then being stuck with a bunch of leftovers. If you’re looking for an ice cream maker to make a single serving, look no further than the Zoku Ice Cream Maker.
If you have room for a bowl, you have room for the Zoku, and that’s because that’s all it is. The Zoku is a bowl with a stainless steel base. You place it in the freezer, and when you want to make ice cream you simply take it out, add 5 ounces of your desired ice cream ingredients, and stir with the provided spoon, scraping the ice cream off the sides as it freezes. The whole process takes about 10 minutes and when it’s over not only do you not have a lot of dishes to do, but you also don’t have to find a place to store your ice cream machine.
The Zoku comes in multiple colors. It also comes in a tall cup form for those who prefer milkshakes.
Purchase the Zoku Ice Cream Maker from Amazon starting at $19.99.
Best large capacity ice cream maker
Maybe you have a large family or maybe you just really like ice cream. Either way, you’re looking for the best large-capacity ice cream maker.
Once you get past 2-quart capacities on ice cream makers, it can be hard to find a good one without spending an arm and a leg on a professional-grade machine. That is where the Nostalgia Old Fashioned electric ice cream maker comes in.
Old meets new on this ice cream maker. It is a simple design with an electric churn lid and an aluminum base that fits 6 whole quarts of ice cream, three times that of most competitors. Instead of freezing the base, which would likely be hard to fit in a freezer because of its size, the Nostalgia machine functions similarly to an old-school ice cream churn, with ice poured into the machine to surround the base. This gives you more flexibility on when you can make ice cream since you can just keep making it, as long as you have a supply of ice.
The machine has over 2500 reviews on Amazon, which are generally favorable, though some do complain that the ice cream doesn’t freeze as completely as with other machines. But the large capacity, cute retro design, and low price make it the perfect option for someone looking to make a lot of ice cream.
Purchase the Nostalgia Old Fashioned electric ice cream maker from Amazon starting at $57.91.
Best soft serve ice cream maker
For something a little different, we recommend the Cuisinart ICE-45 Mix-In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker. This ice cream maker isn’t just an appliance, it’s an event.
The machine has a base that needs to be chilled in the freezer overnight, similar to other models, but instead of creating hard-packed ice cream, this machine produces silky smooth soft serve. But that’s not all.
In addition to making one flavor of ice cream, the machine comes with three mix-in storage containers on the side. Whenever someone is ready to dispense a serving of ice cream they can simply slide one, two, or all three storage container levers to mix any combination of mix-ins into their ice cream. This is perfect for when you have a group of people who each want something a little different.
There is also a handy cone holder on the left of the device that holds flat bottomed cake cones, as well as larger pointed waffle cones. It is like having an entire ice cream parlor right in your kitchen and for just over $100 it is a good deal.
Purchase the Cuisinart ICE-45 Mix In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker from Amazon starting at $101.54.
Best non-dairy ice cream maker
For those looking for a non-dairy or healthier option instead of traditional ice cream, the Yonana reigns supreme.
This ice cream maker works a little differently than most others. Instead of pouring in a sweetened liquid to be churned into dairy, frozen fruit is dropped into the tunnel-like top, pulverized into a soft and sweet ice-cream-like substance, and dispensed right into your cup or bowl. The recommended frozen fruit is the banana, hence the name Yonana. Make as much or as little as you want at a time and add things such as Oreo cookies or chocolate chips for enhanced textures and flavors.
With a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Amazon, the Yonana is a good choice for those looking for a dairy-free alternative. The Yonana Classic machine also comes in a variety of colors and the price comes in at $20 less than competitors such as the ILAVIE. Most importantly, it produces a good product.
Purchase the Yonana Classic from Amazon starting at $44.88.
Best old-school ice cream maker
As the company claims, this pick is “an updated version of an old idea.” The Immergood Stainless Steel Ice cream maker is your classic old-school handheld and cranked ice cream maker with some serious upgrades.
First, instead of the wooden tub traditional for old ice cream makers, the people at Immergood replaced it with a triple insulated stainless steel tub. This prevents leaks and helps lock in cold, producing better ice cream.
Unlike with hands-off electric models, the cook will get a workout churning their own ice cream. All the hardware on the machine is stainless steel, making it sturdy and able to put up with the abuse of a hand crank. And because it uses the traditional ice and salt method, instead of using a frozen base, this machine has a large capacity of 6 quarts.
It is a well-made machine but comes at a hefty price of over $300. But if you’re looking to regain a little nostalgia or need to put in an extra arm day for your workout, this is the machine for you.
Purchase the Immergood Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker on Amazon starting at $389.60.
Best ice cream maker for small kitchens
Despite what HGTV would have us believe, not everyone has a large, spacious kitchen capable of storing a large ice cream maker. For those looking for a smaller and more manageable option, there is the Dash My Pint ice cream maker.
The My Pint makes a little less than half a quart of ice cream at a time, making it perfect for a single person. Though it is small, it is a fully functioning ice cream maker. It has a base that needs to be frozen ahead of time, but its small size means it won’t take up a huge footprint in your freezer. When you are ready to make ice cream, you simply slip the base into the machine, pour your concoction in, and attach the lid and churner. Press the button and in about 30 minutes you have ice cream.
The whole gadget takes up about the same space as a coffee tumbler, so can be easily stored. While CNN reports the ice cream is on the icier side, rather than creamier, but for under $25 this ice cream maker is perfect for someone with a small kitchen. Plus it comes with its own spoon.
Purchase the Dash My Pint Electric Ice Cream Maker from Amazon for $24.95.
Best child friendly ice cream maker
Kids love helping in the kitchen but, as every parent knows, their help isn’t always … well … helpful. Luckily, with this next ice cream maker, the kids can be an active part of making ice cream. That’s because, thanks to the good people at Yay Labs, there is finally an ice cream maker we don’t have to worry about the kids breaking.
Yay Labs created the Softshell Ice Cream Ball, which is both an ice cream maker and a kids toy ball. The ball’s unique spherical design allows the ice cream ingredients to be added on one end and sealed shut, while on the other end ice and rock salt are added. The ball can then be kicked, tossed, rolled, and generally played with by the children. The rougher the better. In 30 minutes, you open it back up and you and the kids can enjoy a nice cool treat.
The Softshell Ice Cream Ball comes in both pint and quart sizes and costs less than many other ice cream makers.
Purchase the YayLabs Softshell Ice Cream Ball from Amazon starting at $49.99.
Best rolled ice cream maker
Rolled ice cream may be a forgotten food trend these days, but if you’re still a fan, you can make this delicious rolled dessert at your home quickly and without much of an investment.
Simply take the Chef’n Sweet Spot ice cream maker base and place it in the freezer overnight. When you take it back out, your cooling tray will be ready for your ice cream or yogurt base to be poured on top. Pour your chilled mixture on and within seconds it begins to freeze. You can use the provided spatulas to mix it around, add any desired mix-ins, and either scoop it out or roll it into ice cream rolls.
The base does not need to be plugged in, so once it is chilled, you can put it on any surface and make rolled creamy goodness to your heart’s content.
Purchase the Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Maker from Amazon starting at $49.99