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It's never been easier to whip up homemade desserts! chocolate production line
We updated this article in November 2022 to ensure all picks vetted and tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute's Kitchen Appliances Lab were available, in stock and correctly priced.
A home ice cream maker will allow you to get creative in the kitchen with fruity sorbets and decadent ice cream flavors. And while you can technically make the sweet treat without a fancy machine, an at-home ice cream maker makes the process so much easier since you just have to pour in the ingredients and usually just let the machine do the work.
Whether you prefer an ice cream float, ice cream sundae or even a baked Alaska, “buying an ice cream maker is worth it if you'd like to add a homemade touch to hosting or simply want to control the types of ingredients you use,” says Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab Director, Nicole Papantoniou. “They're also great if you want to experiment with flavors or have family members with dietary or allergy restrictions who you'd like to cater to.”
In the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab, we have a long history of testing kitchen appliances, including portable grills and personal blenders. When it comes to ice cream makers we assess every element of the machine, from ease of setup and use, to noise level during operation, to ease of cleaning and quality of the ice cream. Whether you opt for a freezer bowl, compressor or more manual ice cream maker, you'll want to serve homemade sundaes all the time.
The classic Cuisinart Pure Indulgence makes up to two quarts of perfectly thick, velvety-smooth ice cream or sorbet in as little as 25 minutes. And there’s really no manual work required — an integrated motor spins the mixing paddle inside the double-insulated freezer bowl to autonomously create your frozen treat. You can even drop fruit or candy down the extra-large ingredient spout and the machine will mix it all together.
Our Lab pros loved the resulting ice cream and sorbet, too. In testing, it received the highest performance scores, making very thick and delicious vanilla ice cream and smooth, flavorful sorbet. Oh, and the base's cord compartment makes for tidy storage. Just make sure you have enough freezer space and prep time because the large bowl requires pre-freezing prior to use.
The Nostalgia 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker is a great value and creates a larger batch of ice cream than most machines. The four-quart ice cream maker holds plenty for your whole crew and has a convenient carry handle for toting from your kitchen to your patio. To use, chill the ice cream canister overnight, then in the morning add your ice cream base to the canister. Pack the surrounding bucket with ice and salt, insert the motorized paddle into the ice cream base and plug in to operate.
The machine is powered by an electric motor that does all the churning for you. And whether you make traditional ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato, our recipe testers say there’s no manual effort required. Just peek through the clear lid to monitor consistency. Cleanup is a breeze too: simply wipe down the plastic bucket.
This all-star machine comes from a brand known for its refrigeration and air conditioning products. It doesn't require any pre-freezing or salt to start making ice cream, which is a huge convenience and you can start making sorbet, gelato or sherbet whenever you want.
This ice cream maker comes with an easy-to-read LCD timer to make the process more precise, as well as a Motor Protection Function that shuts off the unit to prevent damage if you step away and the mixture freezes solid. While one batch is less than 2 quarts of ice cream, you can make sequential batches of ice cream without any downtime in between.
If you already own a KitchenAid stand mixer, you already have the bones of a great electric ice cream maker on hand. This ice cream-making attachment comes with a bowl with a large opening, so you can add the mix-ins of your choice. Our recipe testing proved the machine is quick to work, making a batch of ice cream in about 25 minutes.
After pre-freezing the bowl for 24 hours, this attachment prepared smooth, super aerated, creamy vanilla ice cream in our Lab tests. The sorbet wasn’t as impressive, though: While the texture was very smooth, after freezing, the sorbet developed a somewhat grainy texture and the peach flavor was mild. Also to note: Our Lab pros found that some tilt-head KitchenAid stand mixer models require the included adaptor ring to fit properly.
Breville's Smart Scoop is a fully automatic electric machine that’s packed with special features, including a backlit LED display and a self-refrigerating compressor that brings the ingredients to a below-freezing temperature (no pre-freezing required!).Our kitchen pros love that it boasts 12 hardness settings (with presets for sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato and ice cream) that allow you to make your ice cream the perfect consistency for how you plan to use it from eating right away to it using for molded ice cream or storing for later. It’s no surprise that it's a pricier pick that renders it best for people who are serious about making ice cream.
This ice cream maker doubles as a cute sundae dish and thanks to the smaller footprint, it’s not nearly as cumbersome to store as machines with large bowls. Use the bowl to create a wide range of treats, including hard ice cream, soft serve, frozen yogurt, gelato and even granitas in 10 to 20 minutes. Simply take your frozen ice cream bowl out of the freezer and add five ounces of an ice cream base. Using the provided spoon, hand churn the mixture until you reach your desired ice cream consistency.Plus, individual serving sizes means the kids can choose their own varieties, flavors and mix-ins! Each bowl even comes with a protective sleeve and a spoon, so you’ll truly have everything you need to dig right in. Our kitchen appliance Lab pros suggest keeping it in the freezer so you can make a scoop whenever you're craving a frozen treat.
The Ninja CREAMi is a Good Housekeeping 2021 Kitchen Gear Award Winner. During testing, our judges were impressed that the ice cream and gelato settings yielded different textures, even with the same recipe. Ninja’s CREAMi comes with pint containers you prep and freeze and then turn into ice cream, gelato, milkshakes and more in less than five minutes. It’s more compact than most ice cream makers and has five different settings.
“The coolest thing about this ice cream maker is that you make the mixture and freeze it, versus making it, refrigerating it and allowing for it to freeze while it churns,” says Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab Director, Nicole Papantoniou. You then insert the frozen pint into the machine where a blade whips it to your desired consistency. “It also uses pint-sized containers versus larger quarts, which allow you to experiment with more flavors and leads to less waste," says Papantoniou. Testers also noted that they saw the value of being able to customize by pint so that each person could have their own mix-ins. It does require 24 hours of freezing after making the base, so you'll need to plan in advance.
This innovative ice cream maker is shaped like a ball and meant to be tossed around as part of the churning process! Once you’ve made the ice cream base, add it to one side of the ball and close it. Fill the other side of the ball with salt and ice, then challenge the kids to 25 minutes of playtime. The reward is sweet: A pint of ice cream that’s ready to eat when they're done. Don’t worry: It’s soft-sided, so it won’t hurt the kiddos or your furniture and it seals up nice and tight so you won’t end up with a stained rug!
After dessert, toss the whole thing in the dishwasher for easy cleanup. Just don’t expect the ice cream to compare to anything you’d buy at the store — Lab pros say this ball is more for fun than it is for creating a culinary delight.
Though the name may lead you to believe this machine is only for banana “nice cream,” it makes creamy soft serve out of just about any fruit — frozen mangos, strawberries and, yes, bananas — in seconds. Simply push the frozen fruit through the chute (pro tip: thaw fruit ever-so-slightly first) and it'll churn out rich, smooth vegan-friendly soft serve so delicious you won't believe you didn't add any sugar or heavy cream. Just note: Like traditional frozen yogurt, mix-ins — cacao nibs, almond butter or coconut, for example — have to be added after the fact.
While the resulting product is definitely delicious, our Lab experts also love how easy cleanup is: The chute, plunger and blade are all top-rack dishwasher safe.
Over the years, we’ve put more than 18 different ice cream makers to the test in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Kitchen Appliances Lab. Each model was used to make both vanilla ice cream and peach sorbet using a grand total of 52 pounds of peaches, 52 pounds of sugar and 15 quarts of both heavy cream and half and half. Testing protocols are strict (though the process and payoff are fun!) and assess every element of the machine, from ease of setup and use, to noise level during operation, to ease of cleaning and even the company’s customer service.
Through these assessments, our experts found that, in general, there is no correlation between price and performance — all ice cream makers tested produced ice cream that was palatable if eaten immediately, though sorbet results were more varied. Differences are largely convenience-based, though all required some level of pre-planning. Overall, ice cream makers that used a combination of ice and rock salt to freeze were not as easy to use as ones that use a frozen canister or a compressor, and noise levels varied greatly.
✔️Types: There are four very different styles of ice cream makers for at-home use that can help you create your favorite ice cream flavors at home.
✔️Machine Size: Ice cream machines vary in size from small personal bowls to large compressor-style machines. Assess how much space you have in your freezer and in your kitchen before making a purchase. Typically the footprint of an ice cream maker will range from 6 x 6 x 4 inches to 16 x 11 x 11 inches in dimension.
✔️Batch Size: Are you making ice cream for one every so often or multiple batches for big summer parties? This is all-important to take into consideration before buying. If you only need a small amount opt for our single-serve pick from Zoku or if you are churning for a crowd opt for the Whynter which allows you to produce multiple 1.6-quart batches of ice cream sequentially.
Ice cream's level of creaminess depends largely on the size of the ice crystals that form during the freezing process. Smaller ice crystals mean creamier ice cream. Keeping all ingredients very cold throughout the entire ice-cream-making process is key, even after it’s churned, to help prevent large ice crystals from forming. Milk or cream with a higher fat content helps contribute to a creamier and richer texture, and the addition of egg yolks in some ice cream bases adds creaminess as well. The type of sugar used also contributes to ice cream stability and texture. Corn syrup, as opposed to table sugar, will give ice cream more body and make it more resilient to melting and refreezing, which creates large ice crystals. Alcohol is also commonly used to minimize large ice crystals and create a creamy texture in sorbet.
chocolate ball mill We have tested 17 ice cream makers side-by-side in Lab testing and continue to test new brands and models on an individual basis. Betty Gold is the former testing editor in the Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab. Brigitt Earley is a freelance writer for Good Housekeeping and focuses on writing about topics from food and cooking appliances to entertaining.