Pros / It's quiet for a bucket-model ice cream maker.
Cons / You have to freeze the aluminum canister for several hours. Otherwise, you get soupy milkshakes.
Verdict / If you need lots of ice cream for a large group, this ice cream maker is a good option. It's quiet and portable, but keep in mind that its large size makes for slow freezing and slower cleaning.
The Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker is great for family reunions, picnics or other events. It makes a gallon of ice cream and comes with a long cord to reach outlets. For an ice cream maker its size, the Nostalgia Electrics unit is rather quiet. We were surprised at how much quieter this model is from other ice cream makers we reviewed.
The Nostalgia model works best with pre-chilled ingredients and plenty of ice and salt. If you don't layer the salt and ice correctly, the ice cream mixture has a soupy milkshake consistency. Because of the unit's design, it's hard to check the ice cream's texture with the ice piled in the outer bucket, which blocks your view of the inside canister. And if you're not careful, salty ice cubes can easily fall into the mixture when you attempt to remove the paddle from the canister.
The consistency problem is solved easily by leaving the aluminum canister in the freezer for a couple of extra hours. Another solution is extra churning after removing the canister from the bucket and letting it freeze an hour or two. If you have any leftovers, the storage container comes with a handy lid and end cap to keep your ice cream fresh and frozen.
This ice cream maker's huge size makes cleanup more intensive than its competitors. When cleaning, you want to make sure you get all the ice and rock salt out of the bucket. Rock salt can crust at the bottom of the bucket, making it messier the next time you use it. There are no dishwasher-safe components to this machine, so you'll have to hand-wash each part with warm, soapy water.
Most people only use ice cream makers a couple of times a year, but the warranty for the Nostalgia ice cream maker is shorter than others by several months. The 90-day warranty may not cover the first few uses of this ice cream maker, which makes repairs or replacements much more expensive. This is the shortest warranty of any of the ice cream makers we reviewed.
This model is also the largest ice cream maker on our list of the best ice cream makers. Thankfully, you don't have to store any of its components in the freezer. We recommend keeping this old-fashioned ice cream maker in its box and storing it in your pantry, basement or garage. At 16 inches tall, 17 inches wide and 15 inches deep, this machine takes up some serious cabinet space.
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With a little preplanning and practice, the Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker prepares plenty of ice cream for a large group. However, if you don't pre-chill the canister and ingredients or layer the salt and ice correctly, you may find the container full of ice cream soup. A couple of hours in the freezer solves this problem quickly. This model is quiet and has a long extension cord for crowded kitchens or outdoor areas. However, you'll have to be patient to get the best ice cream from this machine.