The best ice cream makers will help you to make fresh, delicious ice cream for you and your family all summer long. Our list features an array of ice cream makers from budget machines for less than $100 to high-end models that can tackle all of your frozen dessert cravings.
The best ice cream makers can do more than just make basic ice cream, with many being able to produce fresh gelato, sorbets, and fro-yo. They also vary greatly in capacity, with some being able to make up to four quarts of your desired frozen dessert. If you are on a budget you will be pleased to know that even the cheaper options have motors strong enough to churn out delicious ice cream.
Many of our models have easy-to-clean detachable bowls and paddles so that you can wash up with ease afterward - some models start with just the push of a button when all the ingredients are inserted, making them super easy to use.
If you want your ice cream maker to run as quietly as possible then you might want to go for a model that has a quieter motor. If you want to equip yourself with enough snack makers for the perfect movie night then check out our guide to the best popcorn makers.
1. Cuisinart ICE-21P1: Best ice cream maker overall
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The Cuisinart ICE-21P1 is the best ice cream maker in our round up. It’s BPA-free, has well thought out design elements like a non-slip base, and it’s easy to use. Its capacity can hold up to 1.5-quarts.
The motor is located at the bottom of the machine and turns the bowl as it mixes, creating a creamy consistency that doesn’t leave unmixed ingredients at the base of the bowl like machines with top-rotating motors. This Cuisinart model also has a double-lined freezer bowl that contains a nontoxic coolant to keep your ice cream cold even sitting at room temperature.
The Cuisinart ICE-21P1 has very positive reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5/5 stars. Users praise its ease of use and ability to make fresh ice cream fast. The small number of negative reviews are critical of the consistency of the ice cream, with some users saying it is too soft.
The Cuisinart ICE-21P1 only takes about five minutes to clean. None of the components are dishwasher-safe, but with some warm and soapy water, you can easily clean the freezer bowl. Since that and the dasher are the only parts that touch the ice cream, there is not much to clean beyond that. One of the only downsides to this machine is the powerful, but unfortunately very loud, motor. It isn’t as loud as a coffee grinder or hair dryer, by any means, but you can hear it when you are in another room and it can be difficult to carry on a conversation if you are standing near the machine while the ice cream churning is in progress.
- Read our full Cuisinart ICE-21P1 review
2. Hamilton Beach 68880: Best ice cream maker for easy use
Making homemade ice cream can sometimes be a chore, but it takes little effort with the Hamilton Beach 1.5 Quart 68880 Ice Cream Maker.
The Hamilton Beach 68880 has an average rating of 4.1/5 stars on Amazon. The majority of reviews are 4 or 5 stars, with users praising how easy it is to use to make fresh ice cream at the press of a button. Negative reviews are unhappy with the use of a freezer unit, as it can cool unevenly and may not make hard ice cream if cooled incorrectly.
This ice cream maker creates a tasty treat with a thick, soft-serve consistency. If you want to harden the ice cream a bit, you can pre-chill the ingredients and leave the finished ice cream in the freezer.
Before making anything, you need to chill the freezer bowl that holds the ingredients – in fact, it’s best to keep it in the freezer overnight. When you’re ready to make ice cream, you just connect the bowl to the base, add the ingredients and the dasher (mixing device), and switch the on button. It takes around one hour to create a bowl of tasty ice cream. It’s also easy to clean this Hamilton Beach ice cream maker since it only has four parts you can quickly hand wash.
- Read our full Hamilton Beach 68880 review
3. Nostalgia PICM4BG: Best cheap ice cream maker
The Nostalgia PICM4BG is a brilliant ice cream maker if you don’t want to splash the cash. Complete with a four-quart capacity, this machine is suitable for family homes and can be used to make frozen yogurt too.
The internal bucket is made of plastic and can be quickly cleaned with ease. Other helpful features include the transparent lid so that you can check on the progress of your ice cream as it’s churning. Nostalgia makes its own ice cream kits which can be used with this maker, however, you can still use it to whip up your very own ice cream recipes.
The Nostalgia PICM4BG has an impressive average rating of 4.5/5 stars on Amazon, with 75% of the 2,702 reviews being 5 stars. Users are pleased with its ability to make large amounts of ice cream easily, at the push of a button. The small number of negative reviews are critical of the drum itself, stating that it moves too much while making the ice cream.
The electric motor will take care of mixing up your ice cream and there’s no need to place the internal bucket in the freezer as you do with some other models we’ve reviewed. This Nostalgia ice cream maker isn’t made with the most expensive materials, but it’s also not going to cost you the earth. A handle makes it easy to move around and it has thousands of impressive user reviews too. Some users, however, rated this machine down for its lack of fill line inside the bucket, and some also mentioned that the motor is fairly loud when the machine is on.
4. Whynter ICM-200LS: Best high-end ice cream maker
If you’re serious about making ice cream and are willing to spend that bit more, the Whynter ICM-200LS is for you. This ice cream maker looks different from all the others we’ve reviewed and that’s because it is. There’s no need to freeze the BPA-free mixing bowl beforehand or add ice as this machine freezes as it works. When it’s time to clean up, the mixing bowl can be removed and easily wiped down.
The Whynter ICM-200LS has very favorable reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5/5 stars. Users praise its ease of use and ability to make a number of frozen desserts. The small number of negative reviews are critical of the sound level of the machine, with some users reporting a high-pitched squeaking noise.
The Whynter ICM-200LS has an in-built feature which means the mixture won’t melt and once the ice cream has reached the ideal frozen texture, this machine will automatically switch off so that the motor is damaged.
When you buy this machine, you’ll get some recipes to try out, an ice cream scoop, and other handy features such as a timer and LCD controls. The display will show you the temperature of your mixture so you can monitor it should you need to.
Despite its price tag, however, this ice cream maker from Whynter only makes just over two-quarts of ice cream, which is disappointing compared to other cheaper models. Users praised its speedy functions and high quality, but some criticized how large this machine is and said it ‘takes up a lot of counter room’.
5. Hamilton Beach 68330N: Best ice cream maker for value
The Hamilton Beach 4 Quart 68330N is cost-effective on many levels. First, this generously sized machine can make up to a gallon of ice cream, which is great if you have many mouths to feed.
Second, this Hamilton Beach model is one of the most affordable ice cream makers in our comparison, and it still gets the job done. You can make everything from frozen yogurt to creamy ice creams in this machine, and there are 20 recipes included when you buy it too.
The Hamilton Beach 68330N has an average rating of 4.5/5 stars on Amazon. Of the nearly 6000 reviews, 75% are 5 stars with users praising its ease of use and affordability. A small number of negative reviews are unhappy with the noise level of the machine, with some users saying it rattles or screeches when in use.
One thing to note is that from start to finish, this ice cream maker is slower than most others. Even though the manual claims it takes about an hour to make and eat the ice cream, in our experience it takes at least an hour of mixing and lots of ice and rock salt to get a consistent ice cream texture.
You will need to be prepared to spend the extra time and effort to create your dessert. In addition, you will have to deal with some design drawbacks. It has a short cord and no handles, making it tough to move around. It also doesn’t have an on-and-off switch, which means you’ll have to unplug the machine if you want to check on your mixture or if you need to add any ingredients – although the motor does have an automatic shutoff mechanism when it senses the mixture is at the right consistency. It’s still a fantastic option for the price.
- Read our full Hamilton Beach 4 Quart 68330N review
6. Ninja NC301 CREAMi Ice Cream Maker: Best compact ice cream maker
The Ninja NC301 is an aesthetically pleasing, compact ice cream maker that can also make your favorite smoothies, sorbets and milkshakes. You can use it to make light ice cream, and it can cater to a number of dietary requirements such as dairy-free, gluten-free and more.
The ease of use of this machine makes it easy for the whole family to make fresh ice cream - perfect for small children and elderly people alike. The seven versatile programs allow you to find the perfect combination of speed, pressure and time to make your desired ice cream, sorbet, gelato, smoothie bowl and mix-ins.
The Ninja NC301 has an average rating on Amazon of 4.5/5 stars with users praising its ability to make fresh frozen desserts easily and quickly. The small number of negative reviews are unhappy with its capacity, stating that it may need to be used multiple times for large quantities of ice cream.
Unlike most ice cream makers, Ninja's Creamerizer technology shaves ice particles to give a smooth, creamy dessert every time. You can use the slow setting to mix in your favorite chocolates, nuts, candy and fruit to personalize your desserts. The containers, lids and paddle are top-rack dishwasher safe making them super easy to clean and reuse for your next frozen treat.
When you purchase a Ninja NC301 ice cream maker you will receive a motor base with dual drive motors, a Creamerizer paddle, 2 x 16 oz CREAMi pints with storage lids, an outer bowl and lid and a recipe inspiration guide with over 30 recipes for various frozen treats.
Overall, for the price this is a solid choice if you are looking to get a new ice cream maker, but it could have a larger capacity. Some of the other options on our list are cheaper, but they can make more ice cream than this model. In terms of build quality and reputation, this is a better choice if you are looking to use an ice cream maker for the first time.
Buying advice for the best ice cream makers
There are a few key things to look for when purchasing the best ice cream makers. If you make ice cream frequently then you will want to look for an option with a freezer bowl. If you are planning on making ice cream for special occasions then a classic rock salt and ice method should work just fine.
For frequent use, you will also want to look for an ice cream maker that is easy to clean. Models that are easy to take apart and machine washable will be the easiest to keep clean after use. If the amount of cleanup and preparation outweighs going to the store and buying a pint of ice cream then a machine might not be the best choice for you.
If you are concerned about storage, then you will want to check out some of the more compact models of ice cream makers such as the Ninja NC301. Some ice cream makers are large and can be a bit of a pain to store, but they will make more ice cream per batch. Similarly, compact models will be easy to tuck away in a draw or cupboard but will make less of your favorite frozen treats.
How much do ice cream makers cost?
Ice cream makers can vary greatly in cost, from around $20 to well over $500 for some of the high-end models. Some high price models will feature a lining that keeps the freezer bowl cold as well as more powerful and efficient motors. A modestly priced, well-designed machine can still make good ice cream but will usually be smaller or louder when in use.