The Cuisinart ICE-21 is fully automatic, runs on electricity and doesn't require rock salt or ice. We found in our testing that this machine is quite easy to use – the only control is a simple on/off switch. And even though the user manual recipes recommend pre-chilling the ingredients, the double-lined freezer bowl is the only item we had to prepare for the ice cream making process. Our test results showed this ice cream maker can produce a tasty treat in less than an hour – which is less time than the average grocery shopping trip.
We noticed the ICE-21 is a better mixer than other ice cream makers because it is designed better. This Cuisinart differs from most other ice cream machines because the churning motor sits in its base. The motor spins the freezer bowl and the dasher, which is the tool that mixes the ingredients. Conversely, traditional rock salt ice cream makers only spin the dasher because their motors are located at the top of the machine. However, this leaves bits of ingredients that don’t get churned stuck to the dasher or side of the bowl.
We found it was easy to add extra treats, such as chocolate chips and nuts, to the ice cream in the Cuisinart ICE-21 if we waited until it was about soft serve consistency. At that stage, the dasher easily folded and mixed the pieces into the ice cream and spread them evenly throughout the freezer bowl.
The 1.5-quart, double-lined freezer bowl contains nontoxic coolant, so it stays cold, even when it comes in contact with room temperature ingredients. Also, it weighs only 7 pounds and stands less than a foot high, so it fits in most cabinets or garage storage spaces. The Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence is a similar machine with a bit more ice cream capacity, and it’s a good option if you want to make more ice cream in one sitting.
There is one drawback to this otherwise excellent ice cream maker: It is extremely loud. The motor is powerful, which is great for churning, but it was so noisy when we operated it that we could hear it from another room.
You can fix most ice cream maker problems with freezing. Pre-chilling ingredients certainly speeds the process and can yield ice cream within the 20-minute mark the ICE-21's user manual lists. However, by storing the bowl in the freezer, you can make ice cream on the fly in about 40 minutes without refrigerating items first. If you want store-bought quality, we recommend storing your ice cream in an air tight container in the freezer for half an hour. Once chilled, return it to the bowl for a second round of churning. The more milk fat in the ice cream, the creamier it will be.
Cleaning the ICE-21 is a snap and takes only about five minutes. This ice cream machine churns slowly, so the mixture doesn’t splash on the lid or base. Of the four parts that make up this machine, only two of them ever touch ice cream. You can wash out the dasher and freezer bowl with warm soapy water. The entire machine is made of smooth plastic and metal, so it's easy to wipe down with a wet cloth.
Cuisinart covers its ice cream makers with a three-year warranty, which is the longest of the machines we reviewed. In addition, you get 28 recipes for ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato and sorbet.