The budget-friendly Hamilton Beach 4 Quart Ice Cream Maker has a classic bucket design and a high-power motor instead of a hand crank. Its motor is powerful, which is great for churning ingredients but also means this ice cream maker is quite noisy. The manual claims you only have to wait half an hour to eat homemade ice cream, but in our testing, we found it takes at least an hour of mixing and plenty of ice and salt to yield good results.
Because it takes so long to make ice cream, there are several steps you should take to move the churning process along, including packing the canister in the bucket tightly, adding new ice and draining the melted salt water. In general, salt rock and ice machines, like this one and the Oster ice cream machine, take longer to churn than models with freezer bowls.
The machine’s canister is surrounded by ice and rock salt, so you don't have to pre-freeze it like you do with some other ice cream makers. As such, you can start making ice cream as soon as you have all the ingredients you need. Once your ice cream is thick enough, the maker stops churning automatically, signaling that your dessert is ready.
This large machine stands a foot tall and 13.4 inches wide, and you can make up to a gallon of ice cream with it. It has a lot of surface area, but the flexible plastic and aluminum materials are relatively easy to clean – all you need is soap and warm water to hand wash everything. When cleaning, watch for rock salt that may crust at the bottom of the bucket. Although the ice cream maker is easy to clean, it does take a bit of time. During testing, we found it takes about 10 minutes to clean everything, which is twice as long as it takes to wash our top-rated model.
The Hamilton Beach 4 Quart 68330N has some hardware issues. For example, its short electrical cord means you need to place it close to an outlet, and its lack of a handle makes lifting the machine tough – the ice cream maker can be heavy after adding the required 8 pounds of ice and 3 cups of rock salt. There also isn’t an on-and-off switch, so you have to unplug the ice cream maker to check your mixture.
In the manual, there are some standard recipes for ice cream and frozen yogurt. However, there's more: This machine is one of the few with instructions for frozen custard and dessert sauces like hot fudge and lemon. Since this affordable Hamilton Beach model makes so much ice cream, it's great for big families or gatherings. But in case there is extra ice cream, the aluminum canister comes with a storage lid so you can stick it in the freezer and keep your dessert fresh.