The Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker makes a gallon of ice cream, and for an ice cream maker its size, it is rather quiet. In fact, during testing, we were surprised at how much quieter it was than other ice cream makers we reviewed.
This Nostalgia model works best with pre-chilled ingredients and plenty of ice and salt. You place these items in layers in the bucket that surrounds the canister, which holds the ice cream ingredients. If you don't layer the salt and ice correctly, the ice cream mixture ends up as more of a thick liquid than actual ice cream. Because of the machine’s design, it's hard to check the ice cream's texture – the ice piled in the outer bucket blocks your view of inside the 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 easily solved by leaving the aluminum canister in the freezer for a couple of hours so it is extremely cold, instead of following the manufacturer's recommendation of letting it stay in there until it's "cold to the touch." Another solution is extra churning and letting the ice cream freeze for an hour or two afterward. 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 is the largest ice cream maker we reviewed. Thankfully, you don't have to store any of its components in the freezer long term. We recommend keeping the machine in its box and storing it in your pantry, basement or garage. At 16 x 17 x 15 inches, this machine takes up some serious cabinet space. It has a short electrical cord, which makes it harder to accidentally yank the machine off the counter.
This ice cream maker's size makes it harder to clean 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, so you have to hand-wash each part with warm, soapy water. The entire process took us 10 minutes, which is twice the time it took to clean the top-ranked ice cream makers we reviewed. Ice cream machines like the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence create far less mess.
The Nostalgia ice cream maker’s warranty is shorter than others by several months. The 90-day warranty may not even cover the first few times you use this ice cream maker, which can make repairs or replacements much more expensive. This is the shortest warranty of any ice cream maker we reviewed.
With a little pre-planning and practice, the Nostalgia Electrics 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker prepares plenty of good 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.