Best Ice Cream Makers For Frozen Treats Your Way

Make frozen treats at home has never been eaiser.

Ice-cream-maker

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

The best ice cream makers have carved out a niche for themselves over the last year - and are becoming more trendy than ever. Investigating the trend, we tested out the Ninja CREAMi- which surpassed our expectations. So what is an ice cream maker - well, this machine churns and freezes ingredients to create frozen treats to your liking. From traditional ice cream to sorbets, gelatos, and even frozen yoghurts - these appliances have many functions. In this guide, we round up the very best.

The benefits of owning an ice cream maker go beyond just unlimited access to homemade frozen treats. It gives you the freedom to experiment with flavours, textures, and ingredients, creating a personalised experience. Whether you're a vegan, are looking to make healthier options, or someone with specific dietary needs, an ice cream maker can cater to your preferences. You can whip up low-sugar treats, customisable deserts, or dairy-free ice creams, all in the comfort of your kitchen. To take it to the next level, you can even whip up your own plant milk from home - just like writer Natalie Knowles in her Salter Plant M!lk Maker Review. If warm treats are more your thing - be sure to check out our Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser review.

Best ice cream makers at a glance:

Best overall: Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream + Frozen Dessert Maker - view on Ninja
• Best budget ice cream maker: Judge JEA57 Sorbet Maker and Ice Cream Machine - view on Amazon UK
• Best ice cream maker for design: Cuisinart Ice Cream Deluxe - view on Amazon UK

Ice cream makers come in various types, each with its own set of features and advantages. Fully automatic machines are the way to go now. Although hand crank ice cream makers can still be found - an electric appliance is far more convenient and versatile, allowing you to start making your ice cream almost immediately and hand-free. These machines often come with extra features, such as different settings for preferred textures and topping add-ins.

Before you dive into the world of homemade ice cream, it's there are a few factors to consider. The machine's capacity, the types of desserts it can make, its ease of use, and of course, your budget. To help you make an informed decision, we've rounded up some of the best ice cream makers on the market, each with its own unique features and price points to you can find the one most suitable for you.

Best Ice Cream Makers

Best overall ice cream maker

The Ninja Creami is a versatile ice cream maker that's as quick as it is easy to use. It requires a bit of patience, as your mixture needs to be pre-frozen for 24 hours before churning - but once out of the freezer, your frozen treat is ready in a matter of minutes. With the ability to make not just ice cream but also gelato, smoothie bowls, and milkshakes - it's a dream for dairy and dairy-free dessert lovers alike. With three one-pint tubs included, this machine is a fantastic choice for those seeking variety in their frozen treats.

Be sure to check out our full Ninja CREAMi review too.

Pros

  • Straightforward to set up and use
  • Makes ice cream in minutes after pre-freezing overnight
  • Creates seven frozen desert types
  • Adjustable for dietary requirements and preferences

Cons

  • Requires overnight to 24 hours freeze time
  • Can only make small amounts at one time
  • Very large appliance

Best ice cream maker on a budget

If you are searching for an affordable appliance to make homemade ice cream - then the Judge Ice Cream Maker is a great pick. This budget-friendly gem is a breeze to use with its fully automatic, one-touch operation. It does require some planning, as the bowl needs to be pre-frozen for eight hours. But the wait is worth it as you can get creamy, well-blended ice cream that's full of flavour. With a 1.5l bowl size and a handy ice cream paddle, this compact machine is a delicious addition to any kitchen.

Customer review: "Great little amateur ice cream maker. I keep the base in the freezer 24/7, ready for when we fancy making ice cream or frozen yoghurt."

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Compact design
  • Good for families

Cons

  • Needs to be pre-frozen for eight hours

Best ice cream maker for kids

The American Originals Ice Cream Maker is a compact, easy-to-use machine perfect for introducing young children to the joy of making ice cream. It requires pre-freezing the bowl for at least 12 hours, but the result is a delightful treat that only takes up a small amount of kitchen space. It's a compact machine, so it only makes a small amount of ice cream at a time, but it's a fun, affordable way to enjoy homemade ice cream.

Customer review: "Extremely easy to use.Makes delicious homemade ice cream in my own flavours which I can't get in the shops.Hides away neatly in the drawer.One of my best gadgets!!"

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Doesn't take up much kitchen space.

Cons

  • Requires pre-freezing the bowl for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • Only makes 0.6L at a time

Best ice cream maker for gelato

The Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker is a high-end machine that brings the art of gelato making into your home. It comes with a special gelato paddle and can whip up a batch of ice cream or gelato in under 45 minutes. It's easy to use and comes with delicious recipes to get you started. However, it's a bit on the large side and can be quite loud during operation - although if you're serious about your frozen desserts, this machine is a solid investment.

Customer review: "If you love ice cream this is a must, more expensive than others on the marketplace but very good and you can get great ice cream in 40 mins."

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Comes with delicious recipes
  • Has a high-end metallic finish.
  • Has a large capacity
  • Keep cool function

Cons

  • It takes up quite a bit of space
  • Can be loud

Best ice cream maker for design

When it comes to design, this ice cream maker from Cuisinart is a versatile machine that's as lovely to look at as it is to use. It comes with a special paddle designed for blending down fruit and other soft ingredients as they freeze, allowing you to make a variety of frozen desserts. One thing to note is that you do need to pre-freeze the bowl for at least six hours before use, but the results are worth the wait. With its beautiful design and versatile functionality, this machine is a lovely addition to any kitchen.

Customer review: "We purchased maker a few years ago which was rubbish but this is excellent, very well made and...well it works."

Pros

  • Makes a variety of frozen desserts
  • Compact size for capacity
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • You need to pre-freeze the bowl for at least six hours before use
  • Capacity is a bit smaller than the other Cuisinart ice cream maker

Best ice cream maker for professional-grade ice cream

This Sage Smart Scoop is a professional-grade ice cream maker that offers a myriad of features. With 12 hardness settings, four pre-set programmes, a manual mode, and an automatic hardness sensor, it's designed to provide professional results. However, the parts are not dishwasher-friendly, and the machine is quite large - so bear that in mind when it comes to space and storage. Plus, the ice cream can be a bit tricky to remove. But if you're looking for a machine that offers a high level of control over your ice cream making, the Sage Smart Scoop is worth considering.

Customer review: "After using an ice cream maker where you have to faff about putting the bowl into the freezer for 24hours before, this has been a game changer. Makes amazing ice cream with so little effort."

Pros

  • Provides professional results
  • Has many features.
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • The parts are not dishwasher-friendly
  • The machine is large.

Best ice cream maker for sorbet

This stainless steel digital ice cream maker from Lakeland is quick and easy to use with the touch screen control panel - so you can make treats and know exactly what’s gone into it. The device churns ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt, which can be ready in as little as 25 minutes. If you want to add in your favourite toppings, then ingredients can be added during the churning process. The ice cream maker comes with a 1.5-litre bowl and an 800ml working capacity, so you can whip your favourite flavours any time.

Customer review: "This works really well to make sorbet. Have experimented with fruit from the garden."

Pros

  • Good value
  • Simple touchscreen control panel
  • Easy-to-read digital display
  • 1.5-litre bowl – 800ml working capacity

Cons

  • You need to freeze the inner bowl for 12 hours before you make a batch

OUR VERDICT: Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert Maker

The Ninja CREAMi is our top choice. Sure, it has a higher price tag, but what you get in return is speed, ease of use, a unique design, and the freedom to make ice cream just the way you like it. The excellent appliance is a great piece of kit for your kitchen arsenal for ice cream enthusiasts. So whether you're a dessert-making beginner or an experienced ice cream-making fanatic. It's your fast track to homemade frozen treats - how you like it.

What Should I Consider When Buying An Ice Cream Maker?

When buying an ice cream maker, there are several factors to consider to ensure you choose the right machine for your needs:

Capacity: The capacity of the ice cream maker determines how much ice cream you can make in one go. If you have a large family, a machine with a larger capacity may work better. On the other hand, if you're only making ice cream for one or two people, a smaller device might be more suitable.

Functions: While all ice cream makers can churn out basic ice cream, some models offer additional features that allow you to make a variety of frozen desserts, such as sorbets, gelatos, and frozen yoghurts. If you enjoy experimenting with different types of desserts, it might be worth investing in a more versatile machine.

Ease of Use: Some ice cream makers are more user-friendly than others. Consider factors like how easy the machine is to assemble and disassemble, whether it has a clear and intuitive control panel, and how simple the cleaning process is. Some models also have handy features like automatic shut-off, built-in timers, or audible alerts when the ice cream is ready.

Pre-freezing requirement: Some ice cream makers require you to pre-freeze the bowl before making ice cream, which requires some planning. Others have a built-in freezer, allowing you to make ice cream right away.

Size: If you don't have a lot of storage space, it would be good to consider the size of the ice cream maker and whether you have enough space to store it. Some models are quite bulky and might not fit in a small kitchen.

FAQs: Best ice cream makers

What is an ice cream maker?

An ice cream maker is a device that churns and freezes ingredients to create ice cream and allows you to make your own frozen desserts at home.

Can I make other desserts with an ice cream maker?

Yes, many ice cream makers can also make other frozen desserts like sorbets, gelatos, and frozen yoghurts.

Can you overfill an ice cream maker?

Overfilling the machine will result in the texture and quality of the ice cream being less nice because the ice cream needs to aerate in the process. If the machine is overfilled, it will just spill out and make a mess.

Ellen Kinsey is a senior health and wellness product writer for A Modern Kitchen, specialising in sustainable living and healthy cooking. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.

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