These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (2024)

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (1)

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

You can technically make ice cream without a fancy machine, but a quality at-home ice cream maker simplifies the process of making fruity sorbets and decadent flavors — typically all you have to do is pour in the ingredients and let the machine do the work.

Our top picks:

In the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab, we've tested over 18 ice cream makers, assessing every element of the machine, including ease of setup and use, noise level during operation, the quality of the ice cream and cleaning process. We've also spent ample time researching all of the newest models from top brands like KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Breville and more.

Based on our combined research and testing, these are the ice cream makers you should consider if you want to serve homemade sundaes all the time.

Pros
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (10)Large 2-quart capacity
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (11)Easy to operate and clean
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (12)Large ingredient spout for mix-ins
Cons
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (13)Loud
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (14)Large bowl requires pre-freezing

The classic Cuisinart Pure Indulgence makes up to two quarts of perfectly thick, velvety-smooth ice cream or sorbet in as little as 25 minutes. And there’s really no manual work required — an integrated motor spins the mixing paddle inside the double-insulated freezer bowl to autonomously create your frozen treat. You can even drop fruit or candy down the extra-large ingredient spout and the machine will mix it all together.

The appliance may be on the loud side, but our Lab pros loved the resulting ice cream and sorbet too. In testing, it received the highest performance scores, making thick and delicious vanilla ice cream and smooth, flavorful sorbet. The base's cord compartment makes for tidy storage; just make sure you have enough freezer space and prep time because the large bowl requires pre-freezing prior to use.

If you have a little more room in your budget, you may like the brand's Cool Creations model too. Our testers say it yielded similarly delicious frozen treats, but has the added convenience of a built-in LED countdown timer that lets you know when your dessert will be ready.

RELATED: 4 Best Cuisinart Ice Cream Makers

TypeFreezer bowl
Dimensions8.25 x 8 x 11.25 inches
Batch yield2 quarts

2

Best Value Ice Cream Maker

Nostalgia 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (15)

Pros
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (16)Easy to use and clean
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (17)Four-quart capacity
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (18)Handle for transporting short distances
Cons
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (19)Requires pre-freezing
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (20)Relatively weak motor

Though it may look like a simple bucket, the Nostalgia 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker offers a great value and creates a larger batch of ice cream than most machines.

The four-quart ice cream maker holds plenty for your whole crew and has a convenient carry handle for toting from your kitchen to your patio. (The brand also offers a non-handled old-timey model our testers liked just as much.)

To use this ice cream maker, there is some pre-planning involved. Chill the ice cream canister overnight, then in the morning add your ice cream base to the canister. Pack the surrounding bucket with ice and salt, insert the motorized paddle into the ice cream base and plug in to operate. Just keep in mind: You need a considerable amount of ice — approximately two medium bags worth — and you'll need to top up the ice after about 15 minutes of churning.

That said, the machine's electric motor requires minimal effort whether you make traditional ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato. However, our testers say the resulting treat more closely resembles a milkshake at the end of the capped 30-minute run time, but sets up nicely in the freezer. Cleanup is a breeze too: Simply wipe down the plastic bucket.

TypeSalt and ice
Dimensions15 x 17 x 16 inches
Batch yield4 quarts

3

Best Self-Freezing Ice Cream Maker

Whynter Ice Cream Maker

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (21)

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (22)

Pros
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (23)Doesn’t require pre-freezing
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (24)Easy to operate
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (25)Multiple functions and a timer
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (26)Automatic shut-off
Cons
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (27)Smaller 1.6-quart capacity
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (28)Large footprint

This all-star machine comes from Whynter — a brand known for its refrigeration and air conditioning products. And as you might expect from cooling pros, this compressor-style unit does a fantastic job freezing ice cream.

It doesn't require any pre-freezing or salt to start making ice cream — a huge convenience you don't get with most at-home ice cream makers. You can start making sorbet, gelato or sherbet whenever you want. All you need is access to an outlet.

The ice cream maker is user-friendly too. It comes with an easy-to-read LCD timer to make the process more precise, as well as a Motor Protection Function that shuts off the unit to prevent damage if you step away and the mixture freezes solid. The biggest downside is the yield.

Though the appliance is rather large and bulky (read: hard to store), a single batch makes less than two quarts of ice cream. On the upside, you can make sequential batches of ice cream without any downtime in between.

TypeCompressor
Dimensions11 x 18.5 x 10 inches
Batch yield1.6 quarts

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

4

Best Ice Cream Maker Attachment

KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (29)

Pros
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (30)Large 2-quart capacity
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (31)Easy to operate and clean
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (32)Large ingredient spout for mix-ins
Cons
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (33)Large bowl requires pre-freezing
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (34)Can be tricky to assemble

If you already own a KitchenAid stand mixer, you already have the bones of a great electric ice cream maker on hand. All you need to craft delicious frozen treats is this ice cream-making attachment.

It's relatively expensive, considering it's just a bowl with a large opening for your mix-ins of choice, but it's easier to stash than a full machine. Plus, our recipe testing proved the appliance is quick to work, making an enviable batch of ice cream in about 25 minutes.

After pre-freezing the bowl for 24 hours, this attachment prepared smooth, super aerated, creamy vanilla ice cream in our Lab tests. The sorbet wasn’t as impressive, though: While the texture was very smooth, after freezing, the sorbet developed a somewhat grainy texture and the peach flavor was mild.

Also note: Our Lab pros found that some tilt-head KitchenAid stand mixer models require the included adaptor ring to fit properly.

TypeFreezer bowl
Dimensions10.9 x 10.3 x 10.3 inches
Batch yield2 quarts

5

Best Single-Serve Ice Cream Maker

Zoku Ice Cream Maker

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (35)

Pros
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (36)Easy to store, use and clean
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (37)Versatile usability
Cons
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (38)Requires manual effort
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (39)Process can be messy

This ice cream maker doubles as a cute sundae dish and, thanks to the smaller footprint, it’s not nearly as cumbersome to store as machines with large bowls. It's also much less expensive than both freezer bowls and compressor-style machines, which makes this ice cream maker a great gift for kids and adults alike.

Use the bowl to create a wide range of treats, including hard ice cream, soft serve, frozen yogurt, gelato and even granitas in 10 to 20 minutes. Simply take your frozen ice cream bowl out of the freezer and add five ounces of an ice cream base. Using the provided spoon, hand churn the mixture until you reach your desired ice cream consistency.

Our testers love that individual serving sizes give kids the opportunity to choose their own varieties, flavors and mix-ins. Each bowl even comes with a protective sleeve and a spoon, so you’ll truly have everything you need to dig right in. Given the footprint, our kitchen appliance Lab pros suggest keeping it in the freezer so you can take a scoop whenever you're craving a frozen treat.

TypeFrozen bowl
Dimensions5.43 x 5.43 x 3.7 inches
Batch yield5 ounces

6

Most Versatile Ice Cream Maker

Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream Maker

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (40)

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (41)

Pros
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (42)Takes less than five minutes to churn ice cream
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (43)Easy to add mix-ins for customization
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (44)Great ice cream texture in Lab testing
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (45)Five churn settings to choose from
Cons
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (46)Requires 24 hours to freeze ice cream base
  • These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (47)A little loud

A past Good Housekeeping Kitchen Gear Award winner, the Ninja CREAMi impressed our testers with its ice cream and gelato settings that yielded different textures, even with the same recipe.

Ninja’s CREAMi comes with pint containers you prep and freeze and then turn into ice cream, gelato, milkshakes and more in less than five minutes. It’s more compact than most ice cream makers and has five different settings.

Our pros love that you can make the mixture and freeze it easily by inserting the frozen pint into the machine where a blade whips it to your desired consistency. It also uses pint-sized containers versus larger quarts, which allow you to experiment with more flavors and leads to less waste.

Testers also noted that they saw the value of being able to customize by pint, so that each person could have their own mix-ins. It does require 24 hours of freezing after making the base, so you'll need to plan in advance. And don't use the machine when other members of your household are sleeping — it's rather noisy.

TypeFreezer bowl
Dimensions6.52 x 12.07 x 15.95 inches
Batch yield1 pint

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

How we test ice cream makers

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (48)

Over the years, we’ve put more than 18 different ice cream makers to the test in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Kitchen Appliances Lab.

Each model was used to make both vanilla ice cream and peach sorbet using a grand total of 52 pounds of peaches, 52 pounds of sugar and 15 quarts of both heavy cream and half and half. Testing protocols are strict (though the process and payoff are fun!) and assess every element of the machine, from ease of setup and use, to noise level during operation, to ease of cleaning and even the company’s customer service.

Through these assessments, our experts found that, in general, there is no correlation between price and performance — all ice cream makers tested produced ice cream that was palatable if eaten immediately, though sorbet results were more varied. Differences are largely convenience-based, though all required some level of pre-planning.

Overall, ice cream makers that used a combination of ice and rock salt to freeze were not as easy to use as ones that use a frozen canister or a compressor, and noise levels varied greatly.

What to look for when shopping for the best ice cream maker

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (49)

✔️ Types: There are four very different styles of ice cream makers for at-home use that can help you create your favorite ice cream flavors at home:

  • Freezer bowl: A freezer-bowl-style ice cream maker is a common and easy-to-use style of ice cream maker, though you have to ensure that you have the space in your home freezer to store the bowl for up to 24 hours before you intend to make ice cream. (If the bowl isn't truly frozen, you'll struggle to make ice cream.) You likely won’t be able to make multiple batches at a time with this style, because the bowl needs to refreeze between batches.
  • Compressor: A compressor-style ice cream maker operates like a small freezer. You flip a switch that turns on the internal cooling mechanism (the compressor) which then chills the ice cream bowl to below freezing while churning the ice cream base until frozen. It’s the best option if you intend to make multiple batches of ice cream at once, don’t have room to freeze a freezer bowl or aren’t good at preparing in advance. Many of these self-freezing ice cream makers also have features like a timer or hardness settings.
  • Salt and ice: If you don’t have access to electricity or freezer storage but do have plenty of salt and ice, then this traditional style of ice cream making is the best choice. While it will require some manual labor, it can be a fun activity for the family.
  • Frozen bowls and plates: If you are looking for an affordable ice cream maker for a single serving of ice cream, check out our pick from Zoku. To operate this style, you need a freezer to chill the bowl or plate overnight and a little manual effort to hand churn the ice cream base after adding it to the frozen bowl or plate. It can be a fun way for kids to see ice cream forming right before their eyes.

✔️ Machine footprint: Ice cream machines vary in size from small personal bowls to large compressor-style machines. Assess how much space you have in your freezer and in your kitchen before making a purchase. Typically the footprint of an ice cream maker will range from 6 x 6 x 4 inches to 16 x 11 x 11 inches.

✔️ Batch size: Are you making ice cream for one every so often or multiple batches for big summer parties? This is all-important to take into consideration before buying. If you only need a small amount, opt for our single-serve pick from Zoku; if you are churning for a crowd, opt for the Whynter, which allows you to produce multiple 1.6-quart batches of ice cream sequentially.

What is the difference between compressor and ice cream maker?

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (50)

Most at-home users opt for a "regular" ice cream maker — machines with bowls that require pre-freezing — due to space constraints. These ice cream makers may take up more freezer space while you're using them, but tend to have smaller footprints that make them easier to stash in a cabinet or closet for storage.

That said, a compressor-style ice cream maker is undeniably more convenient, since it doesn't require any pre-planning. A compressor-style ice cream maker works at any time with the simple flip of a switch. This turns on the internal cooling mechanism (a.k.a. compressor) that chills the ice cream while it churns.

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

Is an ice cream maker worth it?

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (51)

Whether you prefer an ice cream float, ice cream sundae or even a baked Alaska, buying an ice cream maker is worth it if you'd like to add a homemade touch to hosting or simply want to control the types of ingredients you use. They're also great if you want to experiment with flavors or have family members with dietary or allergy restrictions who you'd like to cater to.

What ingredient makes an ice cream creamy?

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (52)

Ice cream's level of creaminess depends largely on the size of the ice crystals that form during the freezing process. Smaller ice crystals mean creamier ice cream. Keeping all ingredients cold throughout the entire ice-cream-making process is key, even after it’s churned, to help prevent large ice crystals from forming.

Also consider ingredients. Milk or cream with a higher fat content helps contribute to a creamier and richer texture, and the addition of egg yolks in some ice cream bases adds creaminess as well. The type of sugar used also contributes to ice cream stability and texture. Corn syrup, as opposed to table sugar, will give ice cream more body and make it more resilient to melting and refreezing, which creates large ice crystals. Alcohol is also commonly used to minimize large ice crystals and create a creamy texture in sorbet.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (53)

Eva Bleyer is a reviews analyst in the Kitchen Appliances & Innovation Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. She tests kitchen gear and home appliances from the best freezers to the best countertop microwaves. Eva has more than 10 years of experience in the food industry, working as a food stylist, personal chef and marketing manager.

Brigitt Earley is a contributing writer for Good Housekeeping and has been writing about the best kitchen appliances, including smaller items like ice cream makers, for more than 15 years. She holds a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute (now the Institute of Culinary Education). For this article, Brigitt worked in tandem with experts at The Good Housekeeping Institute to research and write about the best ice cream machines for home use.

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (54)

Eva Bleyer

Kitchen Appliances & Innovation Lab Reviews Analyst

Eva (she/her) is a reviews analyst in the Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab, where she tests kitchen gear, home appliances and culinary innovations. She graduated from NYU with a bachelor of science in food studies, nutrition and public health and is a trained chef through the Natural Gourmet Institute. Eva has more than 10 years of experience in the food industry, working as a food stylist, personal chef and marketing manager.

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (55)

Brigitt Earley

Contributing Writer

Brigitt is a writer, editor and craft stylist with nearly 15 years of experience. She specializes in lifestyle topics, including home, health, parenting, beauty, style, food, entertaining, travel and weddings. She has written for Glamour, People, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, Real Simple, Martha Stewart, Apartment Therapy, The Spruce, and more.

These Top-Tested Ice Cream Makers Let You Whip up a Pint at Home (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Chrissy Homenick

Last Updated:

Views: 6267

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.