How To Choose An Ice Cream Maker: Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide

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As the paddle whip, tiny air bubbles are churned into the base mix, and fat gets perfectly blended with the ice crystals so mini that the tongue cannot detect them. The smaller these ice crystals are, the smoother the texture becomes. The air bubbles give volume to the yum relish and prevent freezing rock hard – this is how the milky liquid transforms into the mesmerizing soft but stiff, melting delicious ice cream in the ice cream maker you have.

But, this picture-perfect making can happen if the ice cream maker meets the must-have criteria and the reasons behind your need. Our guide on how to choose an ice cream maker is about the whys, types, and factors.

Why do you need an ice cream maker?

Making ice cream at home is way more interesting, fun, and satisfying than swiping pints of the frosty dessert in the grocery store freezer.

  • With an ice cream maker, you make as many pints as you want, customize the flavors and try out recipes; as per your choice and dietary needs.
  • If you are frugal, you need an ice cream maker to cut down the expense on readymade pints almost by half.
  • If “Do I need an ice cream maker?” lingers in your mind, an ice cream maker is not a must-have but a worthy investment for a dessert lover. With blenders and DIY recipes- the classic, creamy, perfect texture is hard to get.
  • Moreover, neither do you have to keep your fingers crossed to get a resembling texture nor have to involve a group of kitchen tools and later wash them.

Related: Best ice cream makers for kids

Types of Ice Cream Makers

You will or already have come across different types of ice cream makers while hunting whose working principle is the same. You can churn anything tasty with any ice cream maker-be it ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet.

Then, where lies the difference? It is in the ease of use and the smoother results it yields, which we found after thorough research and testing. Generally, three types of ice cream makers are available for home use to help you create your favorite ice cream when the craving rises.

Ice cream maker buying guide

1. Ice-and-salt ice cream maker

It is a traditional ice cream maker. It needs little investment and no electricity. You don’t need a freezer, only plenty of salt and ice- place the bowl with the ice cream mixture into a bucket of ice and salt, and churn with a paddle clamped to the machine. After kicking the ball around for 25 minutes, you get the texture.

If you love doing interactive projects, want to make ice cream seldom in summer, and the smoothness rarely matters, this ice cream maker is a good option. However, the setup can be messy.

ice and salt ice cream maker
Ice and salt ice cream maker

2. Compressor ice cream maker

This is a self-refrigerating ice cream maker which prepares multiple batches of the dessert. It works like a mini freezer- flip the switch to turn on the cooling compressor; it chills the ice cream bowl below freezing point and churns the base mixture till frozen. This user-friendly appliance has automatic, hi-tech features like timer and texture settings.

If you have no space to freeze the freezing vessel or are a novice in ice cream making, a compressor ice cream maker is the best buy to prepare professional-grade ice cream. Compressor-style ice cream makers are expensive ice cream makers.

ice cream maker with compressor
Ice cream maker with compressor

3. Freezer-Bowl ice cream maker

A freezer-bowl ice cream maker is the most prevalent ice cream maker. You will come across a hundred of them while hunting. If you have a freezer-bowl ice cream maker, ensure you have space in the freezer to chill the bowl or plate for 24 hours or overnight before starting the making. The kids find it captivating and fun to see the ice cream forming in front of them.

These ice cream makers are best for making a single serving. You can’t make multiple batches, in this type of ice cream maker at once. However, adding an extra bowl can make more than one batch.

types of ice cream maker: Freezer Bowl ice cream maker
Freezer Bowl ice cream maker

How I pick the best ice cream maker

To find the best ice cream maker: I picked up the best-rated models, went through every detail of the customer reviews, and conducted practical tests of every maker. Below are the criteria that the best ice cream maker must meet:

Price & Warranty

It is the price that plays a prime role in selecting the appliance. Ice cream makers are probably expensive, so check the warranty of each maker and if the company offers replacement parts. It must have at least a 1-year warranty.

Fast freezing

The faster the base mixture freezes, the fewer ice crystals form; so for a smooth, creamy texture, chill the base before freezing. If it is a compressor ice cream maker, you get a smoother texture as it can cool to -31 Fahrenheit and stay the same till the end of making. Ice and salt or frozen bowl get warm as the mixture freezes. These two makers won’t tell the exact time it would take, but my ice creams got ready in 20 -40 minutes.

Fast and efficient churning

For the silky, smooth ice cream, fast and efficient churning of the mixture is vital. As the ice cream freezes, the paddle attached spins fast to stir the mixture and scrape it from the wall. It breaks the icy layer and prevents crystallization. The speed of the dasher also determines the amount of air incorporated into the ice cream, which gives the ice cream its silky texture.


Which ice cream maker appeal to and suits your need depends on you. All three types you know about are efficient. It is the price and the quantity of ice cream that must match your satisfaction.


The budget-friendly machines are not devoid of features; they have the keep-cold option that keeps the entire batch cold after making, enough for most home-ice cream makers. Ready to invest a little more; opt for a machine with advanced features to create varieties.

Easy to use

A user-friendly appliance is what we always look for: the high-end model does not mean it is difficult to use; the compressor ice cream maker has a user-interface design. Its timer, auto-off, and cool button give your ice cream the perfect texture. Whether; you are a beginner or an expert, it prepares professional-style ice cream at home.

Easy to clean

Not only usage but cleanup is vital for an appliance when it is about the sticky business, like ice cream. So, choose the machine with an easy cleaning process. A removable bowl and paddle are the best because of being washable. Also, go for wide bowls; they make mixing, scraping, and cleaning easy.

Easy to store

As ice cream makers are not for regular use, they will spend time on the countertop and in the cabinet. So, avoid large, bulky models. We took into account the size and weight of every model so that lifting them becomes easy, storing requires less space, and in your small, compact kitchen, you can enjoy ice cream making.

Batch Size

Is it only for your kid you want to make ice cream, or the friends and relatives will experience the delight of your recipe? Purchase the ice cream maker as per the size of the batch you want to serve. Most ice cream makers yield the dessert of 1.5 quarts or two quarts, while some have as much as 6 quarts capacity. The batch size must be consistent. Consider how much the machine can consistently make.

how to choose an ice cream maker

Faqs: How To Choose An Ice Cream Maker

Is an ice cream maker worth buying?

If you are an ice cream lover or have kids, investing in an ice cream maker is a worthy idea because homemade ice cream means 100% natural dessert with special dietary needs but no presence of additives, colorants, and stabilizers. They are also more economical than readymade ones. It is also the best way to involve children in the kitchen.

How long does it take to make ice cream using an ice cream maker?

Assuming the bowl is frozen, the ice cream gets prepared in about 20-45 minutes. You will know about the doneness when the ice cream starts to expand and rise, and the motor slows down. Make sure you freeze the bowl for 4 to 12 hours. If you are going to make ice cream the next day, freeze the bowl now!

Why does homemade ice cream leave a film in your mouth?

Most homemade ice cream leaves an oily film in the mouth because of being over-churned.
Here is a tip: Never use whipping cream as it has less fat (30%-36%) than regular heavy cream (36%) and also contains stabilizers not needed in ice cream.

Do ice cream makers and gelato makers have any differences?

It is essential to note the difference between the two desserts because they are different. A gelato maker makes denser, creamier gelato, while an ice cream maker makes the airy regular ice cream with a smooth texture due to crystallization.

Final Word: Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide

Watching your favorite ice cream base mix whipping into the delicious dessert is a treat to the eyes- and unlike the proverbial ‘watched pot never boil’, watched ice cream undoubtedly freezes if you have a good ice cream maker. You can even indulge directly in the dessert if you love the soft texture or freeze it for a more satisfying scoop.

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