The Best Ice Cream Maker

When the mercury starts climbing, nothing screams “summertime” like homemade ice cream. When you make it yourself, the possibilities for unique flavor combinations are endless; the right ice cream maker can guarantee success every time. We like the Whynter SNO Ice Cream Maker ($210) for its intuitive design, superior results, and no-prep-needed compressor—while many competitors require time-consuming pre-freezing of the bowl, this one lets you churn out batch after batch. And it produced the creamiest ice cream of all the makers we tested.

The creamiest, easiest ice cream

The Whytner SNO Ice Cream Maker has an intuitive design and doesn’t require any time-consuming prep. On top of that, it produces superior results compared to the competition—the creamiest texture of all those we tested.

Best Ice Cream Maker

Whynter IC-2L SNO 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker

We discovered this after 50 hours of research and testing, which included talking to local Brooklyn ice cream experts, taking an informal poll of our readers, checking authoritative editorial sources on the subject, and poring over countless reviews of ice cream makers on Amazon. We brought in nine models to test, and after turning 18 quarts of Ample Hills Sweet Cream base into ice cream (with and without mix-ins), we narrowed the search to four models that will fit any budget.

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The runner-up Cuisinart ICE-100

The Cuisinart ICE-100 is a great runner-up if our pick is sold out—it has intuitive controls and a low profile (good for low-hanging cabinets).
Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

Make decadent ice cream, rich creamy gelato and light sorbet that your family will love, all in the comfort of your own home. The easy to use, fully automatic Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker features a commercial-style compressor so you can make batch after batch without waiting. Two unique mixing paddles and a 60-minute countdown timer work to ensure your homemade gelato, ice cream or sorbet has the perfect consistency.

If our pick happens to sell out, the Cuisinart ICE-100 ($270) came in third of the three self-refrigerating models we brought in for testing but far and away outperformed the models that required pre-freezing. Like our top pick, the control panel is intuitive and its low-profile design allows it to fit on any countertop, even with low-hanging cabinets. Even though the resulting ice cream was a bit icier than our top pick, it’s still a solid machine from a reputable company.
Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

The BCI600XL Smart Scoop is Breville's easy to use ice cream maker with automatic hardness settings. It's the first ice cream maker that automatically senses the hardness of the mixture based on your selection and keeps it ready until it's time to serve. The Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop is made of BPA free materials, features a child lock, and when your dessert is ready will sound an alert beep or one of three musical tunes.

For those of you who are looking for a more luxurious home ice cream making experience, we’ve made the Breville Smart Scoop($400) our step-up option. A brightly-lit LCD display and a control panel with big buttons makes this machine easy to use. It has an auto function with 12 harness settings and a “keep cool” function so you can set your ice cream and walk away. With a list of other functions like a jingle to let you know when your ice cream is finished and an alert bell that signals the optimal time to add mix-ins, the Smart Scoop is family-friendly and foolproof.
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The budget pick

Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker with Easy Carry Handle
Nostalgia ICMP400BLUE 4-Quart Electric Ice Cream Maker with Easy Carry Handle

If spending over $200 on an ice cream maker sounds a bit steep to you, the Nostalgia Electrics ICMP400 ($30) is just one step beyond the old-fashioned hand crank models. While it still requires ice and salt to freeze the mixture, this machine is fitted with a motor to do all of the hard work for you. It can make up to 1 gallon of ice cream at a time, and as long as you have enough ice and rock salt, you can turn ice cream all day!

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For KitchenAid mixers

KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment - Excludes 7, 8, and most 6 Quart Models
KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment - Excludes 7, 8, and most 6 Quart Models

Favorite frozen treats created in no time. Create 2 quarts of soft-serve ice cream, sorbet, or gelato in 20-30 minutes. Allow bowl to freeze at least 24 hours prior to use.

If you own a KitchenAid stand mixer, we really like the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker($79) attachment, too. This is a bowl that requires prefreezing. What’s unique about this: it makes the absolute fluffiest ice cream out of the nine ice cream makers we brought in due to the fact that the lowest setting on the KitchenAid stand mixer is still faster than the speed at which ice cream makers spin. We didn’t mind the texture at all; in fact it was quite pleasant.

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Why you should trust me

Although I didn’t spend very much time as a pastry cook in my career, I have made a bunch of ice cream and frozen yogurt. When I was a fresh-faced line cook in New York City, I would hang out in the pastry kitchen as much as I could. Not only did I have to spin a horseradish creme fraiche sorbet that was served as a garnish on the tuna tartare everyday before service, but I would also learn about ice cream from the pastry cooks. Ice cream is the best because you don’t have to turn on an oven and it always makes people smile.

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How we tested and picked

There are three main types of ice cream makers: frozen bowl inserts (either electric or hand-cranked), ice and salt churners (electric or hand-cranked), and compressor machines which can freeze the custard on their own. (Read more in Types of ice cream makers.)

To figure out which would be best, we read editorial from Cook’s Illustrated(subscription required) and Good Housekeeping. We also talked to three professional ice cream makers to ask what they use for making smaller batches at home. While there was no consensus, some of the experts did point us to specific models they enjoyed using. We also polled Sweethome readers to find out what they were looking to pay for an ice cream maker and what features would be most convenient for them.

Since there was no consensus on which type of maker we should focus on, we decided to run tests on nine models that included nearly every variation: hand-cranked, electric, high capacity, tiny, frozen insert, ice/salt, and compressor. The only kind we knew we didn’t want to try were the hand-cranked, large capacity ice & salt models, as those would be too much of a pain to churn.

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