Best Ice Cream Makers 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

Ice cream is a treat that doesn’t just have to be enjoyed when the weather is hot and the sun is out. Having an ice cream machine in the comfort of your own home will take all the hassle out of trekking to the supermarket or running outside to catch the ice cream man.

For those conscious about the ingredients that go into their diet or have particular dietary needs such as veganism or allergies, making your own food from scratch is important. Ice cream makers mix the ingredients together and set it at the perfect temperature, saving you a big job.

The Best Ice Cream Makers – Our Top Picks

Best Profesional Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart ICE100BCU
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Cuisinart ICE100BCU Gelato and Ice Cream Professional Maker
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  • H23 x W29 x D56cm
  • 1.5L capacity
  • 150W
Best Budget: Andrew James Automatic Ice Cream Maker
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Andrew James Automatic Ice Cream Maker, White
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  • 1.5L capacity
  • H24 x W20 x D20cm
  • Bowl height 15cm
  • 12W
Top Rated Ice Cream Maker: Magimix Gelato Chef
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Magimix Gelato Chef 2200 Ice Cream Maker, White
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  • H29cm x W34cm x D24cm
  • 150W
  • 1.5L capacity

Best Budget Ice Cream Makers

Andrew James Automatic Ice Cream Maker, White

The only ice cream maker on the market to have been awarded the prestigious ‘Best Buy’ honour by Which? Magazine, this machine can make ice cream, fruity sorbets and frozen yoghurts in around 20-30 minutes (after approximately 10 hours of pre-freezing the inner bowl).

Despite its compact size and design, there’s a very generous 1.5L capacity, so that enough product can be made for the whole family. Extra bowls are purchasable if you have fussy customers who may like more than one flavour simultaneously.

As they are fully removable from the machine, no product is left behind and unused, and the extra-large ingredient funnel can be used to add several ingredients at the same time such as chocolate chips, berries and nuts.

The motor operates at a very low noise level so will not disturb your day. There is also a handy manual included which is packed full of recipes that are easy to follow and even easier to enjoy. Due to its neat size, it is trouble-free to store and won’t take up much room on your countertop.

We like

  • Automatic
  • Large capacity bowl
  • Simple on/off control
  • Quiet
  • Great price tag

We disike

  • Only available in white
  • Manual pre-freezing of bowl

Final Verdict

A great budget buy if you want to get started making your own ice cream

+ Specifications

  • 1.5L capacity
  • H24 x W20 x D20cm
  • Bowl height 15cm
  • 12W

+ Downloads

Andrew James Automatic Ice Cream Maker user manual

Download

Cuisinart ICE30BCU Ice Cream Deluxe Ice Cream Maker

With a huge 2L capacity, this is the most generous sized ice cream maker we have reviewed. Able to make a large batch in around 25 minutes, this Cuisinart model is easy to use – simply pre-freeze the bowl, add your ingredients and turn the switch to the on position.

It is also incredibly easy to assemble in lightning fast time so there is no hanging about when the time arises for a sweet treat. There is a handy viewing window, making it easy to keep an eye on the development. The power lead is also lengthy, making it’s positioning in your kitchen more flexible.

The bowl and base of the machine are super easy to clean, meaning there is little effort in maintaining the ICE30BCU no matter how much it is used. There is also an easy-lock lid for those conscious about safety.

Because of the easy controls, it is perfect for the children to use under supervision, and there is plenty of ice cream produced to be passed around or stored for a later date. The bowl has to be pre-frozen for about 12 hours so is best left in the freezer all the time; ensure you have enough room to cater for the large height.

The ice cream produced is soft-scoop, so leave it to set in the freezer for a bit longer if you prefer something with a harder consistency. Removing the product from the bowl can also be quite tricky as it gets so cold but will scrape off with an appropriate non-metallic spoon.

We like

  • Huge capacity
  • Value for money
  • Sturdy build

We disike

  • Noisy
  • Bulky

Final Verdict

Traditional ice cream producers may prefer manual machines, and if this is you then this Cuisinart will ensure it doesn't take longer than it has to

+ Specifications

  • H29.0 x W20.5 x D22.5cm
  • 2L capacity
  • Bowl height:16cm
  • 25W

+ Downloads

Cuisinart ICE30BCU user manual

Download

Magimix Ice Cream Maker

With a 14 cm high stainless-steel bowl, the Magimix Le Glacier machine can produce 0.85L of fresh ice cream in only 20-30 minutes, using either yoghurt or cream. Or, you can easily prepare sorbet and frozen yoghurt if you fancy something different and a little bit healthier.

Easy to clean, the stainless-steel bowl needs to be left in the freezer for at least 8-12 hours before use, but then all you need to do is add the ingredients and press a button for the machine to work its magic.

As the bowl is on the small side compared to those included with most other options on the market, it should fit in most standard sized freezer drawers and is ideal if you are short on space. The creamy soft-scoop ice cream that is produced tastes great, and enough is made to satisfy several people’s appetites.

The handy large feed tube is perfect for pouring ingredients into the bowl without creating too much mess, and the paddle is removable for easy cleaning. The clear lid allows for the viewing of contents whilst it is mixing.

The paddle is on the fragile side so may struggle to churn ice cream that is of a thicker consistency or has added extras in the ingredients, such as nuts. The spindle which it sits upon is also quite fiddly and possibly easy to lose, so not ideal for chaotic kitchens.

However, there are 45 recipe suggestions in the handy booklet included, such as coffee ice cream, mango sorbet and even brown bread ice cream. One of the simplest machines to use that are on the market.

We like

  • Stainless steel bowl for effective freezing
  • Simple one-button control
  • Good size

We disike

  • Flimsy paddle
  • Long bowl freezing time

Final Verdict

Takes a bit of preparation, but perfect for simple and creamy homemade ice cream.

+ Specifications

  • H24 x W19 x D19cm
  • 15W
  • 1.1L capacity
  • Bowl Height 14cm

+ Downloads

Magimix Ice Cream Maker user manual

Download

Chill Factor Ice Cream Maker

With ridiculously easy to follow instructions, the ChillFactor™ Ice Cream Maker is perfect if the kids like to get involved with every step of the process.

Simply keep the product in the freezer and remove when needed, add the milk/cream and tasty toppings, shake it about a little and squeeze until the ice cream forms for a straightforward yet delicious soft-serve concoction.

The design of the item is fun, and it is the only of our picks to be transportable and come with a little spoon making it fully on-the-go. There’s also a recipe booklet if you’re stuck for inspiration.

The product comes in chocolate, vanilla or strawberry design colours but unfortunately, you can’t be picky and choose your preference. Also be prepared to squeeze a lot, and bear in mind that it only makes enough for one person and can’t be used repeatedly throughout the day as it requires a long pre-freezing time. Overall, it isn’t the most effective technique on the market, but it is enjoyable fun for the kids and keeps them busy.

We like

  • Fun design
  • Transportable
  • No electricity needed

We disike

  • Can’t choose the colour
  • Requires a lot of manual work
  • Can be hard to wash

Final Verdict

Not the most technical or substantial, but great fun and good for taking on trips or holidays for the family

+ Specifications

  • H21 x W/D10.7cm

+ Downloads

Chill Factor Ice Cream Maker user manual

Download

Best Professional Ice Cream Makers

Magimix Gelato Chef 2200 Ice Cream Maker, White

For those who are impulsive sweet treat makers, the Magimix 2200 not only has an in-built freezer but is also amazingly quick.

Ice cream is ready in just 20 minutes, which is incredible for an automatic machine and one of the fastest on the market. A second removable inner bowl is included, allowing for an additional batch to be made in the fixed bowl and meaning you can have two 1.5L portions of ice cream prepared in under an hour.

The 150W motor is huge compared to a lot of its competitors so no mixture is too thick for the sturdy paddles to handle. It copes well with chocolate chips and other solid ingredients; a hurdle which some of its competitors fall at.

There is an easy pouring spout which allows you to effectively add ingredients in groups and cut down on mess, and the lid is transparent so you can check on the developments easily. With a simple design, it is easy to operate and produces delicious ice cream, gelato and sorbets.

If you are only starting out on your ice cream production journey, then the recipe section which comes with the manual is perfect as it gives you all the simple guidelines you’d ever need.

For those who are a bit more advanced, some experimentation may be required as the recipes aren’t that adventurous.

We like

  • Super fast
  • Automatic freeze function
  • Powerful

We disike

  • Bulky design
  • Quite noisy

Final Verdict

A machine which will make the long process of making your own ice cream seem effortless

+ Specifications

  • H29cm x W34cm x D24cm
  • 150W
  • 1.5L capacity

+ Downloads

Magimix Gelato Chef 2200 user manual

Download

Cuisinart ICE100BCU Gelato and Ice Cream Professional Maker

Extremely easy to use, this modern Cuisinart model is a sleek and stylish addition to your kitchen appliance selection.

It allows you to create 1.5L of ice cream, sorbet, frozen yoghurt or rich gelato in around 40 minutes, and there is no need to pre-freeze the bowl for hours before use as the freezer is built in and fully automatic.

This makes it a perfect choice if you are likely to want to whip up a sweet treat impulsively or make batch after batch in the same afternoon. The 2 paddles are robust, meaning the product created is of the perfect consistency.

All you need to do is add your selected ingredients, use the digital display to set your time and press start. The machine does all the work for you without having to be monitored and automatically switches itself off, keeping the mix cold for 10 minutes.

The paddle, lid and bowl are all removable for easy cleaning, taking the effort out of the washing up too. Because of the incredible power output, it can get quite noisy, but as it can be left alone this isn’t too much of an issue.

The price may be quite high, but if it will be used frequently and you want your ice cream to be top quality, then it is worth it.

We like

  • Automatic freezing
  • Large capacity
  • Timer setting
  • No need to supervise

We disike

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Hard to store

Final Verdict

Our best high-end pick, this Cuisinart model will churn out ice cream at an exceptional rate - without loss of quality

+ Specifications

  • H23 x W29 x D56cm
  • 1.5L capacity
  • 150W

+ Downloads

Cuisinart ICE100BCU Gelato and Ice Cream Professional Maker user manual

Download

SAGE by Heston Blumenthal Smart Scoop Ice Cream Machine

By far the machine with the most features, this SAGE model gives you ultimate control over creating your ideal ice cream. Most ice cream makers are either automatic or manual, but this one is capable of both.

The 12 automatic pre-sets churn mixtures to a particular consistency, which largely fall into the sorbet, gelato, frozen yoghurt and soft or hard ice cream categories. The alternative manual mode gives you ultimate control, allowing you to adjust the timing between 5 and 180 minutes to suit particular recipes or experiment until you get it just right for your liking. With a digital display, you have full control over your ice cream production.

Set the Smart Scoop to the pre-cool setting and after 10 minutes the machine will lower in temperature to between -10°C and -30°C to keep the contents cool once made. You can also choose a fun sound to alert you of when your produce is ready.

The unique brushed stainless-steel mixer can handle chocolate chips, fresh fruit, nuts and other hard ingredients, ensuring everything is mixed thoroughly. It will also prompt you when to add these to achieve the best results.

For those conscious of safety, there’s a child lock which prevents it being stopped part way through. The 1L capacity bowl is fully detachable and has a little handle to ensure safe, trouble-free removal.

This is by far the most powerful ice cream maker on the market, and not just in terms of energy.

We like

  • Child-friendly safety settings
  • Strong sturdy mixing paddle
  • Superior power
  • Automatic or manual

We disike

  • Expensive price tag
  • Small capacity for price

Final Verdict

If you want a product which gives you complete control and flexibility, this Heston Blumenthal model is top.

+ Specifications

  • H26.5 x W40 x D29 cm
  • 1L capacity
  • 170-200W

+ Downloads

SAGE by Heston Blumenthal Smart Scoop Ice Cream Machine user manual

Download

Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide

There are a lot of things to take into consideration before you buy this particular appliance. How much space do you have in your kitchen? How much of the work do you want the machine to do? How often will you use it? Also, bear in mind your budget as the price of an ice cream maker can wildly vary.

Types

There are two types of ice cream maker available – manual and automatic. Manual appliances require you to pre-freeze the bowl before use, for an average of 10 hours depending on the model and star rating/temperature of your freezer. For this reason, you need to ensure the bowl would fit in your freezer in terms of depth and width. Many manufacturers recommend that you constantly store the bowl in the freezer to ensure it is always ready to use so if this is something you would want to do, check you would still have enough room for all your other necessities.

Another downside to manual ice cream makers is that it is difficult to create batch after batch in a short amount of time, due to the need to pre-freeze the bowl. If this is something you would want to do then having two bowls would be the best idea, but this can be a costly requirement. It can also take a while to defrost the bowls for washing.

Automatic ice cream makers do all the bowl freezing for you. Whilst churning your mixture, the machine gradually cools, saving you time and preparation. You will pay more for such a privilege, but it is a great option for those who like not having to forward plan. The majority of automatic makers also come with pre-sets which allow you to decide which consistency you want the finished item to have, so they can be left to their own devices.

Cost

Manual ice cream makers are always the cheaper option, as they require more work from you. Prices can start at around £10, but the more expensive you go, the better the specifications generally are. Automatic makers generally start around the £200 price tag, but the best-rated ones are closer to £300.

FAQs

Who makes the leading ice cream makers?

Cuisinart, Andrew James and Magimix are three big names in the production of these appliances. Each brand usually has an assortment of makers available from manual to automatic and at a varying price range.

What is the best ice cream maker for a small kitchen?

Manual ice cream makers usually have a slighter build and take up less space for easy storage, but they also require storage of the bowl in the freezer. Think about your particular kitchen and how much space you have free, as well as if your freezer would accommodate a bowl around 15cm tall.

What are the best ice cream recipes?

Most ice cream makers come with a range of recipe and flavour ideas, which typically include instructions on how to make the basic flavours (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), as well as the ideal measurements to use. Most also contain more adventurous flavours such as coffee, mint choc chip or banana. All of the makers above come with at least the basic recipe ideas.

Extra recipes are available to purchase but get to know your machine well first; if the paddle in your ice cream maker doesn’t handle thick mixtures or hard ingredients well then you may have to adapt or experiment. Almost any potential flavour option is achievable.

Do I have to use ordinary cow’s milk or cream?

Ice cream is traditionally a very dairy-rich dessert. However, one of the benefits of having your own machine is that you can use any base (and ingredients) you wish.

Whether you are intolerant to dairy or have chosen to cut it out of your diet, there are various alternatives widely available on the supermarket shelves. Almond, coconut and soya milk are some of the most popular choices and are relatively inexpensive.

Vegan ice cream can be expensive to buy on a per litre basis, so an ice cream maker can cut down on this cost and give you more for your money. Recipes are widely available online.