It is a wonderful time of year to think about ice cream. This yummy frozen treat has always been associated with good times during summer, back when most of us were children. The only thing better than grabbing a pint of your favorite flavor from a store or a cone at your local shop, is ice cream made by hand at home with one of these cheap ice cream makers.
Why You Need One Of These NOW!
Even though there are dozens of exotic flavors made by “designer” frozen treat manufacturing companies, such as Ben and Jerry’s, Häagen-Dazs, and others, there is nothing that beats having the choice of using the exact ingredients you like, that are fresh and in the quantities that result in the perfect flavor. For adults, adding some flavoring of sweet liquors, like Bailey’s Irish Crème, Contreau, or Crème de Menthe, makes fantastic flavors that are not available for sale in stores. Sure, a few boutique shops may have them on offer, but you can completely customize what you get when you use one of these machines to make your own at home.
Fresh fruits used to make homemade frozen sorbets, yogurts and creams taste better than the fruits used in commercial manufacturing of the frozen treat. Natural flavors, like real vanilla, are better than artificial ones. If the frozen batches are small enough and made for eating right away, there is no need to add preservatives. Certainly no need to add artificial colorings, when natural colorings are available to make a delightful looking cold treat.
Those who are lucky enough to leave near a farm that provides a source of raw milk and real cream, will find using these non-pasteurized ingredients makes the frozen indulgence have a different, richer flavor.
Experimenting with different ingredients and making new ice cream recipes is a wonderful pastime. If you have children, it is terrific to get them involved in the preparation. Buying the ingredients in bulk and using fruits from your own garden, will make the cost of the homemade treat much less than the store-bought kind. With your own machine, you can also make frozen yoghurt, sherbet, and sorbets.
Different Types of Ice Cream Makers
Ice cream machines start with the simplest ones that cost under $50 and go up to the most sophisticated ones that cost well over $200. How much you spend on one of these frozen treat machines is really up to you. Determine what you need and how much you plan on using it – plus how much you need to make – and select your preferred type. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying some of your favorite frozen flavors at home.
The first consideration is to decide is if a simple little machine is sufficient for your purposes. The advantage of these types is they are inexpensive and work fine for occasional use, when there is only the need to make a small batch of ice cream.
This type has a removable mixing bowl that goes in the freezer, twenty-four hours in advance of making the ice cream. When making the frozen treat, all the mixing is done by hand.
The disadvantage of this type of machine is the limit of a single batch, and then waiting for up to twenty-four hours for the bowl, placed back in the freezer, to get cold enough to make another batch.
Machines That Use Ice to Cool the Mixing Bowl
An alternative to the type of maker that requires the mixing bowl to go in the freezer is the kind that uses ice to cool the mixing bowl. These are the traditional styles of ice cream makers. These types have a mixing bowl in the center, surrounded by a larger container that holds ice. Adding rock salt to the ice creates the cooling process as the ice melts.
Machines with Built-In Freezing Capability
A more convenient style, yet also a more expensive one, is the type of machines that have the ability to freeze things in the mixing bowl. This type has a built-in compressor to freeze the ingredients while making it. Just turn on the cooling device and the machine automatically brings the temperature of the bowl down to the proper coldness.
This type of ice cream maker is useful for those who wish to have the convenience of starting to making this yummy cold dessert right away and not wait for up to a day for the mixing bowl to cool down in the freezer. Moreover, the machine is ready to make one batch after another very quickly.
Some prefer this type of equipment, because they like to make a lot of ice cream in one session and then store it for later enjoyment.
Besides the difference between the manual versus automatic cooling types of machines, some popular features need consideration when deciding which machine is the best one to purchase.
Common Features To Look For
The less expensive models on the market have many parts made from plastic, which can break. The pricier machines have more metal components, which are stronger and more durable.
Old-fashioned hand-cranked ice-cream makers usually have a capacity of six quarts. Self-freezing machines have a smaller capacity of between one and one-half quarts to two quarts.
Using an old-fashioned model means more work. Usually, this is outside work, so that the melting ice with salt mixture is able to drain off and not damage interior surfaces. Be aware that draining this saltwater solution into a garden will kill the plants.
With self-freezing devices, just add the ingredients, turn it on, and then the machine does the rest. Small batches of up to 2 quarts are ready in about 20 minutes.
What to Consider Before Buying
The main considerations are price, capacity, manual versus automatic style, cycle times, potential mess, the ability to choose thickness of finished product, and whether the unit comes with an extra bowl or extra mixing paddles.
Quality manufacturing is a consideration, especially if the intent is to put the ice cream maker to heavy use. For years of worry-free service, choose from the industrial strength styles that have a strong motor, built to last. Reputable manufacturers offer a good warranty.
Popular brands include Cuisinart, Cuisipro, De’Longhi, Deni, Hamilton Beach, KitchenAid, Nostalgia, Rival, and Sunbeam.
Top Rated: Our Ice Cream Maker Reviews
Think you’re ready to head out shopping for one of these for your family? Let us make that process a little quicker for you by breaking down what we like about our top five favorite models on the market. Check out our mini reviews below.
Conair Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker Review
Satisfy your sorbet, frozen yogurt, or ice cream cravings anytime with the 1.5-quart capacity ICE-21 model from Cuisinart.
The key features of this surprisingly affordable product include:
- Freezer bowl is double-insulated–eliminates need for ice
- Easy-lock lid with easy-pour spout
- Comes with special stir paddle
- Heavy-duty motor handles ice cream, sherbet, frozen drinks, and more
- Makes delicious frozen desserts in 20 minutes or less!
- 3-year limited warranty
Easily make the most delectable fro-yo favorites, shockingly-good sherbets, and outstanding frozen treats that evoke the flavors of Italy and Brazil in no time. Just throw the ingredients in the bowl, hit the start button, and in 20 minutes or less, you will have dessert ready for an entire dinner party!
Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker Review
The Cuisinart ICE-30BC model is great for anyone who wants homemade sorbet, ice-cream, or frozen yogurt at the touch of a button.
Its attractive exterior makes it even more appealing, with a stainless steel finish and a sleek design it looks great in any kitchen. The freezer bowl is double insulated and holds 2-quarts of whichever frozen dessert you choose to make and it is equipped with a large spout for any mix-ins you desire. Overall, this is a great product for those looking for a cool treat during the warm summer months.
Hamilton Beach 68330N 4-Quart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker Review
This handy little model from Hamilton Beach is fully automatic. It makes up to 4 quarts of ice creams, frozen yogurts, sherbets, custards, gelatos and whatever other frozen treats you invent.
It comes with a bucket for the ice and salt, canister for the finished product, dasher, lid, motor, recipe book and 1-year limited warranty. The dimensions are approximately 15.3 x 12.5 x 11.1 inches.
It’s perfect for birthday parties and backyard picnics. Add candy or fruit to the mix to enhance your basic recipe. Once it’s set up, the motor does all the work. No laborious stirring for you. You just monitor the ice and salt, and in about 40 minutes, you’ll have delicious frozen treats for everyone to enjoy. Keep any leftovers frozen in the canister.
Nostalgia ICMP400WD Vintage Collection 4-Quart Wood Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker Review
This vintage inspired ice cream maker is a great tool to have for the upcoming summer. It combines the look of a vintage model machine with the ease of electricity helping you to make your favorite frozen treat easily.
It is able to make 4-quarts of ice creams, gelato, or frozen yogurts and makes cleaning easy with a plastic insert bucket. Kids love this cute little machine because they can easily see their dessert being made through the see thru lid. The plastic churning paddle and the aluminum chamber are also dishwasher safe, which helps to increase the ease of cleanup. This model is great for creating delicious frozen treats in the hot summer months.
Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker Review
With this great ice cream maker, all you do is mix your favorite recipe, set up the machine and walk away until it’s finished. You’ll have up to 1.5 quarts of a delicious frozen treat in about an hour or less.
It comes with canister, paddle and paddle brush and has 12 hardness settings and a manual setting for pre-timed recipes. Choose the pre-cool setting to speed up the process. Set it to chill and churn to keep your finished dessert soft and cold for up to 3 hours. For the finished alert, you can select from several old-fashioned ice cream truck tunes, beeps or mute. Remove leftovers and store in your freezer. The machine measures 16.2 x 10.5 x 10.2 inches.
How to Use and Care for an Ice Cream Machine
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations that include how to use an electrically-powered device safely. Take care not to put fingers near or get something caught in the rotating mixing blades while they are operating.
Prior to using the device, rinse off any dust and wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. After use, all the pieces need careful cleaning prior to the unit being stored. Some machines come apart and the pieces go into an automatic dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Making homemade ice cream is fun and frequently ends up being a summer tradition that a family enjoys doing together. So, what are you waiting for? Buy yours today!