3 Best Ice Cream Makers, Based On Extensive Testing

Ice Cream Makers

Before starting my research for the best ice cream makers, I always assumed that ice cream making should be left to the professionals. Several scoop cafes across the country serve sky-high sundaes and exquisite cones (my go-to order is one scoop of coffee and another chocolate). Even my neighborhood bodega has high-quality pints in its tiny freezer case. But, after churning 21 batches of ice cream in a 10-day frozen frenzy, I discovered that making ice cream at home is both simple and satisfying.

Ice Cream MakersThe Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker is a canister-style ice cream maker that allows you to make… [+] churns up truly delicious ice cream without effort.

My extensive (but admittedly enjoyable) research convinced me that the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker is the best all-around ice cream maker. It had that Goldilocks “just right” mix of being economical, somewhat small (yet still yielding 3 pints of ice cream every batch), and simple to use—even for a complete beginner. Most significantly, from egg-enriched custard-style ice cream to vegan, oat milk-based ice cream, it constantly turned out dreamy, delicious scoops my family and I continued raiding the freezer for. The Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker impressed me with a next-level update and a machine that goes from zero to soft-serve ice cream in just 35 minutes. It includes an integrated compressor that chills any ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet base as the machine churns it into a smooth and frosty delight that, as I wrote in my testing notes, was “Too. Die. For.” (For additional details, see our in-depth reviews of the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, Sorbet Maker and the Breville The Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker.)

Without further ado, here is the whole list of winners from my testing process:

Will I ever be able to stop visiting ice cream parlors and grocery stores to feed my ice cream cravings? Certainly not. However, making frozen treats at home was so simple, and the results were so delicious that I am pleased to add an ice cream maker to my list of must-have items. According to my testing process, keep reading for details on the top ice cream makers.

Dimensions: 9.5 x 9 x 11.25 inches | Weight: 11 pounds | Capacity: 1.5 quarts | Dishwasher-safe: No | Includes: Motor, lid, mixing bowl, paddle

Best for:

  • People who want to make ice cream a couple times a month or for special occasions
  • Anyone who enjoys experimenting with creative flavors and mix-in combinations

Skip if:

  • You have limited freezer space

As rewarding as making your own ice cream at home is (and it certainly feels amazing), I will never make it every day or week. But nothing beats handmade ice cream for special events like birthdays, movie nights, and stunning visitors at dinner parties, as well as the possibility of creating incredibly creative, individualized flavors and mix-ins. The Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker are ideal for my little Brooklyn kitchen and semi-regular ice cream-making routine. While yielding 1.5 quarts (3 pints) of ice cream per batch, it is small enough to store while not in use. Most significantly, it churns out delicious ice cream with no effort.

Right out of the mixing bowl, the American-style and French-style ice creams I tasted had the consistency of slightly melted soft serve. They were so delicious that I had to resist the impulse to scoop them into a milkshake glass and devour them immediately. But I persisted, and I’m glad I did because they transformed into rich, creamy, scoopable pleasure after a couple of hours in the freezer with no trace of ice crystals or graininess. The chopped-up sandwich cookies I added to the French-style base were likewise easily integrated by the Cuisinart, scattering them evenly throughout the frozen custard and leaving me with a lovely bowl of cookies and cream ice cream. “Just yum,” I wrote in my testing notes. “Please give me 100 pints of this.”

A batch of oat milk was delightfully churned up by the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker… [+] and coconut cream-based vegan ice cream, as well as cookies and cream ice cream made with custard.

After churning, the vegan batch of ice cream, which had a base of oat milk and coconut cream, was thick and creamy. (The mixing bowl is removable, making it simple to move from kitchen to table.) I would immediately serve it as a vegan-friendly soft serve, but it got even better—luscious and light—after an extra chill in the freezer.

The Cuisinart is a canister-style ice cream maker, which means the mixing bowl needs to be frozen for 16 to 24 hours before usage. It takes 20 to 30 minutes of churning to thicken the liquid base into a frozen treat once the cooling liquid within the mixing bowl is sufficiently frozen. The Cuisinart handbook recommends placing the mixing bowl in the freezer to be ready to use whenever an ice cream craving comes. Making a batch of ice cream mix requires around 24 hours of ice cream foresight for anyone who can’t permanently dedicate a corner of their freezer to an ice cream mixing bowl.

Ice Cream Makers

2. Breville The Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

$400$480Save $80 (17%)

Dimensions: 7.2 x 16.2 x 10.7 inches | Weight: 30 pounds | Capacity: 1.1 quarts | Dishwasher-safe: No | Includes: Cleaning brush, bowl, paddle, motor

Best for:

  • Anyone with the budget and space for a high-end, sizable machine
  • Fooling dinner guests into thinking you brought home pints from the store

Skip if:

  • You are lacking in counter or storage space

This compressor-style machine is incredible. Every base I poured into it was transformed into 1.1 quarts of scoop shop-worthy ice cream. I couldn’t distinguish between a spoonful of Häagen-Dazs and my homemade version in a blind taste test. The American-style ice cream was rich and smoky right after churning, reminding me of super-custardy soft serve. My husband took one bite and said, “Oh, this is my favorite.” And not long after I dropped off a pint at my neighbor’s place, I received a text message loaded with drool emojis. I could understand if everyone was bored of trying yet another batch of ice cream at that stage in my testing, but the Breville is just that wonderful. The vegan and French-style ice creams were also excellent—easy to scoop and consume.

The Breville, The Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker, boasts a sleek chrome appearance and simple controls, including a knob that allows you to choose how soft or hard you prefer the consistency. It dinged endearingly about 5 minutes before it finished churning, indicating it was time to add any mix-ins (none of the other models did). It distributed the chopped-up cookies evenly throughout the ice cream. While it took a bit longer than the Cuisinart to chill and churn (my batches took between 30 and 45 minutes), the lack of pre-freezing time made the process rapid.


Breville’s The Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker produced worth shop-worthy ice cream every single scoop,… [+] such as delicious custard-style cookies and cream ice cream and a classic bowl of creamy vanilla.

The Breville’s primary potential downsides are its size and price. It takes up a large amount of counter space because of the built-in compressor and is heavy enough (30 pounds) to make carrying it out of a cupboard and onto the counter feel onerous. After ten days of testing, I was ready to take it off my counter. Meanwhile, the price tag may seem absurd to inexperienced ice cream makers. However, the quality is worth it if you have more counter space or want to improve your ice cream-making skills.

Ice Cream Makers


3. KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment


Dimensions: 10.9 x 10.3 x 10.3 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | Capacity: 2 quarts | Dishwasher-safe: No | Includes: Bowl, dasher, hub connector

Best for:

  • Using a beloved appliance in a new way
  • Kitchens with limited storage space

Skip if:

  • You don’t have a KitchenAid stand mixer

I almost left out the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment from my testing. I love my KitchenAid stand mixer for swiftly kneading dough, whipping buttercream frosting, and whipping egg whites into soft peaks. Could a simple attachment turn my favorite mixer into a worthy ice cream mix machine, though? In addition, the KitchenAid attachment is more expensive than the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker. Was an attachment worth the hassle and price? Both questions were answered emphatically in the affirmative.

The accessory has an insulated mixing bowl that works with any KitchenAid stand mixer and is similar to other canister-style bowls (including the 24-hour pre-freezing time). It also comes with a dasher (another name for a paddle) and a small hub piece that links the dasher to the mixer. It took me a minute to figure out how to connect the hub, but a brief YouTube video cleared everything up.

If you already possess a KitchenAid stand mixer, the Ice Cream Maker Attachment is worth purchasing… [+] that is a delight to use and easy to store.

With some suspicion, I poured in the American-style base, turned the mixer to “stir” (the slowest setting), and stepped away to perform another kitchen task. I peered in the bowl about 25 minutes later and noticed 2 quarts (more than the other winning ice cream makers) of thick, velvety soft serve wrapped around the dasher. I paused the machine, took a small taste, and fell even more in love with my stand mixer, something I never thought was possible. My experiments with vegan and French-style ice cream yielded similar results. The KitchenAid effortlessly mixed the chopped cookies into the custard, as expected from a stand mixer.

The KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment does not make sense to buy if you do not already own a KitchenAid stand mixer and do not need one. But it’s a no-brainer for any of the legions of KitchenAid mixer fans who want to try making ice cream. I’m already organizing an all-KitchenAid stand mixer dinner party, during which I’ll make spaghetti using the pasta rolling attachment and dessert with the ice cream attachment.

Other Ice Cream Makers I Tested

I tested four additional goods that were very worthwhile but needed to make the cut.

I used 5 quarts of milk, 7 quarts of heavy cream, 3.5 quarts of oat milk, and just shy of a quart of… [+] Three dozen eggs to put seven of the top ice cream makers on the market to the test.

Leah Koenig is a woman.

Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker: This ice cream maker turned out to be the quietest of the bunch while churning—so quiet that I had to double-check it was running. It also produced 2 quarts (4 pints) of ice cream while taking up only a small amount of counter space. I have no reservations in suggesting it to anyone searching for a higher-yielding, canister-style ice cream maker. However, I discovered a few small but significant drawbacks compared to its cousin, the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker.

The American-style ice cream was soupy and melty right out of the mixer bowl, but it became mildly chilly after a couple of hours in the freezer. If you gave me a bowl with no background, I would happily eat it. However, it was not as ethereal as the other Cuisinart model’s American-style ice cream. The vegan ice cream was also icy, reminding me of chocolate sorbets I’d bought at the grocery. It was tasty but needed more richness and creaminess of the vegan ice cream I made in the other Cuisinart.

Lello 4080 Musso Lussino: Every expert I contacted raved about this Italian compressor-style ice cream maker, so I knew I had to include it in my research. Malek stated that Salt & Straw “exclusively uses the Musso Lussino” in their research and development kitchen. “I’ve had this machine for 10 years and made a few thousand gallons of ice cream on it, and it still runs like a champ,” he explained. B.R. Blagrove and B.R. According to the manufacturer, the machine’s rapid freezing time and the air it can whip into the base “consistently produces the smoothest and creamiest ice cream.”

In my at-home tests, I discovered many similar things to love about the Musso Lussino. It was the only model made entirely of stainless steel, including the paddle. And it performed incredibly quickly, churning out lusciously thick ice cream in approximately 15 minutes—half the time of comparable machines (or less). However, there were some disadvantages. The ice cream bowl, in particular, was not removable, which made scooping out the finished ice cream and cleaning the machine difficult. According to the instructions, clean it by pouring 0.25 cups of warm water into the bowl, sponging it out, and continuing until it is clean. This sponge bath procedure was overly laborious.

It was also the heaviest model (shy of 40 pounds), which seemed like a strain to haul onto my counter. When I waited a minute too long to add the chopped sandwich cookies to my French-style batch of ice cream, I discovered that the custard had frozen so solidly that the paddle could no longer turn through it. I had to scoop the ice cream into a bowl and fold in the cookies by hand, à la Cold Stone Creamery. It was delicious, but it defeated the idea of using a machine.

The Lello 4080 might be an appealing alternative if I were a professional ice cream maker or a home cook who planned to make ice cream once a week or more. Other versions fared comparably well without the hurdles for the casual ice cream maker.

Whynter Upright Automatic Ice Cream Maker: I had great expectations for the Whynter right out of the package. It was simple to set up and use, with a beautifully tapered shape. And because it was a compressor-style ice cream maker, there was no need to pre-freeze, so I could mix up my base and start it whirling. Unfortunately, most ice cream flavors I attempted were difficult to make. It whipped almost too much air into the American-style ice cream, yielding a scoop that seemed fluffy and light (similar to low-fat ice cream I’ve bought at the store) rather than rich and substantial. The vegan batch was a little runny coming out of the mixing bowl but became a bit gritty and frosty in the freezer. The French-style ice cream was the finest of the bunch, with a creamy, smooth texture. However, I needed more consistency in results between styles for an ice cream maker to make the best of the list.

Ninja Creami Breeze 7-In-1 Ice Cream Maker: With good reason, the Ninja Creami Breeze has a lot of fans on Amazon. It can quickly turn a frozen base into ice cream and is versatile enough to make smoothie bowls and milkshakes. I liked that it came with two pint-sized storage containers, making it easy to make ice cream in advance and store it until needed. However, the ice cream was disappointing compared to the other ice cream makers I tried.

The texture of great ice cream is largely determined by its texture, and both the American- and French-style ice cream bases featured obvious ice crystals that my family and I found unpleasant. Meanwhile, the vegan ice cream was beautifully satiny and thick, although it reminded me more of frozen frosting than ice cream. When I added the chopped sandwich cookies to the French-style batch, the Creami’s supercharged engine pulverized them as it spun them into the ice cream. It was alright, but I still needed the distinct cookie bites I’d had with other models.

How I Tested The Best Ice Cream Makers

Before my research, I assumed that all ice cream makers worked similarly. However, there are three main categories, and it is important to understand their differences to pick the ideal one for your kitchen. Here’s a quick overview:

Canister-Style Ice Cream Makers: These machines feature a mixing bowl that must be pre-frozen (usually between 16 and 24 hours) before churning a liquid base into a frozen delicacy. The mixing bowl is lined with layers of insulating material and is filled with a cooling liquid (similar to an ice pack) that must freeze. Canister-style ice cream makers can produce excellent ice cream and tend to be smaller, making it easier to find space on your countertop and in your cupboard. To give the mixing bowl time to freeze, you must plan your ice cream needs around 24 hours in advance. Some of the models suggested placing the bowl in the freezer so that it is ready to make ice cream whenever you are.

Compressor-Style Ice Cream Makers: These have built-in motors that chill and churn the base simultaneously and require no pre-freezing time. It’s incredible to whip up a simple base and turn it into soft-serve ice cream in under an hour. (If you want harder, more traditionally “scoopable”‘ ice cream, transfer it to a container and freeze it for another couple of hours.) The potential disadvantage of compressor-style ice cream makers is that they tend to be larger, louder, and heavier than canister-style models and may not be suitable for smaller kitchens.

Salt-And-Ice Ice Cream Makers: These churners cool the ice cream with a mixture of rock salt and ice placed outside the churning bowl. The salt reduces the melting temperature of ice, resulting in a frosty slush that permits the base to freeze before the ice melts away. These churners are sometimes called “nostalgic” or “vintage” because they resemble how ice cream was made before the widespread usage of electric chilling technologies.

After much thought, I opted not to include salt-and-ice ice cream makers in my testing. Although rock salt is relatively easy to buy online, ordering and waiting for it to arrive seemed unattractive. Ice cream cravings strike quickly, so why add the additional hurdle of keeping rock salt and enough ice to fill the machine on hand? Instead, I concentrated on canister-style and compressor-style devices, ensuring I tested a few of each to compare and contrast the two model categories appropriately.

In each machine, I tested three different varieties of ice cream to see how well they worked with different bases. The first batch was plain vanilla, made with an American-style base consisting of a simple milk and heavy cream mixture. The second batch was made with a French-style ice cream custard, which included tempered egg yolks, milk, and heavy cream. (If you’ve ever wondered what makes “French vanilla” ice cream different from regular vanilla, it’s all in the egg yolks.) I also added chopped-up chocolate sandwich cookies to this batch to see how evenly (or not) the ice cream makers distributed mix-ins.

The third batch was vegan and chocolate, made with oat milk and coconut cream base flavored with cocoa powder. It was important that any ice cream maker on this list could produce a dairy-free ice cream turn that was just as enticing as one made with eggs and cream. Speaking of cream and eggs, I used 5 quarts of milk, 7 quarts of heavy cream, 3.5 quarts of oat milk, and just shy of 3 dozen eggs during the testing procedure.

To their delight, I recruited the assistance of my two children as much as possible while testing the ice cream makers. I handled most of the behind-the-scenes effort, such as whisking up the bases and ensuring the canisters were frozen. My 4-year-old daughter, on the other hand, adored helping me turn on the churners and watching, enthralled, as the paddles whirled through the base. And my 8-year-old kid appointed himself an “official ice cream taste tester” and shared his thoughts on which batches he thought were the best. I mostly agreed with his assessments—the youngster has good taste!

How To Choose An Ice Cream Maker

If you can’t decide which ice cream maker is right for you, examine the following factors:

Canister Vs. Compressor

I tested two types of ice cream makers: canister-style and compressor-style. Canister-style ice cream makers employ an insulated mixer bowl filled with cooling liquid that must be placed in the freezer for 16 to 24 hours before use. These models are less expensive and take up less room while still producing delicious ice cream models. They work nicely for semi-regular ice cream makers!

Compressor-style models include an integrated compressor that cools the ice cream base as it churns, which means no pre-freezing step is required. More experienced ice cream makers prefer these machines because they produce excellent ice cream with minimum preparation. However, they are substantially more expensive and occupy more space than canister-style ice cream makers. “A lot can break when you buy an internal-compressor type of machine!” Malek explained. “So step up and get yourself something nice.” It is not worth your money to try to save money by purchasing an off-brand machine.”

How Often Will You Make Ice Cream?

The more frequently you plan to use an ice cream maker, the more important it becomes in your kitchen. Absolute beginners and casual ice cream makers who plan to bring it out for dinner parties, birthday parties, and other special occasions should consider purchasing a smaller, less expensive (but still high-quality) model, such as the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker, which fits easily in the cupboard and can make 3 pints of ice cream at once. Consider upgrading to a premium compressor-style model like the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker for more experienced ice cream makers who plan to make ice cream once a week (or more regularly).

My Expertise

Let’s be honest: Is there anyone who isn’t an ice cream connoisseur? It’s hard to envisage a dessert that everyone will love. But it’s not a coincidence that I was wearing a shirt from one of my favorite scoop shops when I received this research assignment. I used to eat a bowl of Breyers chocolate ice cream virtually every evening for dessert as a kid, and my passion has only grown over time. When my family travels, I try different pints from the grocery store and seek out the best local ice cream establishments. Aside from my love of ice cream, I am also a professional food writer. I write for publications such as Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, the Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Food52, and I am the author of seven cookbooks. Meanwhile, for Forbes Vetted, I assess home goods such as rice cookers, toaster ovens, and cold-press juicers.

Because making my ice cream using a dedicated machine was new, I sought advice from three experts. Tyler Malek, the cofounder and chief creative officer of Salt & Straw—an inventive West Coast scoop business with pints accessible for countrywide delivery (cinnamon snickerdoodle ice cream or mango habanero IPA sorbet, anyone? I also contacted Courtney Blagrove and Zan B.R. Whipped Urban Dessert Lab, a New York City ice cream parlor with legions of fans, for its luscious, oat milk-based soft serve and creative cone alternatives. They are preparing to launch a second site in West Hollywood, California, and they ship nationally.

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