The 5 Best Ice Cream Makers for 2014

best ice cream makers 2014Hi folks. How’s it going?

I gotta say my arm hurts so much from patting myself on the back.

Why? I’m such a life saver.

C’mon, I just saved my pals marriage.

He had ‘forgotten’ to buy a gift for his wife’s birthday. Apparently he knew he wanted to buy a kitchen gadget, but most sites and their techy jargon simply confused him. Most of them simply state the features, not explaining what each meant. Little wonder, he left it till so late. Being THE gadget dude, he came to me for advice.

keep calm and choose an ice cream makerHe told me how much he was willing to spend and the type of machine he preferred (I could have sworn he said it was for his wife, but who am I to judge?). Working with his specs, I was able to recommend the Lello 5020 for him. It is a top notch all rounder, it also produces gelato effortlessly (which he is partial to).

This got me thinking. Many people do not have the time to research or a savvy buddy (like yours truly) to help them choose their gadgets. Heck, with over 50 different models available, little wonder, many people end up dissatisfied with the machine they buy.

One good thing to note is that ice cream makers are one kitchen gadget that haven’t changed much over the years. Hand crank models have been around since the 1840’s and they are still here. Their different modes of operation also cause them to fall under different price points. That being said, choosing an ice cream maker CAN be really straightforward.

Why Listen to Me

I don’t claim to be the new Heston Blumenthal, Nicholas Elmi, Ina Garten or Gordon Ramsay, but I am a guy who loves his frozen desserts. Being a life longer consumer, I have used my fair share of machines. I am lucky to have friends who share my passion, and who have their own preferred machines. Between us, testing and creating this guide just became much easier.

I also took a few cues from the experts at Good House Keeping. I have always created delicious awesomeness using their recipes and tend to take their advice wholeheartedly.

How Did I choose My Top 4

Working with my team of tasters, I tested models and interviewed expert ice cream tasters; including my daughter’s Girls Guide troop. I ended up choosing two of the best models in the self-refrigerating models and two from the freezer bowl models.


In their respective categories, they came out tops. In my ratings, the higher the number of stars, the better the appliance performed. Ditto for the taste and noise tests.

My Top Picks

Cuisnart ice-21 specsAmong the freezer bowl models, the Cuisinart ICE-21BC Pure Indulgence 1.5 Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker and Donvier 837409W 1-Quart Ice Cream Maker pipped out other ice cream makers.

Cuisinart ICE-21BC Ice Cream Maker

The Cuisinart ICE 21 shows why it is the king of freezer bowl models by being simple to use and easy to clean, It is even dishwasher safe! If you are partial to sorbet, this appliance may be the appliance for you.

It also comes out tops when making non-dairy ice cream. Click here for an in-depth review of the ICE-21.

Donvier 1-Quart Ice Cream Maker

The Donvier model combines getting a little exercise, the reward of a yummy dessert and total ease of use. Depending on the dessert you are making, you may need to turn the handle around once every three to five minutes. The freezer bowl allows it to make only 1-quart but the up-side is that it takes up less freezer space. #win.

Cuisinart ICE-100 specsCuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

Full disclosure, I am a HUGE fan of the Cuisinart ICE-100. It’s ability to produce delicious ice cream in under 40 minutes is simply mind-blowing. It’s spiffy stainless steel finish fits almost any kitchen.

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

While the Whynter made the creamiest ice cream of the lot, it fell a tad short on design. The 13-inch height was a bit much for my buddy, Mitch’s kitchen top. This meant, it couldn’t sit there all the time; he has to pack and unpack it whenever it was gong to be used.

The mix-in hole is also really tiny; I guess the manufacturers want you to add your toppings AFTER the ice cream has been prepared.

Instead of boring you with loads of technical data, I’ll present my results in the table below, so you can see at a glance just how well each machine scored. I scored them on a star rating, based on how they performed, with the top performers placed at the top of the table. While the others all have their stand-out features, my recommended picks represent the best bang for your buck.

ModelSize of machineCapacityQuality of DessertAdding mix-insTime TakenNoiseEase of setup/useEase of CleaningFinal Score (out of 10)
Cuisinart ICE-21BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker10.8 x 10.8 x 15.8 inches1.5 qts.♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥9.5
Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker16 x 12 x 9 inches1.5 qts.♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥9.2
Whynter IC-2L SNO 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker15 x 11 x 13 inches2 qts.♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥9.3
Donvier 837409W 1-Quart Ice Cream Maker9.3 x 8.8 x 8.5 inches1 qt.♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥8.9

How did I choose which ones to review

The ice cream makers reviewed were those that I have owned/used. Like I said, I have friends that have their own preferred ice cream makers, so borrowing theirs for this test was a breeze. Surprisingly, some of these are also the most popular on Amazon. Now, just because they are popular, doesn’t mean they are the best.

These machines were also in a broad price range; from $40 to $600. To be fair, most people will not spring for the Lello 5030 on a whim, so we didn’t include ice cream makers over a grand, or those under $50. If you are buying in that range, the number of models drastically reduces, so choosing is much easier.

In-depth feature listings can get boring, so I’ll give you an overview of the tests we carried out and what we were looking out for:

  • Overall size of machine – Considering their dimension, weight & footprint, we chose machines that hit the sweet spot. Machines weighing 33 pounds and less, and between 8 and 13 inches tall, can fit on most counter-tops.

  • Production Capacity – Just how much can you expect with each batch? All the freezer bowl models make about 1.5 quarts, mostly because the bowls have to fit in a freezer. Manufacturers know that not everyone has a massive freezer space, just waiting to stick a bowl in. The self refrigerating models generally have a larger capacity for producing delicious dessert. #win

  • Quality of Dessert – We considered how well the base ingredients get mixed. Did the model offer a good level of overrun? Generally, this depends on the ingredients used (Did you know that using cream rather than milk gives you ice cream with less ice crystals? This happens because milk has more water than cream, and the freezing causes ice crystals and chips to form). This can really mess up the quality of your ice cream.

  • We also checked the Ease of adding mix-ins – Crumbled Oreos, fresh fruit, M&M’s; you know what your guilty pleasure is. Some machines have no openings, and only allow you add them at the end of the ice cream making process. Others have openings for mix-ins, but many of them are too small to use.

  • Speed of Production – With the self-compressed models, you will usually get the finished product within 20 minutes. Freezer insert models generally took up to 24 hours to be ready.

  • Ease of use – Do they require assembly? Are they easy to take apart for cleaning? Do they come with clear instructions for usage? After use, are the bowls easy to scrape? Are the bowls removable? This plays a big part in how easy they are to thoroughly clean.

  • Acceptable Noise Levels – A fun way to measure this was to see if we could carry out a conversation while each machine was running. The results were varied across board. With some going, I had to shout to make myself heard, and with others, a normal conversation was possible.

Testing the machines based on my chosen criteria led to so many batches of ice cream being made. For the taste tests, I had two more people taste each batch and give me their opinions. For the ease of assembly test, I enlisted the services of my 4 year old daughter and for the noise test, my wife lent me her ears.

Safe to say, it was a fun family activity.

Quirks of some the other models we tested

  • The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5-Quart Ice Cream Maker produces creamy ice cream. Lello Musso 4080Two drawbacks include the hefty $700 price tag and the fact that the bowl isn’t removable. That costs it major points in my books, as cleaning becomes a real chore.
  • The total prep time of the Cuisinart ICE-30. it has to be in a freezer at constant temp for between 10 hours and 24 hours for first use. Then a reported hassle of inconsistent freezing of the bowl. This was remedied by letting it COMPLETELY thaw after use, then refreezing for another 24+ hours!
  • The Cuisinart ICE-50 is notorious for the dasher getting stuck when the mix starts to harden. One way you can avoid this by using a cream base instead of a milk base.

Yonanas 901 Deluxe Ice Cream Treat MakerYonanas 901 Deluxe Ice Cream Treat Maker

Now I know I said I would give you the best 5.and I have reviewed only 4. My final gadget for making frozen desserts is the Yonanas. Yo-what, you might say. This delightfully easy-to-use machine uses fruit to make healthy desserts. Think about it, you are eating way less fat and getting the health benefits of eating fruit, all in a tasty dessert.

It is recommended that you use frozen bananas as a base, but you can add a ton of mix-ins to the finished product. It helps reduce food waste, by using those fruits that you would have binned. It can help people who are intolerant to dairy products, enjoy desserts that they normally couldn’t try.

Some say the Yonanas is a cross between a juicer and an ice cream maker. Ice cream snobs may argue that the stuff that comes out isn’t ‘technically’ ice cream, but who cares? It saves money by saving fruit that would have been wasted and produces a healthy dessert. This makes the Yonanas a lifesaver in my books and my 5th best ice cream maker of 2014.

Wrapping it all up

decadent icecreamAs we take more responsibility for what we eat, in a quest for better health, you may be tempted to think desserts are a bad thing.

But with any of my top picks, you can create a ton of healthy ice cream, sorbets and frozen yogurt. As long as you control the ingredients going into them, you can make the dessert as decadent or healthy as you want.

Some people like to use blended fruit to make a delicious swirl in the ice cream; if that’s you, choose locally grown, seasonal fruits. If you like you dessert to have a little kick, rum and raisin is a firm favorite. By following the recommended recipes and allowing ample prep and solidifying time, you always get a tasty finished product.

No ice cream maker is 100% perfect for everyone, but by choosing one from my list, you have a better chance of choosing one that creates rich frozen treats for you and you’ll enjoy for a long long time.

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