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 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.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $210.
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.

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $270.
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).
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.

Also Great
The Breville Smart Scoop is our step-up ice cream maker thanks to a variety of useful options and alerts— it's very family-friendly and good for kids.
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.

Also Great
On the budget end of the scale, the Nostalgia Electrics ICMP400 generates good results for only $30. It requires ice and salt to freeze the mixture, but it’s good if you don’t plan on making too many batches at once.
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!

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $76.
KitchenAid stand mixer owners will like the corresponding KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment. The bowl requires some prep (prefreezing), but it’s an affordable option if you don’t want to pile on too many separate kitchen gadgets.
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.

Why you should trust me | How we tested and picked | Our pick | Flaws but not dealbreakers | The runner-up | The step up | Budget pick | Great for KitchenAid stand mixer owners | Types of ice cream makers | What makes great ice cream | What is overrun? | The competition | What else did we look at? | Wrapping it up

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.

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.
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.

We are huge fans of the Ample Hills Creamery.

We are huge fans of the Ample Hills Creamery.

Here at the Sweethome, we are pretty big fans of Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn. We decided to use their ice cream recipe as a baseline. The cream to milk ratio is one to one, and there are only three egg yolks per batch, which is unusually lowfat for ice cream recipes. In his cookbook, Brian explains that many ice creams have more cream than milk in them. Cream has more fat and less water, and less water means fewer ice crystals. Ample Hills wanted to make an ice cream that was lower in fat but still had great texture. To achieve that, Brian adds nonfat milk powder to the ice cream base, which soaks up some of the excess water in milk and provides body.

The prospect of tasting the same base spun on nine different machines excited this food nerd to no end. To test, we brought in nine ice cream makers and tested them with the Ample Hills Walt’s Dream Sweet Cream Base to gauge overrun (how much air is incorporated into the custard) and texture. We then ran a second batch of Walt’s Dream and added mix-ins to see how each machine handled the task. Mix-ins included homemade fudge sauce and crushed Oreo cookies. One thing that was pretty consistent with most of the ice cream makers is that once the quart of base increased in size, there was little room for much else, and mix-ins had to be added slowly and periodically. Maybe that’s the reason the Ample Hills cookbook suggests adding all additional mix-ins by hand once the ice cream is transferred to a storage container.

Just some of the ice cream we tasted.

Just some of the ice cream we tasted.

I then called a friend and fellow food writer, Sara Bonisteel, to taste each sample and weigh in on her thoughts. Together we tasted and discussed texture and flavor.

Our pick

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.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $210.
While the price may seem steep, the Whynter SNO ($210) ice cream maker is a deal if you’re serious about making your own ice cream. It was also the least expensive of the three compressor models we brought in to test. In our tests, the resulting ice cream from this machine had the creamiest texture. With an on/off switch in the back and two buttons up top, one for time and one to cool and turn, it was very simple to use. Since it’s a compressor machine, it can turn out batch after batch with no pre-freezing required.

A batch of ice cream in the Whynter SNO.

A batch of ice cream in the Whynter SNO.

The two-quart removable bowl is easy to lift out, thanks to a built-in handle, so you can scrape out all of the ice cream with ease. There’s an automatic shut-off function so that the machine isn’t damaged if your mixture happens to freeze solid.

The machine measures 11″ x 15″ x 13″ (wlh). That means it’s a bit taller than other compressor models, but there wasn’t an issue clearing my low-hanging cabinets. The timer has an alert bell that was audible on the other end of my apartment. While it was louder than the Cuisinart ICE-100 and the Breville Smart Scoop, the difference was minimal. Cook’s Illustrated names this model as their top pick as well.

I made sure the outside of the bowl was dry so that the bowl doesn’t freeze in the machine.
The assembly is very simple, so much so that I almost didn’t have to read the instructions. I made sure the outside of the bowl was dry (this was a tip the Breville specifically called out for their machine so that the bowl doesn’t freeze into the machine, so I adapted it for all the compressor models) and turned on the main power switch located in the back of the unit. I filled the bowl, put the dasher in place, topped with the lid and motor, set the timer, and pressed start. It took less than three minutes. I set the timer for 30 minutes and walked away. When the 30 minutes were up, the resulting ice cream mixture was the smoothest I had made thus far, with very small ice crystals. A spoonful straight out of the machine was creamy and quite firmly frozen.

With 18% overrun, it made fairly dense ice cream, similar to a decadent soft serve. Sara liked that she could “taste the cream right away with hardly any icy taste.” Despite the fact that Sara thought the “texture was not as good as the Breville,” we both agreed that this is a great ice cream maker for the price. The Whynter SNO comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Nothing comes without a couple of flaws, though. The Whynter SNO was pretty loud—the loudest of the three compressor machines. It wasn’t ear-piercing, but it’s worth noting if you plan on spinning a bunch of ice cream next to a sleeping baby.

The Whynter SNO has a rather small opening for mix ins.

The Whynter SNO has a rather small opening for mix-ins.

Second, the opening for adding mix-ins is tiny, almost comically tiny, at about 2½” x 1” compared to the Breville’s 4¾” x 2”. Even though many of the machines couldn’t handle mix-ins simply because of the size of the bowl, it was really easy to add them by hand after the ice cream was finished churning. In fact, the Ample Hills book suggests mixing all additions in by hand after churning.

The runner-up

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $270.
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).
The Cuisinart ICE-100, their flagship compressor machine, is fine, and it’s our runner-up pick should our main pick become unavailable or sell out.

As we mentioned earlier, it came in third of the three self-refrigerating models we brought in for testing, but it far outperformed the models that required pre-freezing (such as our KitchenAid pick below). Controls are intuitive and easy to use, similar to our top pick, and it has a low-profile design—good for low-hanging cabinets. It made ice cream (34% overrun) in about 30 minutes. However, the end result was a bit icier and not as creamy as the Whynter SNO.

The step up

Also Great
The Breville Smart Scoop is our step-up ice cream maker thanks to a variety of useful options and alerts— it's very family-friendly and good for kids.
Originally, we didn’t want to test any models that exceeded $300. Most of the people we polled wanted to keep the price around or below $200. But we decided to add the Breville Smart Scoop ($400) to the lineup at the last minute, and we’re glad we did. The Smart Scoop really has it all. It’s virtually foolproof. It has an auto mode that lets you choose from 12 hardness settings, from soft sorbet to super-firm ice cream. A bell alerts you when the time is right to add mix-ins, and adding them is easy with the lid’s wide-mouth opening. When the cycle is done, it automatically stops turning the ice cream, and an alert bell or ice cream truck song signals that the cycle is finished (this can be turned off).

A “stay-cool” function keeps your ice cream cold for up to three hours if you happen to walk away when it’s done churning. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time (or just don’t want to bother) to cool down your ice cream base, the Breville Smart scoop has a “cool down” function that brings the temp on your base down to the perfect turning temperature before it starts to churn. A large, bright LCD display is easy to read and the buttons are intuitive. There’s also a manual function that gives the user complete control.

The Breville has a large, easy-to-read display with simple controls.

The Breville has a large, easy-to-read display and simple controls.

The ice cream made in the Breville had a texture that was most similar to the pint that I bought at Ample Hills. At 30% overrun, it was so smooth and perfectly churned that it could be eaten straight from the machine, no additional freezing necessary. If you want a more scoopable ice cream, just transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe container and freeze for a few hours. At $400, this is definitely an investment, but if you find yourself making a lot of ice cream, this could be the machine for you. It’s also great for kids. Brian Smith at Ample Hills has one of these at his house and says his kids love to use it, probably because of the cheery jingle that plays when the ice cream is finished churning.

Budget pick

Also Great
On the budget end of the scale, the Nostalgia Electrics ICMP400 generates good results for only $30. It requires ice and salt to freeze the mixture, but it’s good if you don’t plan on making too many batches at once.
Of the two models we tested that require salt and ice, the Nostalgia Electrics ICMP400 ($30) was the winner. At $30, this simple machine can make up to four quarts of ice cream. The construction is simple, with a canister, cover, dash, bucket, and a motor that fits over the top. Layer ice and salt in the bucket around the canister and plug in the motor. (I used kosher salt because I couldn’t find ice cream rock salt and it worked just fine.) That’s it. The bucket has a big, comfortable handle and the motor runs at a quiet low hum. The ice cream took about 30 minutes to churn. Since it was a cool day, I didn’t need to add additional ice. Also, I only put one quart of base in the canister. If you’re trying to yield one gallon of ice cream, it will take longer, and on a hot day (if you’re using it outside), you’ll need additional ice and salt on hand to add as it melts.

The Nostalgia requires plenty of ice and salt.

The Nostalgia requires plenty of ice and salt.

The Nostalgia produced delicious ice cream with a moderate overrun of 31%. While a bit icy, it wasn’t the biggest offender in the testing lineup. Sara Bonisteel and I both preferred this ice cream over the ice cream made in the equally affordable Hamilton Beach 68330R. She noted that it had a “nice bite” and “pretty nice texture” with a “hint of ice crystal.” The flavor of the cream really came out in the finish.

While this type of ice cream maker takes some preparation (as you need to have a good amount of ice and salt on hand), it’s an inexpensive way to make great ice cream. You can make multiple batches in one day, and they can be large batches to boot. However, this type of maker is designed so that adding mix-ins while the machine is on is impossible. You have to remove the motor and lid to add anything to the canister. Even then, you run the risk of accidentally getting salty ice in your ice cream. Best to stir in any additional nuts, cookies or candy by hand after it’s done churning.

Great for KitchenAid stand mixer owners

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $76.
KitchenAid stand mixer owners will like the corresponding KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment. The bowl requires some prep (prefreezing), but it’s an affordable option if you don’t want to pile on too many separate kitchen gadgets.
Even though we were not impressed with other frozen inserts, we found that the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker ($79) attachment was the only frozen bowl model that worked well consistently. It’s a space-saving and affordable alternative if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer from 1990 or later.

The KitchenAid attachment had the highest overrun (68%) because the lowest speed is still faster than the churn speed on any other ice cream maker we tested.

The KitchenAid attachment had the highest overrun (68%) because the lowest speed is still faster than the churn speed on any other ice cream maker we tested.

The KitchenAid made perfect, fluffy ice cream every time. And we really mean fluffy—ice cream from the KitchenAid had the highest overrun at 68% percent. This is due to the fact that the lowest speed on a KitchenAid is still faster than the churn speed on all of the ice cream makers that were tested. The resulting ice cream was smooth and light, with no discernable ice crystals. Billy Barlow, Culinary and Production Director at Blue Marble, an ice cream shop in New York City, uses this because he already has a KitchenAid mixer and he has space constraints in his New York City home. He did note that while you have control over speed when using the KitchenAid attachment, if you run it too fast, the friction will prevent your ice cream from setting. I ran it on the lowest speed and it worked really well.

Types of ice cream makers

The various types of ice cream makers we tested.

The various types of ice cream makers we tested.

Where domestic ice cream makers are concerned, there are a few types of models: frozen bowl inserts, ice/salt churners, and compressors.

The most common is the liquid-filled insert bowl, which you have to freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. While these models can be budget friendly, there are many drawbacks. The bowl takes up valuable space in the freezer, if you decide to store it there. If not, you need to pre-freeze it for at least eight hours. In the case of the Cuisinart ICE-21, the bowl needs to be frozen for 24 hours or it won’t turn your ice cream base into anything thicker than a milkshake. You also have to be content with making only 1½ to 2 quarts of ice cream before refreezing.

While these inserts made great first batches, the second batches were more or less flops with all of these models. I froze the inserts for the same amounts of time, 24 hours each, and I tested them on different days, ensuring I wasn’t running into the same defrost cycle with my chest freezer. The bowls were also placed in the same spot at the bottom of the chest freezer, where it is coldest, and I lowered the temperature to the coldest setting. Lauren Tempera, Founder of Spoon’d Ice Cream (currently on hiatus) agrees. She told us, “I hate those things… they’re not consistent!” The KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment was an exception. It turned out fluffy, evenly frozen ice cream for both batches.

Compressor models are the closest you will get to professionally spun ice cream at home.
On the pricier side, there are compressor ice cream makers. While these self-refrigerating machines are bulky and costly, they are a must-have if you’re serious about making ice cream. Just flip a switch and you can turn out batch after batch of ice cream. Some are simple, with just an on/off switch, while some are loaded with bells and whistles. Compressor models are the closest you will get to professionally spun ice cream at home.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, a traditional ice/salt ice cream maker with a motorized dasher might be for you. Yes, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of ice and salt on hand, but once you do, you can turn out batch after batch of ice cream. Since this type of maker generally has a four-quart capacity, making ice cream for a crowd is simple. These machines run in the $30 range, so there’s little risk in trying one out. What about all that “mess” that people talk about with the ice and salt? I ran the two models we brought in for testing outside in my backyard and there was no mess to speak of. Alternatively, if you are really worried about a mess and don’t have any outside space, put the whole rig in your kitchen sink; just make sure the motor, cord, and plug don’t get wet.

Some people are nostalgic for hand-crank ice cream makers. Brian Smith at Ample Hills Creamery feels that they offer a sense of community. “It’s not about the quality if the ice cream, it’s an experiential one. It’s just fun. It’s historic because it’s the way that it’s been done for a long time. It creates a communal atmosphere.” Others, like my father and my boyfriend, cringe at the very mention of them. Both have childhood memories of having to turn the crank on one if these beasts on a hot summer day. Billy Barlow says that hand cranking can become a drag, and doesn’t necessarily result in the best end product. “If you want to have it so that everyone’s churning, that’s cool, but you definitely want to have something that’s motorized. That constant churning will limit your ice crystallization for a more consistent and creamy product.”

When buying an ice cream maker, ask yourself how often you really see yourself using it: are you planning to turn out a couple of batches each summer, each month during the warm months, or regularly year-round?  Also look at the storage and counter space you have to dedicate to a new appliance. The compressor models can weigh around 30 pounds, and that’s something to consider if you’re thinking about storing it on a low shelf. If you’d like to keep it on the counter, be prepared to clear off 11” x 15” for our top pick and 16” x 10” for our step-up.

What makes great ice cream

Yes, we tasted a lot of ice cream.

Yes, we tasted a lot of ice cream.

In the Ample Hills cookbook, Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna say, “What separates great ice cream from mediocre ice cream is the quality of those ingredients—and the process by which they’re prepared and churned into product.”

“What separates great ice cream from mediocre ice cream is the quality of those ingredients—and the process by which they’re prepared and churned into product.” – Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna
To minimize the size of ice crystals, temperature matters. Everything needs to be as cold as possible. Before you spin your base, it needs to be thoroughly chilled down in an ice bath. There is no skipping this step, unless you have a Breville Smart Scoop which does it for you. The colder the base, the sooner it starts to freeze. Pour chilled base into ice cream maker and spin until frozen.

Billy Barlow at Blue Marble understands the issues that can come with making ice cream at home. “One of the complaints a lot of people have when making ice cream at home is that’s it’s icier than they thought it would be. That’s primarily because of how cold the freezing process is and how cold your home freezer is. If your home freezer is your normal, 0 degree freezer or slightly warmer, your ice cream is going to take a lot longer to harden than in a commercial freezer, and therefore more ice crystals are growing. Those are the two challenges. If you can make your ice cream get colder faster, it has the potential to be smoother and creamier.”

Once the ice cream is spun, it is very soft, but completely edible. This is my favorite texture, but it’s definitely not scoopable. This is the point where you “set” the ice cream, which means transferring it to a container to freeze for at least a few hours. Additional freezing is an important step because the colder your freezer is, the quicker your ice cream sets, and the smaller the ice crystals will be. And that’s it! It really is one of the simplest things to make. Once you get your technique down, you can play around with flavors, fat content, and maybe even some stabilizers like xanthan gum to tweak texture.

We decided to leave out gelato makers since gelato is a different animal. It differs from ice cream in that it is mostly milk and sugar with little cream and little to no egg yolks, sometimes using cornstarch to thicken instead. Gelato is churned slower and at a higher temperature to maintain a “stretchy” quality. The result is a product with little to no overrun that more resembles a custard than ice cream. Don’t get us wrong; it’s delicious and we love it. It’s just not the same.

What is overrun?

Overrun is not the enemy that some will make it out to be.
Overrun refers to the amount of air whipped into the ice cream. You hear people say that cheap ice cream is mostly air and that’s why it’s so cheap. But that’s not entirely true. Quality of ingredients has a lot to do with the final cost of ice cream. Dairy, especially quality dairy, is very expensive. So are eggs, organic sugar, pure vanilla, best-quality cocoa powder, and nuts. Overrun is not the enemy that some will make it out to be.

Actually, the air whipped into ice cream plays a major role is texture and flavor delivery. Billy Barlow, Culinary and Production Director at Blue Marble Ice Cream says, “Air is very important when you take into account texture, as well as, whenever you incorporate air into a product if you have mint or vanilla in your ice cream, something that’s aromatic, those air capsules actually hold the aroma of whatever it is you’re flavoring with.”

The competition

We didn't like the hand crank model we tested.

We didn’t like the hand crank model we tested.

The Donvier by Cuisipro was the only hand cranked model we tried, and its smaller-capacity (1 qt.) frozen bowl probably makes the work much more manageable. It only needs to be turned four complete turns, every three to four minutes, for 20 minutes. The result is surprisingly smooth and very dense ice cream with the lowest overrun (3%!) of all models we tested. After the first batch, I thought it was badass. The insert was so cold that it was really hard to turn the handle, so hard that I thought I might snap it in half. However, the next day, after the insert froze for 12 hours in my chest freezer, the following batch of ice cream barely froze, resulting in some ice crystals.

The Cuisinart's second batch was more milkshake than ice cream.

The Cuisinart’s second batch was more milkshake than ice cream.

The Cuisinart ICE-21 is a smaller machine with an insert bowl that requires pre-freezing. It made the first batch (39% overrun) very well in under 30 minutes, and the results were similarly icy. The ICE-21 does have a large opening in the top for mix-ins, which is a real plus. The biggest disappointment with the ICE-21 was that when I went to make the second batch the next day, it wouldn’t freeze at all. The mixture resembled a half-melted milkshake.

Once we added mix ins to the Hamilton Beach, it went the way of the milkshake too.

Once we added mix-ins to the Hamilton Beach, it went the way of the milkshake too.

The Hamilton Beach 68320 (23% overrun) was adequate when handling freezing the base of the first batch, but it failed on the second batch when it came time to add the mix ins. As soon as the cookies were added, the whole mixture melted to the consistency of a milkshake.

As for the Hamilton Beach 68330R, it made fine ice cream (38% overrun) and it froze fast and easy. The Nostalgia Electrics model beat it because it was quieter and the bucket had a handle.

What else did we look at?

White Mountain’s Appalachian Series Wooden Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker uses ice and salt, and it has a motorized dasher. It has an attractive wooden bucket and is made in the USA. It also costs a whopping $250.

The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino 1.5-Quart Ice Cream Maker gets pretty good reviews, but it costs $800. Also, it doesn’t have a removable bowl, which makes cleaning a bit of a pain.

Whynter’s ICM-15LS Ice Cream Maker is the other self-refrigerating ice cream machine from Whynter. We chose to bring in the cheaper SNO because of the glowing reviews from Cook’s illustrated.

The Maxi-Matic Elite ($90) offers either motorized or hand-crank turning. Again, the pine bucket made this ice-and-salt machine too expensive.

Cuisinart’s ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence ($80) is a frozen insert machine. Cook’s Illustrated wasn’t entirely pleased with it and one of the editors here at the Sweethome had an unfavorable experience while owning one.

The Deni Automatic Ice Cream Makers with Candy Crusher wasn’t well-liked by Good Housekeeping.

BELLA’s 13716 Ice Cream Maker had 1.7 stars on Amazon, so we decided to take a pass on reviewing the model.

The Nostalgia Electrics’s ICMW400 4-Quart Wooden Bucket Electric Ice Cream Maker ($45) had all the same features as our budget pick, and cost an extra $15. And again: a wooden bucket!

Wrapping it up

While it’s easy to just pick up a pint of premium ice cream at the store, making your own is much more fun and rewarding. With our pick, the Whynter SNO Ice Cream Maker, you can turn out continuous batches of ice cream without ice, salt, or forethought.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $210.
To send this guide via email, fill out the fields below:
Message Sent!
Oops! Please try again
Send

Sources

  1. Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna, Ample Hills Creamery (Book), Amazon
  2. Brian Smith, Owner of Ample Hills Creamery, Interview
  3. Equipment Review: Ice Cream Makers, Cook's Illustrated, September 1, 2010
  4. Ice Cream Maker Reviews, Good Housekeeping
  5. Garth Clingingsmith, Test Drive: Ice Cream Makers, Fine Cooking
  • Perrin Harkins

    Did you try the gelato beater on the ICE-100 at all? I’m curious about how much of a difference it makes in overrun.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattsf Matt Nagel

    How loud are we talking? Would love to see a video review.

  • Rick Roberts

    You’ve done a good job with this. Now I just have to convince myself to bump up to the Breville. Though there is something nostalgic about buying a hand-crank and making the nephew turn the thing. Generational payback should be a thing. Otherwise, he’ll have his head in the iPad while the adults make his ice cream for him in the fancy machine. :)

  • Michael Quinlan

    Almost 30% (21 of 72) of the reviews of the Whynter IC-2L SNO 2-Quart Ice Cream Maker on Amazon are 1 or 2 stars. The most frequent complaint seems to be poor durability. Do you have any comments on this?

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      This is from our lead research editor-

      “(Regarding) the reviews of the Whynter SNO reviews on Amazon, I have made three batches in the machine and I’m about to make some chocolate sorbet. In my tests, this machine made perfect batches of ice cream in a small amount of time. There was nothing that alerted me to any defectiveness and it proves to be sturdy machine as I continue to use it. I will be making weekly batches of ice cream in it to test it’s long term sturdiness, and if we find any problems, we will surely write an update immediately. If you are still wary, please see our runner-up pick or our step-up.”

  • http://www.lalitree.com lal_tree

    Love reading about all this! I just made a batch of chocolate cardamom ice cream yesterday — I have the Donvier. It works for me — I have a chest freezer in the basement so freezer space is not an issue. I’ve not noticed inconsistency and am wondering how that could even happen. There just aren’t a lot of parts to it — unless the bowl or custard was not chilled enough, I don’t see what could go wrong. I’d say for those who don’t want a giant appliance (or to mess with salt & ice), but who want a quart of ice cream every once in a while, it’s a good choice.

    Only drawbacks I’ve noticed are that it’s difficult to get the rubber gasket that seals the bowl onto the holder, and that, as you mentioned, the blade feels like it might snap if you wait too long to spin it.

  • BJE

    I have the Cuisinart ICE-21, which was Cook’s Illustrated’s best rated insert model (and their Best Buy) and I’ve never had the problem with the ice-cream not freezing, even if I make a batch, then freeze it again overnight and make another batch the next day. For under $50, it makes great, smooth, dense ice cream. I like this article, but not having a pick that is under $100 (I don’t consider the old-fashioned machine with the Ice and Salt suitable for anything more than a novelty) is a big shortcoming here.

  • Ryan Stenson

    What about the Lello? Really wish you’d include more breadth in these reviews and not knock out things immediately based on price!

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      It’s a $700 ice cream maker.

      • Ryan Stenson

        So? Based on the review’s I’ve read, it’s excellent, so maybe it’s worth the money – we won’t know if you exclude things purely on price. Some people might be willing to buy the best.

        • speedgraphic

          Disagree – I’d rather have more comprehensive content on fewer, more affordable ice cream makers.

  • sygyzy

    How did you measure overrun?

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Via our expert:

      % Overrun = (Wt. of mix – Wt. of same vol. of ice cream )/Wt. of same vol. of ice cream x 100%

  • KatharinaLafrance

    The Design is so very good for make a ice cream .
    http://rippedrxno2blastfactscanada.com