Best ice cream makers of 2021 | CNN Underscored



Whether or not you need to ensure you all the time have frozen treats readily available to chill off on a sizzling day or need to experiment with flavors and take your do-it-yourself desserts to the subsequent stage, an ice cream maker is an easy-to-use equipment that positively deserves a spot in your kitchen.

We went hands-on for weeks with 9 completely different ice cream makers, and after churning over 20 pints of ice cream, solely two proved to be the very best of the very best.

Greatest general ice cream maker

The Cuisinart ICE-21 had the very best steadiness of value and efficiency of any ice cream maker we examined. It churned a few of the greatest, creamiest ice cream of your complete group whereas additionally being one of many least expensive. You must freeze the bowl in a single day earlier than making ice cream and it is fairly loud, however we nonetheless assume there is not a greater machine on the market for the worth.

Greatest compressor ice cream maker

A compressor-style ice cream maker has a built-in refrigeration unit, so no in a single day prep is required. The Whynter ICM-201SB is costly, nevertheless it’s an awfully handy, surprisingly quiet ice cream maker that churned the creamiest ice cream out of our complete group.

Cuisinart 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt ICE-21P1

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Cuisinart 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt ICE-21P1

Throughout our style assessments, the Cuisinart ICE-21 made one of many smoothest ice lotions, with solely a bit iciness, beating out machines that value a whole lot of {dollars} extra.

The Cuisinart ICE-21 is extremely simple to make use of, though you do must pre-freeze the blending bowl in a single day. It requires a bit little bit of planning earlier than you can begin churning, however as soon as your base is made and the bowl is frozen, making ice cream is a breeze. Merely assemble the bowl, paddle and lid, pour in your base and switch the machine’s single change into the “on” place.

Whereas the ICE-21 is operating, it’s loud sufficient that in case your kitchen is adjoining to your front room you gained’t have the ability to flip it on when you’re watching a film with out actually cranking up the TV. However whereas it was one of many loudest machines we examined, it additionally churned ice cream quicker than a lot of its rivals (it solely took about 15 minutes for each of the recipes we examined), so that you gained’t must endure by the noise for too lengthy.

When mixing, we additionally seen the ICE-21 created a few of the least ice cream buildup out of the machines we examined, particularly among the many non-compressor choices. Many manufacturers left a layer of ice cream caught to the facet of the bowl, and whereas this was nonetheless scoopable, it was quite a bit icier than the creamy concoction that persistently handed by the paddle.

As soon as your ice cream is completed, you gained’t have the ability to reuse the frozen bowl instantly, because it’ll have warmed up fairly a bit, so if you wish to make back-to-back batches, you’ll have to buy an further bowl and freeze them each the night time earlier than.

Cleansing the ICE-21 was not as troublesome as the opposite makers. Not one of the bowls we examined have been dishwasher-safe, so we washed every one by hand to see how laborious or annoying it was to scrub all of the nooks and crannies. Most bowls have a vertical tube proper within the center the place you connect a paddle, which makes scrubbing the underside of the bowl a bit troublesome. You possibly can clear the bowl fairly nicely with a sponge regardless of this, however you’ll nonetheless have to make use of a bottle brush to adequately clear the within of the tube, which is a further ache. The Cuisinart bowls that it’s a must to pre-freeze don’t have this impediment, which makes scrubbing them squeaky clear a a lot much less troublesome activity.

If you would like a dependable, easy-to-use and cheap ice cream machine, there’s no different possibility that may beat out the Cuisinart ICE-21. For simply $70 and little planning, you can also make deliciously creamy and wealthy desserts time and time once more simply in addition to higher-end fashions.

Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automated Ice Cream Maker

Compressor ice cream machines are dearer than non-compressor fashions since they’ve a built-in refrigeration unit, however for those who’re making ice cream regularly, they are often well worth the splurge. Continuously freezing bowls can take plenty of foresight and — extra importantly — freezer area. So if you wish to make ice cream regularly or experiment with flavors on a regular basis, compressor fashions can prevent plenty of effort and time.

Out of all of the compressor machines we examined, the Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automated Ice Cream Maker was by far the very best. This ice cream maker was not solely amazingly easy to make use of, nevertheless it additionally churned the smoothest ice cream out of all of the machines we examined, with barely any icy buildup on the perimeters of the bowl. Plus, the Whynter’s upright configuration signifies that it takes up quite a bit much less area in your counter than different compressor fashions. Actually, it solely took up a bit extra room than a lot of the non-compressor fashions, which is kind of wonderful because the Whynter has a full freezing system inside it.

The machine’s design was quite a bit completely different than different compressor fashions we examined. Upright, with a shallow and huge bowl the place the others are tall and slender, it was each simpler to scrub and a dream to scoop out of. The Whynter’s bowl nonetheless has the annoying tube within the center (not like the Cuisinart ICE-21), however with extra room round it, cleansing the protrusion was a lot much less of a ache.

The Whynter ICM-201SB Upright machine was heavy, like all compressor fashions we examined, so it’s best to in all probability maintain it saved in a decrease cupboard to keep away from any overhead lifting. Nonetheless, once we turned the machine on we have been amazed by how quiet it ran. All the opposite ice cream makers made an honest quantity of noise (some, just like the Cuisinart, made way more than others), so when the Whynter set free a low and quiet hum — considerably much like an environment friendly dishwasher — we have been completely impressed. You would simply have this machine going within the background when you work, discuss and even watch TV in the identical room with out it being an enormous distraction, which was an enormous win in our guide. It was comparatively speedy too, taking 25 minutes to churn out a batch of dairy ice cream, and 35 minutes for a vegan recipe.

Whereas the Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automated Ice Cream Maker is certainly an even bigger funding than the Cuisinart, the comfort issue of this machine beats out the whole lot else we tried. It saves you the effort of freezing a bowl and, not like different compressor fashions, isn’t monumental, and is simple to scoop out of and tremendous quiet. If you would like the comfort of a compressor ice cream maker, the Whynter ICM-201SB is totally the one to get.

There are many methods to make ice cream at dwelling, whether or not it’s in a plastic bag, in a Mason jar or with a machine like these we examined. Utilizing an ice cream machine isn’t a really troublesome course of, however there simply are some things it’s best to know earlier than you dive in. First off, most ice cream makers fall into two teams: ones with compressors and ones with out. Machines with compressors have a built-in refrigeration system that chills the bowl all the way down to freezing temperatures originally of the method, whereas makers with out this function require you to freeze a bowl beforehand, sometimes at the very least in a single day.

Freezing the bowl prematurely requires some planning however isn’t an excessive amount of of a chore when you have the freezer area. Nonetheless, you gained’t have the ability to make a number of batches of ice cream in a row until you purchase an additional bowl (which suggests you want much more freezer area). However the outcomes are similar to these you’ll get from a compressor mannequin, and also you’ll save some huge cash upfront.

Whereas compressor machines are usually dearer and heavier and take up much more room, you gained’t must do as a lot planning forward of time (simply permit time in your base to relax fully for those who’re cooking it over the range) and you can also make pint after pint of ice cream with out having to refreeze something. These machines are undoubtedly an funding, however they churn out high-quality ice cream persistently and prevent from worrying about freezing bowls on a regular basis, which is usually a big plus for those who make ice cream recurrently.

We examined 9 ice cream makers over a number of weeks to seek out the very best ones in the marketplace. To do this, we assembled, made ice cream in and cleaned every machine at the very least twice and took notes on ease of use, mixing time, noise, weight and extra.

We made a pair batches of ice cream to decide on normal recipes to make use of all through testing and selected Bon Appetit’s True Vanilla Ice Cream and The Kitchn’s Vegan Ice Cream. These recipes each offered a wealthy, creamy ice cream so we may extra simply inform when machines churned an icier finish product.

Right here’s a breakdown of all of the assessments we ran over the weeks of testing:


  • Texture of dairy ice cream: After making every batch of ice cream, we performed a number of style assessments evaluating the consistency and texture of every ice cream to at least one one other. We judged how icy or creamy every ice cream was in relation to the remainder of the pool.
  • Texture of vegan ice cream: After making every batch of vegan ice cream, we performed the identical style assessments, taking note of iciness and texture.
  • Mixing time: For each dairy and vegan recipes, we timed how lengthy every machine took to show the liquid base into ice cream.


  • Ease of preparation: We famous all of the steps it took to get the machine prepared for making ice cream, whether or not that was assembling the completely different components, pre-freezing the bowl or operating the machine by a pre-chill perform.
  • Ease of use: As soon as the whole lot was able to make ice cream, we famous all of the steps essential to churn the bottom into ice cream.
  • Ease of cleansing: We cleaned every ice cream maker and all its elements twice, paying attention to how laborious the completely different parts have been to clean.
  • Measurement: We put every machine on a counter and measured how a lot room it took up, evaluating every machine to the others.
  • Noise: We judged how loud every machine was whereas it was operating.
  • Weight: We weighed every machine and paid consideration to how simple or laborious it was to maneuver it across the counter or put it in a cupboard.

High quality and design

  • Common high quality: We felt every a part of the machine and judged its high quality, whether or not we thought it was flimsy and would break or would final for years.
  • Common design: We arrange all of the machines subsequent to at least one one other and ordered them by seems to be and design.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Whynter ICM-15LS Automated Ice Cream Maker ($219.43;

This Whynter ice cream maker was additionally a standout in our texture assessments, producing a wealthy and creamy ice cream that was higher than most different ice lotions we tried. Nonetheless, it’s quite a bit bigger and louder than the Whynter ICM-201SB. The bowl can be extra awkward to scoop from and clear, but when these issues don’t hassle you and also you need to save $100, this compressor mannequin is an excellent possibility.

Cuisinart ICE-70 Digital Ice Cream Maker ($139.99, initially $250;

Just like the ICE-21, it’s a must to pre-freeze this machine’s bowl and, just like the ICE-21, it’s extraordinarily loud. It did churn out an honest ice cream, however not so good as the Cuisinart, so given the worth we expect the ICE-21 is the higher buy.

Sprint My Pint ($19.99;

We have been pleasantly shocked by the Sprint My Pint’s efficiency. You do must freeze the tiny bowl beforehand and it makes fairly an icy ice cream, however if you wish to reward somebody an ice cream maker otherwise you reside in a small house, this can be a nice introduction to creating ice cream, particularly given its price ticket.

Cuisinart ICE-30 Pure Indulgence ($99.95;

This machine was the quietest out of the non-compressor choices we examined; nevertheless, we acquired plenty of buildup on the perimeters of the bowl and the ultimate product was persistently icier than the ICE-21.

Breville Good Scoop Ice Cream Maker ($499.95;

This machine seems to be extraordinarily good on the counter and has a nifty and helpful interface that helps you observe the consistency of your ice cream, nevertheless it took for much longer to churn each the dairy and vegan ice lotions we made than the opposite compressor fashions we tried. And being the costliest possibility on our record, we positively assume the Whynter ICM-201SB could make a greater ice cream quicker, and for practically $200 cheaper.

Cuisinart ICE-100 ($249.99, initially $545;

The Cuisinart ICE-100 actually didn’t impress us a lot, because it was simply as large, heavy and loud as the opposite compressor fashions and didn’t make an particularly creamy ice cream.

Ninja Creami ($199.99;

This new ice cream maker from Ninja was very intriguing (it vaguely resembles a cross between a blender and a espresso machine), however the outcomes don’t reside as much as its competitors. Utilizing the Ninja machine requires extra prep than even the opposite non-compressor ice cream makers, since it’s a must to freeze not only a bowl however the ice cream combine itself within the included pint containers. You even have to make sure that the pint is stage because it freezes or else you’ll must soften and refreeze it (the blender gained’t work in any other case).

As soon as your pint is frozen, you lock it into the Ninja machine and choose your setting. The ice cream maker then makes use of a blender blade to combine up the frozen ice cream. After a loud and aggressive two and a half minutes, the machine stops and you’ll unlock your pint. The dairy ice cream we acquired was extraordinarily icy and powdery and tasted extra like Dippin’ Dots than ice cream. The vegan ice cream we made was decently creamy, however we nonetheless don’t assume the prep was well worth the finish end result. For the $200 price ticket, we’d advocate a extra conventional compressor mannequin that requires zero prep. In any other case it can save you some cash and get a less expensive, non-compressor mannequin that can nonetheless provide you with higher outcomes, and spend the rest on elements.


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