Summer is peak ice-cream season, though to be honest, every season is ice cream season. If you haven’t made homemade ice cream before, you’re missing out on an experience that is rewarding and fun for the whole family. Step one is to get an ice cream maker. There are three types: the old ice-and-salt, a pre-frozen bowl, and a compressor. Here are the best ice cream makers you can buy in all three styles:
For those on a budget
If you’re new to the ice-cream making game and don’t want to invest too much money just yet, the Doniver 1-Quart Manual is a great choice. It’s under $100 and uses a freezer bowl. This means you have to freeze the bowl for at least 7 hours, and then pour in your ice cream base and crank for 15-20 minutes. If you want a harder texture, put in the freezer for a few hours after cranking.
The Hamilton Beach 68330N 4-Quart Automatic is even cheaper at under $50. It uses rock and salt, and produces four quarts of ice cream in 20-40 minutes. It’s very simple to use with no settings. Just plug it in and the machine churns itself.
For those who want a traditional feel without the work
If you have fond memories of ice-cream making the old-fashioned way, the Nostalgia 6-Quart Wood Bucket ice cream maker will take you back. Unlike the old machines, however, this one is equipped with an electric motor, so you don’t have to crank it by hand. It does use ice and salt to create the chilling effect. Nostalgia even sells ice cream mixes in three classic flavors – Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry – so this unit is ideal for beginners.
For those willing to invest, but who value simplicity
If you’re willing to put in a bit of money, but you don’t want a really complex machine, the WHYNTER ICM-15LS is a versatile, durable machine. It can make sorbets, Italian gelato, frozen yogurt, and more in addition to ice cream. It’s a compressor, so there’s no need for salt and ice, or pre-freezing. It typically costs less than $300.
For serious ice-cream makers
Have some experience with making ice cream and want to up your game? The Breville Smart Scoop has 12 hardness settings, a cool-down function, and more. Most people won’t use all the features, which is why it’s best for serious ice-cream creators who will take advantage of them. It’s expensive at $400+, so expect high-quality and durability.
For those who don’t want a separate machine
If you have a KitchenAid mixer, the brand sells an ice-cream maker attachment, so you don’t have to go out and buy a whole separate device. You get a freezer bowl and “dasher” that works to churn the ice cream. The bowl needs to be frozen for 24 hours to get the ice cream base cold enough, and it takes 30 minutes of churning. You’ll most likely need to freeze the ice cream again once it’s done to get the texture you want.
When making homemade ice cream, you want to use the best ingredients you can to get the best flavor. Organic milk, cream, and eggs will make the perfect base, while any flavorings you add like chocolate and vanilla should also be high-quality. A common complaint about homemade ice cream is that it’s too icy. To get that smooth store-bought texture, add a few tablespoons of an alcohol like flavorless vodka. For more tips, check out this article on The Spruce Eats.
Machine photos from Amazon
If you don’t feel like making your own ice cream, how about checking out one of the best scoop shops in the country?