Who doesn’t love ice cream? Well, it would seem that here in the UK we really love it, with each person eating on average 9 litres of the stuff each year. Imagine then, how amazing it would be to make it yourself, creating your own unique recipes and flavours, anytime you wanted.
There is a large range of ice cream makers on the market with wildly differing price tags. Technically though, they all do the same thing. Here we will look at the key features allowing you to make an informed choice in selecting the right machine for you.
- 1 What type of ice cream maker should you buy?
- 2 Only Got 5 Minutes?
- 3 Our Best Ice Cream Maker – In Brief
- 4 Why Trust Us?
- 5 Healthy Ice Cream!
- 6 But Do I Really Need An Ice Cream Maker?
- 7 Best Pick Ice Cream Maker – Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker
- 8 Best Budget Ice Cream Maker – Aicok Ice Cream Maker
- 9 Best of the Rest
- 10 FAQs
What type of ice cream maker should you buy?
There are 2 main types of ice cream maker, the manual or the electric, both do the same job, however, the electric machines are much faster and take the hard work out of it for you, producing super smooth ice cream, sorbets, gelato and frozen yoghurt. We will now look at electric ice cream makers and how they work.
There are 2 different types of electric ice cream makers;
● Freeze Ahead This design includes a bowl with a gel coolant built in. You need to place this bowl in the freezer ideally for 24 hours prior to use, less with some models. These machines are usually at the cheaper end of the spectrum and work very well in producing smooth textured ice cream. Ideal for making small batches and usually smaller in size thus taking up less counter space than the built-in freezer models. Due to the pre-freezing requirement, these ice cream makers only allow you to produce one batch per day.
● Built-in Freezer The bowl in the built-in freezer ice cream maker typically takes around 10 minutes to pre-freeze, making the whole process much faster. These models are more expensive and larger than the freeze ahead type but they do allow you to make several batches of ice cream per day. If you have space and plan on making frozen desserts on a regular basis, the built-in freezer models are a good investment.
Only Got 5 Minutes?
Ice cream makers are a popular addition to the UK kitchen. Being able to cater to all of your family’s dietary requirements, make healthier options, be more adventurous and concocting your own unique recipes whenever you choose is far more appealing than having to select from the limited range available in the shops.
With all machines, you will need to do some preparation prior to adding the ingredients to the bowl ready for churning, this requires mixing the main components together before adding to the ice cream maker and, with some models, pre-freezing the bowl also. Additions such as chocolate, nuts and fruits, for example, are usually added at a later stage and some machines have timers prompting you to do this. The ice cream machine paddle churns the mixture whilst the bowl freezes it, mixing in air and stopping ice crystals forming. At the end of the process, you will be left with smooth, grain-free ice cream. This would usually be very soft so the recommendation is to place into the freezer for a short while to ‘set’, typically 20 minutes or so. If you were to make ice cream ‘by hand’, it would take considerably longer and it would be difficult to achieve the same, soft, grain-free results of the machine.
Making ice cream usually takes around 25-40 minutes with an electric model and as mentioned above, the ice cream will need to be placed in the freezer for a short period afterwards. Different models offer further options; such as a viewing window, allowing you to keep an eye on proceedings, alternative mixing speeds, for ‘fluffier’ ice creams and sorbets and timer options that can be used to allow the addition of extra ingredients. Most ice cream makers on the market come with a recipe booklet but many more can be found online, with YouTube having some great tutorials and ideas. Ice cream need never be boring again!
Our Best Ice Cream Maker – In Brief
The Cusinart ice cream and gelato maker is a beast to behold! As Cusinart point out most people think that gelato and ice cream is the same thing. Actually, aside from less fat there is less air put into the mix when making gelato. This ice cream maker from Cusinart comes with different mixing paddles for the induction of different amounts of air. It features a compressor so no need for pre-freezing the bowl, as well as a 5-year warranty to boot! This really is a top notch ice cream maker.
Why Trust Us?
The internet is full of review sites that claim they have bought and rigorously tested every product so they can give you the best buying advice, Tripadvisor has some fake reviews, who do you trust?
Let us be straight from the off, we provide the following, we get a product category or subject area, find out everything you could possibly want to know about it, find some of the best products for sale in the category and combine it all into a concise buyers guide.
If we were buying something that is exactly what we are looking for, we don’t care much for someone’s opinion, we want facts, the best products based on specifications and reviews and it all presented in one place. That is what we provide in our buyer’s guides.
Healthy Ice Cream!
Can ice cream be healthy? Considering the main ingredients of ice cream, it could probably never be considered ‘healthy’ but, healthier choices can be made by switching some of the main ingredients for lower calorie options. Examples are, buttermilk, greek yoghurt or cottage cheese which can all be used as an alternative to heavy cream, who knew? In recent years there has been a surge in people opting to follow a vegan lifestyle and due to this, there are many dairy-free recipes online with people experimenting with plant-based food alternatives to make everyday recipes. For vegan ice cream, cashew nuts can be used as a substitute to dairy, replicating the same smooth and creamy texture.
Once you get to grips with your ice cream maker, you can experiment to create your own unique flavour combinations. Many of the models do come with free recipe booklets, you can also find a lot of recipes online and step by step videos on YouTube.
Check out www.bbcgoodfood.com and www.allrecipes.com for some good flavour ideas and recipes. A good starting point would be a simple vanilla, allowing you to perfect your consistency and basic flavouring before going wild with the more interesting stuff!
The main ingredients for a standard vanilla ice cream would be;
- Double Cream
- Full Fat Milk
- Caster Sugar
- Vanilla Pod
If you were to buy your ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt ready-made, you’ll find added extras such as glycerine, emulsifiers, and stabilisers amongst the list of ingredients. Homemade recipes would not contain any of these as you will be in control of EXACTLY what you use, so you can leave out all those nasty additives and preservatives. This is particularly good, especially if you are preparing a dessert for someone with an allergy or a specific dietary requirement.
A little bit of Heston
Everyone has heard of Heston Blumenthal, a culinary maestro of the weird and wonderful. He likes to create unique flavour combinations and loves to mix things up by giving sweet foods a savoury twist. It was, in fact, his bacon & egg ice cream that made him famous and apparently …it’s delicious! Other ice cream creations he has masterminded are wasabi, bone marrow and curry. Now, we are not suggesting you might be so extreme, but who knows what you might create? Here are some (more palatable) ice cream flavours to give you inspiration for when you take delivery of your ice cream maker;
Earl Grey Lavender
Salted Pretzel with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Apple Pie
Peaches and Cream
Peppermint Choc Chip
Cookies and Cream
Lemon and Blueberry Cheesecake
Lavender and Honey
Sweetcorn (yes, sweetcorn!)
Once you get into the groove, the possibilities are endless.
Ice Cream Alternatives
Ice cream does not need to be served alone, try it in a cone with a chocolate bar and some (homemade) fruit coulis drizzled over the top, in between cookies as an ice cream sandwich, cook it in a Baked Alaska or simply add as a side to your chocolate brownie or apple crumble dessert – delicious all year round.
Of course, you do not JUST have to make ice cream with your ice cream maker. You can also make sorbets and frozen yoghurt desserts which are again a popular choice for anyone who is calorie conscious or who would prefer a lighter treat.
Sorbet with your Ice Cream Maker
Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water with flavourings such as fruit juices, purees and alcohol. A decadent sorbet with champagne or limoncello would be sure to impress your (adult) dinner party guests.
Sorbets were often used as palate cleansers to be eaten in between courses but have since become a popular dessert, refreshing as opposed to thick and creamy like ice cream. The process to make sorbet with an ice cream maker is very simple and far less laborious than making by hand.
Frozen Yoghurt with your Ice Cream Maker
Frozen yoghurt or ‘Froyo’ as it is otherwise known became popular in America in the ’80s. It soon found it’s way over to the UK and was labelled as being ‘cooler than ice cream’ due to being a healthier option and affiliation with celebrities.
People often opt for frozen yoghurt as it has fewer calories and is lower in saturated fat than ice cream. Although a good source of calcium, yoghurt is usually sourer in taste but can sometimes contain more sugar so it’s really a matter of personal preference. The process to make frozen yoghurt in your ice cream maker is straightforward and with most models, instructions are provided. Again, lots of recipes with fantastic flavour combinations can be found online.
But Do I Really Need An Ice Cream Maker?
One could argue that an ice cream maker is more of a ‘want’ product than a ‘need’, a bit of a luxury. There are many other kitchen gadgets that would fit into the same category, for example, a bread maker, a rice cooker, a sandwich toaster ….. All of these food items can be prepared manually but a machine is designed to make the process less labour intensive and produce a more ‘professional’ product. This is certainly the case with ice cream makers and if you’ve got this far into the article, you’ve probably decided to take the plunge and purchase one already.
Ice cream can be made by hand but often results can be grainy and contain ice crystals, a problem that you can alleviate fully by using a machine. The process of making ice cream without a machine requires LOTS of manual mixing and then for you to continue to do so whilst it is going through the freezing process. Who really has the time for that?
Premium shop bought ice cream can cost around £3 per litre (often more) and if you fancy a few flavours in your freezer, this can prove rather costly. Ice cream makers vary but usually allow you to make 1.5 to 2 litres per batch thus working out more cost effective, with the basic ingredients being relatively inexpensive and easily accessible. If you are a family of frozen dessert lovers, an ice cream machine will be a good investment.
Best Pick Ice Cream Maker – Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker
- Cuisinart ICE100BCU Ice Cream and Gelato Professional, 1.5L Compressor Ice Cream Maker with Gelato and Ice Cream Paddles.
- Makes 1.5L of delicious, homemade ice cream, gelato, frozen yoghurt or sorbet in as little as 40 minutes.
- Professional compressor system means no need to pre-freeze the bowl and no need to wait between batches.
- 2 mixing paddles, one for ice cream and one for gelato to give your recipe the right amount of air for perfect texture.
- Easy to use. Simply add ingredients and switch on. Add extra toppings through the lid during churning such as nuts, chocolate chips, fruit pieces and sauces for a ripple effect.
Our best pick ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker. This is at the more premium end of the pricing scale, but for good reason! There are machines available as you can see below that is intended for those making their first foray into ice cream making without breaking the bank. This isn’t that machine, but it is so much more!
Cuisinart has made this ice cream maker to allow for trouble free making of your ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen yoghurt. Starting with it’s built in compressor, you don’t need to worry about pre-freezing the bowl. It also has separate paddles for mixing gelato or ice cream. Most manufacturers include a paddle, but Cuisinart have considered the air flow required to make the two distinctly different products.
I also like the viewing window to the top of the ice cream maker, this allows you to add more ingredients as you go. This bad boy will produce 1.5 litres of your chosen beautiful dessert within 40 minutes and with ease and simplicity.
To finish it off Cusinart have included a 5-year warranty for your peace of mind. To be fair, there isn’t a great deal to go wrong with ice cream makers if they are looked after properly and cleaned fully after each use. But having a 5-year warranty to hand is good reassurance and testament to the quality of the product.
Best Budget Ice Cream Maker – Aicok Ice Cream Maker
Our best budget ice cream maker is the Aicok ice cream maker. As you will have learnt from reading our ice cream makers buyers guide, there are two types of ice cream maker, the freeze-ahead or the one with the built-in freezer. This is the former, whilst this may seem a bit of a bind to have to pre-freeze the bowl for 8 hours in your freezer prior to making ice cream. This model is significantly cheaper than some of the others on offer.
Pre-freezing aside, the Aicok ice cream maker is a fantastic little device. This model focuses on the simpler things, it is plenty capable of making ice cream, frozen yoghurts and sorbet and in just 20 minutes too! It doesn’t have different sized mixing paddles and other high-end features, but it does get the job done quickly and produces 1.5 litres of ice cream.
Most of the components of the Aicok ice cream maker detach and are suitable for placing in the dishwasher for cleaning. It is backed by a 3-year warranty, another fantastic warranty and hopefully illustrates that not much goes wrong with these magical devices.
Best of the Rest
Cuisinart ICE30BCU Ice Cream Maker
- Cuisinart ICE30BCU Ice Cream Deluxe, 2L Pre-Freeze Ice Cream Maker, Brushed Stainless Steel
- 2L of delicious, homemade ice cream, frozen yoghurt or sorbet in as little as 25 minutes
- Easy to use. Simply pre-freeze the bowl overnight, add ingredients and switch on
- Add extra toppings through the lid whilst mixing
- Compact size for easy storage with removable bowl/lid and paddle for easy cleaning
The Cuisinart ICE30BCU is a cheaper option to our best pick, but still brings the brands quality and looks to this more budget model. Unlike its more expensive counterpart, it requires pre-freezing of the bowl and doesn’t have different paddles allowing for the creation of the perfect gelato.
What it does do though is produce a whopping 2 litres of ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt! Better still this can be achieved in just 30 minutes!
We also like the viewing window that has made its way across from the premium model, allowing you to add ingredients as you go.
VonShef Ice Cream Maker
- COMPACT DESIGN - Large 1.2L capacity with powerful compressor in deceivingly small unit fits neatly on the kitchen countertop and looks great thanks to stainless steel housing
- QUICK RESULTS - This machine takes just one hour to churn up creamy, rich ice cream in whatever flavour you desire. Digital screen will display the timer countdown, so you know exactly when you can enjoy a scoop
- 1 HOUR AUTOMATIC COOLING - Cooling extension function maintains a thick, creamy consistency once the ice cream making cycle is complete
- REMOVABLE BOWL - Ice cream bowl with carry handle is removable from the machine for total serving convenience
- MANUFACTURER 2 YEAR WARRANTY INCLUDED
The Vonshef ice cream maker looks a little like a futuristic toaster. It has a plethora of high-end features and best of all has a removable bowl with a handle to make serving your ice cream easier.
The Vonshef features a digital timer, keeping you abreast of how the production of your favourite dessert is coming along. Without this you are left thinking that time has slowed down, waiting to get your hands on your frozen creation!
I must admit if I had the budget I would opt for a compressor driven model such as this, i am a little impatient and the thought of pre-freezing a bowl the night before puts me off slightly.
A feature that Vonshef have included in their ice cream maker is an automatic 1-hour cooling facility. We have seen this on other models, but usually for up to 10-minutes. This means once you have finished producing your ice cream you can leave it up to an hour in the Vonshef before serving or transferring to the freezer.
Again another decent warranty in this model, Vonshef are offering a 2-year warranty.
Sensio Home Digital Ice Cream Maker
- 🍨 [DELICIOUS HOMEMADE ICE CREAM IN MINUTES] - Sensio Home Ice Cream Makers can create ice cream, sorbet, gelato and frozen yoghurt in approximately 20 minutes! The refill opening in the lid allows you to add extra toppings and ingredients to create your perfect ice cream mix! Indulge in homemade natural ice cream at a fraction of the cost to store bought alternatives!
- 💡 [INNOVATIVE AUTOMATED DESIGN] - At Sensio Home we continually aim to improve upon our competitor products and this ice cream maker stands out from the crowd with its unique digital timer and LCD display! Unlike other ice cream makers, you can sit back and relax as you set your mixing time depending on the desired consistency of the ice cream!
- [EASY TO OPERATE] - (1) Freeze the bowl for approximately 12 hours, depending on your freezer (2) Mix your ingredients and pre-chill it in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours (3) Put the freezer bowl in the machine and connect the stirrer and lid (4) Start the machine and pour your mixture into the bowl through the flap in the lid. Fresh ice cream ready in approximately 20 minutes!
- [EASY TO ASSEMBLE AND CLEAN] - With just 4 removable components the set-up process could not be any simpler. With an easy-to-follow instruction manual you will be up and running in minutes. Plus the removable lid, stirrer and freezer bowl makes it an easy clean!
- 💯 [2 YEAR 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE] - Shop with confidence as the Sensio Home Ice Cream Maker is covered by a 2 year guarantee, proof that we stand behind our products.
The Sensio digital ice cream maker, bring some high end features at a budget price tag. It doesn’t have the built in compressor and so as a result you need to freeze the bowl the night before and ideally refrigerate your ingredients too.
The digital timer is a great addition and we really like this about the Sensio and Vonshef. Knowing when your ice cream will be ready and allowing for accuracy can make all the difference.
The sensio will produce 1.5 litres of ice cream in around 20 minutes. For the price of the sensio ice cream maker I think it is really one to be considered.
The noise does vary from machine to machine, much like a bread-maker, once the paddle starts fully churning, you will hear it. Look for one of the quieter machines if that is a concern.
Again, this differs from machine to machine with some reporting to have dishwasher safe attachments. Some machines are reported to be difficult to clean and fiddly to take apart, make sure you select a model that is easy to assemble/disassemble and to clean. Some models do come with a cleaning brush.
Any machine with a built-in freezer should allow you to make more than one batch in a day. Other models where the bowl needs pre-freezing can usually only make 1 batch per day, due to the timescale of freezing (around 12-24 hours). A potential way to combat this would be to buy 1 or more additional bowls.
Unlike shop-bought varieties, homemade ice cream will not contain preservatives. The recommendation, therefore, is to eat within 2 weeks. If you are not planning on eating your ice cream straight away, it should be stored in an airtight container to avoid ice crystals forming. It is also recommended that you store your ice cream in the very centre of your freezer where the temperature is most consistent.