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Why This $80 Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Is the Best Ice Cream Maker for Families

Why This $80 Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Is the Best Ice Cream Maker for Families

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While discussing homemade ice cream a month ago with the other Our Site editors, it came to light that my teammates all have the same ice cream maker: the Cuisinart ICE-30BC 2-quart automatic ice cream maker, or an older model of the same basic machine.

“I’ve had it for a good 10 years,” said Megan.

“I’ve had it for at least 7 years, maybe closer to 10,” said Summer.

“‘I’ve also had it almost a decade, maybe longer,” said Emma.

I was convinced to get one myself (ok, it took almost no convincing) and am happy to report that, yes, this is one great little ice cream maker! Here’s why we think it’s the perfect ice cream maker for families especially.

It’s easy to use

Like, really easy to use. All you do is this:

Once you’ve chilled the double-insulated freezer bowl (anywhere from 6-22 hours), simply place the bowl in the machine, insert the mixing arm, secure the lid, turn the knob to the “On” position, and then pour your ice cream ingredients through the spout.

Done. Thirty minutes later, you’ll have ice cream.

It’s inexpensive

The ICE-30BC model averages around $80, a little more or less depending on the time of year and where you buy it. (It was $79.95 when we published this post.) Considering how many batches of ice cream it will make if you have it for a decade or more (as many on our team have), that’s a total steal.

It’s good-looking

Other Cuisinart ice cream models, like the ICE-21, don’t come in stainless steel. And while it’s definitely a personal preference, I love the more refined look of the stainless steel body on the ICE-30BC. It looks more expensive than it is, and would not be out of place sitting on your countertop.

It fits neatly into cabinets

Both Summer and Emma appreciate how easily this ice cream maker fits in their kitchen cabinet when they’re not using it.

At 8″ wide, 8.25″ deep, and 11.25″ high, it’s a fairly compact machine, not some unwieldy beast that’ll take up precious space in the ice cream off-season. (Is there such a thing?! Inquiring minds want to know.)

The 2-quart capacity is just right.

We love that we can make two quarts of ice cream right off the bat with this maker, as opposed to the 1.5-quart capacity of the Cuisinart ICE-21, another popular ice cream maker.

Because this ice cream maker is not a compressor machine (which would enable you to make batches of ice cream continuously) and instead uses a freezer bowl (which means you have to re-freeze the bowl between batches of ice cream), we want to get the most ice cream we can from that first batch! The little ice cream fiends in our families agree.

It makes fantastic, creamy ice cream

Easy to use, inexpensive, good-looking, compact, makes two quarts… none of those things really matter if the ICE-30BC doesn’t make delicious ice cream, because that’s what we’re here for, right? But don’t worry: It absolutely delivers.

“It makes perfectly creamy ice cream every time.” “It makes fantastic ice cream.” These are just a couple of the quotes I gathered from my Our Site teammates, and they’re right. I recently made Summer’s strawberry ice cream in this machine, and it came out amazingly rich and creamy. And don’t forget my co-editors have all had their machines for almost 10 years, or more! So you know you’ve got a good thing when this little machine is still making great ice cream years later.

If the ICE-30BC is sold out, try the ICE-21. It’s the same machine, except a smaller capacity (1.5 quart) and housed in plastic. Still makes great ice cream!

Have we convinced you? As Emma told me, “Sometimes the simplest appliances without all the bells and whistles are just the best!” So give it a go, and then try out one of these recipes to get you started:

  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Strawberry Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Ice Cream
  • S’mores Ice Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

The Best Ice Cream Makers

Even though I’m no stranger to the joys of picking up a midnight pint, few culinary techniques feel as magical as transforming raw ingredients into ice cream and sorbet. A good ice cream machine is all you need to experience ice cream alchemy at home, and it will allow you to churn up your favorite flavors and swirl in your choice of mix-ins.

We researched dozens of ice cream makers and narrowed the field down to a top 10, which we then pitted against one another to determine which ones are the best. We tested each machine to find models that consistently made the smoothest-textured ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. We also wanted units that were easy to operate, simple to clean, and fun to use.

After taking into account the results of the tests in our kitchen, as well as customer reviews and price, here are the Serious Eats final four favorite ice cream machines.

Best Overall: Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker

Automatic and manual modes

Opening for adding ingredients

Cuisinart was one of the first companies to popularize electric ice cream makers for home users, and the company continues to improve the product offerings. This one makes a whopping two quarts of ice cream per batch, and has a simple control panel with an LCD screen that’s easy to read. If you can't find the ICE-70 model, the ICE-60 model offers the same design and functionality without the built-in automatic timer.

There are settings for ice cream, gelato, or sorbet, which control the speed of the mixing paddle. The time is automatically set for each option, but can be adjusted manually. When time is up, the machine automatically shuts off. The unique gelato setting is a standout for our product tester due to its slower churn, one of the hallmarks of genuine gelato.

The lid has a removable cup for measuring up to 1/2 cup of add-ins, and when the cup is removed, there’s a handy hole for pouring those ingredients in.

The 2-quart freezer bowl should be refrigerated overnight for best results, or store it in your freezer so it’s ready to go whenever you have that ice cream craving.

Maximum Yield: 2 quarts | Processing Time: 20 minutes | Multiple Speeds: Yes | Dimensions: 9.74 x 8.62 x 13.22 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Warranty: 3 years

"The result was fluffy soft serve that hardened into lovely ice cream after a few hours in the freezer." — J. Fergus, Product Tester

2. Andrew James Ice Cream Maker

Why we liked the Andrew James Ice Cream Maker

The Andrew James Ice Cream Maker is a simple, straightforward solution for fussy families who tend to squabble over which flavour to crack open. It comes with two bowls for double the fun, meaning you can have one batch in the freezer while the machine churns up another scrummy mixture.

It’s a compact, clean-looking machine that’s available in either white or a pleasant baby blue colour. It’s small enough to store easily in the cupboard, and the bowls take up minimal room in the freezer, with a height of 15cm.

To get making tasty ice creams and frozen desserts, you have to freeze the bowl before placing it inside the machine. After that, it’s a simple case of letting the Andrew James Ice Cream Maker take over stirring up your mixture with its sturdy paddle. There’s no timer on the machine, which is a blessing if you want fuss-free ice cream making without the clock-watching. The machine comes with a few recipes to get you started, ranging from ice cream and sorbets to frozen desserts and yoghurts.

The only negative we found was that it’s a little noisy in operation. It’s not loud per se – clocking around 65dB, which is the level of normal conversation – but it’s a noticeable sound, so you’ll probably want to leave the kitchen while it’s running. In all, though, this is the ideal budget Mr. Whippy maker for beginners and keen cooks alike.

Read the full review

Andrew James Ice Cream Maker Key Features

Latest live deals

3. Nostalgia Electric Ice Cream Maker

With its bucket-like design and built-in carrying handle, the Nostalgia Electric Ice Cream Maker makes creating and delivering your homemade desserts especially easy. Whether it&rsquos a party with friends or your family, the device&rsquos 4-quart capacity ensures there&rsquos plenty to go around. In addition to ice cream, this versatile maker can also be used to create frozen yogurt and gelato. The ice cream maker is ideal for use with Nostalgia&rsquos ice cream mixes which come in strawberry, chocolate and vanilla flavors. Plus, the bucket&rsquos plastic construction makes cleaning it especially quick and easy. This is also one of our favorite gifts for mom in 2021, if you’re looking for unique Mother’s Day gift ideas.

Image courtesy of Amazon

4. Best Value Compressor Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart ICE-100

If the Lello 4080 is just too pricey but you want the convenience of a compressor machine, then the next best choice is the Cuisinart ICE-100.

It doesn't make better ice cream than the ICE-21, the ICE-70 or the other Cuisinart freezer bowl machines.

But it does makes better ice cream than all the other compressor ice cream makers (except the Lello).

For example, the Breville Smart Scoop is much more expensive but takes much longer to freeze the mixture, resulting in a more icy and wet final product.

And while Foshan Nordica machines such as the Whynter ICM-15LS can make ice cream that compares reasonably favorably with the ICE-100, their reliability is highly questionable!

With the ICE-100, the build quality is good and there are 2 dashers (so you can vary the air in your frozen desserts to make better gelato and sorbet).

Plus Cuisinart provide a 3 year (5 years in Europe) guarantee, which is extremely generous (and very useful) for these type of machines.

For sure, it's not perfect: the dasher doesn't churn the mixture as well as it could do. But if you want the convenience of a compressor machine but can't afford the Lello, the ICE-100 is the best alternative [Amazon].

1) Whynter ICM-200LS Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker


The Whynter is the best commercial ice cream maker under budget ! It comes with stainless steel housing. This is a self-contained frozen dessert maker that does not require any pre-freezing. Also, this best ice cream maker comes with BPA free aluminum removable mixing bowl and another is churn blade.

It allows easy storage and also more effortless cleaning. The given ice cream maker having a reliable built-in audible timer. You just choose a well-ventilated space with temp. above 60°F and below 90°F.

This best gelato maker features a motor protection function that shuts off to avoid any damage if the mixture freezes solid. Having a very high-efficiency CFC free compressor.

Just take on dessert making like never before! Very easy to use, just create delicious ice cream and hence bring this best ice cream maker at your home. This unit includes an electronic timer, ice cream scoop, and also easy to follow recipe guide.

Easiest machine to use ideal for entertaining, this high-capacity machine makes up to 2 quarts of your favorite frozen dessert in just a single batch.

Things to consider when shopping for the best ice cream maker

The best ice cream makers of every type operate upon the simple principle of taking a sweet mixture, exposing it to very cold temperatures, and constantly moving it around. This churning motion gives ice cream its signature creamy texture and prevents it from becoming solid, crystallized, and unpleasant. Most models of ice cream machines on the market are automatic designs that perform this churning automatically, but users looking for a more traditional feel can opt for an old-fashioned ice cream maker that allows for manual hand-crank operation that’s perfect for bringing nostalgia and fun to a get-together.

Before you find the best homemade ice cream maker, think about your use case. Are you looking to prepare small single-serving quantities, or for large amounts for sharing? Ice cream makers with at least a 2-quart capacity should be plenty big enough for families and small gatherings. Yearning and churning for large parties? Go for a big one, perhaps up to 6 quarts. Although some large ice cream makers allow users to prepare quantities below their capacity, this often requires plenty of annoying adjustments to ingredient amounts and prep times, so it’s often best to stick to making an entire batch at once unless the model explicitly accommodates smaller batches. For this reason, couples and individuals may prefer one with a smaller maximum prep capacity.

An electric ice cream maker offers consistent results

Electric ice cream makers are far and away the most compact and versatile designs in this product class and are the ideal choice for casual users and professional home cooks alike. When considering an electric ice cream maker, look for a model that includes convenient modern features like digital display controls and timers that automate the ice cream formation process to take the guesswork out of the equation. There are two main types: one requires you to freeze a liquid-filled container, typically overnight. The other version has a compressor, like for an air conditioner, that is built in and removes the need to prefreeze, which is certainly easier and quicker—but pricier.

Best electric ice cream maker: Whynter ICM-15LS Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Compact and Efficient

This model boasts a built-in compressor for automatic cooling and freezing.

This Whynter ice cream maker has a capacity of 1.6 quarts and cools ice creams, sorbets, and other creamy confections to a chilly -31 degrees Fahrenheit without the need for prefreezing. It has a removable BPA-free aluminum mixing bowl and churn blade for easy cleaning and uses an automatic alarm system so you’ll know when to shiver with excitement.

Old-fashioned ice cream makers are perfect for preparing old-timey ice cream

If you’re looking to feature the ice cream-making process front and center for entertaining purposes, nothing beats an old-fashioned ice cream maker. These models emulate old-school designs from the earliest days of ice cream making by using a wooden bucket and a hand crank combined with lots of ice to deliver a hands-on user experience with a delicious payoff. The best old-fashioned ice cream makers on the market are great for keeping family members or partygoers of every age engaged and entertained with a truly novel group activity.
The specialized designs and materials of old-fashioned ice cream makers often come at a cost that’s comparable to pure electric models, but this is typically offset by the inclusion of modern options and features for added versatility. When shopping for an old-fashioned ice cream maker, look for a design that includes an electric motor option to ensure that you’re able to get the most flexibility out of your purchase and use it in a variety of circumstances.

Best old-fashioned ice cream maker: Elite Gourmet Electric Motorized Maker

Manual or Electric

Crank yourself, or let the motor do the work.
Elite Gourmet

Elite Gourmet’s old-fashioned ice cream maker (available in 4 quart and 6 quart sizes) is a versatile answer to traditional electric designs, offering a preparation process built upon rock salt and lots of ice in a classic wooden bucket (salt lowers the freezing temperature of the water, making things colder). Users can dial in their ideal experience by choosing between the included whisper-quiet 90 RPM electric motor or the hand crank to prepare soft-serve goodness, and the removable internal aluminum canister allows for easy cleanup and storage.

Bring nostalgic treats straight to your kitchen with a soft-serve machine

Soft-serve ice cream is a popular variant of the frozen treat, given a silky, light texture by infusing the ice cream with air while churning. While most soft-serve machines are bulky and expensive pieces of equipment that would be impractical for home users, there are a handful of companies manufacturing compact models aimed squarely at home users and families.

Much like their commercial counterparts, the best soft-serve ice cream machines for personal use are set apart from other ice cream makers by offering integrated dispensing options for serving directly into a cone or cup. These soft-serve machine designs are a great option for parties and families with kids due to their speed and novelty, especially if you go with a model that offers automatic toppings of sprinkles, nuts, and more.

Best soft-serve ice cream maker: Cuisinart Mix It In Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker

Silky Smooth

An integrated condiment dispenser allows for the instantaneous addition of toppings.

Here’s a Cuisinart ice cream maker that will prepare up to 1.5 quarts of ice cream in as little as 20 minutes and allow you to automatically apply up to three toppings. The soft-serve ice cream maker includes a double-insulated freezer bowl and contains plenty of easy-to-clean BPA-free parts. Soft-serve ice cream is dispensed in one motion, just like on commercial machines, and its included cone holder accommodates an entire stack of ice cream cones.

The best kids ice cream makers offer a hands-on experience

While many products for kids attempt to blur the line between toy and useful tool, few are as fun as an ice cream maker. Even the most basic designs can be considered an appropriate device for keeping kids entertained with hands-on preparation, but if you’re looking for a truly special experience that simply can’t be replicated otherwise, an ice cream maker cleverly disguised as an interactive toy is by far the best way to keep kids coming back for more.

When shopping for an appropriate kids ice cream maker, hand-crank designs are likely to be the most common variety you’ll encounter, but we highly recommend opting for a toy-like design, such as a rolling ball. These balls contain ice and rock salt, much like old-fashioned manual designs, but instead of churning, you use kinetic energy by rolling the ball around. Because of this mechanism, ice cream balls are much better suited to group collaboration and also provide kids with a relatable illustration of motion’s role in preparing ice cream.

Best kids ice cream maker: Play and Freeze Ice Cream Ball

Great for Kids

Creates ready-to-eat desserts with a simple rolling motion.

Kids will love this ice cream ball from Play and Freeze thanks to its interactive design that encourages play, learning, and collaboration. It requires no electricity and relies upon salt, ice, and manual agitation to render a pint of ice cream in roughly 30 minutes. This kids ice cream maker is a great option for teaching scientific principles in a fun and unique way.

Even cheaper kitchen appliances can deliver quality results

It’s easy to enjoy homemade ice cream on a budget, with plenty of manufacturers offering barebones ice cream makers at an accessible price point. Less expensive ice cream makers won’t have compressors to keep things cold, so you’ll have to go with either a rock salt-and-ice combination or a bowl that you freeze overnight. We like the rock-salt version because it requires less forethought.

One benefit of this style is that these machines don’t have a large, dedicated refrigeration system, so these budget options are often more compact than one might expect. Motorized stirring is also frequently present in the lower price bracket, so you won’t have to settle for a manually operated ice cream machine if you’re just looking to save a few bucks. When shopping for a cheap ice cream maker, it’s especially important to keep an eye on the capacity of your desired unit, as they often become smaller as the price gets lower.

Best budget ice cream maker: Hamilton Beach 68330N Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Easy to Use

This compact model offers an impressive 4-quart capacity on a budget.
Hamilton Beach

Here’s a Hamilton Beach ice cream maker that comes with the same features you’d expect from a pricier model. It’s fully motorized and equipped with automatic timers, and all it requires is ice and rock salt. It’s designed with an easy-lock lid to prevent spills and includes over 20 ice cream recipes that are sure to spark inspiration for users of every taste.

Cuisinart ICE-21P1: Features

We noticed the ICE-2P1 is a better mixer than other ice cream makers because it is designed better. This Cuisinart differs from most other ice cream machines because the churning motor sits in its base. The motor spins the freezer bowl and the dasher, which is the tool that mixes the ingredients. Conversely, traditional rock salt ice cream makers only spin the dasher because their motors are located at the top of the machine. However, this leaves bits of ingredients that don&rsquot get churned stuck to the dasher or side of the bowl.

We found it was easy to add extra treats, such as chocolate chips and nuts, to the ice cream in the Cuisinart ICE-21P1 if we waited until it was about soft-serve consistency. At that stage, the dasher easily folded and mixed the pieces into the ice cream and spread them evenly throughout the freezer bowl.

Best Hand-Crank Ice Cream Makers

Old fashioned hand-crank ice cream makers (which use ice and salt) might be a bit messier, but there’s a reason the pros love them.

“The key to making the smoothest, creamiest ice cream is to freeze your liquid mix into ice cream as quickly as possible,” says Ample Hill’s Smith. “The longer it takes for the product to turn from a liquid to a solid, the more time that ice crystals have to grow. Surprisingly, the old-fashioned hand-crank machines that use ice and salt are much faster because of the chemical reaction of salt and ice. A one-quart hand crank machine can turn liquid ice cream mix into a solid in just 10 to 12 minutes, which means smoother and creamier ice cream!”

Best Overall Hand-Crank Machine: Immergood Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker

For an ice cream maker you can pass down for generations, check out Immergood’s hand crank machine. It’s made of sturdy stainless steel, which not only prevents leaks but also keeps contents colder than wooden versions. Plus, its triple-motion dasher churns a generous 6 quarts, which is perfect for sharing at family gatherings    

Amazon shoppers call the Immergood an incredibly durable machine, leaving it an impressive 4.7-star rating. “This thing is built like a tank, all heavy, stainless steel parts and a sturdy bucket,” one wrote. “I expect this ice cream maker to outlive me. It will definitely be the last one I ever need to buy.”

A second said, “My wife and I are in our mid 70s and we purchased the hand crank so that we could take the ice cream maker on picnics. It is not hard to crank. Makes ice cream quickly, 20 minutes or less and your ice cream is done.”


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