When shopping for the best soft-serve ice cream machine, among the few factors to consider are the power, machine size, and the features it has. I’ve put together the best soft-serve ice cream machines you could get in the market today. In this article, I’ll talk you through finding the best ice cream makers. So, you can make delectable, creamy scoops in the comfort of your home.
Don’t you just love the taste of delicious, creamy, soft-serve ice cream that melts in your lips? The idea of having a cone of these irresistible desserts reminds me of summer. No matter what flavor you fancy, it’s always best to make them at home.
But to make good ice cream for you and your family to enjoy, you will need the best soft-serve ice cream machine for home use. Homemade ice cream tastes better than those you buy from the store since you can tweak your recipes the way you want.
Making them at home is particularly vital whether you get allergic reactions or want to avoid specific ingredients or flavorings. Churning out ice cream also makes a fun bonding activity with kids. To me, it’s kind of like a therapeutic activity with people I love to share delicious ice cream with!
My Top Picks
|Best Overall||Cuisinart ICE-21P1 Ice Cream Maker||– 1.5-Quart capacity- Patent-pending paddle- Double-insulated freezer bowl- Easy-lock transparent lid- Large ingredient spout- Rubber Feet- Cord Storage- Limited 3-year warranty||Check on Amazon|
|Runner Up, Best Overall||Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker||– 2-Quart capacity- Control panel with LCD screen – Countdown timer; auto-shutoff- 3 Speed settings- Ingredient spout- Built-in measuring cup- BPA-free||Check on Amazon|
|Best Value||Cuisinart ICE-30BC Automatic Ice Cream Maker||– 2-Quart capacity- Brushed stainless-steel case- Double-insulated freezer bowl- Large ingredient spout- Cord storage- BPA-free||Check on Amazon|
|Best Design||Nostalgia Electric Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker||– 6-Quart capacity- Real wood construction- Lovely vintage design- Motor lock system- Easy carry handle||Check on Amazon|
|Best for Vegan Ice Cream||Yonanas Frozen Fruit Soft Serve Dessert Maker||– 200 Watts- 120 Volts- Built-in spinning blade- Dishwasher-safe chute and plunger- BPA-free- 1-year warranty||Check on Amazon|
Here Are the Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Machines
If you’re not sure which ice cream machine to get for home use, I did the hunt for you and came up with a brief introduction to these models. Each has its pros and cons, so it’s up to you to assess which one will work for you based on your needs.
Cuisinart ICE-21P1 Ice Cream Maker – Best Overall
The Cuisinart ICE-21P1 Ice Cream Maker could be an excellent machine for your soft-serve ice cream because not only is it budget-friendly, but it also offers many great features. I came across this review from a user talking about how impressive and easy to use this ice cream machine is.
It’s also lightweight. This model makes up to 1.5 quarts of ice cream in around 20 minutes using an insulated freezer bowl. It offers you the flexibility to make gelato, frozen yogurt, sorbet, or even frozen drinks. Its heavy-duty motor effectively processes various ice cream flavors. The freezer bowl features a paddle that aerates your ice cream ingredients.
And as the machine churns, its large ingredient spout lets you add any extra crunchers like nuts. Its nonslip feet are another useful feature in keeping the machine securely in place. The lids let you monitor the process. Allowing you to have more control over it. It also comes with a lengthy three-year warranty.
– Allows versatility in the kitchen
– No need to load the machine with more ice or rock salt.
– Large spout for easy pouring of ingredients
– Comes with a 3-year warranty
– Loud operation
– Lightweight; may give it a cheap feel
Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker – Runner Up, Best Overall
Here’s another model from the same brand that’s been tried and tested for efficiency ad durability. The Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker makes 2 quarts of ice cream per batch. It features an easy-to-read LCD on the control panel that allows you to adjust the speed settings to your liking.
The above features are useful for making gelato, sorbet, and of course, soft-serve ice cream. Each feature’s duration is automatically adjusted though you can customize it yourself. It also has an auto-shut mechanism that works when your time is up.
Its sleek brushed metal case matches the sweet treats it makes. The lid has a removable measuring cup, making it easy for you to gauge your ingredients. You’ll have to refrigerate the freezer bowl overnight. Or, you can store it in your freezer so when you’re in the mood for ice cream, it’s ready.
– Smart user-interface
– Automatic and manual options
– Large ingredient spout
– Some users find the freezer bowl heavy
– Loud operation
Cuisinart ICE-30BC Automatic Ice Cream Maker – Best Value
We all love to get our money’s worth. And that’s why the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Automatic Ice Cream Maker exists. This 2-quart machine has a nice brushed stainless-steel case with a double-insulated freezer bowl. The insulation will keep your ice cream chill for as long as possible.
This ice cream maker is easy to use. Using its built-in motor together with the freezer bowl, and automatic mixing paddle, this machine will take care of everything. In just 25 minutes, this fully automatic model can create delicious frozen yogurt, sorbet, and soft-serve ice cream.
All you have to do is put the ingredients in the machine, turn it on, and you’ll satisfy your frozen drinks and desserts cravings in no time. Its large ingredient spout makes it simple to add your favorite add-ins.
– Strong built-in motor
– Lovely brushed stainless-steel case
– Easy to use
– Loud operation
Nostalgia Electric Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker – Best Design
If you’re looking for a machine to spark life at an ice cream party, might as well bring the Nostalgia Electric Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker. I especially love the rustic, vintage wooden look of this model. This bucket features a generous 6 quarts capacity, which makes it an ideal machine if you want to make larger batches at a time. You’ll be making a literal bucket of sweetness with this one!
And what a blessing to have an ice cream maker with a generous 6 quarts of capacity. You can make frozen yogurt, or gelato quickly and easily. It features a locking motor mount that protects the engine from burning u too soon.
It’s easy to use, requiring you to simply put your ingredients in the canister in the center of the bucket. Then, you can cover with ice and salt, and let the electric motor take care of the rest. Its long-lasting churn paddle makes delicious, creamy soft-serve ice cream
This machine also has a bucket that is easy to maintain and an aluminum canister. Its easy-to-clean plastic liner makes cleanup a breeze. Plus, you can use the lid and lid cap that comes with the machine to keep leftovers in your freezer.
– Large capacity; no need to buy an extra canister
– Stylish vintage design
– Has great, useful mechanisms
– Easy to clean
– Needs ice and salt layered for frozen desserts
– The wood might develop splinters
Yonanas Frozen Fruit Soft Serve Dessert Maker – Best for Vegan Ice Cream
Why pay for expensive store-bought vegan ice creams, and make your own at home? The Yonanas Frozen Fruit Soft Serve Dessert Maker is ideal for those looking for joy delicious ice creams bring without feeling too guilty. If you like frozen desserts, you may love this machine.
This model is equipped with a 200-watts motor that transforms your frozen fruits and berries into a smooth, nice creamy consistency. It’s also an affordable proxy to the higher-end models, and it’s compact.
Don’t get me wrong — you can totally do this with a high-powered blender or food processor. But if you don’t have the patience to scrape out of the blender’s side, the Yonanas dessert maker works well. You can simply place feed your frozen fruit into the chute, press the plunger, and enjoy watching your fruit dispense out of the machine.
But like any appliance that uses power, expect this one to run loudly. It’s also worth noting that certain fruit soft serve can get caught up around the blade. You can remedy this by scraping the fruit into your dish while disassembling the components as you clean the unit.
The chute, plunger, and blade are top-rack dishwasher-safe. And it comes with a one-year warranty.
– Powerful motor churns out frozen fruits
– Great alternative to a blender or food processor
– Works well for vegan desserts
– Easy to use
– Dishwasher-safe removable parts
– Comes with a one-year warranty
– Loud operation
– Requires scraping ice cream from the blade
Choosing the Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine
Soft serve ice cream machines are a great investment, and it will be worth it if you get an ice cream maker that suits your budget and needs. They come in various features, capacities, and price points. Before you invest your money in one, you have to set your criteria right. You may refer to the handy buying guide to know more.
Since electric ice cream makers do most of the churning, making ice cream becomes as simple as putting your ingredients into it. then, all you have to do is press a button, and wait for the entire process to finish. Manual machines will demand extra effort from you since churning out ice cream can take more than 20 minutes. Also, it will be harder to do it as the ice cream solidifies.
Ice cream machines aren’t really household necessities, so it may be hard to find a dedicated space to store them. Even so, they’re a joy to play around with. If you want to have quick access to a cone of cold, smooth ice cream at home, you’ll have to find a unit that fits wherever you want to store it.
These machines come in a variety of sizes. You can pick from small single-serve designs that occupy small storage space to non-electric freezer bowls and bulky compressor models.
Many basic models only have an on/off switch. There are also features like timers, automatic shut-off, gelato settings, and special paddles. As well as many other functionalities. Most compressor-style ice cream machines offer more control systems. This allows you to make various types of ice cream than other machines.
Although models with more functions offer more flexibility, an ice cream machine with intuitive features makes it easy to use. Also, they are more affordable compared to the models with more features. An appliance meant for making food should be easy to use.
I also suggest you look into ice cream machines with a motor protection system. This feature protects or prevents the motor of your appliance from overheating.
When it comes to choosing a durable ice cream maker, make sure to look into the material it’s made of. Many models are crafted with food-grade metal with BPA-free plastic components. You’ll also come across ice cream machines made from durable and safe plastic material.
And if you want a dash of vintage vibe in your kitchen, you’ll find models made of wood. They have a rustic style that gives your ice cream a little bit of character, at least, that’s what I think.
When looking for a soft-serve ice cream machine, and they are typically available in 1 to 2 quarts in capacity. However, certain models also offer a more generous capacity, allowing you to make larger batches. Consider the amount of ice cream you’ll want to make in one go, or based on the size of your household.
Most ice cream machines make 1 to 2 quarts or 4 to 8 cups of ice cream at a time. You’ll also find models that can produce one single-serve cup of ice cream. Ice cream machines with larger capacities are ideal if you want to make ice cream in large batches. Otherwise, it would make sense to opt for a small-capacitated model.
Countless ice cream machines require the freezer bowl to be frozen before you churn out the ice cream. I find this impractical, especially if you don’t have a roomy freezer. Compressor models allow you to produce multiple batches at once, but they require more room. Plus, they cost more. You’ll also find ice cream machines with old-fashioned ice and salt freezing technique are also available.
Ease of use
Many ice cream machines are reliable if you want to make frozen yogurt or sorbet. Because of the fat content and air control, ice cream machines with gelato functionality seem to produce the best homemade gelato.
You’ll also find a handheld dispenser in some models. Certain ice cream machines offer variable speed and an LCD screen. If you want to invest in an ice cream maker, opt for features to your preferred quart-size. You’ll also have to consider what kind of ice cream you want, as well as the length it needs to process your dessert.
Types of Soft-Served Ice Cream Machines
Ice cream makers come in a range of styles to satisfy your needs. Some have freezer bowls, while others don’t. Here are a few options:
Soft serve ice cream machines typically come with a freezer bowl. They work in the same fashion as freezer bowl ice cream makers, but these models are made to maintain your ice cream’s temperature at a higher range. This way, it doesn’t solidify as much, making your ice cream nice and smooth.
Many ice cream machines have this design, which indicates that you must first freeze the bowl before you use it. The bowl may need to be frozen for several hours or even overnight.
Ice cream makers with compressors function like small freezers. Compressor-based models chill your ice cream after you add your ingredients. But with certain models of this type, you can pre-chill it before mixing your ingredients. They usually offer more functionalities, such as settings for gelato, sorbets, and other desserts
Certain models even have timing features. I think this is useful in keeping track of when to you when to add your ingredients. They even have the “keep-cold” feature. It maintains the ice cream’s temperature if you can’t put it in your freezer right away after churning.
Compressor-style ice cream is also the best if you want to make multiple batches at a time. They are expensive and much bulkier than other ice cream machines.
Home ice cream machines with freezer bowls are a crowd favorite. Most freezer bowls are electric, making them simple to operate and saving up counter space. You must place them in the freezer before you churn out your ice cream, about eight hours ahead. Before you start churning, you’ll need to first chill your mixture.
It’s a common occurrence for the bowl to warm up when churning a single batch of ice cream. The bowl warms up to the point where you can’t use it for a second batch. Certain ice cream machines come with an extra freezer bowl that lets you make two batches at once. But this can take ample space in your freezer.
Salt and Ice
Certain hand-cranked salt and ice models work by manually turning the paddle, and others are powered and do the work for you. You can make more than one batch of ice cream by cleaning the machine itself, adding more ice, salt, and your ingredients. Then you can churn out your ice cream again.
Going the salt and ice route means having a lot of ice and salt ready. But not so much that it fills up your ice cream machine. Otherwise, the cold, salty water will soak into your mixture, ruining it. Several salt and ice cream models offer generous capacities than other types of ice cream makers intended for household use.
Price and Warranty
Prices of ice cream machines vary greatly. When I was doing my research, I’ve found some models priced at as low as $50. While others can go as high as $300. I have some of the most budget-friendly ice cream machines on the list that may fall within your budget. But whichever you decide to get, ensure that it matches the budget you have.
Warranty is another factor to look into as they protect the money you invested in your ice cream machine. Most ice cream makers come with a one-year warranty, and some may even offer longer or shorter warranties. You are likely to notice manufacturing flaws at the beginning of your experience with a machine. Then comes the malfunctions due to daily use. If this happens, a basic warranty won’t protect your investment.
But if you take care of your machine, it can last longer than the warranty period offered by the manufacturer. Otherwise, you can opt for an extended warranty which you’ll need to pay for to cover accidental damage.
Is soft-serve better than scooped hard ice cream?
For some people, soft-serve ice cream tends to be a go-to. Soft serve ice cream has a fluffy texture and distinctive swirl. It holds its shape at lower temperatures better than hard serve because it contains less fat and more air.
What’s the difference between soft-serve ice cream and regular ice cream?
Soft serve ice cream comes out without scooping it out. With regular ice cream, you need to store it in a tub and scoop it up. Soft-serve ice cream is literally soft. It’s made just with 3-6 percent milkfat and kept at 25 degrees Fahrenheit. allowing it to be much smoother in texture than regular ice cream.
Can you leave soft serve ice cream mix inside soft serve machine overnight and use it again tomorrow?
Soft serve ice cream makers are effective at freezing and adding air to special liquid ice cream blends. So, they must operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is to avoid any inconsistencies or violations of the health code.
Is it possible to make gelato and frozen yogurt with an ice cream maker?
You can make gelato and frozen yogurt with an ice cream maker. However, an ice cream machine with dedicated configurations will churn and freeze your ice cream to perfection. Such functionalities are only available on electric ice cream makers, although not all of them. Check to see if the ice cream machine you want to get can give you the flexibility to make other desserts with it.
What’s the best way to clean an ice cream maker?
Always consult the user guide for tips and best methods if you want to keep your machine in tip-top shape. Since you can’t put most ice cream machines in the dishwasher, you’ll need to hand wash the removable parts.
Freezer bowls need to be hand-washed since the high temperatures may harm the insulated seal. Other components you need to handwash are the paddles and lids. Before reattaching and then using the machine, make sure all of the parts are completely dry.
My favorite on the list is the Cuisinart ICE-21P1 Ice Cream Maker because it allows versatility in the kitchen. Plus, it’s budget-friendlier compared to higher-end models that share the same features it has. The Cuisinart ICE-70 Electronic Ice Cream Maker could also be a savvy choice if you want a smart user interface that’s fully automatic.
If you want to get the most out of your investment, you may refer to the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Automatic Ice Cream Maker. This machine is intuitive and uses a strong built-in motor to churn out your ingredients into a nice, creamy, soft texture.
To add a dash of vintage vibe to your ice cream-making sessions, the Nostalgia Electric Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker exudes style. It offers a very generous capacity, so no need to buy an extra canister. It also has several handy features. For vegans, the Yonanas Frozen Fruit Soft Serve Dessert Maker may be a healthy choice. This model has a powerful motor and is a great alternative to a blender or food processor.
With all the topics I’ve covered in this article, the bottom line is this: what makes good soft-serve ice cream is a good machine. Your ice cream makers should have enough muscle to create a delectable, creamy bowl of goodness that you’ll enjoy.
Make sure to check out the latest prices on the machines above. and as always, good luck!