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The 11 Best Ice Cream Makers to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Home

The people have spoken, and they love homemade ice cream.
By Ariel Klein
July 12, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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Remember the days of hearing the faint jingle of the ice cream truck growing louder and louder as it approached your street? There was nothing more exciting than running out to catch the truck, scanning the never-ending menu, and enjoying your prized frozen treat. Even if it's been some time since you've chased down the neighborhood ice cream truck, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth.

It may sound like a big undertaking, but ice cream is actually one of the easiest desserts to whip up from scratch. But with so many different types of ice cream makers out there, it can be challenging to find the right one for your household. Every ice cream gadget works differently, which means the final frozen product from each appliance will vary. Ahead, learn more about some of the most common types of ice cream makers.

Hand-Crank Ice Cream Makers

Did you know it's possible to make ice cream without even putting it in the freezer? People have been using hand-crank machines for decades, and it's still the preferred option for some. Hand-crank machines typically consist of a bucket and a crank. There's a mixing chamber on the inside of the bucket that holds ice and salt to help freeze the ingredients. Each batch takes about 20 to 25 minutes to make. If you want thinner ice cream, crank very quickly; if you prefer thicker frozen desserts, slow it down. Not only are hand-crank machines nostalgic, but they're also affordable and don't require electricity, so you can make ice cream anywhere, anytime. 

Frozen-Bowl Ice Cream Makers

Another popular method of making ice cream is with a freezer bowl. This type of machine works exactly as its name suggests: It's a bowl that you freeze for six hours before use. Freezer bowls usually contain a special gel that gets exceedingly cold and allows your ingredients to freeze while being mixed together. This is an affordable option for making ice cream at home, but since it requires a little bit of prep time, you won't be able to just make ice cream on a whim. 

Compressor Ice Cream Makers

If you're serious about making ice cream, you may consider investing in a compressor machine, one of the fancier options available. All you have to do is pour your mixture into the machine, press a button, and wait until your ice cream is ready. Compressor machines are great for large groups or parties because you can make batch after batch without too much of a wait time. Plus, most models have various functions to make sorbet, frozen yogurt, and gelato, in addition to ice cream. 

Before making a final decision, it's a good idea to consider how much space you have to store an ice cream maker, whether you'll need something dishwasher-safe, and if you'll use it to make other frozen treats aside from just ice cream. Lastly, think about how much you want to invest in your purchase. There's something for every price range, so keep scrolling to see 11 of the best ice cream makers for you and your family. 

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Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Compressor
Credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Best Compressor Ice Cream Maker: Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Compressor

Want to make homemade ice cream but don't have a ton of time? It doesn't get any easier than the Breville Smart Scoop machine. This fully automatic compressor is ideal for those who want to make high-quality frozen treats in less than an hour. While it may not be the most affordable option, the Breville Smart Scoop is built to last. Many users gave it a five-star rating. "It can make anything you want," wrote one reviewer. Choose from one of 12 unique settings, including a "hold" feature to keep your desserts cold for up to three hours.

Buy It: Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker ($500, Williams Sonoma)

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Frozen-Bowl Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart 1.5-Quart Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Maker

There are so many reasons to love this freezer bowl ice cream maker from Cuisinart. It's compact enough to conveniently store or sit on your countertop, and it's relatively affordable, costing $70. Don't be fooled by the price point because this freezer bowl is equipped with a forceful mixing paddle and a powerful motor, giving you creamy frozen treats time and time again. Nearly 14,000 Amazon shoppers have left it positive reviews, with one mentioning, "I'm in love and keep kicking myself for not buying one sooner!" Another five-star reviewer wondered, "how have I lived so long in life without this?" If you're leaning towards getting an ice cream maker that's simple and straightforward, this option from Cuisinart is a great pick. 

Buy It: Cuisinart 1.5-Quart Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Maker ($70, Amazon)

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Hand-Crank Ice Cream Maker: Immergood Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker

If you're someone who craves nostalgia in the form of hand cranked ice cream, Immergood's stainless steel machine should be your next splurge. This old-school gadget can make 6 quarts of ice cream per batch, which is more than average. It also has a sturdy stainless steel bucket to keep the ice cream cold and triple layer construction to prevent leaks. This durable hand-crank machine received rave reviews by many Amazon shoppers. "[I've] bought several ice cream makers and this is hands down the best," one reviewer says. 

Buy It: Immergoods Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker ($369, Amazon)

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Best Ice Cream Maker Attachment: KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment

A KitchenAid stand mixer is one of the most versatile appliances you can own. It works with attachments to make fresh pasta, spiralized veggies, ground meat, and, you guessed it, homemade ice cream. The ice cream maker attachment includes a mixing bowl that has to be frozen prior to use and a mixer that helps create silky smooth treats—no elbow grease required. It costs just under $100, making it a great option for people who already have a KitchenAid stand mixer.

Buy It: KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment ($90, Williams Sonoma)

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Single-Serve Ice Cream Maker: Zoku Ice Cream Maker

Who says homemade ice cream can only be made in large batches? The Zoku ice cream maker can make a single serving of soft-serve or ice cream in 20 minutes or less, and it requires minimal preparation and clean up. It's small enough to always keep in the freezer, so you don't have to remember to pre-freeze the bowl. Otherwise, you'll have to give it at least 12 hours to chill in advance before pouring your chilled mixture inside. Then you can use your best ice cream making skills to stir and scrape until the ice cream or frozen yogurt begins to form. At just $25, the Zoku is a great option to start making ice cream with. 

But It: Zoku Ice Cream Maker ($28, Amazon)

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Ice Cream Maker For Kids: YayLabs Softshell Ice Cream Ball

Some of the best things in life are worth working for, and that includes homemade ice cream. The YayLabs softshell ice cream ball will have your kids earning their after-dinner dessert in a fun and active way. This ice cream ball is simple to use and fun to bring along to family picnics, barbeques, and birthday parties. To start making ice cream, all you have to do is pour your chilled mixture into one end of the ball and add ice and rock salt into the other side. Then play a game of catch for 20 to 30 minutes while the ice cream forms. The YayLabs ice cream ball comes in bright, bold colors, and once the ice cream is ready, you can enjoy it right from the source. While this ice cream maker is ideal for kids, it's hard to resist the fun as an adult. Hundreds of Amazon shoppers gave it a five-star rating, and one reviewer said, "I have never had more fun making ice cream." 

Buy It: YayLabs Softshell Ice Cream Ball ($48, Amazon)

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Large Batch Ice Cream Maker: Whynter Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Whether you have a large ice cream-loving family or enjoy hosting big events, this machine from Whynter is just the thing to whip up big batches of frozen dessert. It's more expensive than other options, but it makes up to 2 quarts of high-quality ice cream at once—some other machines only make up to 1.5 quarts. And if you're looking for something that feels a bit more industrial and professional, the Whynter is your best bet. It has a stainless steel bucket that doesn't need to be frozen in advance and a powerful, built-in compressor that churns the ice cream automatically. Although this ice cream maker looks heavy duty, many reviewers say it's easy to use. It's "simple and gets the job done," according to one shopper.

Buy It: Whynter Automatic Ice Cream Maker ($256, Amazon)

Cuisinart Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Best Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker

Cuisinart makes one of the best appliances for those who prefer classic soft serve. Similar to other freezer-bowl machines, this soft-serve maker has to be pre-chilled before use, but it will make you feel as if you have a mini soft-serve parlor in your kitchen. It even comes with a built-in cone holder and a topping dispenser, so you can add sprinkles, chocolate chips, and nuts to your frozen creations. The machine can make 1.5 quarts of soft-serve ice cream in about 20 minutes, and it's a great activity for the kids, too. 

Buy It: Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker ($130, Target)

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Gelato Maker: Cuisinart Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

If you've ever had authentic gelato, you already know that it's almost impossible to find the real deal at most ice cream shops. The biggest difference between gelato and ice cream is that gelato is made with less cream, which gives it that special consistency. While many ice cream makers have multi-functional features, this Cuisinart model is known for whipping up high-quality gelato that's almost like the real thing in Italy. In fact, one reviewer claimed that they "couldn't even taste the difference" between authentic gelato and their homemade batch. And if you're craving classic ice cream, this machine can make that too with a different paddle attachment. 

Buy It: Cuisinart Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker, $259 (originally $545), Amazon

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Multi-Purpose Ice Cream Maker: Chef'n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream Maker

Making frozen treats requires science, patience, and creativity. But if you want to whip something up in a pinch, there's the Sweet Spot Instant ice cream maker from Chef'n. It's versatile, allowing you to make ice cream, dairy-free alternatives, slushies, frozen margaritas, and more. The simple tray has a fast-freezing surface so your ingredient mixture will instantly begin to harden when placed on top of it. Then you can scoop and turn the mix until you create your desired texture. Use it to easily prepare a variety of frozen treats without making a big mess. 

Buy It: Chef'n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream Maker, $45 (originally $60), Amazon

Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Vegan Ice Cream Maker: Yonanas Classic Fruit Soft-Serve Maker

Whether you're lactose-intolerant, vegan, or simply in the mood for a lighter frozen treat option, fruit soft-serve tastes just as indulgent without the heavy ingredients. With this machine, you can use fruits like bananas, mango, strawberries, and blueberries to make chilled desserts that taste just as indulgent as classic ice cream and will satisfy your sweet tooth. Yonanas Classic Fruit Soft-Serve Maker received over 8,000 rave reviews on Amazon, with one shopper saying, "People of the Amazon: I hereby proclaim this the greatest thing ever created." Other purchasers mentioned how easy this machine is to use and clean. 

Buy It: Yonanas Classic Fruit Soft-Serve Maker ($50, Amazon)