Best Shaved Ice Makers of 2018
A shaved ice maker is great for making slushies, frappuccinos, smoothies, cocktails, and other chilled drinks. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best shaved ice maker to make your favorite specialty treats.
Stay Cool: A Guide to the Best Shaved Ice Makers
On a hot summer day, few things beat cooling off with a cone of shaved ice. While usually enjoyed at fairs or festivals, with an at-home shaved ice maker you can enjoy a slushy whenever you want.
Shaved ice makers range from basic hand-crank models to commercial behemoths that process hundreds of pounds of ice an hour. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to decide which shaved ice maker is right for your kitchen. If you need some help shopping, you're in luck.
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If you're ready to purchase a shaved ice maker, scroll up for BestReviews' top picks. For everything you need to know before you buy one of these fun kitchen machines, you've come to the right place.
Are Shaved Ice Makers and Snow Cone Makers the Same Thing?
A shaved ice maker is just what it sounds like: a machine that makes shaved ice. Traditionally, shaved ice is served in a cone (a bit like a snow cone) and topped with syrup. You can also use shaved ice in a range of other recipes, for instance in slushies, frappuccinos, smoothies, cocktails, and other chilled drinks.
Shaved ice makers are sometimes confused with snow cone makers, but they are different. Shaved ice makers produce soft, fluffy ice, whereas snow cone machines produce hard, crunchy ice.
Hand Crank vs. Automatic: Types of Shaved Ice Makers
Let's look at the pros, cons, and prices of the different types of shaved ice makers.
Manual Shaved Ice Makers
Manual shaved ice makers don't have a motor. Instead, manual shaved ice makers are operated by a hand crank.
- Manual shaved ice makers are simple to operate.
- Since they don't have motors, manual shaved ice makers don't require a power outlet. With a manual shaved ice maker, you can make shaved ice outdoors on a hot day.
- Manual shaved ice makers are usually safe for children to use, as their sharp parts are fully enclosed.
- Manual shaved ice makers have a low output and are fairly slow.
- You don't always get the best results with manual shaved ice makers.
- An average manual shaved ice maker costs around $15 to $30.
Electric Shaved Ice Makers
Electric shaved ice makers have a motor and are designed for home use. Some electric shaved ice makers have an extremely high output, whereas others only make a few shaved ice cones at a time.
- Electric shaved ice makers tend to give quick, even results.
- Electric shaved ice makers tend to be easy to operate.
- Some electric shaved ice makers are safe enough for kids to use with adult supervision.
- Inexpensive electric shaved ice makers can give poor results.
- Expect to pay about $30 to $70 on an electric shaved ice maker for home use.
Commercial Shaved Ice Makers
Commercial shaved ice makers are high-output machines designed for professional use. You can use a commercial shaved ice maker at home if you need a lot of ice for a large party or gathering.
- Commercial shaved ice makers tend to make the softest, fluffiest shaved ice.
- You can produce a lot of shaved ice fast with a commercial shaved ice maker.
- Commercial shaved ice makers are made to stand up to heavy-duty use.
- Commercial shaved ice makers are expensive.
- Commercial shaved ice makers usually cost between $200 and $500.
Ice and Speed: What Else to Consider When Buying Shaved Ice Makers
Shaved ice makers either use large blocks of ice or regular ice cubes. Shaved ice makers that use ice blocks generally produce the fluffiest and most even results. However, it's much easier to make or buy regular ice cubes. While a shaved ice maker that uses ice cubes might not give you perfect results, it's more practical for the average home user.
Some shaved ice makers work more quickly than others. Many commercial shaved ice makers can tackle 350 pounds of ice or more per hour, whereas some high-end home models can shave a smaller (but still respectable) 150 pounds of ice per hour. Basic shaved ice makers are not designed to tackle high volumes. Think family use, rather than event or party use, with a basic shaved ice maker.
Tips for Using Shaved Ice Makers
- Consider the size of a shaved ice maker. Commercial shaved ice makers and some high-end home machines are quite large, whereas basic home shaved ice makers are compact. Be sure you have enough room to store your shaved ice maker.
- Think about how often you'll use your shaved ice maker. If you're planning daily shaved ice all summer, look for a high-end shaved ice maker. If realistically you'll only use your shaved ice maker occasionally, a basic model will suffice.
- Look for a shaved ice maker that's easy to clean. Some models can be a pain to clean, as they must be essentially disassembled each time. Other shaved ice makers can be simply wiped down or have dishwasher-safe parts.
- Read the manual carefully before operating your shaved ice maker. While they might seem innocuous, shaved ice makers have sharp, fast-moving blades that can do real damage. Don't operate your shaved ice maker until you've read the instructions.
- Consider the build quality of your shaved ice maker. Look for one made from stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic. Shaved ice makers made from flimsy plastic are unlikely to stand up to regular use.
Q. Is it safe for children to operate a shaved ice maker?
A. Some shaved ice makers are safer to operate than others. Shaved ice makers designed for home use, for example, are usually simple enough for children to use with adult help. Commercial shaved ice makers are much more powerful and have very sharp, fast-moving parts. As such, BestReviews recommends commercial shaved ice makers be operated by adults only.
Q. Are shaved ice makers easy to use?
A. A good shaved ice maker should be simple to use. Shaving ice is a straightforward concept, and a shaved ice maker should be easy to operate. Some shaved ice makers simply have an on/off switch, whereas others also have a handle to push ice down a chute. The most basic manual shaved ice makers are operated via a hand crank.
Q. What can I use to flavor shaved ice?
A. Many people use syrup to flavor shaved ice, but really your imagination is the limit. Instead of traditional syrups with artificial flavoring, you could try pouring pureed fruit, fruit juice, coconut milk, or flavored seltzer on top of your shaved ice. Adults might also enjoy shaved ice with strong espresso or a creamy liqueur or other alcohol. Rather than simply eating shaved ice, you can also use shaved ice to make frozen drinks, which are extremely refreshing on a hot day.