10 best ice-cream makers
Few sounds excite children more on a summer’s day than the jingle of an approaching ice-cream van. But there’s no need to leave your front door to enjoy delicious ice cream with these machines that enable you to create fabulous frozen treats at home.
There are two types of model – fully automatic (with inbuilt freezer) and manual ones (where you have to pre-freeze the bowl first). Make your decision based on your budget, how much ice cream you plan to make, how much storage space you have (smaller ones are about the size of a kettle, but larger ones can be as big as a food processor) and how organised you are. After all, pre-freezing the bowl means you’ll need to plan ahead and find space in your freezer, whereas a built-in freezer machine means you can make ice cream at a moment’s notice.
Whichever type you choose, make sure the bowls will fit in your freezer and be sure to check that, if you’re going for a bigger machine, it’s not too heavy and cumbersome to move. It’s also worth remembering that the size of the bowl is not an indication of the amount of ice cream the machine is able to make, as it doesn’t account for the paddle and ability to churn the ingredients. If you want to see how much ice cream you can make in one go, check the specifications, although as a general rule of thumb, manual machines make around 0.8 litres of ice cream, while fully automatic ones can make up to 1.5 litres.
To test them, we made a variety of ice creams and frozen desserts – yum.
1. Sage Smart Scoop: £280, amazon
This is the most intelligent ice-cream maker around. As you’d expect from a model of this price, it’s got a built-in freezer so there’s no need to pre-freeze the mixing bowl, but unusually, it has an inbuilt sensor to determine the consistency of your ice cream, sorbet, gelato or frozen yoghurt so that it can stop mixing when it’s ready. The results are delicious and it even plays an ice cream van jingle when it’s ready.
2. Gourmet Gadgetry Vintage Tea Party Ice Cream Maker: £30, IWOOT
Many makers in this price range produce clumpy ice cream and you have to do lots of stopping and scraping as the mixture climbs up the side of the bowl. Not so with this machine which has been designed to prevent this happening. It has a retro 1950s look and 1.2 litre bowl, making us deliciously smooth raspberry frozen yoghurt and lemon sorbet, as well as vanilla ice cream within half an hour. You’ll need to pre-freeze the bowl.
3. Aldi Ice Cream Maker: £15, Aldi
As with all Aldi Specialbuys, there is limited stock, so once these are gone, they’re gone. We found the compact machine – which is available in white, berry, turquoise or lilac – on par with good machines double its price and the detachable motor means it’s easy to clean too. Most importantly, it makes a litre of tasty ice cream. Pre-freeze the bowl first.
4. Judge Ice Cream Maker: £29, amazon
Once you’ve found room in your freezer to pre-freeze the bowl for eight hours, you’ll be ready to experiment with flavours such as salted caramel ice cream and mango sorbet, both of which worked a treat for us, and was ready in a quick 20 to 40 minutes, depending on consistency – although you might want to harden it up in the freezer before serving.
5. Kitchen Perfected 1.5L Yoghurt/Ice Cream Maker: £35, Wayfair
This churns smooth, light and creamy ice cream quickly and is less noisy than many. We tried summer berry and vanilla ice cream and both worked well. As with others in this price bracket, you’re best off storing the removable bowl in the freezer so it’s always ready to go. Simple enough to assemble, and easy to use.
6. Magimix Gelato Chef: £277, amazon
Uniquely, this comes with two stainless steel bowl options – one fixed, the other removable – so if you’re an ice cream obsessive, you can just keep making batch after batch. Put some time aside to assemble it, but once you’ve got it up and running, you just need to turn on the built-in freezer five minutes before you start and you can then make anything from rum and raisin ice cream to passion fruit sorbet, which comes out with a perfect consistency and is ready-to-eat. The paddle is removable, whch makes it easier to get the ice cream out of the bowl and it’s got a huge capacity, enabling you to make two lots of two pints’ worth of ice cream.
7. Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker: £240, amazon
If you’re a gelato enthusiast, this robust machine might just be your new best friend. There’s a special gelato paddle to help incorporate air into the recipe, while the ice-cream paddle incorporates less air for a richer, denser finish. The built-in freezer means there’s no need to pre-freeze the bowl, so you can make ice cream in just 40 minutes, but it is very big.
8. Lakeland Digital Ice-cream Maker: £23, amazon
This was a great buy when it first hit the shelves, so now it’s on sale for half-price, it’s astonishingly good value for a machine that’s a doddle to use and has a very clear digital timer. Particularly good for people without much storage space, this compact machine requires you to pre-freeze the bowl, pop on the lid and pour in the ingredients. Voila – scrumptious frozen pud.
9. Kenwood Chef Ice-cream Attachment: £50, amazon
If you don’t already own the Kenwood Chef food mixer, don’t bother reading on. But if you do, this attachment (one of a whopping 20 that fits this machine) is a sound investment that will bring much joy to pudding time in your household. Freeze the inner bowl and paddle for 24 hours before using, at the same time as making your mixture and leaving it in the fridge, then churn your mixture for 20 minutes for flavoursome frozen treats. We found the attachment fits really easily on the machine, with the freezer bowl and paddle slotting neatly into the mixing bowl.
10. Buffalo Ice Cream Maker: £168, amazon
Many professionals swear by this machine, despite it being significantly cheaper than most others with an inbuilt freezer. We think it’s down to the powerful churning and freezing action that means you get a professional finish in just 30 minutes. But be warned: the instruction manual could be more detailed and it can take time to get the right consistency when you first start using it.
It’s hard not to be wowed by Sage Smart Scoop – it has all the bells and whistles you can think of, and more, and makes delicious ice cream and other frozen treats. Our top choice for the manual range is Lakeland Digital Ice-cream Maker, which is easy to set up and use and makes gorgeous soft ice cream ready to serve – or freeze it for harder ice cream to enjoy later.