‘I scream, you scream, we all scream for… ICE CREAM!’ Whether it is a hot summer’s evening or a cold winter’s afternoon, there is nothing more refreshing and uplifting than a bowl of fresh ice cream. If you are a lover of ice cream, you know that there is no denying how delicious and comforting a great tasting bowl of ice cream can be; however, while you may enjoy buying pre-made packages of ice cream at the grocery store or at your local ice cream shop, there is no denying how much it can hit your pocket. Good quality ice cream can be down-right expensive. Whether you are looking for a way to save money on buying ice cream, or you want to have access to fresh ice cream any time of the day or night, an ice cream maker is an excellent addition to your kitchen. While many consider it a luxury purchase, if you truly love ice cream, you will see it as a necessity.
Having an ice cream maker means that you can make fresh ice cream, and ice cream of any flavor you desire, whenever you feel like it. If you are shopping for an ice cream maker, you are going to find that there are a lot of options to choose from. So, how do you know which ice cream maker you should choose? To help you find the best option for your needs, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide. With this guide, you will have all of the information that you will need to find the best ice cream maker for your specific needs.
Types of Ice Cream Makers
If you want to get the best ice cream that will perfectly satisfy your taste buds, the first thing you needs, the first thing you need to know is that there are different types of ice cream makers; and you are going to need to know the difference between each of these different types of ice cream makers in order to purchase the best type for your specific needs.
They types of ice cream makers can be differentiated by the method that is used to actually create the ice cream. With that said, there are four main types of ice cream makers:
- The hand crank ice cream maker
- The pre-freeze ice cream maker
- The compressor ice cream maker
- The soft serve ice cream maker
The Hand Crank Ice Cream Maker
If the art of making your own ice cream is something that intrigues you, than a hand crank ice cream maker is an excellent option for you. Often offered in a vintage design, the hand crank ice cream maker allows you to experience the fun of turning milk or cream, and any other ingredients that you may add, into your own ice cream. Typically, a hand crank ice cream maker is comprised of a small bowl, which is placed on the inside of a larger bowl. Usually, rock salt and ice are added to the larger canister, and the ingredients are placed in the smaller canister. A hand crank is used to manually churn the ingredients, which are rotated around and exposed to the cold temperatures that the rock salt creates and ice creates. The major advantage of a hand crank ice cream maker is that it is usually less expensive than other types of ice cream makers. On the downside, a hand crank ice cream maker usually cannot be used to make large batches of ice cream, and the manual operation can be quite cumbersome and time consuming.
The Pre-Freeze Ice Cream Maker
The pre-freeze ice cream maker is one of the most popular options used for making ice cream in the home. Typically easier to use and quicker than a hand crank ice cream maker, and less expensive than other options, the pre-freeze ice cream maker is a great choice. This type of ice cream maker is either attached to a stand mixer or a stand-alone machine. The canister needs to be frozen before making ice cream, hence the ‘pre-freeze’ in the name. Freezing time for the canister depends on the model, with some machines requiring just a few hours of freeze time, and others needing longer times for freezing prior to the churning process. The need to freeze this type of ice cream maker may be problematic if you want to make ice cream that will be ready instantaneously.
The Compressor Ice Cream Maker
If you want to make ice cream quickly, than a compressor ice cream maker is a great option for you. You do not need rock salt and ice to create your ice cream, and you don’t have to do any pre-freezing. Additionally, this type of ice cream maker can be used to make larger batches of ice cream with ease. On the downside, the compressor ice cream maker is usually more expensive than the other options; however, the added expense will be well worth your while if you want to make ice cream quickly and with ease.
The Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
If you enjoy soft serve ice cream, this is the type of ice cream maker that you are going to want to get. It requires absolutely no freezing time after the churning process, which means that you can enjoy your ice cream right after you are done making it. The soft serve ice cream maker can also be used to make other types of frozen treats, such as frozen yogurt and Gelato. Do note, however, that depending on the model that you purchase, you may need to use rock salt and ice cubes to prepare this type of ice cream maker before using.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Ice Cream Maker
In order to choose the best ice cream maker for your needs, there are a number of factors that you are going to want to take into consideration. By taking certain factors into consideration, you will be able to choose the best type of ice cream maker for your specific needs. Some of the most important factors to consider include the size of the ice cream maker, the speed at which it takes to make ice cream and the price of the ice cream maker, among other things. To learn more about the important factors that should be taken into consideration when purchasing in ice cream maker, please keep on reading.
The Capacity of the Ice Cream Maker
One of the most important factors that you are going to want to take into consideration is the capacity of the ice cream maker. These machines come in several different sizes, and the size that you will need is directly dependant on the amount of ice cream that you are going to want to make. Larger capacity ice cream makers usually have a higher price tag, but they can make larger batches of ice cream, which makes spending the added money worth your while if you want to make larger quantities of ice cream. Larger capacity ice cream makers will also require more time to prepare than smaller models; but again, they will yield more ice cream in one use, and you won’t have to prepare the ice cream maker again and again, which, in the long run, could translate to less preparation time.
The Amount of Time to Prepare
You are also going to want to consider the amount of time it takes to prepare your ice cream when choosing an ice cream maker. The amount of time required depends on two factors: The time it takes to churn the ice cream and the time it takes to freeze it. The churning time usually depends on the capacity of the appliance. For example, machines that have a smaller capacity can churn ice cream in about 15 to 20 minutes, while larger capacity machines will take about 30 or even 40 minutes to properly churn your mixture. The amount of time it takes to churn your ice cream will also depend on whether the ice cream maker is an automatic or hand crank model.
The time it takes to prepare your ice cream will also be influenced by the freezing time that is required. Some ice cream makers require the canister to be frozen over night, or at least a few hours, before use, which will lengthen the amount of time that is needed to make your ice cream. If you don’t want to wait for a long period of time for freezing, you may want to consider an ice cream maker the bowl to be treated with rock salt and ice before use, which will eliminate the need for any pre-freezing. Do note that ice cream makers that do use rock salt and ice usually turn out soft serve ice cream; if you want ice cream that has a harder consistency, than you will have to freeze the ice cream after you churn it.
The Ease of Use
You should also consider how easy the ice cream maker is to use. Electric models are the easiest to use, as you don’t have to exert any physical effort to create your ice cream. Ice cream makers that are powered by electricity use an automated paddle or a mixing blade, which churns the mixture until it transforms into a creamy consistency. Hand crank models are more difficult to use and require more effort, but they cost less money than electric ice cream machines. Also, hand crank ice cream machines make small batches of ice cream, which is something that you are going to consider if you want to make large amounts of ice cream.
The price of the ice cream maker is also a factor that you are going to want to take into consideration. These machines can vary significantly in price. Hand crank models usually are the least expensive option; however, they also churn out smaller batches of ice cream and require more effort. Electric models can make larger batches of ice cream and need less effort, but they usually cost more. Also, ice cream makers that offer more features will have a higher price tag, which is something that you are going to want to take into consideration.
Features Ice Cream Makers Can Offer
There are a number of features that ice cream makers can offer. These features are intended to make the ice cream maker easier to use, and they can make them more versatile. As mentioned above, the more features an ice cream maker offers, the more expensive it will be. In order to determine whether certain features – and their added expense – are worth your while, keep on reading to learn more about some of the most popular features that ice cream makers can offer.
Integrated Measuring Cups
To make adding ingredients to your ice cream maker easier, some ice cream makers feature integrated measuring cups. Simply add your ingredients and you will be able to measure them with ease.
Multiple Speed Settings
This feature will allow you to make different textures of ice cream with ease. Simply select the speed setting you desire and the ice cream maker will create the type of ice cream you want without any additional work.
Push Button Controls
With push button controls, all you have to do is push a button and your ice cream maker will start working to create the perfect ice cream for you.
A warranty will protect your investment. Should anything happen to your ice cream maker during the span of the warranty, you can have it repaired or replaced.
Best Ice Cream Maker Brands
To find the best ice cream maker for your needs, consider choosing one of the following brands.
Hamilton Beach is highly regarded for producing excellent kitchen appliances, and their ice cream makers are no exception. They are high quality, durable and easy to use.
Another excellent ice cream maker brand is Kitchen Aid, which is also a highly regarded producer of kitchen appliances. Their ice cream makers are easy to use and produce excellent ice cream.
We also really like the ice cream makers that Cuisinart makes. This company is well known for making some of the highest quality kitchen appliances, and their ice cream makers are some of the best on the market.