Which ice cream maker should I buy? Please share info.

BellsmomMarch 29, 2014

OK, my friends far more knowledgeable than I. I need some advice. Again. And you always come through.

I spent the day in a wonderful herb society luncheon. The theme was Salsa and Sorbet. The speaker on sorbets, ice creams, etc., was Billi Parus. She did a great job, managing to have samples of four ice creams or sorbets distributed to over 200 people!) and convinced me that I NEED an ice cream maker.

My husband eats ice cream nearly every day for dessert or evening snack (and is still thin as a rail, the rat!).

Billi recommended a Cuisinart, but not a particular model. I came home and read on line and I think I will not consider the Breville because of weight (35 or so pounds) and cost ($400), so Cuisinart it probably will be.

So, can you help me? Which model of Cuisinart have you used and loved? If you were buying now, which would you buy? Or is there another brand you recommend?


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We love our garage sale finds -- we have two. One is hand-crank (my husband bought it, so I told him HE is doing the cranking) and the other is electric. The hand crank is a White Mountain brand, and the electric one is a Sunbeam. I don't think we spent more than $5 on either one of them.

I bought one of those little miniature ice cream makers, where you freeze the bowls first. Then you put your ingredients in, put the electric beater top over it, plug it in and let it do its thing. I used to make ice cream from Yoplait light yogurts with that. I lost interest for a long time (but the bowls still maintain their rightful spot in the freezer, just in case I want to do that again....IF I can find the beater top!


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 8:10PM
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I have a Cuisinart ICE-20, which makes 1-1/2 quarts, which is pretty small, and I also have a Kitchenaid attachment, which makes 2 quarts, and I like the KA better, partly because it is bigger and partly because the Cuisinart is extremely noisy. When I use the Cuisinart, I put it in the guest room and close the door because I cannot close doors to my kitchen - they were removed before we bought the house, although I wish we still had them. The kitchen in Venice had pocket doors, and that was perfect because then I could block out noise when I wanted to.

Cuisinart makes a 2 quart ice cream maker, and so you might want to consider that, but find out how noisy it is first. It also looks like a better machine to me. It is easier to add ingredients to the Cuisinart, but it is also easy to add too much. The KA is awkward for adding ingredients, but I still like it better because of the noise factor.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 8:29PM
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I think I have the same one as Lars', which was $15 on sale, (shipping included!) Works fine.

The $400 one you mentioned is probably one with built-in compressor, which means you do not need to pre-cool the bucket in the freezer.

The hand crank (or motorized crank) type requires rock salt and crushed ice. They come is larger capacities.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:14PM
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I have never had homemade ice cream, so here comes a dumb question. Would the old way using rock salt and turning the crank make better tasting ice cream?
Also, am I missing out on a huge treat? Or is home made about the same as say, Ben and Jerry's?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:25PM
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Thank you, Donna and Lars.
Donna--I often check out our many local charity stores and have NEVER seen an ice cream maker! Probably will after I buy one.

Lars--I don't have a KA mixer, so the KA attachment is out. Thank you for mentioning capacity. I would very much prefer a 2 quart container. The Cuisinart ICE-30BC looks interesting for capacity, weight and price. It has pretty good reviews, too. Price at BB&B is $72 with 20% off coupon. It is $79 on Amazon.

I have read comments that the Cuisinart can be noisy. Not sure how to check that out. Maybe others who have used it will comment. At least at only 11 pounds, I could put it on the deck or in the pantry if the noise is a problem.

I believe the compressor styles are quieter as well as faster, but the weight is a big problem. I really don't want to tote a 35-40 pound appliance back and forth from pantry to countertop. Cost also is a deterrent for these compressor models. And I believe both the Cuisinart and Breville are only 1 1/2 qt capacity. The Whynter is 2 qt but does not get good reviews on Amazon.

I hope someone who uses a compressor style model will comment. And I'd love to hear from someone who uses the Cuisinart ICE-30BC.

Or any other model or make they can really recommend.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:39PM
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Yes, the Breville and the Whynter both have compressors. They are pricey and very heavy. They have the advantage that you can make multiple batches of ice cream one after the other without pre-chilling the container.
I KNOW I don't want a hand crank model. Nice to be sure of SOMETHING here.
Glad that you feel your Cuisinart produces acceptable ice cream. I can't match your $15 price, but the price on the Cuisinart ICE-30BC is fairly reasonable. (Although I would want an extra bowl, which is another $25 from Amazon.)

I can't really comment on the quality of the ice cream. Maybe others can. The tiny samples I ate today were excellent, and the fun of ice creams made from whatever fruits or herbs I had available would be something I would enjoy. Since we were at an Herb Society luncheon, Billi Parus prepared Chai-tea and chocolate-mint ice creams, tarragon limeaide sorbet, and jalapeno cranberry sorbet (the latter is not something I would want to serve, but interesting).

This post was edited by Bellsmom on Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 21:57

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Deeby, "----Also, am I missing out on a huge treat? Or is home made about the same as say, Ben and Jerry's?"

That depends on many factors.

For me, home made ice cream means special flavors, kiwi, mango, apple, lemon, persimmon, coconut --------- endless!


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 10:59PM
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Bellsmom, regarding noise, mine is about 1/3 as noisy as a blender. I don't consider that noisy.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 11:12PM
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I have a Lello Italian "Frozen Dessert Maker" with freezer, which is great in many ways, but its big failing is that it doesn't have a temperature adjustment and since I don't usually use much fat, it can overfreeze. It's more of the gelato style, with a slower blade. For ice cream, it works best to make the mix in a mixer which can aerate it, then transfer to the Lello to churn and freeze.

A great advantage is the summer sorbets. I just cut melon into chunks, put them in and turn it on. Or, throw in a carton of Greek yoghurt and a banana or two (adds sweet and fiber but not much flavor) and you have an easy fat free treat topped with whatever you like. I don't know if you can do these with standard ice cream makers, but it's something that we find worth the LOUD operation of the machine. Luckily, company never eats in the kitchen (there's no place for them).

Another thing to look at and beware of is the crack between the bowl and the maker. Make sure you can clean behind and underneath, if there's a removable bowl. (Mine is integrated--no crack--and I keep the sponge I use to clean it inside so I always have a clean sponge that hasn't been contaminated.)

Anyway, variable speed and variable temperature would be useful. It's also nice having an automatic shutoff.

Something to be aware of--most food storage freezers are much colder so homemade ice creams and sorbets turn into rocks when you store them, and ice crystals form if they drop temperature fast. The more fat, the better it will store and the more likely it is to be scoopable after storage. I've tried using gums, like the commercial ones do, but haven't had any success so far.

In the final analysis, though, I'd say to get the one that seems easiest to use and clean. :)

Re the quality of the ice cream, that depends on the kind and quality of ingredients, quality of recipe and quality of cook. The results can be far superior to what you buy in the store. You'll have to go out of your way to get the buttercream content of Ben and Jerry's, but you can do it. You'll also get a more scoopable ice cream if you have a machine that freezes. Old fashioned homemade ice cream, made with the crank bucket and rock salt for lowering the temperature of the ice, is more like soft serve. You hardly ever get the 100% cantaloupe sorbet commercially, however, because simple syrup costs a lot less than perfect, sweet melon. And the pure cantaloupe sorbet is amazing!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 11:48PM
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I have the Cuisinart Ice-50bc with the built in compressor and I love it mainly for the reason that I don't have to keep a bowl in the freezer and it's ALWAYS ready to go.

I must say that it is loud and I usually will put it in the laundry with the doors closed but that said the Nutrimill is louder (and whinier - if that's even a word lol)

It's also VERY heavy at 32 pounds and I keep it in a cabinet under the counter.

But it makes the most divine and delicious ice creams. So to us it is worth it. If it ever dies, I'd look to replace with something similar but lighter in weight. The noise wouldn't factor in to a future purchase decison.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:02AM
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I have a Simac gelato machine. It has a built in compressor and is very heavy and noisy. However, I love it as it is a real work horse. It is 20+ years old and still going strong. Simac was an Italian company taken over by DeLongi some years ago. They also made electric pasta makers which work very well and are also very noisy. These products are no longer made however you can still find them on Craig's List.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Here's a link to one for sale a Woot.com. The sale is only good until tomorrow, though.

It's got its own compressor, so no freezing inserts.

Here is a link that might be useful: Woot Ice Cream Maker

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:50AM
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mjocean--I did check CL. No luck.

kframe--The same model is on Amazon for about the same price. Thanks for the link. I have found some great woot bargains in the past.

Dcarch and Pillog--you both mentioned the factor that made me WANT an ice cream maker: I will be able to play with flavors as well as the decision about how rich to make the product--from sorbet to super-rich ice cream. The idea of summer sorbets with fresh fruits and herbs sings to me. Cantaloupe sorbet has its own aria!

Loves2cook & Pillog-- could a compressor-style maker reside permanently in my pantry? For me, its weight would prohibit moving it between storage and use site. There is counter space in the closet but no water. How big a problem would that be? I love the idea that it would always be ready to go without my keeping a pre-chilled bowl permanently in residence in the freezer.

As of now, I am considering Cuisinart: either the Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor (about $250 from BB&B and no need to purchase extra container) or Cuisinart ICE-30BC with an extra bowl ($100 from Amazon). There are pros and cons for each of them.

I really appreciate those of you who can give personal experience information on ice cream makers. My "experience" is limited to Ben&Jerry, Edys, TCBY, Graeter's, and Kroger!!

Any reason NOT to go with Cuisinart?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:29AM
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I have the Cuisinart ICE-21 and love it. Got it at BB&B with a 20% off coupon. I've used it for over a year with no problems.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Ice cream freezers are a pretty mature technology, and Cuisinart isn't likely to turn belly up during your warranty period, so why not? :) I like that the 100 has the different paddles, though I don't know how big a difference it makes.

I donated counter space that wasn't all that useful anyway to mine, but I wish it did a magic appear/disappear act. :) Yours should be fine in the pantry if you have a solid counter and a plug. It's sure to vibrate a lot and needs some clear space for the circulation of warm air (i.e., not right up against your foodstuffs because they want cool pantry, and a freezer will warm it up). Those are the biggest problems with putting it in the pantry. Do you have a laundry room where you could put it? Maybe keep a cloth over it when not in use to keep away lint, etc. Or even a protected porch?

The lack of water shouldn't be a big issue because of the removable bowl. You can take all the main parts to the sink for cleaning (maybe keep a little dishpan with the machine to dump them in, and just bring a sponge or rag and a small bowl (or the dishpan) of water to the machine for wiping it down.

Kids love making frozen treats, and it's also a great way to teach them about what's in what they're eating.

Be really honest with yourself, however. Do you really want to be carrying the ingredients back and forth? And the clean-up? Would you rather have it on the kitchen counter? Would giving up freezer space be no issue because you'd be using the space you usually fill with bought ice cream for the bowl of a non-freezer model? Will you use it more if it's just ready to go? Will you use it less if you have to unearth the bowl from a pile of stuff in the freezer?

I know the arias are beautiful, but imagine yourself doing the conducting. Read through the instructions online and imagine yourself doing the work. See which model you'd really rather have to fit into your real life and way of doing things, and your particular cooking setup. You're already well informed. That's the next good step to making a choice.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:28PM
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Great advice. And this--
"I know the arias are beautiful, but imagine yourself doing the conducting "--
gave me the biggest laugh of the day.

The pantry does have a solid surface, no nearby foodstuffs, electrical outlet, and is really quite close to the kitchen. Much closer than my storage shed, porches, or laundry room--all good ideas to consider, though.

And I will print off the manuals for both and read through them. Our local BB&B's do not have the 100 in stock, so I can't actually see it. Although, hmmmm, I need to check Williams Sonoma, where it might be in stock and therefore available for hands-on evaluation.

Right now I think the smaller unit makes sense. If I turn into a mega ice cream maker, I can gift it to son or daughter and upgrade to the compressor version.

Maybe someone who has one or the other will still comment on their experience with them with some revelation that will change my mind.

Thank you again for the information, advice, and the hearty laugh. I love the mental and auditory images evoked.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:45PM
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If you want to make sorbet from melons (and I have been doing this for almost 30 years), all you have to do is cut the melon into small cubes, put the cubes into a plastic bag, squeeze out all the air, and freeze the bag. Then you put the frozen cubes into a blender with a sweetener (either a sugar syrup or a small amount of water and sweetener of your choice), and in two minutes, you have sorbet. You can use yogurt and sweetener instead of syrup and have instant frozen yogurt. I would never make sorbet in an ice cream maker because it is so much faster and easier to freeze the fruit and the put it in a blender. If you add too much liquid, you will have a smoothie, but you can put that into the freezer for 15 minutes and then blend it again to get to sorbet consistency. Cantaloupe sorbet is one of my favorites, and when they are in season, I cube them, store the cubes in the freezer, and then I can have sorbet when I want. This method works well for mangoes, papaya, strawberries, cherimoya, guanabana, and pretty much all melons.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:00PM
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Lars, your method is virtually identical to what I do when I have a lot of blueberries:

Rinse off all the berries and drain. Put in a plastic bag. Freeze (no need to evacuate every last bit of air)

When ready to make, put frozen berries in blender. Add cold half and half or cream and whatever sweetener you want. Blend. You end up with the most incredibly wonderful blueberry ice cream possible.

This post was edited by arley on Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 21:25

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:23PM
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beachlily z9a

You folks are making my mouth water!! Here in FL, strawberry season is in full swing. Also honeydews and other melons. Now I'm glad I haven't dumped my blender. It hasn't been used in 10 yr. I'm getting it down tomorrow and watch out!


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Another silly use of ice cream maker:

I enjoy different exotic flavor ice creams, but that means I have to go to stores far away, a couple of hours before I can return home to store the ice cream in the freezer.

I would freeze the bowl, wrap a big towel around it and take that to the store to buy the ice cream. The ice cream will stay frozen even on a hot summer day until I get home.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:49PM
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Yum! Blender ices! The 100% cantaloupe stuff I make in my machine has a different texture (unless it goes into freezer storage), but blender ices are wonderful too! When I was in college, we used to dream up alcoholic versions with very interesting ingredients... :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:03PM
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This is just to close off this thread. I bought the Cuisinart ICE-30. Haven't used it yet. The bowl is in the freezer. Ice cream is scheduled for tomorrow's dessert.

Thanks to everyone for helping me choose. This may NOT be my last ice cream maker, but I think it is a good choice for my first. I am seldom wise enough to be this conservative.

Thank you again, Plllog, for the humorous and succinct advice.

(But I WISH I had countertop space in the kitchen for a compressor model! Whhhiiiiinnnnne!)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 7:43PM
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