The best ice cream makers you can buy

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The best ice cream makers

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  • If you love ice cream so much that you want to make your own from scratch, you need a good ice cream maker.
  • The Cuisinart ICE-30 Pure Indulgence is our top pick because it makes creating your own delicious ice cream at home a breeze.
In the immortal words of the 1927 song, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." Considering that the average American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream per year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association, it's a sentiment just about all of us agree with.
Although there is no shortage of ice cream shops and packaged ice cream in the supermarket, there's something undeniably special about ice cream you made yourself. That's why we did the research to find the best ice cream makers you can buy to make delicious frozen desserts at home.

Just one taste of freshly made, creamy, sweet, and oh-so-dreamy homemade ice cream and you'll be hooked. Thanks to modern technology, making ice cream no longer means turning the churning paddle until you feel like your arm is going to fall off. Today, most ice cream makers do the tough part for you.

So if you're looking for a fun option to add to your dessert repertoire, check out these ice cream makers.

Here are the best ice cream makers you can buy in 2019:

Updated on 06/11/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting.

Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks for the best ice cream makers.

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The best overall

The best overall
While most frozen-bowl ice cream makers only make a quart or so per batch, the Cuisinart ICE-30 Pure Indulgence produces up to two quarts of sweet, sweet goodness.

If you make ice cream for the family — or let's be honest, if you just want a really, really big bowl of ice cream for yourself — you can't go wrong with the Cuisinart ICE-30 Pure Indulgence. This baby cranks out up to two quarts of ice cream per batch, so you'll have enough to share, although you might not want to.

This is a frozen-bowl machine, so you'll have to remember to freeze the metal bowl for at least 12 hours before using it, but it's really better to freeze the bowl for a full day. Go ahead and store the bowl in your freezer when not in use if you plan on using the ice cream maker frequently.

Once your bowl is frozen and your ingredients added, the machine takes over for you. Churning is automatic, and ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet is ready in around half an hour. That's not so long to wait for delicious, creamy goodness.

Foodal praised the machine highly. The reviewers like the large spout that makes it easy to add mix-ins, the powerful motor, the attractive chrome finish, and the smooth textured, creamy results.

Amazon buyers are in agreement. The Cuisinart ICE-30 Pure Indulgence has nearly 3,500 reviews and an average of 4.4 stars. One customer writes, "We use it frequently and have had lots of fun experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. The machine itself is incredibly easy to use and keep clean. It makes delicious, smooth, and creamy soft serve in about 20 minutes."

Some customers complained about the results being too icy or not-entirely-frozen, and the loudness of the machine (to be fair, that's a fairly common complaint about nearly all automatic ice cream makers). If you find the ice cream to be a bit liquidy, pop it in the freezer for a bit to firm it up.

Pros: Large batch, easy to use and clean, creamy results

Cons: Loud, some complaints about icy or not-quite-frozen results

Buy the Cuisinart ICE-30 Pure Indulgence on Amazon for $65.99

The best budget ice cream maker

The best budget ice cream maker
There's no reason to spend big bucks when the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker turns out such good ice cream at a bargain price.

If you want ice cream and lots of it, but you aren't interested in spending a lot of money or taking up a lot of storage space, and you don't mind needing to keep rock salt on hand, you'll love the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker.

There's no need to pre-chill the bowl with this machine. It uses rock salt and ice, which you add to the outer container, to freeze the ingredients. Those go in an inner bowl, where a paddle automatically churns the batter until it's frozen. You can produce delicious and creamy ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and gelato with this machine in roughly 45 minutes.

Foodal express concern regarding durability. Still, it likes the big 4-quart batch of ice cream it makes, the ease of use, the easy cleanup, and the tasty results.

On Amazon, the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker has nearly 1,700 reviews and an average of 4.2 stars. Buyers comment that the process requires a lot of ice, but in the words of one customer, "It made delicious ice cream. We used the included recipe for easy vanilla ice cream with cookies and cream. So creamy and amazing tasting. Very easy to do."

Pros: Budget price, large batch

Cons: You'll need rock salt and a lot of ice

Buy the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker on Amazon for $36.99

The best fast ice cream maker

The best fast ice cream maker
If the dish is frozen in advance, you can have ice cream in minutes with the Chef'n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream Maker.

No electricity, no rock salt, no lengthy churning: Just pour your ice cream batter onto the pre-frozen surface of the Chef'n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream Maker, mix with the included spoon, and in just a few minutes, you'll be enjoying your frozen dessert.

Basically, this is a quick-freeze shallow metal bowl, so the Chef'n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream Maker is super-easy to use. You do have to plan in advance because the bowl must be frozen at least overnight, but once it's frozen, you should be able to mix up a couple of batches of fresh ice cream before you need to refreeze the bowl.

Good Housekeeping recommends this ice cream maker, praising its quick results and versatility: "This baby also makes instant frozen yogurt, sorbets, gelato, and frozen [margaritas]!"

You can make up to three cups of ice cream in a 30-minute session or use the device for adding mix-ins to softened commercial ice cream.

Pros: No need for electricity, quick results, easy to use, fun for kids

Cons: Bowl must be frozen before use, small batches of ice cream, expensive for what it is

Buy the Chef'n Sweet Spot Instant Ice Cream Maker on Amazon for $49.93

The best with a compressor

The best with a compressor
The Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker mixes and freezes your ice cream for you, so all you have to do is turn the machine on, add ingredients, wait an hour or so, and enjoy your frozen dessert.

Compressor ice cream makers are the cream of the crop when it comes to homemade ice cream. These machines house their own freezer mechanism, so there's no need for you to pre-freeze a bowl, use rock salt, mix the batter by hand, or do any other hard work, other than deciding which delicious ice cream, gelato, or sorbet recipe you want to make.

The Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker is a state-of-the-art unit. The LED screen shows you exactly how many minutes are left until ice cream time, and it even has a 10-minute "keep cool" function if you won't be able to get to your dessert right away (like that's ever going to happen).

Foodal chose this as one of its top picks, writing, "Its powerful motor with a quality compressor can whip up a batch of frozen delight in less than an hour." The reviewer also praised the Cuisinart machine's smooth and creamy results, its two included paddles — one for ice cream, one for gelato or sorbet — and its sleek, chrome construction.

On the downside, a few Amazon buyers complained that the machine broke after only a few uses or didn't freeze the ice cream hard enough.

You can make up to 1.5 quarts of frozen dessert per session, and if you need more, go ahead and make it. There's no need to wait for a bowl to chill in the freezer before making your next batch.

Pros: No need to freeze the bowl, large batches, countdown timer

Cons: Expensive, takes up storage space, some complaints of machine not working

Buy the Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker on Amazon for $207.99 (originally $545)

The best frozen dessert maker

The best frozen dessert maker
If you're trying to eat healthier or avoid dairy, you'll love the way the Yonanas Frozen Dessert Maker turns bananas and other fruit into soft-serve "ice cream" without the fat and added sugar.

Yes, it has a silly name, and yes, technically it's not ice cream. But why nitpick when the results taste so good? With the Yonanas Frozen Dessert Maker, your overripe bananas, mangoes, berries, or just about any other fruit are quickly converted into creamy, smooth soft-serve desserts.

The process is simple, but your fruit does need to be frozen and slightly thawed before using the machine. You then push the fruit into the chute, turn on the spinning blade, and push down on the plunger. Voila, you've got a bowlful of nature's goodness!

According to Wired, the Yonanas Frozen Dessert Maker makes "a creamy, delicious blend of fruit that tastes damn close to frozen yogurt or sorbet." The tester says, "I didn't conduct a formal taste test, but I suspect if you gave Yonanas to kids, they wouldn't know the difference. It's that good."

There are some complaints, of course. The device is noisy, and smooshed fruit tends to stick inside the chute, meaning you'll need to disassemble the device and scoop it out with a spoon. But those seem small annoyances compared to the joy of a delicious, healthy dessert.

Pros: Great for those with lactose intolerance, healthy "ice cream" substitute, very easy to use

Cons: Noisy, fruit sticks inside the chute

Buy the Yonanas Frozen Dessert Maker on Amazon for $39.99

Tips for making the best ice cream at home

Tips for making the best ice cream at home

If you want delicious ice cream, you need to start with good ingredients. Go for real vanilla bean, quality mix-ins, and fresh cream. All ingredients should be as fresh as possible.

Your ingredients should all be cold before pouring them into the ice cream maker. Once you've added your ingredients to the ice cream maker's bowl, start the churning cycle right away. This helps prevent ice crystals or graininess.

While you can cut back calories by using low-fat milk, you won't achieve the same creamy results, or the wonderful "mouth feel" that makes ice cream so good.

If you're adding chocolate chips, nuts, or other solid mix-ins, fold them in near the end of the churning cycle. Chop any mix-ins into small pieces.

Finally, don't refreeze partially melted ice cream because doing so creates ice crystals.

Here's another trick (or a cheat, rather): If you want a frozen, quick-fix treat but minus the hassle, do what our Insider Picks Guides Editor, Les Shu, does: Blend a few bananas in the freezer or mash thoroughly with a fork, pour the mixture into a container, and pop it into the freezer. After it hardens, you're left with a dessert that tastes like ice cream. Experiment by combining mixture with chocolate or fruit. Be warned: The mixture won't last and will go black-brown quickly.