Best ice cream makers 2024 tried and tested by our reviews experts

We put a range of self-freezing and freeze-first ice cream makers through their paces using much-loved olive recipes. Read on to see how each model fared.

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Best ice cream makers at a glance

  • Best freeze-first ice cream maker: Cuisinart iced dessert maker, £138.95
  • Best versatile ice cream maker: Ninja CREAMi Deluxe 10-in-1 ice cream & frozen drink maker NC501UK, £199
  • Best ice cream maker for professional-quality dessert: Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Professional, £280
  • Best innovative ice cream maker: Ninja CREAMi ice cream & frozen dessert maker NC300UK, £179
  • Best blowout ice cream maker: Magimix Gelato expert, £449.99
  • Fastest ice cream maker: Lakeland compressor ice cream maker, £199.99
  • Best ice cream maker for tech lovers: Sage the Smart Scoop, £369.95
  • Best affordable ice cream maker: Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker ICE30BCU, £94
  • Best stand mixer ice cream making accessory: KitchenAid ice cream maker accessory, £101.86

Best ice cream makers to buy in 2024

Cuisinart iced dessert maker

best ice cream makers

Best freeze-first ice cream maker

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Star rating: 5 / 5

This ice cream maker is a freeze-first model with 1.4-litre capacity. Coming in an attractive pale blue colour the machine is stylish and effective, making ice cream, iced fruit desserts and sorbets.

It comes with two paddles — one for ice cream and one to mash and churn fresh fruit for smooth or iced desserts. On test we found this machine to be impressively quiet and effective. The ice cream we made was creamy, light and delicious, although we did find it a little tricky to take out of the machine.

Ninja CREAMi Deluxe 10-in-1 ice cream & frozen drink maker NC501UK

best ice cream makers

Best versatile ice cream maker

Star rating: 5/5

When it first launched, the Ninja CREAMi took the internet by storm and sold out frequently. This is the brand’s latest version of the ice cream maker, which works differently from other models on this list. For the Ninja CREAMi Deluxe you freeze your mixture overnight before spinning it in the machine where powerful blades churn the mix to a smooth consistency.

This model has 10 different functions that include churning frozen yogurt and gelato, and it comes with three large tubs that you can store in your freezer. On test we were impressed with the smooth texture of our malt chocolate ice cream and our frozen orange and raspberry ‘slushi’ was easy to sip and refreshing.

Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Professional

Cuisinart Ice Cream & Gelato Professional

Best ice cream maker for professional-quality dessert

Star rating: 5/5

If you’re in the market for an ice cream maker that produces the same ultra-smooth results found in the gelaterias of Italy, this model is the one. Whether using the ice cream or gelato paddle, the results were consistently silky, creamy and the perfect texture. It was a dab hand when making sorbet, too. The machine had clear and easy to use buttons.

It’s not the smallest (no self-freezing model is) and it is quite noisy when in use, but it’s stately and attractive on the kitchen counter. The brushed stainless-steel accents are a sleek final flourish. The stop/start button to pause the machine proved our favourite feature as it allows you to sample your creations mid-churn.

Read our full Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Professional review

Ninja CREAMi ice cream & frozen dessert maker NC300UK

Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream & Frozen Dessert Maker NC300UK

Best innovative ice cream maker

Star rating: 4.5 / 5

This is the original Ninja CREAMi which went viral on social media when it was first launched for it’s innovative technique of spinning a solidly frozen block of mixture with powerful blades to turn it into ice cream.

As a machine it is quick and intuitive to use, turning our frozen mixture into ice cream in under four minutes. It also comes with a recipe book as well as three one pint containers for storing ice cream (or gelato and sorbets) in your freezer. You’ll also find settings for making frozen drinks like milkshakes and smoothies.

Magimix Gelato expert

Magimix Gelato expert

Best blowout ice cream maker

Star rating: 4.5 / 5

Whether you’re a passionate home cook or professional pastry chef this ice cream maker is bound to impress. It has a large capacity with the ability to make 2 litres of ice cream in under an hour. Although it’s certainly an investment, for the price this model has more settings than many other compression ice cream makers we’ve tested. You can choose from gelato and granita as well as ice cream, or take a more hands-on approach with the manual function.

Lakeland compressor ice cream maker

best ice cream makers

Fastest ice cream maker

Star rating: 4.5/5

This ice cream maker from Lakeland is a compression model which requires no pre-freezing. There’s no getting around that this is a large machine and at 11.5kg it’s seriously weighty, making it tricky to move in and out of a drawer or shelf to store. However, we were impressed by the function of the machine which made our vanilla ice cream in an impressive 30 minutes.

While we found the opening in the lid a little narrow for pouring in our mix it worked really well for adding toppings like the toasted hazelnuts we added to our gelato which was smooth with an intense flavour.

Sage the Smart Scoop

Sage the Smart Scoop

Best ice cream maker for tech lovers

Star rating: 4.5/5

Sage is well known for its high-tech, smart and sophisticated looking machines. The Smart Scoop is exactly that. It is equipped with four settings for sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato and ice cream, as well as 12 hardness settings, allowing you to fully tailor your results. This model sits landscape, which leaves plenty of countertop space for prep. It comes with a wealth of settings (including an automatic ‘keep cool’ setting) and accessories. We liked the function that lets you know when to add in extras to your base ice cream mix.

We struggled to get the automatic hardness sensor to work, a feature that Sage makes a big deal of. Despite this, we enjoyed consistently high quality results: the ice cream was luxurious, the gelato was smooth and the sorbet was gloriously summery and fresh.

Read our full Sage the Smart Scoop review

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker ICE30BCU

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Deluxe

Best affordable ice cream maker

Star rating: 4.5/5

Standing tall, square and ceremonial, this Cuisinart ice cream maker is unabashedly good-looking and one of the only freeze-first models we feel deserves pride of place on the kitchen counter. It has a small footprint yet still large bowl capacity and large hole for pouring in add-ins.

It has a generously sized two-litre freezer bowl that, despite its size, fits neatly in the freezer. With a working capacity of one and a half litres of ice cream base, this model is ideal if you’re looking to make larger quantities. However, it is loud when in use.

The ice cream and sorbet produced was smooth on the whole, though we noticed an ever so slight grittiness in the ice cream. But both were firm and ready to serve straight away: who doesn’t want super-fresh ice cream?

Read our full Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker ICE30BCU review

KitchenAid ice cream maker accessory

best ice cream maker

Best stand mixer ice cream making accessory

Star rating: 4/5

This ice cream maker is an accessory from stand-mixer giant KitchenAid. You need to freeze the bowl for a minimum of 16 hours before use, or we’ve found that it’s easiest to store in your freezer (if you have room) so you can make ice cream whenever you like.

The bowl has a 1.9 litre capacity which is larger than many other models, plus you have greater control over the speed of churning than you do on many automated ice cream makers. This models works with a range of KitchenAid’s stand mixers including tilt head and bowl lift models.

How to choose the best ice cream maker

There are broadly two different types of ice cream makers:

  1. Models where you need to pre-freeze the bowl for at least 16 hours before use
  2. Those with a compression device that means no pre-freezing is required

Compressor models tend to be pricier, and are also large and heavy, so need more space to store. Models that require pre-freezing tend to be more affordable, but you’ll need to plan ahead if you want to make ice cream.

What can an ice cream maker be used for?

If you like to get creative in the kitchen, ice cream makers allow you to dream up new flavour pairings and experiment to your heart’s delight. For some inspiration to get you started, take a look at our best ice cream recipes and easy sorbet recipes.

If you’re looking to cut out certain ingredients, either through necessity or a lifestyle choice, an at-home ice cream maker gives you control so you know exactly what’s going into your food.

As delightful as it is on its own, ice cream can also be used in standout desserts. Take a baked alaska for example: the combination of spongy cake plus frozen, creamy ice cream, all enrobed in a layer of silky and crisp Italian meringue is a marriage made in heaven. At the other end of the spectrum (though no less delicious) sits the ice-box cake. This US classic requires no real skill other than a basic understanding of which flavours work well together. A variety of textures work best when building your ice-box cake: think crunchy biscuits or nuts, jammy dried fruits, and sticky sauces – try our pistachio and chocolate ice-box cake.

What to look out for when choosing an ice cream maker?

There are a number of different factors to take into consideration before choosing an ice cream maker.

Self-freezing or freeze-first: In professional kitchens and gelaterias you’ll find self-freezing ice cream makers. They’re favoured by chefs because they’re fast, produce high-quality results and can make batch after batch without having to wait. They’re large and more costly than their freeze-first counterparts, though. By comparison, freeze-first models are smaller and often cheaper. They come with a removable bowl that needs to be put in the freezer for between eight and 24 hours. These models can only be used once a day, but often produce as high-quality results as self-freezing models.
Bowl capacity: Most ice cream makers have bowls with a capacity of between one and two litres, though the amount of ice cream base you can put in the bowl can vary widely from brand to brand. We’d advise checking the maximum capacity in the manual to avoid problems.
Timer: Almost all of the models we tested come with a timer. Useful for those of us who like to set our appliances to go and come back when they’re finished.

How we tested ice cream makers

Any ice cream maker worth its salt should be able to make a classic vanilla ice cream and a simple sorbet. Using olive’s vanilla ice cream recipe and mango sorbet recipe, we put these ice cream makers to the test.

If the ice cream maker had an extra paddle or setting designed for gelato, we also made olive’s chocolate and black pepper gelato: a grown-up twist on a firm favourite.

All models were scored based on the following set of criteria:

Results: we looked at the quality of the ice cream and sorbet produced: was it silky smooth and free of ice crystals? Was it well aerated? Did it melt slowly?
Versatility: ice cream makers that can make more than just ice cream and sorbet were favoured.
Ease of use: we believe most appliances should be uncomplicated and straightforward pieces of kit. If a model has more functions than most, the manual should be comprehensive and explain these well.
Footprint and ease of storage: some self-freezing ice cream makers can be large, so we preferred those that weren’t awkwardly shaped and could easily slot into place on the kitchen counter. The same goes for ease of storage – it shouldn’t be difficult to find a space for them once you’ve cleaned everything up.
How attractive: if you’re a fan of keeping your appliances out on the counter you’ll be after one that’s great looking, eye-catching and sure to get people talking.
Packaging: it’s important to us that, while the ice cream makers should be securely packaged, brands also shouldn’t be using too much of anything (ideally nothing) that can’t be recycled.

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Ice cream recipes

Vanilla ice cream with warm chocolate sauce
Brown butter ice cream
Roasted banana caramel swirl ice cream
Maple honeycomb ice cream
Chocolate and black pepper gelato
Pecan praline ice cream
Peach melba ice cream
Bitter chocolate ice cream
Peanut butter and salted caramel ice cream
Best frozen dessert recipes
Easy sorbet recipes
4 quick and easy ice cream toppings
Christmas ice cream sandwiches
Bourbon biscuits and rhubarb liqueur ice cream
3 boozy ice cream floats
DIY ice cream sundae bar
Baked alaska with honeyed figs & mascarpone ice cream
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