An ice cream maker on the kitchen countertop is always ready to churn your favourite frozen dessert, by just using staples in the pantry. These versatile appliances make healthy homemade frozen treats, from creamy gelatos to fruity sorbets, and cool the entire family down in minutes. The best part is that you get to customise every batch to suit dietary restrictions and mood, be it a dairy-free lemon sorbet or a rich chocolate chip scoop.
If you’ve never owned an ice cream maker before, the operation of one can sound overwhelming. But don't worry, we reached out for some expert advice to help you make the best decision, before you invest.
Types of ice cream makers: Compressors vs pre-freeze bowls
At-home ice cream machines are mainly of two kinds. The first freezes the mix as it’s being stirred, using a compressor, while the second needs bowls to be frozen before the mix is poured in.
Entry-level models often operate with pre-freeze bowls, while compressor machines are an expensive investment for a beginner who’s looking to experiment. This piece of advice comes from Nicolò Mazzari, co-founder of Dubai-based Samuele’s Artisanal Gelato, where Italian chef Samuele Angolani whips up homemade Italian ice cream using professional equipment.
“Entry-level ice cream makers are designed to produce small quantities, from 400g to 1kg, which is enough for a family. They take longer... about 30 to 45 minutes,” he added. “The pre-freeze bowl is an easy and affordable way to try out things. You can always upgrade to a compressor model later.”
What can I make in an ice cream maker?
Whatever touches the mixing bowl, freezes over time to become a delicious summer treat. It’s as easy as pouring in water and adding sugar and fresh fruits for a serving of an icy cool sorbet, says Mazzari.
Fatima Chehabeddine, owner of gelato shop LimaGel in Dubai and a professionally trained gelatiere, recommends an eggless gelato chocolate recipe.
“Gelato has 98 per cent less fat than ice creams, since it uses very little fresh cream. For one litre of gelato, heat milk, sugar and a chocolate bar, then cool the mix in the fridge. Add a bit of fresh cream to the mix and blend it well before pouring it into the ice cream machine,” she explains.
Which ice cream maker is the best for me?
While both Mazzari and Chehabeddine use Carpigiani’s commercial-grade machines, they agree that Cuisinart ice cream makers, too, work well at home. The brand offers compressor-based and pre-freeze bowl-based appliances in its line.
Ideally, you should be aiming for a smooth creamy texture in your ice cream, the kind without unpleasant ice crystals in every bite. Mazzari says that the faster the machine freezes the mix, the less time the water molecules will have to crystallize. So, to get the best texture possible, try opting for a fast-freezing ice cream maker.
Browse our list of picks below and bring home a mini ice cream machine, while the Celsius is still on the rise. Order as a Prime member to receive it as soon as tomorrow.
1. Best Overall and Budget: Cuisinart Ice Cream Deluxe
- Sits compact on countertop
- Large two-litre capacity
- Open lid for adding solid ingredients
- Only takes 25 minutes
- Comes with a recipe book
- Bowl needs freezing for 12 hours
With Cuisinart’s Ice Cream Deluxe, you’re making a generous two-litre tub of homemade ice cream in one go. Though this model comes without a compressor, it churns a delicious consistency within 25 minutes. Make sure the bowl stays in the freezer compartment for at least 12 hours, before dessert cravings call. Once your ice cream is nearly done, sprinkle the mix with chocolate chips or nuts through the opening in the lid. There’s no fussing about shelf space here, either – the appliance is as compact as your food processor.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh41.
2. Best Compressor Machine: Princess Ice Cream Maker Deluxe
- No pre-preparation required
- Keeps ice cream cold for an hour
- Stir-only function for solid ingredients
- Cooling function for shaved ice desserts
- Makes less than two litres, according to reviews
- Takes up space and is heavy
Prepare two litres of frozen treats whenever you want, without the hassle of pre-freezing a bowl. The Princess Ice Cream Maker Deluxe cools the base mixture on the spot, using a built-in compressor that can reach sub-zero temperatures of -35˚C. The only caveat is its preparation time; for a fresh batch, you’ll need to set aside at least 45 to 60 minutes for the maker to work its magic. But some might find this an easier compromise than a pre-freeze bowl’s overnight prep. Even if dinner is a lengthy affair, the machine keeps the dessert cool for an hour. Fluff up the finished ice cream by selecting the stir-only program or prepare granita (a Sicilian shaved ice dessert) with the cool function, as well.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh57 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh81.
3. Best for Variety: Cuisinart Dual Ice Cream Maker
- Prepares two separate flavours simultaneously
- Two bowls of one-litre capacity each
- Open lid for adding solid ingredients
- Takes 20 to 25 minutes
- Bowls need to be frozen for 12 hours
If the house is split between vanilla and chocolate ice cream, the solution lies in Cuisinart’s Dual Ice Cream Maker. It whips up two different flavours or kinds of frozen desserts in twin one-litre bowls, at the same time. Or, you can just put one bowl to use using the control switch. In 20 to 25 minutes, the ice cream maker prepares anything, from frozen yoghurt to sorbet. But, since the machine doesn’t run on a compressor, both bowls need overnight pre-freezing to work. Cuisinart tells its buyers that the freezer should be set to 0°F (-17.78°C) for this step.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh40 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh57.
4. Best Value Compressor Machine: Ariete 693 Gran Gelato Metal
- Removable container
- Doesn’t need pre-preparation
- Keeps ice cream cool for an hour
- Includes ice cream scoop and a few recipes
- Works quietly
- Takes up space
Another self-cooling compressor model to consider is the Ariete Gran Gelato Metal, if you’re on a budget. Its bulky body attests to the built-in compressor that prepares one litre of ice cream in 40 minutes, without prep. Depending on the recipe, you can even set your own timer for the best consistency, after which the appliance turns off and continues to keep the contents cool for an hour. Reviewers do note that the finished product might need a bit of freezing to completely solidify.
5. Best Fast Compressor Machine: Whynter ICM-128BPS Upright Automatic Ice Cream Maker
- Attractive design
- Includes an ice cream scoop and an electronic timer
- Can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes
- Cool- and mixing-only modes
- Timer function
- Needs a voltage converter for UAE
Whynter’s pink and black machine is easy on the eyes, delivers 1.2 litres of frozen dessert and is a breeze to operate. It’s as easy as pouring your mix in and pressing the ice cream icon. The compressor’s cooling temperature ranges from -18°C to -35°C to accommodate a variety of treats, besides ice cream. The control buttons, with an LCD timer display, let you know how long before the mix is done solidifying, with the option to adjust the minutes. And, once the mix is solid enough, the motor shuts off automatically to prevent overheating.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh132.39 for 12 months with select banks.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.