Is It Worth Having an Ice Cream Maker? – The Best Ice Cream Machines for Home Use

In the great summer heat, many of us love delicious, cooling ice cream. In this regard, let’s see if it is worth investing in an ice cream maker, or should we continue to buy the supermarket version instead?

I have had an ice cream maker for over twenty years, which I use regularly. My goal with this post is to adequately answer this question based on my experience.

It is absolutely worth having an ice cream maker if you want to make delicious, but also healthy ice cream without industrial additives. This is especially important for those who have to watch their diet due to allergies or diabetes.

With an ice cream machine, there are endless combinations of flavors that you can try out and vary according to your taste. Just use your imagination and creativity. 

Buying your own ice cream machine is also worth it if you consume ice cream regularly or in larger amounts. 

The production cost of homemade ice cream depends primarily on the quality and price of the ingredients used.

How do I choose an ice cream maker?

When choosing an ice cream machine that suits your needs, it’s worth considering several aspects. For example, how much ice cream you want to make with it, how much space is available on the kitchen counter, and how much money you are willing to pay for it.

Homemade ice cream in a bowl
Homemade ice cream with rum and raisins

How does an ice cream maker work?

Ice cream makers mix the ice cream base while cooling it. This is very important because this way you can make homogeneous, light, foamy ice cream. In contrast, if you place the mixture into the freezer, it will simply become dense and freeze hard.

In terms of cooling, ice cream machines intended for home use can work in two ways. The first type works with a pre-freeze bowl, and the other has a cooling compressor. Ice cream machines with cooling compressors usually cost more than those with pre-freeze bowls, but they can make better quality ice cream.

Do you have to pre-freeze the ice cream maker?

Whether the parts of the ice cream machine need to be frozen in advance depends on which type of machine we are dealing with.

In the case of ice cream machines that do not have a cooling compressor, the bowl must be placed in the freezer a day before so that it is sufficiently cold when the ice cream base is poured into it.

Pre-freeze mixing bowls are also available as an additional accessory for some large stand mixers, such as the Kenwood Chef XL.

Pre-freeze ice cream machines require you to freeze the bowl in advance, so you can only make one portion per day.
These are double-walled bowls with water in between. When this water freezes, it provides cooling for the ice cream machine.

The images below show how I make homemade ice cream with a pre-freeze ice cream maker.

The bowls of such machines must be kept in the freezer for 24 hours to cool down properly before making ice cream.

With pre-freeze ice cream makers, it is also important to mention that the ice cream base must also be thoroughly cooled before pouring it into the machine. Otherwise, the ice cream will not cool down properly and will not have the right consistency.

In summer, when it is very hot, it happens that the pre-freeze ice cream machine cannot freeze the ice cream to the right consistency. Then I put it in the freezer before serving, until it hardens sufficiently.

What is a self-cooling ice cream maker?

The self-cooling ice cream maker has a cooling compressor, so it’s not required to keep its container in the freezer before use. Such machines allow you to make several batches of ice cream in a row.

Some of these self-cooling machines come with two bowls. This comes in handy if you want to make several types of ice cream with different flavors in quick succession.

Self-cooling ice cream makers are larger, require more electricity, and can be louder than those that operate with a pre-freeze bowl.

Self-freeze ice cream makers provide more options than pre-freeze machines, but they also cost more. Some of these also have a storage function, which keeps the ice cream cold until served.

What is the number 1 ice cream maker?

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Best compressor ice cream maker

The Magimix 11680 Gelato Expert machine for frozen desserts

A perfect choice for those who want to make several batches of ice cream in a row. This reliable, high-quality machine manufactured in Italy is ​​easy to clean, not too loud and doesn’t take up much space on your kitchen counter.

  • Three automatic programs and one manual program allow you to make ice cream, gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and granita.
  • It has two mixing bowls, each with 2 liters of capacity.
  • The machine automatically stops mixing after the ice cream is ready. It also can keep the finished dessert cold for another two hours.

Best pre-freeze ice cream maker

Cuisinart Ice Cream Deluxe, Pre-Freeze Ice Cream, Frozen Yoghurt, and Sorbet Maker

The 2L capacity bowl must be kept in the freezer overnight to allow the ice cream to freeze sufficiently. It is easy to use and clean, and it does not require a lot of your kitchen space.

Is it better to make ice cream with a machine?

If you make ice cream at home, it will have a better texture if you use a machine than if you just simply freeze it solid.

The machine freezes and mixes the ice cream at the same time. As a result of continuous mixing, smaller ice crystals are formed, and some air is also incorporated into the mixture. This will make the ice cream foamy, creamy, and smooth.

The volume of the ice cream increases during mixing, so pay attention to the amount of mass specified in the instructions booklet of your ice cream maker.

Making homemade ice cream requires some planning and preparation, as well as taking the time to adequately chill the ice cream base beforehand.

What are the advantages of making homemade ice cream?

I love making ice cream because I can make an almost unlimited number of flavors and combinations. Countless types of ice cream can be made starting from one basic recipe. You can add all kinds of blended or chopped fruits, nuts, chocolate, and various spices.

If you make the ice cream only for adults, you can add rum or Spanish Malaga wine, which is an ingredient of the famous Malaga ice cream.

You can serve ice cream with chocolate, caramel, or berry sauce, whipped cream, and various waffles, which you can also make at home.

Is homemade ice cream healthier?

The big advantage of homemade ice cream for me is that I can work with high-quality, healthy ingredients. Most of the ice cream available on the market contains various emulsifiers, stabilizers, and food dyes. They also contain a large amount of fat.

Diabetics or dieters can use alternative sweeteners, such as xylitol or erythritol, instead of sugar. This makes the ice cream sugar-free and low-calorie.

I usually make sugar-free ice cream with xylitol, because it has the same taste as sugar and, unlike other sweeteners, it does not cause an unpleasant aftertaste. Although the ice cream will be less creamy by omitting sugar, I can still achieve very good flavors.

For our homemade ice cream to be healthy, we must also pay attention to food safety. Eggs and fruits must be as fresh as possible and thoroughly washed before use.

Heat treatment is important when milk and eggs are used in the preparation of ice cream. By heating milk and eggs to 72-76°C / 152-169°F, 99% of microorganisms are destroyed in just 40 seconds. This is called pasteurization.

Pasteurization also kills possible salmonella bacteria, which can cause severe stomach upset and are particularly dangerous for children. However, be careful not to overheat the mixture, as the egg will coagulate and the ice cream will be lumpy instead of creamy.

If you do not want to serve the freshly made ice cream immediately, store it in a plastic box in the freezer until use.

blackberry ice cream in a bowl with a waffle

What are the 3 steps to making ice cream?

Professional ice cream making requires the following three steps:

  1. Pasteurization consists of heating the milk-egg-sugar mixture to 72-76°C / 152-169°F and maintaining this heat for 40 seconds.
  2. Cooling. The ice cream base must be cooled as quickly as possible and kept in the refrigerator (the ideal temperature is +4°C / 39°F) for 12 hours. During this time, the mixture stabilizes and the flavors come together.
  3. Freezing and mixing should ideally be performed between -20 and -24°C (-4 and -11°F). The mixture cools down and thickens in the process. This makes the ice cream airy, creamy, and homogeneous, and its volume increases.

What kinds of ice creams and frozen desserts can you make with an ice cream maker?

Ice cream containing milk, cream, and eggs. The fat in milk, cream, and egg yolk contributes to the creamy texture and stability of the ice cream. Therefore, you can achieve the best results by using high-fat milk.

Ice cream bases containing milk and eggs can be flavored with chocolate, coffee, cocoa powder, nuts, coconut, raisins, chocolate chips, vanilla, and other spices. These ice cream bases also work well with some fruits, such as bananas.

Among the types of sugar, fructose is the most suitable for making ice cream, as it prevents crystallization and tolerates thermal shocks well.

Fruit sorbets are mostly made from sugar syrup, lemon juice, and blended fruit. The cooled mixture is then poured into the container of the ice cream maker and frozen to a creamy consistency.

Frozen yogurt can be natural or flavored with fruit. To achieve a creamier texture, Greek yogurt with a higher protein content is more suitable for freezing.

Granita is a flavored crushed ice dessert, which is not homogeneous and creamy like ice cream. It is made from sugar syrup and fruit, frozen and crushed into small chips.

Gelato is the Italian name for ice cream. It’s not fluffy and light as regular ice cream, but denser as there is not as much air incorporated during mixing.

Final thoughts

So, is it worth having your own ice cream maker? For me, the answer is clearly yes, I have been using my ice cream machine regularly for more than twenty years. With an ice cream machine, you can make tasty, yet healthy frozen desserts that fit well in various diets.

An ice cream maker provides you with almost unlimited possibilities for creative ice cream making. If you make ice cream at home, you can combine every kind of fruit, nuts, chocolate, spices, and other flavorings you imagine.

There are two types of home ice cream machines, one is self-cooling, and the other works with a pre-freeze bowl.

The best self-cooling ice cream maker is the Magimix 11680 Gelato Expert machine for frozen desserts

The best pre-freeze ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Ice Cream Deluxe, Pre-Freeze Ice Cream, Frozen Yoghurt, and Sorbet Maker.

Debora

Debora

My name is Debora, the founder of My Delicious Sweets, and a qualified confectioner with broad experience in the confectionery industry. On my blog, I will share important, interesting, and fun facts about food, along with some of my favorite recipes.

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