The Best Ice Cream Makers for Homemade Frozen Treats (2024)

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One of the great things about ice cream making—among many—is how easy it actually is. Yes, store-bought ice cream has its charm and place, such as enjoying directly from the pint while binging Netflix, or as a casual dessert plopped on the table at the end of a dinner party with a handful of dessert spoons. But freshly churned homemade ice cream is an underrated trick in the home cook’s playbook, and it’s much easier to do than you might realize.

The winners

Best ice cream maker overallBest compressor ice cream makerAnother good compressor ice cream makerBest small ice cream maker
Cuisinart ICE-21Lello Musso LussinoWhynter 201-SBDASH My Pint
Read full reviewRead full reviewRead full reviewRead full review

Start scrolling ice cream recipes and you’ll likely find that what they all have in common is that they’re pretty short: They typically require only a few ingredients, a saucepan, a whisk, a mixing bowl, and time to chill in order to make your base. But while no-churn ice cream recipes—in which whipped cream is typically folded into a custardy base before freezing—have become popular, if it’s the dense, smooth texture of the really good stuff that you’re after, you’re absolutely going to need an electric ice cream maker (the rock salt method that you’ll find online is really only for nostalgia purposes and middle school science classes).

With several different models on the market and prices ranging from $20 to more than $1,000, it can be a daunting task to determine which machine is right for you. But we were up for it, polishing off our sundae spoons as we rounded up popular and highly rated models and put them to work making frozen treats.

Read on to learn more about each of our top picks, plus notes on how we tested ice cream makers and which ones we don’t think are worth your money.

Best ice cream maker overall: Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker

Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker


  • Type: Canister
  • Size: 9.5" x 9" x 11.25"
  • Capacity: 1.5 quart
  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years

The Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker has claimed our top slot for years now, and it’s obvious why. Between an easy-to-use design and interface, the deliciously dense, smooth ice creams it produced, and a low price point, it’s been hard to beat. We’ll note that we chose a canister machine over a compressor one as our top pick (more on that distinction below) because this one works so well and it is so much less expensive that we think it outweighs the convenience a compressor machine can offer.

The machine consists of just four parts: the electric base, the canister bowl, the dasher (the technical name for the paddle that helps churn the ice cream), and a clear plastic cover. The interface includes just a single switch that turns the motor on and off. And once your ice cream base is chilled and the canister thoroughly frozen, you’re just one flip of a switch away from churning. The base of the machine rotates the canister, the plastic cover holds the bowl and dasher place, and with no timer on the machine you’ll churn for as long as your recipe instructs. The clear cover is easy to peer through to monitor the progress, with an opening wide enough for adding mix-ins.

The base is surprisingly lightweight—in fact, the only relatively heavy part of this machine is the canister, which is the case with all canister ice cream maker models. And like those other models, the Cuisinart's canister must be frozen thoroughly—for 24 hours or more—before you can start churning. If you’re the type to make ice cream often, you might create dedicated freezer space for your canister, and it may even be worth investing in an extra freezer bowl for double-batch occasions.

Not accounting for the time required to chill our base and freeze the canister, this is the fastest to churn ice cream to a proper soft-serve consistency, in 20 minutes flat. It produced the best texture of all of the canister models, with a deliciously dense but silky mouthfeel and barely discernible ice crystals. It’s the quietest in this category too.

Because the bowl is fairly shallow and wide, it’s easy to pull the paddle out without spilling ice cream onto the counter, and also to pause, assess, and taste as often as necessary during the churning process. Once we scraped the ice cream from the paddle, scooping the rest out of the bowl is a quick, easy process.

Cleanup is also a breeze. You will have to hand-wash the parts though, and Cuisinart recommends cleaning the bowl, paddle, and lid with warm soapy water. That all takes a couple of minutes. At about $70 at the time of publication and with a 3-year warranty, it’s also one of the best values you can get.

What we didn't like about the Cuisinart ICE-21 Ice Cream Maker

For large families or bigger batches, the 1.5-quart capacity canister may be too small, but we never found it to be an issue with any of the standard-size recipes we tested using it. We wish that the paddle felt more durable; it’s made from plastic that feels a bit flimsy, but given the price this is a minor complaint.

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Best small ice cream maker: DASH My Pint Electric Ice Cream Machine

DASH My Pint Electric Ice Cream Machine


  • Type: Canister
  • Size: 8.6" x 5" x 4.2"
  • Capacity: 1.6 cups
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

We weren't sure what to expect from this model since it was the smallest of all of the home ice cream makers tested, but we were pleasantly surprised at the performance and found that the DASH’s more traditional pre-freeze canister model is much more effective for creating a classic ice cream consistency than new, blender-type designs like the Ninja Creami.

As with all of the canister models, the mixing bowl has to be stored in the freezer for at least 24 hours before churning. That inconvenience is offset by the diminutive size of the mixing bowl on this little machine—we hardly noticed it in the freezer at all because it took up barely any space. Assembly is simple. The mixing bowl sits in a cup, and the paddle goes into the motor, which also acts as the lid. When you’re ready to churn, pour your base into the mixing bowl, cover with the motor lid, and switch on the machine.

Since the paddle is attached to the motor lid, it lifts right out when you open the machine, which makes scooping the ice cream from the bowl to a storage container really easy. Cleanup is also simple, with only the mixing bowl and paddle requiring a wash. As with all machines we tested, none of the components are dishwasher-safe, but for $20, and given the quality of the ice cream it produces as well as its tiny footprint, this is a surprisingly good value, particularly for small households.

What we didn't like about the Dash My Pint Ice Cream Machine

Since the mixing bowl is completely enclosed, we assumed the machine would churn the ice cream faster than any of the machines. But it ended up taking about 30 minutes—50% longer than the Cuisinart—to reach the right consistency. And without any way to see into the machine, checking the progress means stopping the machine and separating the bowl from the dasher lid, a tedious and potentially messy process that can ultimately compromise the finished texture. This machine also has a small capacity of only about a pint, so you’ll need to adjust standard size recipes or be careful to fill the canister only about 60% of the way with your ice cream base.

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Best compressor ice cream maker: Lello Musso Lussino (1.5 Quart Capacity)

Lello Musso Lussino (1.5 Quart Capacity)


  • Type: Compressor
  • Size: 12" x 18" x 11"
  • Capacity: 1.5 quarts
  • Weight: 38 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

We get it. More than $700 is a lot to spend on an ice cream maker. If a small kitchen appliance costs that much, it’s really considered a luxury item. And this machine is big and heavy. But hear us out: The Lello Musso Lussino produces the absolute best quality ice cream of every single machine we tested, full stop.

First of all, this machine is beautiful. We spoke with a representative at Lello’s US distribution center and were told that every Lello ice cream maker is assembled by hand in a small factory in Italy before being meticulously inspected and shipped off to be distributed.

The interface is simple, if a bit more robust than the single-button canister models we tested. One button toggles the chilling function on and off so you can mix the ice cream without chilling it if need be, a second toggles the churning motor on and off, and a dial that sets the churn time also acts as the on-off switch. The entire thing is made of stainless steel, including the paddle and the nut that secures it to the mixing bowl, ensuring maximal durability and sturdiness. (It’s worth noting that the mixing bowl is actually just a deep depression in the top of the machine, and is not removable.)

One serious advantage compressor models like the Lello have over the canister ones is that you can use them whenever your base is ready, no pre-freezing of the canister required. That said, they do typically take about 50% longer to churn, and this initially made us worry that it’d compromise the texture. But after one taste, we knew our concerns were for naught: The Lello Musso Lussino (along with the other Lello model we tested below) yielded the best-textured ice cream of all of the machines we tested. The soft-serve ice cream was on par with fresh, professionally churned ice cream made on industrial machines designed to churn quickly and minimize crystallization—it’s gloriously smooth. Even more impressive: It stays that way after freezing overnight. Once we had the machine running, consecutive batches take less time to churn, at a brisk 20 minutes, and those batches are identical in quality to the initial batch.

Because the bowl is wide and shallow, it’s easy to get all of the ice cream out, and made even easier thanks to the precisely shaped plastic spatula that comes with the machine, designed for reaching the edges of the bowl. We’re also able to move the churning paddle manually to push it out of the way for easier ice cream removal.

What we didn't like about the Lello Musso Lussino Ice Cream Maker

Because of the price, the Lello is really only an option for home cooks who are very serious about making ice cream, or those who have lots of extra money to burn. And it’s a bulky, heavy machine that isn’t easy to maneuver in and out of storage—ideally it’d live in a permanent spot on your countertop. Additionally, because the bowl isn’t removable, cleaning up isn’t as straightforward as it is with canister models and even other compressor machines. But by following the manufacturer’s instructions, we found it to be less difficult than we expected: Wash the lid, nut, and paddle by hand in the sink, then pour ¼ cup of hot water into the bowl and wipe it out with a clean sponge. Rinse the sponge and repeat, wiping the bowl clean until the machine is clean, sanitizing it as necessary.

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Budget-friendlier compressor ice cream maker: Whynter 201-SB Compressor Ice Cream Maker

Whynter 201-SB Compressor Ice Cream Maker


  • Type: Compressor
  • Size: 12.5" x 10.75" x 14.25"
  • Capacity: 2.1 quarts
  • Weight: 24 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

The Whynter 201-SB is another excellent compressor machine and it's $400 cheaper than the Lello Musso Lussino. The interface is straightforward, with buttons to toggle different modes, like churn only, freeze only, and the “ice cream” setting (churn and freeze), as well as buttons to start and stop the machine and adjust the time. Because it is a compressor machine like the Lello, no pre-freezing of a canister is necessary—once your base is made and chilled, you can start churning right away, and it turns out perfectly creamy, silky-smooth ice cream in about 30 minutes, with texture that’s almost as good as the Lello.

The bowl lifts out for easy cleaning and, like all the other models, must be hand-washed. The footprint on this machine is also smaller than all of the other compressor models we tried, which are designed with the compressors alongside the churning bowl, making the machines much wider. This Whynter, on the other hand, has the compressor directly under the churning bowl to create a much narrower, but slightly taller body. For those wanting a machine that requires less planning ahead than a canister model, takes less counter space to operate, and is a significant price cut on the Lello, we definitely recommend the Whynter 201-SB.

The construction of the churning paddle is a bit frustrating—the blades on it are fairly close together, which makes scraping the churned ice cream off of it difficult, and it’s also made of plastic, which feels quite flimsy compared to the Lello’s stainless-steel churning blade. And even with its relatively small footprint for a compressor model, this is a large and quite heavy machine that isn’t super easy to move around. Ideally, it’d have a permanent space on your countertop and get frequent use.

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What’s the difference between canister and compressor ice cream makers?

You probably noticed that we're recommending two very different kinds of ice cream makers that came at two very different price points. These two most popular types of ice cream maker for home kitchens are canister-style machines, and compressor machines.

Canister-style machines are typically made up of four parts: a base that includes the motor, a plastic cover, a dasher or paddle, and then a canister that holds the ice cream base while it’s churned. The canister is heavy, made of aluminum and plastic to seal a nontoxic saline solution (similar to an ice pack) inside the lining. The cream mixture inside the bowl freezes at a lower temperature, stays frozen longer than plain ice. With these machines, it’s absolutely critical that the canister be thoroughly frozen, for 24 hours or more, because it’s this frozen bowl that actually chills the ice cream, frozen yogurt, or gelato during churning. The easiest test is to give the canister a quick shake; if you hear any sloshing at all, it’s not ready. These types of machines are generally less expensive, with great options (such as our top pick) costing between $50-$80.

Compressor machines, on the other hand, require no pre-freezing of the parts. They’re fitted with a refrigeration compressor that uses a coolant to freeze the ice cream as it churns. There are several advantages to these types of machines—they have fewer parts, you don’t have to plan ahead by pre-freezing your canister, you can churn multiple batches in a row without any interruption, and, most importantly, they typically make great ice cream. But they’re quite heavy and all the convenience comes at a cost. Compressor-style ice cream makers typically start at around $250 and go up from there.

How we tested the ice cream makers

We used the same ice cream base to test every machine, taking care to use the exact same weight of each ingredient for every batch. We let every batch cool to room temperature and then put it under refrigeration overnight, fully chilling them to 40°F. We adhered to the manufacturer’s instruction to churn each base to a soft-serve consistency, watching the process closely and taking note of churn time. After these tests, we experimented with other bases, including sorbet and frozen yogurt on high performing machines.

Since compressor models are able to churn multiple batches of ice cream consecutively without having a bowl you have to freeze between batches, we also tested that capability by cleaning out and drying each machine after the initial test and starting the second batch immediately after.

While testing, we kept the following criteria in mind:

Churn time

Churn time is an important factor, because the faster the ice cream base freezes, the less chance ice crystals have to form, which has a big effect on texture. The best performing machines churned out silky ice cream in 30 minutes or less.

Ease of use

Our favorite machines had the simplest interfaces, with only a button or two and maybe a dial. Since the process of churning ice cream is inherently simple, we think that the machine should make it feel that way! We also assessed how quietly each machine ran, since a loud machine can be a nuisance.

Storage and maneuverability

Canister machines are smaller, so they take up less counter space, but they also require you to keep the bowl in the freezer for 24 hours before you can use them. Compressor models, on the other hand, are considerably bulkier and take up more counter space, but you can also use them as soon as your ice cream base is chilled. We took note of these factors as well as how heavy the machines were for getting and out of storage.


The price range of all of these models is from $20–$1,200. We considered whether more expensive machines are actually worth it? On the flip side, even if a machine seemed like a good value we needed to know that it could yield truly good ice cream worthy of your time and effort?


All machines require hand-washing, but is cleaning more tedious than necessary?

Other ice cream makers we tested

Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker


  • Type: Canister
  • Size: 10.13" x 10.13" x 14"
  • Capacity: 1.5 quarts
  • Weight: 7.6 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

This machine looks almost identical to the winning Cuisinart model, but takes about 40 minutes to churn the ice cream base to the right consistency. It also sounded like the rock tumbler we used to have as kids for the entire churn time, making the entire experience pretty unpleasant. The ice cream it produced was just okay, with some pretty intense crystallization.

Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker


  • Type: Compressor
  • Size: 16.22" x 7.17" x 10.75"
  • Capacity: 1.5 quarts
  • Weight: 30.9 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

This may have been the biggest disappointment of the bunch. We’ve seen the Smart Scoop ice cream maker feature in some pretty prestigious test kitchens and wondered whether it could justify the expense. Unfortunately, we don’t think it does. The Breville took the longest to churn, at a whopping 55 minutes, which affected the texture with pronounced iciness. The interface is also excessively complicated, offering a ton of different settings for different types of frozen desserts, and a pre-chill setting that didn’t seem to do anything. The tall, narrow bowl makes removing the churned ice cream difficult, and we lost a pretty big glob of ice cream to the counter when removing the paddle. There were some functions that seemed helpful on the surface, like an alarm that told you when to add mix-ins, but this went off too early in the process, given how long it took to churn. We were disappointed in this machine.

Whynter ICM-200LS 2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker


  • Type: Compressor
  • Size: 11.25" x 16.75" x 10.25"
  • Capacity: 2.1 quarts
  • Weight: 24.3 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

This is a solid compressor machine, with a standard 1.5-quart capacity, and it yields deliciously similar results as the Whynter 201SB, all for about $50 less. But with its more traditional compressor design—the motor is situated alongside the bowl as it churns—it’s a wide machine that has a significantly larger countertop footprint than the 201SB we tested. We also found it to be very heavy and disruptively loud, and as with the other Whynter, we wish it had a dasher that’s easier to get the churned ice cream off of (and that felt sturdier). But we love the simple interface, how easy it is to see inside to monitor progress, the lower price point, and the quick ease of the compressor model. And relished the delicious ice creams this model churned.

Cuisinart Ice 100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker


  • Type: Compressor
  • Size: 16" x 12" x 9"
  • Capacity: 1 quart
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years

Cuisinart’s entry into the compressor category was fine but not outstanding. It’s much easier to use than the Breville model, with just three buttons, one to toggle power on and off, one to start churning, and one to toggle the timer. It takes about 40 minutes to churn, twice as long as its winning canister counterpart, so the texture leaves a little to be desired, especially considering this model is almost four times as expensive as the ICE-21. The bowl is removable, making it a little easier to clean than the Lello, but in this less expensive compressor category the Whynter 201SB is the easy winner.

KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment


  • Type: Attachment
  • Size: 7" x 11" x 8.5"
  • Capacity: 2 quarts
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

This is an acceptable option if you already have a KitchenAid stand mixer and are staunchly against buying a whole separate machine for making ice cream. It is, however, more expensive than the Cuisinart ICE-21 and the ice cream texture isn't as smooth, so if you can spare the kitchen storage space, go for the separate machine.

Lello Musso Pola 5030 Dessert Maker


  • Type: Compressor
  • Size: 12.2" x 20.4" x 13.7"
  • Capacity: 2 quarts
  • Weight: 68.3 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

This is likely out of the price range for the vast majority of home cooks, but if you want to be able to make large batches—up to two quarts of ice cream at a go—and get a shorter churn time (just 20 minutes) than the Musso Lussino, this is a superb machine. Besides the price, the size is a bit of a drawback for typical homemade ice cream needs. It is enormous, the largest of all the machines tested, and weighs over 70 pounds, so finding a permanent spot for it in your kitchen is less of a suggestion and more of a necessity.

What about the Ninja Creami?

The Ninja Creami has garnered a lot of attention on Tik Tok, so much so that you might be wondering why it doesn't appear on this list. There are a couple of reasons: 1) It's not actually an ice cream maker, as it has no cooling mechanism inside. 2) After thorough testing, we found that it doesn't hit the mark when it comes to traditional, classic ice cream. Instead of creating something light and airy, it comes out with more of a Dairy Queen Blizzard-like consistency — which can be delicious in its own right, but it's just not the ice cream we were expecting.

To learn more, check out our review of the Ninja Creami. Though it's not one of our picks for creating traditional ice cream, it is great at producing creamy smooth bowls, thick shakes, fruit-filled slushies, fresh sorbets, and, of course, the protein-rich frozen desserts that have earned the appliance its Tik Tok fame.

Our Favorite Ice Cream Recipes

Now that you're well versed in all things concerning ice cream makers, here are 20 of our favorite ice cream recipes.

  1. True Vanilla Ice Cream
  2. Double Ripple Ice Cream Cake
  3. Strawberry Honey Balsamic With Black Pepper Ice Cream
  4. Goat Cheese Ice Cream With Roasted Red Cherries
  5. Malted Vanilla Ice Cream With Peanut Brittle and Milk Chocolate Pieces
  6. Coffee-Cardamom Ice Cream with Figs
  7. Peanut Butter Ice Cream With a Hard Chocolate Shell
  8. Cheesecake Ice Cream With Strawberry Sauce
  9. White Peach and Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream
  10. Apple Crumble Ice Cream With Calvados and Créme Fraîche
  11. Brown Sugar Ice Cream With a Ginger-Caramel Swirl
  12. Labneh and Lime Ice Cream With Granola
  13. Fresh Mint and Chocolate Ice Cream
  14. Boozy Piña Colada Ice Cream
  15. Almond and Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream
The Best Ice Cream Makers for Homemade Frozen Treats (2024)
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