Food & Drink

Ice cream maker suggestions

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Mar 8, 2006
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Ice cream maker suggestions

We are looking to buy a small ice cream maker around $50-$80. Anyone here use one of these and how does the ice cream come out? Any suggestions on a brand to choose or what to look out for?
18 replies
Deal Guru
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Sep 1, 2005
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The Cuisinart model is probably the most well known consumer grade model. It works. They go for around $125 +tx give or take.

Kijiji or Facebook marketplace for light used or even new is your best bet if that's your budget.

Alternatively consider doing the 2 ingredient ice cream which is just whipping cream and condensed milk. You need a stand or hand mixer. Very easy and very good too and no machine required. Your $80 will make a lot of ice cream.
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May 28, 2012
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Saskatoon
I've owned three canister ice cream makers and they were all crap (Donvier, Big Chill by Salton and the cheap Cuisinart shaped like a bucket). I ended up buying one with a compressor and that has been great but it is really expensive. If I had to buy canister style, I would go with a higher end Cuisinart which would be around $90-100. There's actually a much more expensive one in the Amazon Warehouse right now that is regularly over $200, going for ~$117 in very good condition. If it works well, you are more likely to use it so spending a bit more is worth it, imo.
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Jan 13, 2004
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The problem with freeze bowl ice cream makers is that the results depend on how cold you can get the freeze bowl. For best results, you need to freeze the bowl for more than a few days, and your freezer needs to be really cold. I noticed that fridge freezers don't get that cold. A chest style deep freezer usually gets colder.
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Aug 22, 2006
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Mars2012 wrote: I ended up buying one with a compressor and that has been great but it is really expensive.
+1 compressor.
Buy once, cry once.
Besides... with the price of good ice cream in Canada the thing pays for itself.
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May 28, 2012
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Saskatoon
death_hawk wrote: +1 compressor.
Buy once, cry once.
Besides... with the price of good ice cream in Canada the thing pays for itself.
I've had this machine for less than a month and have made ice cream/sorbet/gelato/sherbet more than ten times. It literally takes 20-30 minutes to make a batch. I can't stand all the additives in store bought so decided it was worth the investment.
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Aug 22, 2006
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Mars2012 wrote: I've had this machine for less than a month and have made ice cream/sorbet/gelato/sherbet more than ten times. It literally takes 20-30 minutes to make a batch. I can't stand all the additives in store bought so decided it was worth the investment.
The worst part is that ice cream is now ruined for you.
Ever since I started making my own even Haagen Dazs tastes cheap. It's like "flat". And that's the best we have nationally.
Everything else below that is just swill.

Although to nitpick a little, while churning takes about 30 minutes, the amount of prep that goes into making the base is a labor of love.
Cooking and chilling the base overnight, prepping the flavors that go into the base, hardening after churning, etc.
For me it's about a 3 day process from nothing to ready to eat.

But man... the results... Ice cream everywhere just sucks now. Some of the fancy ice cream parlors aren't bad, but not for $6/scoop when I can make an entire liter for that.
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May 28, 2012
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Saskatoon
death_hawk wrote: The worst part is that ice cream is now ruined for you.
Ever since I started making my own even Haagen Dazs tastes cheap. It's like "flat". And that's the best we have nationally.
Everything else below that is just swill.

Although to nitpick a little, while churning takes about 30 minutes, the amount of prep that goes into making the base is a labor of love.
Cooking and chilling the base overnight, prepping the flavors that go into the base, hardening after churning, etc.
For me it's about a 3 day process from nothing to ready to eat.

But man... the results... Ice cream everywhere just sucks now. Some of the fancy ice cream parlors aren't bad, but not for $6/scoop when I can make an entire liter for that.
I'm not the ice cream eater in this family, I just prepare it. Winking Face

I actually don't care for the custard style with egg yolks and high percentage of whipping cream (although the very first thing I made was a chocolate ice cream with custard base). I found it a bit rich and I figure the family can eat more of the "lighter" stuff more often. This machine makes perfect gelato too. Yes, you do have to freeze the finished product for a few hours to get that perfect consistency.

The recipe I have used the most is for chocolate chip ice cream:
1 3/4 c whipping cream
1 1/4 c whole milk
3/4 c sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips (sometimes I add crushed oreos or cookie dough balls)
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
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Mars2012 wrote:
I actually don't care for the custard style with egg yolks and high percentage of whipping cream
Oh in that case, Philly style is real easy.

I make my green tea Philly style because otherwise it is heavy.
Deal Addict
Nov 12, 2006
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London
gr8dlr wrote: The Cuisinart model is probably the most well known consumer grade model. It works. They go for around $125 +tx give or take.

Kijiji or Facebook marketplace for light used or even new is your best bet if that's your budget.

Alternatively consider doing the 2 ingredient ice cream which is just whipping cream and condensed milk. You need a stand or hand mixer. Very easy and very good too and no machine required. Your $80 will make a lot of ice cream.
I have a Cuisinart, which a quick search shows is probably the ICE20.
It appears the ICE21 has replaced it and I see it for $74.

It works.
No doubt the higher end models referred to are better, but most people don't want to go overboard on the budget.

I have 2 bowls, so when in the mood I can make 2 batches.
I store them in the freezer.
It goes a long time without use, but recently when limiting covid grocery store visits, and I had cream on hand I made some.
I forgot how good it was.
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May 30, 2010
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@Mars2012 What's the reason for the cream and milk mix? To achieve a certain flavor profile or to achieve a specific fat ratio?
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May 28, 2012
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my0gr81 wrote: @Mars2012 What's the reason for the cream and milk mix? To achieve a certain flavor profile or to achieve a specific fat ratio?
This recipe makes ice cream that's close in texture to something like PC ice cream (what we used to buy). One with a higher cream ratio would be more like Haagen Daz.
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May 30, 2010
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Mars2012 wrote: This recipe makes ice cream that's close in texture to something like PC ice cream (what we used to buy). One with a higher cream ratio would be more like Haagen Daz.
OK thank you. I'll try a batch. Haagen Daz and PC ice cream do have eggs in them as emulsifiers.

I tried the sweetened condensed milk method, and while it works great with fresh and watery fruits (strawberries), it's not so great with dense fruits (banana) or as a vanilla ice cream.
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Oct 24, 2005
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Never tried the Philly/no custard style but reading about it now. Is it true it does not save well past a couple days in the freezer?
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my0gr81 wrote: OK thank you. I'll try a batch. Haagen Daz and PC ice cream do have eggs in them as emulsifiers.

I tried the sweetened condensed milk method, and while it works great with fresh and watery fruits (strawberries), it's not so great with dense fruits (banana) or as a vanilla ice cream.
Ice cream although simple in concept is not that simple to do well. For "fruit" flavours, addition of water in fruits can throw balance of ratios off and change texture dramatically. A lot of ice cream makers will use freeze dried fruits or they'll cook down the fruit to concentrate the fruitiness to add pop of flavour without addition of water throwing off the balance.

Alternatively, consider doing fruit swirls (perhaps using something like jam).

Also remember ice cold temps will mute flavours so they really have to pop and sing loud to be heard (or rather be tasted).
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
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May 28, 2012
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Saskatoon
blarg wrote: Never tried the Philly/no custard style but reading about it now. Is it true it does not save well past a couple days in the freezer?
It doesn't last more than a couple days in this house, lol. If you can't eat it within that time, I would pack it into smaller airtight containers and put it in a colder part of your freezer - my thinking is that you introduce less air and maybe get less potential melt/ice crystals. Not sure, death_hawk would know about that sort of thing.
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May 30, 2010
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blarg wrote: Never tried the Philly/no custard style but reading about it now. Is it true it does not save well past a couple days in the freezer?
According to SeriousEats, you can add a couple of Tbsp of non-fat milk powder to the mix to act as stabilizer. It helps, but still not perfect. The reason is that the water in the cream/milk will crystallize and separate from the fat when frozen. The sooner you eat, the less separation. The egg yolk help with the binding of the water and fat, as well as the thickening as you cook it.
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Sep 16, 2004
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Toronto
I know you said small but this fits your budget.
Guaranteed goodness once a good ice cream base is used together with the right ratio of salt to ice.
Downside is having to secure ice and salt, mess cleanup etc.

https://www.tsc.ca/Nostalgia-4Quart-Ele ... v=R:658705

I had a Donvier small canister and it never worked.
The canister full of liquid never froze well.
The more expensive cusinarts may work if you use it in a cool place indoors.
The $500 ones with the compressor have a small canister and should make comparable ice cream to the big 4 quart(salt and ice machine).
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
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So apparently Amazon doesn't sell everything any more. There's only like 2 compressor models.
A bunch of months ago I could swear I saw one for $200ish but it's certainly not there any more.
Not that I'd be sure if I could trust a $200 compressor model....
blarg wrote: Is it true it does not save well past a couple days in the freezer?
Outside of being eaten in a couple days making it not last as @Mars2012 implied, there's nothing in a Philly that's not in a custard that would make it have that short a lifespan in the freezer.
That said, for optimal quality I wouldn't keep custard ice cream more than a couple weeks anyways unless you pack it real well.
There's no stabilizers in homemade (which is a good thing) so in a home freezer with constant freeze/thaw/door opening/etc makes the texture turn to crap.
There's no safety issue behind it but there is a texture issue. Safety wise, I'd say almost indefinitely. But the texture of 5 year old ice cream is gonna be gnarly.
my0gr81 wrote: According to SeriousEats, you can add a couple of Tbsp of non-fat milk powder to the mix to act as stabilizer. It helps, but still not perfect. The reason is that the water in the cream/milk will crystallize and separate from the fat when frozen. The sooner you eat, the less separation. The egg yolk help with the binding of the water and fat, as well as the thickening as you cook it.
Corn syrup helps too. I can't remember the mechanism of action of corn syrup, but my custard mix has both.
IIRC it's the extra sugar that's less sweet causing smaller ice crystals.

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