This ice cream maker from Cuisinart hits the perfect middle ground between basic and blowout, and it really is a great all-rounder. It’s an all-in-one machine, so you get the convenience of being able to rustle up a tub of ice cream without any of the pre-freezing hassle. But it’s super simple, with just a timer button rather than preset programs, which is where it differs to the more expensive models.
In the market for an ice cream maker? Join the sugar-craving club. The latest range of at-home ice cream makers can churn out artisanal scoops of your favourite frozen dessert in as little as half an hour. No wonder sales have skyrocketed just in time for summer.
If you’re overwhelmed with options, you can narrow things down by deciding which of the two main types of ice cream maker is best for you. The first uses a compressor system to self-freeze and churn your liquid mixture on demand. This type of machine tends to be quite bulky, so you’ll need some free space on your countertop.
The second type uses a bowl that you’ll need to pre-freeze beforehand, usually for at least 12 hours. Depending on the capacity of the bowl, these can be pretty unwieldly, so check your freezer dimensions carefully. Also consider if you’ve got the space to leave the bowl in there permanently to allow for spontaneous bouts of ice cream making.
Whichever option you choose, it’s worth planning ahead to get the best results. Many recipes ask you to mix up a custardy batter a couple of hours beforehand, for example, usually on the hob. You’ll then need to chill that mixture – the longer the better. Even the temperature of the room can affect how long your frozen creation takes to churn before it’s ready to eat.
There are also plenty of no-cook alternatives, if you don’t fancy the faff. With a bit of trial and error, you’ll soon be producing creamy, grain-free ice cream with the right machine. For ultimate ease, our shortlist even includes an ice cream maker that uses a pre-bought mix. Just don’t tell your foodie friends.
How we tested
We tried both types of ice cream makers and made the basic vanilla ice cream recipe provided with each one, to see how they compared. To whittle down our shortlist, we looked at how easy each machine was to use, how long a basic ice cream recipe took to make, including prep, chilling, and freezing time, and – ultimately – how good the ice cream tasted at the end.
We also considered how much of a faff each one was to clean afterwards, and how bulky each machine was for storage. Lastly, we factored in value for money to come up with our overall winners. Here’s the scoop...
The best ice cream makers for 2023 are:
- Best ice cream maker overall – Cuisinart ice cream and gelato professional: £250, Cuisinart.co.uk
- Best budget ice cream maker – Lakeland digital ice cream maker: £49.99, Lakeland.co.uk
- Best ice cream maker for variety – Ninja creami ice cream and frozen dessert maker NC300UK: £199.99, Ninjakitchen.co.uk
- Best KitchenAid ice cream maker – KitchenAid ice cream maker 5KSMICM: £149, Kitchenaid.co.uk
- Best ice cream maker for large families – Sage smart scoop: £369.95, Sageappliances.com