There are a few options to consider when buying an ice cream maker, but rest assured that there’s certainly one that’ll fit within any budget. I’ve had several readers inquiring about ice cream makers and in addition to the extensive information in my book, The Perfect Scoop, here’s additional information about the various kinds that are available, to help you make your decision.
I’ve been using the Cuisinart ICE-50BC with excellent results for the past few years and could not live without it. Not only is the machine very efficient, the price is extraordinary for a self-refrigerating machine. Although if you are a novice, and only make ice cream on rare occasions, it does fall into the “investment” category.
My ice cream maker has been a real powerhouse and I consider it an indispensable part of my batterie de cuisine nowadays. Some people find the noise bothersome, but frankly—it is a machine and machines do make noise. I keep mine in another room when in use. I do recommend if you buy this machine to purchase a separate plastic churning arm. Mine lasted several years but eventually snapped and it’s nice to have a spare on hand.
UPDATE: Cuisinart has released a newer model of this machine, the ICE-100, which boasts a sleeker design and gets good reviews, too.
A lower-priced option is a machine such as the Cuisinart ICE-21. This machine is a excellent value. The only drawback is that you’ll need to pre-freeze the canister for 24 hours—no cheating! – before you plan to freeze your ice cream or sorbet. These machines make great ice cream and are extremely affordable.
If you have a KitchenAid mixer, their wildly-popular KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment works very well. I had the opportunity to use one during my visit to the KitchenAid factory, and was really impressed with the care and precision of this attachment, and I use mine at home. Interestingly it churns ice cream much faster than my pricier machine with the built-in compressor, but like the Cuisinart machine just above, you do need to pre-freeze the canister at least 24 hours before you plan to churn your ice cream.
Note: If you live outside the United States, European KitchenAid mixers are different and the ice cream attachment made for U.S. models will not work with them.
You can also find more of my recommendations for machines and ice cream making equipment, as well as recipes for all your favorite ice creams, sorbets, granitas, toppings, swirls, and more in my book, The Perfect Scoop, revised and updated!