Breville Ice Cream Maker Review: Smart Scoop or Dumb Flop?

Breville Smart Scoop body

The Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker (in Europe aka the Sage Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker by Heston Blumenthal) is probably the worlds most feature packed ice cream maker!

The question is: are these features actually useful or are they a flashy gimmick designed to justify a higher price tag?!

Well, read on ​and find out. I've been using this machine for the past couple of months and in my Breville Smart Scoop review, I'll cover everything you'll need to know...

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl boxed

Including: the way it works, how to best use it, what the ice cream's like and whether those features are really worth the price! Finally I'll suggest some alternatives in case the Smart Scoop isn't the best ice cream maker for you.

How does the Breville Smart Scoop work?​

The Smart Scoop is an ice cream maker with a compressor. Not sure what this means? Then I'll explain. There are 3 types of ice cream machine and what makes each one different from the other, is the way they freeze the ice cream...

  1. With ice and salt
  2. With a removable bowl that you pre-chill in your freezer
  3. With ​a built in freezer

The Smart Scoop uses it's own built in freezer, also know as a compressor to freeze the ice cream. This type of machine is the most convenient available. You don't have to plan ahead. You don't need to put a bowl in your freezer...

When you want to make ice cream, you just need to turn it on for a few minutes to pre-cool, then add the mixture and wait. And you'll have your ice cream in around half an hour or so usually.

​These compressor ice cream makers are always bigger, heavier, more delicate and more expensive than the other types designed for kitchen use. But they're very similar in their component parts:

Breville Smart Scoop parts
  1. ​a body that contains the motor, the compressor and the control panel
  2. a removable bowl where the ice cream is churned
  3. a "dasher" which is just the paddle that mixes the ice cream
  4. a transparent lid
  5. a spatula for removing the ice cream
  6. a cleaning brush

The body of the Breville Smart Scoop

​The body of the Smart Scoop is big and heavy! It measures 16" wide, 10.5" deep and 10.5" high (41 x 27 x 27 cm). And it weighs about 32 lb (14.5 kg).

It has a very attractive brushed stainless steel housing, that features ventilation vents on the front, sides and back and an embossed Breville (or Sage) logo the front. ​The finish gives it a high quality, well made feel. It looks great!

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl front

At the bottom of the sides are small recess that act as a sorts of handles to make lifting and moving the machine easier. ​

Breville Smart Scoop side handle

But it's on top where the magic ​happens! On the left, is big hole with metal sides and a drive shaft protruding from the center. The compressor inside the body cools these metal sides, which in turn cool the bowl once it's placed in this hole. And of course, the drive shaft spins the dasher that mixes the ice cream!

Breville Smart Scoop cavity

On the right is the control paddle​ which features a big LCD screen and a whole load of buttons:

  • MANUAL TIMMER arrows
    (to adjust the time the machine will churn for from 5 to 180 minutes)
  • ​PRE-COOL button
    (to cool the machine down before you start to churn)
  • KEEP COOL button
    (to keep the ice cream cool and at the right consistency once it's finished)
  • Temperature units button
    (to toggle the display between Celsius and Fahrenheit)
  • Sound button
    (to adjust the sounds: loud, quiet or mute)
  • POWER button
    (to turn the machine on or off!)
  • HARDNESS dial
    (to adjust the desired hardness of the the final ice cream in auto mode)
  • START / PAUSE button
    (to start and stop the machine churning)

I'll explain in much more detail both how and how well these buttons and features work later in the review. But they are tactile, responsive and light up when you press them!

Breville Smart Scoop control panel

The LCD display is pretty big for ​an ice cream maker and shows you loads of information about what settings you've chosen and the progress of the freezing and churning process:

  • MANUAL or AUTO mode​
  • Current temperature
  • Sound settings
  • The hardness level you set and the machines progress towards it

Again, I'll talk about how this display actually works in more detail later on in the review. For now it's enough to say that it's clear and both easy to read and understand.

The Breville Smart Scoop​'s removable bowl

The actual ice cream is churned in a removable bowl. This is a 1.5 quart (1.4 liter) anodized aluminium bowl with a hollow tube in the middle to accommodate the drive shaft of the motor.

Why is the bowl removable? Well, presumably to make ​it easier to get the ice cream out and then clean up afterwards. All the lower and mid priced (I know this machine isn't cheap but there are much more expensive ones about!) ice cream makers have removable bowls.

Breville Smart Scoop bowl

The advantage is that it's easier to clean. The disadvantage is that since there is an extra layer of metal between the compressor and the ice cream, the cooling isn't as efficient.

Anyway, the bowl slots into the chamber in the top of the machine. There's a thin metal handle on the bowl to help you pull it out when the ice cream's finished. But when you're putting the bowl in, you must line up the hinges of the handle with 2 grooves at the top of the chamber...

If you don't, the bowl won't fully insert and you'll be unable to get the lid on properly. And as I found out, it might not be obvious why. Of course, if you read the manual first, you won't have this problem!

The Smart Scoop's dasher​

This is just the plastic paddle that mixes the ice cream. But it actually has 2 very important jobs:

  1. Scraping the frozen mixture off the side of the bowl and moving it to middle
  2. Adding air to the mixture

Why are these jobs so important? Because they have have a huge effect on both the quality and the consistency of the final ice cream...

Breville Smart Scoop dasher

In terms of quality, we all want smooth ice cream. And the more frozen mixture the dasher scrapes from the side of the bowl, the faster the ice cream freezes and the smoother the ice cream.

Why? Well, if the dasher scrapes all the frozen ice cream off the sides of the bowl, then the mixture will come into direct contact with the metal sides and will freeze faster. However, if the dasher leaves a thin layer on the sides of the bowl, the mixture will be insulated from the metal by this thin layer and will freeze slower.

Unfortunately, in all the domestic ice cream machines that I've used, there's a small gap between the blades of the dasher and the side of the bowl​. And this means that there's always a thin layer of insulating frozen mixture left on the sides of the bowl.

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl dasher gap

On the Smart Scoop it's about 3 mm and that certainly leaves enough frozen mixture to slow the freezing. Whether it's enough to effect the quality of the ice cream we'll see later.

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl insulating ice layer

In terms of consistency, the amount of air that the dasher adds to the mixture will effect how light or dense the final ice cream is. The more air that's added, the lighter the ice cream. In domestic ice cream makers, the dasher usually rotates very slowly, so home made ice cream tends to be very dense and thick.

The Smart Scoop dasher rotates at.​ Of course it also depends on the shape of the dasher so we'll be testing how much air the Smart Scoop actually incorporates into the ice cream a little later.

The Smart Scoop's lid 

Breville Smart Scoop lid

The Smart Scoop comes with a very simple, transparent lid. It screws on to lock. And it has a flap that you can lift up to add extras like candies, chocolates and pieces of fruit towards the end of the cycle, without having to completely remove the lid.

Breville Smart Scoop lid hatch

Smart Scoop Accessories​

There's a couple of accessories that come with the Smart Scoop. A thin brush is perfect for cleaning both the tube that goes over the drive shaft in the bowl and the shaft of the dasher.

Breville Smart Scoop spatula and cleaning brush

And a small plastic spatula is the just the right size for getting the ice cream out of the bowl once it's ready. ​

Making ice cream with the Breville Smart Scoop

​As with most machines, there's 5 stages to making ice cream with the Breville Smart Scoop. I know it sounds a lot, but most of them are very simple and quick...

  1. ​Pre-cool the machine
  2. Make the ice cream mixture
  3. Churn and freeze the mixture in the Breville Smart Scoop
  4. Transfer the ice cream to the freezer to firm up
  5. Clean the Smart Scoop

Stage 1: Pre-cool the machine

Now you don't have to to do this! But it's highly recommended: if you add the mixture to a machine that's already cold, it will freeze faster and your ice cream should be smoother.

If you can't be bothered or don't have time, you can skip this step. ​But the great thing about the Smart Scoop is that it automates the whole process for you. All you have to do is turn the machine on and press the PRE-COOL button!

Breville Smart Scoop start Pre-Cool

The compressor will then start up and begin to cool the machine. The current temperature will be displayed on the LCD screen and​ should start to drop. In the manual it says that the temperature will fall to between 14°F and -22°F (-10°C to -30°C). Why such a big variation I'm not sure! Because you basically want it as cold as possible.

Anyway, it should take between 5 and 10 minutes. When it reaches the optimal temperature, the machine will beep and READY will illuminate and PRESS START will flash on the display screen.

Breville Smart Scoop end Pre-Cool

It should be noted that you can set the Smart Scoop to pre-cool with the bowl in or out​ of the machine. If the bowl is in the machine you could also set it to pre-cool with the mixture already in the bowl.

However I definitely recommend that you pre-cool with the bowl in the machine but empty of mixture. ​Why? Again, it's all about getting the mixture to freeze as quickly as possible once the churning starts...

If the bowl is added to the machine later, it will take longer to cool down. And if the mixture is in the bowl (and in the machine) during PRE-COOL, it will start to freeze but very slowly. Whereas if you add the mixture to the bowl when it's already very cold from the PRE-COOL, it will start to freeze faster. 

​Once the machine has pre-cooled, it won't actually start churning until you press the START button (even though the paddle will start to turn after 15 minutes).

​Stage 2: Making the mixture

Depending on the recipe, this stage can be done well before Stage 1, or it could be done while the machine is pre-cooling.

Recipes that need to be heated also need to be cooled before they can be added to the ice cream maker. Since cooling takes time, they need to be made well in advance.

However, there are some recipes that don't need to be heated (I'm thing of Philadelphia style ice creams) and as long as the milk and cream come from the fridge, they can be prepared during pre-cooling and then go straight in the machine.

I cannot stress too much the importance of your recipe. It has a far bigger impact on the quality of the final ice cream than the individual machine does...

Ice cream is a delicate combination of solid, liquid and gas. And you can't just throw any combination ​of milk, cream and sugar into the machine and expect to get great results. You need to understand a bit about the science of ice cream first.

So, while I understand the temptation to start inventing your own recipes straight away (this is of course one of the best things about having your own ice cream maker), I'd urge you to start off with tried and tested recipes. 

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl manuals

The Smart Scoop manual contains 19 recipes including ice creams, gelatos, frozen yogurts and sorbets. These recipes have been specifically designed to work with the Smart Scoop so they're a great place to start!

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl manuals inside

Otherwise there's plenty of great ice cream recipe books. Just remember that the Smart Scoop has a 1.5 quart (1.4 liter) capacity, so don't make recipes that ​produce much more than 1 - 1.2 quarts of mixture, as they might over flow the top of the bowl.

Ice cream recipe book

​Once the mixture is made, you should cool it to around 4°C (which should be the temperature of your fridge) before it goes in the machine. If you're in a rush, the quickest way to do this is to is to pour the mixture into a zip lock bag and then add it to an ice bath. Cooling the mixture quickly also reduces the chances of harmful bacteria forming. However, I often add it to a bowl, cover with cling film and then let it cool down a little before transferring it to the fridge.

Leaving it in the fridge overnight will mean the mixture benefits from "ageing" which should improve the quality of ​the final ice cream. However, if you're in a rush you can add it to the ice cream maker as soon as it reaches 4°C.

​Stage 3: Churn and freeze the mixture in the Breville Smart Scoop

You have 2 options here: Manual or Auto mode. What's the difference? Well, in Manual mode, you set how long the machine will churn for. Whereas in Auto mode, you choose how hard you want your final dessert to be and the machine will churn the mixture until it reaches that consistency.

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl with mixture

Auto Mode​

In Auto mode, you use the ​Hardness dial to select the consistency of the frozen dessert you want to make. This dial controls a "hardness bar" on the LCD screen. On the left are the softer desserts (starting with sorbet). And on the right are the harder desserts (ending with ice cream).

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl auto mode

Once you've selected the hardness you're aiming for, you just press the START / PAUSE button and the machine will start to churn. As the mixture starts to harden, the segments of the bar start to fill up to show the progress towards your desired consistency.

When it gets close to the target hardness, there will be a beep and ADD MIX-INS will flash on the display screen. This is the time to add any cookie pieces, candies or fruit through the flap in the lid.

Then when the bar finally reaches your target consistency, the machine will beep, the compressor will turn off and it will stop churning. Your dessert is now ready!

In my experience, the bar will stay at the very left hand side flashing in the PRE-COOLING section for a long time. This is despite the fact that we've already pre-cooled the machine. Then once it starts to reach sorbet hardness, it progresses through the various consistencies pretty quickly.

Manual Mode​

The Smart Scoop defaults to Auto mode. But to enter Manual mode, all you need to do is press one of the MANUAL TIMER arrows. This will set the amount of time the machine will run for. Then just press START / PAUSE and it will start to churn.

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl manual mode

You just need to keep an eye on the progress and once your happy with the consistency, you press START / PAUSE again to stop the machine churning.

Keep ​Cool function

The Keep Cool function works in both Auto and Manual mode. Once your dessert is ready, this function​ (if selected), will keep your frozen treat at your desired consistency for up to 3 hours.

So if you're in Auto mode the machine will stop automatically when your dessert is done. And if you're in Manual mode you stop the machine manually when you decide it's done. But the Keep Cool function continues to monitor the hardness of the dessert and when it starts to soften, the compressor will turn on and the machine will start churning again to maintain that final consistency.

And it will keep turning on and off automatically for up to 3 hours. The great thing about this function is that it gives you the flexibility to leave the ice cream unattended.

Stage 4: Transfer the dessert to the freezer to firm up​

​Even on the hardest ice cream setting, when the machine stops, the finished product will be more like soft serve ice cream or whipped cream than the stuff you buy in the store.

​Now there's nothing wrong with eating it straight from the machine like this. And it will be perfectly delicious! But it will also be very soft and will melt very quickly.

​So it will definitely benefit from some time in your freezer, where it will harden and become much more like store bought ice cream. How long it needs to be in there will depend on the temperature of your freezer and the recipe you've used. But it's usually 1 to 3 hours.

Transferring it from the machine to the freezer can involve some melting and you want to limit this as much as possible. This is because when the stuff that melts re-freezes in your freezer, the ice crystals will get larger, so the texture will be coarser and the mouth-feel colder.​

Breville Smart Scoop bci600xl finished!

To limit the amount of melting, it's a good idea to have the storage container pre-cooling in your freezer while you're making the ice cream. I find wide, shallow containers made from glass or metal are the best as they get much colder and since there's more of the ice cream in contact with the sides, they freeze the ice cream faster.

You should also try to get the ice cream out of the machine and into the container as fast as possible. With the Smart Scoop the whole mixing bowl can be removed from the machine which helps a lot. It also comes with a small, plastic spatula which is just the right shape for scarping around that central tube.

Once the ice cream's in the container, if you have clingfilm or grease proof paper, it's a good idea to place a sheet on the surface of the ice cream before you add the lid. This will help to prevent coarse ice crystals forming on top.

Then place the container in the coldest part of the freezer, which is usually at the back. Check the hardness after an hour and then at hourly intervals until it ​has the consistency you want.

Stage 5: Cleaning the Breville Smart Scoop​

​Cleaning the Smart Scoop is super easy. The body of the machine usually just needs a quick wipe. If there's any mixture in the chamber, wait until it's warmed to room temperature and then wipe out with a warm soapy cloth.

The lid, the bowl and the paddle can be washed in the sink with warm soapy water. The Smart Scoop comes with a small brush to help you clean the tubes in the paddle and the bowl.

The lid and the paddle can be washed on the top shelf of a dishwasher. However, the bowl is not dishwasher safe!​

What's the ice cream from the Breville Smart Scoop like?

Well the good news is that the Smart Scoop can make great ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt. ​

​As always, the recipe is the most important thing here. If you use a good recipe, you'll get good frozen desserts. But as with any other ice cream maker, if you use a poor, unbalanced recipe, then the Smart Scoop won't save you!

​But the Smart Scoop is a pretty expensive ice cream maker. And the justification for this higher price is all the extra features that you get. The question is how do they effect the final ice cream? Are they worth it?

How well do the Hardness Settings​ work?

​To be honest, I don't see the point of the hardness settings! It would be a good idea if the final hardness you get was actually the hardness you wanted from your dessert. But that's never the case.

Whether you choose the softest sorbet setting or the hardest ice cream setting they are never hard enough: you'll always need to transfer the mixture to your freezer to firm up to that final consistency that you'd expect.

This isn't a fault solely of the Smart Scoop. All domestic ice cream makers suffer from this problem. I think it's because they don't have a strong enough motor to keep mixing the ice cream if it becomes much harder than soft scoop consistency. 

So if you want ice cream, why not remove it when it gets to gelato hardness and leave it to harden much more efficiently in your freezer? It shouldn't make any difference to the end product.

Unless of course the hardness settings are less about how hard the ice cream is frozen and more about how much air is whipped into it...

Sorbet and gelato should contain less air than ice cream. And if you select these softer desserts on the hardness settings, the program will end earlier, with the paddle having whipped less air into them. After hardening in the freezer, they will still have less air in them so will have the right consistency.

That sort of makes sense. But it still doesn't work! My first attempts at making a watermelon sorbet in Auto mode (with the sorbet hardness setting selected), resulted in the dessert being churned for over 40 min. And so much air was added that the sorbet was fluffy and crumbly. Not good.

Over-churned sorbet from the Smart Scoop

And it doesn't matter whether you choose the gelato or the ice cream setting, the final product will never have more than 30% air which is gelato rather than ice cream levels.

No, for me, these ​settings are just confusing. Whether you're trying to make sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato or ice cream, the Smart Scoop is unable to to detect in a useful way when it's ready.

When exactly your dessert is ready to be removed from the ice cream maker, will vary widely according to the recipe. You need to use your eyes and your experience. And if your eyes are telling you one thing and the machine is telling you another, it can lead to mistakes.

That's not to say Auto mode is useless. I think it gives you a useful idea of how long things should take. But my advice is: take the hardness settings as a guideline only. If it looks like it's done, it probably is: override them.

What about the other features of the Smart Scoop?

So I'm not a big fan of the Hardness Settings. But that's not to say that all the extra features we get with the Smart Scoop are a bit rubbish: they're not.

How well does the Pre-Cool function work?

I like the Pre-cool function. Every compressor ice cream maker can be pre-cooled. You just turn it on without adding the ice cream mixture! But you'll never be sure when it's reached maximum coldness.

With the Smart Scoop, it will beep to let you know that it's as cold as it's going to get. It also shows the current temperature on the LCD display. So you know how well it's doing.

And since the paddle will start turning during the later stages of pre-cooling you could add warm ice cream mixture to pre-cool in the machine, (although I wouldn't advice this).

But I find it super useful to be told by the machine when it's at the optimal temperature to add my mixtures. So the pre-cool function gets a big thumbs up from me!

How well does the ​Keep-Cool function work?

​In theory, we should be a little wary of the Keep Cool function. For the very best quality desserts, the finished product should be transferred to our freezers as quickly as possible to limit any melting. This is because when they melt and then re-freeze, the ice crystals in the dessert get bigger. And this leads to less smooth and more cold feeling ice creams.

Since the K​eep Cool function works by detecting when the finished dessert has melted beyond a certain consistency before it turns the compressor (and the paddle) back on, you'd imagine that this melting and re-freezing would result in poorer quality desserts.

But in fact, in my experience there's not a great deal of difference. As long as your recipe's a good one, ​the Keep Cool function will maintain the consistency of your dessert for up to 3 hours without any noticeable reduction in smoothness or increase in coldness.

This is great as it allows you ​to leave the ice cream machine unattended for a considerable amount of time. You don't have to watch over it. So you can pop out to the shops. Or just get on with something else in the house. And be safe in the knowledge that the Smart Scoop is taking care of everything! 

Wrapping up​

I like the Breville Smart Scoop. It's packed full of features. And it makes great quality ice cream and other frozen treats​. But it won't be the best choice for everyone. To help you decide, here's 6 things I like and 4 things I'm not so keen on...

6 things I like about the Breville Smart Scoop​

​1. It looks great!

I think the Smart Scoop is probably the ​best looking domestic ice cream available at the moment. It has nice lines, a pleasing symmetry and a top quality brushed steel finish. It's going to look great on any counter top!

2. The Pre-Cool function is really helpful

I find the automatic Pre-Cool function really useful. It's good to see the temperature falling on the LCD display. And I like the way it alerts me when the temperature's as low as it's going to get and it's the right time to add my ice cream mixture.

3. The Keep Cool function works surprisingly well​

Despite my misgivings, the Keep Cool function works well. Being able to add my mixture to the machine and then walk away for over 3 hours is incredibly liberating. I can make my desserts well in advance. I can get on with a whole load of other things. I know the Smart Scoop will take of business!

4. The temperature display is re-assuring​

The temperature that the Smart Scoop is running at is constantly displayed on the LCD display. (And you switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit). This display ​is really useful. If the temperature is low it re-assures you that everything is going well. And if it's not low it's an indication that somethings not quite right.

5. Adding mix-ins is super easy!

If you want to add pieces of candy, nuts, chocolate, fruit (basically anything you can think of), the Smart Scoop makes it really easy. Not only does it have a flap in the lid to so you don't have to actually remove the id (and believe me, getting the lid off ice cream makers is always a bit fiddly). It will also beep to let you know the best time to add those mix-ins! This is really useful.

6. It makes great ice cream!

This of course is this most important job of any ice cream maker. And the Breville Smart Scoop can make fantastic ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt. Plus slush drinks and other frozen treats.

​4 things I don't like about the Breville Smart Scoop

​1. The Hardness Settings are confusing

It doesn't matter which hardness setting you chose, when the machine reaches that consistency and stops, the dessert will always be softer than you'd expect and will need firming up in your freezer. So what's the point of the hardness settings?!

2. There's no way to vary the amount of air in your dessert

Unlike the Cuisinart ICE-100, which comes with two different paddles, the Smart Scoop uses just one paddle so it always adds the same amount of air to your dessert. This is a shame as when your making sorbet or gelato, you want less air and the shorter program time caused by the hardness settings doesn't work as well as a different paddle would.

3. There's a big gap between the paddle and the bowl side

​The gap between the paddle blade and the side of the bowl is between 3 and 4 mm. This is quite large compared to other domestic compressor ice cream makers and results in a thick layer of insulating ice cream mixture developing on the side of the bowl. There's no doubt that if this gap was smaller the ice cream would freeze much faster and likely be even smoother.

​4. The 1 year warranty!

​A one year warranty on a machine like this seems very tight to me. Compressor machines can be quite delicate. They're also an expensive investment. A decent length warranty provides peace of mind. And if Cuisinart can provide a 3 year warranty, why can't Breville?

Alternatives to the Breville Smart Scoop​

If after reading this review, you're thinking that the Smart Scoop is not the right ice cream maker for you, then fear not! There are plenty of alternatives. And I've got 2 of the best for you below...

Looking for something cheaper?​

The Smart Scoop is probably the most expensive of the ​exclusively domestic compressor ice cream makers available at the moment. And that's more about the amount of extra features you get than the speed at which it works or the quality of the final dessert.

But if you're not so bothered about all those extra features, then you can save quite a lot of money by getting a more basic machine!

Cuisinart ICE-100 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker

The Cuisinart ICE-100 doesn't have an automatic pre-cool function or a 3 hour keep cool option. It doesn't have any hardness settings. It won't show you the current temperature of the compressor. Neither will it beep to tell you it's time to add your min-ins. And when you do you add them, you have to take the whole lid off.

In fact the Cuisinart ICE-100 is a pretty basic ice cream maker. It's only got 3 buttons and a very small LCD display. However you can pre-cool, simply by turning it on without adding any mixture. And it will keep your dessert cool in 10 minute cycles once ​it's finished.

In fact, it works more like the manual mode on the Smart Scoop. Set the time and start it up: when the timer runs down and beeps, either remove the dessert or add more time.

And it makes ice cream and other frozen desserts just as quickly and smoothly as the Smart Scoop. It just costs a fair bit less. And what's more, it comes with a 5 year warranty rather than the 1 year you get with the smart scoop!

So if you're looking for something less expensive and don't need all the fancy ​features you get with the Breville Smart Scoop, take a good look at the Cuisinart ICE-100 as a simpler and cheaper alternative!

Looking for something faster (and dare I say better)?​

All the exclusively domestic compressor ice cream machines​ take around 40 minutes to make your ice cream. If you're looking for something faster, then you're going to need to look at the sort of machines that could be used in a cafe or small restaurant.

Lello 4080 Musso Lussino Ice Cream Maker

I'm thinking specifically about the ​Lello 4080 Musso Lussino. The Lussino is a compressor ice cream maker with a 1.5 quart (1.5 liter) capacity, just like the Smart Scoop. However, while the Smart Scoop is aimed squarely at the domestic market, the Lussino has the sort of build quality and performance that might see it used in professional kitchen as well.

That's not to say it's unsuited to a domestic kitchen. It's ​only a couple of inches bigger than the Smart Scoop (18" x 12" x 11" compared to 16" x 10.5" x 10.5). And it will look super smart on your counter top (in fact, I think it's much more handsome than the Smart Scoop).

But it's definitely a professional level machine. The entire thing is made from stainless steel, it's extremely powerful ​and it can knock out back to back batches of ice cream in 8 to 10 minutes. As a result, the final desserts tend to be smoother than any of the solely domestic machines, including the Smart Scoop.

So if it's better looking, better built, and makes better quality ice cream more quickly than the Smart Scoop​, what are you waiting for? Well, just like the Cuisinart ICE-100, there's no fancy features: this is a manual ice cream maker with just 2 buttons and a timer.

There's also no removable bowl. This is one of the things that makes it so quick: there's no extra layer of insulating metal. But it also means it's a bit more difficult to clean. Once you've scraped the majority of the ice cream out of the cavity, you'll need to wipe out whats remaining with a cloth rather than putting the bowl in the sink. 

But theses are small issues. The real reason to think twice about buying the Lussino over the Smart Scoop is the price: it costs almost twice as much! Is it worth the extra money? Well, as I say it's more powerful, faster and it makes better ice cream.

But whether it's worth the extra money depends on your priorities and how often you'll use it. I make a lot of ice cream and I'm not very interested in lots of fancy features. So for me it's worth paying (significantly) more.


The Breville Smart Scoop is a really good ice cream maker. It makes great ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt. And it has more features than any other ice cream maker on the market.

The question is: are those features worth the extra money? I think for someone just starting out ​making ice cream: they are definitely worth it. And that's because if you are just starting out, they'll help to ease you into the process...

The Smart Scoop will pretty much hold your hand. It enables you to choose exactly which type of dessert you want to make. It will ​automatically pre-cool the bowl, showing you the current temperature and letting you know when it's the right time to add your mixture. It will also tell you when it's time to add any mix-ins. Finally, once the desired consistency is reached, it will automatically turn off and then keep your dessert at this consistency for up to 3 hours.

And it's those extra features that allows the Smart Scoop to give you this sort of in depth guidance. For sure, the hardness settings are a bit misleading. But if you're just starting out, it can be incredibly re-assuring and helpful to have machine tell you exactly what to do.

However, if you've already got some experience of making frozen desserts you'll unlikely to find this level of automation too useful. You'll almost certainly avoid the hardness settings for example.

The pre-cool and particularly the keep cool functions are nice to have. And I really like being able to monitor the temperature of the compressor on the LCD display.​ The hatch in the lid is also supper useful. And the perfectly sized spatula and cleaning brush are really helpful too.

Actually thinking about, even for someone with lots of experience, ​you get a lot of useful extras with the Smart Scoop!

So in conclusion although the Smart Scoop doesn't make better ice cream than any of the other domestic compressor ice cream machines, it does make it easier. And if these sort of extra features seem useful to you it could well be worth the extra money!

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-70

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-70

The ICE-30BC and ICE-70 are at the top of the range of Cuisinart ice cream makers with removable, freezable bowls. If you're trying to choose between them, then this hands-on comparison should help you decide.

At first glance, there's not a great deal of difference between them. And if we look more closely there's actually even less!

Confused? Read on and I'll explain! In this review I'll quickly cover how they work (in case you're not sure). Then I'll look at the capacity, size, weight, construction quality, warranties, noise level and finally how the ice cream they make compares.

How do they work?

Since I've already covered this in great detail in my guide to choosing the best ice cream maker, my Cuisinart ICE-30BC review and my Cuisinart ICE-70 review, I'm not going to go over it again much here.

But basically, both of these machines use a removable, freezable bowl to make ice cream. Each bowl is lined with a special liquid gel that freezes solid when it's placed in the freezer (for at least 6 hours).

Once it's removed from the freezer, the gel maintains it's temperature extremely well. This means that when you've added your liquid ice cream mixture, the bowl stays cold enough, for long enough to freeze it into more solid ice cream!

​It's worth mentioning that both these model have an advantage over other ice cream makers, because they rotate the bowl from below, rather than the mixing paddle (also known as the dasher) from above. Why is this an advantage? I'll explain further down...

How much ice cream can they make?​

Both the ICE-30BC and the ICE-70 can make up to 2 quarts (1.9 liters) of ice cream, sorbet and other frozen treats. This is because the bowls are the same size!

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-70 bowls

In fact, the bowls are identical in everything but color and each one can be swapped​ around and used perfectly happily with the other ice cream maker!

One thing worth mentioning here is that 2 quart bowls are quite big. Both bowls measure 6.4" high (16.3 cm) and 7.8" (19.7 cm) across.

Why is this important? Well, don't forget that these bowls need to fit into your freezer. If they won't fit, you can't make ice cream!

And you need to put the bowl in your freezer every time you want to make ice cream. So even if it does fit, you need to be happy that it doesn't take up too much room. Because if it does, it will become inconvenient and you'll stop using it.

So please check your freezer can accommodate this size bowl before ​you buy either ice cream maker. If it can't, don't worry: there are fantastic machines with smaller bowls.

​How big are they?

Since they both have the same capacity, you'd probably expect the ICE-30BC and the ICE-70 to be more or less the same size. And you'd be right!

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-70 underneath

The ICE-30 is 8.5" wide and 8.5" deep. And with the lid on, the it's 11.5" high. While the ICE-​70 is just a little bigger at 8.5" wide, 9.5" deep and 13" high with the lid on.

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-70 size

This is because they pretty much share the same construction, with the ​ICE-70 just being a little bit deeper to accommodate an electronic control panel (more on this later).

How much do they weigh?​

Again, since they have the same capacity and are more or less the same size, it's no surprise that the ICE-30BC and the ICE-70 are almost the same weight. The ICE-30BC weighs 13.5 lbs. While the ICE-70 is a little heaver at 14 lbs.

​Neither are especially heavy. But they have enough weight to convey a feeling of quality and to also keep the base steady when they're in use.

What's the construction quality like?

Both the ICE-30BC and the ICE-70 look fantastic. They feature the same attractive, brushed steel housing. And this gives both machines a high quality finish.

While the controls on the ICE-30BC are very simple, being limited to a manual on/off switch, they feel solid and responsive. The ICE-70 features a more sophisticated electronic control panel with 4 buttons and a timer display. The buttons are very responsive and light up when pressed. And the timer display is clear and easy to read.

Cuisinart ICE-70 controls

The most important part of these type of ice cream makers is the motor. Because it's pretty much the only thing that can go wrong. ​I'm not entirely sure, but I'd imagine that they share the same motor. It certainly drives the same gear that turns the same bowl. So why change it?

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-70 bases

Whatever, the motor on both machines is strong and durable. I've owned my ICE-30BC for a good few years, (using it every week) and the motor has never caused me any concern with whichever ice cream mix or anything else I throw at it!​

And this is where the Cuisinart ice cream makers have a distinct advantage over most other machines. Since they ​rotate the bowl from below rather than the dasher from above (like the other ice cream makers), they are much more efficient. Unlike these other machines, the gears don't slip, causing horrible clunking and screeching noises. And they never grind to a halt! 

How long are the warranties?

Both machines come with a standard 3 year warranty. However, the best thing about these types of ice cream maker is that they're so simple, very little can go wrong. So your actually very unlikely to ever need the warranty!

How noisy are they?

There's no denying that ice cream makers are noisy! These two aren't any noisier than any others I've tested. But you won't be able to watch television in the same room as either of these machines.

I tested both the ICE-30BC and the ICE-70 with a decibel reader and found them both to be about 80 db. That's around the same as a hair dryer. And it's hardly surprising that they're at the same level since they probably share the same motor! 

​What's the ice cream like?

As always, this is the most important question!​ And there's no doubt at all: both machines make fantastic ice cream, gelato, sorbet and other frozen goodies.

But this is where we need to look at the biggest difference between the two machines: the control panel on the ICE-70.​

This control panel allows you to ​select from 3 different pre-set programs: ice cream, gelato and sorbet. The idea is that the ICE-70 will churn the mixture slightly differently for each one to best suit their characteristics.

In practice, this means that the bowl is rotated at a different speed for different lengths of time before the beeper goes off.

So if you choose the ice cream setting, the bowl will spin for 25 minutes at 56 rpm. If you choose gelato it will spin at slightly slower ​48 rpm for a slightly longer 30 minutes. And if you select sorbet it will spin at the same 56 rpm as for ice cream but for a much longer 40 minutes.

Gelato is more dense than ice cream because it contains less air. So the idea here is that if it's churned slower, less air will be added to the mixture. The problem is that in my tests it doesn't really make any difference. The gelato setting adds as much air to the mixture as the ice cream setting.

​Sorbet contains a much higher proportion of water than ice cream or gelato. This means it takes longer to freeze. Which is why the pre-set timer is longer for sorbet.

But whether it's 25 minutes for ice cream, 30 minutes for gelato or 40 minutes for sorbet, the problem is that these times can only ever be guidelines. Different recipes (there is no definitive ice cream, gelato or sorbet base recipe), different household freezer temperatures, and different room temperatures will have a massive influence on how long it takes to finish.

The best way to know if your frozen dessert is ready, is to use your eyes. If the ice cream or gelato has started to solidify and come away from the sides of the bowl then it's probably time to take it out. If the sorbet has the consistency of a thick, barely pourable smoothie, then it's probably done.

Another way is with a thermometer. If it's between 25°F and 21°F (-4 and -6 °C), then it's pretty much done.

My worry is that people will see these times as the absolute times that ice cream, gelato and sorbet should be churned for​. And often they won't be so they'll get sub-standard results.

So for me, these pre-set programs on the ICE-70 are a bit of a waste of time. Rather than depending on them you should be using your eyes (or a thermometer) and turning off the machine when they tell you it's ready!

But how do these settings compare to the Cuisinart ICE-30BC? Well, it will spin the bowl at a much slower 21 rpm. But the difference in the amount of air that's ​incorporated into the mixture is again minimal.

In my test, with the same sample base recipe, the finished ice creams from both machines and all settings, contained around 30 - 32% air. Which is closer to the amount of air you'd get in gelato than ice cream! ​And this is despite the ICE-30BC having a different shaped paddle to the ICE-70.

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-70 dashers

In my view, you'd need a different shaped paddle and much great difference than 35 rpms to make a significant difference in the amount of air that's mixed into the ice cream.

So in summary, both of these machines make really great ice cream (and gelato, sorbet etc). In fact, there's no discernible difference between the frozen desserts they make, whatever settings you chose on the ICE-70. 

What's the difference in price?

The ICE-70 is generally more expensive than the ICE-30BC. That's because it has those extra settings. But for me, those settings don't justify the extra cost.

However, compared to other ice cream makers, they're both still incredibly good value. So much cheaper than compressor machines. And much more sturdy and durable than other freezable bowl machines.

Wrapping up

​So they're both well made and durable. They both look great. And they'll both make the same amount of fantastic tasting ice cream in the same amount of time with the same amount of noise!

So how do you choose between them? For me it's all about price. I'd go for the cheapest. But for you, there may be other reasons why you'd chose one over the other...

2 reasons to choose the ICE-70 over ​the ICE-30BC

1. The timer makes it easier to go and do something else​

As I've said, ​the pre-set times are for guidance only. However, the beeper at the end of the cycle allows you to set a rough time when you think it will be ready (you can adjust the pre-set times) and then go and do something else, safe in the knowledge that the beeping will bring you back to check on it.

2. The pre-set functions ​can help you get started

While I don't think that using the pre-set programs for specific types of frozen dessert will produce any noticeable difference in the final product, they will give you a rough idea of what you're aiming for. Then, as you get more confident, you can start to ignore them!

2 reasons to choose the ICE-30BC over the ICE-70​

1. It's cheaper!​

The Cuisinart ICE-30BC makes ice cream, gelato and sorbet just as well as the ICE-70BC. Seriously, you wont be able to tell the difference. But it's much cheaper. Sometimes, less than half the price!​

2. The pre-set functions on the ICE-70 can mislead you​

If you start using the ICE-70 thinking that sorbet always needs to be churned for 40 minutes or ice cream for 25, because that's what the pre-set functions are telling you, then ​you're going to make some pretty dodgy desserts! The time it actually takes varies a lot. And it's only by using your eyes and your experience (or a thermometer) that ultimately you'll know.

Final thoughts​

Have no doubt, both of these ice cream makers are great! But for me at least, the extra functions you get with the ICE-70 are not worth the extra price. For you it may be different...

If you want a bit more guidance when you're making ice cream and you like the peace of mind that a beeping timer gives you (so you can concentrate on something else), go for the Cuisinart ICE-70.

If you want a slightly more involved experience where you have to judge for yourself when things are done and you have to remember to keep checking the machine's progress, go for the Cuisinart ICE-70.

And let me re-assure you: whichever one you chose it will still be great value for money and will produce amazing frozen treats for many years to come!

Cuisinart ICE-70 Review: Ice cream and Gelato?

Cuisinart ICE-70

The ICE-70 is the premium model in the range of ice cream makers from Cuisinart that use removable, freezable bowls.

The way it makes the ice cream is exactly the same as all the other models in the range. And in fact, in many respects it's identical to the ICE-30BC.

But there are some added features which may or may not make it worth the slightly higher price. And if you keep reading, we'll take a close look at these features.

Cuisinart ICE-70 boxed

We'll also look at how well it makes ice cream, gelato, sorbets and other frozen goodies. I'll weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the ICE-70. And finally I'll recommend some alternatives if it's not quite the best ice cream maker for you!

How does the Cuisinart ICE-70 work?​

The ICE-70 has a bowl that you remove from the machine and place in your freezer. Unsure what this means or why you'd want to do it? Let me explain... There are 3 types of domestic ice cream maker. And they each freeze the ice cream mixture in different ways:

  1.  With ice and salt
  2. With a built in freezer
  3. With a removable bowl that you pre-chill in your freezer

​The ICE-70 comes with a special bowl that's lined with a liquid gel. In your freezer this liquid freezes solid. And since this gel maintains its temperature really well, once it's removed from the freezer, it keeps the whole bowl cold for a long time.

So, you put the bowl in the freezer until the gel is frozen solid, then remove the bowl from the freezer, put it back on the machine, add the ice cream mixture to the bowl and turn the machine on. The bowl will cool the mixture enough to freeze it into ice cream!

It's really simple. And that's one of the great things about these types of machine. In fact there are just 4 parts that make up the ICE-70 ice cream maker:

Cuisinart ICE-70 separate parts
  1. the base that holds the motor and the control panel
  2. a removable, freezable bowl
  3. the "dasher" which is a paddle that churns the ice cream
  4. a tranparent lid that holds everything in place

The base of the Cuisinart ICE-70

The base of the ICE-70 is very similar to that of the more basic ICE-30BC. It's made from the same handsome, brushed​, stainless steel. And there's also an embossed Cuisinart logo on the front. It's pretty much the same size too, measuring 9.5 x 8.5 x 10.5" (24 x 21.5 x 27 cm). ​

Cuisinart ICE-70 base

However, while the only control on the ICE-30BC is a manual on/off switch, the ICE-70 has an electronic control panel on the front. ​This contains an adjustable timer display and 4 touch sensitive buttons:


These buttons clearly allow you to select different programs according to which type of frozen dessert you want to make.

Cuisinart ICE-70 controls

Once you select ​a type of dessert, a pre-set time lights up in the display. This is how long Cuisinart recommends this type of dessert is churned for. 

If you leave the pre-set time as it is and press the start button, the machine will begin to churn and the timer will start counting down. However, there are also a couple of arrows that allow you to adjust the pre-set time, but only before you press the start button. Once the machine begins churning you can't adjust the time.

Why would you want to adjust the time away from the pre-set recommendations? Well, ​how long it actually takes to finish your dessert will depend on a whole load of factors including, how much mixture there is, how cold it is, what recipe you're using, how cold your freezers got the bowl etc.

After a while you'll get a feel for this and more often than not it will be different to the pre-set time. So think of the pre-set times as for guidance only!

But I'll talk about these functions and how well they work in a lot more detail further on in the review!

Underneath the base, there are four rubber tipped feet that keep the machine firmly in place while the mixture's being churned and by dampening vibrations, slightly lesson the noise.​

There's also a small cavity in which to store the 35" (90 cm) power cable and plug when the machine's not in use. ​

At the bottom of the big cavity in the base is a 12 toothed gear which is turned by a motor underneath. This gear fits into the base of the removable bowl. So when the machine is churning, it's actually the bowl that is rotating rather than the dasher (mixer).  I'll talk about this more later.

​All in all, the base feels sturdy and well made. It's not super heavy but it's got enough weight to keep the machine steady while it's in use. 

The​ Cuisinart ICE-70 removable bowl

The bowl that comes with the ICE-70 is identical to the one that comes with the ICE-30BC. It has a 2 quart (1.5 liter) capacity and it measures 7.8" (19.7 cm) across and 6.4" high (16.3 cm).

Cuisinart ICE-70 bowl

These measurements are really important, because remember: this bowl needs to fit in your freezer. If you can' t get it in your freezer you wont be able to make ice cream! So do check carefully that the bowl's going to fit before you buy the ICE-70!

If it doesn't, don't worry! There are machines with smaller bowls​. And there are also machines with their own, built in freezers, so you don't have to put anything (except the finished ice cream!) in your main freezer.

The bowl's sides are lined with a ​special liquid gel that becomes solid as it freezes. So at room temperature, if you shake the bowl, you can hear the liquid sloshing about. But once it's frozen hard, you can't hear anything if you shake it. And this is an easy way to tell if it's been in the freezer for long enough!

Cuisinart ICE-70 bowl bottom

Cuisinart actually recommend that you leave the bowl in the freezer ​for between 12 and 24 hours to make sure it's frozen. However, once you've made your ice cream, if you wash and dry the bowl and return it to the freezer straight away, it will never really de-frost and will be ready to use again much sooner.

However, don't forget that as soon as you take it out of the freezer it will start to warm up. So it's best not to remove it until your ready to churn your ice cream!​

The dasher of the Cuisinart ICE-70​

​The "dasher" is just the posh name for the paddle that actually mixes the ice cream. It's just a simple piece of plastic. But it has 2 important jobs:

  1. Scraping the frozen mixture from the side​s of the bowl
  2. Adding air to the ice cream mixture
Cuisinart ICE-70 dasher

​Unlike many other ice cream machines, on the Cuisinart models, the dasher doesn't actually move. Instead, the dasher is held in place by the lid while the bowl is rotated by that gear at the bottom of the base.

This might not seem like a big deal but this is the​ reason that the Cuisinart ice cream makers are so much better that the other brands...

Other ice cream makers tend to rotate the dasher from above. And in this position, they don't have enough power and leverage to keep mixing the ice cream as it starts to harden. This can lead to gears slipping and horrible clunking noises that will make you think the machine is broken. Sometimes the motor can just stop.

By ​rotating the bowl from below, the Cuisinart machines get a lot more leverage and power. So (in my experience at least) there's no slipping, no clunking and the motor always finishes the job!

One problem with this dasher (and in fact with all the dashers on all the ice cream makers I've tested) is that there's a small gap between the blade and the side of the bowl. 

Cuisinart ICE-70 dasher gap

This means that there's always a thin layer of ice cream that's frozen to the sides of the bowl which isn't scraped off. Why is this important? Well, making smooth ice cream is all about freezing it as fast as possible. And this thin layer of frozen ice cream on the side of the bowl will provide some degree of insulation and slow the freezing process.

In practice it doesn't seem to make much difference (as we'll see you still make incredibly smooth ice cream with the ICE-70). Moreover, if you're really concerned about this, or you're using a recipe where faster freeing might make a noticeable difference, then there's a hack...

While the machine is churning, you can simply inset your hand through the hole in the lid and press the blade against the side of the bowl with your finger! This is completely safe and as long as you keep your hand in place for the whole time the machine is on, you won't get that thin layer of ice cream developing on the side of the bowl and the ice cream should be finished slightly quicker!

The lid of the Cuisinart ICE-70

The lid of the of the ICE-70 is a very simple, transparent plastic thing. However, unlike other Cuisinart models, on the ICE-70 it comes in 2 parts. There's the main lid. And there's a plug that fills the hole in the middle of the main lid

Cuisinart ICE-70 lid

​The hole in the lid is important if you want to add extras to your ice cream. Things like chocolate chips, pieces of fruit and candies should never be added at the start as they can disintegrate over the course of the churning and even slow down the freezing.

Instead these extras should be added 5 minutes before the ice cream's finished, when it's already pretty firm. This is where the hole comes in handy. Other machines (that rotate the dasher from above) don't have this easy access hole, so adding extras requires you to turn the machine off which can be a right faff!

The plug that fills the hole in the ICE-70 will keep sticky young fingers from interfering with the machine while it's running! But it's main purpose is as a measuring cup for these extras that you might be adding towards the end of the churning.

​It's also worth mentioning that it's the lid that anchors the dasher so that it doesn't move while the bowl is being rotated from below. This means the machine won't work without the lid!

​Making ice cream with the Cuisinart ICE-70

There's 5 stages to making ice cream with the ICE-70. Yeah, I know that sounds like a lot! But in fact they're pretty simple:

  1. Freeze the bowl
  2. Make the ice cream mixture
  3. Churn and freeze the mixture in the ICE-70
  4. Transfer the ice cream to the freezer to firm up
  5. Clean the ICE-70

Stage 1: Freezing the Cuisinart ICE-70 bowl

So we already know that we have to chill the bowl in the freezer until the liquid gel inside the walls freezes solid. This will take between 12 and 24 hours. Overnight is usually the best way to do it first time, as it's unlikely to be disturbed (when you open the door the temp drops). 

Before you put the bowl in the freezer, it's a good idea to cover the top with a layer of cling film, secured with an elastic band and then put the whole bowl in a plastic bag.

Cuisinart ICE-70 bowl with cling film

The cling film prevents any ice or water vapor that might ​spoil the ice cream getting in the bowl. And the plastic bag stops the bowl from getting any freezer burns.

Cuisinart ICE-70 bowl in plastic bag

The colder you can get the bowl, the​ faster the ICE-70 will work and the smoother your ice cream will be. So if you can adjust the temperature on your freezer, turn it down to the coldest setting. Then put the bowl in the coldest part of the freezer, which is usually at the back.

Don't remove the bowl from the freezer until your mixture is ready to be churned. Why? Because as soon as the bowl is out of the freezer it starts to warm up. And the warmer it gets, the slower it will freeze your mixture!​

Stage 2: Making the ice cream mixture​

​This is the most important part of making ice cream. By and large it's the recipe that will determine whether your ice cream is a smooth, creamy and full bodied success or an icy, watery and thin failure!

​That's especially the case with this type of ice cream makers. They are so simple there's very little that can go wrong. As long as your recipe's good (and your freezer's working!).

Now it goes without saying that the best bit about owning your own ice cream maker is inventing your own recipes! But when you're starting out, I would urge caution...

You can't throw any old combination of milk, cream, sugar and who knows what else into the machine and expect it to pump out amazing ice cream. The recipes need to be balanced. And you won't know how to balance your own recipes until you have a bit of experience.

Jenis Splendid Ice Cream book base recipe

So I would recommend starting out with some tried and tested recipes. Either from books, from the internet or why not from the recipe booklet ​that comes with the Cuisinart ICE-70?

Cuisinart ICE-70 recipe booklet

The booklet contains 38 recipes for ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, sorbet and even ice cream sandwiches and cakes! These recipes have been designed to work with the ICE-70, so I think they're a great place to start.​

Cuisinart ICE-70 booklet recipes

Then when you've got some experience and you've read a little more about the science of ice cream and how to balance your mixturesthen you can start getting crazy inventive!​

So pick a good recipe and prepare your mixture. Once it's prepared, you'll need to chill it to around 4°C which luckily enough, should be the temperature of your fridge. Some recipes can be prepared with cold ingredients. And if they come straight from the fridge, you can probably make the recipe and stick the mixture straight in the machine.

But if there's any cooking involved, you'll need to wait until the mixture's cooled down. The quickest way to do this (and the quicker you do it the less chance there is of harmful bacteria forming) is to pour it into a zip lock bag and put it in an ice bath. But if you haven't got any zip lock bags, just cover the bowl with cling film and when it's cooled down a bit, put it in the fridge.

If you can leave the mixture in the fridge overnight then it will benefit from "ageing" which can improve the quality of the ice cream. If not, then as soon as it's cooled to 4°C, it's good to go in the machine!

The Cuisinart ICE-70 has a 2 quart (1.5 liter) capacity. But don't put 2 quarts of mixture in the machine. The machine adds air to the mixture as it churns, so 2 quarts can become 2.4 quarts and it can spill over the top of the bowl!

You should probably limit the amount of mixture to 1.5 quarts. All the recipes in the booklet yield 1.5 quarts of mixture. Another good reason to stick with the booklet to start with!

​But once you've made your mixture and chilled it to 4°C, you're ready for the next stage...

Stage 3: Freezing and churning the mixture in the Cuisinart ICE-70​

​Before you add the mixture to the machine it's a good idea to give it a little blast with an immersion blender. This will get rid of any stray lumps in the mixture.

Then, remove the bowl from the freezer and place it in the ICE-70's base. Add the dasher and the lid and plug the machine in.

Now you need to choose a setting according to what type of frozen treat you want to make: ice cream (also good for frozen yogurt), gelato or sorbet.

A pre-set time will appear on the display panel: 25 minutes for ice cream, 30 for gelato or 40 for sorbet. You can alter this time using the arrow keys if you wish, although you can't alter it once the machine has started.

Then, simply press the Start/Stop button and the machine will start churning. The timer will start counting down and when it reaches 0 the machine will beep indicating that the frozen dessert should be ready.

It won't stop churning though, so it's up to you to actually turn it off. This is fine though, remember: these times are for guidance only, it could take less or more than the pre-set times!

Now one thing worth mentioning is that the Cuisinart ​ICE-70 is quite loud! But all ice cream makers are pretty noisy. The ICE-70 is no louder than any other I've tested and I don't think it's any worse than a hairdryer. But it's worth mentioning. You won't be able to watch TV in the same room while it's running for instance!

Once the beeper has beeped or the consistency of the ice cream is as you'd like (bearing in mind it will never get thicker than soft serve ice cream), it's time for Stage 4...

Stage 4: ​Transferring the ice cream from the Cuisinart ICE-70 to the freezer

If you're really desperate for ice cream, you can eat it straight away! But when it comes out of ​machine it will have the consistency of soft serve ice cream and will melt really quickly. It still tastes great though, don't worry!

However, it will benefit from a bit of time in the freezer. This will harden it up so that it's easier to serve without​ it tuning into a puddle before it gets to the table. How long in the freezer? That mostly depends on the recipe and the temperature of your freezer. But between 1 and 3 hours is a good guideline.

Keeping the ice cream cold during the transfer will reduce the chances of it developing large ice crystals that will give it a coarse texture. So it's a good idea to have a container pre​-cooled in the freezer.

I try to use wide, shallow containers made from metal or glass as these will cool the ice cream faster. I also try to get the ice cream out of the bowl and into these containers as quickly as possible!

Simply remove the lid and the paddle and use a plastic or wooden spatula to scrape the ice cream ​into the container. Quickly. If you've got some cling film, place a layer over the ice cream before you add the lid to the container. This will help prevent ice crystals forming on the surface of the ice cream.

Then place the container in the coldest part of the fridge (usually the back) and you're done. Now it's time for the most boring part...

Stage 5: Cleaning the Cuisinart ICE-70​

​Luckily, cleaning the ICE-70 is pretty easy! The lid, the dasher and the bowl can be washed very quickly in warm soapy water. Sometimes the base needs a quick wipe. And that's it!

But none of the parts are dishwasher friendly. And always use a non abrasive ​cloth or sponge.

If you get the bowl washed and dried quickly enough, you can put it straight into the freezer again so it won't have time to de-frost and will ready to do another batch in next to no time!

So what's the ice cream from the Cuisinart ICE-70 like?

This is obviously the most important part of the review! And I can confirm that the ice cream from the ICE-70 is fantastic!

Of course it's going to depend on the recipe you're using. But if you put a good recipe in, you'll get good ice cream out every time! And gelato. And sorbet. And yogurt!

But the thing that distinguishes the ICE-70 from other (cheaper!) ice cream makers is the ability to program it to specifically make ice cream or gelato or sorbet. The idea being that these types of dessert are sufficiently different that they require their own settings and the ICE-70 will produce them in a different way.

And this is a bit of an illusion. I mean the ICE-70 does treat them differently. But the difference is so slight it's insignificant.

If you chose the ice cream setting the machine will churn for 25 minutes at 56 rpm. If you chose gelato the machine will churn for 30 minutes at a slightly slower 48 rpm. And if you choose sorbet the machine will churn at the same 56 rpm as for ice cream but for 40 min.

The idea here is that gelato should be denser than ice cream. This means that it should contain less air. So if it's churned more slowly for less time, the paddle should introduce less air.

Makes sense. But in the ICE-70, the slower churning doesn't change the amount of air it adds to the gelato. There's just not a big enough variation between the two rpms to make a difference. To work properly it would really need a different shaped paddle as well.

With the sorbet, the idea must be that watery sorbets tend to take longer to freeze than ice creams. But in fact, if you churn sorbets for a long time, the paddle will introduce too much air and they'll become fluffy and crumbly. It's best to remove them when they're like a thick smoothie: just about still pourable.

And of course the pre-set times are only really for guidance anyway. The time it actually takes for a dessert to be finished can vary so much according to recipe, freezer and room temperature, that the pre-set times are almost redundant.

So yes, the ICE-70 can make fantastic ice cream, gelato, sorbet and more, (just like the other Cuisinart models). But for me the extra functions are at best redundant. ​And at worst they may encourage you to think that your ice creams are only finished when the machine says so, rather than when they're actually ready!

​Wrapping up

I like this ice cream maker a lot. But it won't be the best choice for everyone. So to help you make a decision, here's a summary of the the things I like and the things I'm not so keen on.

3 things I like about the Cuisinart ICE-70 

1. It's really well made

Like all the Cuisinart ice cream makers, the ICE-70 is a ​robust machine with a high quality finish. The motor is powerful and the base is strong: I know this ice cream maker will last many years!

2. It's relatively simple​

Ice cream makers with removable, freezable bowls are probably the simplest type you can buy. The great thing about this is that they're easy ​to use but more importantly there's very little that can break or go wrong.

3. It makes great ice cream

As long as your recipe's good and your freezer gets the bowl cold enough, the ICE-70 will always produce quality​ ice cream, gelato, sorbet and other frozen treats.

​4. It's a got a 2 quart capacity

Most ice cream makers have a 1.5 quart​ (1.4 liter) capacity. But the ICE-70 has a 2 quart (1.9 liter) bowl, which means you can make a lot more ice cream in one go. This is great if you're entertaining, hosting kids parties or you just want to make big rounds of ice cream!

4 things I don't like about the Cuisinart ICE-70​

1. It takes up space in the freezer​

Of course this is the same for all removable bowl ice cream makers. But it's more ​significant when you've got to find room for a 2 quart bowl! And depending on the size of your freezer, it can take up a considerable portion of the available space!

2. I've got to think ahead​

Again, this is the same for all removable bowl machines. ​You need to either keep the bowl in the freezer all the time (so it's always ready to go), or you need to plan 1 day ahead and put the bowl in the freezer the night before you actually want to make ice cream.

3. The programmable settings are pretty useless​

The idea that this machine will make ​different desserts according to the setting you chose doesn't really work. In reality the beeper just goes off at different times. And those times aren't a reliable indication of whether the dessert is ready anyway!

4. It's relatively expensive​

It's not actually expensive. These removable bowl machines are really cheap compared to those with built in freezers. And the build quality is so good, that I think it's still incredibly good value for money. But it is more expensive than the other Cuisinart models without offering any more useful features!

Alternatives to the Cuisinart ICE-70​

So if you're thinking that perhaps the ICE-70 isn't the right choice for you, lets look at a couple of other ice cream makers that might be...

Looking for something cheaper?​

This is an easy one. The Cuisinart ICE-30BC is almost identical to the ICE-70. It has the same 2 quart capacity. It features the same brushed steel body. And the bowl, the paddle and the lid are all pretty much the same.

Cuisinart ​ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2 Quart Ice Cream Maker

The only significant difference is that the ICE-30BC doesn't feature the fancy control panel with the different settings for different types of frozen treats. And it doesn't have a timer like the ICE-70.

The ICE-30BC just has has a simple ​manual on/off switch. But since the pre-programmed settings don't make any real difference to the final product and the times are only really a guideline, the ICE-70 doesn't actually offer anything more.

And of course the ICE-30BC is a fair bit cheaper. So don't worry that you're missing out on anything, because you're not. Get the ICE-30BC instead and spend the difference on a decent recipe book!

Looking for something that'll make ice cream and gelato that is different?​

Yes this is another Cuisinart model I'm afraid! But the Cuisinart ICE-100 is a completely different kind of machine, as it freezes the ice cream with it's own built in freezer.

Cuisinart ICE-100 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker

So there's no bowl to fit in your freezer and there's no need to plan anything in advance. If you want ice cream, just turn it on to pre-cool, add your mixt​ure and in 30 to 40 minutes you'll be eating ice cream!

The disadvantage of these compressor ice cream makers is that they're more expensive. The compressors can be quite delicate so they have a tendency to develop (or be shipped with) more faults. They also take up more room on your counter top​!

But in this case, the great thing about the ICE-100 is that it comes with 2 paddles. One for ice cream and another for gelato. And while both paddles spin at the same rpm, they will actually introduce different amounts of air into the final product. So the gelato will be more dense than the ice cream.

So if you're looking for a machine that will make ice cream and gelato that is genuinely different in consistency, then the Cuisinart ICE-100 is the machine for you!​


I find it hard to full recommend the Cuisinart ICE-70. Don't get me wrong, it's ​a great ice cream maker. And it can make the whole range of frozen treats just as well as the other models in the Cuisinart range.

I just don't think that the extra functions that supposedly justify the higher price are actually worth it. You wont get gelato that's different from ice cream from the ICE-70. And the pre-set times may make it harder for you to judge when the final product is actually ready​.

So for sure, if it's on offer and the price is right, then go for it. It will make ice cream, gelato and sorbets just as well as the other Cuisinart models.

But I wouldn't pay any extra for this machine than I would for the ICE-30BC. You want my advice? Go for whichever is the cheaper of the two!​

If you're still not sure whether a machine with a removable, freezable bowl is the right choice, remember to check my complete guide to choosing the best ice cream maker for your specific needs.​

How to use emulsifiers in ice cream

Emulsifiers are probably one of the most confusing parts of ice cream science. So let's start right at the beginning with the basics.

What's an emulsion?​

An emulsion is a mix of two (or more) liquids that ​won't usually mix together. Why won't they usually mix? Because the molecules of each respective liquid prefer to stick together. 

For example, an oil and vinegar salad dressing is an emulsion. Think about how we make it. When we add the vinegar to the oil, they don't mix properly. In fact, they form two separate puddles!

It's only when we stir them together vigorously, that the oil breaks into smaller and smaller globules and is dispersed throughout the vinegar to make a consistent mixture. This mixture is an emulsion.

Milk is another example of an emulsion. In milk, tiny globules of liquid fat are dispersed in water.

But the thing about emulsions is that because the liquids don't want to mix together, they're unstable. And over time, they'll separate. If you leave an oil and vinegar dressing in the fridge, eventually it will separate into two layers, one of oil and one of vinegar.

And if you leave milk that's come straight from the cow, it will also separate into two layers: on top, fatty cream and underneath watery milk.

Homogenized milk​

However, these days, the milk we buy in the supermarket has been "homogenized"​ so that it doesn't separate. "Homogenized"? Basically, this means that the milk has been mixed at high pressure until the fat globules are so small, they're unable to separate from the water.

Why are they unable to separate? Well, milk contains protein molecules with two "heads". One head is attracted to water while the other is attracted to fat. So these proteins end up at the interface between the two, with one head stuck in the fat globule and the other in the water.

By attaching to the fat globules and anchoring them in the water in this way, the proteins naturally discourage the globules from clumping together and separating from the water.​ Under normal conditions, the action of the proteins is not strong enough to stop the fat and the water separating for very long.

But homogenization creates a greater number of smaller fat globules, which in turn means there's a larger surface area for those proteins to attach themselves to.

So after homogenization, there are even more proteins attached to smaller, more widely distributed fat globules. To the extent that even over time, the fat globules are unable to separate from the water.

And that's why modern milk doesn't separate into two layers in our fridges! Homogenization has created a relatively stable emulsion.

But what's this got to do with ice cream?​

Good question. It's all about the air bubbles in ice cream. Ice cream contains lots of tiny air bubbles. And these bubbles are really important because they contribute to the texture and body of the ice cream and how fast it melts.

An ice cream with lots of tiny, stable air bubbles is smoother and melts more slowly than one with less and/or larger bubbles.

So part of the ice cream making process involves getting air into the mixture and making sure the bubbles are as small as possible. And that's the job of the paddle (or dasher) that stirs the mixture in the ice cream machine as it's being frozen.  

The motion of the dasher does two things. Firstly, it adds air bubbles to the mixture. And secondly, it causes the fat globules in the mixture to collide and start to clump together to form long strings in a structure that surrounds and supports those air bubbles.

This process, in which the fat globules separate from the water and start to clump together is called "partial coalescence". And the "scaffolding" structure it forms is essential for holding the air bubbles in the ice cream and keeping them small.

OK but what's this got to do with emulsifiers?!​

Bear with me, this is where it all comes together...

So on one hand, we have milk. The milk is a pretty stable emulsion in which the fat globules are very small and prevented from clumping together by proteins that anchor them in the water.

But on the other hand, we want to make ice cream with that milk. And to do so, we know we need to de-stabilize the milk emulsion so that the fat globules do clump together to form the scaffolding that supports the air bubbles.

Hold on, we also know that the motion of the dasher in the ice cream maker will cause the fat globules to collide and clump together. So what's the problem?

Well, the problem is that in most cases, the motion of the dasher alone is not enough to de-stabilize the emulsion. There's just not enough fat in an average ice cream mixture for it to be de-stabilized by just agitation. (That's why you can whip high fat whipping cream but you can't whip milk).​

No, the dasher needs help. And this is where the emulsifiers come in. So bizarrely, we add emulsifiers to the ice cream mixture to de-stabilize (or de-emulsify) the fat emulsion in the milk.

​How do emulsifiers de-stabilize the emulsion?

We already know that in homogenized milk, the emulsion is stabilized by protein molecules that attach themselves to the surface of the fat globules and prevent them from clustering together.

So to encourage "partial coalescence" in which the fat globules do clump together, we need to remove those protein molecules. And this is the job of the emulsifiers.

Emulsifiers are similar to milk proteins in that they have two heads, one attracted to fat and another attracted to water. And when we add emulsifiers to an ice cream mix, they ​behave in the same way as the proteins: they migrate to the interface between the fat and the water where they attach themselves to the surface of the fat globules.

In doing so, they actually displace the protein molecules. And since ​emulsifiers lower the tension between the fat and the water, they don't interfere with the inclination of the fat globules to cluster together.

So in this way, they de-stabilize the emulsion. And later on, when the motion of the dasher starts to cause those fat globules to collide, they're much more likely to separate from the water and start clumping together.

​But what are these emulsifiers?

There are several different types of emulsifiers. Let's have a look at what's available...

Egg yolks

Yes, the most traditional ice cream emulsifier is egg yolk! As well as other proteins and fats, egg yolks contain a chemical called Lecithin which has very good emulsifying properties.

In fact, when cooked, egg yolks work as both a stabilizer that thickens the mixture and as an emulsifier which encourages partial coalescence. This is why they're so useful. And for home made ice cream they'll nearly always be the number one choice.

How many egg yolks you use depends on what type of ice cream you're trying to make.​ To just make use of their emulsifying properties, you'll need 0.5 - 1% of the mixture to be egg yolk. To use their stabilizing (thickening) properties as well, you'll need to increase this proportion to 3 - 4%. But some frozen custard style ice creams might be over 8% egg yolk!

However, just as egg yolks are not the very best stabilizer, neither are they the very best emulsifier. They can also add a distinctive eggy taste to our ice cream which may or may not be desirable.

Eggless Emulsifiers

So while for most home made ice cream, egg yolks will be the best emulsifier choice, there may be times when you want to avoid them.

For example, if you want to make a particularly light and clean tasting ice cream. Or if you're making an ice cream that already has a high fat content from chocolate or nut pastes. In these cases you may want to avoid the flavor dampening richness or extra fat content of egg yolks.

Powdered, eggless emulsifiers are usually one of the ingredients in the generic ice cream stabilizer mixtures of you can now buy. ​But it's worth looking at them individually...

​Soy Lecithin

It's the Lecithin in egg yolks that makes them such good emulsifiers. However, Lecithin can also be extracted from soybeans, sunflowers and rapeseed. And this plant based Lecithin emulsifies just as well as the stuff in egg yolks without any of the eggy flavor and extra fat.

One large egg yolk contains about 1.5 g of Lecithin​. So with mixtures that are between 0.2 - 0.5 % Lecithin by weight, you should be able to make an eggless ice cream that's emulsified as well as it would be with egg yolks. Just mix it well with the rest of the dry ingredients.

Soy Lecithin has a pretty neutral taste. So should be undetectable when used in these small quantities. However different brands may vary so it's worth trying a few if you have issues. 


​Buttermilk, either condensed or dried can be used as a source of Milk Solids Non Fat (MSNF) in ice cream and will provide extra emulsifying properties because the protein-phospholipids that do some of the emulsifying are concentrated during buttermilk churning.

Polysorbate 80 and ​Mono- and Diglycerides

Yes, they're a bit of a mouth full! They're actually two different types of emulsifiers, but since they're complimentary and often used together, I'll cover them both at once.

Polysorbate 80 is a type of sorbitan that's derived from oleic acid. It's most effective at the interface between fat and water. This means it's good at de-stabilizing the emulsion so that the fat globules clump together in partial coalescence.

​Mono- and Diglycerides are derived from the partial hydrolysis of animal or vegetable fats. They are most effective at the interface between fat and air, so they're good at stabilizing the air bubbles and keeping them small.

​Since one acts at the fat-water interface and the other acts at the fat-air interface, these emulsifiers complement each other and used together they're probably the most effective available.

And because of their effectiveness (and cheapness!), this combination is often used in commercial ice cream manufacture.

However, their synthetic nature tends to make them less attractive to home made ice cream enthusiasts. And to be honest, since home made ice cream is consumed much more quickly than commercial ice creams, we don't really need the very best emulsifiers!

If you do want to experiment though, you can try Polysorbate 80 at 0.02 - 0.04 % by weight and Mono- and Diglycerides at 0.1 - 0.2 % by weight.

​Getting the balalnce right

Whether your using egg yolks, soy lecithin or some of the synthetic emulsifiers, you need to make sure you get the balance right.

Too little emulsifier and there won't be enough partial coalescence while the ice cream is being churned and frozen. This will result in an unstable foam and a wet, coarse ice cream that melts very quickly.

Too much emulsifier and there may be too much partial coalescence. This is where so much of the fat separates from the emulsion and clumps together, that it becomes detectable on the tongue as small, buttery lumps.

The quantities above should give you a rough idea. You don't need much. But as always the best way to get a feel for this is to experiment! My ice cream calculator may help.

Wrapping up

​I hope that's made the role of emulsifiers in ice cream a little clearer. They are often over shadowed by stabilizers. But emulsifiers have a huge influence on the size and stability of the air bubbles in ice cream.

And since the air bubbles have a huge influence on the texture, body and meltdown characteristics of ice cream we definitely shouldn't ignore them.

For most home made ice cream enthusiasts, egg yolks will be enough. But if you interested in lighter, cleaner tasting, eggless ice creams then the other options are certainly worth investigating. 

Cuisinart ICE-30BC vs ICE-21

Cuisinart ICE-21 vs ICE-30BC

The Cuisinart ICE-30BC and ICE-21 are two of the most popular ice cream makers available today. And when you're trying to choose between them, it might not be immediately clear which is the best for you.

I've actually read plenty of misleading reviews that suggest that one makes better ice cream than the other. So let's get that out of the way right now: they both make fantastic ice cream!

It's not a case of which one makes the best ice cream, it's a case of which best suits the way you want to make ice cream! And this is all to do with their size and the amount of ice cream they make.

So in this comparison I'll give you a quick recap on how they work (just in case you don't know). Then I'll compare the capacity, size, weight, construction quality, noise levels, warranties and finally the quality of the ice cream.

How do they work​?

Both the ICE-21 and the ICE-30BC work in exactly the same way, and I'm not going to go into too much detail here as I cover it in my guide to choosing the best ice cream maker and my individual reviews of the ICE-21 and the ICE-30BC.

But essentially, they're both "freezable bowl machines". This means they have a removable bowl that you put in the freezer for at least 6 hours, so that a special gel in the walls of the bowl freezes solid.

This gel makes the bowl cold enough, (for long enough) to freeze your ice cream once you remove it from the freezer and place it back in the machine. 

However, both the ICE-21 and the ICE-30BC are different from mos​t other freezable bowl machines in that in order to churn the mixture, it's the bowl that's rotated rather than the paddle. This is a big advantage as I'll explain below.

How much ice cream can they make?

This is the biggest and most important difference between the two machines. The ICE-21 can only make up to 1.5 quarts of ice cream per session, while the ICE-30BC can produce up to 2 quarts. This is because the bowls are different sizes...

Cuisinart ICE-21 and ICE-30BC bowls

Why is this important? Well, don't forget, you need to freeze the bowl for at least 6 hours before you can use it. And once you've used it once, you'll need to re-freeze it before you can use it again.

Depending on which machine you buy, you'll be able to make either 1.5 or 2 quarts ​per day. Unless you buy an extra bowl of course! So if you make a lot of ice cream, then the bigger bowl of the ICE-30BC might be the best choice.

However, since the capacity is related to the size of the bowl, there's something else worth thinking about here. ​These bowls take up quite a lot of space in your freezer. And if you've got a limited amount of room, the smaller bowl of the ICE-21 might be best.

Just how big is the difference in size? Well, the ICE-21 bowl ​is 5.5" (14 cm) high and 7" (18 cm) across. While the ICE-30BC bowl is 6.4" high (16.3 cm) and 7.8" (19.7 cm) across. So it's not a big difference. But if you've got limited space it could be significant.

How big are they?

So the ICE-21 has the smaller capacity. And it looks like it's the smaller machine. But if we actually measure them both, there's a couple of surprises...

Cuisinart ICE-21 and ICE-30BC bases

The base of the ICE-21 measures 9" wide and 9.25" deep. And with the lid on the machine is 11.25" high.

While the base of the ICE-30BC is 8.5" wide and 8.5" deep. And with the lid on, the machine is 11.5" high.

Cuisinart ICE-21 and ICE-30BC lids

So the footprint of the ICE-21 is actually bigger and it will take up more counter space than the ICE-30BC! Plus it's only slightly shorter.

However, while the ICE-30BC maintains the same dimensions from the base to the top of the lid, the ICE-21 becomes much slimmer above the 4" tall base. So it looks much smaller, even though it isn't.

But the bottom line here is: although the ICE-21 looks smaller than the ICE-30BC and takes up less total cubic space, it will actually occupy slightly more counter space in your kitchen.

How much do they weigh?

The ICE-30BC, weighing 12 pounds, is significantly heavier than 10 pound ICE-21. That's a good 20% heavier. This is because there's much less body to the ICE-21 and the motor is smaller.​

While neither are particularly heavy, (especially when compared to the machines with built in freezers), both are heavy enough to convey a feeling of confidence in their construction...

What's the construction quality like?

Several people have questioned the construction quality of the ICE-21, suggesting that it's somehow more flimsy than the ICE-30BC.

This isn't the case at all. For sure, with its brushed steel housing, the ICE-30BC looks more premium. While the ICE-21 is made entirely from plastic. But the actual build quality of the ICE-21 is great: there's certainly no feeling of poor or fragile construction.

Cuisinart ICE-21 and ICE-30BC fronts

Indeed, both machines seem really well made and durable. The buttons feel solid and responsive. And most importantly the motors have always performed very well for me...

Cuisinart ICE-21 and ICE-30BC bodies

The motor of the ICE-21 is smaller and less powerful than the ICE-30BC. So you might expect it to struggle more with thicker mixes. But don't forget, the bowl it's turning is smaller and lighter too!

The bowl of the ICE-21 weighs 1545 g while the bowl of the ICE-30BC weighs 2090 g. Plus it will contain less mixture. So it doesn't need to be as powerful!

And the Cuisinart machines have a further advantage over other freezable bowl machines: the motor turns the bowl from underneath rather than the paddle from above.

This makes them much more efficient. Neither the ICE-30BC nor the ICE-21 struggle with thick mixes in the same way as other freezable bowl machines do.

So in summary, I think ​both the ICE-30BC and the ICE-21 are well constructed, durable and powerful enough to do the job for many years to come. 

How long are the warranties?

Both machines come with a 3 year warranty. However, one of the great things about these freezable bowl ice cream makers is that they're so simple, there's very little to go wrong! You're unlikely to ever need the warranty.​

How noisy are they?

One of the most frequent complaints you'll hear about all ice cream makers is the noise they make. ​And neither of these machines are quiet!

I measured the decibel level of both machines at the start and end of different batches and found that they were more or less the same.​ And that was around 80 DB.

What's the ice cream like?

Both of these machine produce top quality ice cream, sorbets and frozen yogurt. Have no doubt about that.

In theory, the smaller capacity ICE-21 should produce a smoother ​end product than the ICE-30BC. Why? Well, since the bowl is smaller and narrower, more of the mixture will be in contact with (or closer to), the freezing sides.

This means the mixture should freeze quicker. And the quicker the mixture freezes, the smoother and less icy the final product.

In my testing, the ​ICE-21 does indeed seem to reduce the temperature of the mixture in the middle of the bowl to -4 (which is when you should start extracting it) slightly faster than the ICE-30BC.

But, it's only by a few minutes, (it changes depending on the recipe). And more importantly, it doesn't seem to make any discernible difference to the quality of the ice cream!

The ICE-21 definitely produces ice cream just a little faster than the ICE-30BC though, so if a those few minutes are important, you might want to ​go with the smaller machine!

Also, the ICE-21 rotates the bowl much faster than the ​ICE-30BC (32 vs 21 revolutions per minute). This should mean the ice cream made with the ICE-21 has more air incorporated (overrun).

Cuisinart ICE-21 and ICE-30BC dashers

But in fact the overrun levels seem to be more or less the same for both machines, ranging from 20 to 34 depending on the mixture you're using. And this probably due to the different designs of the paddles (or dashers as they are known).


The ICE-21 is a smaller machine, with a smaller body, a smaller bowl and a less powerful motor. ​So it's obviously going to be the cheaper of the two. However, ​the ICE-30BC isn't much more expensive.

And in fact they're both very reasonably priced when you consider the quality of the ice cream they produce and how long they're likely to last. (A long time). Don't forget you can also buy spare bowls for both of these machines too.

Wrapping up​

The first thing to say is that both these machines are capable of making fantastic ice cream, sorbets, frozen yogurts and any other frozen treat. There really is no discernible difference ​in the quality of the final product.

So how do you choose between them? For me the most important difference is the capacity. If you want to make big batches then go for the ICE-30BC. If you're into smaller batches then go for the ICE-21BC.

But there are other reasons you might choose one over the other. So lets quickly look at those...​

3 reasons to choose the ICE-21 over the ICE-30BC​

1. The bowl takes less room in your freezer

​For sure it's only an inch smaller in any direction. But if you've got limited space that might just be the difference between a bowl that fits well and one that doesn't.

2. It takes up less room in your kitchen

Yes, it has the bigger base. But in terms of cubic space it's definitely the smaller of the two machines. So it will feel better in smaller kitchens.

3. It's faster

​The smaller bowl means it freezes your ice cream faster. While I don't find that makes any difference in the quality of the ice cream, it does mean you can be eating that ice cream a couple of minutes earlier!​

3 reasons to choose the ICE-30BC over the ICE-21 

1. It makes more ice cream!​

You can make 33% more ice ​cream per batch with the ICE-30BC. If you like to makes lots of ice cream regularly, or even lots of ice cream irregularly, this is the machine for you!

2. It takes up less counter space in your kitchen

​Bizarrely, although it's the bigger machine overall, the ICE-30BC actually has a smaller base than the ICE-21. Less than an inch in either direction. But that could be important on a small counter top! 

​3 It looks nicer

​The ICE-30BC definitely looks more premium than the ICE-21. The brushed steel effect body gives it much higher spec feel.

Final thoughts

The most important thing to remember here is that it's not a case of an entry level versus a higher end machine. They're both great quality machines.

It's more a case of which one suits your kitchen and the way you want to make ice cream best...

If you'e got a smaller kitchen, a smaller freezer and you don't need big batches of ice cream, go for the ICE-21. If you've got more space and you like the flexibility of bigger batch size, then go for the ICE-30BC.

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Last Edited on 2017-02-11

How to use stabilizers in ice cream

Stabilizers are probably the most controversial area of ice cream science. They're denounced by traditionalists who think everything should be “natural”. And lauded by molecular gastronomers that think science solves everything.

​They're a complicated subject. But there's nothing to be scared of here. Most of them are natural. When you use them correctly they'll almost certain improve your ice cream. And in fact, if you've made ice cream then you've almost certainly used them in some form already.

​So what are stabilizers?

Put simply: stabilizers are ingredients that thicken water. This is also called adding “viscosity”. The more viscous a liquid is, the “thicker” it is.

In scientific terms, they're hydrocolloids. When hydrocolloids disperse in a liquid they bind to the water molecules, so reducing their movement. This reduced movement appears to us as increased viscosity or thickening.

The most obvious example of using a stabilizer in cooking is when you thicken gravy with flour.

​Most stabilizers are natural in origin. They generally come from plant, animal or bacterial origins. However under European Law they are considered food additives and must be represented by E numbers in ingredient lists.

Why do we use stabilizers in ice cream?​

Stabilizers can improve ice cream in several significant ways:

  • reduce ice crystal growth
  • reduce air bubble size
  • slowdown melting
  • increase smoothness, body and creaminess
  • deliver flavour cleanly

Let's have a look at each of these contributions in turn...

​How do stabilizers reduce ice crystal size in ice cream?

First of all, why do we want to reduce ice crystal growth in our ice cream? Well, ice crystals are an important part of ice cream. But if the crystals get too big, they are detectable by the tongue and give the ice cream a coarse, grainy texture.

Ice crystals are formed only during the initial freezing and churning stage in the ice cream maker.

​When the ice cream is subsequently stored in a freezer, the existing ice crystals may get bigger, but no new ones are formed.

​But ice crystals can grow when there are temperature fluctuations that cause existing crystals to melt and then re-freeze. Because when they re-freeze, rather than creating new crystals, the water migrates to join existing crystals, so increasing their size.

​Such temperature fluctuations can actually occur both during the batch freezing process (in the ice cream maker) and during storage (in the freezer).

Ice crystal growth in the ice cream maker​

​During batch freezing, ice crystals are initially formed against the super cooled sides of the ice cream machine. The rotating dasher then scrapes them from the sides and moves them into the center of the mix where temperatures are warmer and where they may melt and then re-freeze later as the temperature of the whole mix decreases.

Ice crystal growth in the freezer​

​During storage there are many situations that could cause these temperature fluctuations. For example when the freezer door is opened and then closed. Or if the ice cream is taken out to soften before serving and then replaced in the freezer.

​So the challenge for all ice cream makers, is to try to make the ice crystals as small as possible during the freezing and churning stage and to stop them getting bigger while the ice cream is being stored.

​While there's plenty of material that suggests stabilizers only restrict ice crystal growth during storage, there are other studies that show that the initial size of the ice crystals formed during batch freezing are smaller in mixes that use stabilizers.

How do they do this? The science around this is not clear. But it seems likely that by restricting the free movement of water, stabilizers prevent melted ice crystals from finding and joining existing ice crystals when they re-freeze.

How do stabilizers reduce air bubble size in ice cream​?

Why do we want small air bubbles in ice cream? Because lots of small air bubbles make the ice cream smoother.

​How do stabilizers keep the air bubbles in ice cream small? Again, the science is not totally clear here. We know that stabilizers make base mixes more viscous. And more viscous base mixes produce smaller air bubbles.

​But why do viscous mixes produce smaller bubbles? One theory is that the greater shear stress that's applied to more viscous liquids when they are being churned in the ice cream maker reduces the size of the bubbles more.

Just like ice crystals, air bubbles can grow in size and reduce in number during storage. This happens in two ways:

  1. Disproportionation occurs when air transfers from smaller to larger bubbles.
  2. Coalescence happens when two bubbles come into contact and join.

​The increased viscosity that stabilizers produce also protects against these processes by thickening the films around the air bubbles and keeping neighbouring bubbles away from each other.

​How do stabilizers slow down melting?

Ice cream that melts too quickly is no fun to eat! Stabilizers can help here too by both slowing the rate at which ice cream melts and maintaining it's shape better as it does melt.

​This is partly due to the water binding qualities of stabilizers. Viscous mixtures simply melt slower.

​But it's also due to the smaller air bubbles. Ice cream with many small air bubbles melts significantly slower and retains it's shape better that ice cream with fewer, larger bubbles. And we already know that stabilizers promote smaller bubbles!

​How do stabilizers increase smoothness, body and creaminess?

So we've seen that by reducing the size of the ice crystals and the air bubbles in ice cream, stabilizers make smoother ice cream and slow meltdown.

But they also add body, produce a creamy mouth-feel and a silky finish. These qualities are largely a result of the added viscosity that stabilizers produce.

​Less free flowing water produces a more solid, ice cream that tastes creamier and silkier because it's less watery.

​Why are people suspicious of stabilizers?

Despite the benefits of stabilizers, many people are suspicious of or outright hostile to their use in ice cream. I think there are two main reasons for this...

  • ​bad experiences of over stabilized ice creams
  • the strange names, E numbers, and their chemically appearance make them seem "unnatural"

Over stabilized ice creams are horrible. They may have a gummy or excessively chewy texture. They can exhibit extremely unnatural melting (they don't seem to actually melt!). And they often leave a pasty after-taste in your mouth.

​But this is stabilizers used badly. When stabilizers are used well, you don't even realize they're being used at all. You're just amazed by how good the ice cream is!

​However, the very idea of using stabilizers is too much for some people. This tends to be down to the idea that they are somehow unnatural, that they're chemicals added to reduce costs rather than improve quality, and that they're unhealthy or even unsafe.

​But as I mention above, most of stabilizers come from natural sources. And most of them have been used in cooking for hundreds of years.

​It's true, they are often used in cheap, commercial ice creams to cut corners and save money. But it's all a matter of intent. If people are using them to save money we should be wary. If they're using them to make better ice cream then we should be curious.

Besides, if you've already made ice cream at home, you've probably already used stabilizers.

​Stabilizers you're already using

​Egg custard

​Yep, egg yolks act as a stabilizer. So if you're making egg custard bases, you're already stabilizing your ice cream. The stabilizing chemical is egg yolk is called Lecithin and even has it's own E number: E322.

​Egg yolks will give your ice cream fantastic texture and body. They'll emulsify your mix. And they'll also reduce the growth of ice crystals and air bubbles.

​So why not use egg yolks all the time? Well, they're good, but they're not great. They're certainly not as good at reducing ice crystal growth as other stabilizers. And over time they let water escape, which re-freezes and makes the ice cream icy.

​They subdue other flavours (especially lighter flavours like herbs and water based flavours like fruit). And add their own eggy flavour, the strength of which depends on how many eggs you use and how long and how hot you cook the base for.

So yes egg yolks will stabilize your ice cream but they're not the best performing stabilizers available.


If you've ever tried to make a Sciilain Gelato then you may have used corn flour or tapioca flour. In southern Italy they don't use eggs (or much cream) in ice cream. Instead they use these starches to stabilize their milky gelatos.

​Corn flour and tapioca flour work quite well as stabilizers. They don't subdue other flavours like eggs and impart much less flavour themselves.

​However, I can still detect them, whether it's through a light flavour trace or a slightly pasty texture. And again, there are other stabilizers that perform better.


​While you almost certainly have some experience of the thickening properties of egg yolks and corn flour, you're less likely to have used gums before. But when people talk about the stabilizers used in ice cream it's gums that people are usually thinking about.

​Gums are the most powerful, flexible and most useful stabilizers that are available to us. They suppress the growth of ice crystals better than any other ingredient. They can be used to alter the texture of ice cream in many different ways. They don't suppress other flavours and are almost flavourless themselves.

​What's more, they are so powerful that we only need to use them in tiny amounts. Typically gum stabilizers would only make up 0.1 – 0.5 % of the base mix!

Most gums appear as off white powders. In fact, they're all just complex sugars, also known as polysaccharides. And they're almost all derived from natural products.

​Different gums have subtlety different chemical structures that will have very different effects on the texture, body and sensory qualities of ice cream. And even used alone they are very useful.

However, if you combine one or more gums together, the effects of each can be amplified. Or nullified. Or you might get a whole new set of effects! So it is worth experimenting with different combinations of gums to see what effects you find pleasing.

​Thickeners vs Gels

​While all gums will thicken a liquid, some of them also form gels. Gel are substances that exhibit the characteristics of both a liquid and a solid. Food technologists define a gel as a high moisture food that more or less retains it's shape when released from it's container. And that definition's good enough for us here!

While some gums always form gels, some will only form gels in dairy based mixtures. And others will form gels only when mixed with other gums!

And different gels have different characteristics. For example they might be strong or weak, brittle or elastic etc.

When we're making ice cream, gels are generally harder to work with than mixes that are simply viscous. They can be difficult to get in the ice cream maker cleanly, so you often have to attack them with a blender them to break up the gel.

However, if you're making low fat ice creams or sorbets they're really useful because they add a creamy texture and substantial body that you wouldn't get otherwise.​

​Gums that form gels by themselves


Gel qualities

Locust bean gum


Iota Carrageenan

Soft, elastic gel with dairy 

Kappa Carrageenan

Stiff, brittle gel with dairy

Sodium Alginate

Rigid, brittle gel with dairy


Brittle, unstable


Brittle, slightly sticky gel

Gums that form gels with other gums

Gum combinations

Locust bean gum + Xantham gum

Locus bean gum + Kappa Carrageenan

​Carboxymethyl cellulose + Guar gum

​Carboxymethyl cellulose + All Carrageenans

Plant based gums​

​Most of the gums we use in ice cream are derived from plants. What sorts of plant? Well, generally they're extracted from seeds or seaweeds!

​Locust bean gum (E410)

​Locust bean gum (LBG), is also known as Carob Bean Flour and is made from the seeds of the Carob Tree. This tree is very common in Mediterranean countries and LBG has been used as a thickener in cooking for thousands of years.

​LBG is a very popular stabilizer in ice cream. It has one of the best ice crystal size reducing powers of all the gums. And it produces, a smooth texture, a creamy mouth-feel and a silky finish. It also works well with other gums, especially Guar and Carrageenan.

​The great thing about ice creams stabilized with LBG is that usually they don't seem like they've been stabilized at all. It gives ice cream a very natural feel. This is because although it forms a weak gel when frozen, that gel disappears when the ice cream melts.

​However, LBG is not without it's disadvantages. It needs to be heated to fully hydrate and different types of LBG hydrate at different temperatures. But it's typically around 185°F  (85°C), which is higher than ideal when making ice cream.

​Used alone it can also cause wheying off, which is when milk proteins come out of solution to form crystals that are detectable by the tongue and give the ice cream a grainy texture.

​Guar gum (E412)

​Guar gum is also derived from a seed, in this case the seeds of the guar plant which is a legume, like a bean. Guar beans have been eaten in India for thousands of years but guar gum has only been used as a stabilizer since the 1950's.

​Guar gum doesn't reduce ice crystal size as well as LBG, but it adds much more viscosity to the mix which gives more body to the final ice cream. Unlike LBG, it also hydrates at low temperatures.

​But Guar works well with LBG, with each amplifying the powers of the other. So they are often used in combination.

​Used in high quantities, Guar can give ice cream a chewy texture like toffee, which may be desirable or not depending on how you like your ice cream!

​Carrageenans (E407)

​Carrageenans are extracted from seaweeds. Originally these were Irish Moss seaweeds and carrageenans have been used as thickeners in Irish cooking for centuries.

​However, nowadays they're extracted from other types of red seaweeds that are grown in the Philippines, Tanzania and Indonesia.

​Carrageenans perform pretty averagely at reducing the size of ice crystals. But they have a strong effect on texture, producing a rich and creamy mouth-feel that's similar to egg custard ice creams.

​They also help prevent wheying-off (see above) so are often used in conjunction with LBG which can cause this defect.

​There are three different types of Carrageenans that are used in cooking, each of which varies slightly in their molecular structure:

  1. Lambda
  2. Iota
  3. Kappa

Iota and Kappa Carrageenans form gels with milk so are more commonly used in sorbets and low fat ice creams. While Lambada is used in ice creams with sufficient fat to stabilize without gelling.

​Sodium Alginate (E412)

​Sodium Alginate is also extracted from seaweed, this time the brown ocean kelp that's found in cold water areas.

​It dissolves in cold water but hydrates best at temperatures between 155 and 160°F (68 - 71°C). It's pretty good at keeping ice crystals small. Add contributes a texture and body to ice cream that other gums can't replicate.

​Sodium Alginate forms a gel with milk, so it's popular in low fat ice creams. And it's the way in which the rigid gel breaks into a fluid gel when it's being churned that gives the finished ice cream it's unique sensory qualities.

​Carboxymethyl cellulose (E466)

​Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) is also know as cellulose gum and is synthesized from plant cellulose.

​It's probably better at suppressing the growth of ice crystals than LBG. It adds body and chewiness to ice cream to the same degree as Guar. But it forms a gel when combined with LBG, Guar and Carrageenans, which may or may not be desirable.

​Since Carboxymethyl cellulose is a synthesised product that is extracted from cotton and wood pulp it pushes the boundaries of what many people would call “natural”. However it's perfectly safe and is commonly used in ice cream production.

Fermented gums

Xantham gum (E415)

​Xantham gum is a product of fermentation and is created when the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris feeds on sugar. This might sound weird. But it's just like yeast in beer!

​It's an extremely versatile stabilizer. It dissolves in (and thickens) hot or cold water. Viscosity doesn't vary with temperature. It's highly resistant to freeze/thaw cyles. It works at a wide range of acidities. And it works well with other gums.

​It's not the best gum at suppressing ice crystal growth. But it's really easy to get hold of in health food stores (because vegans use it as an egg substitute). And it's ready availability, it's ease of use and it's versatility make it a great gum to experiment with.

Other stabilizers​

​Gelatin (E441)

​Gelatin is derived from animal collagen, usually pork or beef. And this is what they used to stabilize ice cream in the old days.

​It suppresses ice crystal growth really well and gives ice cream a very pleasing smooth texture. It's also very easy to get hold of.

​However, it has largely fallen out of favour, because it's expensive and because it's an animal product.

​Pectin (E440)

​Pectin is extracted form citrus feel and apple pomace. Pectin has been used for many years as the gelling agent in jam.

There are two types: “low methoxy”, which requires calcium to gel and “high methoxy” which will gel at low pH with loads of sugar.

​Denatured Whey Proteins

​When we heat the ice cream mix, some of the whey proteins in the milk undergo partial unfolding and begin to form a network similar to those formed by hydrocolloids. This process in called “denaturing” and will help stabilize the ice cream in a similar way too.

However, the stabilization is not nearly as powerful as the hydrocolloid's and should be seen as an addition to rather than instead of.

​How to use stabilizers

So if you're thinking you might like to experiment with stabilizers (and specifically gums) there are three steps that you need to get right:

  1. ​measuring
  2. dispersion
  3. hydration


​Gums are so powerful you only need to use a tiny amount. Typically they make up between 0.1 and 0.5% of the weight of the base mixture. And if you go just slightly above these proportions you'll start to get over stabilized ice cream which can be quite unpleasant.

​So in order to get your weight measurements right you'll need some scales that are accurate to 0.01g. You might be able to get away with experimenting with ¼ teaspoon measures, but it'll be hit and miss. And good quality scales aren't expensive.


Once you've accurately measured out your stabilizer, you need to mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Gums tend to clump together and won't disperse properly if you just dump them into a liquid.​ And if they're not dispersed, they don't work!

The best way to get an even dispersion is to add the stabilizer to all the other dry ingredients and then mix them thoroughly with a fork or a whisk. Spend a good 5 minutes on this to make sure it's properly mixed.​

Once it is mixed, add the liquid and give it a proper going over with a hand blender. Again spend a good few minutes on this.

​Some people suggest using the blender to form a vortex in the centre of the liquid and then pouring the dry ingredients into the middle of the vortex for the best dispersion. I haven't found this necessary but it might help.

​But I can't stress the importance of this step enough. If you don't disperse the stabilizer it will clump together and won't fully hydrate. Which means your mix won't thicken properly. And your ice cream will be poorer.


​In order to be effective, a stabilizer must be hydrated: it must absorb water. Some need to be heated, others hydrate in cold water. Some stabilizers hydrate faster than others. You need to know how to get the best hydration from the stabilizer you're using.

​For example, Locust Bean Gum needs to be heated to about 185°F (85°C). While Guar and Xantham gum hydrate at room temperature. And Guar needs up to an hour to fully hydrate. But Xantham gum hydrates much quicker.

Measuring, Dispersion and Hydration: A summary

So remember. Make sure you're working with the right amount of stabilizer by weighing it accurately. Properly disperse it by mixing it thoroughly with the other dry ingredients before you add liquid. And treat it with the appropriate amount of heat and time to fully hydrate it. Get these three steps right and you should have great success!​

​Wrapping up

​Stabilizers are often treated with great suspicion and even hostility. Generally, I think this is because people are ignorant of what they are and why we might want to use them.

​They're natural and they're safe. Of course some people may be allergic to them. Just as some people are allergic to eggs. If that's the case, they should be avoided.

​However, they can help us make much, much better ice cream. And that's the most important point here. We're not using them to save money. We're not using them to cut corners.

When we use them, we use them to deliver better texture, better body, a more creamy, luxurious finish. And more stability!

As home-made ice cream enthusiasts we're already hampered by shitty machines that take ages to freeze our mixtures and inflexible freezers that are never at the right temperature.​

Stabilizers can help us overcome these disadvantages to make ice creams that rival the professionals. I urge you to at least experiment!​

Gelato Messina: The Recipes by Nick Palumbo

Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo

Ignoring all accepted wisdom, I bought this book on the strength of the cover. Not that it gives much away. I just liked the clean, modern design.

Luckily that stylish feel continues on the inside with plenty of colorful Heinz Edelmann type illustrations, and well lit photos of the Messina gelato shops in Australia.

Because essentially this book is a showcase for those Australian stores and the huge range of gelatos they produce.

And there’s plenty of photos of those gelatos. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such attractive looking ice creams before. Each recipe features a delicious close up shot and there’s loads of photos of the rounded, mat colored displays in the shops.

Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo: Displays

It’s all very seductive. But to be honest, I was really disappointed when I made my first gelato from the book.

I started off with their Fior di Latte which is the most basic dairy based gelato you can make and also the base for all other dairy gelatos. It’s essentially a milk flavored ice cream.

The problem was that the final gelato was so sweet that it tasted more like candy than ice cream to me. Nick Palumbo, the author (and founder of Messina) acknowledges that we might prefer more fatty or less sweet gelatos. And encourages us to experiment.

But after that first disappointment I was a bit discouraged from trying the other recipes and didn’t make any more for a while.

That’s not to say I stopped using the book though. Before all the recipes there’s a section where he talks about the ingredients, how to balance them and the equipment and methods they use at Messina.

Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo: Contents

This is basic ice cream science stuff and there’s not a huge amount of detail here. But I picked up some new tips (like using maltodextrin). And it’s a great insight into the way they do things in a professional gelato shop.

And this is an important aspect of this book. As far as I can tell, the recipes here are not adapted for domestic use. They are exactly the same recipes used in the Messina stores.

This is great because it means you get to make the same gelatos you’d eat from their shops!

But it also means that some of the ingredients won’t be easily available. For example, all the dairy based recipes use dextrose and skimmed milk powder. And most of the sorbet recipes use maltodextrin.

Moreover, all the recipes use an unspecified “stabilizer”. At the start of the book Nick talks a little bit about stabilizers and emulsifiers and recommends that you use pre-blended packs.

But although I found ice cream stabilizer blends relatively easily online, I couldn’t find any sorbet blends. So in the end I tried to make my own from the various individual stabilizers I was able to find online.

For me this wasn’t a problem. I don’t have any issues with using stabilizers, I’m quite interested in blending my own and I’m perfectly happy shopping for them (and other ingredients) online.

But I know some people are totally against stabilizers. And others won’t want to buy ingredients online. In which case, I don’t think this book is for them…

You could make these recipes without stabilizers but the final gelato won’t be a patch on the versions that use them. And there are other books that have recipes that use more widely available ingredients.

Gelato Messina Raspberry Sorbet

Anyway, after a few weeks off I had another go with a simple Raspberry Sorbet. I still found this was too sweet. But it was gorgeous. And it looked and tasted and had the texture of a gelato you’d buy in a shop. A great success!

Since then I’ve tried a couple of the infusions and I will go back to the Fior di Latte using a tip from the book that suggests reduce the sweetness with maltodextrin.

There’s definitely a lot to try here. So if you still think this might be a good book for you, let’s look at the contents in a little bit more detail…

It starts off with a section called “Basics”. This talks about the core ingredients: water, milk, cream, skimmed milk powder, different sugars, eggs (and why they don’t generally use them at Messina) stabilizers and emulsifiers.

The “Basics” also has a bit on balancing and composition in relation to these ingredients that includes a spreadsheet which I’ve used as the basis for my ice cream calculator.

And at the end Nick talks about the equipment and methods they use at Messina and the problems we have when trying to replicate them at home. This includes a little bit about the disadvantages of domestic ice cream makers.

While the “Basics” isn’t definitive, there’s actually a lot of useful information here. The stuff on the different sugars is particularly useful. And it certainly gives you enough information to start experimenting with the recipes that follow…

Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo: Hazelnut Gelato

There are 50 recipes in all and they’re divided fairly evenly into dairy and non-dairy gelatos. And this means there’s probably far more sorbets than you find in other ice cream books.

Under the dairy section there’s gelatos made with yogurt, with eggs, with nuts, with chocolate and with fruit. However, just as you’d find it Italy, most of the fruit based gelatos are dairy free sorbets. There are even a few non-fruit sorbets.

There’s an interesting selection of dairy and water based infusions and a small number of alcohol based gelatos.

And then at the end there’s a fairly long section called Messina Madness which includes some of the more exotic, signature flavors they serve up at Messina. These include recipes as normal as Pavlova and as crazy as Satay (with crispy chicken skin!)

All in all I think there’s a good mix between simple, traditional recipes like Lemon Sorbet and Hazelnut Gelato and the more complicated, adventurous flavors like Apple Pie and Poached Figs in Marsala.

Each recipe has two sets of instructions one for making the gelato at home and another for making the same gelato in a professional environment, which is great. You could actually use it to start your own gelato shop!

Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo: Back

So, despite a rocky start with this book I persevered and in the end I was well rewarded. The ingredients, science and techniques sections are well balanced for a recipe book…

Which means there’s enough information to give you the knowledge you’ll need to start experimenting. But not so much that it’s overwhelming.

Yes, the gelatos taste too sweet for me. But I suspect I’ll have the same problem with most recipe books. And by introducing me to maltodextrin, Nick showed me how to reduce sweetness without reducing solids (and therefore compromising texture and body).

If you don’t want to use stabilizers or you want to avoid buying ingredients online then this is probably not the book for you.

But if you’re prepared to experiment, there’s loads of stuff you’ll want to try and a nice balance of quick and easy recipes and more complicated and time consuming tests of your skills.

And I’m off to make the “Randy Watson and the Sexual Chocolate Band” gelato right now…


Cuisinart ICE-21 Ice Cream Maker Review

Cuisinart Ice-21 Ice Cream Maker

The ICE-21 is another ice cream maker with a removable bowl from Cuisinart. And it's the baby of the family. Smaller, lighter and cheaper than the other Cuisinart models, you might consider it an entry level model.

However, as we'll see, it's got a lot to offer ​in it's own right. It makes fantastically smooth ice cream. And it's usually faster than the other machines.

For sure, it's not perfect. It has the same drawbacks as all freezable bowl machines. And it's got a pretty small 1.5 quart capacity. But it would be a great choice if it suits your lifestyle.

Cuisinart ICE-21 box

So keep reading to find out how it works, how well it makes different ice creams, gelatos, sorbets and frozen yogurts, the specific advantages and disadvantages of the ICE-21 and the alternatives I recommend if this ice cream maker isn't for you...

How does the ICE-21 work?

The ICE-21 uses a removable, freezable bowl. If you're unsure what this means, then I'll explain. There are three types of domestic ice cream makers. And the difference between them is the way they freeze the mixture:

  1. With ice and salt
  2. With a built in freezer
  3. With a removable bowl that's pre-frozen in your freezer

​The ICE-21 has a small bowl that's lined with a special type of liquid gel. When the bowl is placed in a freezer, over some time, the gel freezes solid. And this gel keeps its temperature really well. So when the bowl is removed from the freezer, it stays very cold for a long time.

​When you want to make ice cream, you remove the bowl from the freezer, add the mixture and the bowl transfers the coldness to the mixture as it's being churned. Simple!

​But let's look at the different parts that make up the ICE-21 and how they work together. As with all these machines from Cuisinart, there are just 4 parts that make up the ICE-21:

Cuisinart ICE-21 separate parts
  1. the base that contains the motor and the on/off switch
  2. the removable, freezable bowl
  3. the "dasher", th​at churns the ice cream
  4. the transparent lid that holds everything in place 

The base of the ICE-21

Like the rest of the ​ICE-21, the base is made from white plastic. It has the Cuisinart logo embossed on the front. And a simple on/off switch. There are no other decorations or controls.

On the underside are 4 rubber tipped feet that keep the machine stable while ​in use. And some ventilation grills to help prevent the motor from overheating. 

Cuisinart ICE-21 underside

The power cable come out the back and is just 24" (60 cm) long, which could be a little short for some kitchens. 

On the top of the base is a 12 tooth gear which is turned by the motor underneath. This gear slots into a hole in the bottom of the removable bowl. So when the motor turns the gear, the gear turns the bowl. 

Cuisinart ICE-21 motor

So as with all these Cuisinart ice cream machines, it's the bowl that rotates rather than the paddle. There are very good reasons for this, as I'll explain later.

There's nothing flimsy about this base. It has a decent weight that prevents it rattling or moving about. And the motor is powerful enough to churn thick mixes without the gears slipping with those horrible clunking noises you get with some machines.

The ICE-21's removable bowl​

The bowl is thick and heavy, with a 1.5 quart (1.4 liter) capacity.​ It measures 5.5" (14 cm) high and 7" (18 cm) across. 

It's really important to take note of these measurements. Because the bowl has to fit in your freezer. If you can't make room for it in the freezer, you won't be able to make ice cream!

Cuisinart ICE-21 bowl

The ICE-21 bowl is actually the smallest available from Cuisinart. And I don't think the other brands have machines with smaller bowls either. So if you can't fit this one in your freezer, you will probably need to look at the other types of ice cream makers.

In fact, I think most people will be able to fit it in their freezers. It's more a case of the food items that the bowl will displace. And whether that's an acceptable situation in the long run.

When the bowl's at room temperature, if you shake it, you can hear the liquid gel that lines the sides sloshing about. Once frozen, it solidifies and you won't be able to hear it. So this is one of the ways you can tell it's cold enough to be used.

Cuisinart recommend that their bowls are left in the freezer for between 6 and 24 hours . But I find that if I leave it in overnight I always get good results.

The bowl is double insulated and maintains it's temperature very well. But don't forget, as soon as you remove it from the freezer it will start to warm up. So it's best to use it straight away!

Cuisinart ICE-21 bowl bottom

On the bottom of the bowl is the star shaped hole that the gear in the base slots into. It's important that this fits well to avoid any slipping as the mixture thickens. And luckily, it does fit well!

​The dasher of the ICE-21

​The dasher is the the thing that actually churns the mixture to turn it into ice cream. It has 2 important jobs:

  1. T​o scrape the frozen mixture off the side of the bowl
  2. To add air to the mixture

The dasher that comes with the ICE-21 is a stiff, white plastic insert with two blades...

Cuisinart ICE-21 dasher

In most ice cream makers the dasher rotates to mix the ice cream. But with the Cuisinart machines, it's the removable bowl that's rotated while the dasher is anchored still by the lid.

​And this is why the Cuisinart machines are so superior. The other machines can struggle to rotate the flimsy dasher from above as the mixture thickens. But in the Cuisinart models, the way the gear connects directly to the underside of the heavy bowl makes a much stronger and efficient system.

So while the gears can slip and ​clang and even stop altogether in the other machines, the Cuisinart ice cream makers always seem able to power through and finish the job!

However the Cuisinart isn't perfect. The blades of the dasher are meant to scrape frozen mixture from the sides of the bowl and move them into the middle. The faster it does thi​s, the faster the mixture freezes and the smoother the final ice cream.

But in all these machines, there's a 2 mm gap between the blades and the bowl. And this means a thin layer of frozen mixture builds up on the sides and isn't scraped away. This insulates the rest of the mixture from the bowl walls and slows down the freezing process.

Sure it's a fault that could improved. And in fact there is a way around it that I'll describe later on. But as we'll see, it doesn't seem to make a noticeable difference to the quality of the ice cream!

The ICE-21's lid

The lid of the ICE21 is a big, transparent, plastic sheath that covers the removable bowl and anchors to the base at the bottom while holding the dasher in place at the top.

Cuisinart ICE-21 lid

​There's a hole in the top which allows you to add extra ingredients to the ice cream as it's churning. This is useful as it's generally best to add cookies and sweets towards the end of the process.

The hole also allows you to easily test the temperature, consistency and even the taste of the mixture as it progresses. 

Making ice cream with the ICE-21

So those were the individual parts that make up the ICE-21 ice cream maker. Now lets see how they all work together to make those tasty frozen treats!

Making ice cream with the ICE-21 involves 5 stages:

  1. Making the mixture
  2. Freezing the bowl
  3. Freezing and churning the mixture in the ICE-21
  4. Transferring the ice cream to the freezer for final hardening
  5. Cleaning the ice cream maker

Stage 1: Making the mixture

​The ICE-21 comes with a recipe booklet that includes ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and even frozen desserts like ice cream sandwich cookies!

Cuisinart ICE-21 recipe booklet

And since these recipes were designed to use with the ICE-21, they're a good place to start. But half the fun ​of owning your own ice cream maker is inventing your own recipes. Or at least tweaking existing recipes. This is where it gets really exciting!

However, you can't throw any combination of cream, milk and sugar into the ICE-21 (or any other ice cream maker) and expect it to whip up perfect results. You need to follow certain rules. And this is where a basic knowledge of ice cream science can help.

When I read bad reviews of ice cream makers that are not producing the results people expect, most of the time the problem is the recipe rather than the machine. So make sure you get your recipe right!

​Whichever recipe you're using, there are certain things that you should always do to get the best results.

Most importantly, you should always pre-chill the mixture. If you're making a Philadelphia ​style ice cream that doesn't need to be cooked, make sure all the ingredients come straight out of the fridge. If you making an ice cream that involves heating the mixture, you have to chill it thoroughly before it goes anywhere near the ICE-21.

This the same for all machines really, but it's especially important with ​these removable bowl ice cream makers since they already warming up from the moment they leave the freezer.

All mixes should be chilled to around 4​°C before they go in the machine. Ideally they should be cooled and aged in the fridge overnight. If that's not practical because you're in rush, you can put the mix in a zip lock bag and cool it quickly in an ice bath.

​The ICE-21 comes with a 1.5 quart bowl. But the machine will add a fair amount of air to the mixture so you can't put a full 1.5 quarts of liquid in there or the ice cream will overflow out of the bowl.

So stick to good recipes that ask for 3 cups (or less than a litre) of liquid, pre-chill the mixture and you should be OK. 

​Stage 2: Freezing the ICE-21's bowl

Cover the top of the bowl with cling film (secured by an elastic band) to prevent any water vapor that might spoil the ice cream getting in the bowl while it's in the freezer. And put the bowl ​in a plastic bag to protect it from freezer burn.

​The colder the bowl, the faster it will freeze the ice cream and the better the quality of the final product. So if you can, adjust the temperature of your freezer to its lowest setting. I'm quite lucky as mine will go down to -23°C.

Place the bowl at the back of the freezer where it's coldest. ​You'll get the best results if you leave it overnight when the temperature won't fluctuate with people opening and closing the door. But for at least 6 hours anyway.

Don't take it out until you're ready to add the mixture. And once it's out, move fast as it's only getting warmer...

Stage 3: Freezing and churning the mixture in the ICE-21

​It's a good idea to give the mixture a good blitz with a hand blender before you put it in the machine. This will get rid of any lumps that may have developed.

Then, take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the plastic bag and the cling film and slot it onto the gear in the base. Add the dasher and the lid to hold it in place. Then turn on the machine. ​Finally, pour the mixture into the rotating bowl through the hole in the lid.

If you're really serious, you can put your hand in the bowl to press one of the blades against the side of the bowl. This will prevent that thin layer of frozen mixture building up in the gap between ​the blades and the bowl. So it should speed up the freezing. 

You'll need to keep your hand there for the duration of the churning though, otherwise the layer of ice will develop. And it's not like you'll have super icy ice cream if you don't do it.

How long it takes to ​will depend on your recipe, how much mixture there is, how cold it is, how cold your bowl is and even how cold the room is! But I think the biggest factor is the quantity of the mixture.

I find the ICE-21 one of the fastest machines around. I can sometimes get batches finished in less than 15 min. And it will rarely take longer than 20 min.

While the ICE-21 is certainly not quiet I don't find it especially noisy. I measured the noise at the start and end of a batch and it varied between 82 and 79 decibels. Considering an empty room at night time is 30 decibels, this doesn't seem too high.

Once it has the consistency of soft serve ice cream, it's time to pull it out. Be careful not to over churn it. If you're making a high fat ice cream this can lead to "buttering" where the fat forms lumps that are detectable by the tongue. 

Stage 5: Transferring the ice cream from the ICE-21 to the freezer 

​You could eat the ice cream straight from the machine. But you'll need to be quick, because it's not properly frozen yet, so it's really soft and will melt very quickly.

It's best to give it at least an hour, (but preferably 2) in the freezer.​ Once you've turned the machine off, lift out the dasher, scrape the ice cream into an air tight container and transfer it to the freezer.

Never use a metal utensil for this as it will mark the bowl. Best to stick with a wooden spoon of plastic scraper.​

You should try to do this as quickly as possible, as if it starts to melt and then re-freezes in the freezer, the small ice crystals that formed in the machine will grow into larger crystals that ​will be detectable on the tongue and give the ice cream a coarse, icy texture.

So it's a good idea to pre-chill the container in the freezer before you put the ice cream in it. And use a wide, flat container rather than a narrow, deep one as this will encourage the ice cream to freeze quicker. ​

​Because the whole dasher comes out of the bowl, it's really easy to scrape the ice cream off the dasher and then scoop the rest out of the bowl pretty quickly. And this reduces melting.

Once it's in the container if you cover it with a sheet ​of cling film before you put the lid on, this will discourage the formation of ice crystals on the surface of the ice cream.

Then put the container at the back of the freezer (where it's coldest) for 1-2 hours. While you wait for it to harden you can clean the machine...

Stage 5: Cleaning the ICE-21

​Cleaning the ICE-21 is really straightforward. The dasher and the lid just need a quick wipe in warm soapy water.

Leave the bowl until any leftover ice cream left has melted. And then another dip in the sink will clean it very quickly. A soft sponge will do the job. Never use anything abrasive.

The body of the ICE-21 just needs a quick wipe and the white plastic always looks brand new with no smears or stains. Being white, it will show the dust more than the brushed steel look of the other Cuisinart models but an occasional wipe sorts it out.

So what's the ice cream from the ICE-21 like?

As this is the cheapest of the Cuisinart ice cream makers, you might expect the ice cream from the ICE-21 to be poorer than from it's more expensive brothers.

But that's not the case at all. As we know, the faster an ice cream maker freezes the mixture, the smoother the final product. And so, the better the ice cream.

And be​cause the ICE-21 makes smaller batches, in a smaller bowl, in which more of the mixture is in contact with the sides, it freezes the ice cream really, really quickly.

In fact, it's the fastest machine I've used. And this means the ice cream it churns out is every bit as good as the bigger, more expensive models.

​It's actually so quick that if you're used to slower machines, you can leave the ice cream in there too long and it can get over-churned which can sometimes result in lumpy ice cream.

This happened to me the first time I used it as I wasn't expecting it to finish so quickly. So keep a close eye on it until you get used to how fast it is! 

Also, I can't stress how important your recipes are in determining the final quality of your ice creams. If you put good recipes into the ICE-21, you'll get great ice creams and sorbets out.

But if you put unbalanced recipes in, you'll be disappointed with the final results. So if you're planning on experimenting (and you should), make sure you read up on how to balance your recipes!

Wrapping up​

The ICE-21 is a great ice cream maker. But it won't be the right choice for everyone. To help you make your mind up, I'm going to look at the things I love about the ICE-21 and the things I'm not so keen on...

4 things I love about the ICE-21​

1. ​It's small!

​The ICE-21 is one of the smallest ice cream makers available today. This means it takes up less room in my tiny kitchen. If like me, you have limited space: this is a great choice. Whats more, the smaller bowl is easier to fit in the freezer and displaces less food!

2. It's basic!

Really, the ICE-21 is just a motor, a dasher, a freezable bowl and an on/off button. This means it's easy to use. But more importantly there's less to go wrong! And if the dasher breaks or the bowl loses it's freezing capabilities, replacements are cheap and easily available.

​3. It's super cheap!

Yes, there are (slightly) cheaper ice cream makers available. But they're not very good. This is the cheapest Cuisinart machine. And it's the cheapest machine that consistently makes good ice cream and is built to last many years. 

4. It's really fast!​

​The ICE-21 is the fastest machine I've used so far. It regularly knocks out batches in less than 15 min. This means super smooth ice cream. And super quick satisfaction!

2 things I don't like about the ICE-21​

1. It's small!​

​Yes, it's a bit of a double edged sword this. You can make a maximum of 1.5 quarts (1.4 litres) of ice cream with the ICE-21.

Usually this isn't a big issue for me as I like to make small batches and eat them quickly! But if you want to make bigger batches, a bigger ice cream machine will be better choice.

​2. You need to think ahead!

This is an issue with all the removable bowl machines. Before you can make ice cream, you need to put the bowl in the freezer for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.

Now of course you can just leave the bowl in the freezer all the time. That's what I do. But maybe space is an issue. Maybe you forget. In which case you need to plan your ice cream a day ahead.​

​Alternatives to the ICE-21 ice cream maker

So just in case the ICE-21 isn't the right machine for you, here's two alternatives that might suit you better.

Looking ​for bigger batches?

If 1.5 quarts of ice cream just isn't enough, you're going to need a bigger bowl​! And that means the Cusinart ICE-30BC. Like the ICE-21, it's simple, robust and reliable. But it has a 2 quart (1.9 litre) bowl.

Cuisinart ​ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2 Quart Ice Cream Maker

I don't think there's any significant difference in the quality of the ice cream they make. This is all about how much ice cream you want to make.

The ICE-30BC makes bigger batches, but it will also take up more space in your kitchen and more importantly, more space in your freezer. Make sure you check that the 7.8" (19.7 cm) across and 6.4" high (16.3 cm) bowl will fit in your freezer before you buy it!

For more details about the differences between the two machines check out my hands on ICE-30BC vs ICE-21 comparison.​

​Looking for a machine with a built in freezer?

​If you can't fit the bowl in your freezer or planning your ice cream in advance just isn't convenient, then you should probably look at an ice cream maker with a built in freezer.

Bear in mind that these machines are always going to be significantly bigger than a machine with a removable bowl.

The smallest is probably the Gourmia GSI280, which measures 7.3" x 9.4" x 10.4" (18.5 x 23.8 x 26.5 cm). But I'm not convinced by the quality of this ice cream maker.

Cuisinart ICE-100 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker

So I would recommend looking at the ICE-100, again from Cuisinart. ​At 16" x 12" x 9" (40.5 x 30.5 x 23 cm), it's significantly bigger than the ICE-21. But it's got a built in freezer so that's to be expected!

There are many advantages with these machines. There's no bowl taking up valuable space in your freezer. You can start making ice cream as soon as you decide you want to eat ice cream. No pre-freezing required. And as soon as one batch is finished you can start another one! ​

Cuisinart is a reliable brand. So if you're looking for the extra level of convenience the ICE-100 is definitely a good choice.

Final thoughts

I think the ICE-21 is a fantastic little machine. Don't be put off by the lower price or lighter build. It's a quality appliance. And it make​s ice cream, sorbets and other frozen treats as well as the more expensive machines.

​There's no doubt that if you're looking for an ice cream maker with a removable bowl, then the Cuisinart machines that rotate the bowl from below are far better than any other brand.

But whether the ICE-21 is the best of these Cuisinart machines for you depends largely on how much ice cream you need to make in one go.

If you make small batches that are eaten quickly the ICE-21 is a good choice. If you need to feed a lot of people from one batch or like to store batches to be eaten over a longer period of time, then a Cuisinart with a bigger bowl or an machine with a built in freezer might be a better option.

And if you're not sure ​which type of machine is most suitable check out my guide to the best ice cream maker.

Have no doubt though, the ICE-21 may be small and cheap, but from my experience I can confidently say that it's robust, dependable and makes great ice cream!