Cuisinart ICE-70 Review: Ice cream and Gelato?
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.
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:
- With ice and salt
- With a built in freezer
- 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:
- the base that holds the motor and the control panel
- a removable, freezable bowl
- the "dasher" which is a paddle that churns the ice cream
- 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).
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:
- ICE CREAM
These buttons clearly allow you to select different programs according to which type of frozen dessert you want to make.
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).
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 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:
- Scraping the frozen mixture from the sides of the bowl
- Adding air to the ice cream mixture
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.
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
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:
- Freeze the bowl
- Make the ice cream mixture
- Churn and freeze the mixture in the ICE-70
- Transfer the ice cream to the freezer to firm up
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 mixture 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.