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...
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.
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...
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:
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!
At the bottom of the sides are small recess that act as a sorts of handles to make lifting and moving the machine easier.
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!
On the right is the control paddle which features a big LCD screen and a whole load of buttons:
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!
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:
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 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.
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!
This is just the plastic paddle that mixes the ice cream. But it actually has 2 very important jobs:
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...
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
And a small plastic spatula is the just the right size for getting the ice cream out of the bowl once it's ready.
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...
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!
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Keep 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!
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...
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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?
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...
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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...
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!
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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:
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 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:
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 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" 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:
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 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!
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:
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!
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...
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...
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...
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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...
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!
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.
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.
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 most 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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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...
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
The ICE-30BC definitely looks more premium than the ICE-21. The brushed steel effect body gives it much higher spec feel.
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.
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.
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...
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:
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:
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.
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.
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 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!
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!
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 is the the thing that actually churns the mixture to turn it into ice cream. It has 2 important jobs:
The dasher that comes with the ICE-21 is a stiff, white plastic insert with two blades...
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 this, 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 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.
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.
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:
The ICE-21 comes with a recipe booklet that includes ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and even frozen desserts like ice cream sandwich cookies!
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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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 because 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!
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...
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
So just in case the ICE-21 isn't the right machine for you, here's two alternatives that might suit you better.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 makes 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!
The Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence is one of the most popular ice cream makers on the market. And there's some very good reasons for this...
It's well made, simple to use, easy to clean, completely dependable and most importantly: it makes great ice cream!
It's the first ice cream maker I ever used and I can't recommend it highly enough.
However, this type of machine does have very particular quirks and before you invest your money you should make sure that it suits your lifestyle and the way you want to make ice cream.
So, please read this review where I'll look at how it works, I'll test it out with several different types of ice creams, gelatos, frozen yogurts and sorbets, I'll explore it's advantages and disadvantages and finally I'll recommend some alternatives in case this isn't quite the best machine for you...
The ICE-30BC is a "removable bowl" machine. Not sure what this means? Well, domestic ice cream makers can generally be divided into three distinct types. And what makes each type distinct is the way they freeze the ice cream mixture:
Machines like the ICE-30BC use a removable bowl that's lined with a special type of liquid gel. When the bowl is placed in a domestic freezer the gel hardens and freezes. Once it's removed from the freezer the gel keeps it's temperature really well so the bowl stays very cold for a long time.
The ice cream mixture is then added to this bowl and the coldness is transferred from the bowl to the mixture as it's being churned.
And this is essentially how the ICE-30BC works. But let's look at this in a little more detail...
The ICE-30BC is an incredibly simple machine. And for me, this is a big advantage since it means there's very little to go wrong. There are just 4 separate parts:
The body of the ICE-30BC is made from an attractive, brushed stainless steel. It's easy to clean and looks smart and professional. On the front of the body is an embossed Cuisinart logo and manual on/off switch. Nothing else.
Underneath, there are four rubber tipped feet, which stop the machine slipping about as it churns. There's a 35" (90 cm) power cable that should be long enough for most domestic kitchens. And when not in use, the cable can be pushed up into a small gap in the base to keep everything nice and tidy!
At the bottom of the cavity inside the body there's a 12 tooth gear that's turned by a motor in the base. This gear fits into a star shaped hole in the base of the removable bowl. So, as the gear turns: so does the bowl. (Yes, it's the bowl rather than paddle that turns, more on this later).
With this type of ice cream maker, it's important that the base is heavy and sturdy with a powerful motor. You want a machine that's stable as it churns and strong enough to keep turning as the mixture thickens.
And the ICE-30BC certainly does the job here. I've never had any problems with slipping gears or stalling motors. It's always proved more than capable of getting the job done.
The removable bowl is thick and sturdy with a 2 quart (2 liter) capacity. It measures 7.8" (19.7 cm) across and 6.4" high (16.3 cm).
These measurements are really important. Because don't forget: before you can use the machine, the bowl needs to be pre-chilled in your freezer. If you can't fit the bowl in the freezer, you won't be able to make ice cream!
So check you've got enough room in your freezer before you buy it! The bowl's not small. And this is one of the main disadvantages of these type of ice cream makers.
If you can find the room, great! If not, don't despair there are other options. There are machines with smaller bowls. Or there are machines with their own built in freezers.
As I mention above, the walls of the bowl are lined with a special liquid gel that hardens as it freezes. At room temperature, you can hear the gel sloshing about if you shake the bowl. But once it's frozen, it stops moving and this is one way you can tell it's been in the freezer for long enough.
Cuisinart recommend that you leave it in the freezer for at least 12 hours. I find that if I leave it in overnight I get the best results.
This bowl is double insulated so it maintains it's temperature well. However, as soon as you remove it from the freezer it will start to warm up so it's important you use it straight away.
The dasher is the thing that actually mixes the ice cream mixture. It has 2 important jobs:
The dasher that comes with the ICE-30BC is a simple piece of plastic. However it works really, really well.
With many other ice cream makers, the motor rotates the dasher in a stationary bowl. This can lead to problems as the ice cream mixture thickens and hardens. If the motor's weak it can struggle to turn the dasher. Sometimes it will slip or even stop rotating altogether.
With the ICE-30BC (and indeed all Cuisinart's removable bowl machines), the motor rotates the bowl, while the dasher actually remains still, secured by the lid of the machine. So the dasher still passes through the mixture. But it's the bowl and the mixture inside it that are moving.
This approach seems to be much more efficient. Presumably it's due to the weight of the bowl, the stronger connection between it and the gear and the lower center of gravity? Whatever it is, it means the mixing works reliably well!
There is one negative point about the dasher though. One of it's jobs is to scrape frozen mixture from the sides of the bowl and redistribute the ice further into the mix. This is what cools the whole mixture down.
And the more ice it can scrape from the sides, the faster the whole mixture cools and the better the quality of the final ice cream. Unfortunately, in domestic machines the blade on the dasher never actually touches the side of the bowl: there's always a small gap.
With the ICE-30BC this gap is about 2 mm. Now I know that's no a lot! But it allows a 2 mm layer of frozen mixture to build up on the sides of the bowl. This layer insulates the rest of the mixture from the cooling sides of the bowl. Which means that the mixture takes longer to freeze so there's more time for unpleasantly large ice crystals to develop.
As I say, all domestic machines (at least all I've used), have this gap between the blade and the bowl. And it's not a big deal. (In fact with the ICE-30BC there's a way to avoid it which I explain in the next section). But it's worth noting as something which could be improved.
The lid on the ICE-30BC is again a simple plastic thing. It's transparent which means you can always keep an eye on the progress of your mix. This is really important as different recipes and different quantities can take vastly different times to complete.
And while it might seem an obvious feature to include, with ice and salt machines its generally not possible and it's something I really miss.
There's also a big hole in the top of the lid. This serves 2 purposes. Firstly, it allows you to sample the mixture as it progresses. Believe me this impulse is almost impossible to resist!
And secondly, it allows you to add extra ingredients as the mixture thickens. Pieces of fruit, chocolate, cookies etc are best added towards the end of the process. And a lid with a hole means you can do this without having to stop the machine.
As I mentioned above, the lid also serves to anchor the dasher. The top rim of the dasher slots into a special area of the lid as it's placed on the body. The dasher then catches against the lid as the bowl starts to turn.
Interestingly the lid does not fit snugly against to the body. There is around 1 cm play in either direction. It's clearly designed this way but it's not clear (to me at least) why!
OK, so we've looked at the parts that make up the ICE-30BC. Now let's get down to business. Let's use it to make some ice cream and see how it does. There are 5 clear stages to making ice cream with the ICE-30BC:
The ICE-30BC comes with it's own Cuisinart recipe booklet. This has almost 30 different recipes including simple Philadelphia style ice creams, French custards, Italian gelatos, frozen yogurts and even slushy drinks.
These recipes are specifically designed and tested to work with the ICE-30BC so they're a good place to start while you're finding your feet.
However, the best thing about owning your own ice cream maker is experimenting. Whether that's with recipes you find on the internet or your own inventions. That's where the real fun is!
Bear in mind though: you can't just throw any combination of milk, cream and sugar into the machine and expect it to produce great results. You need to respect certain boundaries in terms of the proportions of different ingredients. And I talk about this a a lot in the science section.
So I can't stress this enough here: the biggest factor in whether your ice cream turns out good or bad is the recipe. So if things go wrong, the chances are it's the recipe rather than the machine. Obviously, some machines work better than others. And some machines might not work at all! But in that case it's usually a very specific and obvious fault.
Each recipe is different. But there are certain things we can do with all recipes to make it easier for the ICE-30BC. And chief among them is to pre-chill the mixture.
This is good practice for any ice cream machine. But it's especially important for machines that use removable bowls, since the moment they leave the freezer they start to warm up.
There are some recipes that don't require heating. I'm thinking about Philadelphia style ice creams and certain egg-less gelatos here. And as long as the ingredients come straight from the fridge you can probably get away with putting them straight into the machine as soon as they're mixed.
But many recipes do require heating as they are mixed. And once they're finished they should be thoroughly chilled before they go anywhere near the ICE-30BC.
Ideally you'd cool the mixture as fast as possible and then leave it in the fridge overnight so it's around 4°C when you add it to the machine. Cooling it rapidly discourages harmful bacteria forming. And leaving it overnight has the added benefit of allowing the mixture to "age" which can improve the final product.
However, if you're in a rush you can transfer the mixture to a ziploc bag and then put the bag in an ice bath until it's cold enough to go in the machine.
In terms of quantities, the ICE30-BC comes with a 2 quart bowl. But you don't fill it with 2 quarts of mixture. This is because the machine adds air to the mixture so it obviously expands as it's churned.
In fact, to make sure it doesn't overflow the bowl, you probably shouldn't add more than 1.5 quarts of mixture. Certainly, all the recipes in the Cuisinart booklet produce more or less 1.5 quarts of mix.
So, find yourself a reliable recipe, mix up 1.5 quarts, thoroughly pre-chill to 4°C and you're good to go...
So we know we need to chill the bowl in the freezer. Preferably overnight. It's a good idea to cover the top of the bowl with a layer of cling film (secured with an elastic band) and put it in a plastic bag before you pop it in the freezer.
The cling film prevents any ice or vapor that might taint the ice cream getting in the bowl. And the plastic bag will protect the bowl from freezer burn.
As I talk about a lot elsewhere, the faster our mixture freezes, the better our final ice cream will be. And the colder we get the bowl, the faster it will freeze the mixture.
So first of all we want to get the freezer as cold as possible. Cuisinart recommend -17°C or lower. In fact, my freezer will go down to -23°C. So the night before I make ice cream, I set the temperature and put the bowl at the back of the freezer.
The back of the freezer is usually the coldest part. And by leaving it overnight we allow it to remain at a stable temperature, undisturbed by the opening and closing of the door that goes on in the daytime.
When I remove the bowl the next day the inside is at -22°C. But it starts warming up straightaway so we need to get moving...
Before you add the mixture to the machine, it's a good idea to give it a blitz with a hand blender. This should remove any rogue lumps in the mix.
Then, remove the bowl from the freezer, add it, the dasher and the lid to the base and turn the switch on. The bowl will start to rotate while the dasher (anchored by the lid), remains still. Finally, pour the mixture in through the hole in the top of the lid.
As I mention above, one flaw with this machine (and indeed all domestic ice cream makers) is that the blades of the dasher don't touch the side of the bowl. This allows an insulating film of ice to build up on the walls of the bowl which can slow the freezing process slightly. Which as we know is a bad thing!
However the great thing about this machine is that the hole in the lid allows you to put your hand inside and press the blades against the sides of the bowl! And as long as you do it right from the start and keep your hand in there for the duration, it will stop the unwanted layer of ice building up and the ice cream will finish faster!
How long will it take? Well, that depends on the recipe, the quantity of the mixture, how cold the freezer got the bowl and the ambient temperature in the room. So there's quite a lot of factors!
But usually it's between 15 and 40 minutes. I think the biggest factor here is the quantity of the mixture. I regularly have small batches of 600 ml finished in 15 minutes, even when the room is really warm 30°C.
One thing worth noting is that the ICE-30BC not quiet. In fact some people complain that it's unbearably loud! The sound it makes is sort of low grinding. But I don't think it's any louder than a hair drier and it's only on for a short time.
When it's ready the mixture has the smooth consistency of soft serve ice cream. Then, just switch off the machine, take off the lid, remove the paddle and scrape the ice cream into a pre-chilled storage container.
You can eat the ice cream straight from the machine. As I say, it's a bit like soft serve ice cream at this point. And it's perfectly lovely.
But it melts really quickly. And it benefits considerably from one, (preferably two) hours in the freezer where it will firm up to give a more resilient consistency.
Getting it into the freezer as quickly as possible without any melting will reduce the chances of ice crystal growth that might spoil the texture of the ice cream.
So, make sure you've got a container pre-chilling the freezer. The best ones are wide and shallow and made from steel since they will freeze the ice cream fastest.
The lid and the paddle of the ICE-30BC come out very easily and scraping the ice cream off the paddle and from the bowl is simple. So with some practice the you should be able to get a full batch out of the machine and into the freezer in seconds rather than minutes.
Covering the ice cream with a layer of cling film before you put the lid on the container will stop ice crystals forming on the surface of the mixture. Then put the container in the coldest part of your freezer, usually the back.
And that's pretty much it. All that's left to do is clean up while you wait for the ice cream to harden!
The ICE-30BC couldn't be easier to clean. The paddle and and lid can be washed in warm soapy water in a matter of seconds. I fill the removable bowl with warm water to melt any remaining mixture still frozen to the sides and then wash it in the same soapy water. The base usually needs nothing more than a quick wipe. Simple.
This of course is one of the most important questions when you're deciding which ice cream maker is best for you!
Well the good news is, the ice cream that comes out of the ICE-30BC is great. As I mention above, it's all about the recipe. And if you put a well balanced mix in the ICE-30BC, you'll get smooth and creamy ice cream out.
If you push it with low fat or low sugar ice creams it can start to struggle. But all these machines find it hard to cope with leaner and less sweet mixes.
I regularly make gelato, Philadelphia and French custard ice creams. I've used recipes from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, Jenny's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, Gelato Messina: The Recipes and Morgan Morano's The Art of Making Gelato.
And the ICE-30BC never lets me down. The only time I have problems is when I try to experiment with my own recipes and I get the mix proportions wrong.
And it's the same with the sorbets and frozen yogurts. As long as I'm careful with the recipes, I get great results every time.
So I think the ICE-30BC isn't just one of the best of the removable bowl ice cream makers, I think it's once of the best of any domestic ice cream makers period. However it won't be for everyone.
As a summary, I'm going to look at thee things I love about this machine and the things I'm not so keen on. And hopefully that will help make up your mind.
The build quality of the ICE-30BC is really impressive. It's a well made, heavy duty machine (without being impractically heavy), featuring a powerful motor and durable parts. You can be confident that this ice cream maker is going to perform well and last a long time.
With just one on/off switch it's easy to master! And with no complicated electronics there's nothing that can go wrong. You might need to replace the removable bowl eventually. But they're cheap and widely available.
This robust simplicity means that the ICE-30BC delivers the same consistently good ice creams, sorbets and frozen yogurts every time I use it.
Such a big capacity is unusual in home ice cream makers that don't use salt and ice. And I do really appreciate that extra ice cream if I'm entertaining guests, hosting kids parties, or I just want to stockpile lots of ice cream!
Usually less than $70 / £70, that's not a lot to pay for a really well made domestic appliance that will last years and years and consistently deliver top quality frozen desserts and all the pleasure they bring with them!
Of course, all the ice cream makers with removable bowls take up space in the freezer. But the downside of the generous 2 quart capacity of the ICE-30BC is a big bowl that does take up a lot of freezer space.
In our upright, bottom freezer fridge it only just squeezes in without having to remove the drawer completely. And once in there it pretty much takes up half the available space in that drawer.
Again, this is an issue with all ice cream makers that use removable bowls. But it's worth mentioning again here, because for some people it will be a deal breaker.
You can't just decide you want ice cream, pull out the machine, throw in the raw ingredients and wait for it to churn out the good stuff. You've got to think one day ahead so you can put the bowl in the freezer to properly chill.
For me this isn't really an issue since I make fresh ice cream every week and I just store the bowl in the freezer permanently between batches. As soon as the bowl is washed and dried after I've made one batch, I pop it straight in the freezer, so it's ready for the next batch.
But if you don't have the permanent space in the freezer and you need to remember to think one day ahead this could become an issue that would stop you buying ICE-30BC.
With these slight draw backs in mind, it makes sense to think of a couple of alternatives just in case the ICE-30BC isn't quite right for you.
If you think that the ICE-30BC might take up too much space in your kitchen or the 2 quart bowl might not fit in your freezer, then I've got good news...
The ICE-21, also by Cuisinart, is a 1.5 quart ice cream maker that's the smaller brother of the ICE-30BC. It will take up less space in your kitchen and more importantly, the bowl will take up less space in your freezer.
It doesn't look as nice as the ICE-30BC and obviously it won't make quite as much ice cream per batch! But if space is an issue then this is a great alternative. It's cheaper too. Check out my ICE-30BC vs ICE-21 page for a full hands on comparison.
If you don't want to bother with planning ahead and pre-freezing bowls, Cuisinart also have a fantastic ice cream maker with it's own built in freezer.
The ICE-100 is a compressor ice cream maker which means it has it's own self powered freezer to chill the mixture. These machines are completely different to the ones with the removable bowls and come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
But one of the major advantages is that if you have an ice cream mix ready you don't have to mess about putting bowls in the freezer. You just turn on the machine, wait half an hour or so for it to fully cool down, pour the mixture in and in half an hour or so your ice cream will be ready.
The ICE-100 is built to Cuisinart's usual high standard and produces great quality ice cream, so this a really good choice if you want that extra convenience.
I think the Cuisinart ICE-30BC is probably the best of the ice cream makers with removable bowls.
It's really well made, simple and straightforward to use and will undoubtedly last many years. It makes consistently good ice cream, gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt. And it can make them all in fairly large quantities.
There are some drawbacks that are common to all of the machines with removable bowls. You need to plan a day ahead when you want to use it. And you need to find room in your freezer for the bowl.
If you're not sure if this is the right type of machine for you, check out my guide to finding the best type of ice cream maker where I compare the three different types and show you the simple steps to ensure you find the best type for you.
But if you've decided an ice cream maker with a removable bowl is the way to go, then it's hard to go wrong with the ICE-30BC!
You don't need an ice cream maker to make ice cream and other frozen treats at home. But a dedicated machine makes everything so much easier. And the quality of the final product will be infinitely better.
So if you're in any way serious about making your own ice cream, eventually you'll start looking at ice cream makers.
But which is the best ice cream maker for you? There's lots of different types at lots of different prices. And it can be confusing when you're just starting out.
Luckily, it's not that complicated. And if you follow a few simple steps it will soon become clear which ice cream maker is best for you.
There are essentially three different types of modern ice cream maker. And how they differ is in the way they freeze the mixture:
But how important is the way we freeze the ice cream? Well, to some extent it's just a matter of convenience...
The ice and salt method is the most inconvenient, being more labor intensive and messy. The machines with removable bowls are more straightforward but require some forward planning. And then the most convenient are the built in freezer models which are really, really simple and straightforward to use.
Let's have a look at each of the three types of machine in more detail...
This is how ice cream used to be made in the old days! With these machines a mix of ice and salt is used to freeze the ice cream.
First, the liquid ice cream mixture is poured into long, metal canister. This canister is then placed in another, bigger container and surrounded by a mix of ice and salt. The mixture is then churned by a big paddle (or dasher) while the ice cools it down.
The salt is used to lower the temperature of the ice even further which helps to freeze the ice cream faster. You can use any type of salt but people usually use rock salt as it's much cheaper.
In the olden days the churning would be done by hand. But with modern machines there's usually an electric motor to do all the hard work. However some modern machines offer both so you can let the motor do most of the work and then finish it off by hand at the end!
These ice and salt machines have a number of advantages. Firstly, since you don't need to pre-chill any bowls, you can start making ice cream as soon as you decide you want ice cream!
Secondly, once you've made one batch, since there's no need to pre-chill anything, you can make another batch straight away.
And thirdly, unlike the other machines, the ice and salt models are often available with big capacities of between 4 and 6 quarts. So you can make lots of ice cream in one go!
However, on the negative side a certain amount of pre-planning is required. You need to make sure you have a plentiful supply of ice and salt. And with all that ice and salt, things can get messy.
You also need to keep a close eye on these machines, adding more ice and salt as needed. You can't just add the ingredients and then sit back an wait for the ice cream. It's quite an involved process.
And of course, if it's a bigger size machine, you've got to think carefully about where you're going to store it.
In my opinion, these machines are best if you don't make ice cream very often. If you're looking for a something to keep in the garage and bring out once or twice over the summer to feed big groups of people at BBQs and parties, then these machines are ideal.
But if you're looking for a machine to make ice cream more regularly, if you want to keep it in the kitchen and you're not trying to feed a small army, then you're probably best off with one of the other types of machine.
With these machines, the ice cream mixture is frozen in a removable bowl that you need to pre-chill in your freezer compartment. The bowl contains a special gel that gets really cold in the freezer and then transfers that coldness to the mixture as it's being churned later on in the machine.
The pre-freeze bowl machines have three clear advantages. Firstly, they're much easier to use than the ice and rock salt machines. You simply add the ingredients, turn them on and come back 20-30 minutes later.
Secondly, they don't create any mess. There's no bags of ice and salt to deal with. No melting ice to mop up. They're very neat and tidy.
And thirdly, they're the most compact of the all home made ice cream makers. So they're much more kitchen friendly and much easier to store away.
However there are some very clear disadvantages with these machines too. The bowls need to be pre-chilled for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight. So again, some pre-planning is required.
You need to make sure the bowl will actually fit in your freezer compartment! Check the measurements of each model as the bowls vary in size according to the capacity of the particular machine.
Talking of which, these pre-freeze bowl machines tend to have much smaller capacities than the ice and salt models. They'll generally produce between 1 and 2 quarts of ice cream in each batch, depending on the model. So they're not so good for large groups unless you're pre-preparing several batches in advance.
And remember, because you need to pre-freeze the bowl, you can't make back to back batches. Unless of course you buy an extra bowl and have enough room to store two bowls in your freezer!
I think these pre-freeze bowl machines are best for organised families that like to eat small batches of ice cream regularly. They're compact and tidy. So they look great on a counter top and work well even in smaller kitchens. And they also make it really easy to involve the kids with the whole ice cream making process.
However, if you're really serious about your ice cream, if you want the very best quality, maximum flexibility and ultimate convenience, then you should probably consider the compressor machines.
These machines use their own built in compressors to freeze the ice cream. All you do is pour the mixture into the machine, press a button and wait. It's that simple!
There's loads of advantages with these machines. Generally, they're much more convenient to use. There's none of the mess and faff you get with the ice and rock machines. You don't have to remember to put a bowl in the freezer the day before. You never need to stock up on ice and salt.
As soon as you decide you want to eat ice cream, you can start making ice cream. And as soon as the first batch is finished, you can start making the next batch! Which is great if you've got a big family or you're entertaining guests.
They also tend to have more features and options than the other machines. Some of them can be programmed so they are optimized for ice cream, gelato or sorbet. Some will pre-chill the mixture for you. They'll all stop automatically when the ice cream is ready. And some will keep the final product at the right temperature and consistency for an extended period once they've finished.
The quality of the ice cream from the compressor machines is also the closest you'll get to that produced by commercial machines.
However, there are some disadvantages to these machines as well. They're pretty big and very heavy. So make sure you've thought about where you might keep one. They'll certainly look attractive on your counter top, but check you've got enough room.
And despite their size, they don't have huge capacities. You wont get bigger batches out of these machines than you'll get from the pre-freeze bowl machines.
And of course with a built in compressor and complicated electronics, there's more things that can go wrong. So it's even more important to check the warranty and the after sales service with these machines.
They're also the most expensive of all the ice cream makers. But like most things in life, quality and convenience come at a price. And if you're really serious about making ice cream, then these are probably the machines for you.
I've talked a fair bit about the difference in convenience between the three types of machine. But how about quality? Is there also a difference in the quality of ice cream they produce?
One of the biggest factors that determines whether the final product is smooth and creamy or coarse and icy is the speed at which the machine freezes the mixture. The quicker the mixture is frozen, the smoother and creamier the final ice cream.
And this speed is determined by how cold the container is for the duration of the churning. The salt and ice machines and the built in freezer models maintain a stable temperature for the whole time. But with the other machines, once you remove the bowl from the freezer, it's only going to get warmer.
And this means that the removable bowl machines will be freezing the mixture more slowly towards the end of the churning than at the beginning.
But does is make a discernible difference in the ice cream?
Well it can do. The biggest influence on ice cream quality is the mixture recipe. With a good recipe and the right technique you can make fantastic quality ice cream with all three types of machine.
But if you want to start cutting corners in your preparation or pushing the boundaries of the recipes then you'll notice a degradation in quality with the removable bowl machines before the other two.
The built in freezer models seem to deal better with egg-less or low fat recipes. And for me a least, they seem more consistent in the quality of the final product.
However, if you follow all the tip and tricks to keep the mix cold and follow well balanced recipes, you'll get superb quality ice cream for all three types of machine.
We know that all the machines are capable of producing great ice cream. So, which type you choose will depend on a whole load of other personal preferences.
These include how often you'll be making ice cream, how many people you'll be making it for, and what type of ice cream you want to make.
Here's a reminder of the important features of each type:
Ease of use
Ice and Salt
Up to 6 quarts
$ - $$
Up to 2 quarts
Up to 2 quarts
$$ - $$$
And here's a summary of why I think you should buy or avoid each one:
Ice and Salt
- big families, BBQs, parties
- big spaces
- smaller spaces
- frequent use
- no waiting
- multiple batches
- small spaces
- frequent use
- making lots of ice cream
- unorganized people
- small spaces
So hopefully you've now got some idea of which type of ice cream maker will be best for you. Let's move on and look at some of the different individual models in each group.
As we've already seen, the ice and salt style ice cream makers tend to have much bigger capacities than the other machines. Indeed, the three I preview here can all churn out at least 4 quarts of ice cream per batch.
This is twice as much as the other types of machines and it's why the ice and salt ice cream makers are so good for parties, BBQs and large families.
And don't forget ice and salt machines can produce back to back batches. So once the first is finished, as long as you've got enough ice and salt, you can crack on with the next one!
The best thing about this Hamilton Beach ice cream maker is the price! Usually available at less than $30, it's one of the cheapest ice cream machines on the market.
The next best thing about this machine is it's capacity. It can produce 4 quarts of ice cream per batch making it great for big groups and parties.
It's as straightforward to use as other ice and salt machines. Which means you've got to make sure you've got plenty of ice (8 - 12 pounds) and a fair bit of salt (about 3 cups) before you start.
And you'll need to place the machine in a kitchen sink or somewhere else with good drainage, as things can start to get messy once the ice begins to melt.
But as long as you follow the instructions carefully, the Hamilton Beach should produce great quality, soft serve consistency ice cream after around 20 to 40 minutes.
You'll know it's ready as the motor will turn off when the mixture gets to a certain thickness. This is a great feature that should save unnecessary wear on the motor and the gears.
However, this is very much an entry level machine. Apart from the aluminium canister, the construction is entirely from plastic. The motor is slightly under powered and struggles with some recipes. And over time, the gears may wear out making the whole machine unusable.
But despite the doubts over the the long term reliability of this machine it still comes with a 1 year warranty, so if anything goes wrong it that time it can be replaced!
The thing that you need to remember here is that the Hamilton Beach is a budget ice cream maker. If you're looking for something cheap and cheerful that can be used to feed big groups of people a handful of times a year then this is a great choice.
If on the other hand, your looking for a machine to more regularly and want something that's going to last a good few years, it makes sense to look for a machine with a slightly higher build quality...
A step up in build quality, the Nostalgia Vintage ice cream maker also features attractive retro styling!
Harking back to the olden days of hard churned machines, the Nostalgia features wooden slats and brass hoops. However, these are merely decorative and surround a sturdy plastic bucket that's better equipped than a wooden container to deal with the strains of ice cream churning!
The Nostalgia Vintage will produce 4 quarts of ice cream per batch and like all ice and salt machines can make back to back batches.
And while costing just a few dollars more than the Hamilton Beach machine, it features a significantly more robust motor. So not only does it cope better with thicker mixtures, it's also less likely to wear out over time.
Apart from the wooden slats and brass hoops the construction is entirely plastic. And the build quality is obviously not as good as the more expensive salt and ice machines.
However, all in all this a very reliable machine. Be aware though it does only come with a 90 day warranty!
The White Mountain Appalachian is the very top of the range when it comes to salt and ice machines.
It features a genuine pine wood bucket, a 12,000 RPM metal clad commercial grade motor, and a patented triple action dasher. All protected by a five year warranty.
It can make a whopping 6 quarts of ice cream per batch. And the ice cream it produces has a reputation for being the smoothest and creamiest around!
What's not to love? Well...
White Mountain used to be the ultimate American made, old style ice cream maker. A premium product with a justifiably premium price tag.
However since the company moved manufacturing to China there have been increasing numbers of complaints about the quality of their machines.
Whether all of the complaints are justifiable is debatable. However, it seems that some dip in quality has occurred.
But the fact is, if you're looking for a 6 quart capacity ice cream maker there isn't a whole lot of choice. And the White Mountain Appalachian remains by far the highest spec'd machine available.
It's still covered by an impressive 5 year warranty. So if you don't like what you receive, send it back!
As we've already discussed, pre-freeze bowl machines are great for regular use in smaller kitchens. They're really straightforward to use, they don't make any mess and they're all pretty cheap.
The removable bowl market is dominated by Cuisinart. And the quality of their machines is so good I wouldn't recommend buying any other brand.
The Cuisinart ICE-30BC is one of the most popular ice cream makers on the market. And with good reason.
It's well made, compact, easy to use and makes consistently good ice cream. It was the first ice cream maker I bought and I still use it today.
It can make 2 quarts of ice cream per batch which is at the top end of what you'll get from a non ice and salt machine.
The freezable bowl is thick and sturdy and is double insulated so it cools evenly and warms slowly. However, since it's a big 2 quart bowl, check you've got enough space in your freezer before you buy it!
The controls are simple, just "on" and "off". But most importantly the motor is very powerful. This means it always get's the job done and there's none of the gear slipping and screeching you get with cheaper machines.
Sure, it's not quiet. But automatic ice cream machines are never quiet. And you have to remember to pre-freeze the bowl the night before you make a batch. But that's the same for all these machines.
So, unless your planning on making ice cream for big groups, I think this is one of the best entry level ice cream makers available today. Check out my complete review of the ICE-30BC.
The Cuisinart ICE-21 is essentially the baby brother of the ICE-30. It works in exactly the same way but has a 1.5 quart capacity rather than the 2 quarts you get with the ICE-30.
This means that the whole unit is smaller. And lighter. And the bowl takes up less room in your freezer!
So choosing between them is just a matter of deciding which capacity suits you best. To some extent this is about how much ice cream you eat. People that eat more will tend to prefer the larger capacity machine.
If the ICE-21 is the baby brother of the ICE-30BC, the ICE-70 is it's flashy uncle. It has the same 2 quart capacity but replaces the simple manual "on/off" button with a small LCD screen and control panel.
You don't get that much extra functionality with the ICE-70. But depending on your priorities it could be worth the slightly higher price tag.
The most interesting feature is the ability to optimize the machine for 3 different types of frozen dessert. By choosing either "ice cream", "gelato" or "sorbet", you set the machine to rotate at a specific speed and for a specific length of time which best suits that particular dessert.
For gelato, the idea is that a dasher that rotates slower for a longer period of time will beat less air into the mixture and give you a denser more gelato like final product.
For sorbet the dasher rotates at the default speed but for longer again which should suit it better. And for ice cream it rotates at the default speed again but for less time.
You can also adjust the timer to any duration you like. Once it's done, it will beep every 5 minutes for 30 minutes or until you turn it off.
For me the timer is not super useful. There are plenty of other ways to time the machine. But the ability to control the density of the final product will be really attractive for those interested in gelato and sorbet.
Otherwise the ICE-70 is pretty much the same as the ICE-30. It's a slightly bigger machine. But the ice cream, it produces is of the same quality. So really it's just a case of deciding whether those extra features are worth the extra cost.
The machines with built in freezers are perhaps the most convenient of all the ice cream makers. And they're certainly the most expensive!
They're best suited to families with a little more space, who make ice cream regularly and want the whole process to be as simple and straightforward as possible.
With all of these machines there's always a possibility that there's something wrong with the freezer when you receive it. The compressors can easily arrive damaged and in this case they just won't work properly at all. In this case you have a dud!
However this should be obvious as soon as you make the first batch of ice cream. And as long as you bought it from a reputable outlet there should be no problems returning it for a working replacement.
There's quite a few to choose from and to a large extent it's a case of deciding whether the extra features that some of the machines provide are worth the extra cost. Let's have a look at three of the best...
Another machine from Cuisinart. And it's another winner. Whether it's removable bowls or built in freezers, you can rely on Cuisinart to produce really good ice cream makers!
The ICE-100 is relatively simple compared to some of the other machines. But everything it does, it does really well.
It has a 1.5 quart capacity and uses a removable aluminium bowl to make cleaning easier. The transparent lid allows you to see what's going inside and has an opening that makes adding extra ingredients simple.
It's the only machine that has 2 different paddles: one for ice cream and one for gelato and sorbet. This is because gelato and sorbet generally contain less air than ice cream and a different shaped paddle can limit the amount air that's beaten into the mixture. This is a really useful feature if you're interested in trying different types of frozen treats!
You can turn the freezer on before you start churning to make sure it's as cold as possible when you add the mixture. And there's a timer so you can set the machine to churn for up to 60 minutes. Once the set time is reached, the machine will stop churning but will keep your ice cream cold for up to 10 minutes.
You do need to bear two things in mind with this machine. Firstly, although it's supposed to have having a 1.5 quart capacity, it struggles to contain more than 1.2 quarts with the mixture sometimes overflowing the edges of the bowl. Secondly, small amounts of mixture can sometimes get into the gear on the bottom of the bowl and if they're not cleaned up they will go rancid over time and produce a nasty smell.
However neither of these issues are insurmountable. Firstly, since it can make back to back batches you can simply make slightly smaller quantities per batch. And secondly the seal over the gear can be removed so it's not difficult to clean any stray mixture should it enter the gear.
All in all this is a very reliable, simple to use machine. It come s with a 5 year warranty in the UK and a 3 year warranty in the US. And it makes great ice cream with no fuss!
The Whynter ICM-200LS is very similar to the Cuisinart ICE-100 in terms of the range of functionality it offers.
But there's one significant difference: it has a 2 quart capacity. This is unusually big for built in freezer machines, especially at this price range. And if you like to make large amounts of ice cream it's a big bonus.
Other than that, it's very like the Cuisinart machine. There's a transparent lid with an opening that lets you add extra ingredients. The timer defaults to 60 min but can be set to any time less than that. And once it's finished churning it automatically keeps the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
Beyond that you can also set the machine to churn without cooling (which is useful for pre-mixing ingredients or adding extra ingredients at the end). And you can also set it to cool without churning (which is good to pre-freeze the bowl or keep the mixture cool for longer at the end).
This is reliable machine with a big capacity. There's not so many bells and whistles. But if you want a reasonably priced machine that can knock out big, back to back batches of ice cream this would be a good choice.
The Smart Scoop is the machine with all the bells and whistles. Whether you prefer full manual control or want a completely automatic experience, this machine can deliver both.
In automatic mode you simply choose one of four options: ice cream, gelato, sorbet or frozen yogurt. The machine then does the rest: churning and cooling the mixture in the optimal way for each.
If you want to get more involved, there are 12 hardness settings to choose from with the machine automatically adjusting itself to achieve the desired consistency.
All these automatic settings can also be overridden by using the machine in manual mode. Here you can simply set the machine to run for any time between 5 and 180 minutes. But don't worry: if the mixture gets too thick it will automatically stop anyway.
Once the mixture stops churning it goes into a keep cool mode which can maintain the ice cream in the desired condition for up to 3 hours!
It will even play some music when it's finished, with a choice of 3 in built tunes. Of course, if you're not keen on this touch the music can be turned off!
There are plenty of other touches you don't get with the other machines. There's a child lock on the lid to stop over unenthusiastic fingers wandering into the mix. There's a an audio alert that lets you know when it's the best time to add extra ingredients. And you can toggle the temperature read outs between Fahrenheit and Celsius.
As I said, this is the best ice cream maker for those that want maximum convenience and loads of extra features.
Read my full, hands-on review of the Breville Smart Scoop ice cream maker where I discover whether all these fancy features are really worth the extra money!
So those were a selection of the best ice cream makers available at the moment. It's clear to me that the best machine for you will depend on how you'll be making ice cream.
If you're making ice cream for irregularly for really big groups of people at parties and BBQs then you'll need a machine with a big capacity and maybe one that can churn out back to back mixes.
In this case an ice and salt machine might suit you best. These are available with 4 and 6 quart capacities. And as long as you've got enough ice and salt you can make a new batch as soon as the first ones finished.
In which case, if you're on a very tight budget and you're not looking for a machine that's going to last a long time, the Hamilton Beach 4 Quart machine is really, really cheap. Just be aware that you might not get too many hours use from it before the motor starts to go.
If you're able to spend a just a little more money, the Nostalgia Vintage Collection 4 Quart machine is much more robust with a far stronger motor. And it should last significantly longer.
And if 4 quarts isn't enough, not only will the White Mountain Appalachian machine give you 6 quarts per batch, it's also got a significantly better build quality than both of the other machines. And as long as you look after it, it should last many years.
If you're making ice cream more regularly for smaller numbers of people and have limited space or a limited budget, then a machine with a removable bowl could be the best choice for you.
Cuisinart are the best brand to go for here. The ICE-30BC offers very simple, straightforward functionality and 2 quarts per batch.
While the smaller ICE-21 will give you 1.5 quarts and might be better if you have less space or just don't need so much ice cream!
The ICE-70 also has a 2 quart capacity and can be optimized for ice cream, gelato or sorbet, so it's a great choice for those that like to experiment!
But if you've got the space and can afford to spend a little more, the convenience of an ice cream maker with a built in freezer might be the best choice.
Cuisinart again do a fantastic job with the ICE-100, producing a reasonably priced, dependable machine that will knock out 1.5 quarts of quality ice cream time after time.
If you need more ice cream then the Whynter ICM-200LS will give you 2.1 quarts per batch and similar functionality to the Cuisinart machine.
And if you want an all singing (literally) all dancing machine that can do everything for you, the Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop is packed full of features that make ice cream making as simple and straightforward as possible.
I hope this post has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know below...