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 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 are 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, the ICE-30BC looks more premium, with its brushed steel effect body. But this is an effect: both machines are actually made from plastic.
In neither machine does the plastic indicate poor or fragile construction. Both seem really well made and durable to me. The buttons feel solid and responsible. 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 struggles with thick mixes in the same way as other freezable bowl machines do.
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.
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.
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 deserts 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 deserts 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.
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...