Ice and Salt machines
Ice and salt machines tend to have much bigger capacities than the other types of ice cream makers. 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 ice cream makers and it's why the ice and salt machines 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!
If you're not sure whether ice and salt machines are the best choice for you, check out my guide to choosing the best ice cream maker. But if you're already convinced, here's three of the best...
1. Hamilton Beach 4 Quart Ice Cream Maker (68330N)
The best thing about this Hamilton Beach ice cream maker is the price! Usually available at less than $30, it's one of the least expensive 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. In fact, it might be best outside!
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, a handful of times a year, then this is a great choice.
If on the other hand, you'd like to make ice cream more regularly and want something that's going to last a good few years, it makes sense to look for something with a slightly higher build quality...
2. Nostalgia Vintage Collection 4 Quart Ice Cream Maker
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, it 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!
3. White Mountain Appalachian 6 Quart Ice Cream Maker
The White Mountain Appalachian is the very top of the range when it comes to ice and salt 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!