The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino is the Rolls Royce of domestic ice cream makers! It's huge, it's shiny and it's very expensive. But it also makes the smoothest ice cream you'll ever taste from a domestic machine.
The Lello 4080, along with it's bigger brother the Lello Musso Pola 5030 Stella [Amazon], are the only ice cream makers in (what I call) the "first tier" of domestic machines.
Yes, they are domestic ice cream makers, but have an industrial build quality and can make commercial quality ice creams.
But is the Lello 4080 worth all the extra money? Read on, and we'll find out!
Ice Cream Quality
Value for money
Things I like and Things I don't
In this review of the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino, I'll briefly cover how it works, I'll talk about how to best use it, I'll look at the quality of the ice cream it produces and to finish I'll suggest some alternatives in case this isn't the right ice cream maker for you.
How does the Lello 4080 work?
The Lello 4080 is a compressor ice cream maker. There are three distinct types of ice cream machines and how they differ is in the way that they freeze the ice cream mixture:
- with ice and salt
- with a removable bowl that you pre-cool in your freezer
- with a built in compressor (or freezer)
So the Lello 4080 is a compressor machine. It has a built in freezer that cools the ice cream mixture as it's being churned.
Compressor machines are the most convenient type of ice cream maker. There's no need to pre-plan anything. And you don't have to find room in your freezer for a big bowl. When you want ice cream, you just turn on the machine to pre-cool and then add the mixture. Voila, in around half an hour, you'll have ice cream!
However, compressor machine are bigger, heavier and more delicate than other types of ice cream maker. They're also more expensive. If you're unsure whether this type of machine is the best choice for you, check out my guide to choosing the best ice cream maker.
Unlike most domestic ice cream maker, the Lello 4080 comes with just 3 main parts (plus a spatula):
- the main body the contains the compressor and the motor
- the paddle (or dasher) that churns the ice cream
- a transparent plastic lid
- a plastic spatula to help you remove the finished ice cream
The body of the Lello 4080
The Lello 4080 is the biggest and heaviest ice cream maker I've tested so far. It measures 18" long, 12" wide and 12" high (with the lid) (46 x 30 x 30 cm). And it weighs 38 lb (18 kg).
Yes, it's a beast! It takes up a lot of room and you're going to have to think carefully about where it's going to go.
The electric cable is a lengthy 60" (152 cm), which will give you loads of options when you're looking for somewhere to put it though, so that's a some consolation!
The housing is a lovely mirrored stainless steel on top with a slightly less shiny, brushed steel around the sides. Unlike every other compressor machine I've tested, the housing cleans well, without showing horrible water marks!
There are extensive air vents around the sides and a small band of them at the back and they're wide enough to give you a good view of the internal workings. In order for the machine to cool properly, these vents must be kept clear. So I'd recommend leaving 15 cm of space on either side of the machine.
On top of the Lello 4080 there's a shallow chamber. This is molded from the top panel; there's just one sheet of metal that dips down to form the cavity. From the center of this chamber emerges the drive shaft that turns the paddle (or dasher).
At the front of the Lello 4080 is the control panel. No fancy LCD display or touch sensitive electronic buttons here. Everything is manual and it's very, very simple!
There's a chunky, plastic dial that you turn by hand to set the time that the machine will run for. The maximum amount of time is 60 minutes. Once it starts running you can here it ticking and the dial moves past the time markers like an old mechanical clock.
And then there's just two manual switches. One to turn the compressor on and off. And one to make the paddle start or stop rotating. Nothing else. No temperature gauge. No pre-cool function. You're on your own!
Underneath are 4 plastic feet that keep the steel body raised off the surface by about almost 4 cm. Disappointingly for a machine that costs this much money, on my Lello 4080 the feet aren't level which means there's a small gap underneath one of them and the machine can be rocked slightly if you press down on one corner.
It's such a heavy beast, it doesn't seem to make any difference and it's only noticeable if you go looking for it. But I'd expect better from a machine that costs this much money. Why aren't the feet at least adjustable? If IKEA can do it why can't Musso!?
Overall the Lello 4080 doesn't look or feel like a domestic appliance. It feels industrial. It looks like it belongs in a hospital or a laboratory. It doesn't make any concessions for the home cook. And this makes it incredibly exciting!
The dasher of the Lello 4080
The dasher is just another another name for the paddle that mixes the ice cream in the machine. The Lello 4080 has a heavy solid steel dasher with just one blade. It's the only domestic machine with a metal dasher; all the others are plastic.
The dasher of an ice cream maker has 3 very important jobs:
- scraping frozen mixture off the sides of the bowl and moving it into the middle
- adding air to the misture
- encouraging the fat to clump together to support the air
These jobs are so important because they have a significant impact on the quality and the consistency of the final ice cream.
The dashers impact on the quality of the ice cream
We all want smooth ice cream. How smooth it is, is probably the clearest indication of how good an ice cream really is. And if we read our ice cream science, we know that the faster an ice cream freezes, the smoother it will be.
One of the things that will influence how fast a mixture freezes, is the gap between the dasher blades and the side of the bowl. While commercial machines have spring loaded blades that actually touch the sides of the bowl, on domestic machines there is always a small gap.
This means that as the blades rotate they will always leave a thin layer of frozen mixture on the sides of the bowl. This layer insulates the rest of the mix from the coldness of the compressor and slows the freezing process.
So we're always looking for the smallest gap possible. On the Lello 4080, the curved blade leaves a gap which varies between 2 and 3 mm, which is actually pretty wide compared to other domestic machines. Which is worrying.
But the other job of the dasher is smash the fat globules together so that they start to group and form strings that support the air bubbles that it's also introducing to the mix. And it's such a substantial piece of metal you'd imagine it's going to do a good job of that!
The dashers impact on the consistency of the ice cream
The amount of air that the dasher whips into the mixture has a profound effect on the consistency of the final ice cream. More air produces lighter, fluffier ice creams. Less air makes denser, creamier ice creams.
The shape of the dasher and the speed that it rotates will determine how much air the machine is able to incorporate into the mixture. However, the recipe your using and the amount of mixture you've added to the machine also has a huge effect.
The Lello 4080 dasher is similar is shape to the dasher of the Breville Smart Scoop, both of which rotate much faster than the very different two bladed dasher that come with Cuisinart machines. The Lello 4080 dasher rotates at 80 rpm which is the fastest of all the domestic machines I've tested.
However this is still much, much slower than commercial machines which can rotate as fast as 200 rpm. Almost all domestic machines spin relatively slowly, so they tend to incorporate less air and produce, denser ice creams.
We'll see how much air exactly the Lello 4080 whips into it's ice creams a little later on in the How good is the ice cream section!
The Lello 4080's lid
Like all domestic ice cream makers, the Lello 4080 comes with a transparent plastic lid. However, this is the lightest and flimsiest of them all. It's literally just a see through, plastic plate.
It just sits on top of the machine. There's no way to lock it in place. There's no hatch to add mix-ins. Why would you need one? You just have to lift the whole lid!
The Lello 4080's spatula!
The Lello 4080 comes with a substantial plastic spatula. It's actually more like one of the spades that is used to serve gelato in Italian ice cream stores.
It's much stronger that the little spatulas that come with other domestic ice cream makers. And it's actually pretty useful when it comes to extracting the finished ice cream from the chamber.
Making ice cream with the Lello 4080
Like every other domestic machine, making ice cream with the Lello 4080 usually involves 5 steps. However the Lello 4080 is so good, you could drop a couple of them...
- make the mixture
- pre-cool the Lello 4080
- churn and freeze the mixture in the Lello 4080
- transfer the mixture to the freezer to the harden
- clean the Lello 4080
Step 1: Making the mixture
Depending on what type of ice cream you're making, this step will either be done well in advance of Step 2, or it could actually be done at the same time.
If your recipe needs to be heated, then it should be cooled down before you can put it in the Lello 4080. I'm thinking of recipes that use eggs or starches here. These mixtures will also benefit from "ageing" over night in the fridge.
But if your recipe doesn't require heating, (for example Philidelphia style ices), once all the ingredients are mixed together, it can go straight into the machine.
The recipe is really, really important when you're making ice cream. You can't throw any combination of milk, cream and sugar into an ice cream maker and expect it to pump out amazing results. Everything needs to be in balance and it's useful to know a little bit about ice cream science before you start experimenting.
So I recommend starting off with some tried and trusted recipes before you starting inventing your own. The Lello 4080 comes with 8 recipe cards and a gelato base.
Once you've mastered a few of these, then you can start tweaking them and of course inventing your own!
One very important thing to remember though. The Lello 4080 has 1.5 quart (1.4 litre) capacity. And it's a relatively small 1.5 quart capacity! So I would advise you generally put less than 1 quart of mixture into the machine as otherwise, when it expands as it's mixed you're likely to get some overflow.
When your mixture is made and chilled, keep it in the fridge until the next step in done...
Step 2: Pre-cooling the Lello 4080
You don't have to do this step. And the Lello is so efficient, you may not notice the difference in your final ice cream. But generally, it's a always a good idea to pre-cool your ice cream maker.
As we know, the faster we freeze the mixture, the smoother the final ice cream. And if we add the mixture to a bowl that's already very cold itself, it will definitely freeze faster. So of course, time spent here is saved later too!
The Lello 4080 makes pre-cooling reasonably easy for you. There's no automatic function like you get with the Breville Smart Scoop. But it certainly feels more intuitive than machines like the Cuisinart ICE-100 which you need to start running, so the paddle's turning as it pre-cools.
With the Lello 4080, there's one button to start cooling and a separate button to start cooling. However, you need to set the timer before you can do either. So rotate the dial to include enough time for the machine to pre-cool and freeze your ice cream.
You want to be generous here as you don't want the machine to turn off before it's done. However one of the few annoying things about the Lello 4080 is that you can't turn the timer off. So if you set it to 60 minutes and your ice creams finished after 50 minutes, you can stop it churning and turn the freezer of,f but the timer will still be ticking down (loudly) for another 10 minutes!
I usually set it to 50 minutes, so I get 20 minutes pre-cooling and 30 minutes churning, which is always more than enough. Usually I get around 10 minutes of annoying ticking at the end. Anyway after 15 to 20 minutes pre-cooling, the bowl should get down to around -15 °F (-26 °C).
The Lello 4080 tends to take a little longer to get down to it's lowest temperature than other compressor ice cream makers and when I was reading the temperature it seemed to vary around the bowl. So I'd definitely recommend you give it 20 minutes if you can.
Step 3: Churning and freezing the mixture in the Lello 4080
So your mixtures pre-chilled and your ice cream makers pre-cooled. It's time to get down to business. Set the dasher spinning and pour in your mixture.
Now ice cream makers are loud. All of them. But even the sounds that comes out of the Lello 4080 are different from other domestic machines. While the Cuisinarts and the Breville and all the third tier machines can get a bit screechy, the Lello purrs!
It's true: it's not a quiet purr. At 81-83 Db it's definitely no fun to watch television in the same room. But it's no louder than a hairdryer and for me, the low throb of the Lello 4080 is definitely more bearable than the other machines!
As always, how long it takes to finish your ice cream will depend on your recipe, how cold the mixture was and how cold you got the bowl before you started.
Usually, when the mixture starts to look like whipped cream and starts coming away from the edges of the bowl, it's close to being ready. At this stage the temperature of the ice cream will be close to 21°F (-6°C), which is another way to know it's ready.
However, if you can leave it in longer and the motor is still able to mix the ice cream as it hardens, you'll get a smoother ice cream. And this is where the Lello 4080 really starts to shine. In around 30 minutes, this machine can produce ice cream that is significantly harder than any other domestic machine I've tested.
All domestic ice cream makers will automatically cut off if the mixture becomes too hard to mix. If this happens, it's not a problem. However, I don't recommend you make a habit of it, as it places unnecessary strain on the motor. I tend to turn them off as soon as hear the tone of the motor change as if it's beginning to struggle a bit.
With the Lello 4080, the motor and the paddle just power through. And after 30 minutes or so, you'll end up with a lovely firm consistency. But of course if you do hear the motor start to strain, you should turn it off. Now's the time to remove the finished ice cream.
Step 4: Transferring the ice cream from the Lello 4080 to the freezer
You don't have to do this step with any domestic ice cream maker. You can eat the ice cream straight from the machine and it will taste great. However, with other domestic machines, the ice cream will be really soft and will melt incredibly quickly.
With the Lello 4080 the ice cream is actually hard enough to serve straight from the machine! For sure, it has the consistency of Italian gelato rather than American ice cream. And ideally you'd want to harden it the freezer for just a little longer.
But you don't have to! And that is incredibly liberating, as it means you genuinely can make ice cream on demand. If you're entertaining guests, you can make the ice cream right in front of them and serve it to them immediately. For me, this is a huge bonus.
Of course you may want to harden it in the freezer. Or maybe you want to eat some now and store some for later! If that's the case, as always the secret is speed (and coldness)...
While your'e churning the ice cream you should have a container pre-chilling in the freezer. I prefer wide, shallow containers made from glass or metal as they'll freeze the ice cream faster.
Get the ice cream out of the Lello 4080 and into the container as fast as possible. Unlike other domestic machines, the dasher is held in place by a screw on bolt. So first of all, you need to unscrew this and remove the dasher.
You need to be careful now as the manual specifically tells us to not allow the central pin, (which is exposed when we remove the dasher) to get wet. Hopefully your ice cream will be firm enough that it's easy to avoid drips. I haven't had any problems so far.
Once you've scraped the ice cream into your container, place a layer of cling film or baking paper over the surface of the ice cream before you put the lid on. This will discourage ice crystals forming on the surface.
Then place the container in the coldest part of your freezer, which is usually the back. Usually home made ice cream needs two to three hours in the freezer to harden but the ice cream from the Lello 4080 is already pretty hard so it will definitely be ready sooner.
Step 5: Cleaning the Lello 4080
Since the Lello 4080 doesn't feature a removable bowl, we need to clean it in a slightly different way to other domestic ice cream makers.
The dasher and the lid can obviously be cleaned at the sink in warm, soapy water just like any other ice cream maker parts.
But for the bowl, once it's warmed and any remaining mixture has melted, you'll need to take a dish of warm soapy water to the ice cream maker to clean it in situ.
Now I've read plenty of complaints about this and even one commentator who bought a different ice cream maker because he thought it would be too much hassle! This is just ridiculous. It's really easy and should take no more than 5 minutes at the most.
First of all you use a kitchen sponge to soak up any excess mix. Then you use a bowl of warm soapy water and the sponge to wipe it clean. And then you dry it with a tea towel. Because the bowl is one smooth plate of metal, there's no crevices to get into and it cleans up very, very quickly.
I find it quicker to clean than doing a removable bowl in the sink to be honest! What's more, the shiny steel of the Lello 4080 actually comes up much cleaner that all the other machines I've tested, which tend to develop water stains that are difficult to shift.
How good is the ice cream from the Lello 4080?
I was a bit worried the first time I used the Lello 4080. Once the initial excitement of un-packing such a high end piece of professional looking equipment had subsided, I started to get nervous.
I'd read reviews that said: yeah, it makes better ice cream than the other domestic machines, but it's not that much better.
I was annoyed that one of the feet was uneven. The big-ish gap between the dasher blade concerned me. It seemed to take a long time to pre-cool, only reaching a fairly average -15 °F (-26 °C) in one part of the bowl while other parts were much warmer. And even when I started churning, it didn't seem to be freezing any faster than the super cheap Knox Gear ice cream maker (which I was running alongside as a comparison).
In fact, I extracted the Knox Gear ice cream 5 minutes before I turned my attention to the Lello 4080, after 30 minutes. But as soon as I stopped the dasher and pushed a spoon into the ice cream, I knew something was different.
It was so firm. It was like gelato from an ice cream store. And when I tasted it, it was incredible. Buttery smooth. Dense. Super, super smooth. It had the same texture as ice cream I've had in high end restaurants. And this was from a no-cook, relatively low fat and low sugar base!
I think the ice cream that the Lello 4080 makes is on a completely different level to any other domestic machine. For me it is really is that much better.
So why is it so much better than the competition?
If the compressor is only able to cool the bowl to pretty average -15 °F (-26 °C), and there's a fairly big gap between the dasher blade and the sides of the bowl, why is the ice cream so good? Why is it better than the stuff from those domestic machines with colder bowls and smaller gaps?
I think the answer is power. The power of the compressor and the power of the motor...
When you add the mixture to an ice cream maker, that mixture is warmer than the bowl. In machines with weaker compressors, the mixture warms the bowl and it takes the compressor a long time to lower the temperature again. With the Lello 4080, the initial temperature may not be spectacularly low, but when the mixture is added, the compressor is strong enough to prevent too much warming and the temperature is lowered much quicker.
Equally, in machines with weaker motors, as the ice cream hardens, the machine just doesn't have the power to keep cutting through and churning the mixture. Whereas the Lello 4080 is powerful enough to keep mixing, even when the ice cream has reached an advanced state of hardness.
Why do people say that it's better but not that much better?
If you use a really well balanced ice cream base that's high in fat, stabilized and emulsified with plenty of eggs and has the optimal proportion of MSNF, then (as long as everything is pre-cooled) you you can put that base in any ice cream maker and you'll get amazing results.
And in this case, while the difference between the ice cream from a cheap freezable bowl machine like the Cuisinart ICE-21 and the Lello 4080 will be noticeable, it might not be that significant. And it might not be worth the huge difference in price.
But while I love this sort of ice cream, sometimes I want to make low fat ice cream, or un-cooked ice cream, or ice cream with tons of fruit. Sometimes I want to serve the ice cream straight from the machine! And this is where the differences between the Lello 4080 and other domestic ice cream makers become much more pronounced.
The cheaper, less powerful machines just don't cope very well when you start pushing the boundaries a bit. While the Lello w usually takes these things in it's stride.
So yeah if you only make super optimized mixtures then maybe the ice cream isn't that much better. But if you want to get experimental or start taking chances it certainly is that much better!
I love the Lello 4080. It's easily the best domestic ice cream maker available at the moment. But it won't be for everyone. So to help you make up your mind, here's 4 things I love about it and 4 things I'm not so keen on...
4 things I love about the Lello 4080
1. It makes the best ice cream I've ever had!
Forget about all the fancy features, the LCD displays and removable bowls. What we really want from an ice cream maker is a smooth and creamy final product. And the Lello 4080 is the only domestic machine that can make ice cream that's as good as you get in high end restaurant.
2. It's quick
The Lello 4080 can knock out batches of ice cream in around 20 minutes. It's not the only ice cream maker that can do this. But it is the only ice cream maker that produces ice cream that's hard enough to eat directly form the machine...
3. No need to harden my ice cream in the freezer
The Lello 4080 produces ice cream that has the same consistency as store bought gelato. So it's softer than regular ice cream. But it hard enough to serve straight from the machine.
4. It can handle all sorts of mixes and shortcuts
Because it's so powerful, you're not limited by the type of ice cream you can make and you can even take shortcuts in your preparation. Low fat and low sugar? High water content? Un-cooked? Forgot to pre-cool the bowl? Didn't fully chill the mixture? The Lello will usually take these issues in its stride, and still produce great ice cream.
4 things I don't like about the Lello 4080
1. The price
Once you've tried the ice cream, you realize why it's so expensive. And to be honest I haven't thought about the price since. But it's an eye watering amount of money to consider spending on a kitchen appliance. And sadly many people will just not be able to afford it.
2. The 1 year warranty
The Lello 4080 comes with a 1 year warranty. While this is pretty standard for compressor ice cream makers (only the Cuisinart ICE-100 does better, with a 3 year warranty), for a machine that costs so much, it seems a little mean. On the other hand, it is built like a tank, so I'm hoping that not only will I need not need the warranty, I'll still be using it without problems in 10 years time!
3. The capacity
This isn't an issue for me at all as I prefer to make small batches. But I'll include it here, as I know for some people it will be. The official capacity of the Lello 4080 is 1.5 quart (1.4 litre). But it's a small 1.5 quart!
4. The dodgy foot!
I don't think a machine that costs this much money should have one foot that's shorter than the others. It doesn't effect the way it works and it only wobbles slightly if you press one corner. But come on! At least make the legs adjustable to so I level the machine myself!
Alternatives to the Lello 4080
If you think that the Lello 4080 isn't the right ice cream maker for you then don't despair, there are alternatives. I look at two possibilities below...
Looking for something cheaper?
If the Lello 4080 is just too expensive, then how about the Breville Smart Scoop? It's a level below the Lello 4080 in all respects. But it usually costs 40% less too!
It has a similar paddle to the Lello which spins at a reasonably fast 55 rpm. But the Smart Scoop just hasn't got the power to give you the same level of smoothness as the Lello.
However the Smart Scoop is probably capable of making the hardest ice cream of all the other domestic ice cream machines. But it's not really serve-able straight from the machine. And it takes over 40 minutes to get there! Which means the ice cream can suffer a little.
The Smart Scoop does have a lot of useful features though. It has an automatic pre-cool, twelve pre-set hardnesses to choose from and a three hour keep-cool function.
The bottom line is this: you're not going to get the same level of ice cream from any other machine than the Lello 4080. But if you can't afford it then the Smart Scoop will provide you with a well built, feature filled and cheaper alternative.
Looking for a bigger capacity?
The Lello 4080 is domestic sized, professional level ice cream maker. And back to back 1.5 quart batches should be enough for most households!
But maybe you need more? Maybe you looking for something to use in a cafe or a restaurant? In which case the Lello 4080 has a bigger brother: the Lello Musso Pola 5030 Stella [Amazon].
The Lello 5030 is just a bigger version of the 4080, with 2 quart (1.9 litre) capacity. The dasher, the lid and the control panel are almost identical, as is the ice cream it makes. There's just more of it!
It is of course bigger, heavier and more expensive! But if your're looking for the same top quality ice cream in bigger batches, then the Lello Musso Pola 5030 Stella is definitely your best option.
I've got to admit, I was starting to feel a bit jaded by making at ice cream at home. I mean, I still loved ice cream, but it never turned out like I imagined it in my head.
The Lello 4080 has changed all that. Finally, I'm making the sorts of ice creams I dreamed about. Low fat? Low sugar? Lots of fruit? No problem says the Lello 4080!
It really is on a totally different level to every other ice cream maker I've used. And it's so good, I don't even think about the price anymore.
There's no getting away from it: it's incredibly expensive. But it's also got a industrial build quality, so I'm hoping its going to last me many, many years.
And the thing is, with the other domestic ice cream makers, after a while I can imagine the frustrations would get the better of me and I would make less and less ice creams.
With the Lello 4080, that's not going to happen. I'm constantly thinking about what my next invention will be, confident that this ice cream maker will be up to the task and I'm only limited by my own imagination.
We have all sorts of different considerations and priorities when we're choosing an ice cream maker.
But if the best ice cream is your main priority then there's only the Lello 4080 [Amazon].
If you can't afford it right now, get the Cuisinart ICE-21, work on your recipes and save up until you have enough money to buy the Lello 4080. I guarantee you won't regret it!
Ice Cream Quality
Value for money
Things I like and Things I don't