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Summertime Treats and the Best Home Ice Cream Maker

Have you ever thought about creating unique and delicious ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt in the comfort of your own kitchen? It's easier than you may think, and much more rewarding than your regular pint from the grocery store.

Homemade Ice Cream

There's nothing quite like homemade ice cream - a frozen treat that's perfect for a picnic, party or snack on a warm summer day. These frozen treat makers are great for a variety of reasons.

First, if you have dietary restrictions enjoying a fresh frozen dessert might prove difficult. With a homemade ice cream maker you have complete control over the ingredients. Make it sugar free or with soy milk.

Second, customize your favorite recipe to your exact flavor preference. Add fresh strawberries, blueberries, or peaches. It's your frozen dessert maker and your recipes.

Moreover, it's a great accessory for parties. Everyone loves a fresh homemade dessert! Your guests can take pleasure in custom ingredients and preservative free flavors.

Looking at the different types of ice cream makers on the market today can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many different brands and types that sorting through all your options is difficult. Here you'll learn the basics.

Types of Ice Cream Makers

The first step in choosing your ice cream machine is to look at how it's made and stored. Different models offer a variety of methods of making and storing ice cream. The time required, quantity produced during each interval and whether or not it's frozen automatically are the primary deciding factors.

Use our guide and decide what type fits your needs, and before you know it, you'll be scooping away!

Gel-Canister Freezer Bowl

The gel-canister models are the most common type of frozen treat makers. The canister features a double-walled freezer bowl that is specially lined with a freezing liquid. For this reason, the bowl must be placed inside the freezer ahead of time, usually for at least 12 hours.


If you're planning a party or know you'll be enjoying your favorite flavor after dinner, then pre-freeze the bowl.

Once the freezing liquid is frozen, the ingredients are placed in the bowl and the electric paddle turns them for even mixing and uniform freezing. This form of mixing prevents ice crystals from forming and aerates the ice cream too.

Typically, this model is the most affordable, averaging about $30. If you select this machine you should know that preparation time is longer than other types, and it produces about 1.5 quarts of ice cream at a time.

Wooden Bucket


If you're feeling a bit nostalgic, try an old-fashioned wooden bucket machine. It's a fun way to get the whole family involved, and it's as attractive as it is functional.

Different than the gel-canister model, wooden buckets use packed rocksalt and ice to maintain a cool temperature. Some models are electric and others feature an old-fashioned hand-crank.

Churn out delicious soft serve ice cream in as little as 40 minutes. As the paddle churns add mix-ins like cookies, candy, or fruit. It quickly crushes them and mixes them thoroughly.

Store the paddle and the canister in the freezer for the best possible results. They typically make between 4 to 6 quarts of ice cream at a time, making them perfect for parties or large family gatherings.



Compressors are the most convenient type of ice cream maker. As ice cream is made it's consistently frozen. The compressor acts as a self-chilling mechanism that yields the best results and requires no pre-freezing of parts or ingredients.

You can enjoy a fresh batch of ice cream in munutes. Production varies depending on the model you choose, but most models make an average of 1.5 quarts of ice cream in under 60 minutes.

Since compressor models are completely electric, they don't require the level of maintenance that the canister freezer bowls or wooden bucket machines do. They churn out batch after batch with no wait time in-between too. So if you're having guests or you're planning a children's birthday party, it's the superior choice.

Choosing the Right One

So now that you're familiar with the different types of ice cream makers, here are some tips on how to choose the perfect one.

1. Determine your budget

Price range varies. Freezer bowl models cost less than $100 and home compressor models average about $200-$700. If you're looking for something affordable, the canister type is the best bet. If you entertain often and plan to make a lot of this frozen teat at home, the compressor option is ideal.

2. Quality

Compressors make the best quality ice cream because of their self-cooling abilities. The ice cream is firmer than the other models. Canister models are better for an occasional treat simply because of the prep and freezing time required. Bucket-style makers usually result in a soft serve ice cream type of ice cream. Freeze for firmness but enjoy a smooth even consistency.


According to Cook's Illustrated magazine, canister-style makers produce dense, rather than airy, ice cream. The ice cream can be frozen for a few hours to achieve a firmer consistency. Compressor made ice cream is firmer from the start.

With bucket style ice cream makers the ice cream consitency is softer and slightly smoother. So depending on the kind of ice cream you want, you should choose a model that will

3. Ease of Use

If you can plan ahead, a canister model will work for you. Some people even store their canister in the freezer so they're always ready to go. Unfortunately, you'd only be able to make one batch at a time since you need to freeze the canister for at least a day in-between batches.

Self-cooling compressor models don't require pre-freezing, nor do bucket-style units - although you will need to keep ice and salt on hand when using bucket ice cream makers.

No matter which model you choose, you'll always enjoy fresh homemade ice cream when you want it!

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