With your own ice cream maker, you can really let your culinary creativity shine, plus you'll have total control over the ingredients – meaning alternatives like non-dairy sorbet, healthy frozen yoghurt or vegan ice cream can all be conjured up at the touch of a button.
Read on for the full scoop, as well as our 9 favourites from John Lewis and Amazon. We've included cheaper buys for budget shoppers, automatic designs with built-in compressor freezers, heavy-duty and small-batch models and lots more, all from quality kitchenware brands like Cuisinart and Magimix. Moreover, we have partnered with chef Ryan Yen for reviewing and fact-checking the article to deliver you the best information.
Ryan is a trained chef with experience in several restaurants (with various kitchen supplies across the restaurant experience) and hotels, he also attended le cordon bleu to further his training in cuisine and patisserie and focus on creating simple and delicious dishes. Ryan is now formally working as a chef tutor.
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Ryan is a trained chef with experience in several restaurants (with various kitchen supplies across the restaurant experience) and hotels.
He also attended le cordon bleu to further his training in cuisine and patisserie and focus on creating simple and delicious dishes. Ryan is now formally working as a chef tutor.
The first option to consider is an all-in-one design that's worthy of any aspiring Ben or Jerry. They work via a compressor system featuring their own built-in freezer, and simply require you to throw in your mixture and press go, often producing gourmet ice cream in under an hour. It may seem easily accessible, but the size can be very daunting as you need a spacious kitchen space. This is generally ideal for smaller servings, not for a family of 4.
There's no remembering to set anything up in advance, and a much quicker turnaround if you want to make more than one batch in 24 hours, but be prepared to pay several times the amount for the privilege. As well as a bigger wallet, you'll also need a roomier countertop or cupboard to store them in.
The original ice cream makers (aside from freezing a mixture in a Tupperware and stirring it for several hours) are the most affordable, compact option. Best suited to occasional frozen dessert chefs, the main body is plugged in, a pre-frozen bowl is attached and filled with your recipe of choice, and a couple of hours later, ice cream appears!
The main downside is that they require some forethought: if the craving strikes and you haven't already got the detachable bowl sitting in the freezer, you'll have to wait around for it to chill before you can start churning. Plus, whilst storing the bowl in the freezer means it'll always be ready to go, it also demands a fair amount of drawer space that you may not have.
Whilst this first point will only apply to traditional ice cream makers, pre-freezing times can range from 8 hours to overnight - a figure that may be worth noting if you'd prefer a speedier turnaround between batches. A faster chilling time is often a sign of good quality, and will be reflected in the price.
The time each appliance takes to prepare each vat of lovingly-made frozen goodness will vary too, which you may also want to assess if you plan on using your machine more than just occasionally. Production time is a spec worth noting for both types of machines.
You won't see a wild amount of variation in each maker's capacity, but it's worth checking how much ice cream is produced – especially if you go for a design that doesn't allow you to whip up another bowful until the next day. Usually you'll come across models with 1 litre, 1.5 litres, or 2 litre capacities, as well as the odd mini dessert maker for smaller households.
It does vary from recipe to recipe (and machine to machine) somewhat, but the yield that each maker produces is generally the same as its capacity. To compare to shop-bought sizes, a typical cylindrical pot of luxury ice cream is around 500 ml, a standard oval tub is usually 1 litre, and a family-sized tub of Cornish ice cream or similar weighs in at 1.5 - 2 litres.
Aside from standard issue ice cream, some machines will allow you to get experimenting with all manner of frozen desserts. This can be down to multiple paddles, or different freezing or 'hardness' settings, and can result in delicious sorbet, frozen yoghurt, or gelato.
Those keen to concoct more than straight-up ice cream may also like to look for machines with removable lids, so during operation you're able to add fruit or syrups to create ripple effects, or other ingredients like nuts or biscuits that only need to be added towards the end of the churning process.
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Ice Cream Maker
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It's no surprise that market leaders Cuisinart (who offer a 5 year guarantee) have produced a fabulous all-rounder, ticking all the boxes for style, features, and everything else you can think of, including dishwasher-safe parts.
Occasional and frequent ice cream cooks alike will rate the 2 litre freezing bowl capacity, ready to have you licking the bowl in just 25 minutes, as well as the large, easy-add ingredient lid and one-touch operation. Top marks!
If you love nothing more than spending your weekend whipping up a culinary storm or three, you'd do much worse than to add one of these to your online basket. It's a compressor maker with a built-in freezer and includes a whole host of settings, plus changeable paddles, that lead to professional-grade gelato, sorbet, or ice cream every time.
For a compressor design it isn't as bulky as most of its competitors, yet can still churn 1.5 litres of ice cream and have it on the table in 40 minutes. And because there's no waiting for the bowl to freeze again, try out another batch if you like!
Sensio's affordable, no-frills offering is actually the number one bestselling ice cream maker on UK Amazon, and we can see why! There's no doubt you'll save a fair few pennies on shop-bought desserts with this in the kitchen, and it's fast, too.
Depending on your freezer, you can get away with pre-freezing the bowl for only 12 hours, and like any good maker there's a feeding tube to throw in in your favourite add-ins. Our top pick for a basic, budget ice cream maker!
An absolute steal considering the ultra-spacious 1.5 litre capacity, this is another powerful, fast-feeding option that'll have ice cream on the table quicker than you can get the cones out.
Reviewers rate the performance, value for money, and how easy it is to clean afterward, which can often be a pain with so many detachable parts. It's also one of the more quieter options, should you prefer your machine not to ruin your dinner party ambiance.
We do love to give you option of a high-end product, and if you know your kitchen gadgets then you're probably acquainted with Heston's Sage range. Although the price point does limit its mass appeal for the average Brit, it's certainly more than a good performer.
This compressor maker truly is one for when only the most hi-tech will do: it'll pre-cool your mixture, let you pick from 12 hardness settings to perfect any frozen dessert you desire, and then keep it at the optimum temperature for 3 hours. And get this: it'll even play an ice cream van tune when your masterpiece is ready!
Here's a user-friendly, one-touch ice cream maker with one standout feature – its size, or lack thereof! Cramped freezer drawers, compact kitchen sides or even the holiday caravan would all welcome this small but sweet pre-freezing maker, with a still-reasonable 1.5 L capacity.
Like many of the more basic budget options, the bowl will need many hours to properly freeze up, but for occasional use it'll certainly do what you need it to!
This is a great pick if you fancy trying out healthier frozen desserts (though it's more than capable of full-fat ice cream too!) – thanks to the specially designed second paddle, simply throw in some fresh fruit and create a virtuous sorbet or whip up some froyo in under 30 minutes.
Shunning the tiresome white plastic norm, its tasteful colourway and slimline design should bring some style to any kitchen. We're also rather fond of the large capacity, although you may get impatient waiting 24 hours to prep the bowl.
A well-trusted name in the world of kitchen appliances, Magimix's simple 1.1 L maker should be easy enough to operate for even the least confident cooks – a good one for getting the children involved perhaps!
There's a large feeding tube to incorporate add-ins at any stage in the freezing process, and a free recipe book and app access to their app with even more frozen dessert ideas. Because it is very basic it may not suit the non-novices, though.
If you're looking to make restaurant-quality ice cream from the comfort of your own home, this is the answer. Not only does it create beautifully smooth ice cream, it also has settings to make gelato and granita, so you have all sorts of frozen treats at your finger tips.
For such a wide-ranging machine, though, you'll need to be willing to fork out quite a bit of money. At nearly £500, this won't be suitable for everyone's budget and might not be necessary for the casual ice cream makers and instead will be more suited to the connoisseurs.
For the smoothest and creamiest texture, properly chill your cream mixture beforehand (even overnight), as it'll churn quicker and won't produce those pesky large ice crystals, and start the motor before pouring. Also, keep solid add-ins small for better distribution that won't alter the consistency you've worked so hard to perfect.
Thinking of adding a nip of booze? Some pros suggest adding alcohol not only for flavour, but because it lowers the freezing point, resulting in a softer, less frosty ice cream. Too much and it won't freeze at all though, so go easy!
Storage-wise, transferring the finished product to a flat, shallow container will stop it over-hardening, and placing a sheet of greaseproof or cling film on top before you put the lid on will stave off ice crystals.
Written and researched by Natasha Dziubajlo
No. 1: Cuisinart | Ice Cream Maker | ICE30BCU
No. 2: Cuisinart | Ice Cream and Gelato Maker | ICE100BCU
No. 3: Sensio | Home Ice Cream Machine
No. 4: Duronic | Ice Cream Maker | IM540
No. 5: Sage | The Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker | BCI600UK
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