Paul has been passionate about preparing, making, and eating desserts for over 30 years. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
In my experience, there is nothing quite like the joy of making your own ice cream or gelato, especially after a hot summer's day working in the yard or playing tennis. It's also a fun thing to do with other members of the family.
I have many happy memories of making ice cream with my daughter when she was younger, and she still enjoys making ice cream as an adult. Churning the ice cream can be fun, but nothing compares with the convenience of a compressor machine—especially if you make ice cream or gelato regularly.
Top 3 Compressor Ice Cream Makers
Here are my three suggestions for the best makers with built-in compressors.
- Cuisinart ICE-100: Affordable and Easy to Use
- Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic: Smaller Counter Footprint
- Lello 4080 Musso Lussino: Super Easy and Superior Quality
I will go into more detail about my experiences and explain my recommendations below.
Cuisinart ICE-100: Affordable and Easy to Use
I bought a Cuisinart ICE-100 compressor maker more than four years ago for the family to use. It really is a great little machine and offers excellent value for money.
We eventually ended up upgrading to a Lello (which took a lot of persuading, as my wife was initially very wary of the expense), and the Cuisinart was gifted to a neighbor, who loves it.
Cuisinart ICE-100 Pros:
- Really quick and easy to use. It will seem like luxury if you have been used to a freezer bowl maker.
- Produces ice cream with a great texture and flavor.
- Rugged, solid machine that's built to last. Works as well now after four years as it did when we bought it.
- Great value, worth the price tag.
Cuisinart ICE-100 Cons:
- It's easy to overfill if you are not used to it, then it can expand during the making process and drip down over the side of the bowl. You have to follow the instructions.
- Not the easiest machine to clean. There are some difficult to reach spaces where the ice cream gets into and is awkward to remove.
Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic: Smaller Counter Footprint
My daughter wanted a maker with a larger capacity to feed college friends at social events. We got her the Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic.
I've tried it out numerous times and would describe it as a well-designed and superior machine. Its design makes it well suited to smaller kitchens.
Whynter ICM-201SB Pros:
- It's straightforward to use and makes the ice cream in three stages: mixing, cooling, and freezing.
- It's fast. There's a preset option for one hour which my daughter uses, it consistently produces great results.
- Automatic shut off prevents the motor from overheating.
- One of the biggest advantages of this maker is its upright design, which means it has a smaller footprint and takes up less counter space.
- All in all, worth the price tag and great value for money.
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Whynter ICM-201SB Con:
- Compressor machines are generally not a quiet way to make ice cream, and though this one is less loud than most, it's not the quietest either.
Lello 4080 Musso Lussino: Super Easy and Superior Quality
My current ice cream maker is a Lello 4080 Musso Lussino. It is without a doubt the best maker I've used by a long way. It combines ease of use with a professional quality of ice cream.
It's far from cheap to buy, but worth every penny in my experience. Even my wife agrees with me, although she was difficult to persuade initially.
Lello 4080 Musso Lussino Pros:
- It produces superior quality ice cream compared to most other compressor machines.
- Very easy to use, essentially just two buttons and a timer. There's an instruction booklet, but it's generally intuitive to work.
- It's beautiful, with a stylish, classic design. That's important to me as I have it on the counter of my kitchen area where it can be seen.
- It cools very fast.
- This maker is very easy to clean, just a quick wipe down with a damp sponge after each use is normally sufficient.
Lello 4080 Musso Lussino Cons:
- Although compact in size, this machine is still reasonably heavy. As I make ice cream regularly, I leave mine permanently on top of the counter to avoid constantly having to be taking it out or putting it away.
- It's certainly not the most affordable, but you have to pay for quality in my experience. For me, it's worth every penny.
Why Buy an Ice Cream Maker?
Here are three reasons why ice cream makers are great to own:
- You control the entire process, an essential for people who take their ice cream seriously and know how they like it.
- You know all the ingredients that are going into the ice cream.
- Makers are generally easy to use and tremendous fun, in my experience. There's a sense of satisfaction that comes with creating your own ice cream.
How Much Do Ice Cream Makers Cost?
It depends on the type and model.
Makers with a compressor are the most expensive, they will cost you $200 plus, but they produce the closest to professional quality ice cream.
More basic makers can be bought for as little as $25, but they tend to use less convenient processes and the quality of ice cream is not as good.
The Three Main Types of Ice Cream Makers
Those familiar with ice cream making will know there are three main types of ice cream maker. Having owned a variety of makers in the past, I want to emphasize that it is important to get the type of maker that is right for your needs.
Here are the three main types, followed by a detailed description of each:
- Ice and salt
- Freezer bowl
1. Ice and Salt Machines
Ice and salt machines are the cheapest and the traditional way to make ice cream at home. They work through the packing of ice and salt around a churning canister full of mixture to freeze the ice cream.
Ice and salt makers are fine if you only want to make ice cream a few times a year, but not so great if you want to do it more regularly.
2. Freezer Bowl Makers
Freezer bowl makers have many advantages. Although they are more expensive than ice and salt makers, they are generally more affordable than compressor machines. The quality of ice cream that they produce can often be of a higher quality than the cheaper compressor makers. I am using the word "quality" in this case to mean the "smoothness" of the ice cream produced.
Freezer bowl makers typically create smaller crystals than most of the cheaper compressor models and this gives the eater a "smoother" experience. That said, if quality is a priority, then you should be prepared to pay out more when purchasing a compressor machine, as the high-end models will give you both high quality and convenience.
Despite all the pluses, there are also some significant downsides to freezer bowl makers. The main negatives being that they are not standalone makers, and they are not quick. You have to pre-chill the bowl in a freezer for six hours or more. This uses up quite a bit of freezer space and also means that you have to undertake forward planning whenever you want to make ice cream.
3. Compressor Ice Cream Makers
Compressor ice cream makers are great because they are standalone devices. You don't need to take up space in your freezer. It's also quick, as there's no pre-chilling involved. Yes, compressor machines are maybe less affordable than freezer bowl makers, but they more than make up for that in convenience and quality, in my experience.
Which Type of Ice Cream Maker is the Best?
The high-end ice cream makers with a built-in compressor are universally considered to be the best for making ice cream at home. That's because the quality of ice cream produced is superior, plus it's a very convenient method in terms of time and effort.
The only major downside is that they are usually more expensive than the other types of maker.
© 2021 Paul Goodman