The best ice cream makers

Nothing beats homemade ice cream, so scoop up one of our best ice cream makers for summer 2018 and ace gelato, frozen yoghurt, sorbet and more

The best ice cream makers

Since inflation has pushed the 99 with a flake up to almost £2 and counting, buying ice cream from the van window hasn’t been quite the same. So this summer, why not make it yourself instead with one of the greatest kitchen gadgets invented: the ice cream maker. The best models let you make creamy, smooth, moreish frozen treats with the maximum ease – easier than braving the queue at the kiosk on the hottest day of the year, certainly – all with the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what’s gone into your cone. 

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If you’re serious about sorbet and fanatical about frozen yogurt, the best ice cream maker 2018 has to offer is the Heston Blumenthal Sage Smart Scoop. While all of the ice cream machines on our list offer provision for more than one kind of frozen dessert, this one is unbeatable in its variety, with 12 hardness pre-sets and manual settings for an ice cream that’s tailored down to the last detail. However, if you can’t in all good conscience drop over £200 on a home ice cream maker, there are great budget options too. Try the Judge Ice Cream Maker for a versatile and easy-to-use option that comes in at a cool £40. 

The best ice cream maker

1. Heston Blumenthal Sage Smart Scoop

Trust the wisdom of Heston when it comes to weird and wonderful ice creams

Best for: Settings
Built-in freezer?: Yes
Capacity: 1ltr
Running time: 5-180 minutes
Reasons to buy
+ 12 presets and manual controls + Plays a tune when finished 

You don’t have to be Willy Wonka himself to make the most out of a Heston Blumenthal ice cream maker, although if you really want to make the chef’s Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, there’s nothing to stop you. With 12 hardness settings, the possibilities are practically endless, allowing you to create sorbets, gelatos, frozen yoghurt and ice cream with either the simple-to-use presets or, if you’re feeling brave, manual settings for total control over your final product.

The pre-cool function allows the generous one-litre bowl to get down to 30℃ to give you a good head start, but best of all, it plays an ice cream van tune when your concoction is ready. Worth every penny.

Cuisinart ICE100BCU

2. Cuisinart ICE100BCU

Quick and capacious, this is a great ice cream maker for parties

Best for: Gelato
Built-in freezer?: Yes
Capacity: 1.5ltrs
Running time: 40 minutes
Reasons to buy
+ Separate ice cream and gelato paddles + Good capacity 

If you’re whipping up frozen treats for a hungry crowd, this Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker may fit the bill perfectly. With a very ample 1.5-litre bowl, it’s our best ice cream maker for parties, as it churns ice cream, sorbet, gelato or frozen yogurt in as little as 40 minutes.

The professional compressor system also means that there’s no need to pre-freeze or wait between batches, giving you the double benefits of a quick start and the ability to keep up with the inevitable demand. But speed doesn’t mean skimping on quality, and the two separate paddles for gelato and ice cream are engineered to get the ideal amount of air in for perfect texture.

Magimix Gelato Chef

3. Magimix Gelato Chef

Quick and easy to use, even with chunky additions

Best for: Speed
Built-in freezer?: Yes
Capacity: 1.5ltrs
Running time: 20 minutes
Reasons to buy
+ Works in as little as 20 minutes + Copes well with add-ins 

This Magimix ice cream maker incorporates a built-in freezer, which means no pre-freezing, which means you can get started straight away. With an equally generous capacity as our previous Cuisinart pick, and an even more impressive operation time – when you can make ice cream in as little as 20 minutes, or around 30 minutes for sorbet, there’s hardly any point nipping to the shops – it’s a real contender for best party guest.

Expert testers at Good Housekeeping said it was very simple to use and coped well with add-ins like chocolate chips, but that it was quite noisy, so it’s up to you whether that’s a deal-breaker or not.

Judge Ice Cream Maker

4. Judge Ice Cream Maker

This budget ice cream maker works with just the touch of a button

Best for: Ease of use
Built-in freezer?: No
Capacity: 1.5ltrs
Running time: 20-40 minutes
Reasons to buy
+ Really simple operation  + Inexpensive 

If you’re an ultra-creative chef hell-bent on making endless prototypes, the Sage ice cream maker is sure to be your best bet, but if you’d rather have ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt at the touch of a button, it may well be this model from Judge. The fully automatic one-touch operation is designed to make delicious homemade ice cream foolproof, and what’s more, it’s a bargain at under £40, a long way from the £200+ price points of our top picks so far.

Expert testers found there were some concessions to be made – the paddle could struggle a bit with thick mixtures, and you have to freeze the bowl first – but for a model that offers no barrier to getting started, it can’t be beaten. 

Cuisinart ICE30BCU

5. Cuisinart ICE30BCU

For under £100, this mid-range maker is superbly capable

Best for: Mid-range
Built-in freezer?: No
Capacity: 2ltrs
Running time: 20-25
Reasons to buy
+ Fully automatic + Large capacity 

An excellent mid-range ice cream maker, this Cuisinart Deluxe Ice Cream Maker borrows some high-end features from its elder sibling, the previously reviewed Cuisinart ICE100BCU, but comes in at a much more pocket-friendly sub-£100 price. The biggest difference is the lack of a built-in freezer, so you will need to pop it in the chiller before you plan to use it, but between its fully automatic operation, more than ample two-litre capacity, impressive ease of use and cleaning, and high-end brushed design, reviewers found the preparation time to be completely worth it. 

KitchenAid Ice Cream Attachment

6. KitchenAid Ice Cream Attachment

The KitchenAid accessory for long, hot summers

Best for: Stand mixers
Built-in freezer?: No
Capacity: 1.9ltrs
Running time: 20-30 minutes
Reasons to buy
+ Fits to existing KitchenAid Artisan mixers + Very quick; ice cream in as little as 15 minutes  

While not technically an ice cream maker in its own right, this KitchenAid attachment is a must for anyone who already owns the ubiquitous stand mixer and can’t justify any more chunky gadgets out on the worktop. Second only to the Cuisinart ICE30BCU in terms of capacity, it makes 1.9 litres of ice cream or sorbet with what reviewers say is the greatest of ease. Of course, as an attachment rather than a standalone ice cream maker, it does need a few hours to chill in the freezer before you start, but users found that with a little preparation they could make some fabulously toothsome ice creams in as little as 15 minutes.

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