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Best ice cream makers: manual and automatic machines for at-home gelato

Whip up ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt in as little as 30 minutes with our pick of the coolest ice cream makers to add to your kitchen.

By Rachel Erdos | Last updated Jun 5, 2023

Strawberry ice cream being scooped out of a bowl with an ice cream scoop.

Whipping up homemade ice cream is surprisingly easy with a nifty ice cream maker. Fun for kids young and old, you can be as inventive as you like by throwing in fruit, nuts, yoghurt, chocolate (or booze) or keep things traditional by churning up classic vanilla ice cream or refreshing sorbets. 

It's also a much healthier alternative to shop-bought tubs. Ice cream is one of the most common ultra-processed foods so by using an ice cream maker at home, you'll know what's gone into every scoop.

Whatever tickles your tastebuds, there’s an ice cream maker out there to suit your needs and budget. Whether you want to keep things simple with a budget buy, are looking for a jumbo machine for a family of ice cream fans or want the latest mod cons for quality gelato, our roundup has you covered. 

Once you've nailed ice cream at home, you might want to add another fun foodie appliance to your kitchen. We've got guides to the best waffle makers, the best popcorn makers, the best smoothie makers and the best pasta makers, all featuring product recommendations from Mumsnetters. 

Best ice cream makers: Editor's picks

Judge JEA57 ice cream maker
Best overall

Judge Ice Cream Machine 1.5L

Buy now
American Originals ice cream maker
Best budget

American Originals 0.6L Ice Cream Maker

Buy now
Cuisinart ice cream maker
Best large capacity

Cuisinart Ice Cream Deluxe Maker 2L

Buy now

1. Best overall ice cream maker: Judge JEA57 Sorbet Maker and Ice Cream Machine 1.5L

Judge JEA57 ice cream maker

Price: RRP £37 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: 22 x 24 x 26 cm | Capacity: 1.5L | Built-in freezer: No

What we love

  • Really simple to use
  • Ice cream can be ready in 30 minutes

What to know

  • Bowl needs freezing for around eight hours
  • Two-year guarantee

Our verdict

Creamy delicious ice cream is likely to put a smile on most people’s faces and with this low maintenance Judge ice cream maker, it’s easy to keep the family happy. It has some great reviews across the web for its simplicity and no-nonsense functionality and it can produce sweet treats in around half an hour. The bowl needs freezing for around eight hours before being used but it’s a good size for fitting in the freezer and doesn’t take up too much space. Some reviews found freezing it even longer produced better results. It comes with a two-year guarantee.

Read next: The best toasters to buy, as recommended by Mumsnet users

2. Best budget ice cream maker: American Originals 0.6L Ice Cream Maker

American Originals ice cream maker

Price: RRP £25 | Buy now from Argos

Key specs

Size: Not specified | Capacity: 0.6L or just over a pint | Built-in freezer: No

What we love

  • Great price
  • Ice cream is ready in 45 minutes
  • Handy viewing window

What to know

  • Small capacity
  • Fast-freezing bowl

Our verdict

A favourite with Mumsnetters, Argos does it again with this nifty ice cream maker. Not only does it rate highly for how easy it is to use but with its chic red design, it’ll look great on your kitchen worktop too. It has a viewing window so you can see exactly how your creation is coming along and with a 0.6L fast-freezing bowl, your ice cream will be ready to devour in 45 minutes. The only downside is the size but if you’re just wanting to give ice cream-making a go this summer without breaking the bank this is a great budget option.

Read next: The best kettles to buy, as rated by Mumsnetters

3. Best quiet ice cream maker: Lakeland Stainless Steel Digital Ice Cream Maker 1.5L

Lakeland Stainless Steel ice cream maker

Price: RRP £80 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: 20.5cm diameter, height 24cm | Capacity: 1.5L bowl with 800ml working capacity | Built-in freezer: No

What we love

  • Very quiet when in use
  • Good for frozen yoghurt and sorbet too
  • Quite compact

What to know

  • Takes longer to churn than the instructions suggest
  • Recipes included 

Our verdict

Rich chocolate, sweet strawberry or salted caramel, we all have our favourite flavour of ice cream and you can make them all with this Lakeland stainless steel ice cream maker. Or if you prefer a healthier-option, it does just a good job of churning out lower-fat frozen yoghurt and dairy-free sorbets. But the best thing about this ice cream maker is how quiet it is. While some models make a loud mechanical whirring sound, this churns away quietly and is also fairly compact which means the bowl fits in the freezer neatly. Some reviewers say it takes twice as long to churn ice cream than the manual suggests but it produces a soft, whipped ice cream. You’ll find six delicious recipes in the instruction booklet to get you started.

Read next: The best waffle makers to buy, as rated by families

4. Best ice cream maker for families: Magimix Le Glacier Ice Cream Maker

Magimix ice cream maker

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: 17 x 27 x 17 cm | Capacity: 1.1L | Built-in freezer: No

What we love

  • Very easy to use
  • Great at making frozen yoghurt and sorbet too
  • Ice cream is ready in 20 minutes

What to know

  • Large feed tube for easy pouring and chunky ingredients
  • Comes with a handy recipe book

What Mumsnet users say

"We have a basic Magimix that goes in the freezer. The bowl is pretty small. It lives in the freezer with the peas inside it so doesn't take up much space and is always ready when we need it. It is great" - EasilyConfusedIndith

Our verdict

This Magimix ice cream maker has to feature in our best buy list as it receives great reviews from Mumsnetters and consumers for being easy to use with the little ones. And you’re not just limited to ice cream – this machine also delivers delicious sorbet and frozen yoghurt. Simply choose the flavours you fancy and load into the pre-frozen bowl. With the click of a button, your very own tasty ice cream will be ready in 20 minutes. The stainless steel inner bowl makes freezing faster and it has a large feed tube for ease of pouring the ingredients. And it’s easy to clean afterwards by using warm soapy water.

Read next: 10 ways to make cooking fun for kids at home

5. Best freeze-first ice cream maker: Cuisinart Style Collection Ice Cream and Dessert Maker

Cuisinart ice cream maker

Price: RRP £140 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: 21 x 29 cm | Capacity: 1.4L | Built-in freezer: No

What we love

  • Cool design
  • Ice cream is ready in 25 minutes
  • Easy to fit in the freezer

What to know

  • Comes with two paddles
  • Separate parts are dishwasher-safe 

Our verdict

One of the more expensive ice cream makers on our list, this light pistachio-coloured machine oozes curb appeal and has sweet desserts ready in about 25 minutes. It’s among the smallest capacities at 1.4 litres but it means it can fit easily into your freezer and onto your kitchen worktop for storage. It includes an ice cream paddle for ice cream, sorbets and frozen yoghurt and a separate one for fresh fruit. And when you’re done, both the paddles and lid are dishwasher-friendly.

Read next: The best popcorn makers for fun family movie nights

6. Best ice cream maker for sorbet: Andrew James Ice Cream Maker Machine  

Andrew James ice cream maker

Price: RRP £33 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: Bowl size 17.8 x 15 cm | Capacity: 1.5L | Built-in freezer: No

What we love

  • Ice cream, frozen yoghurt and sorbet ready in under 30 minutes
  • Simple to use

What to know

  • Pre-freezing the bowl takes eight hours
  • Two-year warranty

What Mumsnet users say

"I have the Andrew James ice cream maker. It's so quick and easy to blend ingredients" - ILikeToClean

Our verdict

The beauty of having your own ice cream/sorbet maker is that you can go off-piste with the flavours and this machine allows your creativity to flow. As well as making ice cream, this Andrew James machine makes beautiful sorbet and frozen yoghurt in under 30 minutes. Pre-freezing the inner bowl takes around eight hours, so it’s recommended that you pop it in the freezer the night before your sorbet-making session. Ingredients can be added gradually through the large funnel and are churned as they freeze. Once the ice cream is made, the inner bowl simply lifts out for easy serving – or you can pop it in the freezer if you want to save some for later.

7. Best high-tech ice cream maker: Sage BCI600UK Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

Sage ice cream maker

Price: RRP £370 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: 39 x 23 x 26 cm | Capacity: 1L | Built-in freezer: Yes

What we love

  • Features a built-in freezer
  • Keeps ice cream cold for up to three hours once made
  • 12 hardness settings to create your perfect scoop

What to know

  • Pre-programmed settings for easy use
  • Expensive 
  • Two-year warranty

Our verdict

This ice cream machine is rather pricey thanks to its Heston Blumenthal endorsement, but it’s the only device on our list that has a built-in freezer, making it by far the easiest and quickest to use. Normally if you want to make something more delicate, like a sorbet or a yoghurt, an ice cream maker needs constant supervision but the Smart Scoop feature senses the consistency and switches to a 'keep cool' mode at just the right time to keep on top of whatever you're making. It even plays music when it's ready that sounds like an old ice cream van chime! There's no need to pre-freeze bowls since the self-refrigeration system does this for you and it will even keep your ice cream cold for up to three hours.

8. Best large-capacity ice cream maker: Cuisinart Ice Cream Deluxe Maker ICE30BCU

Cuisinart ice cream maker

Price: RRP £99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Size: 22.5 x 20.5 x 29.01 cm | Capacity: 2L | Built-in freezer: No

What we love

  • Good looking device
  • Huge two-litre capacity - great for families
  • Ice cream is ready in 25 minutes

What to know

  • Quite noisy when in use
  • Five-year guarantee

What Mumsnet users say

"I have the Cuisinart one. It churns and freezes at the same time. It was expensive, (gift from dh) but the ice cream is lovely. No ice crystals at all. It's also stainless steel and looks lovely on my worktop" - uggmum

Our verdict

If you’re serious about ice cream, this brushed-steel-effect ice cream maker has a 2-litre bowl capacity, so with 1.5 litres of liquid mix you can make a couple of tubs of ice cream at a time. Unlike most machines, this one turns the pre-frozen bowl, while the paddle stays still, which makes it much easier to taste the ice cream while it’s freezing and also add in any extra flavours as you go along. It rates highly for its robust paddles and comes with an ice cream recipe booklet.

How to buy the best ice cream maker

There are two types of ice cream maker: freeze-first and self-freezing. Deciding on which ice cream maker is right for you will depend on a number of factors including budget and space. 

Freeze-first models are simply designed and have a bowl that usually needs to be put in the freezer for between eight and 24 hours before you can use it, so it requires some pre-planning. And it means you can only churn one batch of ice cream a day. These models tend to be cheaper than self-freezing models and are still great at making good-quality ice cream. 

Self-freezing ice cream makers are more expensive as they feature a built-in freezer. These generally take a couple of minutes to reach the temperatures needed for making ice cream, meaning you can make several batches of ice cream a day.

Other things to consider include capacity – how much ice cream do you want to make in one go? And size, as some ice cream makers can be quite bulky so think about where you plan to store your ice cream maker.

How much ice cream can you make in an ice cream maker?

It depends on the size of the machine’s bowl. Bowls can vary in size from 0.5 litres to 2 litres on average but most are around 1.5 litres which is around two tubs of Ben & Jerry’s for reference.

Are ice cream makers easy to use?

Ice cream makers are really simple to use. The machines with built-in freezers are the easiest to use but are more expensive. However, the cheaper versions without built-in freezers are still simple to use, you just need to plan ahead before you use them as you’ll need to pop the bowl in the freezer the night before.

What is the best ice cream maker to buy?

The best ice cream maker to buy is the Judge JEA57 Sorbet Maker and Ice Cream Machine. It has some glowing reviews for its simplicity and no-nonsense functionality and it’s a great price, making it our best buy.

How we chose our recommendations

Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out what ice cream makers were being recommended.

We then did some research across the wider web, looking at what ice cream makers had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites, and what customer reviews said about them. Having collated all that information, we then narrowed our list down to the best ice cream makers online at the moment.

Why you should trust us

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