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Any ice cream lover will know that ice cream is definitely not just for the summer months.
And rather than stocking up on shop-bought flavours, it’s never been easier to create your own delicious concoctions of ice cream, frozen yoghurt, gelato and sorbet from your own kitchen.
Best ice cream makers at a glance
- Best for serious ice cream aficionados: Sage Smart Scoop
- Best for an automatic machine: Lakeland Compressor Ice Cream Maker
- Best for those who already have a KitchenAid: KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment
- Best for affordability: Judge Electricals Ice Cream Maker
- Best for ease of use: Lakeland Digital Ice Cream Maker
- Best for making large batches: VonShef Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker
What should I look for in an ice cream machine?
When buying your own ice cream machine, there are many considerations to make, but the main one is whether you buy an automatic machine with its own built-in freezer, or a manual machine, where you’ll need to pre-freeze the bowl for several hours first.
Automatic machines are pricier and take up more space but require less planning, while manual ones require more freezer space but take up less space in the kitchen and are better for those on a budget.
If you’re not great at planning and want to make an ice cream whenever you feel like it, an automatic machine might be best for you, while if you are more organised, you’ll find you can save some cash by buying a manual machine - or, if you have the freezer space to keep the bowl in it all the time, you can afford to be more spontaneous.
Automatic machines can also come with more bells and whistles, such as pre-cool or keep cool functions and a range of pre-programmed settings.
What did we look for in our ice cream machines?
We tested a range of ice cream machines across all budgets. Our (delightful!) task was to make ice creams in each of them, rating them on their ease of use, convenience, and of course, their ability to produce a delicious ice cream, sorbet, frozen yoghurt or gelato.
It might be on the pricier side, but the Smart Scoop from award-winning appliance brand Sage will never let you down when it comes to making a seriously delicious frozen snack.
The brushed stainless steel machine looks stunning on the worktop and is intuitive to use: simply add your mixture and choose the consistency of your treat, with 12 hardness settings including sorbet, frozen yoghurt, gelato or ice cream.
It also has a genius keep cool function so you can keep your ice cream at the ideal temperature for up to three hours. If you want to add some toppings such as chocolate chips or fruit, it beeps to let you know, and it even makes an adorable ice cream van sound once your dessert is ready.
Most importantly, it makes a truly delicious frozen treat without any preparation: perfect for those who want ice cream all the time without having to plan.
If you’re after an automatic ice cream maker and have the kitchen space for it, we were seriously impressed by the Lakeland Compressor Ice Cream Maker.
It’s easy to use with no need to pre-freeze the bowl: it made an exceptional litre of chocolate ice cream in just an hour, with our tester following the simple recipe book that comes with the machine.
It looks great too, in neutral colours that will go with any kitchen worktop, and was quieter than other machines we tested too.
If you want an automatic ice cream maker but don’t need all the extra bells and whistles, this is a great option that’s incredibly simple to get the hang of, and, more importantly, that makes a really fantastic ice cream, gelato or sorbet in an hour.
If you own a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, you’ll be well aware of what an excellent piece of kitchen kit it is: so add to your arsenal with the Ice Cream Maker Attachment rather than buying a separate ice cream maker.
All you’ll need to do is make your ice cream mix, freeze the bowl and attach it to your mixer.
As you’d expect with everything from this premium kitchenware brand, it works like a dream no matter what you’re making, and is quick and efficient too, making up to 1.9L of delectable ice cream in between 20 and 30 minutes.
For delicious homemade ice cream without breaking the bank, this affordable ice cream maker from British brand Judge Electricals is a safe bet.
It makes up to 1.5 litres of ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt in between 20 and 40 minutes, and is super simple to use, with only one button to press.
You’ll just need to freeze the bowl for around eight hours before use.
Our tester was impressed by its value for money: it made a really delicious ice cream in just half an hour, and it’s so easy to use that you really can’t go wrong.
You can always rely on British kitchenware brand Lakeland to produce excellent products that are reliable and simple to use, and the Lakeland Digital Ice Cream Maker 1.5L is no exception.
It was the easiest to use of all the machines we tested: all we needed to do was freeze the bowl in advance, while all the other bits and pieces were incredibly simple to slot together.
For an ice cream maker on the more affordable side of the spectrum, we were also impressed by its digital display complete with a timer, and its generously sized bowl, perfect for making ice cream for the whole family - plus friends!
It comes with recipes too - and most importantly, it makes a truly tasty frozen treat.
Make huge batches of ice cream without blowing the budget with the affordable Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker from British kitchenware brand VonShef.
The machine looks cool in sleek stainless steel, and it makes ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt in between 20 and 40 minutes, with its double-wall insulation and reversible motor ensuring the ice cream is smooth and soft. T
he generous two-litre capacity will make enough ice cream for the entire family plus friends, while it’s easy to use with a simple on-off switch so you really can’t get it wrong.
A great option for those who want a modern-looking, discreet appliance that makes ice cream in abundance.