If you have a taste for the sweet stuff, there is nothing quite like homemade ice cream. Of course, there are tons of brands and flavors of ice cream at your local grocery store, but homemade ice cream just tastes better. Not only that, making ice cream yourself gives you the ability to decide exactly what is going into it, giving you a custom, made to order frosty batch, every time.

Whether you want to come up with the newest unheard of delicious blend of ice cream, have a specific food allergy that makes making the ice cream more realistic, or are just on a mission to make your tasty treat just a little bit healthier than what you can find at your local store, an ice cream maker is what you need to make this happen.

If you’ve decided that you want to start making homemade ice cream, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to picking what type of ice cream maker you are going to purchase. Here’s the rundown on different types of ice cream makers to help you decide which one is best for you.

Types of Ice Cream Makers

There are a few main categories of ice cream makers. They vary both in price and operation, so it’s important to know the differences before you make your purchase.

Ice & Salt Ice Cream Makers

Considered “old-fashioned”, these ice cream makers are “old reliable” when it comes to making creamy ice cream at home. In the old days, these makers were a wooden bucket that had a crank on the top and you had to crank them to make the ice cream. Today’s models, even with some of them taking on the nostalgic look, thankfully have electric motors to make the ice cream.

This type of unit is perhaps the most affordable. You can find many models for under $50. As with all things, as you move up in features, capacity, etc. you can expect that the prices will climb. 

Even though you generally don’t need to crank these makers as you did in the old days, you will still need to prepare and chill the ingredients ahead of time. It’s also important to keep a close eye on the machine while it’s working so you’ll know when your ice cream is ready.


  • Affordable.
  • Traditional method – nice for those who appreciate the nostalgia of doing it the old-fashioned way.


  • Requires additional supplies (salt and ice).
  • Slow – there’s a long time between when you start making the ice cream and get to eat it.

Electric Frozen Bowl Ice Cream Makers

If you’d like a little more convenience when it comes to making your ice cream, an electric frozen bowl ice cream maker is just what you need. Instead of having to deal with the salt and ice the more traditional ice cream makers require, you simply have to put the machine’s bowl in the freezer a day or so before making your ice cream. Once the bowl is frozen, all you have to do is simply add the ingredients, turn on the machine and wait for your ice cream to be ready to eat.

Similar to the ice and salt ice cream makers, the electric frozen bowl maker is slower and will require time. Conveniently they also cost around the same amount of money. Many units can be found for $60 or less. The fact that they don’t require the supervision that an ice and salt ice cream maker requires and their low price point makes this a very popular type of ice cream maker for the home ice cream making enthusiast.


  • Affordable.
  • Easy to use.


  • It takes time to make the ice cream
  • Lacks the amount of control ice and salt models offer

Compressor Ice Cream Maker

Perhaps the most expensive type of ice cream maker, compressor ice cream makers are universally loved by all that buy them. These makers are frequently over $150 and can get up into the high $600-$700 range, but they are extremely easy to use.

One of their biggest selling points is speed. You can produce a batch of ice cream in much less time than either of the other types of ice cream makers. Many of these units can produce a ready to eat batch of ice cream in less than an hour.

Not surprisingly, with the extra price tag comes an array of additional features. Compressor ice cream makers have things like digital displays, a built-in thermostat to control the temperature and different speeds to choose from.

If you are looking to splurge on your ice cream maker, a compressor ice cream maker is the one you need.


  • Supremely easy to use
  • Faster than any other ice cream maker
  • Tons of bells and whistles


  • Expensive

The Verdict

As with all things in life, there are many choices when it comes to choosing the perfect ice cream maker to suit your needs. Whichever type of maker you choose, you can rest assured that you are going to love enjoying your own special blend of frozen deliciousness that is unlike anything you would ever be able to purchase at a store.

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