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1 September 2021

Best ice cream makers

Cuisinart, Sage, Magimix, Lakeland or VonShef? Find out which self-freezing ice cream makers are easy to use and make tasty frozen desserts.
Joey Willoughby-Rainsford

Ice cream is always a crowd-pleaser and what's better than creating your favourite indulgent flavours from scratch with an ice cream maker.

Freeze-first ice cream machines typically cost less than £100, but if your budget can stretch a little further you can go for a self-freezing compressor ice cream maker, which is far quicker and can churn out delicious ready to eat ice cream within or just over an hour. 

You can also make more than one batch a day and you won't need to find the space in your freezer to pre-chill the bowl for roughly 24 hours before you want to make it, which is required with a freeze-first model. 

We've tested five self-freezing ice cream makers from Cuisinart, Sage, Magimix, Lakeland and VonShef, costing between £110 and £500, to see how easy they are to use and clean, how much noise they make, and most importantly how well they make ice cream. 

We also enlisted a panel of volunteers for a blind taste test to rate the appearance, texture and taste of the ice cream made by these machines.

Pricing and availability last checked 01 September 2021.

The best self-freezing ice cream makers

Only logged-in Which? members can view the ice cream makers test results below. If you're not yet a member, or not yet logged in, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the ice cream makers we've tested. 

Join Which? to get instant access to our test results and Best Buy recommendations below. 

Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker

Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker

Cheapest price: £199 available at Amazon. Also available at Cuisinart, Lakeland, John Lewis

Size: H23 x W29 x D56cm

Capacity: 1.5 litres

Different desserts it makes: Ice cream, sorbet, gelato, frozen yoghurt

Scoop included: No

Measuring jug included: No

Spatula included: No

The Cuisinart Gelato and Ice Cream Maker claims to be able to make 1.5 litres of ice cream or gelato in as little as 40 minutes. 

This mid-priced ice cream machine has fully automated processes that mean you simply add the ingredients, select the recipe and press start. 

But was it as straightforward as that and how well did the frozen desserts turn out? 

Log in to your account or join Which? to get instant access to all our reviews.

Lakeland Compressor Ice Cream Maker

Lakeland Compressor Ice Cream Maker

£199.99 available from Lakeland

Size: H32 x W28.5 x D38.5cm

Capacity: 1 litre

Different desserts it makes: Ice cream, sorbet, frozen yoghurt

Scoop included: Yes

Measuring jug included: Yes

Spatula included: No

This ice cream maker from Lakeland can create ice cream, sorbet, gelato and frozen yoghurt.

It's claimed to make a litre of ice cream within 60 minutes and there's no need to pre-freeze any components. 

As one of the cheaper ice cream makers from our selection how did it fare against its pricier competition? 

To find out log in now or join Which? today and see our full results.

Magimix Gelato Expert

Magimix Gelato Expert

Cheapest price: £499.96 available from Amazon. Also available from John Lewis

Size:  H26 x W29 x D37 cm

Capacity: 2 litres

Different desserts it makes: Ice cream, sorbet, gelato, frozen yoghurt, granita

Scoop included: No

Measuring jug included: No

Spatula included: Yes

The Magimix Gelato Expert can whip up a wide range of frozen treats, including granita and gelato.

It's the ice cream maker with the highest price in our selection. But does spending big bucks make a big difference? 

To find out log into your account or join Which? today to gain access to our product reviews.

Sage The Smart Scoop Gelato and Ice Cream Maker

Sage The Smart Scoop Gelato and Ice Cream Maker

£349.99 available from Lakeland

Size: H23 x W39 x D26 cm

Capacity: 1 litre

Different desserts it makes: Ice cream, sorbet, gelato, frozen yoghurt

Scoop included: No

Measuring jug included: No

Spatula included: Yes

Sage says this ice cream maker 'transforms the kitchen into your favourite scoop shop.'

It offers a wide range of frozen desserts and allows users to tailor them to their preference in terms of consistency and softness.

It also claims to also keep your frozen treat at the perfect serving temperature for up to three hours.

What did we make of this moderately pricey ice cream maker in our tests? Find out by logging in or joining Which? now.  

VonShef Ice Cream Machine

VonShef Ice Cream Maker With Compressor

Cheapest price: £109.99 available from Vonhaus. Also available from Amazon

Size: H26cm x W36cm x D23cm

Capacity: 1 litre

Different desserts it makes: Ice cream, sorbet, gelato, frozen yoghurt

Scoop included: Yes

Measuring jug included: No

Spatula included: Yes

VonShef promises quick results within the hour when using their Ice Cream Maker With Compressor.

It's the cheapest product put through its paces in our rigorous tests

We looked at how easy it is to use and clean, and whether you'd want to serve its ice cream to your guests.

To find out how it ranks, log into your account or join Which? today.  

Ice cream maker during the process

How we tested ice cream makers

For our investigation into self-freezing ice cream makers, we created the following test programme.

Build quality and ease of storage

We examined the build quality to see how well made and durable the ice cream makers were, and if there were any flaws, manufacturing faults or design flaws that could affect the results of later tests. 

We also measured them to see how easy they would be to store in an averaged sized kitchen cupboard. Unsurprisingly, we found these are large and in most cases, you need considerable storage and countertop space for them. 

Ease of use

We assembled each ice cream maker and noted how easy they were to use, as well as how clear and informative the instructions were.

Machines with vague or overly complicated instructions and unintuitive processes did not do well in these tests.

How well they made ice cream

We made three 1 litre batches of ice cream with each machine. These would later be used in the taste test conducted by our volunteers. 

However, before that, we considered how well each machine had made the ice cream. 

Each machine was supposed to create ready to serve ice cream, which is ice cream you can easily use a scoop with. 

If the machine made the ice cream too sloppy and wet or too frozen and solid it was not considered to have done as well. 

Noise

For this test, we listened to each machine while it made the ice cream. 

Most of these machines make noise due to the built-in freezers and motors, but some are much louder than others. 

The louder the machine the worse it did. 

Cleaning

Once you have had the joy of making and eating ice cream you have the chores of washing up to deal with. 

For this test, we wanted to see how easy or difficult it would be to clean these machines, so we washed each separately three times. 

We found no noticeable difference in washing any of these machines.

Taste tests

We had 11 volunteers participate in a blind taste test of the ice cream made by these machines. 

For covid safety, the volunteers were put into smaller groups and each was given a sample of ice cream made the same day but frozen in a freezer before serving. 

For this taste test, we made vanilla and chocolate chip ice cream. We also wanted to see how well chunky ingredients, such as chocolate chips, were spread out by the machines.

Each taster was given samples in a different order and wasn't told which sample came from which machine until after they had completed the test. 

The tasters were asked to consider the appearance, texture, taste and overall satisfaction of each sample. 

Children enjoying bowls of ice cream

What you need to know before buying an ice cream maker

Here are some things to consider before you buy a self-freezing ice cream maker. 

  • They're big: You need considerable space on your countertop and a large area to store them. Make sure you check the measurements of any of these devices and measure the space you have before you buy. 
  • They're loud: Even the quietest of these machines makes a constant hum. With the better-made machines the sound can be easy to block out, but with some of the machines the sound is inconsistent and can be heard outside the kitchen, even with the door closed. 
  • They're heavy: We found all of the machines we tested were a bit on the heavy side (a bit heavier than the average microwave). This could be a problem for those who wish to get these items out only when using them.
  • They're quicker than non-self-freezing models: In most cases, these machines can churn out delicious ready to eat ice cream within or just over an hour with little to no pre-freezing required. On the other hand, some ice cream makers without a self-freezing unit can require a day of pre-freezing the mixing bowl. 
  • Making ice cream involves cooking: To the surprise of many there is cooking and heating involved in making proper ice cream. You need to make custard as one of the core ingredients, though you can cheat with ready-made shop-bought.
No-churn summer fruit ice cream

How to make ice cream without an ice cream maker

Although it's easier with a dedicated machine, you can make ice cream without an ice cream maker. 

Considering it would be lax of us not to test this out too, we took on the burden of making yet more ice cream. 

Below are the details of the no-churn ice cream method, which we found worked extremely well and produced smooth and delicious ice cream. 

No-churn vanilla ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 198g (about half a 397g can) of sweetened condensed milk
  • 600ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, cream and vanilla extract until thick and quite stiff (like clotted cream). 
  2. Scrape the mixture into a freezable container.
  3. Freeze until solid (for best results leave overnight).
  4. Defrost for 10 minutes before serving.

Do you need a new mixer, but are unsure what to go for? We look at whether you should buy a hand mixer or stand mixer.


No-churn salted caramel ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 397g of canned caramel
  • 500ml double cream 
  • salt to taste

Method: 

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the canned caramel, cream and salt until thick and quite stiff (like clotted cream). 
  2. Scrape the mixture into a freezable container.
  3. Freeze until solid (for best results leave overnight).
  4. Defrost for 10 minutes before serving.

Need a place to stash your planned horde of ice cream? Check out our picks for the top five freezers for 2021.


We purchased all the products we tested. No ice cream was wasted to bring you these results.