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best soft serve ice cream maker

The Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Machines in 2021

Author: Joanna Davis

Home & Kitchen Expert

Ice cream always works. Especially in summer. A good machine is required to produce high-quality soft ice cream. You can find out what this must be able to do and which machine is particularly good in our test comparison.

Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Mix Serve 1.5-Quart Soft Service Ice Cream Maker

 Our Pick
Cuisinart ICE-45P1 Mix Serve 1.5-Quart Soft Service Ice Cream Maker
  • Easy-lock Lid with Window – Lid is designed to remove and…
  • Mixing Arm (not shown) – Mixes and aerates ingredients in…
  • 1 1⁄2-Quart Freezer Bowl (not shown) – Contains cooling…
  • Three Condiment Containers – Dispense the mix-ins of your…
  • ON/OFF Power Dial, Cone Holder – Conveniently holds a…

Yonanas Classic Original Healthy Dessert Fruit Soft Serve Maker

Yonanas Classic Original Healthy Dessert Fruit Soft Serve Maker
  • Fruit soft serve machine: Easily create yummy vegan tasting…
  • Healthy goodness: With Yonanas, you can instantly churn 100…
  • Easy and fun to use: Transform 100 percent frozen fruit into…
  • Easy to clean: Create delicious desserts without the hassle…
  • 120 Volt. Designed for use in United States and Canada only,…

Cuisinart ICE-45RFB 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker

 Our Pick
Cuisinart ICE-45RFB 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker
  • 1.5- Quart Capacity
  • Double insulated walls
  • No need to stir or add ice.This part is compatible…
  • For use with the Cuisinart Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream…

Yonanas 987 Elite Fruit Soft Serve Maker

Yonanas 987 Elite Fruit Soft Serve Maker
  • FRUIT SOFT SERVE MACHINE: easily create yummy vegan tasting…
  • HEALTHY GOODNESS: with Yonanas, you can instantly churn 100…
  • YONANAS ELITE: designed for the ultimate frozen dessert…
  • EASY AND FUN TO USE: transform 100 percent frozen fruit into…
  • EASY TO CLEAN: create delicious desserts without the hassle…

Nutrichef NCIM30 Electric Maker Fruit Sorbet Machine

Nutrichef NCIM30 Electric Maker Fruit Sorbet Machine
  • Makes healthy treats: the Nutrichef Frozen fruit dessert…
  • One-touch operation: The mini frozen dessert maker features…
  • 150-Watt power: Equipped w/ 150W High-Powered motor, This…
  • Easy to clean: These small fruit ice cream maker Appliances…
  • Countertop placement: The healthy frozen dessert maker is…

Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker ICE-45

 Our Pick
Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker ICE-45
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and…

Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker

Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
  • Easy recipes included
  • Make it and serve it in the same bowl
  • Use your own healthy ingredients
  • No rock salt or special mixes required
  • Freeze bowl over night and make your ice cream the next day

FAQ's: Soft Serve Ice Cream Machines

Soft ice cream almost always has one or two colors. Vanilla and chocolate or vanilla and strawberry are favorites. Another variant is the vanilla ice cream, which is coated with a thin layer of chocolate icing. Even if ice cream often looks creamy, the milk content is very low or nonexistent. Ice cream with milk or cream is replaced by fats in industrial production. Whole milk, on the other hand, is only used if the ice cream is made at home.

Buying soft ice cream is generally not that easy. Vending machines suitable for this can almost only be found at fairs, in amusement parks or in the branches of certain fast food chains. The Italian ice cream ball has largely replaced the soft ice cream, but soft ice cream tastes a little different. The alternative is the soft ice cream machine for at home, with which not only the usual creations succeed, but also a number of combinations for enjoying ice cream at any time.

What is a soft serve ice cream machine?

Making your own soft ice cream at home is even faster than with a conventional ice cream machine. This is because soft ice cream needs around -5 degrees Celsius to be produced and air is added to the mass when it is stirred, which makes the ice cream creamier. Some machines are also able to make sorbets, but they have to be very special devices.

Soft ice cream also differs from normal ice cream because it contains a high proportion of milk or cream. Soft ice cream is the softer type of ice cream and can also be prepared at home in different flavors, here even more diverse than with the professional machines, which only have a certain selection of types available.

With your own soft ice cream machine, however, you can try individual recipes. In most cases, ingredients such as sugar, cream, milk, vanilla, chocolate, cocoa and nuts are necessary to make the soft ice cream a highlight. The types of ice cream can be garnished with fruit or the juice of fruit can be stirred into the ice cream mass. Once cooked, put it in the freezer for about an hour to get the right consistency. Then the ice cream mass is put into the soft ice cream machine to be stirred and whipped until creamy.

Of course, soft ice cream tastes particularly good in a waffle. You don’t have to feel guilty here either, as waffles only consist of sugar, eggs, flour, margarine and water and provide energy. Ice cream cones are mostly available in supermarkets. Chocolate sprinkles also perfectly round off the soft ice cream portion.

How does a soft serve ice cream machine work?

The standard soft ice cream machines for home use all work the same. They consist of a body, an inner and outer tube, a dispensing piston, a shaft or a kneading hook, a tap, a ventilation system and one or more storage containers. In the machine, the ice cream is whipped until it is creamy and frozen. Some have more options and can produce other types of ice cream in addition to soft ice cream.

The soft ice cream machine should always be set up on a stable work surface or storage area. It is also advisable not to set up the machine where it is exposed to direct sunlight. The place must be dry, the ventilation grilles of the soft ice cream machine must be kept clear, so the device must be at least 50 centimeters away from the wall.

The soft ice cream machine runs with an output between 200 and 250 volts and of course requires electricity.

Before it is switched on for the first time, it should be left standing a little so that the coolant can settle.
It is also important for a permanent function that the device is never empty in operation. The downpipes in the machine, more precisely in the storage tank, are checked and aligned before switching on. The notches must be aligned so that the bottom hole is clear.

Different types of device then have one or two storage containers for the ice mass. If there are two, they should always both be filled.

If the soft ice cream machine is then used, the ice cream mix runs into the freezing drums in the device. This allows the freezing process to take place optimally. The device is switched on to move the ice mass by a switch or button.

In addition to the on and off switch, the soft ice cream machines usually have several light-emitting diodes or a scale provided for this purpose, which shows the degree of hardness and can be determined by yourself, ranging from “soft” to “hard”. Some also indicate what the current state of freezing is during preparation.

The soft ice cream machine is in operation until the mass has the desired consistency and then switches itself off until new ice cream is tapped or the “reset” button is pressed.
Somewhat more expensive devices also have a self-cleaning function. This allows the device to clean itself. The storage container can then also keep the ice creamy and with the desired degree of hardness via the pre-cooling function.

Depending on the device type, the soft ice cream machines are usually made of stainless steel or plastic. In ice machines that have a cooling container, the bowl in which the ice is filled and stirred is usually double-walled. The cooling liquid then flows between these two walls and ensures the cooling effect.

How to make soft serve ice cream?

In order to be able to enjoy the soft ice cream to your own taste, the preparation is very simple. The required ingredients are mixed and can also be pureed or pasteurized. Then the mass is pre-cooled in the freezer. Usually two hours are enough, it is even better to let the ice cream stand in the refrigerator overnight.

Once the machine has been set up, the mass can be poured in and you can watch how the liquid ice cream gradually becomes firmer and creamier. It is stirred to prevent hard ice lumps from forming. The ice cream mass does not get too cool in the soft ice cream machine, so that it retains its soft and creamy consistency. Good machines have exactly the right temperature between -5 and -10 degrees Celsius. A higher temperature leads to a liquefied mass and is not suitable for enjoying ice cream. After all, it shouldn’t dissolve before it reaches the tip of the tongue.

What are the advantages & use cases of soft serve ice cream machines?

The desire for an ice cream comes over you quite often. The advantage of having your own soft ice cream machine is then obvious. However, there are a few more factors that make the device useful at home.

On the one hand, it allows you to precisely control what ingredients go into the soft ice cream mass. The mass can be pasteurized yourself as required.
Ready-made mixtures for soft ice cream are also available in stores and can then be prepared a little faster according to the instructions.

Soft ice cream machines are not only suitable for making soft ice cream, but also for frozen yogurt, milkshakes or even sorbets and water ice. Since the devices are not too expensive, it is always worth considering buying them, especially if there are children in the household who are particularly happy about the preparation of ice cream.

What types of soft serve ice cream machines are available?

The devices for making your own ice cream differ in two types of models. There are table and standing models, whereby the table models are more suitable for domestic use, while the standing devices are usually more complex and intended for professional use. There are also soft ice cream machines that are also pasteurizers or have been specially built for a special type of ice cream preparation.

The table-top units include ice machines with a compressor and ice machines with a cooling element. The tabletop device with compressor cools electrically and is immediately ready for use. The ingredients are poured into the freezer containers and the ice cream is completely ready in about 30 minutes.

The ice cream machine, which is equipped with a cooling element, works with an ice mass that has already been pre-cooled in the freezer compartment, which is then stirred until creamy. Soft ice cream machines also differ from ice cream machines with a compressor in that the ice flows from a tap so that it is given the desired soft ice shape.

Soft ice cream machines with a compressor are heavier devices and also higher in price due to their performance. A compressor is of course helpful for frequent use, as preparation is simplified and can be done more quickly. A little more time and effort is required for the somewhat cheaper soft ice cream machine with a cooling element.

The ice cream mass must be pre-cooled in the freezer for further preparation. These models, in turn, are lighter in weight and differ in whether they have one or two storage containers for the ice mass to be prepared. The capacity and the number of volumes of the absorbed ice mass are also different. In addition, you can choose between soft ice cream machines that can produce different types of ice cream.

Not all devices can make sorbets or ice cream, some are intended and designed solely for the preparation of soft ice cream.

How are soft serve ice cream machines tested?

Some factors were important for our soft ice cream machine test, which we paid special attention to in order to select the best devices for you. Ice machines should have a long service life, be easy to use, deliver perfect ice quality and, above all, be easy to clean. The price-performance ratio also had to be right.

Build Quality

The processing of the devices should be of high quality and the volume of the ice containers should be large enough. Some machines had a somewhat cheap construction and were not considered by us. After the purchase, it was important to us to be able to assemble the ice machine quickly and easily. The feet should always be non-slip so that the soft ice cream could then be prepared without any fuss.

Operation & Features

The common soft ice cream machines had a display and were very easy to operate. The additional programs with which the degree of hardness of the ice cream, the time and the temperature display could be regulated or checked. Nonetheless, uncomplicated setting of all conditions convinced us with the devices.

Performance

The performance of the devices was also reflected in the speed with which the ice cream was prepared. The time window between the hard to the soft and creamy consistency should not be too long for our tested devices. We also tested the firmness of the ice cream mass so that enjoying the ice cream does not turn into a disaster. The motor of the individual soft ice cream machines should be strong and not noisy, so that even a large mass of ice could be moved effortlessly.

The presence of a compressor was also an advantage, but not a requirement. Ice packs must of course always be pre-cooled, which takes a little more time to prepare the soft ice cream, but the devices without a compressor are also cheaper to buy.

A robust motor, which was also suitable for continuous operation, could basically score points. Ice machines that had an additional lid opening were also good, so that the ingredients can be used just as well afterwards or during preparation
could be filled.

Volume

For our soft ice cream machine test, we tested both large and small devices. The capacity is given in liters and averaged 0.5 to 2 liters. This device is then completely sufficient for a household with around 4 people.

Stirring Power & Cooling

In order for the ice cream to get its certain creamy consistency, it was important for our test which hardness settings the individual models had, whether they offered a selection of different levels, how strong the stirring force was and how well the ice was cooled in the respective containers and also with Serve yourself.

The soft ice cream should be a soft mass for us, but it doesn’t melt immediately when it runs out of the tap. The ice mass should also not come out too runny. The power of the stirring motor of the individual models had a significant influence on the firmness and creaminess of the ice cream.

Ice Making Time

Of course, the manufacturing time of the ice cream preparation played a particularly important role in our test. Ice cream should be prepared relatively quickly, taking into account the differences in the respective devices, whether with or without a compressor. The production process for the actual ice making should then not take more than 30 minutes. Devices in which the ice mass only came out half-frozen and required after-cooling were out of the question for our test.

Price & Noise

For our soft ice cream machine test we looked at some models in the higher and cheaper price categories. The price-performance ratio remained important. Even with the cheap devices, the ice cream preparation should proceed according to certain criteria and the devices should not be too loud when processing the ice mass.

Cleaning

The cleaning for the soft machine ice machine that we tested was another criterion. Devices with a self-cleaning function were inexpensive. With the other models, it was also important to us that several components did not have to be laboriously dismantled for cleaning, but that cleaning was quick and easy. The container should be easy to remove and clean.

Devices that made it difficult to clean the leftover ice were out of the question for our soft ice cream machine test!

What do I have to look out for when buying a soft serve ice cream machine?

When buying a soft ice cream machine for your own household use, a few factors must be taken into account beforehand so that the machine fulfills its purpose in the long term and is used accordingly little or often, as the household requires.

The size of a machine, its capacity and the filling volume of the freezer containers play a role depending on how many people are to be supplied with a serving of soft ice cream. A single household can purchase a smaller device that has a capacity of 0.5 liters; for a larger family, the filling volume of the container should be correspondingly larger so that the machine does not have to be used several times so that everyone can get their ice cream portion.

The selection of different manufacturers and brands is of course large. Soft ice cream machines are being bought more and more for personal use. Tried and tested electrical brands are also showing themselves here in the usual quality, e.g. “Krups”, “Unold” or “Philipps”. Others specialize specifically in ice cream making.

Using the ice maker is a major factor in making a purchase. If it is used very often, you should consider a more expensive device that has a compressor so that ice can be made quickly and easily. Is the preparation of ice cream limited to certain times and is more of a sporadic matterb table-top device for which the ice cream mass is then pre-cooled in the freezer compartment. The only difference is the time required and the somewhat greater effort.

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If you don’t want to prepare your soft ice cream yourself, you can use ready-made soft ice cream powder mixes that are offered by various manufacturers to make the process even easier. Depending on the product, these are mixed with milk or water according to the instructions and then poured into the soft ice cream machine as a mass.

The homemade soft ice cream will of course always taste a little better. In addition, the ingredients are known and do not have to be checked separately on the packaging.

Soft Serve Ice Cream vs. Sorbet

Both types of ice cream have their advantages and disadvantages. Soft ice cream is very sweet due to its creamy consistency and has a creamy and full-bodied taste, while the sorbet has a large proportion of water and fruit and tastes more refreshing and cool at hot times. The sorbet is also a little better in terms of health and calories, as it consists of water and fruit instead of milk and cream. In comparison, a serving of chocolate ice cream has 450 calories, while a cup of sorbet has only 200 calories.

In addition, the fruits used in the sorbet also have the necessary vitamins for the body, while soft ice cream remains a simple pleasure and is good for the soul. Both types of ice cream relieve stress and are good for the nerves, mucous membranes and eyes thanks to their cooling aroma. The fat in the ice will help dissolve the vitamins more easily.

What ultimately defines soft ice cream is the degree of creaminess, not just the amount of milk, cream and sugar. Sugar, milk fat and skimmed milk powder are used as binders for production in soft ice cream machines, as the volume is of course much larger. In the small soft ice cream machines for home, the manufacturing conditions are simpler. The ice is stirred, made to freeze and, due to the low temperature, also has a more intense and sweeter aroma.

The sorbet, on the other hand, can also be refined with fruit juice or alcohol. It mostly consists of fruit puree, fruit juice and sugar.

Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine Accessories

The corresponding stand for the waffle holder is particularly nice with a soft ice cream machine. If you want to present your soft ice cream in a particularly elegant way, you can get beautiful glasses or glass bowls.

The tap, from which the soft ice cream flows into the waffle, can be exchanged and purchased in different sizes. The storage containers are also removable and can be replaced if necessary.

Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine Alternatives

The conventional ice cream machine for making ice cream is an alternative to the soft ice cream machine that is specially designed for the creamy ice cream mass.

Other devices are also intended for making ice cream. This includes slush machines that allow the preparation of semi-frozen soft drinks. These are known from discos and cafes and are mostly transparent containers in which a brightly colored mass is moved and frozen.

The drinks consist of sugar, water, flavorings and colorings, can also be processed with juices or served as an alcoholic drink. The machine is designed in such a way that the liquid in it gradually freezes with constant stirring. Individual layers are also formed and the refreshing drink has a crystalline structure. There are slush machines e.g from the company “Simeo”. The prices are between 50 and 300 dollars.

A blender works in a similar way. These devices work automatically and can create cocktals, smoothies, shakes or slushes. They have a stainless steel housing with two plastic sides, run at two speeds and usually have a container that holds 1 or 2 liters.

Alternatively, there is also the simple ice crusher. If you like water ice, you are well served here, as the crushed ice simply has to be poured over with different types of syrup or juices. Of course, an ice crusher is ideal for cocktail parties; Simple models have two rotating discs that produce the crushed ice.

This happens a little more irregularly than with models with an electric motor or with rolling machines, which not only produce evenly crushed ice, but also use less electricity. The models for home use have a capacity between 1 and 3 liters. They cost between 50 and 100 dollars from providers such as “Gastroback” or “Unhold”.

Another device that is an alternative to a soft ice cream machine is the ice cube machine. Of course, this is only about the simple production of ice cubes, not ice cream. The devices are driven by an electric motor, have a pin that dips into the water container and there produces several layers of ice cubes.

The pen gets hot and the individual cubes detach from it and are caught in a container. The process takes about 15 minutes. The devices for your own household use are more simply manufactured than professional devices for the catering sector. You have e.g. no external water connection. The water must be poured into the container by hand.

The machines are therefore always mobile, are sold by manufacturers such as “Klarstein” or “Unhold” and can be found in the price category between 100 and 200 dollars.

A cream machine is also helpful as an additional device. This is specially designed for the production of whipped cream and is an excellent complement to ice cream preparation. The devices are a bit more expensive, however, and are sold by manufacturers such as “Carpigiani”, “Sanomat”, “Mussana” or “Telme”.

Last product update on 2021-01-16 | Source: Amazon Affiliate