These days, we can get most things done with the push of a button — but when it comes to homemade ice cream, quicker isn’t always better. Whether you’re feeling nostalgic for the taste of old-fashioned ice cream or you simply want a fun activity to do as a family, the best hand crank ice cream makers can satisfy all your frozen dessert cravings.
Of course, hand crank ice cream makers are inherently more laborious than electric ones — but some manual models are easier to handle than others. Smaller models rarely need salt or ice to work, and it’s always a good idea to shoot for options that are easy to clean. And if you just can’t choose between electric and manual, hybrid models give you the option of crafting your frozen dessert with a hand crank or the push of a button depending on what mood you're in. Whichever you decide on, just be sure to leave your freezer bowl in the freezer overnight — because a chilled bowl makes all the difference.
Timing and yield are also important factors to consider. When it comes to manual ice cream makers, timing can vary depending on everything from your tenacity to your upper body strength. Still, all the machines featured below promise delicious, hand-mixed, frozen dessert in 40 minutes or less. Yields vary from pints to quarts, but if you’re hoping to bring homemade ice cream to your next big family gathering, bigger is obviously going to be better. That said, a smaller ice cream maker might be better for you if you don’t have a lot of counter space to work with.
Take a look at the best hand crank ice cream makers below. There's a pick for every budget, and all of them are highly rated on Amazon.
1. The Overall Best Manual Crank Ice Cream Maker
The Donvier 837450 Manual Ice Cream Maker can make up to one quart of ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, or frozen dessert drink. No salt or ice is needed for this pick, and the aluminum freezer bowl is reportedly a cinch to clean. Plus, this model comes with a 4-star rating and a little recipe booklet. Like all hand-crank ice cream machines, speediness is largely up to you — but this model should give you one quart of frozen dessert in 20 minutes or less.
What fans are saying: “I thought I would have to manually crank it long and hard to make ice cream. To my surprise, it's actually very easy and efficient. You just turn it once every 2-3 minutes and the ice cream slowly forms. Also love that I don't have to use any electricity or ice. You just place the bowl in the freezer and you're ready to make ice cream."
2. The Best High-End Ice Cream Maker
The Immergood Stainless Steel Ice Cream Maker isn’t cheap, but it’s made with longevity in mind, and even promises to last for generations. This leak-free model also includes made-in-the-USA stainless steel gears, as well as a stainless steel hand crank, freezer can, and dasher. The tub itself is insulated with two strong plastic layers sandwiching a thick foam layer to keep your ice cream frozen longer. This pick boasts a 4.5-star rating and makes up to 6 quarts of ice cream at a time. Plus, Amazon reviewers noted that this machine is capable of churning out delicious ice cream in about 30 minutes.
What fans are saying: “We used our new ice cream maker for the first time this past weekend for a family party … We are not disappointed. It's well-made, easy to use and makes fantastic ice cream (recipes are included). We used all-cream rather than the suggested cream-milk mixture and it was decadent. The table salt worked just fine, so there is no need to look for rock salt or ice melt. A little pricey but seems worth it.”
3. The Best Hybrid: An Electric Ice Cream Maker With Hand Crank
The Elite Gourmet 6-quart ice cream maker does require salt and ice, but the best thing about this pick is that users have the option to craft creamy soft serve via the electric motor or the old-fashioned hand crank. Plus, the handcrafted solid pine wood bucket and aluminum freezer canister are easy to operate and clean, and the motor is equipped with overheat protection as well. But whether you choose to use the electric motor or the classic die-cast hand crank, this machine promises enough ice cream for the whole family in 40 minutes or less.
What fans are saying: “Well made. Works great. The only machine I found that you can use as electric or hand crank. My grandchildren loved it! Wanted them to know how ice cream was made before all the fancy machines.”
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