Whether you’re planning to make creamy ice cream for the whole family, fruity sorbet for your dairy-free friends, or a tasty frozen treat that’s just for you, the best cheap ice cream makers can help you satisfy a wide range of tastes and dietary restrictions without blowing your budget. All of the machines below are affordably priced at less than $75.
But aside from cost considerations, how do you know which ice cream maker to choose? Well, electric ice cream makers are pretty straightforward these days, but some models — like the Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker and the Yonanas Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker featured below — pride themselves on being easy enough to use even young kids can do it. Some single-serve ice cream makers, like the Zoku Instant Ice Cream Maker, don’t even require electricity. And if manual ice cream makers are your preference, there’s obviously going to be more labor involved, but even those are pretty simple nowadays. Regardless of which model you choose, the key to painlessly making ice cream from home is giving your freezer bowl plenty of time (typically eight hours or more) to freeze overnight.
Two other factors to consider are how quickly you'll want your ice cream and how much you'll want to make at once. Most ice cream makers take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes to churn out the perfect frozen dessert, but for obvious reasons, single-serve ice cream makers tend to work the fastest. And while the highest-yielding ice cream maker featured below can make up to one and a half quarts of homemade frozen dessert, if you live alone, single-serve ice cream makers can help you avoid food waste.
Take a look at the best cheap ice cream makers below. All of them are easy on the wallet and highly rated on Amazon.
1. The Best Countertop Ice Cream Maker
The Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Maker takes 20 minutes or less to make 1 to 1.5 quarts of delicious ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt — and Amazon shoppers love it, giving the machine an impressive 4.5-star rating and more than 5,000 reviews. It's super user-friendly as well. The double-insulated freezer bowl eliminates the need for ice, and its easy-lock transparent lid features a large spout that makes adding ingredients simple and mess-free. Like most ice cream makers, this unit needs to be in the freezer for up to eight hours prior to churning.
What fans are saying: “Love this machine, I've made all different kinds of frozen custards and ice creams and sorbets with it and it’s easy to use and works well! I thought for sure that it was too good to be true for the price, but it actually was just an amazing deal. Highly recommend!!”
2. The Best Home Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine
The Cuisinart ICE-45 Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker is a kid-friendly machine with a simple on/off dial on the side and lots of compartments for yummy add-ins like chocolate chips and sprinkles. This pick makes 1 to 1.5 quarts of soft serve ice cream in 25 minutes or less, and it works for frozen yogurt recipes as well. No ice is needed for this model, either — just be sure to remove the freezer bowl and store it in the freezer overnight before mixing. Also, this option boasts a respectable 3.5-star rating on Amazon after nearly 1,200 reviews.
What fans are saying: “Bought last year for my husband who eats a pint of chocolate ice cream each night! Now he makes his own variations of chocolate and it's always fresh, no freezer burn or freezer taste ... and my granddaughter loves it! Now my hubby has a nice hobby and I know I always have a great dessert (homemade) to offer guests!”
3. The Best Sorbet Maker
The Yonanas Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker is the answer to your dairy-free dreams, and Amazon shoppers seem to adore it, giving the machine a 4.1-star rating and more than 2,000 reviews. This health-centric pick works to grind and emulsify frozen fruit in seconds, and you can make as much as you want in one sitting. Plus, it's so simple to use even your kiddos should be able to handle it. Just snap and lock the Yonanas shoot into place, flick the on/off button on, and feed your favorite frozen fruits through the shoot.
What fans are saying: “We are using our Yonanas machine almost every evening. It's a great way to use up ripe bananas. Best of all, we love the icy fruit treats we can make. They taste every bit as good as a frozen yogurt or ice cream, and we're using just frozen berries and bananas. My husband doesn't even know he's eating something healthy. The machine is easy to clean and easy to use. I highly recommend it, especially for those of you on Weight Watchers, or just trying to eat healthier.”
4. The Best Small Ice Cream Maker
The Zoku Instant Ice Cream Maker is ideal if you're not interested in making huge batches of frozen dessert at once. This model makes 6 ounces of ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt at a time, with soft serve ice cream taking as little as 10 minutes and hard ice cream as little as 20. No electricity is needed for this little guy, either — just pour in your chilled ice cream mixture, churn and scrape the stainless steel bowl, and watch as the ice cream freezes before your eyes. Plus, this pick boasts a solid 3.8-star rating on Amazon.
What fans are saying: “Love this product! It is smaller than I thought but that isn't a problem as I didn't want it to take up too much space in the freezer. It is fun to use! I made keto chocolate ice cream and the consistency was perfect! It was received in the time it was promised!”
5. The Best Manual Ice Cream Maker
The Norpro 6840 Ice Cream Maker is just about as user-friendly as a manual ice cream maker can be. No salt or ice is needed for this option — simply leave the freezer bowl in the freezer overnight, then pour in your mixture and hand-crank to your heart’s content. Since this is a manual machine, speediness really depends on you — but you should be able to make one pint of ice cream or sorbet in about 15 minutes.
However, if you're looking for a model with more output, and more customer reviews to back it, you'll find a great choice in the Donvier 1-Quart Manual Ice Cream Maker — although it does come at a slightly higher price point.
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