Messy, inconvenient and often inaccessible when you need it most, voluminous store-bought ice cream is the old stand by that is most often seen at cooking and barbecues
As times change, bulky store-bought ice cream is moving over to make room for the latest portable ice machines, high-efficiency devices that pay for themselves in no time, delivering clean and root-free ice cream at the touch of a finger and offering a convenience factor that speaks for itself.
To help you take the plunge into choosing a modern, easy-to-use tabletop unit, we’ve put together our 17 best selections of the best portable ice machines available on the market right now.
We rated each of these top rated portable ice machines based on energy efficiency, daily production capacity, noise rating, production cycle times and more.
See our guide to the latest design innovations from GE, Ikich and Deco Gear – with real nugget-style ice cream, whisper-quiet noise ratings and compact options that are easy to take on the go.
Read on for the best choices from industry leaders Igloo and Frigidaire, including options with expansive 48-pound daily production capacity and foam-insulated storage tanks.
See the 17 best portable ice machines below
Buyer’s guide for portable ice machine
Portable ice machines offer a convenient and cost-effective alternative to bulky and often cluttered store-bought ice cream from the convenience of your countertop.
With some misunderstandings surrounding these dedicated machines and their relatively recent availability in the market, we have cleared the air by answering a few of the most commonly asked questions.
What are the benefits of owning a portable ice machine?
While many appliance shoppers may be under the impression that an ice maker is only needed for summer cooking, large outdoor events, or overqualified to meet their needs, the practical benefits of choosing an ice maker for the home are numerous.
First and foremost, portable ice machines are high-efficiency devices that pay for themselves quickly when the price of purchased ice cream is included, with a convenience factor that speaks for itself.
In addition to their cost-effective performance and price level, portable devices are an environmentally friendly alternative to purchased ice that reduces water consumption with innovative recycling technology and a low energy profile.
In addition to drinks and cocktails, portable devices are well-suited for a variety of purposes thanks to their bespoke ice cream, ranging from real nugget ice cream typically available at select bars and restaurants, to popular spherical ice cream ideal for smoothies, fresh foods and more.
What features Shcould the best portable ice machine offer?
Fortunately, most portable devices are fairly simple in design, so there are only a handful of features you need to be looking for when choosing the device that best meets your needs.
Like most options for getting a place on our list, the ideal ice maker should include:
- A daily production capacity of at least twenty-six pounds
- Compact design
- Low noise rating and energy profile
- Low voltage requirements (120 volts or less)
- Fast ice production cycle ranging from six to thirteen minutes
In the case of nugget-style ice cream makers like the GE Opal Countertop, ice production cycles typically exceed fifteen minutes due to the greater degree of complexity in obtaining true nugget ice cream.
As with its true nugget ice, models like the GE Opal Countertop typically offer Bluetooth features or mobile app integration, so look for these features among $ 400 + price range devices
What is the difference between Nugget Ice and Bullet Ice?
Nugget ice, also called Sonic ice, is a soft, chewy textured ice cream that is typically available at select bars and restaurants.
Nugget ice cream differs by its unique dense but airy texture, with many fans describing the ice cream as a snowball.
Until relatively recently, real nugget ice cream was limited to luxury home ice cream machines that cost up to $ 3,000 or more, where these devices often experienced mechanical breakdown and exhibited pot performance.
Kugleis, semi-chewy cylindrical-shaped wet ice cream, presented with most of the options to make our list, is an alternative to nugget ice cream, ideally suited for a wide variety of purposes and easier to make than its counterpart.
Although real nugget ice cream is often coveted, it is typically best suited for soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
Do portable ice machines cool ice?
A common misconception about ice cream machines for countertops is that these devices are designed as mini-refrigerators and can freeze ice for extended periods.
Unfortunately, portable ice machines do not yet offer benefits of cooling and freezing, so it is important to choose a well-insulated model and be careful when operating the devices to avoid overflow and melting.
The good news is that each device on our list is equipped with a range of features to take the work out of your hands, including automatic shut-off, overflow protection and polyurethane foam insulation boards.