Delicious ice cream and frozen desserts made in the comfort of your own home? It almost sounds too good to be true. Our kitchen experts put ice cream makers to the test to find out which models make the best ice cream, gelato and sorbet. Here's how they do it.
With over 30 years of combined experience they've seen lots of new technology enter the kitchen space, including the increasingly popular air fryer. Fiona and Martha know how to give appliances a thorough workout in the CHOICE kitchen lab and ice cream makers are no exception.
With a range of products on the market, what makes us choose one ice cream maker over another to test? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market and what you're most likely to see in stores.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, check market sales information and also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers.
They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a regular consumer would. We do this so we can be sure products are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way for better performance.
The key things we look at when assessing ice cream makers are performance and ease of use.
Our kitchen lab puts ice cream makers through their paces by conducting three main performance tests.
- Vanilla ice cream: We assess the ice cream maker's ability to churn and freeze vanilla ice cream to the correct consistency. Our testers prepare and cook an egg-based vanilla custard according to the manufacturer's instructions for each product on test. If no recipe is given, we use our own method. We check the consistency, appearance, mouthfeel and volume increase of the final product both immediately after churning and after 48 hours of freezing.
- Lemon sorbet: We assess the ice cream maker's ability to process a water-based frozen dessert. We check the consistency, mouthfeel and ice crystal formation immediately after churning and after 48 hours of freezing.
- Vegan frozen yoghurt: We combine ingredients to assess the ice cream maker's ability to produce a vegan, non-dairy version of "ice cream" to the desired consistency. This type of mixture tends to be non-scoopable after freezing, so this is only assessed straight after churning for consistency, mouthfeel and appearance.
Ease of use
We look at:
- general ease of use – how easy it is to assemble and disassemble each ice cream maker as well as how easy it is to add ingredients and remove a load
- ease of using the controls, including the type of controls, labelling and if the unit provides audible feedback
- how easy the ice cream makers are to clean inside and out.
The CHOICE Expert Rating, our overall score, is made up of:
- performance (60%)
- ease of use (40%).
We maintain a kitchen lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you accurate results.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.