Ice cream is something that can be enjoyed all year round, but it arguably tastes better when the sun’s shining. We’ve rounded up the best ice cream makers and frozen dessert makers to help you make the most of a sunny day.
As the temperatures start to go up, the allure of ice cream, sorbets or frozen yoghurts increases. There’s nothing quite like having a cold ice cream to get that full-on summer experience. Rather than getting ripped off at your local ice cream parlour, an ice cream maker at home lets you make your own frozen desserts with your choice of ingredients. And, as ice cream can be made within 40 minutes using a proper machine, you don’t even have to wait.
As you can pick an ice cream maker up from around £30, they’re a solid investment and can save you money in the long run, too. They’re easy to use too, but how much you spend will depend on how much it can do. The cheaper ice cream makers will require you to pre-freeze the mixing bowl, while pricier models offer more features for making ice cream, gelato, sorbet, frozen yoghurt and icy drinks.
If you’re vegan, or merely after a healthier, low-calorie ice cream alternative, we’ve also included a machine that turns frozen fruit into healthy, refreshing desserts that should keep you equally satisfied, without any of the guilt.
Lakeland Digital Ice Cream Maker
- Timer and digital display
- 1.5-litre bowl with 0.5-litre working capacity
- H230 x D200 x W210mm
The Lakeland Digital Ice Cream Maker is a freeze-first model with a bit of added pizazz. Not only does it feel more sturdy than equivalent makers, it also comes with a timer and a large digital display that’ll tell you when you’re ice cream will be ready.
Putting the ice cream maker together is straightforward, and it comes with a selection of recipes to get you started. We tried making strawberry ice cream and lemon sorbet and were happy with the results of both, though the sorbet required a little extra time in the freezer to firm up.
We’d have liked an alarm to alert us to when the ice cream was ready, and a better designed lid wouldn’t go amiss either – it was pretty difficult to take off when the outside of the bowl was slippery.
Still, it makes great ice cream, is easy to clean and quiet in use. It might be a little pricier than other models at this level, but its premium build and digital timer make it worthy of consideration.
At the time of the review the Lakeland Digital Ice Cream Maker was available for £47.99
Andrew James Ice Cream Maker
- 1.5-litre capacity
- 2 insulated bowls
- H24 x Dia20cm
The Andrew James Ice Cream Maker is a simple, straightforward solution for fussy families who tend to squabble over which flavour to crack open. It comes with two bowls for double the fun, meaning you can have one batch in the freezer while the machine churns up another scrummy mixture.
It’s a compact, clean-looking machine that’s available in either white or a pleasant baby blue colour. It’s small enough to store easily in the cupboard, and the bowls take up minimal room in the freezer, with a height of 15cm.
To get making tasty ice creams and frozen desserts, you have to freeze the bowl before placing it inside the machine. After that, it’s a simple case of letting the Andrew James Ice Cream Maker take over stirring up your mixture with its sturdy paddle. There’s no timer on the machine, which is a blessing if you want fuss-free ice cream making without the clock-watching. The machine comes with a few recipes to get you started, ranging from ice cream and sorbets to frozen desserts and yoghurts.
The only negative we found was that it’s a little noisy in operation. It’s not loud per se – clocking around 65dB, which is the level of normal conversation – but it’s a noticeable sound, so you’ll probably want to leave the kitchen while it’s running. In all, though, this is the ideal budget Mr. Whippy maker for beginners and keen cooks alike.
A the time of the review the Andrew James Ice Cream Maker was available for £29.99.
Sage Smart Scoop
- Makes 1 litre ice cream
- Built-in freezer
- Multiple intelligent modes
- 230 x 390 x 260mm
The expensive yet brainy Sage Smart Scoop makes superb ice cream, with the ability to sense its consistency and automatically stop mixing when it’s at its prime. It will even keep it cool your ice cream cool after it’s been prepared so it’s ready for you to eat whenever you’re ready.
Our biggest criticism is that it only makes one litre of ice cream at a time, but its excellent features more than make up for this. Handy tips from Heston Blumenthal are included, along with tasty 16 recipes. The built-in freezer means there’s no need to pre-freeze the mixing bowl, which makes prep time much easier.
Possibly the most exciting part? It plays the music of an ice cream van when it’s done. Amazing!
At the time of the review the Sage Smart Scoop was available for £349.99
Judge Fro Fru
- Instantly grinds frozen fruit
- Makes healthy desserts
- H295 x D160 x W215mm
Okay, it’s not technically an ice cream maker, but the Judge Fro Fru still makes excellent frozen desserts – and healthy ones at that. It works its magic by grinding up frozen fruit, then churning them out in frosty, fruity ribbons ready to eat. It’s like a Play-Doh factory with the added bonus of being able to actually eat your wacky creations.
There’s no bowl to pre-freeze, and the Fro Fru is compact and looks eye-catching, clad in bright red. It’s a fun, simple and rewarding way to make iced desserts at home, and enables parents to cunningly disguise their child’s five-a-day as something a little different and intriguing.
At the time of the review the Judge Fro Fru was available for £62.50
Judge Ice Cream Maker JEA57
- 1.5-litre capacity
- Insulated bowl
- H25 x Dia23cm
A simple and well-priced ice cream maker, the Judge JEA57 has a single coolant-filled bowl that you can store in the freezer. Once the bowl has been in a freezer for a minimum of eight hours, this machine can make up to 1.5-litres of sorbet, ice cream or frozen yoghurt in 20-to-40 minutes.
Operating the Judge JEA57 is simple, and it’s quick and simple to add ingredients as you go. The only real downside is that this machine doesn’t ship with any inspirational recipes, so you’ll need to go elsewhere to get started.
Still, this well-designed and robust-feeling ice cream maker does a good job of all the recipes that we put it through, making it a good choice.
At the time of review, the Judge Ice Cream Maker JEA57 was available for £46.20
Cuisinart Gelato & Ice Cream Professional
- Makes 1.5 litres ice cream
- Built-in freezer
- Ice cream and gelato paddles
- 240 x 300 x 420mm
The Cuisinart Gelato & Ice Cream Professional is the daddy of ice cream makers. It produces outstanding ice cream and gelato in crowd-pleasing 1.5-litre batches, and comes with a host of scrummy recipes that even include frozen yoghurt and icy drinks.
With a convenient built-in freezer, there’s no need to squeeze the mixing bowl into your freezer for pre-freezing. The digital timer automatically switches off when done, and the mixing bowl comes out to make clean-up a breeze.
Features-wise, it’s a simple yet effective machine, making the process of whipping up ice cream at home fuss-free and enjoyable. Plus, with its high-end metallic finish, it looks a beauty on your worktop. If you can afford it, the Cuisinart Gelato & Ice Cream Professional is the ultimate ice cream wizard.
At the time of the review the Cuisinart Gelato & Ice Cream Professional was available for £250