Ice cream is a summer staple for many households, especially those with kids.
Making your own tasty summer desserts provides a family with lots of bonding time, memories, and a learning process that offers a little science lesson!
If you’ve been considering ice cream makers for your family this summer (or all year), finding the best ice cream maker for kids can be daunting, especially if you’re new to making ice cream.
In this article, we’ve done the work for you and found the best ice cream machines on the market that keeps preparing ice cream simple, fun, and engaging for kids to use alongside parents.
Why make your own ice cream?
Producing ice cream is a lost art that has been coming back into the mainstream over the last decade or so.
With very few options like dairy-free ice cream, vegan ice cream, and affordable arrays of flavor profiles, making your own soft serve ice cream with your kids, whether it’s delicious vanilla ice cream or a brand new flavor no one has yet created, there are many benefits to having a quality ice cream maker.
You can make it your way
If you have certain dietary needs for your family, or your lifestyle dictates that you only have vegan ice cream options or ice creams with all-natural ingredients, then looking into ice cream makers means you can make your homemade ice cream the way you want it.
A staggering number of American families have at least one member with dietary restrictions or needs. 30-50 million people in the US alone are lactose intolerant.
When you are involved directly in the ice cream-making process, it means that you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what is in the mixing bowl.
Memories that last generations
Ice cream makers inspire creativity and bonding. Most ice cream makers offer consumers the freedom to add mix-ins, flavors, and textures as they see fit.
This means that as a family, the velvety smooth ice cream you create with your children is one they teach their children to make.
For these reasons knowing what the best ice cream makers are is essential. You don’t want your machine to break before you’ve created a family tradition that can span generations.
Three types of ice cream makers
When you start to look for the right ice cream maker for your family, one of the first things you need to figure out is the type of ice cream maker you’d like.
You can choose from three basic types of ice cream makers, and which one you go with is largely a matter of preference. If you have no real experience with using an ice cream maker, don’t worry!
The following is a description of the three types so that you can think about which type will work best for you.
1. Pre-frozen bowl or Pre-freezing models
This ice cream-making method involves a double-insulated freezer bowl with the unit.
Depending upon the size of the bowl, you may have to put the freezer bowl in your freezer for a few hours or even leave the freezer bowl overnight to reach the necessary state needed.
Because the bowl will have to be frozen, you have to wait, and you won’t be able to make back-to-back batches of ice cream, unlike with other ice cream makers. It also takes up quite a bit of freezer space.
However, this is a famous ice cream maker because there’s very little prep work besides putting the freezer bowl in the freezer and waiting. You’ll know when it’s ready by shaking the freezer bowl.
If you can hear the water moving around, it’s not frozen enough. It takes some patience, but the entire process is super easy.
The hardest part is waiting for the bowl to pre-freeze.
2. Ice and rock salt
This is the classic ice cream maker you may have used as a child. It’s the old-fashioned way to make ice cream, but it doesn’t mean this type of ice cream maker is fantastic.
With this ice cream maker, you put the bowl full of ice cream base into a bucket area with ice and salt (rock salt). Then, the work starts.
There’s a crank on the ice cream maker that you either churn by hand or use a motor to turn.
Your ice cream base can be any flavor, and this makes some delicious ice cream, but it’s more of an icy ice cream than creamy ice cream. If you are a fan of creamier ice cream, then you may be better off going with a different type of ice cream maker.
This is also a messy process often done in a garage, porch that can be hosed off, or outdoors.
It’s time-consuming, and the hand crank options are a workout. But it makes excellent ice cream, especially if you like hard ice cream over a creamy texture.
3. Compressor models
If you are looking for better options than store-bought ice cream, one where you can make vegan ice creams, some of the creamiest ice cream you’ll ever taste, and ease of use, then this may be your chosen method.
This self-freezing process is a breeze to use. Simply flip a switch, and you’re making frozen treats! How much ice cream you make is completely up to you, as you can create multiple batches in one go.
These are the most expensive types of ice cream makers on the market, but all the compressor machines that are decent quality can start making ice cream almost immediately and are very user-friendly.
Best ice cream maker for kids
As an adult, you can find some great specialty ice cream makers to produce excellent ice cream.
However, when you’re looking into a machine to use with your kids, the right ice cream maker’s requirements for you may look slightly different.
You’ll need an ice cream maker that is durable, easy to use, and easy to clean.
Making ice cream is an intensive process, so you need something that will stand the test of time without breaking the budget.
The following are some of the best ice cream makers on the market for kids to use.
1. Whynter ice cream maker
This compressor-model, ice cream maker, is simple to use, and you don’t have to pre-freeze anything.
You can make tons of soft serve in a multitude of flavors or just stick with a basic ice cream mix. Either way, you’ll make a smooth, soft serve without the large ice crystals you may have if you use a rock and salt ice cream maker.
There are a few different models that range in price and size. The only downside to this ice cream maker is that once you’ve started making ice cream, you may find it hard to stop!
The bowl and the mixing paddle, which is plastic, are not dishwasher safe, which can be a bit of a drag. The larger model also takes up more counter space and is pretty heavy. Still, it’s not a bad trade-off when you factor in the freezer space required by other models.
2. Cuisinart Pure Indulgence
This is an easy-to-use, budget-friendly ice cream maker with a large capacity and can make up to two quarts of ice cream at a time.
It is easy to clean and has a large spout for mix-ins like chocolate chips, fruit, nuts, or candies. This freezer bowl model is also fast, making a batch of ice cream in as little as half an hour.
The downsides to this model include how much space the bowl takes up in the freezer, the fact that this machine is loud, and making multiple batches is impossible like it is with compressor models because you have to clean and refreeze the bowl.
3. Nostalgia 4-quart electric motor ice cream maker with handle
This large-capacity ice cream maker makes large batches of ice cream and involves kids in the old-fashioned way of making yummy desserts without the hard work of cranking the motor manually.
The electric option is great, and the guesswork is taken out of the equation because this model has a little window that allows you to see the progress in motion.
It’s loud, and it’s messy, and it’s perfect for kids. And the handle makes it easy to transport from the kitchen to a space where both messes and memories can be made.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’ve covered some of the best ice cream maker options for kids, it’s time to address some of the most asked questions regarding using and owning an ice cream maker.
Frozen yogurt maker for kids?
If you’re more of a frozen yogurt fan, that’s okay! Most of the ice cream maker options mentioned above can also make froyo. Many other compressor models also have the capability.
Almost any ice cream maker can also make gelato, frozen yogurt, or sorbet. When reading the instructions and features, just ensure that the chosen ice cream maker can perform the function.
How do you clean an ice cream maker?
Some options on the market have top-rack dishwasher safety components, but for those that aren’t, most paddles and spouts for mix-ins can be cleaned with dish soap and warm water in the sink.
Is homemade ice cream healthier than store-bought?
The preservation process of just about any packaged food means corn syrup or other unhealthy substances. This is true of ice cream you may purchase at your local supermarket.
You can also find a great vegan, dairy-free, or fruit-infused flavor that you can make at home and avoid the sugary and candy-laden options at the store.
If you have dietary restrictions or needs regarding this tasty cold treat, making your own may be the best way.
Choosing an ice cream maker
When you decide to make your own desserts with kids, you invest in memories – not just another kitchen appliance.
Ice cream machines can last many years if you get the right one for your needs.
The best way to choose the right unit for you is, to be honest with yourself about how often you will use it, how durable you need it to be, and what fits your budget.
Then start making memories, which are guaranteed to be almost as great as the delicious treats you’ll be making.