I review kitchen appliances for a living, and my favorite ice cream maker churns out ice cream and gelato in under an hour
There are a lot of painful, labor-intensive ways to make homemade ice cream, and I think I’ve tried them all.
I experimented with a ball that you’re supposed to pour your ingredients into and roll around until you give up and drink the batter. I’ve evaluated a crank churner, which is mainly designed for people who want a second helping of “arm day.” And I’ve even tested an attachment for my stand mixer that requires significant freezer space.
None of these options are as quick and effortless as the Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker.
For nearly half a century, Connecticut-based Cuisinart has produced cookware, ovenware, kitchen tools, and kitchen accessories. I tested the company’s top-of-the-line ice cream maker and was impressed with its versatility and minimal pre-planning.
Design and specs
The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker has a compressor so there’s no need to freeze the mixing bowl, paddle, or any other parts before using it. Two kneading paddles allow you to switch seamlessly between ice cream and gelato. And to get you started, the unit comes with a recipe book featuring dozens of recipes for ice cream, gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and more.
It’s small enough to fit on your counter under the cabinets with dimensions of 16.7 inches deep by 12 inches wide by 9.3 inches high. The housing material is made of stainless steel for a nice, clean appearance. The transparent lid that covers the mixing bowl features a mix-in opening where you can add ingredients without stopping the churning. The appliance has a limited three-year warranty.
As with any appliance that uses a compressor, the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker has to sit upright for at least 24 hours before each use. I wasn’t sure if it remained upright during transport so I waited 24 hours just to be safe.
For the system to work correctly, the bowl must be positioned just right. This can be a little tricky but gets easier with practice. To operate the ice cream maker, the lid also needs to be locked in place.
No matter what you’re making, all of the recipes tell you to refrigerate your batter for at least two hours and preferably overnight. This is a common step no matter what ice cream maker you use. It’s meant to help the batter “age” and to bring the temperature down so the ice cream maker doesn’t take as long. But, if you’re in a hurry, you can conceivably skip the refrigeration period.
Review of the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker
For my first batch, my 5-year-old sous chef chose s’mores ice cream. So, per the ice cream maker’s recipe, I made a batter for chocolate ice cream and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I put the ice cream paddle into the mixing bowl and poured the batter in.
The recipe called for running the maker for 40 to 50 minutes before adding marshmallow cream. So, I set an alarm on my phone and worked on other projects. After 30 minutes, my sous chef yelled, “It stopped!” The ice cream was too thick for the churning to continue. I wasn’t able to mix in the marshmallow cream, graham cracker, and chocolate.
We’re a big ice cream family so we mainly make ice cream with the machine, though we did branch out into gelato a bit with delicious results. Our favorite ice creams are vanilla, chocolate, and fresh strawberry.
The Cuisinart ice cream is not as hard as what you’d expect from the treats that come straight out of the freezer, but the soft consistency is still great — and my family likes it softer anyway. If you want the rock-hard ice cream, put the finished mix in a food storage container and freeze it for two or more hours.
Cleaning the parts was a breeze. The paddles and lid are top-shelf dishwasher safe, but I found they were easy enough to wash by hand. The mixing bowl also cleans up effortlessly with just a few swipes of a sponge and a little soapy water.
Cons to consider
Though the ice cream maker is easy to clean, I tended to make messes. When I first started making ice cream, I’d mix and chill the batter in a mixing bowl. But, this was difficult to pour into the Cuisinart without splashing and dripping all over. So, I started mixing the batter in a plastic pitcher. This worked well, and the spout allowed for more precise pouring.
I don’t like that I can’t just turn the ice cream maker on and let it work its magic until its done. You need to check it occasionally to see if it’s close to being done. I had one incident where the ice cream started to overflow and made a mess on my counter.
I recommend not using metal utensils to scrape the ice cream out of the mixing bowl. I noticed some light scratching on the bowl when I tried to use a metal spoon. A plastic kitchen scraper worked better for this task.
The bottom line
The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is the best I’ve used. You don’t have to remember to freeze any of the components before using it. Just pour the batter in, press a few buttons, and the ice cream is ready in about 40 minutes. Plus, it’s versatile enough to handle a broad range of frozen treats.
The Cuisinart ICE-100 is expensive so I’d only recommend it if you’re a true lover of ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, or sorbet. In the long run, it may help you save on dessert costs. But this unit is exceptional because it allows you to let your imagination run wild as you make healthy, top-quality concoctions with minimal fuss.