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Dessert Maker and Ice Cream Machines, How to Choose, What to Buy

Updated on November 15, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

There are many issues and options to think about when choosing a dessert maker or ice cream maker to buy. There are a wide range of models available to suit any budget, capacity and features you could want. This article discusses what to look for in choosing a dessert maker to suit your needs. Nancy Johnson, in 1843, invented the first hand-crank ice cream maker, that she patented. She sold her patent rights to William Young who named the device the "Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer.” The hand crank machine, that is still used today as a novelty for backyard picnics and family fun, was not suitable for commercial production. Jacob Fussell developed the first commercial ice cream machine in 1851, in his Baltimore factory, based on the same principles of the Johnson’s machine but at a much larger scale. Ice cream only became popular and widely available in the 20 th century, with the development of electric refrigeration that allowed major increases in production and distribution.

Domestic Ice Creams and Dessert Makers

Home Ice Cream and Dessert machines make small amounts of ice cream or other frozen treats at home, usually for immediate consumption. The various ice cream makers range from mechanical or hand-cranking machines to those that use an electric motor for the mixing. A major variation is how the ice cream mixture is chilled:

  • by freezing the mixture in a refrigerator, independent from the dessert machine
  • by pre-cooling the dessert maker containing the mixture in a freezer, and making it in the refrigerator
  • by the machine itself providing the refrigeration for the mixture.

The fundamental principle for making ice cream and frozen dessert is that the mixture must be continuously stirred or churned while freezing the mixture to stop ice crystals forming in it. The stirring also aerates the mixture to produce a smooth and creamy texture that is the characteristic feature of ice cream or other frozen desserts.

Most ice creams made in machines can be served and eaten immediately, but some ice creams, such as ice creams containing alcohol, must be frozenan extra amount in a freezer to produce a firm and smoothtexture. If the mixture is frozen in a refrigerator and mixed using ad attachment to a food processor, the mixture may have to be frozen and re-mixed several times to get rid of the ice crystals.The ice cream produced may need 2-4 hours of extra freezing before the dessert is ready to serve.

Types of Ice Cream and Dessert Makers

Manual Machines - These appliances generally consist of an outer basin and a smaller inner basin fitted with a hand-crank driven paddle to stir the mixture. The outside basin is filled with a freezing blend of ice and salt. Adding saltto the ice lowers its freezing-point. As the saline water dissolves the ice, it draws heat from inner basin containing the dessert or ice cream mixture. This effectively freezes the mixture while it is being stirred using the paddle and so prevents ice crystals forming. This kind of ice maker is cheap, but inconvenient and messy as the ice and saline water mixture has to be disposed of and need to be replaced each time a new batch of dessert is made.

Manual Machines Designed for the Freezer - Some small manual machines consist of a 500 ml (1 pint) capacity inner basin, with hollow walls that can be filled with a coolant. A mixing paddle and handle is often built into the lid of the device. The dessert mixture is then poured into the inner basin and the whole unit transferred to a freezer. The paddle is used to stir the mixture every 10 minutes while the unit remains in the freezer. After a couple of hours until the required consistency is achieved and the mixture is frozen and ready to serve.

Electric machines - Broadly speaking there arefour kinds of electric dessert and ice cream maker machines. Each has an electric motor that drives either the paddle in the basinor the basin itself to stir the mixture. The key difference between the types is how the freezing is done.

1. Counter-Top Machines - use a twin-walled basin with the outer wall being filled with a coolant that has a freezing point below that of water. This is similar to the manual machines. The entire bowl unit, without any dessert mixture is placed a freezer for 12- 24 hours before it is ready to be used. Then the basin is removed from the freezer, the mixture added to the inner bowl and the engine started. The paddles mix the dessert gradually as it is chilled by the solution in the outer chamber. After 20-30 minutes of churning and the mixture will havefrozen and be ready to be used. The benefit of this kind of electric driven appliance is its cost, normally under $100. The handicap of the pre-frozen basin concept is that only one mixture can be made at a time, and the bowl has to be frozen for 12-24 hours before use. Many people purchase additional basins for the appliance, but this raised the issue of added expense and freezer space.

2. Counter-Top Machines with Multiple Bowls and Containers of Frozen Mixture - The Pacojet and similar machines use a completely different approach. Mixtures are frozen in stainless steel beakers and the dessert is made using blades that finely shave off the top part of the frozen dessert. With the Pacojet a user simply selects the number of portions you want and start the machine. The high-tech Pacojet blade spins very quickly, shaving off a series of micro-thin layers from the frozen food. This produces ready to serve products that are very smooth and creamy, because any ice crystals and eliminated and blended into the mixture. Any unused frozen mixture in the beaker can be returned to the freezer for later use. The beakers are less bulky than the hollow bowls filled with coolant. These machines are expensive but can be used for a whole range of foods beyond desserts.

3. Ice Cream Makersthat Operate inside a Freezer. - Several small freezer-unit machines are designed tooperate inside the freezer part of the refrigerator with electric motors that slowly churn the mixture while it freezes. The units have flattened electric cables that allow the door of the freezer to be closed while the unit operates. Battery operated units are available.This type of dessert maker is cheap and convenient as no pre-freezing of the appliance is required, but it takes a long time for the dessert to be ready. However, some people claim that these machines produce a poor-quality ice cream because the mixing is too slow.

Table Top Italian Style DessertMakers, Gelato and Ice Cream machines with in-built Freezing Systems - These more expensiveand often quite large, machines have a built-in freezerunit and so do not require basins to be pre-frozen. To make the dessert or ice cream the unit is turned on for a few minutes to chill down and then the mixture can be added and mixing paddlestarts the mixing process while the dessert freezes. The product is ready to serve after 20-30 minutes. These machines are the most convenient and offer a range of controls for making a wide variety of desserts, but they are large, expensive and noisy.

© janderson99-HubPages

To Help you Choose see the Examples shown below of the more popular Machines

Lussino Dessert Maker 4080 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker

This fully automated and precisely controlled this machine takes all the hassle, fiddling, tine wasting and uncertainty out of making ice cream, frozen desserts, frozen yogurt, frozen custards sorbet, gelato and frozen drinks at home. You simply add the mixture to the bowl, set the timer and other controls, and after about 30 minutes up to 1-1/2 quarts ( 3 litres) of a frozen dessert are ready to serve. You can make batch after batch without having to freeze the bowl immediately begin making another batch. It is compact and can be installed on your bench top.

Self-Refrigerating Machine - the Cuisinart ICE-50BC

This the machine very efficient, it is reasonably priced for a self-refrigerating machine. This Cuisinart machine makes it fast and easy to make a wide range of frozen dessert. The unit is noisy with its built-in freezer unit, but its so convenient and easy to use. It can be used to make batches of ice cream, silky smooth frozen yogurt, Gelato, fruity sorbet, and even your favorite ice summer drinks and smoothies. Just add the ingredients and switch it on. The unit has a fully automatic 60-minute timer control and a 1 1⁄2 quart (3 litre) capacity, and limited 3-year warranty

KitchenAid KPFD200SS Pro Line Frozen Dessert Maker

This dessert maker has a built-in funnel and pusher for the ingredients and a professional doling out head. It features a half-gallon ( 2 litre) capacity, brushed stainless-steel cylinder and housing , and a convenient front-loading design. Make a range of fabulous desserts, quickly and easily at home such as ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato, granita, and margaritas. When the freezing and mixing cycle is finished, simply pull a lever to dispense the ice cream, frozen desserts and frozen drinks. A 2-Year warranty is available.


The Pacojet is a professional easy to use kitchen appliance for preparing a range of frozen desserts with minimal time and food wastage. It is very popular and widely used to prepare a range of fabulous mousses, sauces, frozen desserts and ice creams with a simple button press. Choose your fresh ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, dessert mixtures and even meat and fish products and transfer to a Pacojet beaker with a suitable liquid and other ingredients, and seal the beaker with an air-tught lid. You can have many beakers for many dishes and products. You simply deep freeze the stainless steel beakers to -22 degrees C (-8 degrees F) for about 24hrs. When you are ready one of the products stored in the freezer simply remove and install the beaker into the Pacojet. All you need to do is to select the number of portions you require and press the start button. The Swiss-Engineered high-precision blade spinning at around 2,000 rpm, shaves off micro-thin layers from the top of the frozen food. The thinness if the shaving results in an ultra-smooth texture that is ready to serve. The part used beaker remains solidly frozen and can be used later when you want it. This eliminates waste and the products are instantly available - no waiting for 30 minutes for the ice cream maker to finish its churning cycle. Individual portions can be ready to serve at the right temperature in 20 seconds. This unit provides ultimate freshness because it is prepared frozen and is instantly available. No more hassles with ice creams, sorbets or desserts becoming icy or grainy.


This summary of ice cream and dessert makers will help you choose the best unit to suit your needs. The examples provide a good idea of what the major types offer for preparing a wonderful range of homemade frozen desserts.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • Ruby H Rose profile image

    Maree Michael Martin 

    6 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

    Making our own ice cream and desserts has got to be healthy! Thanks for a great hub on the types of machines out there, and what they are capable of!

  • Edgar Arkham profile image

    Edgar Arkham 

    6 years ago from San Jose, CA

    This is a great hub for anyone who want to get a machine and doesn't know which is the best for them at what price. Thanks for sharing this information. I'm sure it will be useful!


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