The Best Ice Cream Makers (and Other Ice Cream Must-Haves)

Our editors share their favorite kitchen tools, including ice cream makers, for churning endless batches of homemade ice cream all summer long. Heck, all year long.

A plastic container filled with vanilla bean ice cream with a metal ice cream scoop resting in it. : Tara Fisher

It’s always ice cream season as far as we’re concerned. While store-bought, ice-encrusted pints can sustain us when we’re in dire need, although they pale in comparison to the self-styled ice cream concoctions that we all love come up with at home. Investing in the right equipment ensures frozen bliss with each attempt, whether you’re churning up your first batch or your hundredth.

Cuisinart Ice Cream Machine

This is a rare example of a product that’s the gold standard at an entry-level price. The single switch to turn it on and off is admittedly low-tech, although rest assured, it will make any ice cream recipe you’ll find. The lone freezer bowl needs to spend at least 24 hours chilling before it’s ready to churn and needs to be refrozen between batches, so plan your cravings accordingly.

Breville Ice Cream Machine

Featuring an internal compressor (think built-in freezer!), this little number means you can skip pre-chilling the canister and instead make batch after batch to your heart’s content or satisfy a last-minute craving without planning ahead. Thanks to the usual attention to detail Breville brings to everything, it’s also outfitted with sensors to detect the perfect texture for sorbet, frozen yogurt, and gelato as well as a reminder when it's time to add your mix-ins. As if this wasn’t enough, it even plays “The Entertainer” when your ice cream is ready to eat which means you can pretend the ice cream truck is heading down the street.

SUMO Homemade Ice Cream Container

After you churn ice cream, you need to store it in the freezer to firm. While you can do this in just about anything with a lid, we’re partial to these elongated storage containers from SUMO. Their insulated double-wall design helps protect the ice cream from the harshest temperatures of the freezer, ensuring it chills evenly and doesn’t form those dreaded ice crystals at the edges. Plus, the shape allows for those beautifully rounded scoops that can only be achieved by trailing the scoop along the surface of the ice cream.

ZEROLL Ice Cream Scoop

Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop
It wouldn’t be a list of our favorite ice cream paraphernalia without mention of our favorite scoop. The one we prefer to not live without. Curious as to why we keep reaching for this Zeroll time and time again? Suffice it to say, it’s magic. (You can learn more by reading our rundown of what goes into a trusty ice cream scoop.)

Proctor Silex Waffle Cone Maker

We thought store-bought cones were just fine...until our testers tried making homemade vanilla and chocolate waffle cones last summer and we’ll never be able to go back. Sure, you can make them in the oven, but we prefer using a waffle cone press to make the real deal, signature ridges included. You can use the provided mold for traditional cone shapes or drape the warm waffle over upside-down muffin pans for edible ice cream bowls.

Chef’n Ice Cream Sandwich Kit

While we love a chipwich, nothing beats the nostalgia of a classic ice cream sandwich. However, we’ve always wished for one with actual ice cream nestled between the cakey chocolate layers and not that foamy “frozen dairy dessert” with its laundry list of ingredients we can’t pronounce. Now you can make your own ice cream sandwiches with any flavor of actual ice cream you want. Plus, you can roll the edges in sprinkles before it completely firms for a truly child-friendly treat.

Fox Run Popsicles

Some days, making ice cream from scratch just seems like a little too much work. That’s when we’re grateful for popsicles, the sheet-pan supper of the frozen dessert world. Made with a simple process of blend, pour, and freeze, popsicles go from idea to freezer in less than 15 minutes. And these straightforward molds let you make up to 10 popsicles at a time, which ought to be enough for a backyard barbecue or simply stockpiling them in the freezer. There are many different sizes and shapes of molds out there to choose from, but we love the traditional look this gives our paletas.

Ice Cream Parfait Dishes

Anchor Hocking has been crafting quality glassware since 1905. These classic sherbet bowls (remember sherbet?!) help elevate any dessert into something impressive. Their iconic tulip shape and panel-cut sides are made of tempered glass, making them dishwasher-safe and durable enough to withstand years of use. An ideal choice for sundaes, these timeless pieces are also capable of serving fruit at breakfast or offering toothpicks at cocktail hour.

Le Parfait Jam Jars

One of the easiest ways to level up your ice cream game doesn’t involve an ice cream maker but rather experimenting with new toppings. Whether chocolate sauce or a caramel drizzle or butterscotch bliss, homemade ice cream toppings make even store-bought ice cream a memorable experience. These charming glass jars are microwave safe (without their lids), which means they're perfect for warming a sauce to drizzling consistency, and are nice enough to serve from for a make-your-own-sundae bar.


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