Best Budget Ice Cream Makers

budget ice cream maker

I make a lot of ice cream over the years and have had the opportunity to use a lot of different ice cream makers. From top of line machines to low cost budget models and I am pleased that you don’t have to break the bank to get great homemade ice cream.

But not all ice cream makers are created equal and if you’re not careful you can get a machine that just doesn’t offer the performance you need. So to help you out I have tested and selected my favorite budget (cheap) ice cream makers that actually work!

Note: I will cover some important information about ice cream makers and what I look for but if you are in a hurry you can skip ahead to the top low cost ice cream maker tips at the bottom of this article.

What I Look For In An Ice Cream Maker

First I recommend looking at some features that you should consider when you are choosing an ice cream maker. There are a lot of choices in the market out there and I can’t possibly include everything. But the more features your ice cream maker has the better it is going to be (as long as those features work as they are supposed to).

Things To Consider About Your Ice Cream Maker

Always run your ice cream maker on the highest setting and use the longest cycle if possible. Ice cream makers have a limited amount of power that they can use to make ice cream and so you will want to take advantage of them when you can. You may find that it makes the difference between a horrible ice cream experience (where your machine simply stops working) and one that is great!

Also, make sure that you are using the correct type of bowl for your machine. There are two types of bowls and they are slightly different so if you get the wrong bowl you may find your ice cream not turning out well. A lot of manufacturers will tell you this but there is something important that people seem to miss, it’s the “dome lid”. The “dome lid” that comes with your ice cream maker is just a dome lid from the freezer section at your local grocery store and so it’s going to make a huge difference in how well your ice cream turns out. It really is a must have and I would recommend that you buy one that fits your model before you buy the ice cream maker. You can find dome lids for free at many places like Walmart, Target and even garage sales but if you get the wrong one it may not work well for your machine.

Many ice cream maker manufacturers will also include recipes with their machines so you can also look at those recipes. Or you can use the search at the top of this page for our favorite ice cream recipes.

Ice Cream Making Tips

You can read my homemade ice cream maker tips article for the complete rundown but to start there are a few things to keep in mind when using your ice cream maker.

  1. Make sure that the freezer bowl is frozen before you even start. For best results I would recommend letting your freezer bowl freeze for at least 3 hours before you make your first batch of ice cream.
  2. Read and follow all of the instructions very carefully, especially for recipes where you need to cook things (like custards) before putting them into the ice cream maker. Even if it’s already cooked when you put it into your machine, don’t forget to cook it first.
  3. When adding ingredients to the ice cream itself make sure that you add them in small doses and keep stirring the ice cream mixture so that your ice crystals don’t start to form. This will help your end product be a nice and smooth ice cream
  4. For best results and to avoid any freezer burn always try and use fresh heavy cream if you can.
  5. If you are making a lot of ice cream it can be very helpful to have a second freezer bowl so you can freeze the ice cream as it comes out of the first bowl and not go through all the trouble of scooping out small amounts as you go along.
  6. Not all ice cream recipes are created equal and so you will find that recipes on Treat Dreams are perfect for making at home.

Best Cheap Ice Cream Makers

Nostalgia WICM4L Electric Ice Cream Maker

Features

4 quart capacity
Easy Cleanup
See Thru Lid
Strong Electric Churn Motor
Motor Lock
Comes With Starter Recipes

Why We Love It

I love this ice cream maker. It has a lot of things going for it. First off, it’s price is great! This is a great ice cream maker to make smaller batches of ice cream (up to 4 quarts) and it does a good job at doing that no matter what type of ice cream you are making. It has a lot of features that help it work well. I like the fact that it has a see-thru lid so you can actually watch the ice cream as it makes itself. It also has a strong electric motor which is perfect for making home made ice cream. The motor also locks which is great for hard to handle bowls because this means that you don’t have to hold on to the lid while the machine runs.

What Could Be Improved

There are really only a couple of problems with this machine. The first one is that the bowl tends to be a little bit flimsy and so if you are making a lot of ice cream you may find that it doesn’t hold up too well over time. The other issue is that the motor is pretty loud but then again you are dealing with an electric motor so this isn’t much of an issue for me personally.

How It Performed Making Ice Cream

I made vanilla fudge swirl to test this ice cream maker. It was so easy to make and it came out perfectly. The ice cream maker did take about 45 minutes to make 4 quarts but that’s pretty standard for home ice cream makers in my experience. While it won’t make large batches of ice cream, it does amazingly well for those looking for family sized recipes.

Hamilton Beach 68330N Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Features

Capable of making ice cream, gelato, sherbet, custard, and frozen yogurt
Fully automatic
Lockable Lid
4 quart

Why We Love It

This is a nice and cheap home ice cream maker that will help you make your own delicious ice cream and other frozen treats without a lot of fuss. This is good for making small batches because it doesn’t come with freezer storage bowls so don’t expect to make large batches of ice cream with it. It will do well for making 4 quarts at a time but if you need to make more than that then you will probably have to go for another type of machine.

What Could Be Improved

This is a good ice cream maker that will do the job well but it is not without its flaws. First off, it is louder than many of the other machines on the market and so if you are looking for something that isn’t going to keep you up at night then this might not be the best choice for you. The other problem I’ve found with this machine is that it can be a bit temperamental when making gelato and will sometimes make chunky gelato instead of smooth creamy frozen treat.

How It Performed Making Ice Cream

Testers found this ice cream maker to be quite easy to use and work well. It is a simple machine that will give you the results you’re looking for with a single push of a button. So if you’re looking for something that is easy to use then this might be what you’re looking for.

Nostalgia CCIM2AQ Electric Ice Cream Maker

Features

2 Quart Capacity
Makes ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet
Electric Churning Motor
Manual Crank Add In Crusher: for adding candy bars, and other add ins to your ice cream
Bucket Detaches
Easy On/Off operation

Why We Love It

Testers found this machine to be great for those looking for something that’s easy to use and won’t cost you a fortune. You can make creamy ice cream with this machine without having to worry about churning for hours and hours on end. We absolutely love the crusher! It is fun for the kids to help adding add ins to your favorite ice cream recipes.

What Could Be Improved

At 2 quarts this isn’t the biggest capacity ice cream maker around but if you are looking for making small batches that won’t be an issue.

How It Performed Making Ice Cream

This machine worked flawlessly and produced creamy and delicious ice cream. We had a blast using the add in crusher and it appears well suited to lasting for years. As far as budget ice cream makers go, this one performed as well or better than any other model we tested.

Hamilton Beach Electric Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Features

1.5 Quart Capacity
Fully Automatic Churn Motor
Makes ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet
Handles add ins
Easy On/Off operation

Why We Love It

This is a great little ice cream maker for those looking to make smaller batches of ice cream. It’s good for making a small amount of ice cream and it works well for making frozen yogurt, gelato, sherbet, and custard. This is also one of the easiest machines to operate.

What Could Be Improved

At 1.5 quarts this isn’t the biggest capacity machine around so it is not ideal for large families or making ice cream for larger gathering.

How It Performed Making Ice Cream

This machine is a dream to use. If you are looking for something that is going to work well and get the job done then this is a great choice. We love that it’s able to make ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet all in the same machine and it does so with ease. In our tests all our ice cream came out almost perfect. It is a surprisingly great little machine for the cheap price point.

Maxi-Matic EIM-1400R Electric Ice Cream Maker

Features

1.5 Quart Capacity
Freezable Bowl
No Salt Needed
Simple On/Off operation
Makes ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet
Includes Recipes

Why We Love It

This ice cream maker is an absolute powerhouse! It’s got everything you could ever want in a machine and I absolutely love the fact that you don’t need to add salt to your recipes. This can be a problem with some machines and so it’s nice to have one that is going to save you that extra step.

What Could Be Improved

The only downside of this machine is the smaller capacity. Just like a couple other models on our best list, it won’t be ideal for those needing to make larger batches. But if that isn’t what you need to do then this is an absolute dream ice cream maker.

How It Performed Making Ice Cream

Testers found this ice cream maker to be quite easy to use and work well. It is a simple machine that will give you the results you’re looking for with a single push of a button. So if you’re looking for something that is easy to use then this might be what you’re looking for.

Bottom Line

All of these machines performed well above the other low cost ice cream makers we tested and any of them will be an awesome addition to your kitchen. These machines definitely do a great job at making a large variety of different ice cream flavors, frozen yogurt and sorbets. Don’t forget to search Treat Dreams for some great recipes to inspire your next homemade ice cream adventure!

Written by Liv

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