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Ice cream machine--worth having?

  • l

Yesterday I was at Williams-Sonoma spending a GC and they were sampling ice cream and demo-ing the Cuisinart machine in which it was made (this is the relatively cheap one, about $50, not the more upscale industrial one). I was looking for a slicing knife but I did try the ice cream (v good!!!) and had a long chat with the demo-er.

I came very close to buying it but I had walked to the store, about a mile and a half from home, and did not want to lug a large-ish box back. But my thoughts drift back to it, especially as a birthday gift for my sweet-toothed husband, who has been agitating for one.

I generally don't go in for single-purpose gadgety machines, and the kitchen in my 1920s house is quite small. I am also slightly concerned about the enormous potential for gluttony and weight gain. On the other hand, the purchase would force me to clean out the freezer, this machine is not too huge, and I could always make sorbet, right??!

Thoughts or advice? Many thanks in advance.

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  1. I admit to being cheap to the bone and my kitchen is likely larger than yours. I have a Donvier model that I picked up for $2.50 at Goodwill and it makes great icecream and sorbet. I realize this doesn't help with a gift idea, but these small Donvier icecream makers (hand crank, but they really work in my opinion) are a great deal, even if purchased new. I'm not a trained cook or chef in any way by the way!


    Link: http://www.shopzilla.com/8N--Donvier_...

    1. I'm not much of a dessert person but I bought an ice cream maker for my brother and his family for Christmas and they love it and use it a couple of times a week.

      1. i have the cuisinart machine and it works great. my only problem with it is that the plastic parts are flimsy. our paddle broke and krazy glue didn't cut the mustard, so we have to be careful when we use it. i have been unsuccessful at finding replacement parts.

        1. Got one as a wedding present and use it regularly. Weight gain and gluttony are a legitimate concern. Most of the recipes call for whole milk and heavy cream though you can mix it up a bit and use 2 percent and heavy cream (but NOT 2 percent and half & half).

          We really enjoy the chance to experiment with our mix-ins. We've thrown in vienna fingers, donut holes (BEFORE the apprentice people put donuts in the ice cream mind you), nutella. If you ever do dinner parties you can also do stuff like make cinnamon ice cream to serve with your apple pie, things like that. Also, if you need to bring dessert to a party it's pretty unique for those instances.

          1. m
            Miss Tenacity

            I have the hand-crank Donvier as well, and I do like it. I've made ice cream or sorbet about a dozen times in a year, so its not very heavily used. However, if you are curious to try really cool unusual flavors that are unavailable commercially, its the way to go. I've made amazing cinnamon, fig-port-thyme honey, balsamic strawberry, a deadly chocolate sorbet, and a few others.

            If I could live with the "usual" flavors, its is far easier to just buy Haagen Dazs or find a local producer. (And, why on earth does no one make cinnamon commercially???)


            1 Reply
            1. re: Miss Tenacity

              I'm pretty sure that Dreyer's does a seasonal cinnamon, around the holidays. Not 100% sure. Don't know where you are, it might be Edy's in your area.

            2. For me, yes, totally worth it! Mind you, I'm normally someone who doesn't like specialized equipment or extraneous gadgets in my kitchen, but my ice cream machine has been a gem. I used to use the hand-crank Donvier that others mentioned since it belonged to a roommate; however, I own an automatic one now. I don't know the brand exactly, but it didn't cost anymore than $50.

              I don't use it that often, mostly in summer, but homemade ice cream is such a treat for an ice cream fiend like me. It makes simple vanilla bean taste amazing! I have made many a fancy dessert, and my homemade ice cream is what people seem to remember most. I keep my bucket wrapped in a plastic bag in the freezer year round, that way I can make ice cream when the mood strikes.

              In fact, I'm making a dinner tonight for a few people and have decided to make balsamic strawberry sorbet from the Zuni book. I don't think an ice cream maker is lethal to one's diet at all. I only make it when I have guests b/c homemade ice cream doesn't keep as well as commercial (w/ all those stabilizers), so I'm not eating the whole quart by myself. And if you want to control your ingredients (like using organic products, etc), then it can actually be better in that sense.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Carb Lover

                I'm in agreement with just about everything you said. Also, because I keep my bowl in the freezer at all times, I sometimes make sherbets or sorbets that are mostly fruit and low fat dairy (usually buttermilk) when I get a craving for something sweet. Better than running out for a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

              2. You might try snooping around Amazon. I believe I got my Cuisinart (The $50 one at W-S) for about $25, free shipping. This was less than a year ago, so prices should be the same. I've also seen W-S have that same machine on sale where $50 gets you the machine and an extra bowl. So $50 is the high end of what you should be paying for that Cuisinart.

                I love my machine. As with my bread machine, it has helped me cut down on the commercial products I buy. I know homemade doesn't taste like storebought, but I feel guilty buying ice cream now when I know I can make a healthier product at home. Notice my use of "healthier", NOT "less fattening." For me, healthy is the absense of stabilizers and unknown chemicals, etc. Healthy includes putting in my own fresh fruits, organic dairy, and controlled sugar. Sure, heavy cream is fattening no matter what, but heavy cream in small doses isn't necessarily "unhealthy."

                I also love experimenting with making sorbets from intersting fruit combinations. My most creative so far has been a lavendar strawberry concoction, which is so intense in flavors that a scoop is all anyone needs.

                If you're a Splenda user, it's also pretty good for sorbets (haven't tried in ice cream). IMO, Splenda works well in cold products (I use half sugar half Splenda when the mood strikes), but I found it horrible in my hot tea.

                1. I have a Rival ice-cream maker which is the same principle as the $50 Cuisinart I think (canister that you freeze, motorized dasher that scrapes the mix off the sides as it freezes). Got it as a wedding present, and use it a lot in the summer. I think someone below said you can't go lower-fat than 2% milk and heavy cream, but this isn't true--if you are really concerned about calories, you can make "ice cream" of a perfectly acceptable (if soft) sort from fat-free buttermilk. A sort of dairy sorbet, as described by Curiousbaker, made from pureed ripe strawberries and buttermilk, adding no sugar, would be lower in calories than a store-bought "lite" ice cream. My machine says don't put yogurt in it, but I have disregarded that and made frozen yogurt with success, as dessert after an Indian meal (plain whole-milk yogurt with sugar, a frozen lassi).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Katie8

                    What brand yogurt do you use? I tried making a fro yo with some frozen strawberries and Nancy's Organic plain yogurt. It was way too sour for me, and I usually love yogurt. I'd never purchased plain yogurt before, so maybe it was the brand?

                    I typically like Mediterranean foods with plenty of plain yogurt, so I'm hoping it was just that brand.

                    1. re: nooodles

                      I used Liberte brand plain yogurt, which is stocked at Whole Foods. It's very mild and rich-tasting, yet is of a thin consistency, which I thought would be good for the ice-cream maker. If you drain it (not for the fro-yo, but to eat) it becomes, in consistency and flavor, very much like the Fage "Total" brand 2% yogurt that people praise so much (rightly) on this board. Total is Greek, and Liberte is French, so maybe the Mediterranean yogurts you have enjoyed plain were more in this style.

                      I also used fresh ripe strawberries, at that degree of intense almost-over-ripeness where they assault you with strawberry scent from across the kitchen, and pureed them.

                      Good luck!

                  2. Krup's Le Glacier machine is about the same price as the Cuisinart. I love mine. I own two! It gets a lot of use. I just made raspberry sherbet. Before that I made peanut butter ice cream with choclate wafer cookies mixed in.

                    1. I LOVE having an ice cream maker. Not only can you make ice cream, ice milk, sorbet, frozen yogurt, etc., you can also make slushy drinks!

                      What I love most is that I am not confined to the usual commercially available flavors...I can get as wacky as I want. My last concoction was a tremendously smooth espresso chocolate sorbet that, despite being entirely dairy-free, everyone thought was gelato.

                      I also am not eating any more ice cream than before. In fact, my standards are so high now that I'm more selective about the ice cream that I DO eat!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: LT from LF

                        Amen to that. Would you mind sharing your dairy free recipe? Thank you!

                          1. re: LT from LF

                            "My last concoction was a tremendously smooth espresso chocolate sorbet that, despite being entirely dairy-free, everyone thought was gelato."

                            Whichever one this is. Thanks!

                            1. re: nooodles

                              Please see link below--I believe this is the recipe I used. I didn't make the biscotti, just the sorbet. I used Scharffen Berger chocolate, and instead of chopping it into 1/4" pieces, I ran it through my food processor until it was more like little grains. I also used demerara sugar instead of white (adds a little more complexity to the flavor). And, in the cooling stage, I used a hand mixer rather than a whisk--my arm would still be sore otherwise, I'm sure! But the stuff's rather exuberant so I'm afraid there were some splotches flying around. You could drape some plastic wrap over the bowl if you wanted to avoid that. I used double strength vanilla.

                              Link: http://www.recipelink.com/ch/2000/aug...

                      2. Thank you, everyone, for your very helpful input! I will definitely go for the machine. The points about organic and unusual ingredients were especially compelling, so I can buy guilt-free (and try out some of the many yummy suggestions in this thread)!

                        1. I'm not big on single-purpose gadgets, but that's because most of them are just short cuts for things you can do with appliances you already have.

                          An ice cream machine is one of the exceptions.

                          I don't use mine very often, but I love it when I do. I've never actually made ice cream in it -- I make sorbet (the last one was a beet-orange sorbet inspired by a chowhound post).

                          I do use it more since I got a stand-alone freezer, because I have room to keep the canister frozen and ready to go all the time.

                          1. I had a hand-cranked Donvier back in the eighties when the pre-freeze canister ice creamers were first widely available. I didn't like storing the thing in my freezer, and never realized I wanted ice cream w/ enough advance notice to throw it in there. Plus, the plastic parts kept breaking (aggressive churning?). I tossed it.

                            A few years later, I was seduced into an electric version of same. Eventually tossed it too.

                            Many years have passed, and now I contemplate buying one of the no-chill machines w/ it's own compressor. Not sure I want to spend $500 to get fat, however.

                            BUT...I just saw last week an ice cream maker attachment for a Kitchen Aid mixer...intriquing...and now I have an extra freezer downstairs. Dare I try this again? Has anyone tried the KA attachment?