This $218 ice cream maker lets me make gelato and other cold treats with minimal effort — here’s how it works

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The Home Depot

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 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. Read on for my full review of the appliance.

Specs for the Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

Cuisinart ice cream maker 2

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The Home Depot

The 1.5-Qt 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.

You control the appliance using a touchpad with a blue LCD. It’s fairly basic, offering only time adjustments, an on/off button, and a start/stop button.

The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker has a limited three-year warranty, and when you purchase it from The Home Depot, you’re covered by a 90-day return policy.

Set-up process

Setting up the ice cream maker was simple. After removing all of the packaging, I washed the mixing bowl, paddle, and lid with soap and warm water. This only took a few minutes. Then, I put the mixing bowl in the machine. 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.

As with an 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.

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.

What makes this ice cream maker stand out

Cuisinart Ice Cream maker

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The Home Depot

For my first batch, I let my 5-year-old sous chef choose the recipe. He asked for 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. Then, I started the machine.

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. Fortunately, my teenager wasn’t excited about s’mores ice cream in the first place and preferred the plain chocolate. And, my kindergartener was happy with the mix-in ingredients served on top.

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. My wife and 16-year-old son say the chocolate is the best they’ve ever had. I like fresh strawberry most. The vanilla gelato was also a big hit.

The desserts from the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker are not as hard as what you’d expect from the treats that come straight out of the freezer, but the soft consistency is still good enough. And, my family likes it softer anyway. If you want the rock-hard treats, put the finished ice cream 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

Cuisinart ice cream maker 4

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The Home Depot

The Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker is the best I’ve used. You don’t have to remember to freeze any of the components before using it. You 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.

Should you buy it?

The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker 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. If this sounds appealing to you and your budget supports it, definitely pick up the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.

What are your alternatives?

KitchenAid ice cream maker

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Amazon

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I’ve tried several styles of ice cream makers. Here are a few of them:

  • YayLabs Softhshell Ice Cream Ball ($46.99): If you have kids who like playing with balls for hours on end, this might be a good option for you. You add rock salt and ice into one end of the ball and ice cream batter into the other. Then, you shake, pass, and roll the ball. It’s nice that it doesn’t use electricity, but rolling the ball for the 20-plus minutes it takes to make ice cream is tedious.
  • White Mountain Hand Cranked Ice Cream Maker ($123.75): With this model, you use a crank to churn the batter. In about 40 minutes, you get 4 quarts of ice cream. But, over time, your arm gets tired, the ice cream gets harder, and cranking becomes more difficult. It isn’t an easy appliance to use. Fortunately, there are several electric alternatives.
  • KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment ($44.99): If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, this is your best bet. I like that it can make two quarts of ice cream in about 20 minutes. The main downside to the attachment is that you have to freeze the mixing bowl for at least 15 hours before using it. When freezer space is limited, this may pose a problem.

You should also check out our guide to the best ice cream makers.

Overall, I think I’ve found an ice cream maker that best fits my needs. If you are looking for the best around, pick up the Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker.

Pros: Features a compressor, easy to clean, paddles for ice cream and gelato, versatile, requires minimal prep work

Cons: Expensive, not completely “set-it-and-forget-it”

Buy the Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker from Amazon or The Home Depot for $217.99