If you’ve had homemade ice cream, you know the marked difference in how fresh and delicious it tastes compared to even the most upscale store-bought pints (not to mention that you can make whatever flavor you want, including ice cream made with booze). That sensory memory alone may drive you to order an ice cream maker next time you’re bored at work and trolling online for stuff you don’t need.

Using an ice cream maker is pretty easy once you have the base made and chilled (which is arguably the most difficult part for novice cooks) and the freezer bowl chilled. Then all you have to do is pour in your favorite flavor base, have mix-ins ready, turn on the machine, and let the magic happen. With any luck, 20 minutes later, you’ve got scoops. Note: Don’t overfill the freezer bowl, because spills in the machine are hard to reach.

Choose Your Weapon

For the first-time user:

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, $60; Williams-sonoma.com

We like this basic model for its size (makes up to 1.5 quarts) and ease of use—just turn it on and add mix-ins. Plus, it comes with an extra freezer bowl, so you can make two flavors, or at least keep one in the freezer at all times (if you have the space).

For the proficient cook who doesn’t want an extra appliance:

Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment, $80; Williams-sonoma.com

If you already have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, this attachment is a no-brainer. Like the Cuisinart, the bowl must be pre-chilled and this one holds up to two quarts. Drawback: For firmer ice cream, you may need to freeze after churning, for at least two hours.

For the gadget guru:

Whynter SNO Ice Cream Maker, $291; cookingandtableware.com

You’ll want a self-cooling machine, which means you’re willing to shell out the cash it takes to be able to whip up a batch of espresso chip on demand. Bonus: This model has an automatic shut-off feature that prevents the ice cream mixture from getting too thick.

Ever make your own ice cream at home? Tell us about the flavors and any tricks you’ve used in the comments.



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