Soft serve ice cream is no longer just for ice cream parlors and dessert stations. Whether you like creamy ice cream, ultra-smooth gelato, or a fresh fruity sorbet, you can enjoy these delicious frozen treats in the comfort of your home with your very own soft serve ice cream maker.
How It All Started: Soft Serve Ice Cream
During the Memorial Day weekend in 1934, the founder of the famous American ice cream brand, Tom Carvel, had a little issue with his ice cream selling truck in Hartsdale, New York. The truck had a punctured tire and so he had to pull it into a parking area.
He started selling the slightly melted ice cream to people who were passing by. To his surprise, he sold the whole lot of ice cream within just 2 days.
He concluded that selling soft, as opposed to hard, ice cream at a fixed location is more profitable for his business. After 2 years, Carvel opened their first store on the same site where his truck broke down. The store featured their secret soft serve ice cream recipe along with patented low-temperature ice cream makers.
What Is Soft Serve Ice Cream?
The name of the ice cream should be indicative of what it is.
As it is with most things, there are machines that you can purchase to make soft serve ice cream in your home.
There are various soft serve ice cream makers out in the market, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the best soft serve ice cream makers to help you with your search.
Soft Serve vs Regular Ice Cream
In its simplest form, soft serve is basically just regular ice cream. While Carvel’s original soft serve ice cream was simply a softer, less cold version of their regular ice cream, a modern soft serve contains a considerably higher proportion of air than frozen ice creams. Hence, they are fluffier and foamier.
During the process of making the soft serve, once the ice cream ingredients are mixed, the soft serve machine both freezes a portion of the blend and whips more air into the frozen mixture. The regular ice cream should contain no more than 30% air but soft serves can contain up to 60% of air.
Also, they are served at a lower temperature. Soft serve ice cream is about 21 degrees Fahrenheit whereas the regular ice cream is prepared and served at around 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, the lower temperature and the higher air content make the soft serve ‘soft’.
Features to Look for When Buying a Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
Whether your children are big of ice cream or you’ve got a large party coming up at your place, what could be more fun than having your very own soft serve ice cream maker?
Back in the day, soft-serve ice cream machines used to be pretty huge. You needed a bunch of people and a truck to lift it and transport it anywhere. But, those days are long gone.
Today’s soft serve ice cream maker is compact and you can easily place it in your kitchen. They are known for their convenience and outstanding performance.
If you’re looking for one for your home, here are a few things you should consider.
Size and Weight
If the soft serve ice cream maker is too large and too industrial, you will have to compromise on ease of handling and portability. With large ice cream makers, the set up, cleaning and maintenance will also be a tedious task.
Thus, you should pick a size that’s appropriate for your space and needs.
Again, the capacity of the ice cream maker should fit your needs. If you want homemade soft serve ice cream for large parties or gatherings, then you should go for a larger capacity. If you’re getting it just for your family and kids, a smaller capacity would do.
Maintenance and Durability
The maintenance and durability of a quality soft serve ice cream maker should be on point. Users prefer machines that have easy clean up and maintenance features. Ice cream makers that are time consuming go to the bottom of the list of preferred machines.
While some machines take a bit longer to freeze the ingredients that you put in, others can do this within 20 minutes. Even though it’s possible to deal with long freezing times with some planning and organization, you could simply get a machine that does the job more efficiently.
There are some soft serve ice cream makers that feature other add-ons like condiments or topping dispensers to make this creamy dessert even more fun for your kids. It’s the perfect feature to have for birthday parties and kids’ playdates.
The 5 Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Makers
Here are our top recommendations for the best soft serve ice cream makers that are sure to delight your whole family.
Last update on 2020-03-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker ICE-45 by Cuisinart
This Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker is the perfect option that’s both no-frills and also high-quality.
It’s a great combination of excellent features, outstanding design, and durable manufacture.
It also comes at an affordable price and offers high-speed ice cream making and stylish looks.
The machine is fully automated. All you have to do is to allow the double insulated mixing bowl some pre-freeze time. Keep it in the freezer for a few hours and then attach it into its place along with the paddle attachment and the base to start the mixing process. It has a capacity of 1.5 quarts.
The sturdy yet lightweight structure makes it easy to handle or carry around.
The lid is perfectly shaped and easy to lock and unlock.
The mixing arm makes sure that the soft serve is of the right consistency. Not just that, the machine also has a handy cone holder and 3 different condiment dispensers to top your soft serve cone with chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.
- Easy to set up and clean
- Beautiful compact designs
- Takes just 20 minutes to freeze the ingredients
- Double insulated freezer bowl for long-lasting cooling
- Small window to allow monitoring the mix
- Easy-to-use dispensing handle
- Removable drip tray
- Capacity may not be enough for very large gatherings
- The freezing bowl is not dishwasher-safe
Nostalgia FDM1 Soft Serve and Frozen Dessert Machine
Made with high-grade stainless steel material, this soft serve ice cream maker is one of the high-end machines on the market.
It has a loading capacity of 1 quart along with a powerful built-in compressor so you don’t have to pre-freeze the mixing bowl. The compressor supports faster, uniform and long-lasting cooling.
The operation is fully automatic and there’s a programmed LED control panel that has 30 different functions. You can prepare and serve ice cream in just 20 minutes.
The machine also consists of a sensor to detect the cup or cone for automatic dispensing. Otherwise, you can also use the horizontal-style auger dispensing system handle for hassle-free dispensing.
- Sufficient capacity
- No-pre freeze time needed
- High-quality compressor and dispensing system
- Adjustable freezing levels
- Easy to use and clean
- Cleaning brushes to clean difficult areas like ingredient chute and dispenser spout
- Can keep ice cream ready for disposal for up to 4 hours.
- Quite expensive compared to other soft serve ice cream makers
At-Home Automatic Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine
If you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to enjoy soft serve ice cream at home, this machine is another great option. It’s both easy to assemble and very easy to clean making it ideal for domestic use.
The size and capacity are also good. You can make 8 to 10 servings of soft serve in just 15 minutes without the need for freezing bowls!
The machine is automatic and includes an LED indicator. It will produce a buzzing sound when the ice cream is ready for dispensing. The dispensing handle is firm and easy to use.
The machine can easily make batch after batch and the ice cream will stay cold for a couple of hours. The design of the machine is really compact so you can also take it with you for picnics or parties away from home.
It includes a 5-pack starter kit with several flavors to get started with easy ice cream making. You can also check the manufacturer’s website for more recipes and ice cream mix packs.
- Easy to operate and very quick
- Does not require pre-freezing
- Easy to clean
- Good quality construction
- Compact and easy to store
- The average rating on Amazon is less
- A little too pricey
Vevor 2200W Soft Ice Cream Machine
The Vevor 2200W soft serve ice cream machine uses a combination of 4 powerful evaporators and a copper tube condenser, for a powerful and energy-efficient freezing mechanism.
This large-scale soft ice cream maker allows you to make 20 to 28 liters of ice cream in an hour making it perfect for large gatherings. Not just that, you can make 3 different flavors (2 individual and 1 mixed) of ice cream.
The machine is made with food-grade stainless steel and is suitable for both domestic and commercial use. It’s both sturdy and durable and looks elegant.
- Easy-to-use and quick cleaning function
- High efficiency and shock-resistant
- Smart LCD display
- Low energy consumption
- Can make 3 different flavors
- Warning device and LED indicator
- External cone holder
- Detachable drip tray
- Built-in voltage overload protection
- The operation is slightly noisy
- Very expensive
Costway 2200W Automatic Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine
This is another commercial-scale soft serve ice cream maker that has similar features as that of Vevor 2200W. The LCD touchpad display makes it easy to control the amount, consistency, and temperature of your soft serve. The machine is almost self-cleaning with an automatic flush-out function that takes only 3 to5 minutes to clean the inner parts.
You can use this ice cream maker to prepare 4 flavors of ice cream (two individual flavors and one mixed flavor), as well as, 4 different types of soft serve hats. This will surely delight all the kids at a party as they can pick their flavor and shape themselves.
- Powerful internal compressor
- Energy efficient
- High quality stainless steel structure
- Easy to clean with one-step flush-out cleaning function that’s super quick
- Detachable drip tray to avoid mess
- Can create 3 different flavors and 4 shapes
- Large capacity (20 to 28 liters of ice cream in 1 hour)
- Can easily store ice cream for several hours
- Exterior dents easily
- Very expensive
By now, you may have a few questions about soft serve ice cream and how to prepare it.
To help you learn more, here is a list of frequently asked questions related to soft serve ice cream that you should know.
How Do You Make Soft Serve Ice Cream with a Cuisinart Ice Cream Machine?
Cuisinart is a popular brand in the affordable ice cream machines market.
To use one of these devices, you must first freeze the bowl overnight or for about 14 hours. This will ensure that the temperature is right during the churning process.
Cuisinart ice cream makers are often automatic, so you don’t have to churn the mixture with your hand. You just have to add the rest of the ingredients (which includes milk, milk solids, flavor ingredients, and fruit chunks, if you like) and let the machine do the rest.
Pro tip: put the ice cream mixture in the freezer for about half an hour before you add it to the mixer. This will ensure that it stays cold when churning. Don’t put it in for longer than that. It’ll be difficult for the machine to mix it if it’s too cold and hard.
It usually takes some time between 20 to 40 minutes to get the ice cream to the right consistency. The amount of time you spend on the churning process will depend on the volume of the mixture in the bowl. Once the churning is complete, your ice cream should be ready to have right away. You’ll have to freeze the ice cream for some time after churning for regular ice cream.
How Long Does Soft Serve Ice Cream Last in Machine? We recommend you remove all of the ice cream from the machine within a few hours after making it. It’s best to consume all of it in each serving because it can be a bit difficult to store soft serve ice cream unless you have the right type of freezer.
What Happens If You Freeze Soft Serve Ice Cream? Soft serve ice cream stays okay if it’s stored at the correct temperature, which is about 18F. At colder temperatures, soft serve ice cream turns into a crystalline solid – i.e., the texture and consistency will be ruined.
Can Soft Serve Ice Cream Go Bad? Soft serve ice cream does go bad. Don’t store it for more than a couple of months. Also, make sure to store it correctly – very cold temperatures will ruin the texture of the soft serve ice cream.
Can I Put Soft Serve In The Freezer? You can put soft serve ice cream in a freezer at 18F. Most freezers are colder than that so make sure to check the temperature before you put it in. Soft serve ice cream will turn into a crystalline solid if you put it in a freezer that’s colder than the recommended temperature.
How Often Should You Clean a Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine? Ideally, you should wash all the parts by hand after every use. A good rinse should be enough. This can become a bit tedious, but it’ll ensure that your machine works well every time you use it.
Is Soft Serve Ice Cream Healthier Than Regular Ice Cream? If you’re measuring health in terms of calories and fats, then yes, soft serve ice cream can be considered healthier than regular ice cream. Soft serve ice cream is often made from milk, while regular ice cream is made from cream. Both are high in calories, but milk contains fewer calories than cream does.
Final Thoughts: Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine
Soft serve ice cream maker is no longer a machine that can only be used at restaurants or ice cream shops. If you and your family enjoy soft serve ice cream, there’s nothing better than having one made with fresh ingredients right in front of your eyes.
You can pick one of these 5 best soft serve ice cream makers and enjoy the delicious creamy dessert at home.