Let me get right to the point. This new Cusinart ice cream and gelato maker is a very exciting product. I think it is a breakthrough home ice cream maker. It has almost every feature I would want if I were designing one from scratch, offered at a price that probably can’t go much lower without over compromising quality.
- The closest thing to a true home gelato maker that I have found.
- It looks and feels very well made.
- It has a very solid, quick freezing compressor built in. You will never have to pre-freeze a big clunky bowl in your freezer again, and then have it not work because the two hours you waited for your custard to cool wasn’t long enough, or your kitchen was too hot or the ice cream gods were simply against you that day.
- Unlike most other current production gelato makers, except the $600+ Lellos, the mixing paddle is driven from the bottom and not the top. This is HUGE. Top driven paddles are inherently flimsy and can actually snap if you make a really thick ice cream. Plus the top driven paddle design is much more prone to motor overheating. There you are in the middle of churning and your machine shuts down because the motor has overheated. With a bottom driven paddle this is much less likely to happen.
- 2 mixing paddles. One optimized for ice cream and one designed to incorporate less air for making true gelato and sorbets. Hurray!
- An anodized aluminum mixing bowl with a handle that just lifts out for serving and cleaning.
- A 3 year limited parts and labor warranty. No small thing on a three hundred dollar purchase.
- It retails for $299. You would have to spend over $1000 for a significantly better machine, and those that cost less are problematic in terms of quality. You can confirm this for yourself by looking at the Amazon customer reviews for less expensive freezer compressor machines.
Here are some additional images of the product.
The mixing bowl. I know you are probably thinking “yeah, so what?”. But believe me a simple thing like a well made bowl with a handle makes a real difference when you are cooking. You would be surprised how often obvious features like not including a handle on the bowl or not even making it removable are par for the course for clueless manufacturers. My 1975 Simac il Gelatario which I otherwise love, has a mixing bowl you can not remove from a 50 lb ice cream maker! I would have killed for this one simple feature.
The nice solid, won’t snap when the ice cream gets too thick, (yes this has actually happened to me once with a cheap freezer canister machine) but otherwise standard, ice cream mixing paddle.
Take a look at that! A true, air-reducing gelato paddle. That set of double blades on the right force the custard down while churning minimizing the amount of air incorporated into the mix. This is unique among home ice cream makers and is going to get you as close to real gelato as is currently possible in a home machine.
Cuisinart’s Demo Video
Ok, so what are the downsides to the ICE-100? Well the biggest one is that it is a new product so we don’t know really know how it’s going to hold up over time. From my own experience with the unit, gut feeling and given the 3 year warranty, if I needed a gelato maker and didn’t want to take a risk with a used, older Simac or spend $600 on the Lello, this is what I would buy today (06/2013). I’m going to keep an eye on the Amazon customer reviews and will update this review accordingly if they start to show problems. Right now they are all very positive.
There are only 3 missing features from my fantasy perfect machine list.
- It’s not dead quiet. No actually it’s loud. Well unfortunately EVERY ice cream maker is loud.
- I wish it had a slow speed setting for churning gelato. Keep in mind NO home maker has this.
- A digital temperature gauge. I can’t honestly think of how I would use this but it would be cool.
In conclusion the Cuisinart ICE-100 is the best home ice cream maker I have tried. The few remaining non ice cream making friends I have left (having evangelized the rest into submission or into not returning my phone calls) I am actively pestering to buy one. At $299 it is admittedly not a spur of the moment purchase but still a great value. With this machine there will be nothing between you and the recipes you want to make. Which is the ultimate compliment you can pay a cooking tool.
Bob ClarkJan 1.
The best home ice cream maker for anywhere near the money.