Three different designs have been developed to accomplish the same goal; making tasty ice cream in virtually any flavor imaginable. Each model offers some conveniences and challenges, and the buyer should be aware of the reasons to choose each model.
Old-fashioned ice cream makers are still available. The interior canister is filled with the ingredients that are assembled according to the recipe. After inserting the paddle assembly, the lid is put in place, and the canister is set into the exterior bucket. Layers of ice and rock salt, which accelerates the pace of ice melt, are used to fill the exterior bucket. A hand crank or motor turns the interior canister to make any amount from four to six quarts of delicious ice cream.
- Advantages include the large quantity of ice cream and the portability of the manual version, which can be used in the mountains or in a park.
- The disadvantages of this model include the difficulty in finding rock salt in warm climates and the summer months. In addition, this model requires more expertise to sustain proper levels of ice and salt, which must be sustained to make thick ice cream.
Gel-canister ice cream makers are convenient for those who wish to fill the mixing bowl and allow the machine to complete the task. The canister has thick, hollow walls that are filled with coolant gel that must be frozen in advance. Ingredients are placed in the mixing bowl and the paddle assembly is inserted. The final step is to plug in the machine and allow it to run until the ice cream is thick and creamy.
- The advantages of this modern model include the ease of use and consistent results when the bowl has been frozen for enough hours.
- Disadvantages include the small quantity, the required freezer space and the inability to make another batch of ice cream without having a second canister already frozen.
The most expensive models are self-cooling ice cream makers that resemble a mini-freezer which are also known as a modern undercounter ice maker. A built in compressor cools the gases that run through coils around the interior canister. As the temperature around the ingredients in the canister drops, the ice cream begins to freeze. This model is for the serious ice cream maker because multiple batches can be made in rapid succession.
- Advantages include the convenience of making multiple batches without any required supplies except for the ice cream ingredients. Every batch of ice cream is consistently thick like store-bought ice cream.
- Disadvantages include the cost and the weight and size of the units.