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July 28, 2008 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I want to buy an ice cream maker: Kitchenaid stand mixer attachment versus standalone model?

I want to buy an ice cream maker, and I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, but I'm a little skeptical about the ice cream maker attachment. I'd like opinions on the Kitchenaid attachment versus a standalone model -- I'm considering this Cuisinart basic model or a slightly more deluxe model.

I know they both work on the same essential principle: you freeze the bowl, and the ice cream maker will churn your ingredients to a soft-serve consistency. (I can't afford one that freezes it for you) The Kitchenaid stand mixer bowl seems like it would take up a lot of room in the freezer, whereas a standalone machine would take up more room in my kitchen cupboards/counter. It is a toss-up for me, and I'd like to find out which one works better.

Also if you are a ice cream connoisseur and have any good links or advice, I'd appreciate it! Thanks!
posted by sararah to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have the basic Cuisinart you linked to and love it. Eventually I'd like a fancier one, but for $50, the Cuisinart is a great way to get started. It's easy to use. A little finicky about temperature (best to have the bowl frozen a couple days in advance rather than the minumum overnight freezing time; and always make sure your custard/whatever is chilled before you add it), but I've been happily using mine for a little over a year and would definitely recommend it.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:05 AM on July 28, 2008

Also, the frozen yogurt recipe at works great in the basic Cuisinart--just let the yogurt sit in the freezer after you churn it to let it firm up a bit more.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2008

We also have that cuisinart and are happy with it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on July 28, 2008

"The Kitchenaid stand mixer bowl seems like it would take up a lot of room in the freezer"

We have this unit and it does take up quite a bit of freezer room. However it works (sorry no comparison to standalone models as I've never used one) and quality is up to the usual Kitchen-Aid standard.
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 AM on July 28, 2008

The bowls (both of them) can take up freezer room, but you can store things inside them. I have the Cuisinart and keep the bowl in the freezer, wrapped in a plastic bag (on the off chance of odors stinking up the bowl). When I freeze things like berries, once they are hard and in a bag, I keep them in the bowl. Also, pints of ice cream sit nicely in there.
posted by stefnet at 10:48 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I had an ice cream maker made by Salton that I bought 18 years ago and used it a fair amount over that time. One key plastic part broke and I didn't have the time to do a sturdy fix, so I decided to purchase a new ice cream maker.

I looked at the motorized models and at the Kitchen Aid insert and ultimately decided to get a Donvier, which was of the type my old maker was a knock-off.

Why did I go this route? The manual machines make fine ice cream. The parts don't take up too much space. There is no motor to fail. The ultimate reason was that making ice cream is a physical act and it just feels more real when you're turning the crank yourself.
posted by plinth at 11:23 AM on July 28, 2008

Cook's Illustrated's first choice (no link; paywall, but MefiMail me if you want a PDF of the article) was a model that has since been discontinued, but their second choice was the KitchenAid, and their third was the basic Cuisinart. (They didn't test the more expensive model). I have both Cuisinarts, and think they're wonderful. I'm also expecting the KitchenAid by mail soon (free with 6 qt. stand mixer purchase). The deluxe Cuisinart was a gift, but I'm not sure I'd pay the premium for it over the basic model. Higher capacity, and I think it's a bit quieter, but both are fine machines. Cook's Illustrated, in another article, commented that the KitchenAid produces something to the effect of creamier, smoother ice cream than others because in others, the bowl spins, not the paddle. The KitchenAid works the opposite I guess that makes the difference, but I can't comment on the veracity of that statement since I don't have the KitchenAid ice cream maker yet. Assuming that the KitchenAid makes fine ice cream, which I'm sure it does, I would probably recommend it over buying a standalone, just for the space issue. You would have to store the bowl (stefnet's advice is great) with both, but with a standalone, you would have to store the motor as well. Just my two cents.
posted by jroybal at 11:27 AM on July 28, 2008

I ended up putting the basic Cuisinart in the laundry room because it's so loud, but this is a problem you're going to have with the KitchenAid as well, since it's going to sound like a KitchenAid. I sure wouldn't want to haul the KA to the laundry room every time I made ice cream, as I want it in the kitchen for non-ice-cream purposes.

I hadn't thought of that before I bought the Cuisinart (a week ago) rather than the KA, but I'm glad I got the Cuisinart now.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:37 AM on July 28, 2008

I have the KitchenAid. It's pretty quiet, since you use the lowest setting. The only noise of significance is the noise of the KitchenAid motor; the ice cream making part is essentially silent. In any event, the thing only runs for about 20 minutes per batch, so I don't find the noise particularly bothersome.

As for the space-in-the-freezer part: both ice cream makers require you to freeze the bowl beforehand, so the Cuisinart will take up space in both the freezer and the cabinet. That said, you don't have to leave the bowl in the freezer, as long as you don't mind not being able to make ice cream on a whim. You can keep it in a cabinet and then freeze it a day or two before making ice cream.

As far as ice cream goes, I find the KitchenAid to make great ice cream. It's at least as good as any other homemade ice cream I've had.
posted by jedicus at 11:53 AM on July 28, 2008

Between the two options I would choose the Kitchenaid attachment, for the exact reasoning laid out by jedicus.
But then, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't get either one *because* of the dadblamed bowl that has to be frozen. My biggest gripe with this type of ice cream maker is that you are limited to making 1 batch of ice cream a day. It's very annoying when you're experimenting with and tweaking recipes. So I'm saving my pennies for a Cuisinart Supreme.
posted by hecho de la basura at 12:07 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I use the KitchenAid to make ice cream. Works great, with the following tips:

1. Right after you make a batch of ice cream, clean the bowl and put it back in the freezer. That way it's always ready.

2. Chill the ice cream base before making the ice cream. This ensures a good final product.

If you want recipes, the Ben & Jerry book is great for getting started, and this mint chocolate recipe is a favorite of mine.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

You must get Ben & Jerry's ice cream cookbook, regardless of what machine you buy. It has great general advice on making ice cream and recipes for some of the famous B&J flavors.
posted by scottso17 at 12:27 PM on July 28, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far, I'm kind of leaning towards the Kitchenaid now. I guess one advantage of a standalone model is that you can buy extra cores but of course those just take up more room in the freezer, and it's another $30.

I'm curious if you are making multiple batches if you have a frozen core/bowl, make a batch, and then immediately re-freeze the core/bowl, how soon would it be ready for another batch? A few hours? Overnight? You would think that it would be a somewhat faster turnaround than an initial freezing from room temperature.
posted by sararah at 1:14 PM on July 28, 2008

The bowl is still fairly cold after the ice cream is made, but I would still freeze it 8-12 hrs (overnight) to be sure. If you can adjust your freezer setting, crank it up overnight to get it as cold as possible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:47 PM on July 28, 2008

Another tip I have with ice cream-making is to add 1-3 teaspoons of a brandy, liqueur or vanilla extract to the quart-sized base before making a batch. As well as adding flavor, the alcohol will help keep the ice cream from hardening to a brick after you store it in the freezer: the more alcohol you add, the softer the ice cream. Too much alcohol will keep the ice cream from freezing at all, however.

If you're adding candy or chunks of something solid (e.g. chocolate, chunky peanut butter), it helps to fold this in the very end, when transferring to a storage container. If you add the solids while the bowl is in the mixer, they will sink to the bottom and not mix around much. Solids also get in the way of the mixer doing the work of folding air into the cream base, and this will reduce the airiness of the product.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:55 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm moving and have put away the machine only to find I make better ice cream using just the rock-salt container. I make small batches and take them out every 5 minutes and stir with a spoon. The ice cream freezes more quickly, reducing the size of the ice crystals. Strange, but my girlfriend and I prefer it better and it seems to make the ice cream a lot faster as well.

I also like the Ben and Jerry's book, which recommends simply stirring together the sugar and eggs rather than making a custard over the stove. It's a lot easier, and also tastes better in my opinion.
posted by xammerboy at 2:10 PM on July 28, 2008

I've tried to throw the kitchenaid back in the freezer immediately but you generally have to wait a bit for it to warm up so you can clean it out without the water freezing. The one time I tried this and gave it only 6 or 8 hours it was struggling to get the ice cream cold in the second batch, which meant that it took a long time, and the result was a little harder than it should have been.

I would recommend just making one batch of ice cream a day. If you need more than that, plan ahead.

I also don't recommend eating a full batch of ice cream every day. Turns out, it makes you fat.
posted by aubilenon at 2:10 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love making my own icecream. But I hate waiting for it, I hate the noise the machines make, and I hate having to wait for the fricken thingy to cool in the freezer. Plus, you can't really make Guinness Ice Cream without first baking off the alcohol.

The solution? Liquid Nitrogen.

Seriously: instant, delicious, fluffy ice cream. So quick, you can try a dozen different recipes in an hour.

You make your basic ice cream mix, and get a metal mixing bowl and a giant wooden spoon. put your mix in the bowl, pour in liquid nitrogen, and stir until firm.

you can get liquid nitrogen fairly easily. Call these fine folks and ask for a local distributor.

More links on liquid nitrogen:

Cooking with Science!

The Non-scientific approach
posted by Freen at 3:30 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, Freen, I actually am a chemist and I have made LiN2 ice cream a gazillion times for giddy school children. I agree that it is very delicious! It just seems, uh, impratical to try and haul a dewar of LiN2 home from my lab on occasion (and I'd probably want to buy an ice cream specific dewar.)

Thanks for the tips about re-freezing the core and trying to reuse it in the same day. I mostly was thinking of having an ice cream party and I see now that it will require some planning ahead no matter which route I choose. Thanks!
posted by sararah at 6:54 AM on July 29, 2008

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