8 gadgets you need to make frozen treats at home
These kitchen tools will help you beat the heat.
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It’s the middle of July and it’s hot out there, but let's not dwell on the heat–the 3rd Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day and we've got some ideas to help you cool off and celebrate!
From homemade ice cream and sorbet to popsicles and frozen cocktails, these delicious warm-weather staples can provide sweet relief—and you don’t even have to leave your house to get them.
We’ve rounded up our favorite gadgets for making frozen treats at home. From award-winning ice cream makers to top-rated ice pop molds, here’s what we recommend to help you beat the heat on National Ice Cream Day and all summer long.
1. The best ice cream maker we’ve ever tested
Ice cream is the quintessential frozen treat, and after weeks of churning and taste-testing, we chose the Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart as the best ice cream maker on the market. Easy to use, reasonably priced, and small enough to live on your counter during the summer, this Cuisinart can create a smooth batch of classic vanilla as well as a well-mixed rocky road.
The simple design—a single switch to turn on and off, plus an open top to facilitate pouring in chocolate chips and scooping out taste tests—means that you can focus more on flavors and fixings and less on screwing up dessert.
The cherry on top of this fudge sundae is that the Cuisinart ICE-21 was the quickest ice cream maker we tested. In about 20 minutes, it can turn a sugar-and-cream mixture to a bowl of delicious dessert. We even used it to make dog-friendly ice cream for our four-legged friends. For under $75, we think that’s a worthwhile investment.
$66 at Amazon
2. The do-it-all Ninja CREAMi
The Ninja Creami can turn simple ingredients into creamy sorbet, milkshakes, gelato, smoothie bowls, and, of course, ice cream. The slim motor base has a digital one-touch program for whatever treat you want to make, and its own pint containers for creating and spinning your perfect frozen creations.
Unlike many ice cream makers that require you to freeze a bowl or insert ahead of time, the Creami only requires that you freeze your liquid base. Twenty-four hours later (yes, we know it's hard to wait!) you can whip up your treat in less than 2 minutes. And fortunately, you get multiple freezing containers in your starter kit (plus you can purchase extras) so you never have to be without a frozen concoction ready to go.
And don't forget, smoothie bowls, milkshakes, and "soft serve" can be whipped up without waiting!
$200 from Walmart
3. A fruity soft-serve maker for every kind of diet
Whether you’re on a dairy-free diet or just prefer your dessert light, this top-rated fruit soft-serve maker from Yonanas can help you indulge. It turns frozen fruit into a delicious, healthy soft-serve treat that tastes like ice cream, without the additional fat, sugar, or preservatives.
According to reviews, its chute easily accepts berries, sliced mango, and frozen banana, and its integrated spinning blade mashes and incorporates the fruit into a smooth confection with the texture of soft-serve ice cream or yogurt.
$40 at Amazon
4. Ice pop molds for kid-friendly creations
If you’ve got little ones, these soft silicone ice pop molds are perfect for making them age-appropriate sweet treats. Just pour in their favorite juice or flavored water mixture and let your freezer do the work. Available in a range of sizes and fun shapes, including fish pops, safari pops, and space pops, they’ll put a smile on everyone’s faces. They’re also BPA-free, easy to use, and don’t make a mess—what’s not to love?
Don’t have kids? You can also use the full-sized molds for making frozen alco-pops. You’re welcome.
$18 at Amazon
5. A high-powered blender for margaritas and more
You don’t need the best blender on the market to make margaritas and other frozen cocktails, but you do need something strong enough to crush a whole lot of ice. For a task like this, we like the new pro-style blender from Ninja. Besides—a good blender will serve you year-round, not just when Jimmy Buffett is playing.
$70 at Amazon
Speaking of Jimmy Buffet, one of our former editors really, really loved using one of the Margaritaville margarita makers. If you’re someone who loves to host summer parties, it might be the gadget for you.
6. Our favorite personal blender for smoothies
Sometimes, you need to bring your summer vacation along with you—which calls for a personal blender. While it was a close race to the top during testing, Ninja’s most basic model of their Nutri-Ninja, the Fit, ultimately earned its place as our favorite personal blender.
It’s the Goldilocks of the category: not too big and powerful, not too small and weak, but just right. We were impressed by its speed and strength when whipping up fruit smoothies, which turned out smooth as can be, and its 700-watt motor’s relatively low noise level while grinding away.
$55 at Amazon
7. The best cold brew coffee maker we’ve ever tested
While not technically a frozen treat, cold brew coffee is a staple for so, so many people trying to survive the summer and stay caffeinated at the same time. If you’d rather brew at home than grab your daily fix from a cafe, we recommend the Takeya cold brew coffee maker, which took first place in our roundup.
The brewer is easy to set up, offers a durable build, and is simple to clean and store for later use. It’s also the only brewer that is air-tight while it brews, allowing you to easily store it on its side in a packed fridge.
$25 at Amazon
8. An ice cream attachment for your stand mixer
If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer and don’t want to invest in a standalone ice cream maker, this attachment is for you.
This bad boy makes up to two quarts of ice cream, gelato, or sorbet in under 30 minutes. Put the included freeze bowl in the freezer ahead of time, then fill it with ingredients and power it up. It’s pretty hands-off: The dasher rotates inside the bowl to mix everything evenly.
$70 at Amazon
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.