Can this $30 gadget really make the perfect shaved ice?
This tiny appliance promises to make snow cones, frozen margs, and more.
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Popular appliance brand Dash makes a variety of kitchen gadgets, all of them aesthetically pleasing and shockingly affordable for the most part. Perusing its website will have you ooh-ing and aww-ing over a plethora of mini makers, air fryers, popcorn poppers, and most tempting to me, a shaved ice maker.
Granted, I’m skeptical of shave ice and shave ice makers outside of Hawaii, where I grew up. Light, powdery shave ice was coaxed into globes larger than my head, so now I expect all shave ice to be fluffy—and no, there’s no “d” in Hawaiian shave ice. The only time I’ve enjoyed a shave ice on the mainland that approximated the profound airiness of Hawaiian shave ice was by collecting snow during a blizzard and dousing it with lilikoi syrup. I put my skepticism aside to see if the Dash Shaved Ice Maker could recreate the shave ice of my childhood.
About the Dash Shaved Ice Maker
The Dash Shaved Ice Maker is similar to a food processor with a plastic base, a blade, and a chute to dispense the shaved ice into a bowl placed beneath it. It’s very different from the contraptions you’d find at Hawaiian shave ice establishments with whirring blades that rotate and transform a solid block of ice into powdery snow.
Its blade is scarcely over an inch long and sits in an inner bowl, which in turn, sits in an outer, clear plastic bowl. The entire contraption is measures 12-by-6-inches and weighs less than one pound, so it doesn’t take up much counterspace at all. With the exception of the base, all parts are dishwasher-safe.
How to use the Dash Shaved Ice Maker
In order to use this ice maker, you place ice cubes into the inner bowl of the machine, click the lid in place, and rotate the lid to start the shaving. The experience is identical to that of using a mini food processor.
Shaved ice starts to accumulate in a bowl that you place below the blade. Filling up the inner bowl of the machine with ice cubes yields about enough shaved ice for two people.
Topping tips from a pro
Even if your shaved ice maker produces imperfect shave ice, the best way to enjoy it is with plenty of toppings—all you’ll need are fruit purees, cane sugar, condensed milk, and for a classic Hawaiian garnish, li hing mui powder (made from salty dried Chinese plums). I prefer to avoid artificially flavored syrups, so I made three batches of simple syrup using a 1:1 ratio of raw organic sugar and water, heated over the stove until the grains of sugar dissolved. To finish, I added a different fruit puree to each batch of simple syrup.
I used black currant, raspberry, and passion fruit (or lilikoi if you’re in Hawaii) to make my DIY fruit syrups, but you can purchase a variety of high-quality fruit purees online if you’d rather save a step or two, like this passion fruit puree from iGourmet.
I added about a tablespoon of the lilikoi and raspberry purees to half a cup of simple syrup and about a teaspoon of blackcurrant to half a cup of simple syrup to reach a consistency and flavor that I liked. After drizzling my homemade fruit syrups in rows over the ice, I grabbed teaspoons and created sweetened condensed milk lace patterns over top. The final touch was a sprinkle of Ono Pops’ All-Natural Li Hing Mui powder, which I prefer to the standard preserved plum powders available everywhere in Hawaii that contain dyes and aspartame.
What we like
The Dash Shaved Ice Maker comes with a booklet of recipes, including a recipe for matcha ice that looks incredibly enticing and refreshing. The maker doesn’t take up a huge amount of counter space and it’s cute enough to be considered décor if you don’t have space to stash it.
The shaved ice that it spits out can dress up fresh fruit on a balmy day, elevate your frozen daquiri game, and it is the perfect texture upon which to rest freshly shucked oysters. I tested it in the Drexel University Food Lab (where I’m teaching this semester) and made a delightful dessert of fresh strawberries, ice flavored with fruit purees, and condensed milk. This was undoubtedly satisfying, though entirely unlike the Hawaiian shave ice I was hoping to produce.
What we don’t like
This ice maker produces large and heavy grains of ice. The texture of shave ice is essential to hold up to the syrups drizzled on top—Hawaiian shave ice stays fluffy, even if you pack it down hard. I tried packing down the ice from the Dash machine and the result was a large, round ice cube that would probably please a whiskey drinker, but not a shave ice fan.
Is the Dash Shaved Ice Maker worth it?
No, if you have a refrigerator at home that makes crushed ice, they'll produce almost identical results. Its single function seems a little silly, but under specific circumstances (your refrigerator doesn't have a crushed ice function, you've built a speakeasy in your basement after a year of lockdown, you've never been to Hawaii so you don’t know what you’re missing), I can see this being a worthwhile $29.99 purchase.
That said, it does technically work. But if you're looking for Dash products we fully recommend, check out these mini makers.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.