To the point
When it comes to frozen desserts, shaved ice is a very specific thing. Unlike snow cones, which tend to be dense and crunchy, shaved ice is soft and chewy. You might even forget you’re munching on ice cream as your spoon sinks into the soft texture, delivering a sweet, refreshing flavor with every bite.
Due to its distinctiveness, shaved ice is not something you can easily make at home. Of course you can spray a handful of cubes into a blender Or culinary robotbut you won’t get the same fluffy results.
What you can do, however, is get a shaved ice machine. Yes, it’s a niche device and no, it’s probably not. need one, but wouldn’t it be cool, literally, to have shaved ice on demand? (Because, let’s say, Hello Hello, drinks or as a bed for shucked oysters.) It turns out there are many shaved ice machines on the market. To make sure you’re spending your hard-earned money on a device that actually works, we put eight of them through rigorous testing (spending around 16 hours evaluating the machines). Two emerged victorious.
The winners at a glance
This machine produced fluffy, fabulous ice cream every time throughout our testing. We’re also fans of its sleek, minimal footprint.
We love a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and this shaving ice accessory is simple and does its job well. It comes with four ice molds and two blades (for coarse and fine ice).
- Crushed ice test: This one is a no-brainer: of course, our shaved ice machines had to be able to make shaved ice. We tested each machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, evaluating ease of use and consistency.
- Snow cone test: No, we’re not here today for snow cones, but if a machine was labeled as capable of making snow cones in addition to shaved ice, we tested that feature as well. Again, we looked for ease of use and texture consistency.
- UX observations: We also took notes on how easy the machines were to clean, whether they were safe to use, how loud they were, and what they looked like. And as some qualities are subjective, we favored the performance of the machine rather than aesthetics.
What we learned
Getting the right texture was key
They may look similar, but there is a big difference between the consistency of shaved ice and snow cone ice. Many machines we tested claimed to offer both styles, when in reality they simply produced snow cones with different sized ice chunks. As we mentioned earlier, shaved ice has a lighter, fluffier texture than the typical shaved ice in snow cones. One of our favorite crushed ice machines, by KitchenAid, even gives you two blades: the thin one produces shaved ice that seems pretty fluffy, but looks like a snow cone when syrup or the like is added; coarse ice makes a crisper ice that is better suited for drinks or applications as a cool (ha) resting place for shucked oysters.
Ice cubes vs. Blocks (or washers!)
While ice cubes are great for making snow cones, regular ice cubes just don’t deliver the right results when it comes to making shaved ice. Having to plan ahead and freeze molds of ice blocks – usually round and flat, like a hockey puck – in order to make real shaved ice isn’t very practical, but the machines that came out on top had specially designed blades that “shave” ice flakes from larger blocks. So buyer beware: if a machine claims to make both shaved ice and snow cones, but it doesn’t come with special molds, chances are it won’t. only makes snow cones. To this end, our two favorites (from Hawaiian Shaved Ice and KitchenAid) come with their own molds.
Security! Blades exposed!
Even if you don’t have kids running around, you probably make shaved ice (or snow cones) as a fun activity, so be careful. Select a machine without exposed blades and look for one with a clearly marked and accessible stop switch. For example, the KitchenAid Shaved Ice Maker, which you turn on and off via the stand mixer control switch, has a few built-in safety features. It must first be turned to the locked position to bring the ice closer to the blades. and the blades are hidden under the accessory and behind a plastic panel.
It’s become complicated
Most of the shaved ice machines we tested made a mess. Luckily, ice is just water, so it shouldn’t cause too many problems, but it’s worth being aware that chunks of ice can go flying, especially as you get familiar with the machine. Even our winners tend to smudge after shaving, as there is inevitably a bit of puck left untreated.
The criteria: What to look for in a crushed ice machine
A good shaved ice machine should have hidden blades that are sharp and capable of shaving small, precise flakes. They should also include molds for creating ice that can actually be shaved and, ideally, be easy to use and clean.
The best crushed ice machines
What we liked: This machine produced very soft and fluffy crushed ice. We were impressed with its consistency and adjustable blade height, which lets you dial in exactly the texture you’re looking for. The HomePro was easy to use and the internal components are well contained, so it’s safe and doesn’t take up much space. It includes five ice cream molds.
What we didn’t like: It’s a little noisy when operating and given its height (over 15 inches), it can be difficult to store in a standard cabinet.
Price at time of publication: $100.
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.25 x 15.5 inches
- Material: Plastic
- Functions: Shaved ice and snow cones (and everything in between)
- Understand : Ice shaver, 5 ice molds with lids, collection tray cover
What we liked: It’s hard to beat the space-saving efficiency of a countertop shaved ice maker. It came with four molds producing ice cream pucks. To use the crushed ice maker, choose the desired blade (coarse or fine), attach the attachment to the hub of a stand mixer, place a puck of ice into the plastic hopper, then turn the hopper on the accessory to lock it. place. After turning on the stand mixer, the crushed ice will start coming out immediately.
What we didn’t like: Four ice pucks isn’t much, so you’ll be limited by the amount of crushed ice you can make, unless you buy additional molds.
Price at time of publication: $90.
- Dimensions: 4.63 x 6.25 x 9 inches
- Material: Plastic
- Functions: Crushed ice
- Understand : Fine and coarse blades, 4 ice molds with lids
- ZENY ice shaving machine: This machine was good for snow cones, but it didn’t produce the fluffy shaved ice we wanted (it also didn’t come with ice cream molds).
- Hawaiian S900A Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine: This one never gave the promised soft texture of shaved ice. We found that it produced tiny shards of ice rather than crushed ice or snow cone ice.
- Nostalgia Snow Cone Shaved Ice Machine: Although this machine looks retro-cool and produces nice shaved ice, we found it tedious to use and the motor risked stalling if the ice was not pressed in enough.
- Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker: The Cuisinart machine was easy to use and made no mess, but the name says it all: it’s a snow cone machine, not a shaved ice machine.
- Time For Treats SnowFlake Snow Cone Maker: This crank contraption looks more like a child’s toy than a practical tool, and has the necessary stability.
- DASH crushed ice machine: Testers found the DASH to be closer to a shaved ice machine than a shaved ice machine. Perfect for cocktails, not so good for shaved ice treats.
How to make crushed ice without a machine?
Although you can throw ice into a plastic bag and hit it with a meat pounder Or rolling pin Until you get the consistency you want, you’ll get a closer approximation to reality by shaving off a block of ice with a sharp knife. This is neither safe nor particularly effective, however, so you risk seeing your shavings melt before you accumulate enough to use. Plus, it’s terrible for the knife blade!
How much does a crushed ice machine cost?
Prices for the shaved ice machines we tested ranged from $27 to $250, with an average price of $79. Our favorite shaved ice machines both cost less than $100.
Why we are the experts
- To find the best shaved ice machines, we tested eight models, focusing on those, mostly, that promised both shaved ice and snow cones (who doesn’t like variety?). We spent about 16 hours evaluating these machines.
- Our favorite shaved ice machines have undergone long-term testing and we will soon update this review with any relevant findings that arise. (Senior Commerce Editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm greatly appreciated the KitchenAid accessory-using it for cocktails, mocktails and more.)
- Summer Rylander is a freelance writer and has written several gear reviews for Serious Eats, including pellet grills, Traeger GrillsAnd gas grills. She has been writing for Serious Eats for over a year.
We may have received some of the products in this review as press samples, but all opinions are our own.