Last updated: August 10, 2021

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You probably know the following situation: A hot summer afternoon, the sun is burning and the air is stagnant. Now a cool drink, that would be the salvation. But of course, no drink is cold and no ice cubes are prepared. The solution to this dilemma is quite simple: an ice cube maker, i.e. a kitchen appliance with which you can prepare ice cubes for your drinks within a few minutes.

In our ice cube maker test 2021 we compare the different models. Which one is right for you depends on your expectations and how you want to use the appliance. We tell you the advantages and disadvantages of both water-cooled and air-cooled devices to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • Ice cube makers are electric kitchen appliances that allow you to make ice cubes at home.
  • Unlike conventional ice cube moulds for the freezer, with an ice cube maker you are spontaneous and can produce a large quantity of ice cubes in a short time.
  • Ice cube makers are therefore indispensable if you like to host parties, entertain people or don't want to miss out on cool drinks in the summer.

The Best Ice Cube Maker: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an Ice Cube Maker

What is an ice maker?

An ice cube maker is a kitchen appliance that allows you to make ice cubes automatically.

The ice cube maker is almost indispensable in the catering industry, but you as a private person can also benefit from such a device. For example, in hot summers, or if you like to organise cocktail parties for which you need larger quantities of ice cubes.

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In the USA, refrigerators with integrated ice cube makers have long been indispensable. Meanwhile, demand in Germany is also steadily increasing. (Image source: Unsplash.com / Wesual Click)

The clear advantage of the ice cube maker is that you can make large quantities of ice cubes in a short time, because most devices do not even need 15 minutes for one run and can thus make several kilograms of ice cubes a day. Plus, you won't lose any freezer space.

How much does an ice cube maker cost?

Ice cube makers come in different variations and price ranges. Which model is right for you depends mainly on how you want to use the appliance.

If you simply want to use the device for yourself as a private person for the summer or for parties, you have to calculate about 100 to 150 euros for a standard model.

If you want to use the device professionally, a standard model will not be enough. You need a device specifically for the catering industry that can produce larger quantities of ice cubes.

Some ice cube makers for the catering trade start at around 500 euros, but you usually have to reckon with around 1000 euros. Very high-quality catering models can cost several thousand euros.

Use Price
Private use 100 - 150 €
Gastronomy 500 - 10,000 €

How do I use an ice maker?

While the various models differ slightly, all ice cube makers consist of the following elements:

  • Either a water connection or a water tank, depending on the model
  • A motor
  • Cooling elements (these can have different shapes depending on the model)
  • A heater
  • A collection tray for the finished ice cubes
The ice cube maker then really only needs two things to make ice cubes: Water and electricity.

First, you must either connect the appliance to the water supply or fill the water tank. You also need to connect the appliance to the power supply. The water then flows inside the appliance to the cooling elements. The ice cubes are formed here within a few minutes.

To make the finished ice cubes detach from the cooling elements, they are briefly heated. The ice cubes then end up in the collection container.

What alternatives are there to an ice cube maker?

If you don't want to buy an ice cube maker, there are two alternatives for you: either you buy ready-made ice cubes in the supermarket, or you make them yourself in moulds made of plastic or silicone.

Both alternatives are cheaper than an ice cube maker, but also less practical.

You have to make a special trip to the supermarket for ready-made ice cubes, and if you're having a party, you'll need a freezer to store them in until you need them.

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An ice maker may seem expensive to buy initially. However, if you use ice cubes regularly or need larger quantities, the purchase is often well worth it. (Image source: Pixabay.com / Hans Braxmeier)

With ice cube moulds, your spontaneity is severely limited because the moulds have to freeze for several hours before the ice cubes can be consumed. If you want to avoid this situation, you always have to have a few ready-frozen moulds in the freezer, which means you lose space.

We have summarised all the advantages and disadvantages of ice cube makers compared to the alternatives here:

Advantages
  • More space in the freezer
  • No extra shopping necessary
  • Spontaneity available
  • Production in large quantities possible
Disadvantages
  • More expensive to buy initially
  • Unit requires storage space for storage
  • Unit needs regular cleaning

How do I clean an ice cube maker properly?

Since an ice maker is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and germs, it is important that you clean it regularly. It is important that you follow the manufacturer's instructions. Many appliances have an integrated self-cleaning function. If this is not the case, you have to clean it by hand.

Before you start, be sure to unplug the appliance. Also, if the machine has a water pipe, turn it off, or if the machine has a water tank, empty it.

You can carefully wipe the housing of the appliance and the interior with a damp cloth. You can easily wash the ice cube tray and the water tank with washing-up liquid.

For a really thorough cleaning, you should also disinfect these two parts - but afterwards you should produce two to three portions of ice cubes and throw them away so that you do not consume any chemicals.

How often the ice maker needs to be cleaned depends on how often you use it. Kitchen professionals recommend cleaning the appliance with water and detergent after each use, and also disinfecting it at least once a week if you use it daily.

What Types of Ice Cube Makers are there and which one is right for you?

If you want to buy an ice maker, there are two different versions to choose from:

  • Air-cooled ice cube makers
  • Water-cooled ice cube makers

Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages. Which version is right for you depends mainly on how and where you want to use the machine. The following section will help you decide.

What are the features of an air-cooled ice maker and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Most small ice cube makers for home use are air-cooled. This means that they have a small fan built into the side, which is used to cool the appliance. For this cooling system to work, care must be taken to ensure that there is sufficient distance from the wall or other objects on the side.

Air cooling is very inexpensive and also works pleasantly quietly. This means that you do not have to endure any loud noises when the appliance produces ice cubes in your home.

Since air-cooled ice cube makers need the air to cool down the appliance, the room temperature must logically also be rather cool. It must never exceed 32° Celsius.

We have summarised the advantages and disadvantages of air-cooled ice cube makers for you here:

Advantages
  • Suitable for private use
  • Low operating costs
  • Quiet
Disadvantages
  • Room temperature must be no more than 32° Celsius
  • Unit must be at a distance from the side

What are the features of a water-cooled ice maker and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Water-cooled ice cube makers are very popular mainly in the catering trade. For private use, you will most likely not find a device with water cooling.

Due to the lack of a fan, this variant does not require sufficient space on the side. In addition, it is not sensitive to heat and can also be used at room temperatures above 32° Celsius, which makes this variant ideal for large-scale catering kitchens.

Due to the water consumption, however, water-cooled ice cube makers are more expensive in the longer term because of the operating costs.

We have summarised the advantages and disadvantages of water-cooled ice cube makers for you here:

Advantages
  • Suitable for the catering trade
  • room temperature may also be above 32° Celsius
  • space on the side not necessary
Disadvantages
  • Not produced for private use
  • higher operating costs due to water consumption

Buying Criteria: Use these Factors to compare and evaluate Ice Cube Makers

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible ice cube makers.

The criteria you can use to compare the ice cube makers with each other include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what is important in the individual criteria.

Handling

The easier an ice cube maker is to use, the better it is for you

It is best if the appliance has a display with buttons or even a touch display. This way you can easily operate the appliance and select different programmes.

You can also see on the display how long the machine needs to run or if you need to refill the water.

Some machines also have an acoustic signal that informs you when the machine has finished production. This means you don't have to wait next to the machine and can still start the next cycle quickly.

Water tank capacity

How many ice cubes you can make with your ice cube maker depends on the size of the water tank.

Most ice cube makers for private use have a water tank volume of between 1.1 litres and 3.3 litres. Most appliances are right in the middle with a volume of 2.1 litres.

The water tank volume you need depends on your usage. If you only use the appliance at home and don't mind refilling the tank more often, an appliance with a smaller water tank capacity will suffice.

If, on the other hand, you want the appliance to produce ice cubes for as long as possible, you should go for an appliance with a larger water tank.

Duration and quantity of ice cubes produced

While all ice makers produce ice cubes much faster than the classic plastic ice cube moulds, there are considerable differences in the production time.

While some devices need 10 to 13 minutes or even 15 minutes for one run, some models only need 6 to 8 minutes.

If you want to make your ice cubes as quickly as possible, you should look for a model with a shorter cycle time.

On the other hand, there is little difference in the quantity of ice cubes produced. Almost all models made for private use can produce 12 kilograms of ice cubes in 24 hours. However, there are also a few models that can produce up to 15 kilograms.

Size and type of ice cubes

There are big differences in the size of the ice cubes between the models. Some ice cube makers can only produce a single size, other models two or even three different ones.

Again, it depends on what you want to use the machine for. For example, do you only want ice cubes to cool your drinks in the summer? Then a device with only one size is sufficient.

Do you want to use the ice cubes for different cocktails? Then you might be interested in a device with different sizes. You should also take a close look at the sizes the machine can produce. The sizes are indicated either in small, medium and large, or in S, M and L.

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Do you like to drink cocktails? Then the ice cube maker is an ideal addition to your home bar. (Image source: Pixabay.com / StockSnap)

Some machines can also make crushed ice. If you want to use the machine to make crushed ice, make sure you pick a model with this feature.

Cleaning

How easy it is to clean an appliance is an important purchase criterion for many people. After a nice summer party, you don't want to spend a lot of time cleaning your machine.

That's why many ice cube makers have a built-in self-cleaning programme. All you have to do is select it in the menu and, if necessary, add the cleaning agent recommended by the manufacturer. The appliance does the rest by itself.

If the appliance does not have a built-in self-cleaning programme, it is important that the water tank and the ice cube tray can be easily removed. Then you can simply rinse the two parts instead of having to tediously clean them inside the appliance.

Image source: Phikulthong/ 123rf.com

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