Finding the Best Gelato Machine for Your Home

cuisinart gelato machineThe first time I had gelato was in Rome and I’ve never forgotten it! If you’ve had real authentic gelato, then you know what I mean.  Fortunately there are gelato machines that we can use at home for the perfect dessert.

I’ve written this review with the Cuisinart ICE 100 in mind, however the points I make are useful no matter which gelato or ice cream machine you choose.

The Italians Know Best

I used to talk about the Italian DeLonghi GM6000 gelato maker, however it is no longer available as of this present time.

But wait!  I’ve got great news because I have found another gelato machine that has come about that includes many of the great features DeLonghi was able to at one time boast about, it’s the Cuisinart ICE 100.

It’s a close call between this and a few others, but this machine is designed with the understanding that gelato and ice cream are NOT the same thing.  That is key and I explain why further down.

In this review I will give you the information you need to make the right purchase decision so you can have great tasting gelato and/or ice cream anytime you want right in your own home.

Benefits of Gelato

Gelato is often viewed as a healthy alternative to ice cream due to it’s lower calorie content. This is because gelato is generally made with whole milk or even 2% milk rather than cream.

Gelato also has a greater density and therefore consumers tend to eat less quantity. So for those who are watching their waistlines, take heart, gelato may soon become your new midnight snack!

gelato coneBenefits of Making Homemade Gelato or Ice Cream

Gee, where do I even start with this one???  First, as I repeatedly talk about on my website, making your own food at home means having greater control over what goes in it.  Do we really need hydrogenated this and hydrogenated that, along with this form of acid sorbate and guar gum, etc. etc. just to make a simple meal?

The same applies with gelato or ice cream.  You have total control over the ingredients such as the quality of milk, the type of sugar, the freshness of fruit, or even the type of chocolate such as using cacao instead of some hydrogenated oil coupled with some form of chocolate flavoring.

Next time you go to the grocery store try looking for organic ice cream (forget organic gelato I’ve never seen it anywhere).  If, and that’s a BIG if, they happen to have it, compare the ingredient list with non-organic or non-all natural ice cream.  I say all-natural because at least that has less junk in it, albeit not organic.

What to Look for When Buying a Gelato Machine?

This review will help make buying a gelato maker straight forward so you know what you need to look for. I’ve broken down this article into a few sections.  Feel free to jump around or just read right through.  The basics I cover are:

  • Gelato vs. Ice Cream – the Air Factor – why is this is important
  • Refigerant Compressor – huge time saver!
  • Size dimensions and design so you know where you can store and use the machine
  • The various parts that are included
  • The manual and recipe book
  • Where you can purchase and learn more about the Cuisinart ICE 100 (or other models if you choose)

Gelato vs. Ice cream – the Air Factor

Gelato in Italian means, “ice cream” or “frozen”, so gelato is simply Italian ice cream. This doesn’t mean it tastes the same as American ice cream however.

They are similar, but think of them more like cousins.  One area where gelato is different is the fact that it does not mix in alot of air during the blending process, unlike it’s American counterpart which can include up to 50% air. Gelato is between 20 and 30%.

By incorporating less air, the ice cream texture is denser and creamier and also creates a more intense flavor. Alternatively, more air creates the more American airier and lighter consistency.

Due to this “air” factor, this is why a gelato maker is different than an ice cream maker. In order to prevent as much air as possible from getting into the ice cream, the machine must control the air factor.

cuisinart-ice-gelato-machineCuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream and Gelato Maker

Unlike the DeLonghi which had an air tight lid to keep out air, the Cuisinart ICE 100 machine instead uses a special gelato mixing paddle which limits the amount of air into the mixture.  There is a different paddle for when you want to make strictly ice cream.

I find this actually pretty ingenious because I used to promote the idea of getting a machine that only does gelato.  However, the fact is not everyone likes gelato and prefers ice cream.  With the Cuisinart version, you can do either or and frankly I think that is pretty cool.

Good job Cuisinart for finally coming out with something common sense!

Refrigerating Compressor

This is an important feature and Cuisinart was a bit slow in catching on in earlier years, but they finally have and it’s been worth the wait.  Here’s why.

Having a machine with an internal refrigerating compressor allows the user to avoid pre-freezing any bowls (often requiring 8 hours in a freezer prior to mixing) to achieve a certain temperature.

Since the ICE-100  has its own refrigerating compressor, the machine can operate at below freezing temperatures, allowing the user to create batch after batch of gelato, without the need of pre-freezing any bowls.

From the time you mix the ingredients and start the machine, you can have your first batch ready to eat in approximately 45 to 60 minutes. The only time you need your freezer is to store it when you are done!

Keep Cool Feature

This leads me to one area I think they could upgrade, because I’ve seen other versions such as the Knox Ice Cream and Gelato Maker (a strong contender) which has a keep cool feature that repeats every 10 minutes for an hour. The feature keeps the container cool after the compressor shuts off so the ice cream doesn’t start warming right away.

Cuisinart’s keep cool feature keeps it cool but only for 10 minutes.  The Knox keeps it up to an hour.

The other issue which isn’t too big a deal really, is that Cuisinart admits it is still best to put the mixture in the freezer when done for a bit just to help harden it up.  I know it is hard to have a machine make it a “hard” texture because of the mechanics of the equipment, but frankly I think this is a minimal concern at best – but worth pointing out.

Air Tight Ice Cream or Gelato Freezer ContainersTovolo Ice Cream containers

Make sure to buy some ice cream containers that will accommodate your batches.   You can buy sets of small portion size containers, or tubs that contain much more.  Make sure to get a size that works for you and your freezer.

Tovolo offers some cool 1.5 Quart size ice cream tubs which are stackable, reusable and dishwasher safe.

To help when shopping online for various other sizes:
1.5 Qts = 48 oz
1.5 Qts = 3 pints

Size and Design

cuisinart-ice-100The Cuisnart Gelato maker is 16x12x9 inches.   That means 16 inches in Depth, 12 inches in Width and 9 inches in Height.

This is actually a tad bit smaller than the Delonghi which is nice.  This means it should fit on any countertop without hitting any cupboards that might be above it.

Size is an important factor when purchasing any kitchen appliance, because it is important to make sure that the item fits where you plan on using it, and that it can be easily stored when not in use.

It weighs 32 pounds which is fairly heavy in my opinion however certainly not unreasonable and is in line with other makers out there.  The compressor I’m sure is what adds to the weight.

The machine is a stainless steel finish which is cool looking and will match any kitchen decor.

It should be stated that each batch produces 1.5 quarts of gelato.

Included Parts:

The machine includes the following:

Removable anodized aluminum mixing bowl.

The bowl looks like a bucket and has a handle to easily life out of the mixer.

It would have been nice if this was stainless steel, however in terms of functionality it works fine.

Patent Pending Mixing Paddlesgelato-paddleice-cream-paddle

The unit comes with two types of paddles as mentioned above.  One for gelato and one for ice cream.

They look similar in appearance but their design allows for either more or less air to be incorporated into the mixture.  They are made of a hard plastic.

Transparent Lid with Small Mix-In Opening

transparent lidThe lid is a clear plastic which allows you to observe the mixing process.  When you visit Amazon, check out the reviews as there are users who took pictures of what it looks like through the lid.  Pretty cool.

When making gelato, try not to open the lid as this will allow more air into the mixing bowl and we don’t want that to happen.

What is also nice is that there is a small opening in the front of the lid which allows you to easily add in other ingredients such as nuts, chocolate chips, or fruit towards the last 5 minutes of mixing.  You always want to wait on adding these additional ingredients until the end.

Manual with Recipe Book

Obviously you will get a manual, but don’t toss it away! Flip the manual over you’ve got yourself a nice recipe book courtesy of Cuisinart.  Recipes include a nice creative mix of ideas such as:

  • Fresh Mint w/ Chocolate Cookies
  • Dairy Free Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Custart Style Ice Cream
  • Espresso Gelato
  • Lemon Gelato
  • Mascarpone and Fig Gelato (no, I’m not kidding!)
  • and much more…

Don’t limit yourself just to this book however, check out other gelato and ice cream recipe books online.

Is it Dishwasher Safe?

Yes and no.  Mixing bowl is NOT dishwasher safe.  Most likely this is because its made of aluminum.  If it were stainless steel it would be different.  You need to clean the bowl with warm soapy water and no abrasive cleansers or sponges, let dry fully.  The paddles and lid are top shelf dishwasher safe.

What About the Warranty?

So this is really great – the unit comes with a 3 year limited warranty, plus Amazon offers a 2 year protection plan for super cheap.

You must keep your original proof of purchase, so keep your email confirmation or printed receipt.  Put it in a folder, staple a copy to the manual – whatever, but you’ll need this. As of this writing, the Consumer Service Hotline is 800-726-0190.

Where to Learn More or Purchase

I’m a huge fan of Amazon for multiple reasons.  We have Prime and the customer service is awesome.  They have it down pat. I would recommend looking there for low prices and options.

You can also read what others have to say about their experiences with it in Amazon’s customer review section… maybe you’ll be writing one too!

Enjoy Your Gelato and Salute!