Cuisinart Ice 21: A Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Review by a Real User

January 30, 2011

homemade ice cream machine

I had been wanting to get an automatic ice cream machine for a while but wondered if it was worth the expense. I finally caved and got one that I hoped would be inexpensive, easy to use, durable, and give me freedom to make homemade ice cream, yogurt, sorbets, and other frozen delights. Here is a Cuisinart ice cream maker review, of the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker machine.

Years ago we had a really cheap, hand-cranked ice cream maker. The idea is that there is a large bowl you place in your freezer. When you are ready to make ice cream or other frozen dessert, you add your mixture and the paddle and start turning.

The paddle incorporates air into the base mix and allows smaller ice crystals to form as it is freezing. The result is creamy and smooth, without ice crystals that can make your ice cream crunchy and less desirable.

The problem with that old homemade ice cream machine was that you had to constantly crank for about half an hour. And you couldn’t stop, because the stuff would freeze where it touched the sides of the bowl. The plastic mixing paddle was put under a lot of strain to move so much ice cream. There was more and more resistance as the mixture froze.

The Cuisinart Ice 21 ice cream machine kind of reverses the paddle mechanism, plus it is automated. That means you do not have to crank or turn anything, except turn on the switch!

The freezer bowl part of the equation is the same. You need a fairly large space in your freezer to keep it there. It needs to be upright; otherwise, the liquid inside will freeze unevenly, which means the ice cream will freeze unevenly.

Use the bowl immediately after you take it out of the freezer, because it starts to lose its potency every second it is out. You will only be able to make one batch, too, so purchase extra bowls if you want to do consecutive batches at a time.

This maker has a 1-1/2 quart capacity, which is just right. That’s about what a typical blender can hold, and since I do most of my base mixes in the blender, that works perfectly. It’s just enough for me to keep some to eat ourselves, and give a smaller portion away to a friend, for critiquing, or as a gift.

The base has a shaft which turns the bowl, rather than turning the paddle. The paddle is held in place by the clear plastic lid. It actually scrapes the mixture off the sides of the freezing bowl, so it freezes and immediately gets scraped off.

It’s an electric ice cream machine, so you plug it in, turn it on, add your base, and watch and wait. The amount of noise it makes isn’t much. Kind of like an electric can opener.

The clear plastic lid makes it easy to see what’s happening–it’s kind of fun to watch–and you can tell when the mixture is the right consistency to add your mix-ins. Those are the stuff like chopped nuts, chunks of fruits, cookie dough, or cookie crumbs.

I’ve even made a mint chocolate chip ice cream the way they do commercially, to create chewy chocolate bits! That’s been the most popular flavor so far.

I’ve also made grape sorbet, leftover fruit salad sherbet and watermelon sorbet with it. All have turned out great.

You should figure on freezing your ice cream for a few hours after churning, because it ends up being somewhat soft, like a thick soft serve. It takes about 25-30 minutes to get to that consistency.

And to answer my question about whether or not the consistency is much different? The answer is yes, absolutely.

I used to partially freeze my base, then put it back into the blender to break up the ice crystals, then freeze until solid. That worked quite well, although there were still some ice crystals in there, which didn’t bother me, and my best friend actually likes that iciness.

But the texture with the Cuisinart ice cream maker is definitely creamier and smoother. So if smooth texture is a huge factor to you, you will enjoy the end results.

Make sure to wash and dry the bowl thoroughly before putting it back in the freezer. If there is any water in the bottom, it will go into the hole for the paddle, and your machine won’t work. You might even break it.

And I would be careful to not drop the plastic cover, because that is crucial for the machine to work properly. I’m guessing one good fall would be enough to break it.

So other than those drawbacks, I can enthusiastically recommend the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker. It’s a well-designed and made machine that allows you to make homemade ice cream and yogurt and other stuff easily. The price has dropped considerably since it has come on the market, so it’s absolutely affordable, too.

Get an extra bowl

Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Additional Freezer Bowl, fits ICE-20 Ice Cream Maker
–you want to make more than one batch at a time

–you want to make more than 1-1/2 quarts

–you want to use this to cool things quickly, such as pie fillings. Place a metal bowl on top this frozen bowl, and put your filling in the metal bowl. This frozen bowl chills the other one, which will cool your mixture very quickly.

–you want to use this as a makeshift wine bottle cooler. Cover it with pretty fabric, so it looks nice.

Frozen Yogurt Recipes for Your Ice Cream Maker

Although the recipes used soy yogurt, they will work equally well with regular dairy yogurt.
Chocolate Soy Frozen Yogurt, with a nice chocolate, tangy flavor.

If you live in Hawaii and get stuck for ways to use those mangoes before they get overripe, here’s a delicious recipe for Mango Frozen Soy Yogurt.