Sick of constantly refilling the ice trays in your freezer and buying bags of ice before every get-together? A countertop ice maker may be the convenient solution you're looking for.
These portable countertop models provide a constant supply of ice for backyard BBQs, parties, or just packing the cooler before a trip. If your freezer doesn't have an ice maker, a countertop ice machine can be a lifesaver on a hot summer day. They make hosting easy, save time and money, and ensure your guests' beverages are always nice and cold.
In this buyer's guide to countertop ice makers, we'll highlight key product features to look for and review the best portable ice makers in 2021.
What to Know Before Buying a Portable Ice Maker:
When it comes to ice makers, there are a few things you'll want to consider before you begin shopping. Understanding your options ensures you find the right model for your budget and needs.
Pros and Cons of Portable Ice Makers
Ice makers are known for their practicality and convenience. If you're on the fence about adding the handy machine to your home, here are a few of the many benefits of countertop ice machines:
- Ice on Demand— As long as you have water and an electrical outlet, your ice maker can provide a constant supply of ice anytime and anywhere you'd like. They're ideal for parties, barbeques, tailgates, and lemonade stands.
- Great for On-the-Go— Thanks to their compact size and portability, they're great for camping trips, picnics, and RVs.
- Easily Makes Large Quantities — Give your ice maker a few hours to do its thing, and you'll have enough to last through any get-together or hot summer day.
Like every kitchen gadget, ice makers do come with some disadvantages. Here are the biggest drawbacks of using a portable ice maker:
- Won't Keep Ice Cold— Many countertop models don't include a storage bin to keep its contents frozen at cold temperatures. You'll need to use the ice right away or store it in the freezer until you need it. Most machines come equipped with warning lights to indicate when you need to empty the basket or refill the water.
- Noise Level— While most models are relatively quiet, some can get pretty noisy during operation.
Ice Size Options
Before selecting an ice maker machine, you'll need to find the best ice cube size based on the desired end-use and your personal preference:
- Bullet-shaped ice— Also known as pearl ice, bullet ice cubes have a cylindrical shape and a hollow center that allow for quick melting. Ice bullets' small size makes them ideal for blended cocktails and soft drinks.
- Crescent ice— As the name suggests, these cubes have a distinctive half-moon shape that packs tightly to fill drinks and bags of ice more evenly.
- Nugget ice— Also known as pebble ice or "Sonic" ice, tubular-shaped nugget ice is soft enough to chew but hard enough to use in soft drinks and frozen cocktails.
- Gourmet ice— Because they melt slowly and don't water down drinks as quickly, these fancy octagonal cubes are most commonly used for serving high-end liquors.
What to Look for In an Ice Maker
Ready to start shopping? Before you begin your search, it's important to understand the different options that are on the market. Not all ice makers are created alike, so there are a few things you'll want to consider when selecting a portable ice maker:
- Types of Ice Makers— First and foremost, you'll need to decide if you want an under-the-counter ice maker versus a countertop model. While under-the-counter models can produce greater quantities and keep it cold for hours, they're far bulkier and aren't nearly as portable. As a result, under-the-counter ice makers are better suited for stationary use at a home bar, coffee shop, or restaurant.
- Ice Cube Sizes— While some ice makers can produce multiple shapes and sizes of ice, others can only produce a single size.
- Production and Storage Capacity— It's important to determine how much ice-making you really need your machine to do. While products with larger production and storage capacity can make more cubes, they take up more of your kitchen counter and require more storage space.
- Self-Cleaning Function— No matter what size the machine is or what type of cubes it produces, it should come equipped with a self-cleaning cycle that makes maintenance easy and ensures your ice is always crystal clear and safe to consume.
The Best Ice Makers Available in 2021:
The Igloo Countertop Ice Maker is undoubtedly one of the best ice makers on the market right now. Equipped with two ice sizes and an automatic 5-cycle self-cleaning function, it's practical, convenient, and easy to use. Plus, the carry handle makes it easy to bring along for camping, road trips, and outdoor gatherings.
Igloo's Countertop Ice Maker has a 2-quart water supply tank and can produce 26 pounds of ice per day. Its practical control panel features LED indicator lights that let you know when it's time to add water or empty the ice basket. The high-quality model is available in your choice of black, aqua, stainless steel, and white.
The Costway Countertop Ice Maker Machine produces batch after batch of ice at lightning speed without wasting one inch of counter space in your home. The compact machine can make nine bullet-shaped ice cubes in just six short minutes. Users can choose between two sizes of crystal clear ice cubes that are perfect for cooling down drinks and filling coolers.
Costway's Countertop Ice Maker has a 2.2-liter water reservoir and can produce 26.5 pounds of ice per day. It is equipped with a high-power compressor and a corrosion-resistant condenser that ensure ice-making is noiseless and energy-efficient. Its sleek stainless steel exterior is smudge-resistant and easy to wipe clean. The ice maker is available in six stylish color choices: black, light blue, navy, red, silver, and white.
This Magic Chef Portable Countertop Ice Maker features a sleek red exterior with a see-thru window that makes it easy to monitor ice production. A digital control panel allows you to choose between two size settings and turn on the cleaning cycle. The exterior drain makes it easy to remove excess water and keep the ice bin clean.
Magic Chef's Portable Countertop Ice Maker produces nine cubes per seven-minute cycle and can make up to 27 pounds of ice in one day. Plus, the machine comes complete with a handy ice scoop that makes filling the cooler a breeze.
Looking for the best portable ice maker for bullet ice? You can't go wrong adding this Bullet Ice Maker from Dreamiracle to your home. The machine produces nine bullet cubes every seven minutes and can make up to 33 pounds of ice per day. Users can choose between three settings: small pebble ice, large bullet ice, and a cleaning cycle.
Dreamiracle's Bullet Ice Maker features a 2.8-liter water tank and a helpful indicator light that indicates when it's time to empty the storage basket or refill the water tank. Plus, the fingerprint-proof black stainless steel exterior is easy to wipe clean. The countertop ice maker comes complete with a removable ice basket, ice scoop, and measuring cup.
The Frigidaire Portable Ice Maker churns out nine ice cubes every seven minutes and can produce a generous 26 pounds of ice per day. While other machines produce opaque, cloudy cubes, this high-quality machine makes crystal clear ice every time. Its large see-through window allows you to monitor production and a convenient drain plug makes clean-up easy when your BBQ, pool party, or tailgate is finished.
The machine is available in five different stainless steel finishes— black, blue, copper, red, silver, and white— that are guaranteed to compliment your kitchen countertop or patio furniture. It comes complete with a handy scoop that makes emptying the ice bucket fast and easy. Trust us when we say, this convenient device is one of the best purchases you make all summer.
While the GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker is a bit of an investment, it's delicious, chewable nugget ice is worth every penny. It's equipped with built-in Bluetooth connectivity that allows users to monitor the machine's status, schedule a new batch, and order useful accessories all through a smartphone app. Plus, the sleek stainless steel exterior and slim profile look way more stylish than most other models on the market.
To ensure you never run out of ice, it automatically powers on when the ice bin is running low. The countertop ice maker produces a new batch every 20 minutes and can make up to 24 pounds in just 24 hours. While the cubes in other nugget ice makers can be thin and flaky, the GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker makes perfectly chewable ice every time.