How does an ice cream maker work?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How does an ice cream maker work” with an in-depth analysis of how an ice cream maker works. Moreover, we will have a brief discussion about making ice cream without a machine.

Ice cream makers can create the mixture by hand cranking it or using an electric motor. The final product is frequently chilled by either pre-cooling the equipment or using a machine that freezes the mixture. To aerate the mixture and keep the ice crystals tiny (less than 50 m), an ice cream maker must freeze the mixture while churning it. As a result, the majority of ice creams are ready to eat right away.

So if you are in search of an answer to how an ice cream maker works, then you need not worry as we are going to answer all your questions.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How does an ice cream maker work?

An electric motor is the most important component of an ice cream maker. This motor is responsible for driving the paddle or bowl to mix the ingredients. Aside from this common denominator, there are four main types of ice makers, each with its mechanism. ​

Countertop ice makers

Between the walls of this machine is a double-walled basin filled with urea liquid and distilled water. It is feasible to freeze the machine to consider beyond the standard freezing limit of water in roughly 24 hours using this particular liquid. 

When the double-walled bowl is completely frozen, it is inserted into the machine and the ice cream mixture is added. When the machine is turned on, the paddles begin to rotate, effectively churning the mixture. The mixture freezes when it comes into touch with the bowl’s frozen walls. ​​

Freezer unit ice cream maker

Although this machine looks quite similar to the countertop model, it does not have a double-walled wall. It’s as simple as putting it in a freezer and plugging it into a power socket. When you switch it on, the paddles begin mixing the ice cream ingredients until the required consistency is reached. 

When compared to the double-walled counter-top variant, the key advantage of this technique is that you can create many batches without having to wait for the bowl to thaw. The sole disadvantage of the ice maker in the freezer unit is that the door must be closed over the cord, which must be plugged into an external power outlet. ​​

Ice and salt ice maker

The ice maker contains an ice cream mixture and combines it at rates of up to 75 RPM in an outer tub filled with salt and ice. A strong engine turns the canisters and maintains the churn paddles stationary behind them. 

The mixture freezes the faster the canisters rotate. A counter-rotating scraper gradually removes the ice that has returned to the walls, reintroducing it into the mixture. This continual motion results in a thick, smooth finished product that is ready to eat. ​​​

Built-in ice cream maker

This is the most powerful and efficient ice cream maker available. Simply turn on the machine and let it run for a few minutes before pouring the liquid for paddling. This takes roughly 20 minutes to make ice. 

You won’t have to wait between sessions because coolants are built-in. However, one downside of using this machine is that you can’t move it for 12 hours before using it because it will disrupt the freezing system. ​​

Making ice cream without a machine

The benefits of utilizing an electric or hand-cranked machine include a smoother and creamier finished product. When you freeze something from a liquid to a solid, you create hard ice crystals. 

If you’re preparing it by hand, you’ll want to break up those ice crystals as much as possible as your ice cream or sorbet combination freezes, so your results are as smooth and creamy as possible. ​​​

  • Prepare your ice cream recipe and place it in an ice bath to chill.
  • Freeze a deep baking dish or a bowl made of plastic, stainless steel, or something else robust, and pour the custard mixture into it.
  • Open the door and inspect it after 45 minutes.
  • Remove it from the freezer as it begins to freeze around the edges and mix it vigorously with a spatula or whisk. Break apart any frozen parts with a good thrashing. Place back in the freezer.
  • Continue to monitor the mixture every 30 minutes while it freezes, stirring frequently. For optimal results, use a hand-held mixer if you have one, or a stick blender or hand-held mixer if you don’t.
  • But, because we’re going low-tech, a spatula or a robust whisk, combined with some physical effort, would suffice.
  • Continue to check on it and stir it as it freezes until the ice cream is solid. It will most likely take 2 to 3 hours to complete. ​​​

You can read how to make chocolate ice cream here.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How does an ice cream maker work” with an in-depth analysis of how an ice cream maker works. Moreover, we also have a brief discussion about making ice cream without a machine.