The Best Ice Makers for Home Use and Why You Need One

We tested 8 popular countertop ice makers on capacity, ice quality, speed, and noise level and found one clear winner, the Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker.

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best ice makers
Photo: AllRecipes / Russell Kilgore

Everyone loves an ice-cold drink, whether it is a fizzy soda, a refreshing glass of homemade lemonade, or a craft cocktail. But where do you get the ice to turn a drink from cool to bracingly cold? For everyday use, most people rely on their freezer's built-in ice maker or old-fashioned ice trays and then purchase additional ice for parties and outdoor events. But these methods of making ice can be inconvenient, slow, or result in poor-quality ice.

More and more homeowners today are investing in standalone ice makers - countertop or portable appliances that do nothing but make ice. No more running out to the convenience store in the middle of a party to get ice, filling ice trays, or sacrificing valuable freezer space for a built-in ice maker that always seems to stop working at the worst possible time.

Portable or countertop ice makers produce high-quality ice quickly and in the size and shape you want with no installation needed. In fact, unlike built-in ice makers, you can bring these machines outdoors, on a boat, to a tailgate, or to any other event where an ice-cold drink is a must. Once you have a portable ice maker, you will wonder how you ever lived without it!

Ready to take the plunge into these icy waters? Allrecipes tested the most popular ice makers on the market in a range of sizes and price points and determined the best ice makers for every need and budget. While the Luma Comfort Clear Ice Maker came out on top, all of the models listed among our favorites fill an important niche.

Our Favorites

Best Overall: Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker

Best Ice Makers for Home Use
Home Depot

Why It's Great:

  • Extremely quiet
  • High water capacity and high output
  • Produced the most ice in an hour of all the models we tested

Grain of Salt:

  • Heavier and less portable than other models

Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker is our top pick because it produced more ice in an hour than any of the other models we tested and did so without any distracting noise. In fact, our testers noted that the Luma Comfort Clear Ice Maker is practically silent when running, making it an exceptional choice for home and office environments.

Although it is among the larger and heavier models that we tested, the Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker will look elegant on your countertop with its contemporary stainless steel finish. This model is easy to use: simply plug it in, fill the reservoir with water, and press the button. In tests, the Luma Comfort Clear began producing ice in approximately 20 minutes and produced 1.5 pounds of ice in one hour - the most of all the models we tested.

The ice cubes produced by the Luma Comfort Clear are crystal clear and of restaurant quality because it uses a similar technology to commercial ice makers. Clear ice not only looks attractive in drinks, it also melts more slowly than cloudy ice. The Luma Comfort Clear's display warns you when the water reservoir is low and the ice dispenser is full. While the Luma Comfort Clear is not especially portable and is on the pricier end, its speed and performance are top-notch, making it an excellent choice for at-home or office use.

The Details: Weighs 25.5 pounds; produces 28 pounds of ice in 24 hours; cube-shaped, clear ice.

Best Budget: Silonn Ice Makers Countertop

Best Ice Makers for Home Use
Amazon

Why It's Great:

  • Produces ice in under 8 minutes
  • Sleek, elegant design
  • Good value

Grain of Salt:

  • Noisy

Silonn Ice Makers Countertop is an exceptional value for the money and a top-selling ice maker for good reason. It produced ice after less than 8 minutes, making it among the fastest models we tested. At only 15 pounds, the Silonn Ice Makers Countertop model received high marks for portability and our testers appreciated its sleek, elegant design. Indeed, this model comes in multiple finishes to complement any decor.

The Silonn Ice Makers Countertop is self-cleaning and shares many features with higher priced countertop ice makers, including two different sizes of ice to choose from and an indicator light that informs you when the water is low or when the ice basket is full. A see-through lid also allows you to monitor the ice capacity and the machine shuts off automatically when full.

While the Silonn Ice Makers Countertop is small, it has a decent water capacity - meaning it does not need to be refilled constantly - and produces a good amount of bullet-shaped ice for its size. After one hour, in our tests, the machine produced 12 ounces of ice. However, our testers found that the machine is on the noisier side and the ice is cloudy.

The Details: Weighs 15 pounds; produces 26 pounds of ice in a day; bullet-shaped, cloudy ice

Best Countertop: Igloo Premium Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker

Best Ice Makers for Home Use
Walmart

Why It's Great:

  • Produces ice in under 10 minutes
  • Easy to use
  • Portable and compact

Grain of Salt:

  • Small water capacity

The Igloo Premium Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker strikes a good balance between size and performance. It produces ice in under 10 minutes, according to our tests, and made 13 ounces of ice after one hour. With its moderate weight and convenient handle, the Igloo Premium Countertop Ice Maker received top marks for portability. At the same time, its small size and multiple finishes means that you won't mind leaving this appliance out on your countertop for regular, at-home use.

One design feature that our testers particularly liked about the Igloo Premium Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker is how the ice cubes are made in the back of the machine, but then move automatically to the front for easier scooping. The basket itself is removable, meaning you can easily transfer the ice to a cooler or other container. You can choose small or large ice cubes and the display indicates when the water reservoir is low and the ice basket full.

Our testers were less enamored of the noticeable fan noise produced by the Igloo Premium Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker. But the biggest drawback may well be the small water capacity. At only 8 cups, the water capacity is lower than other similar models, which means more frequent refilling.

The Details: Weighs 19 pounds; produces 26 pounds of ice in a day; bullet-shaped, cloudy ice.

Best Portable: Arctic-Pro Portable Bullet Ice Maker

Best Ice Makers for Home Use
Wayfair

Why It's Great:

  • Small size
  • Easy to read digital display panel
  • Produces a lot of ice in a short time

Grain of Salt:

  • Small water capacity

Some people specifically want an ice maker that is highly portable for use with their RVs and boats, vacation rentals, or at outdoor events like tailgates and pool parties. For these on-the-go types, the Arctic-Pro Portable Bullet Ice Maker is an excellent choice. During our tests, the Arctic-Pro produced ice in under 9 minutes and made over 14 ounces of ice in one hour, which is more than some larger models. Our testers also praised the model's small size and light weight - key components of a portable ice maker.

The Arctic-Pro Portable Bullet Ice Maker is easy to use with a LCD digital control panel that allows you to choose the size of the ice, set a timer, and operate the self-cleaning function. It comes in two finishes, silver and red, but the prominent brand logo may not to be everyone's taste. The removable ice tray and scoop make transferring ice to coolers or glasses a snap. And while the ice that the Arctic-Pro Portable Bullet Ice Maker produces is cloudy, it is evenly sized.

Where the Arctic-Pro Portable Bullet Ice Maker comes up short is in its water capacity. With a water tank that only 7.5 cups and a machine that produces a lot of ice, you will be refilling this ice maker frequently.

The Details: Weighs 17.5 pounds; produces 26 pounds of ice in a day; bullet-shaped, cloudy ice.

Best for Speed: AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine

Best Ice Makers for Home Use
Amazon

Why It's Great:

  • Makes ice in under 8 minutes
  • Small and compact
  • Portable

Grain of Salt:

  • Noisy

Another great portable, compact ice maker option, the AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine can produce 9 ice cubes in under 8 minutes, making it among the fastest models we tested. The appliance produces as much as 26 pounds of ice per day, making it easy to keep the ice flowing at your next cookout or pool party. Yet is only weighs 16 pounds, making this model easy to move from place to place.

An important aspect of a quality ice maker isn't only the ice it makes, but how easy it is to use. This one has indicators that alert when the ice basket is full and needs to be emptied, or when it is time to add more water to the reservoir. It also has options of both small and large bullet-shaped ice, so it'll be a fit for all your beverage needs. Thanks to the machine's rear cooling system, the machine will cool quickly and work efficiently.

While our testers praised the AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine for its small size and good looks, they were less pleased by the whirring noise produced by machine's fan and its small water capacity.

The Details: Weighs 16.8 pounds; produces 26 pounds of ice in a day; bullet-shaped, cloudy ice.

Best Quiet: Insignia 26 lb. Portable Ice Maker

Best Ice Makers for Home Use
Best Buy

Why It's Great:

  • Practically silent
  • Ability to select ice size
  • Produces ice in 7 minutes

Grain of Salt:

  • Produces a small amount of ice after 1 hour

The Insignia 26 lb. Portable Ice Maker received high marks from our testers for its speed, portability and lack of fan noise. Of all the models we tested, this one was the fastest - producing ice in 7 minutes flat. At 15.7 pounds, the Insignia 26 lb. Portable Ice Maker was also among the lighter models we evaluated, making it an excellent choice for travel and outdoor use. But with almost no distracting fan noise, the Insignia 26 lb. Portable Ice Maker is also suitable for home and office settings.

The Insignia 26 lb. Portable Ice Maker includes a water recycling system that collects melted water and filters it to be reused, eliminating the need to drain excess water and reducing the number of times you need to refill the water reservoir. The machine stores up to 1.5 pounds of ice at a time and allows you to choose between small and large cubes. The easy-to-read display indicates when the water level is low and the ice chamber is full. Although the Insignia 26 lb. Portable Ice Maker comes in only one finish, namely stainless steel, it has a sleek, contemporary look.

However, of all the models we tested, the Insignia 26 lb. Portable Ice Maker produced the least amount of ice after one hour, a mere 11.75 ounces.

The Details: Weighs 15.7 pounds; produces 26 pounds of ice in a day; bullet-shaped, cloudy ice.

Our Takeaway

We chose the Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker as our top pick because it produced clear, restaurant quality ice, is practically silent when running, and makes more ice in an hour than any of the other models we tested. What this ice maker lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in performance and output.

How to Pick the Right Ice Maker

Size/Capacity

When shopping for an ice maker, the size and capacity of the unit are critical factors. First, consider how you plan to use the ice maker. Will it live on your countertop or will you keep it in storage until needed? Are you hoping to use it outdoors or on-the-go? If the ice maker is mainly for home use, evaluate how much space it will occupy on your countertop or in storage. If you need to transport the ice maker from place to place, check the weight of the unit to see if it is sufficiently portable.

In terms of capacity, there are two factors to consider: the size of the ice chamber - or how much ice it holds - and the size of the water reservoir. Most of the units we tested produce 26 pounds of ice in a day, which is enough for a household of 4 to 6 people. (One pound of ice is enough to cool approximately 3 drinks.) If you have a larger household, or the unit is for an office setting, you may need a unit with greater production capability. But do not forget to consider also the size of the water reservoir. A small water tank means that you will need to refill the tank more frequently, which can be inconvenient.

Features

Ice makers come with a variety of different features so be sure to determine what features are most important to you. Is the unit self-cleaning or does it need to be cleaned by hand? Can you vary the size of the ice cubes? Does the ice maker have a transparent lid so that you can monitor the ice production? Does it tell you when the ice maker is full and does it shut off automatically? Does the machine indicate when it needs more water? Does the ice maker come in different finishes to match your kitchen decor?

One feature to look for is a water recycling system. This especially efficient feature means that the ice maker will recycle and filter the water from melted ice cubes and reuse it, eliminating the need for a drain and requiring less frequent refilling. However, this feature may increase the price of the unit.

Speed

The speed at which an ice maker can produce ice is one of these appliances' biggest selling points, as ice trays and built-in freezer ice makers can take hours to transform water into ice. With an ice maker, you can have a batch of freshly made ice in under 10 minutes.

The models we tested varied in how long they took to produce that first batch of ice. Some produced ice within 8 minutes; others took closer to 10 or even 20 minutes to produce ice. If speed is important to you, look for an ice maker that is one the lower end of that spectrum.

Ease of Use

One of the reasons to get an ice maker is convenience: no more filling ice trays or running to the store to buy ice. So you want to choose a model that is easy to use and convenient, or what's the point?

When evaluating how easy an ice maker is to use, first check how easy it is to fill the water reservoir without spilling. Once the water is full, how easy is it to operate the machine? Many ice makers require nothing more than the push of a button to begin producing ice. Is the display panel intuitive and easy to operate? How easy is it to remove the ice bucket and transfer the ice to a different container? Lastly, assuming that the model does not have a water recycling feature, be sure to check how easy it is to drain melted ice.

Ice Quality and Shape

The vast majority of countertop ice makers make ice in the same way that built-in freezer ice makers do — just in a different shape. The ice produced by these machines is cloudy, not clear. While cloudy ice is perfectly fine for most uses, budding mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts prefer clear ice, which looks more attractive and melts slower than the cloudy variety. If clear ice is important to you, seek out an ice maker that produces restaurant-quality ice - just know that it might cost you.

In terms of ice shape, most countertop ice makers produce bullet-shaped ice with a hole in the middle, but some produce more traditionally shaped ice cubes. Some machines allow you to select different sizes for different uses and these machines also vary in their ability to produce evenly sized cubes.

About Our Tests

We ordered nine different ice makers to perform side-by-side testing under real world conditions. Our testers spent hours examining each model's design and features and then tested their ice production and noise level before rating them on performance, capability and portability.

We rated each ice maker based on these qualities:

  • Size: How much does the unit weigh? How much space does it take up on a countertop? Is it portable?
  • Speed and Capacity: How quickly did it produce ice? How much ice did the machine produce after 1 hour? How many ice cubes did the machine produce in one batch? How big is the water reservoir?
  • Noise level: How loud are the motor and fan? How loud is the sound of ice dropping? Would this sound level be distracting in a home or office environment?
  • Design: Does the ice maker have any special features? Is it easy to use? Does the machine indicate when the water level is low or the ice chamber full? Is it easy to clean?
  • Overall Value: Is the ice maker well priced for its performance and size?

The Leftovers: Other Ice Makers We Tested

NewAir Portable Ice Maker

best ice makers
Amazon

Despite the name, the NewAir Portable Ice Maker is big and bulky - clocking in at a whopping 36.4 pounds. While it does produce a large amount of ice, our testers noted that the size of this unit would make it challenging for most homeowners to store and use on a regular basis. In addition, our testers objected to the loud whirring noise produced by this ice maker and the way the water dribbles when you drain the water reservoir.

Professional Series Clear Bullet Ice Maker

best ice makers
Williams Sonoma

The Professional Series Clear Bullet Ice Maker is among the most expensive of the models we tested, but the results did not justify its high price tag. Our testers gave this ice maker low ratings for its noise level and portability. This machine is also among the slower models we tested: it takes over 11 minutes to begin producing ice. Lastly, while the Professional Series Clear Bullet Ice Maker promises clear ice, the first pieces in every batch came out cloudy.

Common Questions

How do ice makers work?

Most countertop ice makers work in a manner that is similar to how a built-in, freezer ice maker operates. In the case of a portable or countertop ice maker that is not attached to a water line, the owner has to first add water to the machine. The machine fills a mold with that water and then freezes it. When the ice has fully formed, a sensor tells the machine to release the ice into the storage bin. A second sensor monitors the storage bin and tells the machine to stop ice production once the container is full.

In the case of ice makers that produce clear ice, also known as restaurant-quality ice, the process is different. Clear ice makers have a freezing surface, not a mold. A steady stream of water flows over a surface that's been chilled to precisely 32°F. Layers of ice build up on the surface much like the way a snowball picks up snow as it rolls down a hill. When the ice is the correct size, the machine releases it into a storage bin. The water freezes on the surface, but any impurities in the water do not, and then these impurities are funneled out to a drain leaving behind only clear ice. These ice makers need to be cleaned every 3 to 6 months to help ensure no impurities remain behind.

Do ice makers keep the ice frozen?

Your countertop ice makers will keep the ice in the storage bin frozen for a short time, but the storage bin is not insulated like a freezer is. Thus, if you allow the ice to sit for too long, it will melt. If the machine has a water recycling system, it will filter and reuse that melted wastewater to make more ice. If not, you will need to drain that water periodically.

How do you clean an ice maker?

First, be sure to prevent problems with your ice maker by using filtered water to fill it. This will prevent buildup of minerals and other impurities. This is especially important if you live in an area with hard water. As always, be sure to follow the specific instructions in the appliance manual for cleaning your ice maker, and keep in mind that some models are self-cleaning.

The standard way to clean an ice maker is to first turn it off and unplug the unit. Clean the exterior of the machine with mild detergent and warm water and dry it with a soft cloth. Remove the ice bucket and wash that with mild detergent and warm water as well. If your unit comes with an ice scoop, wash that as you would any other kitchen utensil.

To clean the inner workings of the machine, fill the water reservoir with a diluted cleaning solution: you can purchase specially formulated solutions intended specifically for ice makers or make your own using a 10:1 ratio of water to vinegar. Run the cleaning solution through the machine, discarding the ice that the machine produces. Drain the water reservoir and clean it thoroughly to remove any residue. Fill the reservoir with water and run the machine again, discarding this ice as well. Then run the machine as normal. Try this every 3 to 6 months to ensure the best possible performance from your countertop ice maker.

Do ice makers turn off automatically?

Most ice makers have a sensor that indicates when the ice storage bin is full and it will signal to the machine to stop producing ice to prevent spillage and overflow.

Why Take Our Word For It?

Our product testers performed side-by-side testing with 8 different models under identical conditions. They recorded the time it took for each model to begin producing ice, how many ice cubes dropped from each batch, and weighed the ice produced after 1 hour. During this process, our testers evaluated the noise level of each machine, examining both the noise from the motor as well as the sound when the ice cubes drop. After this, our team evaluated the quality of the ice produced by each machine as well as each model's capacity and portability.

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