Are you looking for a low cost ice cream maker? Read my Hamilton Beach 4 quart automatic ice cream maker review to see if this model will meet your household’s needs. Cost is usually not the only factor in making such a choice, but sometimes it is near the top of the list. I’ve included a cost analysis in this report, but we also take a look at quality, ease of use, and how well it performs.
As with the old fashioned hand-cranking ice cream makers, this type involves placing the dessert ingredients in a canister, which then is placed into a larger bucket. The space between the two containers is then filled with ice and rock salt. But with this model, instead of hand-cranking, the hard work of churning is accomplished by an electrically powered motor. A paddle is lowered in to the mixture you have placed in the inner canister, and it is attached to the lid.
Layer the ice and salt as directed in the instructions. You will need up to 4 cups of rock salt and 8 to 12 pounds of ice.
Place the whole thing in the kitchen sink or some other place that has good drainage. As the ice melts, the water will run out of the drain hole near the upper rim of the bucket.
The firmness of your finished frozen dessert depends on a few variables: room temperature, the temperature of the ingredients when you began churning, and the recipe you use.
You will probably have dessert at the soft-serve stage in about 20 to 40 minutes.
How to harden the dessert.
The motor will stop turning the dasher when your dessert is thickened to about the soft-serve ice cream stage. If you want to harden it, you can do one of three things:
* cover the canister with more ice and salt and let it sit for an hour or two,
* remove the dasher from the canister, cover it, and place this in your freezer, or
* transfer the dessert to the containers you will eventually use for freezer storage and place them in your freezer for a few hours.
This is a 4 quart ice cream maker, which means the canister holds 4 quarts of finished ice cream. Do not fill above the “fill line” on the canister when you are pouring your dessert mixture into the canister. This mixture will expand as it freezes and aerates. If you fill too full it will overflow and you will have a mess!
Likewise, you do not want to under fill by very much. You won’t get as good a texture if you try to make a much smaller amount than what the machine was designed for. Also, the unit may not stop churning at the proper time if you don’t have enough mixture in the canister. Go ahead and make the 4 quarts. If you don’t need it all right away, store the rest of it in pint containers in the freezer.
Can I make sorbet, sherbet, frozen yogurt, gelato? YES. You can make any of the usual
frozen desserts in addition to a variety of ice creams. The process is the same for all types of dessert. Just assemble the recipe ingredients and pour them into the canister.
As you get more familiar with your recipes and operating the machine, you may notice that you get different texture by increasing or decreasing the rate of adding ice and salt. Go easy on making changes, but pay attention to which methods give you a creamier texture.
The outer bucket is made of a sturdy plastic, and the inner canister is thin aluminum. The bucket seems to withstand normal use pretty well. The aluminum canister is prone to denting with rough use. [Note: there is a small “dent” in the upper rim of the canister. That is part of the construction and is not a problem.] If you dent the body of the canister the paddle/dasher may not be able to freely move within it, and your machine will no longer work properly.
The dessert mixture is churned by a plastic dasher that is attached to an aluminum rod. The upper end of this rod goes into the motor when you affix the lid. The dasher is BPA free.
Does it have a timer?
No, there is not a built in timer per se. The machine will automatically stop churning when the mixture thickens to the soft-serve stage. For most recipes this will be about 20 to 40 minutes.
This unit comes with very clear and complete instructions for care and operation. It is very easy to use. Not a lot of bells and whistles! Very uncomplicated. The easy lock lid contains the motor. Once you have put your ingredients into the canister and inserted the paddle mechanism, you pop the lid on top and give it a twist to lock it in place. This holds the whole unit together while your dessert is being churned.
The space between the inner canister and the outer bucket is 2.5”. Depending on the size of ice cubes your refrigerator produces, you may find it easier to use purchased bags of crushed ice from your grocery store.
Clean the canister and paddle in warm soapy water, rinse and dry, and you’re done.
The machine will shut off automatically when the dessert has thickened to the “soft-serve” stage.
One down side is the noise level. It is noisy. This can be fairly easily dealt with by placing the unit in a bathtub, shower stall, or sink in the bathroom [or laundry room?] and closing the door. If you choose to do this, you might want to set a timer in the room you will be occupying to remind yourself to check the status at the appropriate time.
What comes with the machine?
A complete user’s manual and set of recipes for frozen desserts are included with your unit.
What other accessories will I need to purchase?
Rock salt – you can probably find this at your local grocery store. It will most likely be with the other salts, seasonings, and spices in the baking aisle, and it may be called “ice cream salt”. It is NOT a food grade salt. At my local store the price is $2.89 for a 4 pound box. Large chain stores may sell it for even less. You will need 3 cups of rock salt
Containers – you will need to transfer your finished frozen dessert to a freezer-safe container. You can find several options for paper or silicon containers here.
additional recipe books – a few recipes are included with your Hamilton Beach unit, but you will probably want to expand your repertoire. Check out these books for some enticing ideas.
ice cream scoop – You can find a variety of options for scoops here.
condiment tray – If you are planning a big ice cream social gathering you will probably want to offer a variety of toppings. A condiment tray is a handy way to present items like nuts, sprinkles, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, etc. Take a look at this condiment tray.
* weight = 7.2 pounds
* dimensions = 15.3” H X 12.5” W X 11.1” D
* The cord is about 24” long. This may be a problem, since you need to place the machine in a sink, tub, or shower stall for proper drainage while it is churning. Plan on using an extension cord.
* 80 watts
Hamilton Beach is an American manufacturing company founded in 1910. In 1990 it merged with Proctor-Silex to create the largest U.S. Manufacturer of small kitchen appliances. They are based in Richmond, VA
Initially serving North America, since 1995 they have begun expanding to other parts of the world.
Where is it made? As with all Hamilton Beach ice cream makers, this model is manufactured in China.
The manufacturer’s 1 year limited warranty applies to products purchased in the U.S. or Canada. Keep your receipt and other product documents in a safe place so you can verify proof of purchase.
According to the Hamilton Beach rep I spoke with, replacement parts are not available. If a part breaks during the warranty period, notify the company for a replacement of the whole machine.
I experienced good response when I spoke with company representatives. I was on hold for 10 to 20 minutes and then spoke with helpful reps who cheerfully found the answers to all of my questions.
easy to operate
easy lock lid
aluminum canister easily dente
must monitor for ice level during the churning
must be placed in sink for drainage
This model is popular for its simplicity, low price, and ease of use. It does what it is designed to do when instructions are followed. For best results, ingredients should be chilled before you begin making your dessert. This is especially true if the recipe calls for cooking part of the mixture before it goes in to the ice cream.
I recognize that what primarily motivates people to buy an ice cream maker is the desire to control the quality of the product. You want control over the choice of the ingredients. But, I was curious about the potential for cost savings. So I took a list of the ingredients for the Hamilton Beach “Easy Vanilla” recipe to my local store to check out the prices.
The recipe calls for sugar, milk, cream (lots!), lemon juice, and vanilla. The cost for those ingredients, in the quantities needed for 1 gallon of ice cream, would be $18.93. (By far, the most expensive item is the heavy cream.) At that same store the cost of 1 gallon of premium grade ice cream would be $27.98. My comparison is to “premium” ice cream because that is
what you would be making at home. So there is a cost savings with each gallon of made-at-home dessert regardless of the choice of machine you are using.
Let’s get back to the cost of the machine itself. This Hamilton Beach model is definitely in the lower price range, and it does the job it is intended to do. Even if it didn’t last longer than its one year warranty, it seems it would still pay for itself if your household eats frozen desserts on a regular basis. I would call this a good buy.
At the current price for this machine on Amazon, it would pay for itself in four batches of ice cream! That allows for purchase of rock salt and ice in addition to the ice cream ingredients.
If you have read this far you are probably planning to buy an ice cream maker but have not yet decided which type is right for your family.
If cost is your primary concern, this model might be right for you. Before you make that final decision, I would recommend that you ask yourself:
* Will your household consume 1 gallon of home-made frozen dessert within a week? (The manufacturer recommends not keeping it longer than that because the quality begins to suffer.)
* Are you willing to put up with the noise and deal with the inconvenience of monitoring the ice level and positioning the unit to allow for drainage during operation?
The more expensive types of ice cream makers do more of the work for you. If you can answer “yes” to the above 2 questions, this may well be a good choice for your household.
Check out my review of the Cuisinart 2 qt ice cream maker which uses a freezer bowl technique. It costs a little bit more but doesn’t requires the use of ice and rock salt.
Information for this article was gleaned from the Hamilton Beach web site, the user’s manuals and care guides for the product, merchant web sites (Amazon and Walmart) and personal contact with Hamilton Beach representatives.