Summer is right around the corner, and before you know it, the days will be getting hotter, and you’ll be looking for a way to cool off. While it can be fun to go out for a cool treat, it’s nice to also be able to make your own at home. Whether that’s slushies, snow cones, or frozen margaritas, a shaved ice machine is the best summer house guest.
There are a ton of options available, but not all of them will suit your needs. In this guide, we’ll go over the factors to look out for when choosing the right shaved ice machine for you. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started on your search.
How to Choose a Shaved Ice Machine – Buying Guide
Shaved ice machines run the spectrum from $10 plastic machines that look like toys to gigantic metal machines that can shave hundreds of pounds of ice every hour. This guide will help you find your happy medium.
Blocked Ice or Cubes–Consider Convenience and Ice Fluffiness
Traditionally, shaved ice machines used big blocks of ice, but more machines now use regular ice cubes. Both types of machines are equally common, but there are pros and cons to each.
Blocked Ice Machines Make Fluffy Ice but Can Be Hard to Prep
Most traditional shaved ice machines involve using big blocks of ice and spinning them over a blade that literally shaves thin sheets off. The resulting snow is usually light and fluffy and absorbs syrups well. However, blocks of ice can be harder to buy, and ice molds take up space and time in the freezer.
Ice Cube Machines are More Convenient but May Make Lower Quality Ice
Shaved ice machines that use ice cubes are much more convenient as you can use any sort of ice cubes from the store or your own freezer’s ice maker.
However, many machines that use ice cubes pound the ice rather than shave it, which makes harder, coarser ice. There are some ice cube machines that use a shaving movement, so try to look for those if your goal is softer ice.
Electronic Machines Are More Efficient, But Manual Is Smaller and More Fun for Kids
Most modern shaved ice machines are electronic. They can make a lot of ice in very little time and have pretty consistent results. However, there are also manual machines that require you to crank it by hand. Naturally, these are much slower, but they’re smaller and therefore easier to store if you’re low on space. Plus, they can be really fun for kids!
Keep an Eye Out for Safety Features Like Out-of-the-Way Blades
They’re what they sound like: shaved ice machines shave ice, which involves using some pretty sharp blades. If your machine will be used by kids (or any adults making frozen margs), it’s important that it’s safe for them to use.
Look for machines that have recessed blades that are out of the way of hands. Some machines even have completely closed off compartments. Also, look for machines that have an on/off switch on the body and don’t just turn on when plugged in.
Top 10 Best Shaved Ice Machines to Buy Online
So now that you know what to look for in a shaved ice machine, here’s a list of our 10 favorites for you to consider.
10. Doshisha Electric Authentic Fluffy Shaved Ice Machine
Japanese-Style Shaved Ice Machine with Adjustable Blade
This super cute shaved ice machine is modeled after the kind you can find at Japanese summer festivals. It has an adjustable blade that can give you ice that’s soft and fluffy or hard and crunchy depending on your preferences.
However, note that although it looks like it’s made from sturdy metal, it’s actually made from plastic. Additionally, the instructions are only in Japanese, though it is pretty intuitive to use.
9. Nostalgia Retro Snow Cone Maker
Nostalgic Design for Old Timey Snow Cones
This retro-chic shaved ice machine is super convenient for small shaved ice parties. The ice shaves into the compartment, which holds enough ice for 20 8-ounce snow cones. Plus, the machine also comes with a holder for two cones.
Although this machine does shave ice cubes, the ice comes out on the coarser side, which totally matches the nostalgia theme of the machine.
|Safety Features||Closed compartment, safety switch|
8. Hawaiian Shaved Ice Snow Cone Machine (S700)
Super Fluffy Ice from Cubes
Hawaii is home to some of the best shaved ice in the world, so there are high expectations for this machine. It has an adjustable blade that will give you everything from coarse to super fluffy, even with cubed ice.
However, some reviewers note that the ice comes out rather slowly compared to other models, so if you’re looking for speed, this might not be the machine for you.
|Safety Features||Locking lid|
7. Little Snowie 2 Ice Shaver
Super Fast, High-End Shaved Ice
For those looking for lots of perfectly shaped snow cones really fast, this could be the machine for you. It puts out enough ice for a snow cone in just 3 seconds and has a rounded shaper to give you a neat dome shape while the ice is coming out.
Do note, however, that this machine costs over $200. So if you’re just a casual shaved ice maker and don’t need to make dozens at a time, this might not be the right pick for you.
|Safety Features||Safety lid, recessed blade|
6. Gourmia Hand Crank Ice Shaver
Space-Saving Manual Shaver
This little hand crank shaved ice machine is the perfect size for single servings and great for those without a lot of counter space. The crank is super safe and easy to use by anyone.
However, as it is a manual machine, it can be quite slow, and its size means that it only does small portions at a time. Some reviewers also note that the handle might be a little flimsy if you try to use it too quickly.
|Safety Features||Closed compartment|
5. VivoHome Electric Ice Shaver
Shaves 143 Pounds of Ice Per Hour
This industrial looking shaved ice machine works extremely quickly to make some pretty fluffy ice. In fact, it claims to be able to shave 143 pounds of ice per hour!
The space between where the ice comes out and the bottom is rather short, so it’s best to either scoop the ice into your cone or use it to make an Asian-style shaved ice bowl rather than try to squeeze a cone and your hand too close to the blade.
|Safety Features||Water-resistant switch, auto-off|
4. Nostalgia Electric Shaved Ice & Snow Cone Maker
Great for Kids: Safe and Fun to Watch
This adorable shaved ice machine would be great for kids. It’s super safe as it does all the shaving behind a closed compartment, and it’s fun to watch the ice drop down.
The ice it produces isn’t super fine, and you can only really do one cone at a time, but for home use, this machine should work perfectly.
|Safety Features||Closed compartment|
3. Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker
BPA-Free Snow Cones
This shaved ice machine is a great medium between the high powered, super fast machines and the machines that only make one cone at a time. It holds about 6 cones’ worth of ice in the compartment and can crush about 20 cubes before needing a refill.
Although it seems like it would take up a lot of space, its footprint is smaller than expected. All parts of the machine that touch the ice are BPA-free, and it even comes with reusable BPA-free cones.
|Safety Features||Closed compartment, auto-off|
2. Great Northern Polar Pal Block Ice Shaver
Super-Soft Ice from an Industrial Quality Machine
This traditional-styled shaved ice machine makes the fluffiest ice at 6 pounds per minute (360 pounds per hour!). It is made from industrial-quality materials, and if that doesn’t hold up, it also has a one-year warranty.
However, it does not come with an ice mold, so you’d have to make or buy your own, and the $100+ price tag might be a bit too much to justify using it at home.
|Safety Features||Closed compartment|
1. F2C 300W Electric Ice Shaver Machine
Full Metal Construction and Really Fluffy Ice
This machine is sturdy, efficient, and produces some pretty soft and fluffy ice. Its base is made from cast iron, ensuring that no matter how much vibrating it does, unlike plastic, it stays firmly in place.
Every piece that touches the ice is either anodized aluminum or stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about any sort of chemicals. In case something goes wrong, this machine also comes with a one-year warranty.
|Safety Features||Waterproof on/off|
How to Make the Perfect Shaved Ice
Contrary to popular belief, making a great snow cone goes beyond just having a great machine. Here are some tips to get it just right.
Start with ice that’s been left out for a few minutes–it’ll shave better once it starts to “sweat.” As the ice comes out of the machine, gently guide it into the cup with your hands as you rotate the cup, being very careful not to pack it down. If you have a machine that requires you to scoop the ice into the cup, do so gently!
To get good syrup coverage, start by pouring on the sides and rotating around the cup until you get to the top. Once you get to the top, pour a little bit down the center.
So there you have it–a quick guide to finding the right shaved ice machine for you. A lot of the fun of eating shaved ice is watching it being made, so getting to make it yourself is priceless.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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