Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker ICE-21 Review

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Looking for an ice cream maker to get ready for the summer?

The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker ICE-21 is probably the most popular home ice cream maker. Reason?

It is affordable and does a great job!

Nothing beats a scoop (or scoops) of ice cream under the summer heat. And since homemade is the trend now, let’s skip the stores and make our own frozen ice cream this summer!

With the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Ice21, you can also make sorbet and frozen yogurt.

I was inspired to make my own homemade frozen treats when I realized how good it exactly tasted and how you can have full control over the ingredients.

Cuisinart has a line of ice cream machines and the Cuisinart ice-21 is the cheapest entry level model.

Contrary to most beliefs, you don’t need the most expensive machine to make the best ice cream.

Calling the ICE-21 “entry-level” can be misleading or doing injustice to its quality because it makes truly quality smooth ice cream.

At its price point, I don’t think you can find a better ice cream machine.

Of course, it is also not all perfect.

So let’s dive into the details to find out if it suits you.

How Does the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker ICE21 Works?

Ice cream makers fall into 3 broad categories depending on how they work:

  1. Salt and Ice Type
  2. Compressor Type (i.e. they have a built-in freezer)
  3. Removable Freezer Bowl Type

The Cuisinart ICE21 belongs to the freezer bowl type of ice cream machines. This means that it makes use of a removable bowl that you need to pre-freeze in your freezer overnight.

There are 4 simple parts to the unit:

  1. a heavy-duty motorized base
  2. a removable freezer bowl
  3. a mixing paddle to scrape the mixture off the sides, ensure even mixing and freezing of the mixture and add air into the mixture
  4. a transparent cover to lock everything in place

To start using, simply fit the frozen bowl into the base, insert the paddle and place the cover to hold the everything in place. Turn on the machine to start the churning and pour in the chilled liquid mixture through the spout at the top.

The double insulated freezer bowl contains a special liquid gel between its walls. The gel will solidify when frozen and retain the cold temperature for a long time.

As the mixture is being churned, the coldness is transferred from the bowl to freeze the mixture and air gets incorporated into mixture. The ice cream will be ready after 15-20 minutes of churning.

What is Special about the Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker?

Unlike other brands of “freezer bowl” ice cream machines, Cuisinart makes use of the motor at the base to rotate the bowl rather than rotate the paddle from the top. The mixing paddle is held in place by the transparent cover.

This means that Cuisinart ice cream makers are generally more powerful and efficient than other brands. And they are able to handle thicker mixtures better than others.

The improved paddle design also makes the mixing more efficient and allows the mixture to freeze more quickly and evenly, giving the ice cream a smoother texture.

How to Use the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker ICE 21?

Making a frozen dessert with the Cuisinart Ice cream maker is really easy. The steps are simple:

  1. Prepare the liquid mixture and chill it (preferably overnight).
  2. Freeze the removable freezer bowl overnight.
  3. Assemble the 4 parts of the ICE-21.
  4. Turn on the ice cream maker to start the churning.
  5. Pour the chilled liquid mixture into the opening spout.
  6. Add the mix-ins near the end of the churning.
  7. The ice cream will be soft serve when completed after 15-20 minutes. Transfer the ice cream quickly to another air-tight container to keep in the freezer for 1-2 hours firmer consistency.
  8. Clean the ice cream maker with warm soapy water.


Makes smooth creamy ice cream and frozen yogurt

The Cuisinart ice cream maker ice21 has a relatively small capacity of 1.5 quart. This actually works to its advantage.

Because it is small, the mixture is able to freeze faster and the mixing speed is also quicker. As a result, the frozen treats will have a smoother and more creamy texture.

Takes 15-20 minutes to churn out the frozen dessert

The churning takes about 15-20 minutes, which is pretty fast. The process is fully automatic. All you need to do is turn the machine on and pour in the chilled liquid mix.

For sure, I will be lying if I say that this is all the time you need.

You will need to prepare the ingredients in advance. Some recipes do require the ingredients to be precooked.

For best results, the liquid mixture should chilled overnight. If you do not have enough time, at least chill it with a ice water bath till its cool.


You don’t have to deal with ice and salt like the traditional ice cream makers of the past.

It’s really basic

I like it when things are down to the basics. There is only one on/off switch button on the unit.

No frill. No fuss.

As mentioned previously, there are only 4 simple parts to the unit.

I do find that the less parts and electronics there are, the less room for things to go wrong.

Fingers crossed, but even if the paddle does break, you can easily get the replacement parts.

Easy to add mix-ins and check on the progress

This Cuisinart ice cream maker features a transparent cover with a large opening at the top. The cover locks easily to the base and holds the other parts in place.

The convenience of the see-through cover is that it allows you to check in on the progress of the mixing and freezing process while the churning is going on.

You do not have to remove the lid or stop the machine in order to see the texture and consistency of the mixture.

The large spout allows you to pour in the mixture easily without spills. You can also freely throw in extra mix-ins near the end of the cycle without having to stop the machine. You can even dip in your spatula to have a taste and fine-tune the flavors if needed.

Easy to use and clean

To start using, simply assemble the 4 main parts of the ice cream maker. Turn on the machine to start the churning and pour in the chilled liquid mixture through the spout at the top.

Even though it is not dishwasher safe, cleaning is easy as there are no hidden crevices in the bowl or cover. I usually leave the freezer bowl and mixing paddle to soak in warm soapy water first before washing.

Easy to scrape off and transfer the ice cream

After the churning is complete, the ice cream or frozen yogurt would be soft serve at this stage.

If you prefer it to be firmer, like I do, you’ll need to keep it in the freezer for an hour or 2.

As the mixing paddle can be quickly lifted out in 1 piece and there’s no nooks and crannies in the dasher design, it’s really easy and fast to scrape the frozen dessert off the paddle and scoop the rest out of the freezer bowl into an air tight container and keep it in the freezer.

It is important to perform this step as quickly as possible as it can affect the texture of the frozen yogurt or ice cream. If the ice cream starts to melt and then re-freezes in the freezer, it will result in the formation of larger ice crystals. These will give you the coarse, grainy and icy texture on your tongue that we want to avoid.

TIPS: It’s a good idea to pre-chill the air-tight container in the freezer before you put the frozen yogurt or ice cream in it. A wide, flat container is also better than a narrow, deep one as this will help the ice cream to freeze quicker. Before you put on the container lid, you can cover the ice cream with a sheet of cling wrap to prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the ice cream.


The Cuisinart ice cream maker ICE-21 is made of plastic but you won’t feel that it is made of a poor flimsy construction. The heavy base and rubber tipped feet helps to keep the machine stable and prevent it from rattling or shifting.

Stores easily – Lightweight and compact

Measuring 9 inches x 11.25 inches x 9.25 inches (W x H x D) and weighing 9.9 Ibs, it stores nicely in the cabinet. It is not too large for apartment living and not too heavy to stow it in and out of the cabinet.

Comes with a handy recipe book

Fret not if you are new to making these frozen treats. Cuisinart has you covered with its instruction and recipe book covering ice cream (including custard style ice cream), frozen yogurt and sorbets.

To be honest, I’m new in making desserts so this was a really good starting point. They’ve got recipes such as simple fresh strawberry ice cream and fresh mint with chocolate cookies.

After you get the hang of it, you can go on to try new recipes and explore your creativity by combining your favorite flavors and ingredients.

Full control over the ingredients

Now that you are in full control of the ingredients that go into your ice cream, you can go for natural fresh ingredients and customize the taste to your own likings or dietary requirements.

For example, I totally love the taste of fresh mint so I’m using that instead of the peppermint extract. And I get to choose exactly how dark or how sweet I want my chocolate chips to be!

If you are looking for non-diary ice cream, chances are your options are pretty limited. Well, with the right recipes you can now whip up homemade ice cream using plant-based milk such as cashew milk, oat milk, etc.

If you bought too much fruits, instead of wasting the overripe fruits you can now turn them into fresh fruit ice cream, frozen yogurt or sorbets. And you get to choose how you like them to be – fully meshed up or in chucky pieces.

You can also be as generous as you like in throwing in your favorite mix-ins, such as pecans, pistachio and chocolate chips.

Other than adding sweetness to your ice cream, the amount and type of sugars used has an impact on the texture of the ice cream. So, even though you cannot totally eliminate sugar, you can definitely reduce that compared to commercial ice cream. You can also choose to substitute some of the sugar with alternatives such as maple syrup or honey.

And unlike the store bought ice cream, you can now do away with the gum and preservatives. Do expect the texture and taste to be slightly different from the stores. But I assure you that you will find the fresh homemade ice cream delicious too!

These examples are just tip of an iceberg in terms of how you can control the ingredients for healthier options, satisfy your dietary needs, reduce food wastage or just to have fun playing around with different flavors.

cuisinart ice cream maker ice-21 features


Check that you have sufficient freezer space

The removable freezer bowl measures 5.5” in height and 7” in diameter. Do make sure that your freezer has enough space to store the freeze bowl in an UPRIGHT position.

You will need to plan a day ahead

As the freezer bowl needs to be chilled for 16-24 hours before use (the longer the better), you have to plan a day ahead.

Alternatively, if you have sufficient space in the freezer, you can store the freezer bowl in the freezer so that it is ready for use as and when you desire. I tend to do the latter.

Inside the wall of the freezer bowl contains a cooling liquid. When you shake the bowl at room temperature, you can actually hear the sound of liquid sloshing about. Once frozen, the gel solidifies and you won’t be able to hear sloshing sound when you shake the bowl. TIP: This is one way you can check to make sure that it’s cold enough to be used.

Even though the cooling gel is able to maintain the coldness really well and the bowl is double insulated, remember that the bowl will start to warm up as soon as you remove it from the freezer.

TIP: It’s best to only bring out the freezer bowl when you are all set and ready to start the churning right away.

The colder your freezer bowl the faster the liquid mixture will freeze, and the creamier the texture of your ice cream and frozen yogurt.

You cannot make multiple batches

You can’t make few batches of different flavors of ice cream or yogurt right after one another, unless you purchase an extra canister. Not to mention, you will need to first have sufficient space in your freezer to store 2 freezer bowls.

Relatively small capacity

This Cuisinart ice cream maker ice 21 has a capacity of 1.5 quarts. This translates to about 6 cups (3 pints or 12 scoops) of ice cream.

It’s enough for my personal consumption, but may be insufficient if you are feeding a family or a larger group of friends.

No timer alert

This Cuisinart ice cream maker does not come with a timer alert.

Over-churning spoils the texture of the ice-cream and 15-20 minutes can pass by really quickly.

So, do make sure you keep a close eye on it especially if you are adding mix-ins near the end of the churning.


The loud churning noise is a common issue for the freezer bowl type of ice cream machines. Cuisinart ice cream makers are not exceptions/

Tips to making the best out of the Cuisinart Ice cream maker ICE 21

During the churning process, the liquid mixture would expand as a fair amount of air is being added to the mixture. So, even though the Cuisinart Ice-21 comes with a 1.5-quart bowl, you can’t put a full 1.5 quarts of liquid mixture into it as the ice-cream would overflow and create a mess.

Recipes that uses 3 cups of liquids are generally good to go.

Pour in the liquid mixture ONLY AFTER turning on the machine.

I thought I better point this out, knowing that not everyone reads the manuals and instructions.

It is important that you turn on the machine first and only pour in the liquid mixture through the spout when the freezer bowl is rotating. A change in sequence will have a huge impact!

I’ve messed up the first time, so don’t try it.

If you add in the liquid mixture before the bowl is turning, the mixture touching the bottom and the sides of the freezer bowl will freeze instantly to form a frozen layer. As a result, the mixing paddle will not be able to push through the mixture smoothly.

Use wooden or silicone spatula instead of metal.

Never use a metal utensil to scrape the frozen dessert as it could damage the bowl. It’s best to stick with a wooden or silicone spatula.

Have fun flavoring your ice cream through infusions, add-ins and toppings.

The best part about owning an ice cream machine is that you can customize the frozen dessert to your own preference.

You can also have fun experimenting your favorite combinations of flavors, ingredients and toppings… and trying out new flavors and recipes.

I used to be rather “boring” in my ice cream selections.

Now, it’s so fast and easy to whip up a frozen treat with the help of the Cuisinart ice cream maker that I’m having fun discovering new tastes.

Ginger ice cream is one of my new found favorites and I have a list of alcohol-infused ice cream and sorbet recipes to try. What’s on your list?

Key Specifications

  • Dimension: 9.5 x 9 x 11.25 inches (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 9.9 Ibs
  • Capacity: 1.5 quart
  • Freezer bowl dimension: 5.5” in height and 7” in diameter
  • Type: Removable freezer bowl

Who Is It For?

If you are not sure how often you’ll be making a frozen dessert, the Cuisinart ice-21 1.5 quart frozen yogurt-ice cream maker would be a great starting point. It is easy on the wallet, simple to use and compact to store.

More importantly, it makes high quality smooth ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet.

Remember, you don’t need the most expensive ice cream machine to make the best ice cream.

However, if you want to be able to make gelato, do check out the our review of the Cuisinart Electric Ice Cream Maker ICE 70.

This is especially so if you are particular about the texture and consistency of your frozen dessert. ICE-70 has different program settings to incorporate different amount of air into the ice-cream, gelato and sorbet so that you can taste the difference.

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