Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (2024)

Straight to the Point

If you pile drinks with ice (and want the option to control your ice machine via an app) the GE Profile Opal 2.0 Nugget Ice Maker is a great choice. We also liked the Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker Machine for crystal-clear, slow-melting hard ice that is great for co*cktails.

If you're an iced drinks person, then you know that ice cube trays don't make a lot of ice. Enter the countertop ice maker, which is capable of producing a whole lot of ice in a relatively short amount of time.

Before you set your sights on a particular ice maker, consider how much space you have, how often you need ice, and what you'll be using the ice for. Your answers will help determine the type of ice maker that’s best for you. If you pile ice into your drinks all day long, you might want a high-yield, nugget ice maker. If you’re a passionate home mixologist who wants ice for serving co*cktails, then slow-melting, clear ice is better suited to your needs. If you’re just looking to chill drinks without making a major investment, a compact bullet ice machine will do the trick.

Endless ice is an appealing promise, so I tested 13 countertop ice makers, ranging in price from $90 to $575.

The Winners, at a Glance

This was a sleek ice maker that yielded soft, crunchy pellet ice, affectionately known as “the good ice” in certain circles. It produced ice quickly and consistently. The detachable side reservoir made refilling the machine easy, and the automatic cleaning cycle simplified cleanup. WiFi connectivity gives users the option to turn this machine on remotely.

With a large capacity, a clear view of the ice, and a whisper-quiet fan and motor, the Frigidaire is a great, moderately-priced countertop ice maker. It produced nearly two pounds of ice in an hour.

The Luma ice machine made large batches of slow-melting, clear ice. This dense ice is ideal for co*cktails because the slower melting time prevents excessive drink dilution. This model features a convenient side spout for drainage, so there’s no need to lift a heavy machine over your sink when it’s time for cleanup.

The Magic Chef ice maker is a sturdy and reliable machine for everyday use. This model was among the fastest machines to begin producing ice, and over the course of an hour, it churned out almost one pound of cubes. It strikes a good balance between speed, quality, and price.

The Tests

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (5)

  • Speed Test: I filled and ran each ice maker according to manufacturer instructions, timing how long it took to produce a batch of ice.
  • Production Test: To evaluate yield, I ran each ice maker for one hour. Then, I weighed the ice that accumulated in the machine.
  • Durability Test: I ran our favorite ice makers through five, one-hour cycles to evaluate how well performance held up with repeated use.
  • Cleaning Test: I cleaned each ice machine according to manufacturer instructions, running the automatic cleaning cycle where applicable.
  • Usability Test: Throughout our testing, I noted if the machines were easy and intuitive to set up and use.

What We Learned

Don’t Call It a Cube

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The ice makers I tested produced three different types of ice: bullet ice, nugget ice, and clear ice. These shapes aren’t just a stylistic choice, they actually have different textures and melting times. Nugget ice, the type produced by the GE Opal, is made from small layers of flaked ice that have been caked together, almost like a snowball. This gives the ice a soft and chewy texture. Since each individual ice flake is small, this ice melts quickly, giving drinks a slushy-like quality.

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (7)

The majority of the machines I tested (including our pick from MagicChef ) produce bullet ice—rounded ice with a hole in the center that formed around a super chilled prong submerged in water. These quick-forming cubes are medium-soft. The hole in the center creates more surface area, which speeds up melting time. Clear ice, like the kind produced by the Luma Comfort, has the lowest air content and is the densest and slowest-melting ice.

Faster Wasn't Always Better

Time Taken for First Batch of Ice vs. Amount of Ice After One Hour
Time Taken to Make First Batch of IceAmount of Ice After 1 Hour
GE Profile9 min496 g
Luma21 min609 g
Silonn8 min301 g
Gevi13 min442 g
AGLUCKY8 min235 g
Frigidaire10 min, 40 sec302 g
Magic Chef8 min374 g
Igloo9 min, 7 sec178 g

Bullet ice makers, like the MagicChef and Silonn, were the fastest machines, producing their first batches of ice in just eight minutes. However, after an hour of ice production, they had accumulated less ice than the slower (21 minutes per batch) Luma ice machine.

This is partially because bullet ice cubes melt more quickly than clear ice, so by the time the hour was complete, the first batches of ice from the bullet ice machines were well on their way to melting.

Air Bubbles Impacted Melting Speed

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (8)

Water has tiny air bubbles in it. When it freezes quickly, these bubbles become trapped in the ice. Quick-forming bullet ice has visible air bubbles trapped in it, which lowers the density and increases the melting speed. Clear ice is clear because it doesn’t have many (if any) bubbles. This dense ice takes longer to form but lasts longer in the machine and your glass.

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (9)

Air bubbles aren’t necessarily good or bad—ice texture is a personal preference—but in some applications, slow-melting ice is preferable. For stirring and serving co*cktails, slow-melting ice won’t dilute a drink as quickly as bullet ice—a boon for straight spirits and spirit-heavy co*cktails that are slowly sipped.

Cleaning Was Key

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (10)

Ice on command is extremely convenient, but safely maintaining a countertop ice maker takes effort. Standing water is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, so if your ice maker isn’t running constantly, there’s a chance any water left in the machine will get slimy. High-end models like the GE and Frigidaire ice makers featured automatic cleaning cycles that can be run with a mixture of water and bleach, but most of the ice makers we tested needed to be cleaned (and drained) by hand. The Silonn and Igloo models featured drain spouts on the bottom of the machine, which meant they had to be lifted and placed over the sink to empty the water. Ice makers are heavy and completely draining the water from these machines was difficult. Although it doesn’t feature an automatic cleaning cycle, the Luma Comfort was one of the few models with side or back drainage spouts. Compared to bottom-draining models, these were significantly easier to use.

How Noisy Were the Ice Makers?

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (11)

All countertop ice makers generate some noise. Some models produced the low hum of a white noise machine, while others replicated the buzzing rumble of a refrigerator in need of repair. During testing, I found that ice makers with a consistent noise output were less disruptive than those that warbled. Most machines were about as loud as an overloaded laptop being asked to open one more tab.

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Countertop Ice Maker

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (12)

Choose an ice maker that fits on your countertop and produces your favorite kind of ice (be it bullet, clear, or nugget ice). Look for a model with a cleaning cycle and/or easy drainage. Proper hygiene is important, and an easy-to-clean appliance will make this habit more attainable.

Our Favorite Countertop Ice Makers

What we liked: This ice maker makes and stores oodles of ice. During testing, this machine made just over a pound of ice in an hour, and the storage bin had a stated capacity of three pounds. Start this model a few hours ahead of time, and you’ll have enough ice to last you through a dinner party. The nugget ice it produces is soft, crunchy, and wholly great. The machine itself is large, but you don’t have to worry about lifting the whole thing to fill it—refilling the reservoir is made easy by the detachable side tank. The self-cleaning cycle is also easy to run, and if you follow manufacturer guidance by running the cleaning cycle with diluted bleach water once a week, this should suffice for cleanup.

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (14)

What we didn’t like:Good ice comes at a cost. Weighing in at a whopping 38 pounds, this was one of the largest, heaviest, and most expensive machines I tested. Because of the size and weight, it’s difficult to move this machine around. This model also takes more setup and makes a little more noise than a simple bullet ice maker.

Key Specs

  • Machine weight: 38 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎14.8 x 11.3 x 14.1 inches
  • Yield: 1.09 pounds of ice per hour
  • Ice shape: Nugget

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (15)

What we liked: This ice maker made a lot of ice and did it fast, producing a whopping two pounds of ice in an hour. It was super quiet, had an easily accessible water reservoir on top, and a large, clear panel to view the ice. Its nugget ice had a great density and was nice to chew (if that’s your thing).

What we didn’t like: This ice maker is heavy, large, and likely won’t fit under overhead cabinets.

Key Specs

  • Machine weight: 44 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎16.75 x 11.75 x 20.25 inches
  • Yield: 1.75 pounds of ice per hour
  • Ice shape: Nugget

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (17)

What we liked: The Luma Comfort ice maker churns out high-quality, clear ice. This machine yielded a lot, too, making 1.3 pounds of ice over the course of an hour. The Luma also comes with an extra mode: restart the machine and hold down the power button for five seconds to make even thicker ice cubes. This was one of the few models with a side or back drainage spout, making it easy to empty the water from this machine—just place it near a sink, and watch the water drain away.

What we didn’t like: This model takes a slightly longer time to start producing ice; the first batch took 21 minutes to freeze. While running, this machine creates a consistent white noise-like hum, but the dense ice cubes make a bit of a racket when they drop into the tray. This machine also lacks a self-cleaning cycle, and it should be drained and wiped clean by hand once a week.

Key Specs

  • Machine weight: 25.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎14.8 x 11.3 x 14.1 inches
  • Yield: 1.3 pounds of ice per hour
  • Ice shape: Cube

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (19)

What we liked: This speedy machine was the top-yielding bullet ice maker, producing 374 grams of ice in one hour. It was simple to use, and it began making ice within eight minutes. Plus, compared to our other winners, this is the smallest and most affordable option.

What we didn’t like: This model lost points during cleanup. It lacks the cleaning cycle of the GE Opal and, unlike the Luma, its drainage spout is located on the bottom. So, to drain it, you have to place it over a sink to remove excess water.

Key Specs

  • Machine weight: 21 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎15.4 x 11.7 x 15.7 inches
  • Yield: .82 pounds of ice per hour
  • Ice shape: Cube

Cool! Crunchy! I Tested 13 Countertop Ice Makers—Four Stood Out (21)

The Competition

  • Silonn Ice Makers Countertop: The Silonn ice maker was middle at all tasks. It was easy to set up and produced ice within eight minutes. The drainage spout for this model is on the bottom, so it needs to be picked up and positioned over the sink to empty it before cleaning.
  • Gevi Household Nugget Ice Maker: Compared to the GE model, this ice maker took longer to start and produced less ice per hour (442 grams compared to 496 grams). It lacked a detachable side compartment, so filling it with water was cumbersome.Since publishing this review, the Gevi was recalled due to a safety hazard.
  • AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine: This model had the second lowest yield after an hour of production. The smaller size offered some countertop convenience, but it also made it harder to clean—it was difficult to reach the bottom of the reservoir with a damp rag.
  • FRIGIDAIRE EFIC189-Silver Compact Ice Maker: Of the bullet ice machines, this model took the longest time to produce a batch of ice. While running, it made an inconsistent whirring sound that didn't fade easily into the background.
  • Igloo Automatic Ice Maker: This ice maker had the lowest yield after one hour. The small ice cubes melted quickly, and by the time several batches had been produced, the first melted substantially.
  • Newair Nugget Ice Maker: This machine was so loud it was a non-starter.
  • Mueller Countertop Nugget Ice Maker: Scooping ice out of the top of the machine felt awkward. Pull-out baskets/inserts were preferable. Plus, it’s fairly pricey.
  • Iceman Countertop Nugget Ice Maker: Like the Mueller, the ice reservoir was located at the top of the machine.
  • AGLucky Nugget Ice Maker: This isn’t a bad ice maker, but it didn’t outperform our budget pick from Magic Chef (which is still cheaper).

FAQs

Do countertop ice makers keep ice frozen?

After a batch is produced, countertop ice makers hold the newly formed ice in a basket or dedicated compartment. The models I tested will hold ice for a brief period of time, but they don't have a freezer/refrigerated component to them. Instead, countertop ice makers are designed to work continuously. As the ice melts, it drips back into the reservoir where it can be refrozen into fresh cubes.

What are the benefits of having a countertop ice maker?

Countertop ice makers produce ice more quickly than ice cube trays and free up space in your freezer. They also offer an opportunity to make different kinds of ice. There’s no ice cube tray in the world (that I know of) that can produce soft, chewable nugget ice.

Do you need to clean a countertop ice maker?

This is a definitive yes. Standing water is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. If your ice maker isn’t in constant use, it will likely have some amount of water resting in it. To prevent mold and bacterial growth, ice makers should be cleaned following manufacturer instructions, either by running a self-cleaning cycle or by wiping clean with a solution of soap and water. Some ice makers also need to be descaled after several uses. Descaling is a process that prevents mineral buildup in the interior of the machine.

Does an ice maker come with a filter?

Not every countertop ice maker comes with a filter, so it's good practice to fill each reservoir with filtered water. Filtered water has less mineral content than unfiltered water, which leads to clearer ice. Minerals in water can act as nucleation points when ice starts to form, and this causes the ice to be cloudy.

How do countertop ice makers work?

A countertop ice maker has a built-in water reservoir, so it doesn't need a dedicated water line like your fridge's ice maker does. When you turn the machine on, the water is moved to the ice-making chamber where it freezes into cubes and then is dispatched into the ice drawer once it has fully frozen. The machine will continue to make ice until the water reservoir needs to be refilled.

Why We're the Experts

  • To find the best countertop ice makers, we tested 13 models. We evaluated how quickly they made ice, how easy they were to clean, and other usability features.
  • Madeline Muzziis a freelance writer, editor, and video producer.
  • She has written many reviews for Serious Eats, includingwine decanters andflatware sets.

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