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Dealing with giant bags of ice from the store or having to constantly refill ice cube trays can be frustrating for people who regularly entertain or are serious about their home bars.
Ice makers meant for household use generally fall into two broad categories: countertop models that are small and lightweight, and built-in, under-counter models that can fit alongside a wine cooler or other large appliances. You should consider how often you'll want to use your ice maker, how quickly it can produce ice, and how much ice it can hold at one time before making a purchase—especially because some of these machines can get pricey. We Lab-tested top options in both categories to evaluate their performance, portability, and capacity, and also purchased several to be evaluated by our at-home testers.
With those factors in mind, here are our picks for both styles of the best ice makers.
Best Overall: Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker
High output per batch
Makes ice quickly
Ice might need to be broken up
Reviewers rave that this ice maker produces very clear, restaurant-quality ice, and our Lab testers loved it just as much. This machine has a 10-cup water capacity, which yielded the highest output per hour out of all the ice makers we tested. They also noted that the noise level was silent, and that the machine isn't obtrusively branded.
The unit has push button controls and an LED display, and alerts to let you know when the ice collector is full or water is low. It's fairly big and bulky—not massive to the point where a fridge with an ice maker is a better option, but if you have a small kitchen, this machine may need a designated space other than your countertop. It requires no installation and comes with an ice maker, scoop, owner's manual, and one-year warranty.
Model: Countertop | Ice Size: 1 size, cube ice | Speed: Roughly 20 cubes per 20 minutes | Dimensions: 11.13 x 14.25 x 13.88 inches | Weight: 25.3 pounds | Output: 28 pounds per day
“The Luna made the most ice in an hour (though it took one of the longer times), and it also dropped more cubes per batch. Also, it was practically silent.”
Best Budget: Silonn Countertop Ice Maker
Sleek, light, and portable
Recycles melted ice to make new ice
Can make small or large cubes
Ice is cloudy and inconsistently sized
If you're looking for an ice maker that won't break the bank, this one is a great choice. It's sleek, portable, relatively light, and doesn't clutter the counter; it's also very easy to set up and use. Our Lab testers loved that you can choose between small or large-sized ice cubes, and that despite the lower price point, it still operates quietly.
For the machine being on the smaller side, it still has a decent water capacity and churns out a good amount of ice per hour. Our testers did note that the ice came out somewhat cloudy and inconsistently sized, but they loved that the machine recycles melted ice to make more ice.
It's important to note that you'll need to keep the ice maker in an upright position if you transport it, or wait 24 hours before using it again if it wasn't kept upright (otherwise the refrigerant may not be properly settled in its reservoir after being moved, which could damage the compressor). The machine comes with a basket and an ice scoop.
Model: Countertop | Ice Size: 2 sizes, bullet ice | Speed: 9 cubes per 6 minutes | Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.7 x 12.5 inches | Weight: 15 pounds | Output: 27 pounds per day
“Very sleek and nice-looking. We would be 100 percent OK with keeping it on the countertop!”
Best Splurge: NewAir Countertop Ice Maker
Makes ice quickly
Self-cleaning feature and timer
Large and heavy
This ice maker is huge and heavy, but it can produce up to a whopping 50 pounds of ice per day and 12 pieces in 7 minutes. You can choose one of three different ice sizes and set the 18-hour timer to make ice on your schedule. Indicator lights let you know when you need to add water or when the removable ice bin is full, and an ice scoop is included for easy serving. Eventually, the ice will melt since the bin is not refrigerated, but our home tester said it was better insulated than other smaller ice maker models she tried.
This machine doesn't require much maintenance (it has a self-cleaning mode) and produces ice really fast—leave it running for 2 hours on the small setting and you'll have a full bin, according to our home tester. Our Lab testers notes that the bullet ice cubes were a bit cloudy and somewhat irregular in size, and that the machine made a strong whirring noise during operation, but its performance made up for that. The machine can be tricky to drain since it's so big and heavy, so you may want to lay a dish towel underneath to pick up any dribbling during the draining process.
Model: Countertop | Ice Size: 3 sizes, bullet ice | Speed: 12 pieces per 7 minutes | Dimensions: 17.2 x 15.3 x 16.5 inches | Weight: 36.4 to 37.6 pounds | Output: 50 pounds per day
"This is a huge model, but it produced 1 pound of ice in an hour—the highest amount of all the ice makers we tested. While we didn’t like its size, the performance was good.”
Best Compact: AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine
High output for small size
No self-cleaning feature
This machine is tiny for an ice maker and although it looks a little on the cheaper side, it's very cute. Reviewers say it's great for dinner parties, RVs, small get-togethers, and road trips. Our Lab testers noted that for the size of the machine, it made an adequate amount of ice in an hour. Since it's small and has a lower water capacity, you may have to refill it fairly often to keep up with its output, but reviewers note that it's easy to use and has clear, precise instructions.
The AGLUCKY is small and mighty, making 26 pounds of ice per day while taking up minimal counter space. While this ice maker operates relatively quietly, our Lab testers noted that there's a slight whirring noise from the fan. As the ice is used or melts, it makes more. This machine has a clear window to let you see how much ice is inside and comes with an ice scoop and basket.
Model: Countertop | Ice Size: 2 sizes, bullet ice | Speed: 9 pieces per 8 minutes | Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.7 x 12.6 inches | Weight: 16.8 pounds | Output: 26 pounds per day
“While this ice maker looks a little on the cheaper side, it's cute and super tiny!”
Best Design: Professional Series Clear Bullet Ice Maker 33-lb
Clear ice that melts slowly
Cute, minimalist design
No self-cleaning function
This machine makes beautifully clear bullet ice, and a lack of bubbles and impurities means that the ice melts more slowly. It's got a sleek, round design that looks nice on the countertop, and isn't too bulky or heavy.
The water capacity is a full 10 cups, and although our Lab testers found that the water reservoir could be tricky to pour into, they found that the high-water capacity led to a high output of ice per hour. For a relatively small machine, 33 pounds of ice per day is impressive. The first ice cubes are produced in only 8 to 9 minutes, and you have two different sizes to choose from.
This ice maker comes with a scoop and has an LED control panel that also indicates if the ice receptacle is full or the water level is low.
Model: Countertop | Ice Size: 2 sizes, bullet ice | Dimensions: 13.5 x 11.75 x 14.75 inches | Weight: 21 pounds | Output: 33 pounds per day
“While the first few ice pieces of our first batch were cloudy, the majority of them were clear.”
Best Nugget Ice: GE Opal 2.0 Nugget Ice Maker
Makes chewable nugget ice quickly
Easy to use and clean
Connects to WiFi
If you're not familiar with nugget ice, it's a soft and chewable type of ice that's best used for blended drinks like smoothies and frozen margaritas. Nugget ice is also great for blended cocktails, as it will keep your mixture cooler for a longer period of time and won't dilute the flavors. This machine produces restaurant-quality ice that's not wet, so it's easy to separate if stuck.
This sleek-looking ice maker produces 1 pound of ice nuggets per hour, and the bin can hold up to 3 pounds. The clear, illuminated bin lets you see how much ice you have available and is easy to pull forward when scooping ice (scoop included). You can open the bin while ice is still being made, and while the bin is open, any ice that is made just falls into the water reservoir. The bin is also insulated to keep the ice cold, but as it inevitably melts, the machine automatically makes more.
The GE Opal connects to WiFi, so you can control it when you're not home. It also comes with an extra water reservoir so you don't have to have to refill the water as often during larger get-togethers.
Note: Our reviewers tested the original model of this product, which is what's featured in the full review, and pictured below. The brand improved and updated the product to a lighter 2.0 model with WiFi connectivity, which is featured in this roundup.
Model: Countertop | Ice Size: 1 size, nugget ice | Speed: 1 pound per hour | Dimensions: 17.5 x 13.43 x 16.5 inches | Weight: 38 pounds | Output: 24 pounds per day
" [The ice is] easy to chew and works well in all sorts of drinks. I tried it in everything from soda and cocktails to a copycat recipe for Sonic Cherry Limeade, and I liked that it soaks up a little of the drink’s taste." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester, in review of the previous model
Best for Bullet Ice: Frigidaire EFIC103 26-Pound Freestanding Ice Maker
Large, thick ice bullets
Three sizes of ice
No self-cleaning cycle
Ice storage isn’t refrigerated
Bullet ice, also sometimes called hollow cube ice, is more cylindrical in shape than nugget ice and works great in everything from soda to mixed drinks. This Frigidaire model makes some of the largest, thickest bullet ice we've found from a countertop ice maker, and it does it quickly. The Frigidaire EFIC103 can churn out 26 pounds a day, and in our tests, it made a batch of nine in just 8 minutes. Because the ice is so large and thick, a little goes a long way. Our at-home tester reported that this machine produced "hollow, bullet-shaped ice as thick and as fast as brands that cost twice the price." It was also so quiet that she forgot it was even on.
This ice maker can store 2.2 pounds of ice at a time. While this one isn't as well-insulated as some higher-end models, our tester still found it adequate. In terms of customization, you have your choice of three ice sizes, and our tester noted that the size corresponded to thickness rather than length.
Model: Countertop | Ice Size: 3 sizes, bullet ice | Speed: 9 pieces per 7 to 15 minutes | Dimensions: 14.44 x 11.69 x 14.88 inches | Weight: 24.03 pounds | Output: 26 pounds per day
"The pieces are so chunky, we found it only took two batches of ice to fill a pint glass. With other brands we tried, it took three batches of ice to have enough to fill a glass." — Danielle Centoni, Product Tester
Our testers picked the Luma Comfort Countertop Clear Cube Ice Maker as their favorite by far because it makes high volumes of ice quickly and quietly. If you like bullet ice, the Frigidaire EFIC103 Freestanding Ice Maker gives you three sizes to choose from and has whisper-quiet operation without sacrificing speed or consistency.
How We Tested
We tested 15 ice makers side by side in our Lab and evaluated their portability, performance, and capacity. Testers gathered data on each machine's speed of batch production, quantity of ice produced per hour, noise level, and ice quality (taking note of bubbles and impurities that could cause the ice to melt more quickly). They also took note of how easy each machine was to use, whether there was any mess or dripping, how well-insulated each machine was to keep ice from melting, and whether or not each machine was self-cleaning.
We also purchased several ice makers to send to our editors for at-home testing.
Other Options We Tested
Merax Sentern Portable Electric Clear Ice Maker: Our Lab testers found that this machine only produced one batch of ice in an hour, and that the ice came out in clumps that were impossible to break into individual pieces. We liked the clear viewing window, the three cube size options, and the digital control panel, but found the machine to be quite noisy and not particularly impressive in terms of capacity. When asked if one of our lab testers would buy this machine, she said, “absolutely not,” based on her test findings.
What to Look for in an Ice Maker
Ice makers come in a wide variety of sizes, from small countertop models to some that require significant floor space. Do you want to set up that countertop model in the kitchen every time you need to fill drinks for the family, or do you prefer to keep a large unit operating at all times in the garage?
How quickly do you need your ice made? Whether you prefer to make a lot of ice ahead of time or want a constant supply flowing will determine how important speed is. Some machines can supply the first ice quickly, so you can get the party started, but if you don’t have sufficient storage space for ice, it’s wise to get an ice maker that can keep up with hourly demand.
Ice Storage Capacity
If your ice maker can produce a lot of ice quickly but can’t hold much, you’ll need to keep removing the ice and storing it elsewhere. That’s great if you’re planning ahead and can check the machine regularly, but a machine with a larger storage capacity could hold enough ice that you won't need to unload it to make more room.
How do countertop ice makers work?
While models are different, in general, the ice makers start by pumping water into the molds that make the ice. The ice maker monitors the freezing progress and when the ice in the molds is frozen, the molds are heated slightly so the ice releases easily and can be ejected into the storage bin. The process repeats for as long as there is water available and/or space in the bin for more ice.
Do portable ice makers need a water line?
Since they’re meant to be easy to move around, most portable ice makers have a reservoir for water and don’t need a dedicated water line. However, there are some commercial units that home users might choose that do require a water line, and sometimes a drain as well.
What is nugget ice?
Nugget ice might look like crushed ice, but it’s quite different. Crushed ice starts with large cubes and is crushed into smaller pieces. Nugget ice is made from flakes of ice that are compacted to form the nuggets. If you bite into crushed ice, it’s hard and solid, whereas nugget ice shatters.
What is bullet ice?
Bullet ice is cylinder-shaped with one rounded end, so it looks like a large bullet. The cylinder is often hollow, which means there’s more surface space and drinks chill faster. Bullet ice is often cloudy or white, so it may not be as attractive for clear drinks.
Do any countertop ice makers keep ice frozen?
Most countertop ice makers do not have a freezer compartment for ice storage. While the bins may be insulated, the ice will still eventually melt. The water then drains back into the water reservoir so it can be frozen again. Larger and more expensive ice makers may include a freezer section that will keep ice frozen.
Do countertop ice makers use a lot of electricity?
It depends on the model, but ice makers do not typically use a lot of power. The draw can vary depending on what the ice maker is doing—freezing, pumping, or heating the molds—and the range is fairly wide, from 50 to 160 watts, with an average of 100 watts per hour.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author, as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in all the latest kitchen gadgets. She's tested over 90 products for the brand. She interviewed Andy Currie, Mixologist at Hopleaf Bar in Chicago, as part of her research for this roundup.
This roundup was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience as a professional chef, and Katrina Munichiello, a writer and editor who specializes in the tea and food industries.