The Best Snow Cone Makers for Carnival-Worthy Treats

Our top choice is the Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker

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Snow Cone Makers Composite

The Spruce Eats / Photo Illustration by Chloe Jeong / Retailers below

Who doesn’t love a snow cone? They’re a favorite at fairs and carnivals, but what if you want one at home? They seem simple to make since they’re just ice and flavorings, but that ice is tricky. You might be able to crush ice in your blender for icy drinks, but that’s not quite the same thing as the fine, fluffy ice in a snow cone. The snow cone makers don’t chop or crush the ice, they shave it, so every piece is perfect. Fortunately, there are machines designed specifically to turn ice into the perfect snow cone consistency.

Tested & Approved

After rigorous testing, the winner for the best overall snow cone machine is the Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker. This machine produces the same snow cones as your childhood. If you're looking for a whole kit, you can't go wrong with the Hawaiian Shaved Ice Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine.

You can find them at affordable prices, too—or you can buy a higher-end machine that can shave ice all day long for the entire neighborhood. From commercial-grade machines to manual models, here are the best snow cone makers on the market.

Best Overall: Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker

Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker


What We Like
  • Cute design

  • Uses regular ice cubes

  • Classic snow cone texture

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • No syrups included

  • Not ideal for single servings

  • Ice bin can fall out

Who else recommends it? Scary Mommy, The Strategist, and Delish all picked the Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker.

What do buyers say? 90% of 5,800+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This handy little machine uses standard ice cubes to make snow cones quickly—it can make enough ice to fill up to five cones per minute. Its simple on-off switch is simple enough for anyone to use and a pop-out tray holds four cones at a time, making it easy to fill them or use it for serving the finished cones.

Our home tester reports that this was exceptionally easy to set up and start using, once you had some ice cubes. The large bin lets you serve up multiple cones quickly, though since this only includes four reusable cones and 12 disposable paper cones, you will need to get extra paper cones for serving at your next barbecue. Recipes are included, but if you want pre-made syrups you’ll need to order them separately. When our home reviewer tried out a few of the recipes, including the piña colada one, she was pleased with the final treat.

All of the parts that come in contact with food are BPA-free and the ice bin is removable for easy cleaning—but since you’re just running ice through it, you can just wipe it dry and tuck it away. This is small enough to fit on your counter or store easily when it’s not in use and the bright red color is festive.

Price at time of publish: $79.95

Cusinart Snow Cone Maker

The Spruce Eats / Camryn Rabideau

Dimensions: 9 x 9.25 x 12 inches | Weight: 7 pounds | Includes: Four BPA-free reusable plastic cones and 12 paper cones

What Our Testers Say

"The ice held its shape nicely, even when doused in syrup, and it had a crunchy texture that reminded me of the snow cones I bought from the ice cream truck when I was younger."Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester

Best Kit: Hawaiian Shaved Ice Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine Party Package


What We Like
  • Compact and lightweight

  • Creates flakey shaved ice

  • Fairly quiet

What We Don't Like
  • Must use special ice blocks

  • Cones are tall

  • Learning curve for proper shaving

This festive machine includes everything you need to get the party going, with no need to shop for extras. It includes three 16-ounce bottles of shaved ice syrup (cherry, grape, and blue raspberry) that the manufacturer says is the same brand used at many shaved ice stands, so you’ll have the authentic flavor at home. It also includes 25 plastic spoon straws, 25 paper snow cone cups, and three pourers for the bottles that make serving easy.

To operate, just press on top to start shaving the ice. By pressing harder or easier, the texture of the shaved ice changes, so it might take some practice to figure out exactly what texture you prefer. Our tester appreciated the compact design—it easily tucks into a cabinet—and details like the nonslip silicone drip tray, which helps minimize the mess when you're running the machine. Overall, our reviewer found the performance impressive for the price, calling it a steal.

Two lidless containers are included for making ice “pucks” that fit into the machine. Each puck makes about two cones, so it’s advised to make the pucks in advance and store them in a zip-top plastic bag in the freezer, so you’ll have enough on hand for a party or a snow cone emergency. Since the containers don’t have lids, they can’t be stacked in the freezer (and you need to place them where they won’t tip). This machine can also use standard ice cubes, but the finished quality won’t be quite as good.

Price at time of publish: $75.99

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Machine Party Package

 The Spruce Eats / Camryn Rabideau

Dimensions: 6.5 x 8 x 14 inches | Weight: 4 pounds | Includes: Three 1-pint bottles of syrup, three pourers, 25 disposable paper cones, 25 straw/spoons. plastic forms for freezing ice blocks

What Our Testers Say

"One of the best things about this particular unit is that it’s small and lightweight enough to tuck away into a cupboard."Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester

Best Budget: Nostalgia Vintage Snow Cone Maker

Nostalgia Snow Cone Maker


What We Like
  • Cute design

  • Enclosed bin holds ice until needed

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Does not include flavorings

  • Loud

  • Must keep refilling with ice

The design of this snow cone maker resembles an old-fashioned push-cart, with two wheels, two legs, and a handle—but it fits neatly on your kitchen counter. It’s playful, but the white and gold coloring adds some class.

The ice collects in a clear enclosed bin that holds enough for about 20 snow cones, while a shelf in front holds two cones for filling and serving. The machine uses standard ice cubes and turns on when the lid is locked in place, which makes it very safe to operate. Each ice refill makes enough shaved ice for about three snow cones in about 30 seconds, so no one will be waiting long for their treats.

This comes with two reusable plastic cones and an ice scoop, but it does not include flavorings. An upgraded kit is available that includes spoon straws, paper cups, two flavorings, and a squeeze bottle. 

Price at time of publish: $40.34

Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 15.25 inches | Weight: 4.8 pounds | Includes: Two plastic reusable cones, ice scoop

Recipe Ideas

The snow cones you buy are usually little more than shaved ice with a colored, flavored sugar syrup on top, but when you make them at home, you can make them as healthy or as decadent as you like, using fresh fruit juice, honey, cold coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and even alcohol.

Best Manual: Time for Treats Snowflake Snow Cone Maker



What We Like
  • Very portable

  • Adjustable blade

  • Three covered molds included

What We Don't Like
  • Can be tiring to operate

  • Should use ice from molds

  • No flavorings included

This manual ice shaver means you can make snow cones wherever you go, as long as you have ice on hand—so bring the machine, pack your cooler with ice, and make snow cones on a picnic, at the beach, or in your backyard.

This includes three lidded ice molds for making the ideal ice shape for use in this machine, but you can also use regular ice cubes. The molds are stackable and the lids keep them from spilling in the freezer, so you won’t make a mess if you bump them while reaching for the frozen peas. For big parties, make the ice ahead of time and freeze it in zip-top plastic bags.

This relies on human cranking to shave the ice, so it might not be ideal for making snow cones for the entire neighborhood unless everyone’s taking a turn shaving their own ice.

Price at time of publish: $25.99

Dimensions: 8 x 7.88 x 9 inches | Weight: 1.8 pounds | Includes: Three covered molds

Good to Know

While a dedicated snow cone machine might seem like a one-trick pony, the ice is useful for more than just snow cones. Use the ice for frozen cocktails, for presenting chilled seafood, as a bed for fresh raw vegetables on a buffet, or to keep your chilled salad nice and cold on the way to a potluck. 

Best Commercial-Grade: ZENY Electric Stainless Steel Snow Cone Maker

ZENY Electric Stainless Steel Snow Cone Maker


What We Like
  • Can process 143 pounds of ice per hour

  • Heavy base won’t slide

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • No flavorings included

  • Bowl can overflow

  • No cones or cups included

Snow cones are just the start of what can be made with this industrial stainless steel machine. It can also shave enough ice to make margaritas, slushies, and more for a crowd. It's super speedy and efficient, producing 143 pounds of shaved ice per hour. Though rated for commercial use, it's great for in-home use as well.

The ZENY has a heavy base, so you can confidently crush ice without worrying about the unit sliding around or creating extra noise (though note that this is not by any means a quiet machine—it does crush ice, after all). Other safety features include a water-resistant on/off switch and auto-shutoff when the hopper is open.

Reviewers rave about its durability, safety features, and speed, as well as its ability to produce uniform ice shavings. One complaint is that the bowl is on the smaller side, meaning messy overflow at times.

Price at time of publish: $49.99

Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 9 inches | Weight: 13 pounds | Includes: No extras

Best for Parties: Nostalgia RSM602 Retro Countertop Snow Cone Maker

Nostalgia Retro Snow Cone Maker


What We Like
  • Clear view of ice in container

  • Side shelf holds cones

  • Can hold 160 ounces of shaved ice

What We Don't Like
  • No flavorings included

  • Door can stick

  • Cleaning could be easier

Whether kids or just kids at heart, guests will get a kick out of this retro-inspired snow cone machine. Feed regular ice cubes into the chopper, and stainless steel blades will turn them into frozen fluff fit for sweet treats. Though the chopper doesn't hold much ice (meaning you'll have to continuously feed it), the tank has a 160-ounce capacity, enough for twnety 8-ounce snow cones.

A side door allows access to the bin, though some reviewers note that it feels a bit flimsy and difficult to latch, and the hole itself may not be big enough for large hands to fit inside. Thanks to a safety switch, this maker is not only fun for kids but also safe. Like the other Nostalgia product on this list, the side shelf holds two snow cones, making it easy to add fun designs with syrups.

Price at time of publish: $59.99

Dimensions: 13.5 x 10.75 x 10.25 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | Includes: Two reusable plastic snow cones, ice scoop

Best Ice Shaver: Great Northern Popcorn Company Ice Cub Shaved Ice Machine

Great Northern Popcorn Company Hawaiian Shaved Ice Machine and Snow Cone Maker


What We Like
  • Adjustable blade

  • Commercial motor

  • Can shave 6 pounds per minute

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

  • No safety shield

Don't let the name fool you: Great Northern Popcorn Company offers more than just popcorn makers. The brand is known for its high-quality concession equipment, including this seriously solid ice shaver. With its adjustable, stainless steel blades and 1/3 HP motor, this machine can demolish 6 pounds of ice per minute (that's more than 350 pounds per hour). Feed it ice blocks up to 8 x 6.5 inches.

Measuring 15 x 12 x 30.5, this model does take up a fair amount of counter space, and it has a big price tag to match, but if you've got the storage (and the budget), you'll be rewarded with a heavy-duty unit and fluffy, consistent ice for snow cones and more.

Despite its cheery design, keep in mind that this ice maker is no toy. Essentially a drill press, there is no shield, and the blades are quite sharp, so it should be used with caution around kids.

Price at time of publish: $333

Dimensions: 15 x 12 x 30.5 inches | Weight: 55 pounds | Includes: No extras

Final Verdict

After rigorous testing, the winner for the best overall snow cone machine is the Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker. This machine produces the same snow cones you had as a kid. For a more affordable option, check out the Nostalgia Snow Cone Maker, which performs above-average, and sports an adorable, playful design. 

Other Options We Tested

  • SNOWIE Little Snowie Max Snow Cone Machine: Our former best overall pick does quickly make fluffy snow cones and can produce refreshing and fun desserts. But when we put it to the test in a home kitchen, our reviewer was left a little underwhelmed. First, it's obnoxiously loud. Granted, the noise only goes on for a few seconds, but if you're making cones for a gaggle of kids, you'll end up with a headache (the full cup of sugar added to the flavorings doesn't help that). What really places this in the do-not-recommend category though is the price. It would take a steep discount to make this worth it.

What to Look for When Buying a Snow Cone Maker

By Sara Tane


The most accessible, affordable, and smallest type is a manual snow cone maker. Most manual models allow you to make snow cones wherever you go as long as you have ice on hand—no electric outlet needed. Keep in mind that this uses hand power and elbow grease to crank through ice. If you just need to make a few snow cones for a small group, this is a great, budget-friendly choice. But if you want to save your energy and let a machine do the work, an electric snow cone maker is your best bet. These vary in wattage, capacity, and speed, but they all prevent you from having to hand-crank through several blocks of ice. Commercial electric snow cone makers can be quite heavy and loud; unless you need to make a lot of cones in a short period of time, this might be more than what you’re looking for. Another factor to keep in mind is that there are sharp blades, heavy machinery, and mechanical lifts involved in these appliances—so use them with the utmost caution.


Snow cone makers are available in a wide range of sizes—from a countertop appliance to a standalone cart with wheels for festivals and parties. What you’re planning to use the machine for, how frequently you plan to use it, and how much space you have to store it when it’s not in use are all important considerations. If you want something impressive for gatherings, something larger might be a fun piece—if you have space. If you just want something that can shave ice or if you're tight on space, something more compact—like a manual snow cone maker—would be a better option.


You also want to consider the look of the machine before purchasing. Some models are party-ready—they're brightly colored, have fun designs, and a few even resemble an old-fashioned pushcart with two wheels, two legs, and a handle. While the look of the machine doesn’t affect its performance, it’s certainly something to consider if you’re shopping to entertain.


When it comes to a brand new snow cone maker, you can pay anywhere from $15 to $300, so knowing what you’re looking for is crucial to find a machine within your budget that you’ll actually use. You'll find mostly the smaller-capacity manual and countertop machines at the cheaper end of the spectrum. If you’re looking to invest a little bit more money, consider commercial-grade models that have a high wattage and larger capacities. But if you want to cut costs and only want to commit to the machine for a day, you can also look into renting if it's available in your area. (This is a great option to have if this is for a one-time party or celebration.)


What is the difference between shaved ice and snow cones?

A common misconception is that shaved ice and snow cones are interchangeable; this is actually not the case. Snow cones have crunchy ice, which means that a lot of the syrup poured over the ice collects at the bottom of the cone for a sugary rush at the end. Shaved ice, on the other hand, is when the ice (after being shaved from a block of ice) is very fluffy, almost like snow. This means that the syrup is better distributed throughout the treat. This difference between the two—and which an appliance can make—is important to keep in mind when shopping.

What accessories do you need for a snow cone machine?

Of course, you can’t make delicious snow cones without a variety of syrups and sugars to flavor your ice. Syrups are available in variety packs, or you can also buy them by the gallon. Other fun accessories are straws and cones. Typically, straws have a tiny spoon on one end, which gives you the option to slurp or spoon your snow cone. The paper cones, crucial for any snow cone eating experience, are sold in bulk so you can stock up. Some even come with fun prints. They also come in different sizes, but most are around 6 ounces, so think about how big or small you want your cones to be.

How do you clean a snow cone machine?

To give your machine a thorough cleaning, make a vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle and spray the shaving plate, ice chamber, and ice chute to make sure there’s no residual ice or sugar in the machine. Never immerse it in water and avoid using soap. Always practice care and caution when cleaning near the blade and the dispensing chute. When it’s time to clean the machine, always unplug it and let it cool down first.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is an expert on all things food, from desserts and cookbooks to cooking gadgets. She's also the author of her own cookbook, Make Ahead Bread, and loves to test out her favorite kitchen gadgets and appliances. In fact, she's tested over 90 products for The Spruce Eats.

The buying guide was written by Sara Tane, a food writer and private chef who has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats. She's a classically trained chef who also understands what consumers and home cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. These Snow Cone Machines Are Guaranteed To Make Everyone's Summer. Scary Mommy.

  2. The Best Snow-Cone Machines on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers. The Strategist.

  3. The Best Snow Cone Machines For 2022. Delish.

  4. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Bisphenol A (BPA). Updated March 5, 2020.

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