Ready in a few minutes
12 hardness settings
“Keep Cool” feature
Adjustable alarms and volume
High price tag
Large and heavy
Warms rapidly when the cover is open
One of the higher-end options on the market (and a favorite for wedding registries), the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker isn’t your average appliance. The gorgeous, albeit hefty, stainless steel machine contains a compressor, which makes quick work of whipping up your favorite frozen dessert. It’s also said to solve all the little annoyances of other ice cream makers, including the inability to control factors such as volume and firmness of the final product. We tested out a simple vanilla ice cream recipe to see if the Smart Scoop could handle it. (Spoiler: It most definitely could.) Read on to discover all the features that made us fall in love with this model.
Performance: A smooth ride from start to finish
Since the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker contains a compressor that chills as it churns, you don’t need to freeze the bowl between uses. After slipping the bowl inside the machine with the churning arm attached, we pressed “Pre-Cool.” In about 10 minutes, the temperature dropped into the appropriate range, at which point we added the chilled ice cream mixture. We found that opening the cover momentarily increased the temperature.
This maker lets you choose the firmness of the final product, and it’s easy to twist the “Softer to Harder” knob to the setting of your choice. We went with the hardest level, which is usually best for traditional ice cream. The Smart Scoop still had a little cooling to do, but it started churning away—and quietly, we might add. This was a nice change from the obnoxious noise other machines made.
About 20 minutes in, the machine chirped to signal completion, so we pressed the “Keep Cool” button (which you can press at any time) and took a look. The consistency seemed more like soft serve at that point, so we let it run again to test how well the mixture would harden in the machine.
The motor stops when the mixture gets too thick, so only 12 minutes passed before it played its tune once more. The ice cream was a bit more solid and ready for the freezer. The included mini spatula scraped out every last bit. Ultimately, the machine knew what was best—the hardened ice cream had a light buttery taste—but in a good, creamy way and not an over-churned, frozen butter way.
Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best whipped cream dispensers.
Design: Beautiful but big
Many ice cream makers have chrome finishes, but stainless steel is a rare feature. The bulk of this machine houses the compressor, which chills the ice cream chamber. The top boasts an easy-to-read screen surrounded by buttons. Make no mistake—at 30 pounds, you need some decent upper body strength to carry this appliance. It also takes up a lot of counter space. Choose where it will live wisely: Once it’s placed, you probably won’t want to move it again.
Pressing the little megaphone button cycles through different melodic or beeping alarms, all of which have adjustable volume.
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Features: Oh, the things you’ll do
Any mid-range ice cream maker should be able to make sorbet, gelato, frozen yogurt, and ice cream, so it’s not surprising to find these options on the Smart Scoop. But using the “Softer to Harder” knob allows you to choose softer ice cream or harder sorbet instead of a one-size-fits-all preset. The only downside is there isn’t a slower churn setting for gelato.
The backlit screen flashes between elapsed time and the current chamber temperature, which you can change to Fahrenheit or Celsius with the press of a button. You can also manually set the time using two arrows above the screen. Pressing the little megaphone button cycles through different melodic or beeping alarms, all of which have adjustable volume. The machine also dings when it’s time to add ingredients, and there’s a pause button that allows you to do so. There’s even a silent mode in case you want to make ice cream while your family is sleeping.
The “Pre-Cool” and “Keep Cool” buttons respectively accelerate prep and help you avoid crystallization so there’s less of a rush to get your ice cream in the freezer. The lid opens to allow for adding ingredients; it also locks into place and doesn’t fly off when the churn gets real. (Yes, that really happens with some ice cream makers.)
Price: Treat yourself
At over $400 (MSRP), the Smart Scoop may seem too expensive for home use—until you really start to look at everything it can do. Even when compared to more expensive competitors, this ice cream machine is truly impressive thanks to its many capabilities.
Competition: The highs and lows
The comparably priced Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Maker has an additional gelato paddle but also operates at one speed. It’s smaller than the Smart Scoop, though slightly heavier.
Using the ‘Softer to Harder’ knob allows you to choose softer ice cream or harder sorbet instead of a one-size-fits-all preset. The only downside is there isn’t a slower churn setting for gelato.
Then there’s the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino Ice Cream Maker. At almost double the price, it has one speed and no screen. However, this Italian machine is hailed by many, including the well-known ice cream shop Salt & Straw, which uses it to test new flavors.
Consult your bank account first.
Ease of use alone makes the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker a winner in our book. The features are unparalleled, the design is attractive, albeit hefty, and it’s made of high-quality materials. The only way you could find a better choice is to buy a commercial ice cream maker. If you’re a true ice cream lover and can swing the price, this machine won’t let you down.
- Product Name Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
- Product Brand Breville
- Price $429.95
- Weight 30 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 15.8 x 11 x 11 in.
- Color Stainless steel
- Material Stainless steel, plastic
- Capacity 1.5 quarts
- Warranty 1 year, limited