Last updated on May 2, 2023

How to use an ice cream maker ๐Ÿจ to make Italian gelato

Gianni from All Italian - Author
Gianni from All Italian

We are Italians and on our website All Italian we share many recipes that wemake at home. Here we show how to make gelato with the ice cream maker, compressor or with freezer bowl.

A compressor ice cream machine makes mango sorbet
Mango sorbet almost ready in our ice cream maker

Each ice cream maker is sold with an handbook: pour the ice cream mixture, turn on the ice cream maker, wait 50 minutes. It sounds very simple.
So why are so many looking for tips on how to use an ice cream maker?

Maybe you bought an ice cream maker, followed the instructions carefully, but the first ice creams didn't work out. It happens often.
The most common problems are: the mixture remains liquid; or the mixing paddle stops before the ice cream is ready.

At this time, many think that the ice machine is not working properly. But it's not like that: because a big difference is how you use it, besides the ingredients of the recipes.

On All Italian we have successfully made many ice cream recipes. On this page we give all the tips for using an ice cream maker, for a delicious ice cream that it's perfect every time.

๐Ÿ‘‰ The preparation applies to both compressor and freezer bowl ice cream makers.

On this page

Learning Italian ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

The Italian words gelatiera and gelateria are very similar, but they mean very different things.

The Italian words of this page:

๐Ÿ”Š Gelatiera Ice cream maker
๐Ÿ”Š Gelateria Ice cream shop

How does an ice cream maker work?

The ice cream maker for home use is a device that has a specific task: to mix the ice cream mixture in a cold container.

An empty ice cream maker with rotating paddle

In Italian we call this ๐Ÿ”Š mantecazione.
If the mixture you pour contains the correct ratio of ingredients, it will begin to collect air after about 15 minutes and gradually become a soft ice cream.

Pistachio ice cream in the ice cream maker
Pistachio ice cream in the ice cream maker, almost ready

Compressor or freezer bowl ice cream makers

  • Freezer bowl ice cream maker: the simplest, most compact and cost-effective type. This ice cream maker does not cool, it only mixes the ice cream mixture.

    The ice cream bowl is removable and should remain in the freezer for several hours before you can make ice cream. Once it is well frozen, put the freezer bowl back in the ice cream maker and pour the mixture.

    The biggest drawback of this type of machine is that you can only make one ice cream per day.

  • Compressor ice cream makers mix and also cool the ice cream. This type of machine is a bit bulkier and costs a bit more, but it does contain a compressor that generates cold - like the one in your fridge or freezer.

    In exchange, this type of machines is ready to use and you can make multiple times ice cream in one day. In a few days we made about ten recipes for our ice cream recipe book.

How to use an ice cream maker

  1. Prepare the ingredients cold

    The amount of ingredients in the ice cream recipe is important for ice cream: we often write that on the ice cream pages of All Italian.

    Italian gelato basic ingredients
    The basic ingredients for Italian milk ice cream without egg. In Italy this ice cream flavor is called ๐Ÿ”Š fiordilatte and is the basis of many other flavours

    The ingredients you pour into the ice cream maker must have two characteristics:

    • The recipe must have a balanced ratio of sugars and fats, otherwise the mixture will remain liquid; this is always the case with our recipes, because we use software to calculate the ingredients.

    • The mixture you pour into the ice cream maker must be cold.

    A homemade ice cream cone
    A homemade Spritz ice cream from our recipe book
  2. Turn on the ice cream maker and let it cool

    With a freezer bowl or compressor, the ice cream maker too must be very cold when you pour the mixture.

    If you use a freezer bowl ice cream maker, the bowl must have been well frozen in the freezer for several hours.

    If using a compressor ice cream maker, turn it on a few minutes before pouring in the ice cream mixture to prepare it cold.

    Turn on the ice cream maker to make gelato

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ To make ice cream, the ice cream maker must reach a temperature of about -7.6 ยฐF (-22 ยฐC). But not all ice cream machines indicate the temperature.

    We have a lot of experience with two ice cream makers, a 1.5 L Domo and a 2 L Springlane (the one in the photos). The smaller ice cream maker takes 10 minutes to cool down; the 2 L, with the larger container, takesa about 15 minutes.

    When you turn on the ice cream maker, the countdown starts, usually at 60 minutes. This means we'll pour the mixture when the countdown reads about 45 minutes.

    While the ice cream maker is cooling down, we will mix the ingredients.

  3. Mix the ingredients

    The ice cream mixture that you pour into the ice cream maker must be very smooth: this way the small pieces of ingredients do not block the mixing paddle of the ice cream maker.

    We mix the ingredients for a long while with the immersion mixer, until they are dissolved: for example sugar, nuts, biscuits and fruit.

    There is another to that no one ever writes, neither in the manual of the ice cream maker nor in the online recipes: the ingredients you add must be cold.

    Otherwise the ice cream maker takes a lot of effort to bring the mixture to the right temperature for it to change from liquid to gelato.

    Our advice is therefore to mix the already cold ingredients well or to let the mixture cool in the fridge before pouring it into the ice cream maker.

  4. Pour the cold mixture into the ice cream maker

    At this point the icemaker is cold, ideally at least -7.6 -22 ยฐF / -22 ยฐC. The user manual often tells you to open the ice cream maker and pour the mixture: but this way the cold escapes from the ice cream maker.

    All ice cream makers have an opening in the lid, not just for adding chocolate chips; we also use this opening to pour the actual ice cream mixture.

    We pour the mixture through the opening on the lid of the ice cream maker while the mixing paddle is moving.

    Mixing homemade ice cream in the ice cream maker

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ If we skip this step, the ice cream does not always result: the mixing paddle of our Domo ice cream machine would often get stuck before the ice cream is ready. It never happens when we pour the mixture through the opening on the lid.

  5. Let it mix for 30-40 minutes

    If the ice cream maker is properly cooled, our gelato will be ready in about 30 minutes. It also depends on the amount of ice cream, and on the ingredients: the fruit sorbet, less creamy than an actual ice cream, is ready even sooner.

    After about 15 minutes, the mixture should begin to collect air and look softer, with the look and texture of Italian gelato.

    Cookies ice cream mixing in an ice cream maker
    Cookies ice cream mixing in our ice cream maker, almost ready

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Tip: Do not fill the ice cream maker bowl completely: preparing a smaller amount is easier, especially in the beginning.

  6. After about 40 minutes the ice cream is ready

    The ice cream is ready in about 40 minutes. Sometimes the mixing paddle stops slowly when the ice cream is ready: because the ice cream has become creamy and the paddle can no longer mix it.

    However, it depends on the power of the motor of the ice cream maker, on the amount of ice cream and on the creaminess of the ingredients.

    A homemade cookies ice cream with the ice cream maker
    Our homemade cookie ice cream is ready and delicious

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ We recommend leaving the ice cream in the ice cream maker a little longer so that it becomes firm. Freshly made ice cream is less firm than that from the ice cream parlour. We suggest to keep it in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

What if the ice cream mixture remains liquid?

It often happens when you make your first homemade ice creams: the mixture remains liquid. This is usually for two reasons:

  • Maybe the mixture wasn't cold when you poured it into the ice cream maker? In such case, the ice cream maker has a harder time turning it into an ice cream. We recommend using cold ingredients from the fridge, or placing the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour before making ice cream.

  • Or maybe the amount of fat and sugar in the recipe is wrong. When we make our ice cream recipes, we calculate the right percentage of each ingredient to ensure that the mixture really becomes a gelato.

Follow our recipes

We regularly update our pages on Italian gelato with recipes we make at home with the ice cream maker.

Over All Italian

Hi! We are Italian expats and have been living abroad for years, currently in the Netherlands. Wherever we go, we carry part of our tradition with us. And we often notice that Italy, its heritage and its lifestyle, are very popular.
Now that we understand a little better the culture of the countries we live in, we want to offer an account with original content about our home country.
We are also writing this blog to practice English, so you will find our writing a little ยซcreativeยป at times. Grazie mille!