How Do I Choose the Best Ice Cream Dispenser?

T. Carrier

Ice cream is a favorite treat in the home and in professional food settings alike, so methods of dispensing and serving the product are abundant. If you want an ice cream dispenser, several factors might come into play, namely quality, efficiency, and diversity. Issues that might dictate the quality of an ice cream dispenser include composition and storage capacity. Efficiency factors range from production speed to portion control. Your preferred method for making ice cream is also important, in addition to any preferred extra features like topping dispensers.

Soft serve ice cream.
Soft serve ice cream.

Many ice cream varieties exist, so you should consider the primary types of ice cream you wish to serve. A sizable percentage of ice cream dispensers create soft serve ice cream by lowering the temperature inside the storage container and infusing air into the ice cream. Some dispensers also serve up ice cream in the traditional hard, scoopable form. In contrast, other ice cream dispensers help create a drinkable form of the ice cream, such as milk shake dispensers or classic syrup soda fountains. Others are multi-functional, having customizable or multiple dispensers tailored to different ice cream types.

Ice cream scoops are utensils that are used to remove ice cream portions from containers.
Ice cream scoops are utensils that are used to remove ice cream portions from containers.

Your reason for purchase might also dictate decision factors like production speed, storage capacity, and size. If the ice cream dispenser is for personal use, then you will probably only need a smaller, more affordable dispenser, or even a simple spoon-like ice cream scooper. Dispensers purchased for selling ice cream at restaurants or for other commercial purposes, however, should maximize efficiency in storage and speed. Most dispensers will indicate how many ounces (or grams) of ice cream the machine produces a minute, so business owners — particularly those involved in fast food services — should look for higher ounce rates per minute. Further, a business-owned machine will likely need to be larger as well, with more storage space.

The quality of the ice cream dispenser might be evaluated by its composition. Stainless steel comprises most of the top ice cream dispenser brands because of its durability and its refrigeration capabilities. Temperature control is especially important for ice cream due to its melting ease, so an efficient dispenser should easily maintain the required freezing temperatures.

Some ice cream dispensers have an area or compartment for storage of ice cream toppings. For example, the dispenser might have an affixed clear container that holds ice cream sprinkles. In many cases, the machine dispenses the toppings onto the ice cream. Ice cream topping dispensers may also be sold as a separate product. They can make an attractive and convenient addition for ice cream dispensing process.

Additional factors that might influence your decision include the dispenser’s setup capacity, its portion control capabilities, and its level of brand recognition. For one, ice cream dispensers are generally either available as tabletop devices or as wall mounts. Your choice between the two will likely depend on your personal aesthetic preferences, as will the choice between a clear or opaque dispenser. As for portion control, you should consider dispensers that can automatically produce a uniform serving size if you are concerned with neatness, fair distribution, or nutritional issues. Rates of customer satisfaction and differentiation between separate brands can best be analyzed via a quick online search of consumer review sites.

Ice cream syrup may be served with a variety of ice cream flavors.
Ice cream syrup may be served with a variety of ice cream flavors.

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