Countertop ice makers are precisely what they sound like: an ice maker which sits on your countertop! Instead of eking out the small number of ice cubes, your regular freezer ice trays can produce, you can have all the ice you want with a dedicated kitchen appliance.
If you live in a super hot climate and ice is an essential addition to your drinks, a countertop ice machine is a smart choice. Similarly, if you’re a regular party host or barbeque enthusiast, don’t deprive your guests of ice! Have it ready and waiting on the counter.
There are a few key aspects to be aware of when buying the best countertop ice machine for you. Our guide and set of reviews have all of the information you need, so keep reading!
Alternatively, if you're looking for a larger machine that fits under your counter, we've got you covered here.
Storage Bin Capacity
9.5 X 12.9 X 14 Inches
26 Lbs/Per Day
15.5 X 10.5 X 17.2 Inches
9.61 X 12.4 X 14.69 Inches
26 Lb/24 Hours
PORTABLE DIGITAL Arctic-Pro
11.5 X 8.8 X 12.5 Inches
16 X 15.3 X 12 Inches
14.5 X 11.75 X 14.5 Inches
9.5 X 12.6 X 14 Inches
17.17 X 14.96 X 16.96 Inches
What is a countertop ice maker, and how does it work?
A countertop ice machine is a small (generally) machine which sits on a flat surface and produces ice. It is an alternative to ice machines built into fridge freezers, and it has one function: to make ice.
Water is poured into a tank at the back, and then ice is created and deposited into a storage bin at the front. The machine does not keep the ice frozen, and it's designed for more of a machine-to-glass type of situation.
Most machines create bullet ice (rounded with a hollow interior), but some create nugget ice (soft, fluffy, chewable), and in different sizes.
People who don’t have a lot of room in their freezer, require ice daily, and want to save plastic are great candidates for a countertop ice machine. Check out this great page which explains how ice machines work, complete with photos.
Why Buy Countertop Ice Machines?
- 1Save plastic: having a countertop ice machine means that you never again have to go out and buy plastic bags of ice. Keep a dedicated ice bag handy to reuse and refill with fresh ice from your ice machine. Over time, the difference in plastic bag consumption is enormous.
- 2A constant supply of ice without waiting: ice machines can make ice in around 10 minutes (depending on the model), so you don't need to wait around for trays of water to freeze. If you've got an event coming up (i.e. a cocktail party or Summer BBQ), make a few batches of ice in advance and stash them in the freezer to get a head start.
- 3Perfect for hosting: if you regularly have family and friends over for dinners, parties, and gatherings, ice is always a necessity. Instead of having to run out to buy bags of ice or wait for a slow fridge ice maker, a countertop ice maker keeps you in good supply, and fast. Because countertop ice makers are portable, they can be taken to beach houses and holiday homes in the summer.
Selecting the Best Countertop Ice Maker
The last thing you want is a countertop ice machine which breaks after one season of use. Look for durable materials with great reviews. Look for a sturdy metal casing and durable, well-made parts. Stainless steel is an excellent material to choose from.
Think about these questions: How much ice do you want and need? How much do you need to store? How fast do you require your ice after the cycle has begun? These questions will inform the capacity you choose.
Always look for how much ice the storage bin can hold, how long a cycle takes, and how many cubes are made per cycle. For example, one machine may make ten pieces of ice in 13 minutes, and 26 pounds per day, while another could produce 40 pounds of ice per day and store 3 pounds of ice at one time.
If your countertop ice maker machine is going to be in and out of storage or back and forth from a holiday home, you'll need it to be easy to transport. Choose a model with a compact construction that is lightweight.
Ice Quality and size
Most ice machines offer a range of ice shapes and sizes, such as small, medium and large, nugget ice or regular cubes. Nugget ice is ideal for blended drinks and cocktails, while bullets (round and hollow) are better for cooling drinks.
Small ice cubes are great for slipping into water bottles or using in small cocktail glasses. Larger cubes are great for packing into cooler boxes or for large pitchers of drink. It’s great to have the option of both.
Some machines offer clear ice cubes, which means they have fewer air bubbles and will melt much more slowly. Some devices are said to give a plastic-like taste to drinks, so beware of that and scour reviews before purchasing.
For those of you interested in shaved ice, we've lined up our favorite products here.
The design of your countertop ice maker machine will determine the ease of use. The two areas to consider are the control panel and the water tank/ice bin construction. Is the control panel digital or with buttons? Is there an indicator light for an empty water tank and full ice bin?
Can the ice bin be lifted out and does it come with an ice scoop? How do you access the water holder, and can it be cleaned easily?
Some models have a water reservoir which sits below the ice basket and catches the water as the unused ice melts. It takes the water and uses it for more ice, so none is wasted or leaked.
Other aspects to note are color, shape, and aesthetic features. These will help you to imagine the model in your kitchen.
Most countertop ice maker machines are pretty conservative in terms of energy usage. All models will state their energy usage clearly so that you can compare between models.
Energy efficiency is a significant factor, so brands will use it as a clear marketing aspect if they offer an energy efficient product. Also, consider if your ice maker will be on all the time or occasionally used such as during weekends or seasonally.
If your countertop ice maker machine is going to be set up in a small space such as a motorhome, you'll want one that is discreet and quiet. Some ice makers are rather noisy as they operate, especially when the ice falls into the bin. Others are far quieter, with hushing technology.
If your ice maker is intended for entertaining or general daily home use, noise shouldn’t be an issue. Check reviews and product specs to confirm the noise levels to be expected.
Price vs. Budget
Figure out your budget before you start shortlisting products, that way, you'll know precisely what your parameters are. Look for discounted or sale-priced high-end models so you can get the best quality for a price which fits your budget.
In general, you’ll be looking at spending around $200 for a good countertop ice making machine.
Installation & Setup
Most countertop ice maker machines are straightforward to install and set up. You just need to unwrap the packaging, give the water tank and ice bin a clean, fill with water then plug in. They must be set on a flat, stable surface. To be sure of what's expected, give the manual a quick once-over before buying.
Always be mindful of the warranty offered when buying new appliances. Appliances such as ice makers have lots of little parts and mechanisms, so they do have a chance of breaking or faulting. For this reason, protect your cash with a good warranty. Most countertop ice maker machines offer at least a one year warranty.
8 Best Countertop Ice Makers Reviewed
Best countertop ice maker
9.5 x 12.9 x 14 Inches
Storage Bin Capacity
26 lbs/per day
Yes, limited two-year warranty
First on the list is the Countertop Ice Maker Machine from hOmeLabs. This is an attractive machine, made from silver-toned, sturdy ABS plastic. It’s a compact design with a clear top so you can see the ice inside, with a removable ice basket and scoop. It makes ice quickly, in 8 minutes max.
The ice itself is bullet shaped (curved and hollow), and there are two sizes available: small and medium. The control panel is super simple, with on/off and ice size buttons, with alert lights to tell you when the water has run out, and the ice bucket is full.
We think this is an excellent option for seasonal or weekend use such as parties and entertaining. The ice is made promptly, and the design is compact enough to transport easily from home to the holiday house. The quietness and energy efficiency make it great for everyday home use too.
2. FirstBuild Opal01
Best countertop machine for nugget ice
15.5 x 10.5 x 17.2 inches
Storage Bin Capacity
Yes, one year limited warranty
Second, up is the impressive FirstBuild Opal01, which is our countertop ice maker pick for the best for nugget ice. Nugget is ice soft, chewable, snow-like ice which is scraped and shaped rather than frozen into a bullet.
This stainless steel-housed machine offers an impressive 3 pounds of fresh ice at a time, perfect for keeping guests in good supply. Just pull the clear drawer out, scoop the ice (scoop included) and push the drawer back in.
You can even schedule your ice from your phone using the FirstBuild app. This model is a little bulkier than the hOmeLabs model above, but it still looks neat and tidy on your kitchen counter.
We think the smart features are pretty great; the ice maker knows when to stop making ice (when the bucket is full) and when to top up the ice bucket with another round of ice production.
We think this is an excellent choice for anyone who wants delicious, chewy ice in abundance. It's pretty heavy, so not the best for carting around. It's best as a permanent fixture in your home or Summer house.
This review gives significant praise to the ice itself: "I'm in heaven. I used to have to travel to Sonic Drive-in to get this kind of ice, and now it's in my kitchen".
3. Igloo ICEB26RR
Best budget countertop ice machine
9.61 x 12.4 x 14.69 inches
Storage Bin Capacity
26 lb/24 hours
Yes, one year limited warranty
Here we have our best budget countertop ice machine pick, the Igloo ICEB26RR. This ice maker has a retro aesthetic with five fresh color choices. The housing is plastic, as is the see-through lid.
The control panel is clear and straightforward, with a power button, select button and lights to indicate small and large ice, a full ice bucket and an empty water tank.
The ice is made pretty swiftly, in around 7 minutes. The ice itself is bullet-style, with a hollow interior and curved shape. The ice bucket holds a decent 2 lbs of ice at one time, more than ample for keeping a party of guests in good supply.
This model isn't as sturdy or capable as other, more expensive models, but it's affordable and practical enough to keep at a holiday home or pull out of storage for the hot season. It could make an excellent gift for a student house or newlyweds setting up a home.
A review on Walmart's site says, "I usually use my Igloo ice maker for household ice meaning daily use of ice. However, I recently had a shoulder replacement and needed ice for the machine to keep my shoulder cool. Boy, did the Igloo ice maker keep up with the need for that ice! I am very pleased with your products and will continue to purchase them."
4. PORTABLE DIGITAL Arctic-Pro
top rated countertop ice maker
11.5 x 8.8 x 12.5 inches
Storage Bin Capacity
30-day money back guarantee
Next is our pick for the best top rated countertop ice maker. The Arctic-Pro is an affordable option, with an easy-to-use digital screen and control pad. The ice is made in an impressively short period, at around 8 minutes.
There are two ice sizes available, small and large, in a curved, hollow, bullet-shaped style. The machine is made from plastic, with a see-through lid to keep an eye on the ice. It's not quite as sleek or attractive as other machines, but it doesn't matter, especially if you’re using this for parties and seasonal holidays.
There are some cool sensor features, ensuring that ice production stops once the bucket is full. There’s also a timer so you can have your ice ready exactly when you need it.
Because of the low cost, the cool tech features, the ice size options, the fast production, and the easy-to-transport construction, we think this is an awesome choice for holiday homes, college parties and general guest entertaining.
Best Self-cleaning Countertop Ice Maker
16 x 15.3 x 12 inches
Storage Bin Capacity
Yes, 2-year warranty
Number five on our list is a sleek-looking self-cleaning ice machine by Aicok. This is surprisingly affordable considering the sturdy stainless steel housing and cool LCD control panel.
The ice cycle is pretty good, creating nine pieces in 7-13 minutes (depending on the size chosen) which is enough for about three drinks with three pieces of ice.
We love that this machine cleans itself. All you have to do is add water and vinegar and press the cleaning button on the control panel. This is handy for the longevity of the machine because it means no hard mineral deposits will form, compromising the quality of the machine and the ice itself.
It's a thorough machine, with small, medium and large ice pieces on offer, and a muffler to ensure quiet operation.
It also features a "high-speed exhaust fan" which rids any heat created by the mechanism and helps the ice to remain frozen for longer in the bin. There are icons on the panel to let you know when the water is low, and the ice bucket is full.
Because this is a little heavier than other models, we think it’s best as a permanent fixture on your counter or tucked away in the kitchen as opposed to being transported between venues. Cheap enough to be used seasonally but high-quality enough to be used year-round.
6. Edgestar IP210SS1
Best countertop ice maker for RVs
14.5 x 11.75 x 14.5 inches
Storage Bin Capacity
Yes, 1-year warranty
Our top pick for the best countertop ice maker for RVs, the Edgestar IP210SS1. This is quite possibly the best-looking model in the list, with a shiny stainless steel housing and tidy digital control panel. The storage capacity is great, at a maximum of 2.5 pounds (the second largest capacity in this list).
This is an excellent choice for an RV because of the sturdy construction (you want an RV appliance to last!). What's more, it doesn't require a drainage system because any melted ice gets reverted into the water reservoir to be used for more ice. It’s sturdy and heavy, sitting safely and securely on your RV kitchenette countertop.
You have a choice of small, medium, or large ice cubes, and the control panel lets you know when the water tank is empty, and the ice bin is full. The ice production time is pretty decent, at under 10 minutes.
Frequent user Billy shares, "We love our new portable ice maker. This ice maker makes the best ice and keeps up with our families demands very well. It fits nicely on our counter top. The trick to keeping this ice maker running well is to insure it has a good amount of water in its reservoir at all times I would definitely recommend to others."
best Small countertop ice maker
9.5 x 12.6 x 14 inches
Storage Bin Capacity
Yes, two years
Second to last on our list is our choice for the best small countertop ice maker machine, the Kealive ice cube maker. This is a compact, sturdy machine made from durable, scratch-free ABS plastic.
It looks neat and tidy, sitting on your countertop without taking up too much space. The see-through lid is handy for checking on the progress of your ice haul.
It has a reasonably fast ice cycle, from 7-13 minutes depending on the ice size you select. The holding bin isn’t quite as large as others, but 1.8 pounds is nothing to scoff at. The control panel is simple and easy to use, with a power button and ice size select button. Like other machines, the melted ice in the holding bin is recycled to make new ice.
It does have an audio feature, which beeps when the ice bucket is full, or the water tank is empty. This is a pro for some people and a con for others who are easily irritated by noises.
We think this machine would suit most requirements, from seasonal holiday homes to everyday, regular usage. The weight is light enough to transport reasonably quickly, and the aesthetic is beautiful enough to be a permanent fixture.
8. Frigidaire EFIC115
best Commercial countertop ice maker
17.17 x 14.96 x 16.96 inches
Storage Bin Capacity
Yes, one year
Last on the list is our pick for the best commercial countertop ice maker. This Frigidaire model doesn’t mess around, producing 48 pounds of ice per day, holding 3 pounds in the ice bin.
The housing is made from durable, attractive, and sturdy stainless steel, with a sleek and small control panel. There's a select button to select three ice sizes (small, medium and large), and a light to indicate a full ice bucket and an empty water tank.
Despite being large and very productive, the price is very reasonable and not too much more than the other models on this list.
We're impressed by the short ice cycle, at a mere 7 minutes for small ice. The short ice cycle, colossal productivity, large storage capacity, and sturdy construction makes this the perfect choice for commercial use. Bars, cafes, restaurants, or even large office buildings could benefit from this ice maker, having fresh ice on hand always.
It would probably be too large for residential use unless you regularly throw huge parties!
How to Use a Countertop Ice Maker
A countertop ice maker is a straightforward machine to use, no matter the brand or model. (Note: Always read and follow the manual provided with your appliance). There are a few key steps to be aware of to ensure effective and safe operation. Here's a step-by-step guide for how to use a countertop ice maker:
- 1Set up the machine (see below for a step-by-step guide)
- 2Make sure the device has been sat still on a flat surface for at least 5 hours or overnight before operating (to allow the coolant to settle)
- 3Plug the machine into the power outlet and make sure the power is switched to "on."
- 4Pour the water into the water reservoir, use boiled and cooled (distilled) water for a better chance at clear ice
- 5Select the ice size if applicable
- 6Sit back and wait for the ice to fall into the ice holding bin
- 7When the ice bin has filled, switch the machine off if it doesn’t have a sensor and an automatic “off” feature
- 8Either use the ice quickly or store it in the freezer to stop it from melting
- 9Never tip or tilt the machine, and make sure to clean it (see further down for tips) regularly
Setting up a countertop Ice Machine
Of course, it's essential to read the manual for your specific machine before setting it up. But there are some general rules and regulations to follow which span across all ice maker machines:
- 1Remove all of the packaging and wrapping from inside and outside of the machine
- 2Place the machine onto a flat, stable surface with a power outlet near
- 3Make sure there’s space on all sides of the machine (at least a couple of inches) to allow airflow
- 4Give the inside of the machine a wipe down with a damp cloth
- 5Leave the maker overnight to allow the coolant to settle
- 6Turn the machine on
- 7Fill the water reservoir with water, not exceeding the maximum level mark
- 8Operate the machine as required
Cleaning an Ice Machine
It's essential to keep your ice maker clean because if you don’t, you can experience odd-tasting ice and mineral build-up which can compromise the ice production.
When minerals from hard water build up, they can clog the works and make ice production tough or non-existent. What’s more, mold can form if you don’t keep the machine clean.
Some countertop ice maker machines have a self-cleaning feature which requires barely more than a dose of water and vinegar and the press of a button. But for other models which require manual cleaning, here’s how:
- 1Unplug the machine from the power outlet
- 2Drain the water out of the reservoir into the sink
- 3Make a solution of warm water and gentle dish detergent
- 4Use a cloth to thoroughly wipe out the water reservoir, getting into the corners
- 5Remove the ice basket and give it a thorough wash with the warm solution
- 6Leave the ice basket to dry completely; you could even pop it in a sunny place
- 7Wipe out the water tank with a dry cloth until completely dry
- 8Mix a water and vinegar solution and add it to the water tank
- 9Run the machine for a few ice cycles to allow the vinegar water to run through the machine
- 10Discard the vinegar water and dry the machine thoroughly
- 11Leave the machine to sit for at least 5 hours until using it again, as the cleaning process may have disrupted the coolant inside
If you notice any moldy spots, use a vinegar and water solution (50/50 works well) to wipe the machine and dry entirely thoroughly.
Common countertop Ice Maker Issues and Fixes
- 1Ice cubes are sticking together: this is a common issue, and it could be due to the temperature of the water in the tank. hOmeLabs recommends keeping the water in the tank between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, as a lower temperature can result in stuck ice.
- 2Ice smells or tastes odd: the first thing to do is give the machine a thorough clean and dry. Use detergent first, then a vinegar solution to make sure any mold, mustiness, or build-up is cleared away.
- 3No ice falling into the bin: this could be due to several reasons. First up, try the following methods: is the machine turned on? Is there water in the tank? Is the ice bin full? The issue could be that the waterways are blocked with ice, which means you need to melt them. Leave the machine unplugged at room temperature to let everything melt and clear. It could also be that your water is too warm, which means you should empty the water tank and replace it with cold water. The sensors may also be on the fritz, telling the machine that there's no water (when there is) or that the bin is full (when it's empty). Turn the device off (unplug it), leave it for a while then try again. No luck? Call the manufacturer. It could be leaking coolant or a blocked system.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make clear ice cubes from ice makers?
One of the easiest ways to make clear ice is to boil and cool the water before you add it to your ice maker. This will help to get rid of tiny air bubbles and any particles hiding in the water.
Some portable ice makers do make clear (or clearer) ice, but most produce opaque or foggy ice. There's nothing wrong or unsafe about foggy ice. It just means it might melt faster due to the presence of air in the ice.
How long do ice machines typically last?
This differs between models and brands, as well as being somewhat dependant on maintenance and usage. An ice maker which is regularly cleaned and transported safely will, in theory, last longer.
Keeping a countertop ice maker upright at all times and avoiding tilting or movement can prolong the life, as disrupting the coolants and cooling mechanisms can cause real damage. As a general guide, expect Ice machines to last 3-5 years at a minimum.
How can I get my ice maker to make ice faster?
There’s not a lot you can do to change the rate at which your countertop ice maker produces ice. Ice makers come with a particular speed which can’t be adjusted, so it’s best to choose an ice maker with a fast pace in the first place.
However, you could add colder water to the water tank to help the ice production along. If you need ice quickly, and your machine offers different ice sizes, choose the smaller size as the production cycle will be faster than the larger ice sizes.
Does a countertop ice maker keep ice frozen?
No, most countertop ice maker machines are designed to make the ice, but not to store it like a freezer. The ice can last for a little while in the ice bin, but it's intended to be used right away or transferred into the freezer to store for longer.
Do I need to use a water filter for the ice maker?
Not necessarily. Use the water you would usually drink. If your tap water source is safe and sanitary, then you don't need to purify it. However, if you’re concerned, you could use filtered water or distill your water before you pour it into the tank (boil then let it cool).
Which brand of countertop ice makers is best for camping?
We find that the hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker and the Edgestar IP210SS1 Portable Ice Maker are the best portable ice makers for camping. They're compact, easy to transport and melted ice is transferred back into the water tank to be reused.
If you find yourself continually buying bags of ice or your freezer ice trays, don't meet your needs, buy yourself a countertop ice maker machine.
You will save money in the long run, use less plastic, and never find yourself annoyingly out of ice.
Countertop ice makers are ideal for hot climates, people who must have ice for each drink they sip, and anyone who regularly entertains guests.
They’re affordable enough to use seasonally or to keep stashed away at a holiday home.