Buyer's Guide & Information

Best Shaved Ice Machines For Snow Cones & Soft Ice

Who doesn’t love getting a snow cone at the local markets? Have endless light & soft ice in your home with these top-rated shaved ice machines!

by PlumberAndy

Buyer's Guide & Information

Best Shaved Ice Machines For Snow Cones & Soft Ice

Who doesn’t love getting a snow cone at the local markets? Have endless light & soft ice in your home with these top-rated shaved ice machines!

by PlumberAndy

by PlumberAndy

A shaved ice machine cuts ice into very tiny pieces. The terms shaved ice machine, and snow cone machine often gets used interchangeably. Very fine shaved ice is often called Hawaiian shaved ice, although variations are enjoyed all over the world.

Everyone can benefit from a shaved ice maker. People with children find snow cone machines to be a blessing. Adults with more distinguished palates enjoy machines that they can use to make adult beverages or authentic shave ice desserts. The Hawaiian shaved ice machine reviews below will help you find the right tool to fit your household or business needs.

How Shaved Ice Machines Work & Their Benefits?

Most shaved ice machines have the same basic build: they have rotating stainless steel blades (very sharp) inside a compartment that holds the ice to be ground up. The motor runs when you press a handle to direct ice into the compartment.

The way the finished product comes out varies with each model—sometimes you can put it directly into your cone cup, but sometimes you have to scoop it out of a bowl.

Most users see economic, dietary, and lifestyle benefits of owning a shaved ice machine. It is usually cheaper (and more convenient) to make your own shaved ice treat than to buy it at a restaurant.

Another perk is that you can choose how you make the dessert: You can choose sugar-free syrup, make your own syrup, use real fruit juice, or add whatever toppings that you want.


Buying Guide to the Best Shaved Ice Machine

Durability

Ice is hard material to cut, and so the parts of a shaved ice machine need to be strong. Furthermore, where there is ice, there is water—therefore, these machines need to be able to tolerate superficial water without rusting.

Also, you do not want fluid seeping into the electrical parts—this is why good machines have waterproofing on the on/off switch. Most machines have bodies made of either stainless steel or plastic.

Capacity

Capacities of shaved ice machines vary considerably with the model. They range from being able to make about two snow cones per minute to be able to make hundreds of pounds of shaved ice per hour.

If you think you might want a high-capacity machine, realize that many are quite affordable, and you can still make a small portion in a high-capacity machine.

Size & Portability

All of those on the shaved ice machine reviews below are under 20 pounds, and most are around 8 pounds; so these are not generally heavy or bulky appliances.

Most people find even the largest to be reasonably easy to store and transport. However, if you will have children around as you operate the machine (or children are operating it for themselves), a lighter unit is safer.

Easy to Use and Clean

All of those on the shaved ice machine reviews in this article are relatively easy to use and clean. To use: put a cup or bowl at the exit to catch the shaved ice, add ice to the compartment, plug the machine in, turn the on/off switch, and push the handle down.

Cleaning is usually as simple as wiping the compartment (and exterior if needed) with a soft cloth or paper towel and letting the machine dry completely.

Functional Efficiency

All good-quality shaved ice machines have corrosion/rust-resistant stainless steel blades. These are incredibly sharp blades.

Generally, you should avoid touching them or tinkering with them. You should only rarely have to replace blades, but when you do, most companies offer replacement blades that you can order on Amazon or the company website. Carefully follow instructions when replacing blades.

Safe Operation

As mentioned above, avoid touching the blades. If you are doing any maintenance or cleaning on the machine, be sure to unplug it first. The combination of water and an electric motor can be dangerous. 

Most users seem to have no trouble keeping safe during regular use. If you feel that the machine is overheating, stop grinding ice and give the motor a break.

Extra Accessories

Some shaved ice machines require (or work better) with ice blocks that are shaped to fit their compartments.

Usually, companies include 2-3 ice molds with the purchase of these machines. However, you can always order more if you want. Sometimes, an ice scoop is included. If you get a party package, then you might get a matching number of snow cone cups and spoon-straws, plus a selection of snow cone syrups.

Cost & Warranty

This article’s shaved ice machine reviews do not include anything over $200. You can get a good manual ice shaver for under $20.

These are affordable appliances for most people. Most good units have at least a 1-year warranty—a few have more or less. These are almost always limited warranties—they do not apply if you misuse or abuse the unit.


9 Best Shaved Ice Machines Reviewed

1. Little Snowie 2 

Best shaved ice machine for home

Dimensions

11.25 x 7 x 13 inches

Weight

8 LBS

Production Rate

12 cones/minute (1 load makes 9 cones)

Extra Included

Yes—6 syrup samples and 8 reusable spoons

Price Guide

$$$$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year

The Little Snowie 2 has all the requisite traits to be the best-shaved ice machine for home use: It has a size and build that makes it durable yet easy to work with, along with commercial-level efficiency. Its only drawback is loudness, but most users find that the good clearly outweighs the bad.

What is more, its shaved ice that is like authentic Hawaiian shave ice—lusciously snowy.

The unit has a lightweight polycarbonate exterior with a large handle that makes it easy to transport. The motor is strong enough to make a cup of shaved ice within 5 seconds, and the compartment holds about a ½ gallon of ice—enough to make about nine snow cones.

Conveniently, this unit works with normal freezer ice—you do not have to make specific ice shapes.

One Amazon reviewer corroborates: “…Cube shavers don't produce ice as fine as block shavers [shavers that use a specific ice shape], but this comes pretty close…The vast majority of the ice this produces is powdery perfection, with a few little flakes mixed in…The shaver is about the size of a coffee pot and fits well on a counter.”

Other positives: The Little Snowie is easy to clean and dry out; its components are BPA- and phthalate-free. If you get Amazon's package deal sited here, you get six sample-size bottles of different syrup flavors and eight reusable spoons designed for snowy desserts.

Pros
  • Safe materials and build
  • Shaved ice can go directly into a snow cone
  • Easy to use, move, and store
  • Good selection of syrup flavors
  • Works with regular ice cubes
Cons
  • Rather loud
  • Somewhat pricy

2. Koval Inc. Heavy Duty Stainless Steel

Best commercial shaved ice machine

Dimensions

17 x 12 x 8 inches

Weight

12.8 LBS

Production Rate

143 LBS/hour (also 440 LBS/hour version)

Extra Included

No

Price Guide

$$$$

Warranty

No, but a complete 30-day return policy

The Koval is the best-shaved ice machine for business, but it is also great for large groups, whether professional and residential. Both its exterior and interior are of stainless steel, so it looks durable and less toy-like than other ice shavers—perfect for those who want a great shaved ice machine with a commercial look.

An Amazon reviewer adds, “This beast is very cool. It is heavy duty and feels solid when you're using it…This thing does NOT make crushed ice... it turns ice into soft snow, which my wife loves…”

Many Amazon reviewers also remarked about the convenience of being able to use standard cubes right out of the freezer; also, many enjoyed that you can alter the consistency of the shaved ice to fit your preference. The more gently you press the handle down, the finer the shaved ice will be.

This unit is excellent for most large groups and small refreshment businesses—it can produce a serving of shaved ice within 2 seconds. However, some businesses find that this unit is just not big enough. While it has a powerful 200-W, 1450-rpm motor, the compartment can only hold enough ice to make about three servings.

However, Koval does sell the same device in a larger model (the 440-LBS/hr. version). (Also see the ZENY Ice Shaver Machine at #9 on this list—it is similar in concept.)

Pros
  • Unusually classy-looking exterior
  • Powerful motor
  • Capacity to adjust shaving fineness
  • Relatively high production rate
  • Works with all ice shapes
Cons
  • Might drip even if after being dried off
  • Snow goes into the bowl, not directly into the cup

3. Hawaiian Electric (S900A)

Best budget shaved ice machine

Dimensions

6.5 x 8 x 14 inches

Weight

3 LBS

Production Rate

6 cones/minute (1 load makes 2 cones)

Extra Included

No

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year

The Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A is the best budget shaved ice machine, while still very much being one of the overall best in quality and functionality. Its main drawback is that it cannot serve many people quickly.

However, if you only want something to make treats for yourself and one or two others—you will be delighted with the fineness of the snow it creates. Also, if you would like coarser ice, try pressing down on the top/on-button harder or using freezer ice cubes instead of the provided ice molds.

One Amazon reviewer gives good advice but also praises the product: “Do not run for over 2 minutes straight, or it might overheat. When I bought it, I only hoped it would make the shaved ice I love without crunchy bits in it…It turns out, it really does make great shaved ice that is not crunchy. The ice is delightfully like snow.”

Again, this is not the machine for large groups, but otherwise, it produces a fantastic result.

That said, this is not a low-grade product. It is ETL (Edison Testing Laboratories)-certified for safety and BPA-free. It has a 55W motor and sharp stainless steel blades.

The Hawaiian Shaved Ice brand offers a vast selection of snow cone flavors—including basics like cherry, strawberry, and banana; and more mature varieties such as piña colada and root beer.

Pros
  • Works with both shaped and regular cubes
  • Can adjust the fineness of ice
  • Clean, streamlined exterior design
  • Safe materials and build
  • Relatively inexpensive
Cons
  • Cannot put snow directly into the cup
  • Not a fast machine—not for large groups

4. Hawaiian Shaved Ice Machine

Best fine shaved ice machine for a party

Dimensions

7.8 x 9.8 x 14.5 inches

Weight

8 LBS

Production Rate

6 cones/minute (1 load makes 2 cones)

Extra Included

Yes—3 syrups, 3 pourers, 25 spoon straws, 25 snow cone cups

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year

This is a party package with the S900A Hawaiian Shaved Ice Machine (the same unit listed just above).

This package gives you a selection of 3 pint-sized syrups (flavors: Grape, Cherry, and Blue Raspberry), 3 bottle pouring attachments (these screw onto open syrups so that they can be squirted in a controlled way), 25 conical paper snow cone cups (all are mostly green with blue and white detail—festive-looking), and 25 colorful spoon straws.

You can also get similar packs in 6- and 10-syrup sizes, too. Unless you have a huge group, the machine is fast enough.

An Amazon reviewer reports, “…I was concerned about the 2-minute rule. (You are not supposed to use it for more than 2 minutes without taking a break.) However, I discovered that was not a problem at all since it works so quickly…”

Perhaps you consider snow cones primarily a children’s treat. However, Hawaiian Shaved Ice offers such a variety—over 90 flavors—many of which are quite mature and exciting. There is Chocolate, Coffee, Piña Colada, Kiwi, Tangerine, and much more. All of their syrups are fat-free and, for most people, free of any allergens.

If you want to be sure you can make fine snowy shaved ice (you need to use the ice molds, not cubes)—consider getting a kit of 1 replacement blade and three molds.

Pros
  • Works with both shaped and normal cubes
  • Can adjust the fineness of ice
  • Colorful and festive cups and utensils
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Excellent syrup quality and selection
Cons
  • Not fast machine—not for large groups
  • Cannot put snow directly into the cup
  • Some users find cups and spoons flimsy

5. Cuisinart SCM-10

Best modern snow cone machine

Dimensions

11.5 x 12.5 x 13.9 inches

Weight

8 LBS

Production Rate

5 cones/minute

Extra Included

Yes—ice scoop, recipes, 4 reusable BPA-free plastic cones, and 12 disposable paper cones

Price Guide

$$$$

Warranty

Yes—3 years

The Cuisinart SCM-10 is the best modern snow cone machine you can buy. The motor is powerful enough to make about five cones per minute and to keep making shaved ice at this rate as long as you need. All the while, it is light and easy to put together and take apart.

This unit does make somewhat coarser ice than most of those on this list—many say it is similar to what you get at most fairgrounds. Some might actually prefer this texture.

An Amazon reviewer confirms: “I was skeptical…Turns out this little machine did all that was asked of it by the kids and the adults. I love the consistency of the ice it creates. I am impressed with the simplicity of use and cleanup just means drying it. It looks great, and it has the ability to make adequate amounts for what we needed.”

An added bonus: it has a cone rack on each side so that you can position up to 4 cones in a ready position close to the machine. Also, this machine is safe to use with children around, as it will not turn on unless all of the parts are in place (which keeps hands from reaching the blades).

Pros
  • Uses normal freezer ice cubes
  • Attractive red color and clean design
  • Durable but lightweight
  • Can serve a large number easily
  • Very safe on/off mechanism
Cons
  • Does not make super-fine, snowy ice

6. Nostalgia SCM502 Vintage 

Best vintage snow cone machine

Dimensions

13.5 x 10 x 17.5 inches

Weight

6 LBS

Production Rate

6 cones/minute; 24 LBS/hour

Extra Included

Yes—2 reusable plastic cones, ice scoop

Price Guide

$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year

The Nostalgia SCM502 is the best vintage snow cone machine to create a fairground experience in the home. While it is not a commercial machine, it can serve a school-class-size group of people efficiently. Users suggest that you can make about six snow cones per minute, assuming 1-cup snow cones.

It gives an element of fun and flexibility since the windowed hopper can fill to about 160 ounces (enough for about 20 snow cones), and all you have to do is open the clear door in the side of the hopper to scoop out ice.

Nostalgia does offer a party package (not including the machine) with three easy-pour pint-sized syrups (Cherry, Blue Raspberry, and Cotton Candy); 20 festively designed paper cones; and 20 spoon straws.

This unit is safe to use around children: It is lightweight, and the on/off switch will not work unless the top is in place, and hands cannot get to the blades.

An Amazon reviewer confirms: “Huge hit at a 6th-grade graduation party. I had considered renting a snow cone machine, but it was cheaper to buy this. Sure, you have to do it in smaller batches, but we had about 25 kids wanting snow cones, and no one had an unreasonable wait. They came out nice and fluffy...”

Most users are happy with the consistency, but realize that it is more like fairground ice—not authentic shaved ice.

Pros
  • Good for group use
  • Cute, nostalgic design
  • Works with normal ice cubes
  • Relatively small and lightweight
  • Safety on/off switch
Cons
  • Relatively loud
  • Does not make super-fine, snowy ice
  • Some people seem to get defective products

7. Victorio Avalanche Electric 

Best countertop shaved ice maker

Dimensions

6.5 x 7 x 9.5 inches

Weight

2.8 LBS

Production Rate

6 cones/minute (estimated)

Extra Included

No

Price Guide

$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year

The Victorio Avalanche has everything you could want in an electric ice shaver packed into a small, lightweight, clean design that makes it fit on your countertop perfectly. You can adjust the blades (following the instruction manual) to make shaved ice your preferred level of fineness—anything from fairground to shaved ice.

Many users are impressed by the endurance of this unit—it is small, but it can keep grinding; plus it works with ice cubes right out of the freezer. It is excellent value for money.

Moreover, the blue plastic exterior is designed well enough that it does not look cheap as it sits on a counter. The grinding chamber is clear enough that children can enjoy seeing the ice grind before it comes out as shaved ice.

One Amazon reviewer points out, “…This, with ice from your freezer, and a couple of bottles of syrup is going to be cheaper in the long run than popsicles, Otter-pops, ice cream cones or bars. Did I mention it's more eco-friendly…?” This reviewer goes on to conclude that this unit is “FABULOUS for the price.”

Victorio also offers a variety of syrups with easy-pour spouts, including Sugar-Free Watermelon, Tropical Punch, Red Raspberry, and Lime. If you would like party supplies, consider their 25-piece kit of spoon straws and snow cone cups with festive designs.

Pros
  • Works with standard freezer ice cubes
  • Safety on/off switch
  • Compact, and very lightweight
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Can adjust the fineness of ice
Cons
  • Some users have trouble getting it dry
  • Some find that it does not last long

8. Victorio VKP1101 Manual 

Best manual shaved ice maker

Dimensions

7.9 x 8.3 x 12.5 inches

Weight

1.8 LBS

Production Rate

2 cones/minute

Extra Included

Yes—3 ice molds with tops

Price Guide

$

Warranty

Yes—1 year

The Victorio VKP1101 Manual is the best manual shaved ice maker you can find. While manual always means more work, most users are pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it is—you just have to apply a little pressure and turn the crank.

Also, unlike electric ice shavers, this one will work anywhere—you do not need any power source. Furthermore, it is very light and compact, making it easy to travel with.

One Amazon reviewer explains, “...It is made of plastic and you have to hold on tight while you crank it round and round, but it definitely feels sturdy and doesn't feel like it's going to snap or anything; plus you can't beat it for the price and the quality of shaved ice it puts out…”

Even though this unit does not have safety mechanisms the way electric units do, most people find that it is safe—so much so that they allow their children (8 years old and up) to make shaved ice with it. The plastic parts are BPA-free—healthier for children and adults alike.

Included are three ice molds (and tops) that fit the shape of the unit's compartment; using these will generally give you finer shaved ice, but you can just use ice cubes, too.

Pros
  • Can adjust the fineness of ice
  • Portable—even if no electricity
  • Can use normal ice cubes from the freezer
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Surprisingly easy to crank
Cons
  • Not super-fine ice
  • No safety mechanism
  • Relatively slow

9. ZENY Ice Shaver

Best stainless-steel shaved ice machine

Dimensions

17.5 x 8 x 12 inches

Weight

12 LBS

Production Rate

145 LBS/hour

Extra Included

no

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

No—but a 30-day return policy

This ZENY ice shaver is the best stainless steel shaved ice machine on the market: It has a powerful 300W, 2000-rpm motor; rustproof coating; ergonomic design; and an iron and rubber foundation that dampens sound.

Unlike other ice shavers that need to cool off after a couple of minutes, this one can run for 20 hours before burning out. However, it only takes a few seconds to crush one load. This unit is a versatile choice for residential parties, restaurants, and concession stands. The ZENY produces fine, snowy ice.

One Amazon reviewer confirms: “[The ZENY] delivers a consistent snow-like texture from regular ice cubes very quickly. Ideal for snow cones, slushes, and margaritas. The safety mechanism is well designed. Very rugged. Very portable. Uses regular AC power. (This does NOT make grainy ice pellets as cheaper snow cone systems do.)”

This unit has adequate safety mechanisms—the blades will not start until the handle is down. The on/off switch is water-resistant.

Some users complain that the unit seems to drip water as it runs. Suggested ways to fix this are: putting something absorbent (as a towel) under it during operation; and turning it on its side on a towel after use to let it dry. (If you are interested in a commercial Hawaiian shaved ice machine, see the Koval Inc. that is #2 on this list, too.)

Pros
  • High-quality, professional look
  • Very durable
  • Relatively high production rate
  • Works with normal ice cubes
  • Safety on/off switch
Cons
  • Cannot put ice directly into the cone
  • Can be issues with water dripping out
  • Shaved ice can fly out somewhat undirected

Home or Commercial Use

In general, the more people you want to serve, the higher the capacity you need in a machine. As a rule, it is better to overestimate than underestimate; people don’t like to wait a long time, and it is more enjoyable when everyone gets their treat at about the same time so that they can enjoy them together.

Keep in mind that these machines do not vary in size that much, and so getting a higher capacity does not mean getting a much bulkier machine. The endurance of the motor comes into play as well: If you have to wait for the motor to cool down, that lowers the speed when trying to serve a crowd.

In the home, children might end up tampering with the machine, and so both the safety features of the machine itself and safe storage practices come into play more than in professional environments.

Aesthetics matter, too. Children might enjoy a colorful thematic machine. Adults might prefer something with a lower profile or classier look. Usually, appearance is not so important in a commercial snow cone machine—it just needs to be efficient and durable.


How to Use a Snow Cone Machine

First, you need ice. If you want to use the ice moulds that come with some shaved ice machines, then be sure to put these in the freezer ahead of time. Otherwise, you can take some ice out of the freezer and put it in the machine’s compartment.

Be ready with a cup or bowl to catch the shaved ice as it comes out.

Plug the machine in and turn the on/off switch to on. (In most models, this only gets the machine ready to shave the ice, but in a few, this will start the motor.)

Finally, press down on the handle that pushes the ice into the blades. You will hear the blades shaving the ice—a rather loud sound. Usually, pressing harder makes coarser ice while gentle force creates smoother shaved ice.


Setting Up and Maintaining a Shaved Ice Maker

It is always beneficial to read the instructions that come with your shaved ice maker. However, most units do not require any serious assembly. Some do have multiple parts that you have to bring together for the unit to operate.

Sometimes, the blades can be adjusted to give you different degrees of fineness in ice texture. (Definitely, follow directions when you do this—the blades are very sharp.)

Most shaved ice makers can plug into a standard wall outlet, but it is generally safer not to keep the unit plugged in. Only plug it in when you are about to use it.

When it is running: If you hear screeching noises or hear uneven scraping noises—like the blades are grinding up against the body—stop the machine. Call customer service; this is probably a malfunction.

During operation, it is normal for the motor to heat up a bit. However, if the machine is getting noticeably warm, stop and give it some time to cool off.

The most crucial aspect of shaved ice machine maintenance is being sure the unit is completely dry after use. Some machines are hard to wipe dry, and so you might have to put them on a towel and turn them upside down or on their side for a bit.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I keep shaved ice from melting?

Be sure the machine has the capacity to serve all people in a timely manner. Otherwise, some people put shaved ice in the refrigerator to buy some time. Some even put it in the freezer. However, both of these will eventually mess up the texture of the shaved ice.

Where can I purchase replacement blades?

Most companies that sell shaved ice machines sell replacement blades to match them. Look on the company website or Amazon.

How do I know how many ice cubes to put in a shaved ice machine?

If your machine uses a moulded block, this is no problem. Otherwise, it should be reasonably intuitive—just drop enough in to mostly fill the compartment. Do not try to ram extra ice in manually.

Can I use regular ice cubes on a snow cone maker?

Normally, yes. However, some makers will not be able to make elegant, snowy ice with regular ice cubes. The result will be more like a fairground snow cone.

How long do shaved ice machines last?

You can expect them to last 2-4 years, even with heavy use.

What is the price range of the machines on our list?

The range is about $19.00 to $200.

Can I use ice made from things other than water?

Yes, but this is not recommended. Juice or milk ice will leave residue in the mechanism. Most of the time, there is no benefit in doing this; however, because finely shaved ice tends to absorb whatever fluid you pour onto it.


Conclusion

The Little Snowie 2 (#1 of the shaved ice maker reviews above) is the best fine shaved ice machine/best snow cone machine on the market. It can make finely shaved ice with regular freezer cubes, and it is the simplest to use. This makes it perfect for everything from basic snow cones to exotic Japanese shaved ice desserts to festive margaritas.

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