What’s the Best Nugget Ice Maker?
Reviews, Ratings & Buying Guide
Nugget ice a.k.a. sonic ice has become one of the most popular types of ice in the last couple of years.
The reason for this spike in popularity is pretty obvious! Nugget ice is super soft and chewy, all the while providing the same cooling qualities as cubed/solid ice.
Actually, my wife and I have become a bit obsessed with nugget ice and sonic ice makers ever since we received our first nugget ice maker a few years back. That’s why we decided to share what we know with you guys.
So on this page and website, you will find everything you need to know about the best nugget ice makers for home.
This includes reviews, ratings, buying guides and more!
So without further ado, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Top Rated Nugget Ice Makers - Quick Overview
What is Nugget Ice?
what’s all the fuss about nugget/sonic/pellet ice? As you know, cold drinks almost always taste better than drinks at room temperature, especially on those hot summer days!
But why do people prefer nugget ice over the traditional ice cubes?
Of course, if you’re just looking to serve yourself an ice cold drink, any type of ice will do.
However, one main disadvantage of cubed ice (compared to nugget ice), is that it’s so hard.
If you want to keep that smile of yours, it’s not recommended to chew on a solid ice cube.
As explained by Trace Dominguez in the video below, scientists have pointed out that chewing on solid ice cubes can actually damage your teeth over time.
Nugget ice, on the other hand, turns soft and chewy in your mouth, which makes it the ideal type of ice to put in your drink or dessert.
What is a Nugget/Sonic/Pellet Ice Maker?
A nugget ice maker is a super practical ice machine that creates nugget ice at the press of a button. It can be used for both commercial or private use. Many established fast-food restaurants such as chick-fil-a and Sonic Drive-in are known for serving nugget ice with their powerful commercial nugget ice makers.
In fact, the term Sonic ice actually originated from the fast-food chain Sonic Drive-in. In contrast to what some blogs are writing, there is no real difference between nugget, sonic and pellet ice.
As you’ll see in the F.A.Q. there are A LOT of synonyms for nugget ice and nugget ice makers. Most people use the terms nugget, sonic, and pellet ice maker interchangeably!
How Do They Work?
How do nugget ice makers work you might ask! If we look at it simplistically, the process actually consists of 3 steps.
- First, the water is poured into a cylinder within the nugget ice machine where the water will start to freeze. Slim sheets of ice will begin projecting from this cylinder.
- Then, the slim sheets of ice are drilled and shaven down to little ice flakes.
- Ultimately, the flaked ice is compressed to create nugget-shaped cubes.
That’s the chewy ice that everyone loves!
The Benefits Of Nugget Ice
There are a lot of cool things to say about sonic ice, but let’s cover the most important ones:
1. Soft and chewy
Due to the structure of nugget ice (compressed flaked ice), it’s really soft and chewy. The structure makes it really nice to chew on which, as I said, makes it the best type of ice to have in your drink… at least in my book!
2. Melts slower
Due to its structure, nugget ice can retain its form longer than regular ice (when served in large quantities, which is customary with this type of ice). This ensures that your drink or dessert doesn’t get all watery super fast. In other words, you’ll be able to enjoy your drink or dessert longer!
3. User friendly
Due to its soft and chewy character, nugget ice is super user friendly and accessible to anyone. Not that cubed ice is so dangerous, but for children and the elderly, nugget ice is probably prefered over cubed ice as it negates any choking hazards!
What can you do with nugget ice?
1. Cocktails and other beverages
Margarita, Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour, you name it! I can’t think of a single cocktail that isn’t best served cold. That’s where nugget ice comes in extremely handy. If you serve it in large quantities, nugget ice can retain its structure for a very long time, which enables you to enjoy an ice-cold cocktail with your friends the whole night long!
I don’t know if you like slushies as much as I do, but our family simply can’t get enough of them. Ever since I was little, I enjoyed going to town on these icy treats. And with soft and chewy nugget ice, it’s super easy to make! The only thing you need is a nugget ice maker, some sugar, flavor extract, and some food coloring and you’re done!
List of The 9 Best Nugget Ice Makers - Reviews
GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker Review
The GE Profile Opal | Countertop Nugget Ice Maker is our top #1 pick and it’s – without a doubt – the best nugget ice maker out there.
It has over 11,000 reviews on Amazon with a 4.5-star rating! People are very enthusiastic about the overall quality of the opal nugget ice maker. Users reasoned that the nugget ice machine is very solidly built and has a nice design. In addition, they could tell that it’s made of quality materials.
People also commented that it’s super user-friendly (just 1 button to turn it on and off). In addition, the portable nugget ice maker has an app, which is cool because it usually takes about 20 mins for a full batch, so you can fire it up ahead of time (or even create a schedule if you really want to be prepared).
Users are also very pleased with the fact that GE nugget ice maker has lots of water storage, which means you won’t have to run around to refill the opal ice maker all the time.
To top it off, the tabletop ice maker also has its own cleaning cycle which makes it super easy to maintain.
According to some users, there are a few downsides though. It’s a relatively big and heavy machine, and some users did notice noise and heat being generated by the pellet ice maker.
However, users were more than willing to overlook the few cons as they reasoned they were getting so much value for their money. Some people commented that the GE opal nugget ice maker far outshined their expectations.
So, in conclusion, if you are looking for a countertop ice maker to give you ‘the good ice’, the GE Profile Opal | Counterop Nugget Ice Maker is the best choice!
Taotronics Nugget Ice Maker Review
The Taotronics Nugget Ice Maker for countertop is a great “bank for buck” nugget ice maker.
It’s actually one of the cheapest Nugget Ice Maker on this list, but it measures up extremely well against other, far more expensive nugget ice makers.
Users were very pleased with the quality of the ice, its sleek design, and its low volume production. The latter is especially noteworthy as most ice makers are pretty loud.
In addition, people commented on the ease of cleaning, as this portable nugget ice maker has its own cleaning cycle. You simply have to press the clean button for 3 seconds and it will start a 5-minute cycle.
The only downside with this ice maker is that it’s pretty big, and installation takes some time. Although the instructions are clear, you won’t be able to use it right away as you have to let it settle for 2 hours and also start a clean cycle before use.
However, at this price point, users weren’t bothered in the slightest by the cons as the Taotronics Nugget ice Maker provides so much value for your money.
KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker Review
If you’re looking for the most user-friendly and practical nugget ice maker, then the KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker is the best choice!
Users were extremely satisfied with the efficiency of the self-dispensing feature. Some people commented that it’s better for hygiëne, especially if you live with a lot of people.
In addition, people reasoned that the portable crushed ice maker is very easy to install and it has a clean “high quality feel” design.
Similar to the other ice makers, the KBice nugget ice maker has its own cleaning function, which a lot of users áppreciate, as it saves a lot of time in maintenance.
The biggest downside of this model is that it’s relatively loud. In addition, some users claimed the dispenser tends to drip water from time to time, and refilling the machine with water can become tedious after some time.
However, considering the self-dispensing ice machine is so practical and easy to use, the general consensus among users was that it’s worth every penny.
FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ Countertop Crunchy Chewable Nugget Ice Maker Review
The FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ Countertop Nugget Ice Maker is one of the cheapest ice makers on this list, but it still provides a lot of value. That’s why this model came in 4th on our list.
Users were very happy with the high speed of ice production of this ice maker. You’ll be able to enjoy soft, crunchy ice, within 15 minutes. In addition, the portable sonic ice maker is easy to clean and install. People were also pleased with its large water reservoir, which means you won’t have to refill it often. It’s also relatively light which makes it easier to move.
However, some users were a bit annoyed that the water reservoir is on top (and a bit clunky to take off), which could make it a bit of a hassle to refill.
In addition, it’s pretty loud (similar to the other ice makers) and some reported that the melted ice can run out the front and onto the floor instead of back in the reservoir (which is advertised).
Also, the UV light function is very hard to figure out according to quite a few users.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced portable ice maker that creates great-tasting ice (very fast) with a large water reservoir, and you’re willing to overlook some issues, than the FRIGIDAIRE EFIC-235-AMZ is a great option for you.
Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker Review
The Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker came in 5th on our list and took the prize of “fastest countertop nugget ice maker“.
Users reported that they were able to enjoy their first nuggets of ice within 10 to 15 minutes. According to a lot of users, the ice machine is also very easy to clean and maintain.
The most noteworthy advantage of this model is the corresponding customer service. Users were very impressed with the quality of customer service they got with Northair, almost all occurring problems were resolved swiftly and friendly.
However, several users commented that this countertop ice maker doesn’t come close to producing 44 pounds of ice a day as advertised. It’s much closer to 30 pounds a day.
In addition, it’s a bit noisy and some users commented that the ice melts rather fast in the ice bin (Approximately 1/3th of the ice will melt within the hour). Some users reported that the melted ice ran out the front and on the floor which can be annoying.
But overall, there was a general consensus that this ice maker has a very good price to quality ratio, which means that if you’re looking for the fastest countertop nugget ice maker and willing to overlook some minor issues, this model is a very good option.
Manitowoc CNF-0201A-L Ice Maker Review
Okay, it’s time to bring out the big guns. The Manitowoc CNF-0201A-L Ice Maker is – without a doubt – the best heavy-duty nugget ice maker out there. “Really? why is it in 6th place then?”
Well… it’s the best nugget ice maker in terms of quality, power, and capacity, but it isn’t higher on the list because it’s so expensive. I mean REALLY expensive. Also, it’s really big and quite heavy.
However, you do get a beast of an ice machine that produces 315 pounds of ice a day. You also get to enjoy the convenience of having the self-dispensing feature which is super practical.
Users were also very pleased with the super-fast pace of ice production and the customer service which is great. The design and high-quality materials (stainless steel) are also pretty neat.
The price of this model in combination with its power makes this ice maker a tad more suitable for commercial use. However, if you’re looking for a very powerful nugget ice maker that can produce massive amounts of high quality ice a day, and you’re willing to break the bank for it, this model is the best option for you.
Scotsman UN0815A-1 Review
Another powerful nugget ice maker. Although a lot less powerful than the Manitowoc, The Scotsman UN0815A-1 takes second place as this ice maker can make up to 79 pounds of ice a day.
It’s built with quality materials (stainless steel) and users were happy with its fast and easy installation.
However, we have to conclude that – at this price point -, the Scotsman just doesn’t provide enough value for your money. Because this model is so expensive, the specs seem kind of underwhelming. It’s also relatively heavy and noisy, so we wouldn’t recommend this commercial sonic ice maker.
NewAir Nugget Ice Maker Review
The NewAir Nugget Ice Maker is a pretty decent machine, but it really doesn’t measure up against the other ice makers higher on the list.
Although users were pleased with the fast ice production, user-friendliness, and its large water tank (which enables you to produce 40 pounds of ice a day), there are a lot of issues that overshadow the positive aspects of the Newair ice maker.
Users complained about the quirky interface and the fact that it’s very loud. In addition to that, there are A LOT of users that reported having some kind of malfunctioning when first receiving the machine. As a result, a lot of users commented that they were a bit disappointed with their purchase.
Due to the relatively low price-quality ratio we wouldn’t recommend this specific countertop model.
Scotsman HID525A-1 Meridian Nugget Ice & Water Dispenser Review
Altough this beast can produce up to 500 pounds of ice a day, the Scotsman HID525A-1 Meridian Nugget Ice & Water Dispenser has ended last on the list due to its insane price.
Of course, at this price point, you get a high-quality product with a lot of bells and whistles (such as an infrared dispenser and high quality stainless steel) and you’ll also be able to produce crazy amounts of ice every day.
But the price of this commercial nugget ice maker will set you back big time! In our honest opinion, it’s just not worth it. That’s why we wouldn’t recommend this ice maker.
How To Choose The Right Countertop Ice Maker
It’s perfectly reasonable that you want to do some research of your own, so we gladly give you some tips to choose the best nugget ice maker to suit your needs.
The most important things to look out for in a nugget ice maker are 1) Production capacity, 2) Ice storage capacity, 3) Speed, 4) Size, and 5) Features and traits.
Take a look at my article on how to choose a nugget ice maker for an in-depth look at each feature.
Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to choose the best nugget ice maker for home!
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, i’m going to address some frequently asked questions about pellet ice makers to make sure you know everything you need to know!
Where To Buy?
There are a lot of stores and restaurants that sell nugget ice. If you’re looking to buy a nugget ice maker, Amazon has the largest variety of nugget ice makers in stock. You can find all kinds of different nugget ice makers such as counter-top, freestanding, under-counter, and more.
What Are The Different Types Of Ice Machines?
Of course, there are a lot of different types of ice, which means there are a lot of different ice makers!
The most popular besides nugget ice are: Bullet ice makers and cubed ice makers. They come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, such as counter-top, freestanding, under-counter and small portable models.
But in my honest opinion, they don’t measure up against the nugget ice makers as nothing beats “the good-ice”!
Which Refrigerators Come with Built-in Nugget Ice Makers
If you’re looking for a refrigerator with nugget ice maker, you’re in luck. Due to the rising popularity of “the good-ice”, some manufacturers actually started to design refrigerators with pellet ice makers built inside.
Samsung just introduced a super fancy refrigerator that makes sonic ice, called Bespoke 4-door flex.
Besides Samsung, there are a few other manufacturers entering the market with new refrigerators with nugget ice makers like LG and KitchenAid.
Definitely something worth checking out!
Should I Choose a Counter-top, Freestanding or Under-counter Machine?
Again, which type of nugget ice maker is best for you this really depends on your own wants and needs.
Let’s have a closer look at all of them:
The main advantage of the small (er) countertop models is that they are very easy to set up and install. Most of them have a water reservoir which means you won’t even need to hook it up on a water supply. The countertop models are also the most flexible/portable. Perhaps most importantly, the countertop models are the cheapest of the 3 (prices range from approx. $300-$700)
However, at this price point, the ice makers are usually limited to 25-50 Lbs of nugget a day (which is still a lot for a normal family). In addition, they can take up a lot of space on the counter. Those are definitely some things to keep in mind.
Freestanding models can produce more ice but most of them require a hook up to a water supply. These standalone ice makers are definitely not cheap, but that price tag will get you anywhere between 50-300 Lbs of nugget ice a day.
These freestanding nugget ice makers are usually used for commercial use.
Under-counter nugget ice makers are perfect for those who have a lot of space under the kitchen counter. With these models, you can choose between both built-in and “freestanding” options.
Simar to the freestanding nugget ice makers, the under-counter models do come with quite the price tag.
Can I Make Nugget Ice Without A Nugget Ice Maker?
A lot of people want to know if they can make sonic ice without a sonic ice maker.
The answer is… kind of…
Although it’s impossible to get the same soft and chewy structure as you’d get with a nugget ice maker, it is possible to create small pebble-style ice at home.
You just need the right tools and follow the right steps!
What Is Sonic Ice?
You’ve heard of nugget ice, but what is sonic ice? Well, as I said before, they’re basically the same.
When we speak of sonic ice, we are referring to the soft and chewable ice that is also known as “the good ice”. It also has a lot of other names, such as cubelet ice, hospital ice, pellet ice, pearl ice, compressed flaked ice, pebble ice (altough pebble ice is less soft and chewy) and more.
As mentioned, sonic ice is commonly used in slushes and other desserts. This type of ice is also served at the popular fast-food restaurants chick fil a, Jack’s and Milos.
So in short, most people use the two (nugget ice and sonic ice) interchangeably.
Why Is Sonic Ice So Good?
A lot of people seem to ask the question, “why is the sonic/nugget/pellet ice so good”. But really, why is it so good though!?
Well… it’s not called the good ice for nothing! This type of ice is simply the most satisfying to chew on. You can feel the compressed flaked ice melt in your mouth and give you that cool, tingly feeling. It also doesn’t melt as quickly as most other types of ice which makes it the ideal type of ice for drinks and desserts (or simply to chew on ;)).
There you have it! Everything you need to know about nugget/ sonic ice makers.
I’ve had a blast putting together this information for you, in order for you to make an informed decision and to choose the best nugget ice maker for home.
I really hope it was of help to you. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!
Have a good day!