What’s the Best Nugget Ice Maker?
Reviews, Ratings & Buying Guide

Nugget ice a.k.a. sonic/ pellet 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 sonic ice and sonic ice makers ever since we received our first machine 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

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#6 Good, but not good enough at this price point

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2.5/5

What is Nugget/Sonic/Pellet Ice?

what’s all the fuss about nugget/sonic/pellet iceAs you know, cold drinks almost always taste better than drinks at room temperature, especially on those hot summer days!

But why do people prefer sonic 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 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 sonic ice with their powerful commercial sonic 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, nugget, sonic, and pellet ice are exactly the same. 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Then, the slim sheets of ice are drilled and shaven down to little ice flakes. 
  3. Ultimately, the flaked ice is compressed to create nugget-shaped cubes. 

That’s the chewy ice that everyone loves!

GE opal nugget ice maker

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 relatively slow

Due to its structure, nugget ice can retain its form for a very long time (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 have enough time to enjoy your drink or dessert!

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?

Of course, there is an endless number of ways you can use nugget ice and nugget ice makers, but let me tell you the 3 most fun ways to put them to use!
 

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!

2. Slushies

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!

3. Parties

Having a countertop ice maker is absolutely fantastic when you’re throwing a party. You won’t have to run all over the place to get ice every half hour. Everyone can just help themselves which means you’ll have a little bit more time to relax and enjoy the party!

List of The 8 Best Nugget Ice Makers - Reviews

The best nugget ice maker brands

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#1 -Best Overall

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5/5

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5/5

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#2 Best Price (Discount)

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4/5

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4/5

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#3 - Most user-friendly

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4.5/5

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4/5

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#4 Highest speed (countertop)

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4/5

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3.5/5

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#5 Best heavy duty nugget ice maker

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5/5

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3.5/5

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#6 Good, but not enough at this price point

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4.5/5

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Our Rating

3/5

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#7 Good, but not great

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3/5

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Our Rating

2.5/5

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#8 Too expensive

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4.5/5

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Our Rating

2.5/5

Specs

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!

Nugget ice

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!

1. 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.

2. 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 (big 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”!

3. 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!

4. Should I Choose a Counter-top, Freestanding or Under-counter Machine?

Man thinking what nugget ice maker to buy

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:

Countertop

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

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

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.

5. 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! 

Click here if you want to learn to make nugget ice/ pebble ice at home!

6. Is Nugget Ice Bad For Your Teeth?

Can nugget ice break your teeth cartoon

No, nugget ice is not bad for your teeth. Due to its soft and chewy texture, it’s incapable of damaging your teeth.

Traditional ice cubes, on the other hand, can be damaging to your teeth. By chewing on solid ice cubes, you can wear down the protective layer around your teeth, exposing your nerves and ultimately causing your teeth to be sensitive.

7. 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.

8. 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 ;)).

9. Who Invented Sonic – Nugget Ice?

Scotsman ice systems logo

After decades of research and development, in 1981 nugget ice (and nugget ice makers) were finally invented.

It is actually one of the most popular and prominent ice maker companies known to date that invented nugget ice and nugget/ pellet ice over 40 years ago.

It was the Scotsman Company that invented a process to make nugget ice.

10. What Is The Difference Between Flake Ice And Nugget Ice?

Many people can’t seem to tell the difference between flake ice and nugget ice.

While nugget ice has a more solid form that is about the size of a tater-tot, flake ice can vary from small pieces of ice that look like coarse snow, up to pieces that are 9 mm thick.

11. What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Nugget Ice Maker?

Considering its price tag, it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder about the life expectancy of nugget ice makers.

There are several different factors that will determine how long a nugget ice maker will last. The most important factors are how much the ice maker is used and how well it has been maintained over the years.

A safe estimate of the life expectancy of a nugget ice maker would be roughly 4 to 10 years (depending on the brand and the other factors mentioned before), or within the warranty of the machine. But beyond the warranty, there is no actual guarantee.

12. Is Eating Nugget Ice Good For Weight Loss?

Does eating nugget ice help you to lose weight

Yes, nugget ice can help you lose weight. There is actually something called “the ice diet”. 

According to Weiner – one of the founders of the ice diet – you are actually serving two purposes while eating ice. On the one hand, you are burning calories, and on the other, you’re not eating positive-calorie foods.”

When you eat large amounts of ice, your body needs to burn energy to melt it. So by this logic, eating ice would help you burn calories while also providing some level of satiety as it fills space in the stomach and mouth.

So, it’s definitely worth a try if youre looking to shed some pounds!

13. Are Nugget Ice Makers Really Worth It?

There is no universal answer to the question of whether or not a nugget ice maker is worth it, as it mostly depends on personal preference. 

You simply have to weigh the pros against the cons and answer some critical questions as honestly as possible. You can find these questions along with the pro’s and cons in my “are nugget ice makers really worth it” article.

14. Why Are Nugget Ice Makers So Expensive?

You can spend anywhere from $350 up to $5000+ depending on which type of sonic ice maker you choose. For the average person, this is actually quite a lot of money. Why are these nugget ice makers so expensive?

Well, it’s due to the fact that they are very sophisticated machines using complex technology. The technology that is used for nugget ice makers is quite a bit more sophisticated than traditional ice makers. You can read all about it in this article.

15. What Size is Nugget Ice?

Of course, there is no universal size for nugget ice, as the process of creating nugget ice is pretty complex and involves a lot of different steps. The process of freezing, shaving, and compressing the water/ice makes sure each nugget of ice is unique.

However, generally speaking, most nugget ice makers will produce nugget ice in sizes ranging from 1/2 to 1 inches in width and length.

16. How Do I Clean My Nugget Ice Maker?

Man cleaning a nugget ice maker

The cleaning procedure actually differs between each nugget ice maker, however, if you’re looking for a general guide you can find it here.

All you need is some ice machine cleaner & descaler and a dish sponge and you’re good to go. Follow the 20 steps in the article mentioned before and your nugget ice maker will be as clean as a whistle.

17. Should I Go For A Nugget Ice Maker With A Water Tank or Water Line?

There is no universal answer to the question of whether you should go for a nugget ice maker with a water tank or water line. Each one has its own set of advantages and drawbacks, and which one is best for you ultimately boils down to personal preference.

A benefit of a pellet machine with a water line is there is no need to go through the hassle of regularly refilling your nugget ice maker. On the other hand, a great benefit of having one with a water tank is that you have more flexibility on the ice maker’s placement in your home. You can find both the pros and cons to each one in my Water line VS. Water tank article.

18. Does Eating Nugget Ice Hydrate You?

Yes, eating nugget ice does hydrate you. Nugget ice is simply frozen water, which means the moment the ice melts (at the warm touch of your mouth) it’ll turn to water. So it’s simply an alternative way to consume water.

You can find more information on how nugget ice hydrates you here.

19. Why can't I Stop Eating Ice?

Why can't I stop eating ice

Many people love eating ice. It’s a great way to cool yourself down and quench your thirst on a hot summer day. It’s pretty harmless too if you do it in moderation.

However, it can become a problem if it turns into a compulsive trait. If you’re literally craving ice all the time, it could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency or an eating disorder.

If that is the case you probably want to do something about it. You can find more information about why you can’t stop eating ice and possible solutions here.

20. Why Is My Nugget Ice Maker Making White Ice?

Although nugget ice is always a bit cloudy and white compared to regular ice cubes, there are times when it can seem “a bit too white”.

Nugget ice appears more white than usual when the ice contains trapped air bubbles, minerals, and impurities.

It isn’t necessarily bad, however, clear ice can be seen as superior as it contains more pure water and melts slower. Possible solutions for white nugget ice can be found here.

21. Why Do Hospitals Give Ice Chips?

Hospitals usually provide their patients with ice chips (a.k.a nugget ice) for hydration. A lot of patients experience difficulties when consuming liquid due to surgery or other restrictions. Therefore, ice provides an easy alternative for these people to hydrate.

You can find more information on hospital (nugget) ice here.

22. Can I Leave My Portable Nugget Ice Maker On All the Time?

Similar to other types of household appliances, you can leave your portable nugget ice maker plugged in and turned on for as long as you like.

This is because portable nugget ice makers – just like any other type of household appliance – are actually designed to be powered on continuously.

If you want to learn everything there is to know about nugget ice maker energy consumption click here.

23. What Is Chewy Ice?

Chewy ice is the soft and crunchy ice that is more commonly known as nugget ice. As I said before, this type of ice goes by many different names, such as sonic ice, pellet ice, the good ice, pebble ice and hospital ice.

Why it has so many different names is unclear. Whether you want to call it nugget ice, sonic ice, pellet ice or any other type, it all comes down to the same thing, and that’s the soft and crunchy ice that we all love!

To Conclude

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!

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