What Is The Difference Between Flake Ice And Nugget Ice?

Nugget ice has many different names (as you might have noticed if you’re familiar with the blog). Some might call it “the good ice” while others will call it pellet ice or sonic ice.

Many people are also calling it “flake ice”, but these 2 are actually very different.

Standard Ice Cube

If you want to know the difference between flake ice and nugget ice, you came to the right place! Because in the article, we’ll explore the differences, as well as look at the best ways to use each one.

So let’s jump in!

Table of Contents

Flake Ice And Nugget Ice Differences

What is all the fuss about nugget ice? Why do people like it so much?

As you can see in the images above, the differences between nugget ice and flake ice are pretty obvious. 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.

If we look at how nugget ice makers work, we can see that there is one vital step that causes flake ice and nugget ice to differ from each other.

A picture of nugget ice
Flake ice circle

In order to create nugget ice, water is poured into a metal cylinder with an auger in the middle. The walls of the cylinder will begin to cool after which ice will start to form. Then the auger will start to rotate and scrape the walls of the cylinder. The result is a fresh batch of flake ice that is pushed into a storage compartment.

What size is nugget ice?

If we’d stop the process right here, we would end up with flake ice. However, in order to create nugget ice, the pebble ice machine will push the flake ice through a small tube and compress it into a single piece. In the end, the ice either breaks of naturally or is trimmed into smaller nugget-sized pieces of ice.

So as you can see, the only difference between nugget ice and flake ice is compression!

Is Nugget Ice Good For Mixed Drinks?

Nugget ice is great for mixed drinks. Actually, it’s known for being the best ice for drinks and desserts. This has to do with its texture.

Nugget ice is less dense than regular ice cubes which allows the drink to penetrate the ice. This makes it very absorbent and chewable, and every little pebble carries some of the cocktail/ beverage with it, which makes the drink taste even better.

nugget ice

For avid ice chewers like me, nugget ice is also great as the soft texture prevents us from harming our teeth. On top of that, nugget ice helps us to stay hydrated!

Is Flake Ice Good For Drinks?

Flake ice is actually mainly used for very specific purposes. In general, flake ice is used for cooling fresh-caught fish, meat, and other foods; cooling concrete for mass concrete pour projects; and other modes of transportation cooling.

Is the nugget ice maker worth it?

That being said, flake ice can of course also be used for drinks. In fact, many bars and restaurants have a flake ice machine and serve their drinks with flake ice. For example, flake ice is especially great for specialty drinks (spirits) and can also be used in smoothies and frozen desserts.

So, to answer the question, yes, flake ice is good for drinks!

nugget ice maker


There you have it! Everything you need to know about the differences between flake ice and nugget ice. As we explored, the difference between flake ice and nugget ice is attributed to compression (the last step of the nugget ice maker).

But both types of ice are great for drinks, but in my honest opinion, nothing really beats nugget ice though!

Since the invention of nugget ice, it has steadily become the best type of ice for drinks and desserts!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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