DIY - Nugget Ice

make nugget ice at home

Is it possible to make nugget ice as delightful as the kind of ice they serve at Sonic drive ins yourself without buying expensive pebble ice machines or ice makers? 

well… kind of…

Although it’s impossible to get the same soft and chewy structure as you’d get with a nugget ice maker (more info), it is possible to create small pebble-style ice at home.

However, the process does take some time, and you’d have to buy the right tools and follow the right steps.

So when you are looking to make the best kind of DIY nugget ice/bullet ice/chewable ice without the hard time of choosing the right kind of nugget ice machines,  which steps should you take?

Let’s find out!

Table of Contents

If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, you can just watch this awesome video created by the guys over at Barfly freepour:

What Tools Do I Need to Create pebble Ice at Home?

If you’re planning on making pebble ice at home, you’ll need a few tools. With these tools, you’ll be able to create perfect pebble ice for your next drink!

There are 2 different ways to create sonic ice at home. You can either use an ice tray or an ice crusher:

  • MINI ICE CUBE TRAYS – Each ice tray makes 160 small 3/8″ (1cm) cubes. Great for crushed ice, coffee, smoothies, frappucinos, hard candy and chocolate bites. Small enough for water bottles, safe and non-chokable for kids
  • QUICK FREEZING AND FAST CHILLING – Make small ice cubes that will chill your drink super quick so you can enjoy that nice cold first sip much sooner. This little crushed ice cube tray also freezes cubes much faster. No more waiting!
  • FOOD GRADE SILICONE – These ice molds are made with high grade BPA free silicone. Flexible like rubber.
  • OVEN SAFE – Great for baking hard candy, pet treats or baby food!
  • REMOVAL TIP – Turn upside down and bend it back and roll out the cubes. See videos for example. Soft or filtered water recommended.
  • The Ice Crusher is the perfect tool to add to any kitchen or wet bar
  • Strong suction base keeps Ice Crusher securely in place during use
  • Stainless steel blades can crush ice coarse or fine
  • Holds approximately 5-1/2 cups of crushed ice. Measures 9.5″ x 4.5″ x 6″

Types of Ice

For ice lovers out there, there any many types of ice that are used for a variety of purposes from keeping food items cold and fresh to keeping your cocktails cold.

Here is a list ice terms to distinguish between different types of ices:

  • Hard ice are the types of ice that typically comes from your freezer, clear through and rock-hard until melted. Depending on the ice tray that you use, these ice cubes can come in a variety of sizes. The larger they are, the slower they will melt.

  • Crushed ice are tiny pieces of hard ice which are solid enough to be crunched but small enough to melt away quickly. Crushed ice can be made with a muddler or a mallet by smashing hard ice.

  • Slushie ice is the type of ice used in your margarita, your kale smoothie, and your Slurpees. Made by blending hard ice until the machine runs smooth, slushie ice is fairly easy to make if you have a blender in handy.

  • Pebble ice is the good kind of ice. They are medium-sized and aerated with many tiny holes making them easily chewable while also retaining their cube-like structure. These ice becomes softer the longer they are soaked in a beverage and has been steadily gaining avid fans due to these features.

Making Pellet Ice At Home - Simple Steps

Both methods for making pellet ice at home are super simple! 

Method 1:

Things that you will need:

  • Ice trays (to make hard ice)
  • Carbonated water
  • Tea Towel/Lewis Bag
  • Hammer/Mallet
  • Chopping Board/Hard Surface

1. Carbonate Some Water
You can also buy the fizziest bottle of water at your nearest convenience store/supermarket. I find that club soda does the trick fairly well as the bubbles that they have are pretty big thus giving us that nice aerated ice cubes that we are looking for

2. Freeze It
If you’re using the ice tray to make pebble ice, simply fill the trays with carbonated water and put them in the freezer. Keep in mind, it will take approximately 3 hours before the water will actually freeze and turn into pebble ice, so it requires some planning ahead!

Medium-sized cubes are just about the perfect size as they fit easily in your mouth and don’t melt too fast.

Depending on how large you like your pieces, fill regular ice cube trays half or all the way full before moving on to the next step. 

3. Crush It
If you do not own a Lewis Bag, a makeshift one formed with a tea towel can be used. Proceed to smash the ice cubes in it with a mallet or a hammer. Give each cube a resounding whack but do not go crazy on smashing them as we are not looking for crushed ice, but pellet ice!

Depending on what you are looking for, smash them as little as you want for some DIY pellet ice/sonic ice, or smash them as much as you want for some crushed ice or shaved ice!

Method 2:

Things that you will need:

  • Ice trays (to make hard ice)
  • Carbonated water
  • Ice Crusher

There’s another method to get the soft ice or chewy ice that you are a huge fan of (without having to go to the nearest Sonic or buy a Sonic ice maker)!

1. Make some Carbonated Water
As per Method 1, carbonated water is a must when trying to make some sonic ice at home.

2. Freeze them in your freezer
Fill regular ice cube trays with your carbonated water all the way to their brim or halfway, it all depends on your preference of the size of your favorite sonic ice will be.

Open the top lid of your Ice Crusher and fill the hopper with ice cubes and start cracking the handle while holding the lid closed on top of the Ice Crusher.

Turn counterclockwise for coarse ice or clockwise for finely crushed ice. 

There you have it, 2 really simple methods to get sonic ice within the comforts of your own home. It’s as simple as that, and the best part is, you will definitely have these tools lying around at home!


As you can see, making pellet ice at home is pretty doable and there are many ways to do it. However, repeating this process over and over every time you’re craving the good ice, can become pretty tedious.

So there are good reasons that you might want to opt for a nugget ice maker to speed up the process. Take a look at this article to see if buying a nugget ice maker is really worth it for you! Do not compromise on eating less ice, you are missing out a lot of joy!

If you have decided that it is, you can take a look at our countertop nugget ice maker top picks and reviews on my homepage, or check out these freestanding and under-counter ice machines whenever you’re ready!