How To Make Nugget Ice At Home

Sonic Ice whenever you want it!

Nugget ice has a cult following thanks to its texture. Nugget ice is also called Sonic ice or Chick-Fil-A ice, after the restaurants which started serving the icy treats to its’ patrons. Which leads to the question: how do you make nugget ice at home?

Nugget Ice Maker
Nugget Ice Maker

Well, folks, we have some good news, and we have some bad news.

The bad news is that you CANNOT make actual nugget ice at home. The good news, though, is that you can make different varieties of ice at home, which come close, real close!

We share some techniques here on how to make these different types of ice. Try them and judge for yourself. And if you come up with a better method, share it with us, won’t you? There are lots of ice fanatics out there who’d be mighty grateful!

Our personal pick for the best nugget-like ice has a surprising twist: use carbonated water when making ice cubes or pellets. Perrier works just fine.

The fizz in the water gets frozen, and those tiny bubbles trapped in ice cubes give it a delightful texture, much like soft ice, or nugget ice. You can even use flavored carbonated water, like strawberry or pineapple, to create rather exotic ice cubes.

Here’s a video that shows you exactly what to do:

So, remember, to make awesome ice cubes , follow these 5 steps. This is as close as you will get to nugget ice at home:

  1. Use carbonated water. Try different brands to see which works best for you.
  2. Don’t fill your ice cube tray to the brim; instead, half-way works best. The cubes expand as they freeze.
  3. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
  4. Quality check: pop one cube out, and crunch on it! You’ll know when it’s ready.
  5. Cheers!

All Things Ice – From Hard Ice to Nugget Ice

Let’s have a look at some common types of ice.

Standard Ice Cubes, or hard ice: This is what you get when you fill an ice cube tray with water and stick it into the freezer. Large, hard cubes of ice, generally transparent, though sometimes cloudy. These cubes melt the slowest of all. Usually only one can be accommodated, or two at a pinch, provided you have a large mouth.

DO NOT chew if you have weak teeth. Actually, do not chew at all, as these can spoil your teeth over time. They’re really hard! But they’re good for drinks that need slow melting ice for longer cooling.

Crushed ice: What you get when you run ice cubes through a crushed ice machine. Basically, busted up ice cubes in the form of shards or pebbles.

Crushed ice tends to melt quickly, either in a drink or in your mouth, so it’s unsatisfactory to chew on. But it’s great for cooling drinks quickly.

If you don’t have an ice-crushing machine, a Lewis bag, and a muddler or mallet will work too. What’s a Lewis Bag? Essentially, it’s a sturdy canvas bag with a flap that you fill with ice cubes and beat to get smaller ice fragments. The water resulting from the beating seeps away through the canvas, leaving behind crushed ice.

Slushie Ice: this is what smoothies and Slushies are made of. Slushie ice is created when ice cubes are put through a blender, and some flavor, fruit or syrup is added and blended until the mixture is soft and slushy.

Can be drunk like a drink, or slurped through a straw. Delightful on a hot day! This form of ice is almost liquid, so it’s certainly not chewable at all.

Soft ice: This is the best type of ice for a beverage as well as for crunching on. To begin with, it’s just the right size, as far as ice cubes go. Neither too big nor too small, it’s just right!

The way it’s produced makes it shaped like regular cube ice yet with a soft and crunchy texture. It doesn’t melt too quickly and gets softer the longer it’s in a drink.

Nugget ice is actual soft ice, though people do tend to refer to different types of ice, made in different ways, as soft ice as well.

Fun Alternatives To Nugget Ice

How To Make Delightful Ice Cubes at Home!

Pebble Ice Tray
  • Use a Pebble Ice Tray, available here for $ 22.99, to make small, smooth, rounded ice pellets. Regular water poured into this pebble ice tray and stuck into the freezer will do the trick. They don’t melt too quickly and look really cute!
  • There’s also the Mini Ice Cube Tray, made of silicone, that make tiny, tiny ice cubes! A steal at $ 9.98. Good for small glasses and small beverages, these ice cubes do tend to melt faster, though. Nice to chew on as well!
  • If you like doing things the old-fashioned way, then whack away with this Lewis bag and muddler set, available on Amazon for $ 22.99. Some Lewis bags come with wooden mallets instead; it makes no difference. Fill up the bag with regular ice cubes, and let loose with the  muddler! Takes a bit of getting used to; too much whacking leaves nothing behind but ice-cold water, too little and you’ll get uneven, chunky bits. Whacked just right, it produces nice, crunchy ice..and certainly relieves stress!
Lewis Bag and Muddler

Look at how’s it done! The Cocktail Dudes show you how

The Vivohome Electric Ice Crusher
  • An inexpensive, basic ice crusher such as the Vivohome Electric Ice Crusher, selling for $ 79.99, does a fair job of producing crushed and shaved ice. Quick and efficient, it’s also quite small, so it can be tucked unobtrusively away.
  • For any type of ice, one important utensil you’ll ALWAYS need is a scoop. You can’t very well be using your hands, can you? Well, you can, but it grosses some people out; and after the third drink or so, your hands will freeze. Go for a Cast Aluminum Utility Scoop, these work the best. They’re light, and don’t rust, and they’re really useful.

Before we conclude our DIY Ice at Home list, did you also know that Chick-Fil-A sells 5 lb bags of ice? They do, and ice is one of their hottest selling products (no pun intended!). So if that makes life easier, go ahead and order a few bags.

But wait!

THE ULTIMATE, BEST way ever to make nugget ice at home is to actually buy yourself a nugget ice maker. There are a number of makes & models available now, and they work just great!

We’ve been reviewing nugget ice and nugget ice makers for some time, and we suggest you read all about it here.  Our personal pick for the best nugget ice maker is the GE Profile Opal 2.0 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker, a combination of quality, value for money and good looks.

So go through our entire list and decide for yourself; see what works best for you. Have a happy icy day! 

PS: DON’T buy anything yet. Instead, make some ice with our carbonated method first. You can get a preview of what nugget ice’s texture is like; if you’re hooked, like we were, then graduate to an actual Nugget Ice Maker!

Share With Us

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.