The Scoop on Commercial Ice Cream Makers

Commercial soft serve ice cream machines are the “tip of the iceberg” in commercial ice cream makers. There are several commercial ice cream makers on the market, including high-quality and versatile machines that can make the desserts customers love: custard, soft serve, shakes, and ice cream sundaes.

Because of the variety of commercial ice cream machines available, this profitable piece of equipment is a logical addition to almost any type of business. Specifically, commercial ice cream machines can be used to serve customers at restaurants, ice cream shops, campgrounds, cafeterias, concession stands, and coffee shops.

How to Choose the Right Commercial Ice Cream Maker

There are several factors to consider when selecting the right commercial ice cream maker for a business. (Contact a food equipment professional to help narrow down options for an ice cream machine.)

Type of Machine

The first step is to choose the type of product that is added to the menu. Based on this decision, this initial step determines the type of ice cream maker right for a business, such as:

  • Custard Machine
  • Frozen Yogurt Machine
  • Shake Machine
  • Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker
  • Sorbet Machine

Size of the Machine

Commercial ice cream makers are produced in counter top and floor models. The right commercial ice cream maker is the right size that fits within the footprint of the kitchen or floor. Custard is produced in a machine with a continuous flow chute; the product flows directly into a dipping cabinet. Staff scoop the custard out of the dipping cabinet (as opposed to directly going from machine to serving dish, like with a soft serve machine). For this reason, many custard machines take up more space than other types of ice cream machines.

The location of the machine is also a consideration, as commercial ice cream machines come in air- and water-cooled machines. Water-cooled machines require water to run, but are typically less expensive to operate. Air-cooled machines release heat into the room and can raise the air temperature. Talk to a food equipment professional that can advise whether and air- or water-cooled ice cream maker is right for the business.

Some ice cream machines also come in gravity-fed and pressurized models. Gravity-fed ice cream makers allow less air in the product than pressurized models. Ice cream produced in a gravity-fed machine is denser because less air is blended into the product.


Ice cream machines come with single or multiple hoppers and cylinders. The hoppers and cylinders have different capacities and output. The right commercial ice cream maker for a business can efficiently cool and serve a quality product with minimal turnaround time. During long no-use periods, an efficient commercial ice cream maker maintains safe product temperature in the mix hopper and freezing cylinder.

Ease of Use

To ensure ease of use by staff and smooth operation during busy times, many commercial ice cream machines come with controls. The best commercial ice cream makers have indicator lights that alert operators when the mix is low or out. For easy breakdown, businesses should also consider cleaning and equipment breakdown procedures to ensure that staff can easily and adequately perform machine maintenance.


Commercial ice cream hoppers can serve basic flavors (and a twist) or multiple offerings. Flavor Burst soft serve ice cream machines can even offer any of 37 flavors. Some versatile shake machines can blend cookie and candy toppings into the soft serve in the hopper. When choosing a commercial ice cream maker, choose the frozen yogurt, sorbet, soft serve, or shake machine that can serve the flavors that customers demand.

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