Best Snow Cone Machines

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
249 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best snow cone machines

Last Updated September 2019

Snow cones are an all-around crowd pleaser. They’re refreshing, tasty, and an excellent ice cream alternative. Why depend on a snow cone stand when you can buy your own machine? Snow cone machines are a great investment for the home chef and will surely make your home a summer destination.

Snow cones have fewer calories than ice cream and are vegan and dairy- and gluten-free. Before you decide on a snow cone machine to buy, there are important factors to note. Snow cone machines are manufactured in a range of styles — some are meant to serve a few people while others have industrial serving capacities. You should also consider the machine’s ease of use and the texture of ice it creates.

Before you treat your family to a snow cone machine this summer, read our shopping guide and top recommendations to make an informed purchase.

If you’re making frozen treats commercially, shaved ice typically sells for more than snow cones, but snow cones are a more common treat.

Key considerations

The good news is, snow cone machines aren’t terribly difficult to operate. Pour your bags of ice into the machine’s ice receptacle. Then, either manually or automatically, the machine’s blades chop the ice, dispensing it into a large tank. Take a scoop and heap some ice into a paper cone. Add your desired snow cone syrup, and your snow cone is ready to eat.

Snow cones vs. shaved ice

Snow cone machines and shaved ice machines operate similarly — the difference is in the texture of the ice. Snow cone machines produce a crunchy, solid, easily edible ice. These ice chunks are thick in texture and hold their shape, which is why you can eat them from a cone. Shaved ice, also known as Hawaiian shave ice, is much fluffier than a snow cone. Shaved ice melts faster and requires a spoon. 

Choosing one machine over another is a matter of taste. Both deliver a refreshing treat, but a snow cone will stand up better to heat.

Capacity

The capacity of a snow cone machine is measured as how much ice it can produce in an hour. For reference, it takes about five ounces of ice to make a snow cone. This may be less of a concern if you’re using a snow cone machine for an occasional snack, but if you plan to bring it out for parties and larger gatherings, consider a machine that can operate on at least 100 pounds of ice per hour.

Of course, speed is crucial — the faster the machine works, the more snow cones it’ll be able to produce.

Style

For snow cone machines, there’s no shortage of styles to choose from. Some may like a more vintage look — a machine with a clear snow cone tank, a slot for holding snow cones, and a rear wheel, which is great if you plan to show it off to guests. There are more modernized, streamlined styles, too. Red and white are popular colors for countertop snow cone machines. No matter your aesthetic, there are enough styles to please all tastes. Don’t forget that design should come secondary to the machine’s functionality and effectiveness.

Professional cones for your countertop or office

As far as snow cone texture goes, Little Snowie 2 produces the best of the best. The snow is soft, light, and consistent. This machine packs a mighty punch for being so compact. Some owners have served over 1,000 people with this machine alone. You can use ice cubes from your freezer or from the store.

Ease of use

While snow cone machines are pretty straightforward in terms of operation, some are more user-friendly than others. A quality snow cone machine will come with clear instructions. Some machines are manual, which means you have to push a button or turn a mechanism to crush the ice. Other machines crush ice with the simple press of a button.

The machine’s blades are quite sharp, so be sure there’s a lid that safely covers them. Some blades won’t spin until the blade cover is closed. Those are safer, especially if you have kids who want to help operate the machine.

Brand

To get your money’s worth, it’s best to go with an established snow cone maker. Brands like Cuisinart are long-trusted in the kitchen appliance domain. You may also consider commercial-made brands. While unfamiliar to you, they’re capable of producing a high quantity of quality snow cones, an they’re made to last.

Additional materials

It’s common for snow cone machines to come with other paraphernalia such as paper cones, a scoop, straws, and syrups. Many big box stores sell paper cones and syrup, so they’re easy to replace.

EXPERT TIP

We recommend using snow cone syrup within a year of purchase for optimal freshness.


Staff  | BestReviews

Snow cone machine prices

Snow cones vary widely in price, depending on size. If you’re searching for a no-frills machine you can use in your kitchen, expect to pay between $20 and $250.

Inexpensive: Machines in the $20 to $50 range will fit on your countertop. These snow cone machines are on the smaller size and are often kid-friendly. Some may churn enough ice to make just one cone at a time, although machines on the higher end can produce more. A $30 snow cone machine makes a great gift for the kids in your life.

Mid-range: If you have a little more to spend, search in the $50 to $75 range. At $50, you pay for a machine that likely has more tools included, like spoons, an ice shaver, and a wider variety of syrups.

Expensive: Machines over $100 are professional-grade items from reputable brands. Even if they’re made for a kitchen countertop, the manufacturers specialize in snow cones for commercial use.

Most snow cones contain four to six ounces of ice.

Tips

  • For the best ice consistency, allow the ice to thaw for three to five minutes before putting it in the snow cone machine.
  • The snow cone machine is made for ice only. Putting other substances in the machine risks damaging it.
  • If a child is using the machine, make sure they’re supervised by an adult.
  • Your syrup selection isn’t complete without cherry and blue raspberry, two very popular snow cone flavors.
EXPERT TIP

For a healthier alternative, you can top your snow cone with fresh strawberries, pineapple, cherries, or other fruits.


Staff  | BestReviews

The easiest snow cone machine

You’d be hard-pressed to find a simpler machine than this Hawaiian Shaved Ice machine. Simply add the ice to the top, plug in the machine, close the lid, and the ice practically shaves itself. It’s very kid-friendly and versatile, making frozen drinks along with snow cones. The blade is adjustable, too, if you care for a less chunky texture.

Other products we considered

Along with the snow cone machines we suggested, we like Victorio’s Manual Snow Cone Machine. This portable machine is fun for all ages and produces chunkier ice. It’s not just great for snow cones, either. You can make frappuccinos, frozen margaritas, and slushies. The blade is high in quality and holds up to daily use. Since it is a manual machine, Victorio’s isn’t for anyone with physical difficulty churning the ice. While it doesn’t come with paper cones or syrups, this machine does come with ice molds.

We also like Vivohome’s Electric Ice Crusher. This sleek machine can grind 143 pounds of ice per hour, so you’ll have shaved ice in a matter of seconds. Note that the ice texture is lighter and fluffier than that of a snow cone. The commercial-grade stainless steel is rust-proof and made to last for years. Vivohome’s machine is a bit on the messier side, so we recommend putting a styrofoam cup in the ice dispensing area.

A 20-pound bag of ice yields about 60 standard-size snow cones.

FAQ

Q. How do you clean a snow cone machine?
A.
First, unplug the machine. Wipe it down with a clean cloth soaked in warm water. Using soap may damage the machine and its blades, so we recommend a mix of vinegar and warm water. Spray this mix on the blades, ice chute, and ice chamber. Wipe down the machine a final time with a clean cloth and allow it to dry.

Q. What kind of ice do you use for a snow cone machine?
A.
In the past, some snow cone machines required special ice molds, usually included with the machine. Now, machines accept homemade or store bought ice cubes. Be sure to check what kind of ice your machine accepts.

Q. How long will a snow cone machine last?
A.
This largely depends on the type of machine you buy, how well it’s maintained, and how often it is used. Machines from manufacturers who specialize in commercial-grade appliances can last up to ten years, and sometimes more, with proper care. Many non-professional snow cone machines include a two-year or three-year warranty.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Ola
    Ola
    Writer

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