You might be wondering why you'd need a countertop ice maker, but there are many reasons to buy one. Perhaps your refrigerator doesn’t have one, or it simply doesn’t produce enough ice to meet your needs. You might even prefer a specific type of ice for your favorite drinks. Purchasing a countertop ice maker can be an easy and affordable solution to these problems.
There are several things to consider when buying an ice maker because most have different features. The shape is one of them; you can select a countertop ice maker that makes your preferred shape of ice, particularly if you're a fan of nugget/pellet ice. Speed is another factor to look into, especially if you like to entertain larger groups and don’t want to run out of ice mid-party. Lastly, if you're concerned about maintenance, it's best to choose a self-cleaning model.
NewAir Countertop 28-Pound Ice Maker
What We Love: Tons of great features, compact, high capacity
What We Don't Love: Pricey
The NewAir Countertop 28-Pound Ice Maker is our best overall pick for several reasons. Mainly, it’s well-priced, has lots of useful features, and its compact footprint won’t take up too much space on your countertop. Still, it’s a powerful, high-capacity appliance that can make nine pieces of ice in 15 minutes, and you can choose among three different sizes.
The removable bucket holds a little over 2 pounds of ice at one time, and it even comes with a scoop for easy dispensing. An indicator shows you when the machine needs more water, making it easy to keep the production process running. When you're all done, just position the easy-to-use drain above the sink.
Another thing that sets this model apart from the rest is that the components are BPA-free, so you don't have to worry about any leaching chemicals. The only thing we don't like is the higher price.
Price at time of publish: $250
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.75 x 11.75 x 14.6 inches | Ice Capacity: 2.15 pounds | Daily Production: 28 pounds
Silonn Countertop Ice Maker
What We Love: Low price, fast production, compact size
What We Don't Love: Needs frequent refills
If you've got a smaller kitchen or you're on a budget, and you want a reliable ice maker that fits on your countertop, the Silonn Countertop Ice Maker is a good value. We like that it produces two different sizes of ice, one small and one large, and can produce up to 26 pounds a day. This amount of ice should be enough ice for a smaller family or those who maybe don't go through a ton of ice but who want the ability to make more on demand—without breaking the bank to do so.
Speed is an asset with this ice maker, producing nine pieces of ice in six minutes. Because of its smaller capacity than some other models, you'll need to refill it more often with water, however. But for its affordable price, it's hard to go wrong with this countertop model that also happens to produce ice that's slow to melt.
Price at time of publish: $110
Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.3 x 8.7 x 12.5 inches | Ice Capacity: 1.3 pounds | Daily Production: 26 pounds
Best Pellet Ice
GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
What We Love: Very easy to use, works quickly, Wi-Fi enabled
What We Don't Love: Very expensive
Ready to splurge on a high-quality ice maker for delicious pellet ice? Opt for the GE Profile Opal 2.0 Nugget Ice Maker. It’s made in two colors, classic stainless steel and modern black stainless steel. Note that the black stainless steel model is marginally more expensive, but if you already have that color scheme in your kitchen, it’s worth the extra cost so everything matches. Either way, both colors have a sleek aesthetic.
Dennis Capone, the kitchen product expert behind My Kitchen Toolkit, considers the GE Opal the best countertop ice maker on the market. "The Opal makes ice with maximum efficiency and with nearly no downsides," he says. "It doesn’t really leak, and the Opal barely even makes noise." The extras don't stop there. "It comes with an optional side tank for water [which can hold up to 3 quarts of water], and it requires no water hookup," Capone says. "That means that ‘installing’ the unit is simply a matter of unboxing the GE Opal, popping it on the counter, and plugging it in."
This machine can produce up to 1 pound of ice per hour and make a batch in about 20 minutes. And perhaps one of the most unique features is that it can connect to GE’s SmartHQ app through Wi-Fi. This means you can schedule fresh ice and check the current status of the machine from your smartphone.
It's definitely on the expensive end of the spectrum, so that's a consideration if you're on a budget.
Price at time of publish: $679
Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.5 x 13.4 x 16.5 inches | Ice Capacity: 3 pounds | Daily Production: 24 pounds
Related: The Best Stemless Wine Glasses
NewAir NIM033BK00 33-Pound Portable Ice Maker
What We Love: Drain plug on the bottom, totally portable, works quickly
What We Don't Love: Can be noisy
If you’re looking for a portable ice maker tailor-made for your RV, dorm room, or another small space, the NewAir 33-Pound Portable Ice Maker is certainly worth considering. It’s also an ideal choice for studio apartments where the freezer may not have a built-in ice maker or there’s simply a lack of counter space to accommodate a larger model.
But don’t be fooled, this little 18-pound machine is quite mighty. It has a water capacity of 2 liters and can produce a new batch of ice every eight minutes. This is just as much, if not more, than some of the larger machines on this list. Unlike some of the other machines, its drain plug is on the bottom of the machine, which might make cleaning up easier for you. Some users have reported, however, that it can be a bit noisy.
Price at time of publish: $188
Dimensions (LxWxH): 14.1 x 9.6 x 11.7 inches | Ice Capacity: 1.5 pounds | Daily Production: 33 pounds
Related: The Best Cold-Brew Coffee Makers
Best for Speed
AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine
What We Love: Super fast, energy efficient, quiet, well priced
What We Don't Love: Low output
Having a few friends over and need ice fast? The AGLucky Countertop Ice Maker Machine has you covered. This appliance produces nine ice cubes in six minutes. So, your ice will be ready almost as fast as you can mix a batch of classic cocktails.
This model can produce up to 26.5 pounds of ice per day. In addition to that, this ice maker is energy-efficient and engineered to run quietly, which makes it an ideal choice for offices and intimate dinner parties. This is due to the compressor being improved upon from previous generations.
Best of all, it has indicators that remind you when the basket is full as well as when more water is needed. With three colors to choose from—black, red, and white— and an affordable price, you won’t regret clicking “add to cart.” While we love that this is a fast ice maker, we wish it could produce more than a handful or so of ice cubes at once.
Price at time of publish: $110
Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.3 x 8.7 x 12.6 inches | Ice Capacity: 1.5 pounds | Daily Production: 26.5 pounds
Related: The Best Reusable Straws
Frigidaire EFIC117-SS 26-Pound Countertop Ice Maker
What We Love: Very quiet, compact design, fast
What We Don't Love: Ice is not super hard
Do you find ice makers a bit on the loud side? Then the Frigidaire 26-Pound Countertop Ice Maker is the right choice for you. Not only is it one of the fastest ice makers, but it also has other useful features, like running at less than 38 decibels.
Weighing 20.6 pounds, it’s compact enough not to take up too much space on your countertop and easy to store away. Still, it makes a nice addition to any kitchen. Its generously sized reservoir holds 2.3 quarts of water and can produce nine pieces in seven or 15 minutes. It's available in five colors: black, stainless steel, black stainless steel, copper stainless steel, and red. Some users have reported, however, that the ice it makes is not super hard.
Price at time of publish: $199
Dimensions (LxWxH): 14.4 x 11.7 x 14.8 inches | Ice Capacity: 1.5 pounds | Daily Production: 26 pounds
Related: The Best Water Filters
Igloo Premium Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker
What We Love: Self-cleaning, cute design, quick production
What We Don't Love: Needs frequent refills, can be a little noisy
Cleaning your ice maker can be such a chore, but that doesn’t mean it has to be, at least not with the Igloo 26-Pound Portable Ice Maker. The automatic five-cycle self-cleaning is a unique feature of this affordable model. It provides an easy way to eliminate part of the maintenance process and assures your ice will be clean every single time you make it.
Able to make a batch of ice in seven minutes, this machine can make up to 26 pounds of ice in 24 hours, and it even has a clear window so you can easily see when your ice is ready. This is also very easy to bring anywhere with its built-in handle and 22-pound weight. Another reason to opt for this product is that it is available in four styles, including a very summery aqua. So, no matter what your kitchen looks like, you’ll be happy leaving it out on the counter. However, it needs frequent refills and is a bit noisy when operating.
Price at time of publish: $150
Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.2 x 9 x 12.8 inches | Ice Capacity: 1.25 pounds | Daily Production: 26 pounds
Related: The Best Ninja Blenders
With the ability to make three sizes of ice fairly quickly, while not taking up too much space or going into splurge territory, the NewAir Countertop 28-Pound Ice Maker (view at Amazon) is a worthy addition to your kitchen. If you want to make pellet ice at home and have the ability to command the activity directly from your phone, then the GE Profile Opal 2.0 Nugget Ice Maker (view at Wayfair) is the best investment.
What to Look for in an Ice Maker
When shopping for a countertop ice maker, water supply is the most important factor to consider, according to Capone. "While some ice makers do well as standalone units with their own water reservoir, others require a direct water line connection, as you’d need with a refrigerator ice maker," he says. For maximum convenience, Capone favors the models with water reservoirs. "It’s easier, and it keeps your ice maker portable," he adds.
Some high-end ice makers include digital compatibility. The GE Opal, for example, connects to an app that allows users to prompt (and pre-schedule) ice production. Another especially desirable feature for ice makers is self-cleaning cycles, like the one in the Igloo model. This removes all the guesswork from ice maker maintenance and keeps your machine ready to use at any time.
If your countertop ice maker isn’t self-cleaning, you’ll need to use a water-based cleaning solution to manually clean the interior, exterior, and basket. A soft dishcloth works well as a vessel for the cleaning solution, but if you need to get into nooks and crannies (like the spaces in the ice maker basket), a clean toothbrush is an effective option.
Should you leave your ice maker on all the time?
Countertop ice makers can be left on all the time and can operate continuously, but since most people don’t need constant batches of fresh ice, leaving it plugged in might be a waste of energy. Also, most countertop ice makers aren’t designed to keep ice cold indefinitely, so once your machine fills with ice, you’ll want to transfer the ice to the freezer.
Do ice makers stop making ice when they’re full?
Countertop ice makers generally contain a sensor that prompts them to stop producing ice once their baskets are full. Some will also automatically power down at this point, but many will remain on (and will keep using energy) even if they’re no longer actively making ice.
Do ice makers keep ice frozen?
Most ice makers do not have the ability to keep ice frozen. Therefore, most advise removing the ice once the ice maker has made the amount of ice you need. You can transfer it to the freezer or use it as needed.
Is a countertop ice maker worth it?
If you don't have an ice maker in your freezer and you go through a lot of ice, then an ice maker is definitely worth it. Having a separate ice maker, even if you already have one built into your refrigerator, can be really helpful when you're having a party. It saves you from running out and buying large bags of ice that inevitably clump together anyway. An ice maker facilitates a steady supply of ice throughout your gathering.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Amanda Lauren is a freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles about home and lifestyle. If given the choice, she will choose large ice cubes every time.
Read Next: The Best Refrigerators
Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application. Updated June 27, 2018.