Getting your hands on the best shaved ice machine will redefine the meaning of icy treats. Every appliance out there can either be fun and not-so-fun. Ice shavers are a prime example of a fun (and useful) appliance that should be a part of everyone’s home. No matter if you like snow cones and tasteful colors, or you just like quality ice in your ice tea, having the possibility to make your own treats at home is the epitome of convenience.
There is a lot to talk about when it comes to these exciting machines, so we decided to make this guide and help you learn everything about them. Let’s get right into it!
What Is A Shaved Ice Machine and Who Needs One?
Believe it or not, shaving isn’t reserved only for hair. As you might have already known, shaving ice means cutting it into ultra-thin, short bits and pieces, also known as ice flakes. People all around the world got to the same idea of putting sugared and colored syrups onto piles of shaved ice.
Shaved ice machines do exactly that: they make shaved ice. Quickly and easily this type of appliance will deliver gallons of shaved ice for you to sweeten and decorate. Some machines even offer their own syrup flavors, but the most common practice is to get or make your own.
Lately, shaved ice became a favorite snack all around the world. It contains sugar, but when you look at the big picture, it is mostly water, and sugar is there mainly to give the cone an attractive paint job. Let’s be real, there’s no better thing in the summer than a fresh ice snow cone.
However, snow cones and sweets are not the limits. Ice shavers are also great for serving as the top-rated margarita machines and all sorts of icy cocktails. It all comes down to your imagination. Some people are also making healthy ice snacks with shaved ice and freshly squeezed fruit juices.
After all, an average-sized shaved ice machine takes up almost no space in your kitchen. They are easy to carry around and take up less space than a regular blender (you can also check our best blenders for crushing ice list). Even though there are several different shapes and sizes of these units, they are never too large to fit in a regular kitchen.
Best Shaved Ice Machines Comparison Chart
Great Northern Premium Quality Shaved Ice Machine
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Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Electric Shaved Ice Machine
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ZENY Ice Shaver Machine Electric Snow Cone Maker
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Nostalgia RSM702 Retro Single Snow Cone Maker
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ZENY Industrial Quality Ice Shaver 250W
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Hawaiian Shaved Ice S700 Electric Snow Cone Machine
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Best Shaved Ice Machine Reviews
1. Great Northern Premium Quality Shaved Ice Machine
Great Northern made a high-quality ice shaving machine that can fulfill any request and beat any ice shaving challenge you put in front of it. It is a vertical, old-school type of ice shaver, with a press that’s controlled by a gear system. Compared to other ice shaving machines, this one is quite heavy, weighing a total of 56 pounds, so moving it around is not as easy.
But that much weight is not there without a reason. This commercial grade ice shaving machine can deliver 350 pounds of shaved ice in just one hour. Inside, there is a 1/3 horsepower electric motor that can achieve 1,725 RPM. This is incredibly strong for an ice shaving machine.
There is no ice container on top because the ice goes directly under the press and onto the blade. Beneath the blade, there are slots for two types of containers: cup and bowl.
2. Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Electric Shaved Ice Machine
Hawaiian is considered to be a veteran in this game, and their S900A ice shaving machine has a lot to offer. It is a compact, vertical ice shaving model, with a modern design and white plastic body. The unit weighs just under 4 pounds, which is great if you ever want to carry it.
This particular model delivers 5-7 standard cups of shaved ice per minute, which is ideal if you intend to use it for smaller gatherings, or as a dessert machine. The ice container is circular and acts as an ice mold at the same time. For greater efficiency, Hawaiian provided two ice molds so you can use one to shave ice while the other mold is in the freezer.
Due to the build of the machine, and its lightweight frame, this ice shaver is quite easy to clean and maintain. You can disassemble the whole body into only 3 pieces.
3. ZENY Ice Shaver Machine Electric Snow Cone Maker
Here we have a horizontal ice shaving machine from ZENY, which is known for its huge shaved ice-making capacity. It has a retro design and is considered to be quite hefty, due to its weight (12 pounds). This weight is there because of all the metal parts included in the frame build, which adds to the overall durability of the machine.
The electric motor inside this ZENY can deliver 143 pounds of shaved ice in a single hour. This is ideal for pool parties or margarita nights. Also, there is no need for ice molding, and regular ice cubes will do the trick. The ice container is located on the top, and it is covered by a lid with a handle that pushes the ice on the blade.
If you have larger-than-average shaved ice needs, this model should be able to cover it all, as long it is maintained and cleaned regularly.
4. Nostalgia RSM702 Retro Single Snow Cone Maker
As soon as we saw this model, we realized the origin of the name Nostalgia. It looks like it was designed in the fifties, but with modern plastic materials. At its core, this is a vertical snow cone maker, and the machine is not designed to handle huge amounts of shaved ice. Additionally, it weighs only 4 pounds, which is a great feature if you want to move the machine to the poolside, or carry it on camping trips.
The ice container is designed to hold ice cubes of any shapes or sizes, and there is no mold required. Below the stainless-steel blade system, there is a slot designed to hold a standard ice cone. As a matter of fact, this model comes with two reusable plastic cones, as well as two reusable plastic scoops.
This is a great entry level shaved ice machine, due to its simplicity and its affordable price.
5. ZENY Industrial Quality Ice Shaver 250W
ZENY is well-known for its high-capacity ice shaving machines, and this one is no exception. This mighty horizontal ice shaver is made entirely of stainless steel, and the finish is all metallic. This does enhance the machines durability and damage resistance, but it’s important to remember that stainless steel usually means added weight. This model weighs above average, with a total of 17 pounds.
Inside, there is an electric motor that achieves to deliver 440 pounds of shaved ice per hour, with a set of 2 rotating blades which rotate at 2,500 RPM. The ice container receives ice cubes of any type. On top of it, there’s a lid system that also pushes the ice towards the blades.
If you require large volumes of shaved ice, for a cocktail party or a pool party, this ZENY will definitely prove to be a powerful ally.
6. Hawaiian Shaved Ice S700 Electric Snow Cone Machine
Besides being in this business for a long time, Hawaiian ice shaving machines are also known for their simplicity and accessibility. This vertical machine is made of white plastic, and it weighs a total of 3 pounds, making it one of the most compact models out there.
Even though it has a circular ice container on top, this vertical ice shaving machine does not require the ice to be pre-molded. It works with regular ice cubes. Under the blades, there is a slot for a cup or a bowl.
This particular ice shaving model stands out due to its child-friendly interface. It has a safety lock, and the blades cannot be accessed easily. Having this in mind, you can let your kids make their own slurries and snow cones, without having to worry about accidents.
How Do Flake/Shaved Ice Machines Work?
Even though shaving ice seems simple, there is some fine engineering involved when it comes to these appliances. With the intention not to get too techy, let’s dive into it and see what a flake ice machine is made of, and how it works.
1. The Ice Chamber
One of the most essential parts of a good shaved ice machine is the container that keeps the ice before and during the shaving process. There are multiple types of ice chambers, but to be completely honest, it all comes down to the shape of it. A rule of thumb is to go with the circular shape of the ice piece, but there are some good models out there that have a rectangular ice box on top.
2. The Blade
The blade is, according to many appliance experts, the most important part of an ice shaving machine. It is located at the machine’s core and has a direct connection with the motor inside. It rotates, hitting the big ice pieces ever so slightly, separating the shavings. Some models have more than one blade, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re better. As long as the blades are sharp and durable, their number is not that important.
Another key part of an ice shaving machine is the protection around the blades. Being that these sharp pieces of metal rotate at enormous speeds, protective plastic and metal parts around the blades are of the utmost importance. That is why it is common for some models out there to keep the blades inside a hard-to-reach tube. Units like these are recommended for homes that have toddlers running around, due to these additional layers of protection.
3. The Press
With ice shaving machines getting safer by the day, the press came both as a safety feature and as a useful addition. The press is, at its core, a system that connects the ice from the ice chamber to the blades. Firstly, it serves as a lid on top of the ice box, keeping the ice inside from melting for a longer time. Besides, having a lid prevents the ice to soak up the smells from the environment, which can ruin the taste quite a bit.
The second function of the press is to push the ice under the blade and control the shaving process. The push system is made in such a way that prevents you from pushing to fast, so there is no danger of recoil. Some models have a press in the form of a handle, while others just utilize the ice box lid (which fits perfectly).
4. The Collector
After the press and the blades complete their part of pushing and shaving the ice, all the shavings fall bellow into the collector. The most common system is to scoop all the ice into removable containers, such as ice cones or plastic cups, and remove it. However, because of the variety of models out there, the ideal scenario is to get a model that has a fitting ice container provided, in order to stop shaved ice from spilling and overflowing.
Shaved Ice Machine Buying Guide
Now that we went through the basics of how the ice shavers work, it is time to turn our focus to the details. What should you look for? What type of ice shaving machine is just right for your household? These questions are best answered by going through the essential stuff like the quality, extras, and additional features. So, without further ado, let’s just jump into it.
1. Ice Shaving Machine Capacity
As with any other machine that works with ice, capacity is one of the most important, deal-breaking specifications. After all, the amount of ice you can get over a period of time depends on the capacity of the machine. The overall capacity varies from model to model, but the rule is simple: the larger the capacity (gallons per minute/hour), the more shaved ice you get.
Even though bigger is usually better, if you plan to use the shaved ice machine only occasionally to make desserts, we suggest that you take a step back and take a machine that provides 2-3 pounds per minute. On the other hand, if you want to make snow cones or shaved ice at parties, there are models out there that can provide 6+ gallons of shaved ice per minute. Assess your necessities and plan accordingly.
2. Blade Quality and Accessibility
Naturally, you would like to get a model with a blade that is sharp and durable. If you intend to use the ice shaving machine often, aim for models that have stainless steel blades and replaceable shaving systems. The quality of an ice making machine actually relies on the quality of the blades, so never cut back on this part (if the budget allows that, that is).
Besides cutting and shaving power, another often overseen feature is the accessibility of blades. Ice is not as dirty as other types of food, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t clean the insides of your ice shaving machine. That is why you should always look for the model that has accessible blades, for cleaning and replacing purposes.
3. Ice Shaver Size
Nowadays, appliance manufacturers build machines with smaller kitchens in mind. Large, spacious kitchens are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and appliances go hand in hand with that trend. Ice shaving machines vary in size, with available options for every type of kitchen out there. From models smaller than a blender to large heavy-duty ice shavers, surely there must be a model that can fit on your kitchen counter without nuisance.
On the other hand, you do not have to have the machine out all the time. A lot of people store their ice shaving machine inside a cabinet and take it out only when its snow cone time. Even if that is the case, opt in for a more compact model that will be able to fit in the storage space nearby. But remember that smaller models often have reduced ice shaving capacity. Moderation and a good assessment are the keys. Find the middle ground between capacity and size based on your preferences and use.
4. Durability and Build Quality
As with any other kitchen appliance out there, the build is important almost as much as the rest of the machine. There are ice shaving machines made entirely out of metal, for prolonged durability of course. The other end of that spectrum is completely plastic models, while plastic-metal units represent the middle ground.
Now, due to the absence of a straight answer to which material is the best, let’s put things in perspective:
- Ice shaving machines (almost) entirely made of metal will definitely be the most durable and most resistant to damage. However, it comes with a price as portability. Plus, they are slightly harder to clean.
- Models with the body made entirely out of plastic will surely be lightweight and easy to clean. But they will be less durable than the metal-made units, for sure.
- The combination of both plastic and metal materials is the most popular choice. Plastics are bad for the environment and easier to clean. Metal is durable but makes the machine heavier. That is why people prefer well-made combinations that take the best traits from both materials.
5. Ice Molds
As we’ve mentioned above, on top of every shaved ice machine, there is an ice container (usually circular). Now, in order for the machine to work perfectly, and without hiccups, it is best that the big ice piece fits the ice container like a glove, with little to no space on the side. By fulfilling this condition, you ensure the continuous work of the machine throughout the whole shaving process.
Because this is an important part of using the ice shaving machine, a lot of manufacturers decided to include ice making molds alongside the machines. All you have to do is freeze some water in these molds and you are ready to go.
There are models out there that have the ice mold, ice container and push system combined into a single piece of plastic/metal. Even though this might not be the ideal system, it is still the easiest to use and definitely the easiest to clean.
Nevertheless, there are models that don’t require the ice to be in the shape of the container on top. In this case, an average-shaped ice tray will do the trick.
6. Bonus Equipment
Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? The same applies to ice shaving machines. Just shaving ice and sprinkling the shavings underneath the machine is not enough, so it is always good to opt for a model that comes along with some of the additional equipment to fully enjoy the benefits. The most common extra gear that you can get includes:
- Plastic cones – judging by the majority, the single best way to consume shaved ice desserts is from a cone. If you agree with this statement, go for a model that offers matching cones with the ice shaving machine.
- Extra ice molds – models that utilize ice molds as ice containers can often have another mold inside the original package. An extra mold will enable uninterrupted production of ice shavings, with one mold being used, while the other is in the freezer.
- Scoops, straws and spoons – even though they’re not essential, some high-quality straws are always a welcome bonus. After all, who can make better-shaved ice accessories than the manufacturer of ice shaving machines?
FAQ About Shaved Ice Machines
1. Can I use frozen juice instead of ice in my ice shaving machine?
The most common practice is to avoid shaving ice that is not strictly made of frozen water. But there are ways to get to that natural sweet taste of fruit juice. To achieve such a goal, you need to make the juice as clear as possible, with most of the viscous parts taken out of the mix you want to freeze.
Watermelon is a great way to start. And, if you want to make sure that your ice shaving machine doesn’t clog, use a sieve to remove the chunks of solid fruit.
2. Can I sharpen and repurpose ice shaving machine knives?
If they are made to be detachable from the mainframe, the answer is yes. Some models have the blade easily accessible for cleaning purposes, and if the blade is detachable, there’s no reason not to give it a good old sharpening. However, because of the tricky blade shape, we recommend leaving that to a professional.
3. Are ice shaving machines RV/camper friendly?
That depends. Most of the models are suitable to be plugged into remote power grids that the RVs have. If you want to enjoy fresh ice snow cones on a camping trip, make sure to read the wattage in the instruction manual. Despite their size, ice shaving machines have powerful electric motors inside, which can sometimes drain a lot of power.
Shaved ice is simple, yet it offers a lot of possibilities when it comes to desserts and cocktails. We encourage you to use our guide as a checklist in the pursuit of the best shaved ice machine for your household.
Models come in different shapes and sizes, but, all in all, the principle is the same. Compare the differences and see what type suits your requirements. Investing in this small research now will reap huge rewards when the summer comes. That much we can guarantee.
In case you wanted to ask or add something, feel free to do so in the comment section below, and we will gladly provide an answer. Start making your own snow cones today!
Bonus guide: top-rated clear ice makers
Related blog: How Does An Ice Maker Work?