Shaved ice machines are units equipped with rotating blades that transform large ice blocks into ultra-thin ice flakes. These machines produce ice used for the preparation of cool drinks and frozen desserts such as snow cones. Some units can produce ice of different textures, crunchy or coarse, by adjusting the blade setting.
It is hard to find the best shaved ice machine among so many brands. These brands include Great Northern, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, ZENY, Nostalgia, and others. Each brand’s advantages and disadvantages should be considered.
To find the best shaved ice machine, factors such as ice shaving machine capacity, blade quality and accessibility, ice shaver size, durability and build quality, ice molds, and bonus equipment such as plastic cones, extra ice molds, and scoops/straws/spoons should be analyzed. This shaved ice machine guide includes all these factors.
The best shaved ice machines are listed below:
- Great Northern Premium Quality Shaved Ice Machine
- Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Electric Shaved Ice Machine
- ZENY Ice Shaver Machine Electric Snow Cone Maker
- Nostalgia RSM702 Retro Single Snow Cone Maker
- ZENY Industrial Quality Ice Shaver 250W
- Hawaiian Shaved Ice S700 Electric Snow Cone Machine
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
The Great Northern shaved ice machine is a premium-quality unit designed for commercial purposes. It produces uses ice blocks and turns them into soft and fluffy shaved ice that can be easily collected using a bowl.
The Great Northern shaved ice machine comes with the industry best heavy-duty motor operating at 1725 rounds per minute. This highly efficient unit has high production capacities and can withstand a lot of pressure. It is equipped with a fully adjustable blade so it can produce shaved ice of different textures.
The Great Northern shaved ice machine is priced at around $230.
Great Northern provides a 1-year warranty on this commercial shaved ice machine. The average lifespan of this unit is around 3 years.
The Great Northern shaved ice machine features a premium finish and a high-impact ABS stainless steel and brass construction. The cutting blade is made of stainless steel and it can be replaced if warped. The safety shield can be removed as well.
The Great Northern shaved ice machine should be cleaned after each use in order to prolong the machine’s life. The unit should be dried using a dry towel before use.
The Great Northern shaved ice machine is capable of producing 6lbs of shaved ice per minute or 350lbs of shaved ice in 1 hour. It can cut through ice blocks 6.5 inches tall and 8 inches wide.
The advantages of Great Northern shaved ice machine are as follows:
- The machine comes with a powerful, durable, and swift heavy-duty motor.
- The stainless steel blades of this unit are replaceable, although they can last for a lifetime.
- The unit is capable of producing up to 8,400 lbs of shaved ice per day, which is why it is best suited for commercial use.
The disadvantages of Great Northern shaved ice machine are as follows:
- If the safety shield is not properly attached, the ice might be flying out of the machine.
2. Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Electric Shaved Ice Machine
The Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine produces ice for making snow cones, slushies, and snowballs. This compact countertop appliance takes very little space and can be easily moved and stored.
The Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine is ideal for at-home use and requires no previous knowledge to be used. It comes with 3 moving parts and assembles and disassembles in minutes. It comes packed with a non-slip mat and two ice molds.
The Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine is priced at $40 and it is one of the most affordable units in this category.
The Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine is backed up with a 1-year warranty. Its average lifespan is around 2 years.
The Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine is mostly made of plastic. The blade is made of stainless steel and can be adjusted to produce coarse or crunchy ice as well.
Hot water should be used to clean the Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine. Once rinsed, the machine should be dried using a dry cloth or towel.
The Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine can produce up to 16lbs of shaved ice out of a single ice block. However, this is not a commercial unit and shouldn’t be used to produce ice continuously.
The advantages of Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine are as follows:
- The unit is easy to assemble and use as it has 3 pieces only.
- The adjustable blade makes it convenient to shave ice of different textures.
- This machine is very simple to clean.
The disadvantages of Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine are as follows:
- The unit can’t produce large quantities of shaved ice in a day.
- Most of the unit is made of plastic.
3. ZENY Ice Shaver Machine Electric Snow Cone Maker
The ZENY shaved ice machine is an electric unit suitable for home and commercial use in snack bars, cafes, fast-food stores, restaurants, schools, and more. This highly efficient unit boasts an ergonomic design so it is easy to operate, energy and time-saving.
The ZENY shaved ice machine is equipped with a powerful, fast-speed motor that ensures the maximum efficiency of this unit. The blade creates 2000 runs in a minute, ensuring every inch of an ice block is turned into perfectly shaved ice. The machine will stop shaving ice when the hopper handles are set in an open position to prevent injuries and ensure a 100% safe operation.
The ZENY shaved ice machine comes at a price of around $50.
ZENY provides a 1-year warranty on this shaved ice machine. It has a life expectancy of at least 3 to 5 years.
The ZENY shaved ice machine is entirely made of commercial-grade waterproof stainless steel. This type of construction is resistant to rust and can withstand years of use. The stainless-steel, environmental-friendly blade is designed so it can shave a large amount of ice without getting dull. The machine comes with a stainless steel bowl that can be used for serving shaved ice-based drinks and desserts.
The ZENY shaved ice machine should be cleaned with soapy water and cloth, then dried with another cloth.
The ZENY shaved ice machine can produce up to 145lbs of shaved ice per hour.
The advantages of ZENY shaved ice machine are as follows:
- The heavy-duty stainless steel base minimizes vibration and noise while shaving ice.
- The whole unit is made of highly durable stainless steel – resistant to water and rust and easy to clean.
- The machine can meet high demands for ice and produce up to 3,400lbs of shaved ice per day.
The disadvantages of ZENY shaved ice machine are as follows:
- Ice tends to fly out of the unit during the shaving process.
- The blade is not adjustable.
4. Nostalgia RSM702 Retro Single Snow Cone Maker
The Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker is the type of unit mostly used for birthday parties and other celebrations. The compact size of this snow cone machine makes it easy to place it anywhere – on a countertop or a table, and move around.
The Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker comes with a medium-size shaving cage. This unit best works with regular-sized ice cubes. It is equipped with a safety switch that protects hands while shaving ice. A reusable plastic snow cone is included in the package as well.
The price of the Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker is around $35. If a party kit is bought as well, the price for both is around $55.
Nostalgia provides a 30-day money-back warranty on this RSM702 snow cone maker.
The Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker is mostly made of plastic. The sharp blade is made of stainless steel that easily shaves ice cubes into soft ice.
The Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker should be cleaned using soapy water and a cloth and well dried before the next use.
The Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker can produce around 20 snow cones in a round.
The advantages of Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker are as follows:
- The unit is compact and weighs 4 pounds only so it is portable and convenient to store.
- The safety switch prevents injuries while shaving ice.
- The machine is equipped with high-precision stainless steel blades.
The disadvantages of Nostalgia RSM702 snow cone maker are as follows:
- The unit comes with practically no warranty.
- The ice shaving capacity of this machine is very modest.
5. ZENY Industrial Quality Ice Shaver 250W
The ZENY shaved ice machine is a highly efficient, energy-saving unit with a huge shaving capacity. It is most suited for carnivals, banquets, cafes, restaurants, and other commercial premises.
The ZENY shaved ice machine is equipped with a powerful motor that produces 2500 rotations per minute. Heat vents on the side of the unit prevent overheating of the motor and ensure a stable operation and the machine’s longer life. The on/off switch and a waterproof cover ensure the unit is safe to use.
The ZENY shaved ice machine is priced at around $175.
ZENY provides a 1-year full warranty on this shaved ice machine.
The ZENY shaved ice machine features an all-stainless steel durable and sturdy construction. The double-ended stainless steel blade can shave ice but also cut through fruits and vegetables.
The ZENY shaved ice machine can shave up to 440lbs of ice in one hour. It comes with a large ice outlet diameter that makes it possible to provide a large supply of shaved ice in a short period.
The advantages of ZENY shaved ice machine are as follows:
- The motor moves the stainless steel blade at 2,500 rounds per minute so the unit can meet a high demand for ice in commercial settings.
- The built-in safety device and a waterproof cover guarantee the safe operation of the machine.
- The exhaust and heat sink located on the rear of the machine protect the motor and make the unit more durable.
The disadvantages of ZENY shaved ice machine are as follows:
- The ice this machine produces is sometimes hard and grainy.
6. Hawaiian Shaved Ice S700 Electric Snow Cone Machine
The Hawaiian S700 is a kid-friendly electric snow cone maker. It is equipped with a child safety switch and it is very easy to operate. This unit produces shaved ice ideal for making snow cones, frozen desserts, and cocktails.
The Hawaiian S700 snow cone machine comes with a powerful long-lasting motor. It is very compact and easy to move around and store. This machine turns standard ice cubes into shaved ice within seconds.
The Hawaiian S700 snow cone maker comes at a price of around $40.
The Hawaiian Shaved Ice Store provides a 1-year warranty on the S700 snow cone maker.
The Hawaiian S700 snow cone machine is mostly made of plastic. The blade is made of BPA-free stainless steel. It can be adjusted to shave ice of different textures.
The Hawaiian S700 snow cone machine should be cleaned with clear, hot water after several uses.
The Hawaiian S700 snow cone machine can produce between 10 and 20lbs of ice in 24 hours.
The advantages of Hawaiian S700 snow cone machine are as follows:
- The unit comes with a safety switch and can’t operate when the lid is off for safety reasons.
- The electric motor spins the blade at a fast speed so the machine produces a full bowl of shaved ice in 2 minutes.
- The stainless steel blade is easily adjustable to shave fine to coarse ice.
The disadvantages of Hawaiian S700 snow cone machine are as follows:
- The machine produces unpleasant noise while shaving ice.
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.
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?
If you don’t feel like buying a dedicated ice maker for the job, but still want that shaved ice, check our related blog on how to make shaved ice without a machine.
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 Do Ice Makers Work?