Whether you’re hosting a party or just want to avoid the inconvenience of filling and emptying ice trays, an ice making machine is an easy way to ensure you have plenty of cold refreshment on hand. These machines can either be freestanding or built-in into your cabinetry and connect to your home’s plumbing to automatically supply ice throughout the day. They can also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so consider how you’ll use yours (if you’re into tropical drinks, for example, opt for a model that produces nugget or crescent ice; stirred cocktails might benefit from a larger cube).
The best ice makers are quiet, fast, and capable of producing a lot of the stuff—the most important consideration when choosing an appliance. Look for a rating of how many pounds per day the machine makes and check that it matches your anticipated needs (the number can vary based on the time of year, too). You should also pay attention to features like a clear ice setting (which reduces air bubbles in beverages) and an “instant ice” mode for faster production when you’re under pressure.
Keep in mind that, just like freezers and refrigerators, these appliances may require occasional maintenance to ensure they’re working properly. This typically involves cleaning the removable ice basket and sanitizing all components to avoid bacterial build-up. Some models also have drain pumps that need to be replaced periodically and some need regular defrosting to remove impurities from the ice. ice making machine