Not all ice makes are the same. Traditional ice makers are different from nugget ice makers in many ways. Unlike most ice makers that create solid ice cubes of frozen water, a nugget ice machine makes delicate flaked ice.
It first became popular through the fast-food chain, Sonic. Sonic Ice is one of many names given to nugget ice. Others include chewable ice, pellet ice, pebble ice, or ice flakes.
We take a look at the 10 best nugget ice maker machines for the best flaked ice.
If you’re in a hurry and want to see these ice makers on Amazon now, with current prices, shipping options and extended warranty options you can see the links below.
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We did extensive research to find the very best nugget ice makers and ice makers that make other than nugget ice. We looked at all the specifications, the reputation of the company, the performance, the build quality, and materials, as well as the feedback from consumers.
Here are our top 10 pics in a detailed review. You can use the table of contents below to skip to any specific model or just read through the reviews for all of them.
This popular and highly rated Nugget Ice Maker, the GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker, was an easy pick as our best all-around nugget ice maker. It is a compact, portable, and affordable ice machine. It makes soft chewable ice quickly and effectively.
Credit: GE Appliances
The Opal Nugget Ice Maker is the ideal option for a range of cocktails and other tasty drinks. This ice machine makes up to 24 pounds of soft and chewable ice every day. That is, as I am sure you can work out, one pound of soft nugget ice every hour. That should be more than enough ice for most people.
This is by far one of the best nugget ice makers on the market. The Opal countertop Nugget Ice machine has a generous ice bucket with a 3lbs ice storage capacity.
Another impressive feature of this nugget ice maker is that it has the latest technology. It has integrated Bluetooth. This allows you to set and control the schedule of the ice maker. A smartphone app allows you full control over the timing, how much ice to produce, and remotely monitor the ice maker.
Ice making has never been easier. The Opal Nugget Ice Maker produces batch-made ice. This means no leaks or clumps of ice. The ice machine is automated so that you will always have fresh nugget ice. As soon as the levels are low it will refill. Melted ice is recirculated back to the reservoir.
The countertop ice maker is compact and portable. Setup and installation are a breeze as all you need to do is connect to a power source and fill the water reservoir. Once the Opal Countertop Nugget Ice machine is turned on, you can expect ice production in roughly 20 minutes.
GE is a massive brand that does a vast range of products. They have been around for over a century. Their appliances are popular and known for innovation, durability, and reliability. As they have an important brand name to protect they offer good customer support.
Credit: GE Appliances
We have no doubt that this can be considered one of the best sonic ice maker options.
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Taking the second position in our top 10, for the great value for money as well as many other reasons, is the Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker. It is a solid and sturdy stainless steel ice maker.
It is not a countertop nugget ice maker but a reliable and dependable machine. It makes an astonishing 100 pounds of ice per day.
Not just that but the ice bin storage capacity is up to 33 pounds of ice. It has an automatic overflow shutdown which means it will stop making ice when the ice bin is full.
The machine is ETL certified making it suitable for commercial use but is still practical for ice cubes for home use. It is a great idea if you have a large family or entertain often.
The ice maker is easy to use and has an LCD panel making it fairly easy to operate. You can for example, easily adjust the external temperature from the LCD panel to your preferred setting.
It is not only user-friendly but the ice maker is also quick and easy to clean. It has an automatic clean option that you can select to clean the machine from time to time. This will ensure clean fresh ice cubes and extend the lifespan of the ice machine.
The ice machine operates with minimal noise and is highly efficient. It uses lower power than many other comparable machines.
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Euhomy makes commercial ice makers as well as some of the best home nugget ice machines. This portable nugget ice maker ranks right up there with the best nugget ice maker options available.
One of the reasons this rates as one of the best nugget ice maker options is that it has a high-efficiency compressor. This allows the nugget ice maker to make ice constantly and with great speed.
From starting up the ice machine, you can expect a continuous flow of soft and crunchy ice in 18 minutes. It has a 3.3 pounds ice storage capacity. It will make roughly 26 pounds of ice per day.
Another benefit this ice maker has is that you have the choice of filling the countertop nugget ice maker manually or connecting it to the water supply. While the latter option takes a bit more time to set up it is an added convenience when you use the ice maker.
All ice machines need to be cleaned from time to time but this ice maker makes the process easy. It has automatic cleaning. The process is quick and easy and ensures quality ice every time. The stainless steel build also makes cleaning easier and ensures durability.
This ice machine comes with a 1-year warranty as well as lifetime support. Most reports indicate that customer service is good.
The nugget ice maker comes with an ice scoop as well as an ice basket. Euhomy is widely considered one of the best pellet ice makers.
Scotsman has a reputation for making some of the best commercial ice makers. They are popular in restaurants and bars for their solid ice. They are just as impressive with their quality of home ice makers.
This is not a nugget ice machine. It makes what Scotsman calls “gourmet ice “. Gourmet ice is basically a 1-inch cube of ice much smaller than your refrigerator ice cube but bigger than the small flakes of ice that make up nugget ice.
The Scotsman ice-making machine is fast and efficient. Also know that this model, the CU50GA-1, has a gravity drain that requires a line to drain the machine outside or tied into an existing drain. An alternative mode, the CU50PA-1, has a built in pump drain if you want a different drain system, You can see the CU50PA-1 on Amazon here.
The ice-making machine comes with impressive ice storage of as much as 26 pounds of ice. The ice production is also good at 64 pounds of ice per day. If you need more ice, this is an ice maker to look at.
Despite the power and ice storage capacity, it is still a compact ice machine. It is not, however, a countertop nugget ice maker. It is an undercounter unit.
The ice cubes have a unique shape and are slow to melt. Ice production is fast and efficient. It should give most users more ice than they need.
This ice machine is durable and built to last. It is made from quality stainless steel so not only resists rust but looks good at the same time.
Frigidaire has a long and proud history in the refrigeration market and is known for top-quality fridges, ice makers, and related products. They were at the forefront of fridge production and development so certainly know how to make leading products. Their nugget ice makers are no exception.
The Frigidaire small cube (not specifically small nuggets) ice maker is one of the best ice maker options on the market. It is a countertop soft crunchy small cube ice maker with a modern attractive design. It will fit into any environment.
The Frigidaire ice maker can produce ice rapidly and you can expect the ice-making process to start in 15 minutes. You will soon have clear, soft crunchy ice.
The ice production capacity is an impressive 44lbs a day. Despite this, it is still compact and portable.
All you need is an electrical outlet to hook it up. You can top up the water manually, so you do not need a steady water supply. This is a simple and easy process that will only take a few seconds.
Another popular Frigidaire model with almost identical features to the EFIC235 is the Frigidaire EFIC237, if it’s in stock, you can see it on Amazon here.
Check the current price of the Frigidaire EFIC235 Countertop Crunchy Chewable Small Cube Ice Maker on Amazon here, along with any discounts and extended warranty (definitely buy one if it’s available for the best price per years offered that we’ve reviewed here).
KitchenAid is a well-known and popular brand. This model is one of the better-looking options available. This is why it wins our title of best designer ice maker. It is sleek and elegant with stainless steel construction with a range of finishes.
Ice cubes are clear and have a consistent shape and melt very slowly. The storage capacity is 25 pounds of ice. Part of what makes it so attractive is the flush installation.
This makes it look like a built-in appliance. It can fit into any environment and still look great. The PrintShield Finish means fewer smudges and no fingerprints. Keeping it looking good could not be easier.
It is functional and practical with a great handle, an amazing advanced hinge as well as reversible doors. This makes it highly versatile.
It also has a self-cleaning function that makes this process a breeze. You will need a drain pump that is factory installed. This is a great convenience and will save you time and hassle.
If you want to ensure the purity and clarity of your ice it accommodates a filter. While these need to be purchased separately they last around half a year and are not that costly. A filter will ensure safe and pure ice every time.
This is a top-selling nugget ice maker that ranks right up there with the very best of the best nugget ice maker models. This pellet ice maker makes nugget ice easy.
You can top up the water via a simple water source. This will allow you to have an automatic and continuous supply of sonic ice. If you do not want a permanent connection, it is simple and quick to use the water tank. This allows you the freedom to choose the better option for your needs.
It is a tough yet attractive stainless steel ice maker that makes nugget ice rapidly. It operates quietly and takes only 18 minutes to get going. It will make as much as 26 pounds of ice per day. The ice storage capacity is 3 pounds.
It is super easy to use. Infrared is used to tell you when the bin is full and the transparent window allows you to what the entire process. It even reminds you when you need to add water. This technology makes life easier and ensures you have a steady supply of ice.
Cleaning could not be easier thanks to the build materials as well as the self-cleaning feature which activates at the touch of a button.
The design is modern, and the ice machine is compact. It is a true sonic ice maker so can expect soft flaky nugget ice for your favorite drinks.
It comes with a 1-year warranty as well lifetime support. Most people report that customer care is good. This gives you added peace of mind.
If you are on a tight budget or simply want a compact portable nugget ice maker that is reliable, this is one to consider. Given the compact size, it still has an impressive output of 29 pounds of nugget ice. This is a popular ice maker that gets excellent feedback from happy customers.
COSTWAY is known for budget products but there is little to no compromise with this great model. It ticks all the right boxes that you want in a home countertop ice maker.
It is light and easy to move. This makes it a good option if you want something you can use when away or even on an RV adventure. It is also perfect for home, pub, or office use.
The pellet ice maker is solidly made and built to last. Great features include self-cleaning and auto-defrost. This makes the two important chores a pleasure.
Drainage pipes will get rid of wasted water and melted water is recycled ready for the next batch of sonic ice.
This ice maker is user-friendly and has a nifty control panel to simplify operation. Another feature that makes these ice makers versatile is that you can either use the manual water tank or connect them directly to a water source. This gives you greater convenience.
Storage is a bit tight at only 3 pounds. This is understandable given the compact design of the ice maker, but the good news is that it pushes out fresh nugget ice rapidly. It has a good compressor and triple-layer insulation to keep the sonic ice cool for longer.
The lid is transparent allowing to you keep an eye on the ice makers process. It will also stop production if there is no water, or when the ice is full.
This is a handy feature that allows you to set and leave the machine while you enjoy your beverages with crunchy chewable nugget ice.
To top it off, it looks great and is not that heavy on the wallet.
The Newair nugget ice maker produces nugget ice at sonic speed. Despite coming in at position number 9, it is still one of the better nugget ice makers on the market.
It is a sleek and decent-looking sonic ice maker. One of the main features of the Newair Nugget Ice Maker is that it is super-fast and will start delivering nugget ice within 10 minutes. It is not only fast but also super-efficient.
This chewable nugget ice maker is ultra-compact, yet this does not affect performance. You can expect nugget ice within 10 minutes. This will give you more ice in less time than the average ice maker. The daily capacity is 30 pounds of ice per day.
The machine has excellent insulation, so the ice stays cold for longer.
As nugget ice makers go, it is compact and will not take up much space on your countertop (the tallest point is 16 7/8 inches high). The price is reasonable, and you get outstanding value for money.
It is self-cleaning so that little job is a cinch. This will keep the machine free from mildew and mold and other impurities.
If it is ice cubes you want this is a great ice maker. It is affordable as well as light and compact. This makes it portable to take with you whenever you need fast fresh cubed ice. It is great for parties, holidays, boats, RVs, offices, bars, or home use.
It is a countertop model and takes up very little space. It is easy to set up and will start making ice in under 10 minutes, faster than most ice makers. The ice maker will make up to 24 pounds a day. The compressor keeps it cool and efficient, and the machine makes very little noise.
The lid is transparent so you can see what is going on and how much ice is left. It is extremely user-friendly and there is no installation to be done. It also features overflow protection to prevent a mess.
Cleaning is also super easy thanks to a self-cleaning function. This only takes half an hour and will keep your machine running smoothly and the ice clear and pure. This does not have to be done too often, perhaps twice a year.
A light on these ice machines will alert you when water is running low. It also has a second indicator light to tell you when the ice is full.
The Opal Countertop Nugget Ice maker is by far one of our favorite nugget ice makers and we are not alone. It is popular and gets rave reviews.
The Opal countertop nugget ice maker produces perfect chewable ice. It is compact, easy to use, and affordable.
The Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker takes our second spot. The main reason is the ice production speed that you get for the money. It does not make true nugget ice but makes excellent ice cubes quickly and efficiently.
The third spot goes to another Euhomy product. The Euhomy Ice Maker Countertop has to be one of the best nugget ice machine options. It is a compact self dispensing countertop nugget ice machine that works like a bomb.
Next, we have the Scotsman CU50GA-1 Undercounter Ice Maker. This machine makes cubed ice but it does it with speed and precision.
Coming in at position number 5 is the Frigidaire EFIC237 Countertop machine. This is a trusted brand that makes quality nugget ice. It is user-friendly, fast, and efficient.
The next spot goes to the KitchenAid 50 lb. Built-in Ice Maker in PrintShield Stainless Steel machine. It looks amazing and will fit into any environment perfectly. While the style and looks of this machine are great it also performs exceptionally well.
Not as well known as many other brands, the CROWNFUL Nugget Ice Maker Portable Countertop Machine is another great self dispensing countertop nugget ice model. What is impressive is the compact design making this a great portable option.
If you are looking for a low-cost option that still looks great you cannot go wrong with the COSTWAY Countertop Ice Maker. It looks awesome, is compact, and delivers great ice with decent speed.
The FirstNewAir Nugget Ice Maker, Sonic Speed Countertop Crunchy Ice Pellet Machine wins the prize for speed. This is from speed from startup as well as operation.
It is compact, efficient, and, as we said, fast.
We only reviewed the very best ice makers so, despite the VIVOHOME Electric Portable Compact Countertop Automatic Ice Cube Maker Machine coming in at number 10, it is still one of the better machines. It is not a true nugget ice maker but makes awesome ice cubes.
While we looked at the top ten, there are a few other worthy mentions. The KBice nugget ice maker and the Northair countertop nugget ice machines also deserve a mention.
Sonic is a fast-food chain that grew awareness and the popularity of what was called Sonic Ice. People wanted it for home use, parties, offices, and other uses so machines were developed.
The new sonic ice makers make what most people now call nugget ice. It is essentially the same thing.
It is also called pellet ice or pebble ice. All of them are soft ice flakes that melt in your mouth.
Only nugget ice makers produce this type of ice. It cannot be done with a conventional cubed machine.
Most people love the soft flaky nature of the ice from a chewable ice maker. The texture is divine and works well with many drinks and beverages.
The nugget ice is airy and light and melts more slowly than crushed ice. It also cools the drinks rapidly for instant enjoyment.
Other uses of pellet ice include use as a base for fresh seafood or salads, filling up a cooler, blanching vegetables, and even for use on sport or other injuries.
It is ideal for smoothies, glacier drinks, crunch cones, and a range of other treats. Pellet ice is a fast way to get champagne to the right temperature.
One of the main applications of pellet ice or nugget ice is for use in making the perfect cocktails. It is particularly great in a frozen margarita.
Nugget ice does not water the drink down or dilute your drink. Rather, it adds a nice texture and experience. You can experiment with a range of other cocktails, mocktails, and smoothies.
There are a lot of cool things to say about sonic ice, but let’s cover the most important ones.
It is delicious and has an incredible texture. It will instantly cool your drink and transform it into something special. The flaked ice melts slowly and is chewable.
The ice is easy to make and highly versatile.
Most nugget ice makers only have a 1-year warranty. If the price is fair and you want peace of mind it is always a good idea to consider spending a bit extra on an extended warranty if they are available for your preferred model.
If you look after your machine it should last many years but an extended warranty is a small price to pay for additional peace of mind.
Look for companies with a good history and customer feedback. Your machine will not last forever but should give you many years of enjoyment. If available, go for the extended warranty. That way, you know you are covered if something goes wrong down the line.
No. That is the short answer. The truth is that the process is entirely different. It is not possible to make sonic ice from ice cubes. You will need a machine that is capable of creating soft chewable flakes. There is no other way to do it correctly.
Some people make a version of soft ice using fresh fizzy club soda. The trick is to use ice trays that make small cubes and half fill them with the club soda or any carbonated water with a lot of fizz.
It is a lot of hard work and the results, while pleasant, are nowhere near the real thing.
The process is also painfully slow and you will need to freeze the ice for 6 hours minimum. The average decent nugget ice maker will give you delicious flaky results in a few minutes.
Yes, absolutely. While it is not a good idea to chew regular ice, sonic ice is soft and chewable. That is part of the appeal. It is perfectly safe to chew.
Unlike traditional ice makers that use an evaporator to freeze the water into cubes, a nugget ice maker uses a different process.
They work with an auger to create ice flakes. It consists of a cylinder that turns and slowly yet effectively creates small flakes of ice as opposed to individual cubes.
When investing in a nugget ice maker, there are several factors to consider. We do not buy sonic ice makers often so there are several things you need to think about before making an investment.
Although they tend to be fairly affordable, there is no point in spending good money on something that will not suit your needs.
Here is what to look for:
The best nugget ice makers make chewable soft ice that melts in your mouth but not too fast in your drink. You want the consistency of the ice nugget to be soft and flaky and the ice should be clear.
It should be flakey, soft, and tantalizing.
The quality of the ice will depend on the machine as well as the quality of the water. You cannot make great ice with poor water so make sure that is right before you start.
You do not want the ice to melt too quickly, even on the hottest days. The main benefit of this style of ice is the texture. If it is too fine or of poor quality, it will melt before you can appreciate that benefit.
There are two options and some machines offer both. Some machines need to be permanently installed with a dedicated water source connection. This is handy as you never have to worry about forgetting to fill it up. This takes a bit more effort to set up and means that the unit will not be portable.
Others have a reservoir that you fill up manually. While this might take some effort it is fast and painless. Most are very easy to top up.
Some, as we said above, give you a choice. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but it is always great to have the flexibility of both options.
Tap water may not always be the best water source for your ice maker. In addition to the minerals in tap water slowly hardening your water lines, there’s a good chance that your ice won’t taste the same as “Sonic” ice if you use tap water, even if your machine makes “Sonic” ice.
The best bet is to use distilled water if you are filling your ice maker’s water tank. Or you could use filtered water to fill a tank or if you have a water supply connected to your ice maker, but the water will likely only be as good as the filter, some filter systems are good, some not so good.
Your nugget ice maker will probably not be on 24/7. What you want to know is that when you set it up and turn it on, nugget ice will be provided quickly. Some are faster than others. If you need a regular supply of ice you want to look for one that is fast and can store a fair amount of ice.
You want one that starts quickly and also produces new ice at a decent speed. Give some thought to your ice needs when evaluating the various machines.
Making the nugget ice is only one aspect. It still has to be stored until you need it. A large insulated or chilled storage bin is preferable.
Consider how often you want to empty it out or how much ice you need at a time.
A compact countertop nugget ice maker is ideal if you have limited space. You will naturally have to compromise a bit on production and storage but a fast machine will work well in most environments. Consider your ice nugget needs.
If you have limited counter space you will want a more compact unit. There are many great examples. If you have the space and need quite a bit of ice, an under counter option is a good idea.
If you intend to take your dispensing countertop nugget ice maker with you on trips or to parties, you want something light and easy to move. It also needs to be easy to set up.
Small light machines can be taken with you on RV adventures, to parties, or moved around the house. They are perfect for flexibility and quality ice on the go.
Cleaning the nugget ice maker can be a tedious chore. Many of the best options have a self-cleaning option. This makes the job much easier and almost effortless.
Models with this feature can self-clean which will allow the machine to last longer while ensuring that your ice is clear and of the best quality.
The cost of your nugget ice maker is another factor you need to consider. There are many quality options that one can purchase on a budget. The more expensive models tend to have a larger capacity, faster output, and more features.
Note that sonic ice makers tend to be more expensive than regular ice makers due to the technology.
No matter what price you pay, you do not want to find that your nugget ice maker packs up after a few months. You want to look at the reputation of the company that makes the machine, the build quality, as well as the materials that are used.
A well-looked-after nugget ice maker should last many years.
Many nugget ice makers are noisy but some models make very little noise. If the nugget ice maker is in an environment where noise is an issue, look for one of the quieter options.
All you want is fast nugget ice. You do not want to spend time setting the nugget ice machine and maintaining it. Operating it should be easy. Some models are highly user-friendly. Others will require a bit more effort.
While you do not need all the bells and whistles, lights, displays, and other features make it easier to enjoy your pellet ice.
A few accessories will make the use of your nugget ice maker easier. A shovel or a scoop allows you to deliver the nugget ice with ease.
Unless you are running a busy pub or restaurant or making a lot of cocktails there is no need for a commercial machine. The average unit, even the compact models, is more than enough for most needs.
Commercial ice machines are needed when you need a lot of ice all the time. For home use, a regular domestic machine of good quality should work just fine.
You should now have a good idea of the best nugget ice makers. You need to give some thought to your requirements as well as your budget to find the best option for your needs. There are many great options that make excellent nugget ice.
We rate the Opal Nugget Ice Maker as one of the best options for ice nugget needs. That being said, we have only reviewed the very best of the best. If you are looking for an ice maker, you cannot go wrong with any of these options.
It will come down to your needs in terms of volume, size, features, and ice style. Give some thought to what you need. Before you know it, you will be enjoying delicious beverages for yourself, your friends, and your family. A good nugget ice maker is worth the investment. You will not regret it.
Sabrina is our head writer and expert researcher. She spends countless hours of research on each topic or product she writes about. She also tests products and recipes when she can and is known as a kitchen appliance junkie who is always trying new gadgets. Plus, she's a fairly decent cook above all else!