Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ’em) products and single out the most convincing.
We’ve reviewed many an appliance for whipping up hot-weather provisions, such as highly rated ice-cream and frozen-yogurt makers, as-good-as-new Vitamixes for summertime smoothies, and a kit for optimal at-home cold brew. Here, we’re diving into the appliance used for crafting the iciest of treats — the best snow-cone machines and shaved-ice makers available on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
Best overall snow-cone machine
“I have owned this machine for two years and it still runs perfectly! I originally bought this because I was getting tired of replacing the ‘recreational’ ice shavers every couple of months to every year. This machine is run at least once a day, since I live in southwest Georgia, where it is always hot and humid in the spring and summer months. It takes it no time at all to go through a block of ice.”
Best snow-cone starter kit
“I should really say, ‘My husband loves it!’ He’s a big kid, and he wanted to make shaved ice at home. So we got it. He really thinks it’s the bee’s knees. I think it’s shaved ice. He loves them. I love him. If he wants them, he can have them. I didn’t think we needed one, but if it makes him happy, we’ll have one. Even if it takes up space when not in use, which is most of the time. I liked having the option of getting the accessories and flavorings, so we could have our own Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine Party at home. It was a dull party, just the two of us, on the couch, eating snow cones. We should have thought to use some of the cups for party hats. So, have yourself a party. What the heck, sometimes you just gotta go wild and have a snow-cone party, even if you’re a senior citizen.”
Best snow-cone machine with cup holders
“This thing is fantastic. I have five kids and tonight was able to make seven snow cones in under five minutes, including scooping the ice out and adding syrup. That’s how quickly it shaves ice. Setup was a freaking breeze, it’s ready to go pretty much straight out of the box. Instructions are incredibly simple and easy to follow. This is hands-down one of the best purchases I’ve made for the family in years! Not insanely loud and doesn’t take up much space at all. I’m absolutely in love with it.”
[Editor’s note: We’ve previously featured this snow-cone machine in our roundup of Amazon-approved ice-cream makers.]
Best snow-cone machines for big crowds
“I love this little workhorse! I own a small shaved-ice business, and this little Snowie gets the job done! Smooth, soft, consistent shaved ice each time. I used it at an event with over 2,000 in attendance, and my company served nearly 500; this little machine ground through ice like it was nothing! I love this product for everything that it boasts, unique design, powerful motor, easy-carry handle, dome ice shaper!”
“I had no idea how big this bad boy was going to be!! It’s huge!!! Definitely made for commercial use. Sturdy, heavy, and well-made. However, the ice it makes is divine. Just like soft snow.”
Best manual snow-cone machine
“Believe it or not, I bought this for my dog who adores eating snow. In fact, in the winter, he will not drink water at all unless we are having a drought and there is no snow or ice on the ground for him to chew or lick up. As spring arrives and the snow melts, he goes through a tough withdrawal period of having to resign himself to drinking water again. I can freeze some fresh filtered water in the convenient containers that come with this. The snow that is produced is amazing. It looks just like the real thing, and is not lumpy or crunchy like chopped ice.”
Best snow-cone machine for easy cleanup
“If you’re looking for a great shave-ice machine for home, parties, or even the carnivals that schools and other organizations have, THIS IS THE BOMB! Sure, it’s a bit heavy, but that’s because it’s solid cast aluminum. But that also makes it sturdy, and it seems to be well-balanced. It made great, fine shave ice with the blade set in the factory position. The blade is dang sharp! The shave ice shoots out VERY quickly into the provided wide but shallow bowl. Just turn the bowl as the ice builds up. And it builds up fast!”
Best snow-cone machine for small kitchens
“I am so glad I purchased this shave-ice machine. Yes, it works well and is compact and easy to use. But the best part is that it is so fun. I have been making wonderful iced drink beverages almost every night and having a blast doing it. And you can make the shaved ice ahead of time and keep it in the freezer. It’s the most fun I’ve had in the kitchen in a long time! I’m looking forward to hot summer afternoons, sitting on the deck with my feet up, huge strawberry daiquiri or whatever in hand, chilled down to sub zero in an instant with shaved ice. That’s a lot of fun for under $25!”
Best snow-cone machine for kids
“Surprised when I opened the box and saw how small this device is … but it is IMPRESSIVE! Used it for my kid’s birthday party and had 40 guests using it nonstop. It never failed and really was a workhorse! I chose this because all the others require special ice-cube trays or pucks, but this one uses REGULAR ICE or bagged ice. I like that this makes ‘snow’ not just ice chips. Really soft and finely shaved. GREAT for margaritas and grown-up drinks, too! It’s just a big hit all around.”
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