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 products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)
And while we’ve written about lots of fun kitchen appliances— including the best ice-cream makers and the best blenders — here we’ve rounded up the best snow-cone machines, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.
Best-rated snow-cone machine
With more than 1,000 five-star reviews, this snow-cone machine gets top marks for being easy to use and assemble. “It is so easy to use and take care of plus it does an excellent job at shaving the ice to the perfect snow-cone consistency,” one writes. Others call out this machine’s speed and durability. One user says they “served 150 kids 4 days a week very quickly” with this gadget. Another attests they “had about 25 kids wanting Sno-Cones and no one had an unreasonable wait.” Users also appreciate that this machine doesn’t require a special ice, just regular ice cubes. “It’s great that it can take any ice and no need for special ice blocks or waiting around for the freezer to create more ice, you can simply throw in more ice cubes or buy a bag of ice to use with this.” As one reviewer concludes, this snow-cone maker creates “lots of fluffy ice in no time at all.”
Best-rated (less expensive) snow-cone machine
Despite its manual operation, this snow-cone machine gets lots of praise for making it “easy” to crank out shaved ice. “I expected to have to use a lot of force, but it requires very little elbow grease,” one reviewer explains. Users also appreciate that it comes with ice molds to make the process even more simple. “If you use the molds that are made specifically for this machine (which are sold with the machine), you will have no trouble getting perfectly snow-like shaved ice,” one writes. And with the ice this machine churns out, reviewers have made everything from snow cones to margaritas to homemade Frappuccinos, and many appreciate the nostalgia this machine also whips up. “I grew up with on just like this for making halo halo (a Filipino summer dessert) and was craving some when the weather here hit the 90s,” one writes.
And now for some micro-picks for every type of snow-cone machine you might be looking for.
Best electric snow-cone machine
Over 1,000 reviewers give this snow-cone machine five stars, a surprising number of which come from pleased pregnant people. One reviewer — in a post titled “Would recommend to all pregnant people living in hot climates” — said this was “heavenly” for “eating bowls of plain shaved ice.” One supportive spouse bought this for his pregnant wife who he thought would “break a tooth trying to bite into a big chunk of ice” during her pregnancy. “She absolutely loved it. She used it every day.” Beyond pregnancy, one user says you’ll get continued use out of this machine. “I bought it because I was 9 months pregnant and had no air conditioning. The next summer my son used it to make literally THOUSANDS of snow cones to raise money for our local police department’s K-9 unit. It handled all of it without even slowing down, and two years later we still use it all summer long.” The electric operation is also easy to use. As one reviewer notes, “I so should have thought about buying one of these sooner, it’s the perfect treat on a hot day. Super easy to assemble, compact which is awesome for [apartment] living and very easy to use.”
Best snow-cone machine with syrup
“Remember the days of the Snoopy Sno-cone machine,” asks one reviwer, concluding, “You don’t have to do that anymore!” Many say the trick to getting “ fluffy shave ice,” is using the right amount of pressure. One explains, “The trick is to use just enough pressure for the ice to shave. It does not take much and you do not need to be Hercules. Let the machine do the work.” This snow-cone machine also comes with ice molds and flavor syrups which users really appreciate. “The syrups that come with the party package are twice the size of the bottles you get at the nearby Bed and Bath store. The kids say the flavor was ‘way better,’ too.” Another calls out “the squirting tops for the bottles are included, which was a nice surprise,” and the bottles last a long time. “Each 16-ounce bottle yielded way more servings than I expected,” one user writes, adding “I had 12 kids at a party and each had 2, some had 3 and some of the adults had some too … Yet I still had almost a full bottle of the grape, about quarter bottle of the blue and about half of the cherry left over.”
Best snow-cone machine for kids
Reviewers seem to agree with this snow-cone machine’s kid-friendly name. “Great for kids — when they wish to do things themselves — since the blade is somehow out of reach of little hands,” one writes. Another says, “My 6-year-old son operates this with ease without supervision. It’s safe and straightforward.” Kids, however, aren’t the only ones enjoying this. “Equally great for kids and adults,” one reviewer attests, explaining that they’ve used this machine to make “shrimp cocktail on a bed of ice, [the] best margaritas ever, and flavored ice for the kids.” Reviewers also appreciate relatively compact footprint of this machine, like one who says it’s “easier to store compared to some of the larger snow-cone makers out there.” Its compact design also makes it ideal for travel. “Believe it or not, the thing actually travels okay, too. That said, the folks in the hotel room next you might wonder what you’re doing because the machine is not exactly quiet (it’s cutting ICE for Pete’s sake!).”
Best shaved-ice machine
“This is as close to what you get as shaved ice in Hawaii as we have ever had and that was what we were looking for,” one reviewer writes of this shaved ice machine. Another user says this machine produces “light and fluffy ice for Hawaiian shave ice.” Dozens of users believe it is the adjustable blade that makes this product so great. As one explains, “You can adjust the angle of the blade to change the consistency of the ice.” Another writes, “Love how the Great Northern produces ice that can be as fine as you want it versus as thick as you want it.” Many users note that this is a heavy-duty machine that doesn’t come with a shield, so they warn about using it near children. “Kids will be drawn to this machine, but it’s no toy. Like I said, it’s basically a drill press. The press has sharp barbs that hold the ice, and there’s a blade that cuts the ice. And ice can fling off in chunks. Keep little hands away from the machine,” one reviewer writes. With safety precautions in place however, reviewers still have a lot of fun using this machine. “Once you get the hang of adjusting the blade height, you’ll be making professional quality shaved ice in no time!”
Best commercial-grade snow-cone machine
“This thing is built like a tank, and makes amazing shaved ice,” says one reviewer who’s not alone in thinking of this machine as intense. Another reviewer calls it “a substantial machine,” while another appreciates its “heavy-duty build.” One reviewer even compares it to the kind used in a restaurant: “This shaved ice machine produces almost snow like ice and is currently in my dad’s restaurant as a backup in case his commercial machine breaks.” They add, “Obviously it won’t put out the quantity of ice the commercial machine does, but the quality of the shaved ice is very close.” It might not serve a days worth of patrons, but one reviewer, who had “75 kids of all ages over for a party,” says “boy, did this deliver!”
Best retro snow-cone machine
Reviewers have used this retro snow-cone machine for kids’ birthday parties, summer soirees, and even corporate events with few issues. “We made a little over 70 snow-cones in an hour,” says one reviewer, noting that it was also very easy to use. Another says, “It stood up to 300 employees and runs great.” Dozens of reviewers also note that this snow-cone machine will last long after any first event as well. “We have had one for 8 years and it still works perfectly,” one says, adding, “It’s a hit at every party and the kids really look forward to the snow cones.” Reviewers also love the design, which means many just keep these on their counter. One user writes that they “love the design” because it is “reminiscent of the old-fashioned theater-style and can fit on a countertop or table.”
Best electric snow-cone machine with ice bank
Reviews on some snow-cone machines mention the need to find a bowl to catch the shaved ice, but this machine takes care of that for you. “Love the tray to catch the ice and the scoop is perfect,” one reviewer writes. Another says “ The tray pulling out is a great bonus for scooping the ice,” while another says this machine, “Holds a good amount of shaved ice.” Reviewers also call out the safety features. “The machine will not run if the lid is open or the ice tray removed,” explains one reviewer. And these highly-reviewed safety features mean adult reviewers feel comfortable letting kids of all ages use this machine. At one reviewer’s 4th of July party, “Kids from 4 years old (with assistance) to 16 years old used it on and off for 4 hours.” Not only does this machine hold up but it works fast, according to others. Another reviewer reports it making “over 200 Snow Cones in about a 3-hour time period.” Reviewers also mention that it does all this while staying relatively quiet: “It isn’t too obnoxiously loud while it is running.”
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