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Published Sep. 21, 2021

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting ready to pour a refreshing glass of iced tea or fix yourself a cocktail, only to realize that, once again, you’ve run out of ice. For some people, keeping a full reservoir of ice can be an eternal struggle. Flimsy plastic ice trays can spill, make messes, and take up valuable freezer space, while built-in refrigerator ice makers often get clogged or go on the fritz. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

A portable countertop ice maker is an excellent way to ensure that you’ll always have ice on hand, whether throwing a party or just for your personal daily use. And those aren’t the only perks. Unlike those dense cubes or half-moons, portable ice makers typically make the perfect, crunchy ice or have the capacity to churn out ice cubes in different sizes within minutes. Gone are the days of having to wait entire hours for a batch of ice cubes.

With some of the picks we’ve assembled below, you could have a fresh batch of ice waiting for you in the time it takes to read this product guide.

How We Picked These Products

Methodology

As reviewers who have extensive experience vetting small home countertop appliances, we considered both quality and value in deciding which ice makers made the cut for this list. We assessed over a dozen of the most highly-rated products on the market today, all with no less than four stars in average user reviews. Though each product comes with unique features—whether it be style, type of ice produced, and other bells and whistles—we tried to level the playing field by choosing five inherently similar products.

For example, none of these ice makers connect to a water source, and all operate by pouring water into a reservoir. Another commonality is that all of the products make ice but don’t cool and store it. If the ice isn’t removed from the basket or container, it will eventually melt down into the water reservoir and become ice again.

However, these features are also what make the ice makers on this list portable and eco-friendly. Not only can they be taken anywhere, but they’re not wasting water or harming the environment with unnecessary coolants or other chemicals.

The Best Countertop Ice Makers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Igloo Automatic Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker

Puts “Fun” In Functional

An efficient, powerful ice maker in a charming retro package. Igloo

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Why It Made The Cut: This sleek ice maker is designed for convenience with the ability to produce up to 26 pounds of ice in a single day while also looking fantastic on your counter.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 9.61 x 14.69 x 12.4 inches
  • Capacity: 26 pounds per 24 hours
  • Voltage: 120 volts

Pros:

  • Makes ice in as little as 7 minutes
  • Compressor cooling system
  • No chemical refrigerants

Cons:

  • Minimal difference between small and large cubes
  • Ice must be used or transferred quick

With the ability to crank out a tray of ice in as little as seven minutes, the Igloo Automatic Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker performs even better than it looks. But fans of kitsch will also love its retro metallic finish that comes in various colors to look fantastic in any kitchen. To use the ice maker, simply pour water into the three-quart capacity reservoir and watch it go. And we mean literally, as the transparent lid allows for easy viewing. No installation is necessary!

Electronic controls with easy-to-read LED lights allow the user to choose from small and large cubes—though some customers have noted that there’s only a minimal difference between sizes. The panel will flash in the event more water is needed or if the ice basket is low. But because the ice maker itself is not refrigerated, it’s a good idea to transfer the ice to a freezer or bucket before it fills, as the ice will eventually melt and drain back into the reservoir.

Best Value: AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Machine

Quiet, Compact, And Portable

Enjoy freshly made ice in six minutes or less from almost anywhere with this affordable pick. AGLUCKY

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Why It Made The Cut: This compact, efficient, and budget-friendly machine can operate anywhere with a standard outlet, making it the perfect option for the home, office, camping, or the beach.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12.32 x 8.74 x 12.59 inches
  • Capacity: 26.5 pounds per 24 hours
  • Voltage: 110 volts

Pros:

  • Small and compact
  • Quiet and efficient operation
  • Exhaust cooling for added safety

Cons:

  • Ice melts too quickly
  • Max fill line can be difficult to read

The compact and portable size of the AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Machine makes it not just the ideal ice maker for home but also a perfect option to take camping, in an RV, to a beach house, or in the office. As long as there’s access to a standard electrical outlet, you can have freshly made ice in just minutes from virtually anywhere.

The exhaust cooling system makes this ice maker a safe choice by helping the machine cool quickly by releasing heat into the air. Compared to previous generations or competitor products, the exhaust system also ensures quiet and efficient operation, which is a huge bonus when using the machine in common areas, where other models may be loud and distracting.

Like many standard countertop ice makers, the AGLUCKY operates by pouring water into the reservoir and selecting options from the easy-to-use control panel. Indicator lights will flash if the ice maker requires more water or if the tray is full. Some customer reviews indicate that the ice melts too quickly if not used or transferred promptly or that the max fill line is difficult to read if the basket is in place. However, these are minor inconveniences that also aren’t unique to this brand or model.

Best Smart Ice Maker: GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

Ice Connoisseurs Rejoice!

This crunchy ice is just like from your favorite fast-food restaurant. GE

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Why It Made The Cut: This ice maker is definitely worth the splurge for the option to use an app to order up the perfect chewable nugget ice that won’t hurt your teeth like solid cubes.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 10.5 x 16.5 inches
  • Capacity: 24 pounds per 24 hours (holds 3 pounds at a time)
  • Voltage: 120 volts

Pros:

  • Makes the perfect chewy ice
  • Refills automatically when ice is low
  • Built-in Bluetooth connectivity

Cons:

  • Pricier than other options
  • Loud operation

Those who are serious about ice in a big way will love the GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker, which makes perfectly crunchy ice, just like your favorite restaurants and drive-ins. Take your soft drinks and cocktails to the next level with these soft nuggets of ice that better retain flavors and are easy to chew.

Unlike traditional ice, which freezes into hard cubes, nugget ice is made by scraping the ice flakes off the inside of a chilled stainless steel cylinder. The flakes are then extruded through a round hole, which compacts them into chewable nuggets, similar to tiny snowballs.

In addition to making only the most perfect ice, this machine also features several bells and whistles that set it apart from the competition. With built-in Bluetooth connectivity, you can schedule fresh ice right from the convenience of a smartphone app. The latest generation of Opal also comes with an optional side water tank to produce approximately three times more ice, with an automatic “smart” refill setting that powers on when the reserve is running low.

Sure, the price tag is a bit heftier than the other ice makers on this list, but it all just depends on how seriously you take your ice. True ice enthusiasts will not be disappointed!

Best Self-Cleaning: Euhomy Countertop Ice Maker

Easy Maintenance

With an ice maker that cleans itself, you’ll have more time to enjoy frosty cold beverages. E EUHOMY

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Why It Made The Cut: If the self-cleaning feature of the Euhomy Countertop Ice Maker doesn’t sell you, then perhaps its ability to produce up to 40 pounds of ice will!

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 14.1 x 11 x 13.7 inches
  • Capacity: 40 pounds per 24 hours (holds 2.2 pounds at a time)
  • Voltage: 110 volts

Pros:

  • High capacity
  • Automatic cleaning function
  • Anti-corrosion ice tray

Cons:

  • Ice try distributes in a large brick
  • Must be broken apart upon ejecting

One of the downsides of a portable countertop ice maker is that unless you’re using the appliance daily, it must be cleaned regularly to prevent mildew and other buildups from forming inside the water reservoir. But that’s not a problem when it comes to the Euhomy Countertop Ice Maker, which miraculously comes equipped with an automatic cleaning function. To start cleaning, simply press the “timer” button and hold for more than five seconds. It’s as easy as that!

But that’s not the only thing you’ll love about this ice maker. Whereas most models on the market produce approximately 25 pounds of ice in 24 hours, the Euhomy has an impressive output of a whopping 40 pounds of ice per day. That’s more than enough to get the party started or pack into coolers for a beach or camping trip.

This unit is also unique because the ice forms in a pure copper nickel-plated ice tray instead of copper tubes. Though the tray is corrosion and rust-proof, some reviewers complain that the ice ejects a single block that must be broken apart into cubes. It’s a small extra step but could be a dealbreaker for some consumers.

Best Multitasker: COOLLIFE Compact Countertop Ice Maker

Have It Both Ways!

Fill tumbler and water bottles with cold water and ice using the same machine. COOLLIFE

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Why It Made The Cut: You’ll love the multifunction use that allows you to enjoy cold water and freshly made ice with the convenience of a two-in-one countertop ice maker.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10 x 15.5 x 14.5 inches
  • Capacity: 36 pounds per 24 Hours
  • Voltage: 120 volts

Pros:

  • Multifunctional use
  • Quiet operation
  • User-friendly control panel

Cons:

  • Ice sticks together
  • Can’t accommodate larger bottles

The only multi-functional product in this guide, the COOLLIFE Compact Countertop Ice Maker both produces ice and dispenses cold water from its large capacity, three-liter reserve. Just toggle between functions using the user-friendly LED control panel to fill tumblers and reusable bottles with ice-cold, refreshing water at the touch of your fingers. It’s perfect for those who enjoy the convenience of a refrigerator with an ice and water dispenser but aren’t ready to upgrade or have large families that go through a lot of ice.

Equipped with the most advanced refrigeration technology, this ice maker also runs quiet—so the loudest noise you’ll have to contend with will be the sound of the ice cubes clinking into your glass. Yet, it can still produce an impressive 36 pounds of ice per day or approximately nine bullet ice cubes in just six minutes.

However, the manufacturer does indicate that the ice maker is insulated but not a freezer by definition. So if you’re not using the ice immediately, it will need to be transferred to a freezer. Some user reviews have noted that the ice comes out wet and can stick together once frozen, but it’s a small price to pay for the convenience of ice in just minutes.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Countertop Ice Maker

If you’re thinking of splurging on a countertop ice maker, there are some primary considerations you may want to keep in mind. First and foremost, do you have the counter space to accommodate an extra appliance? Since most ice makers are intended to be portable, they are also relatively lightweight and portable by design. That said, an ice maker can still occupy a fair amount of real estate on your counter. Another requirement is proximity to an electrical outlet. It should also ideally not be far from a sink, for draining and cleaning purposes.

Another fundamental thing to take into consideration is your primary purpose for an ice maker. For example, if shopping for personal home use, or because you use a lot of ice daily, you might want to invest in a high-end model with a greater output. However, if the ice maker will primarily just be used as a backup ice maker for entertaining or to bring along camping or to the beach, you may want to consider a compact option for easy storage.

Or, maybe you’re thinking about adding an ice maker to your home bar for making mixed drinks and cocktails. Of course, nothing makes a perfect mint julep or tropical tiki drink quite like nugget ice. But if your mixology skills aren’t quite so ambitious, you can always scale down with a standard model.

FAQs

Q: How long do countertop ice makers last?

The life expectancy of countertop ice makers can vary depending on several factors, including the brand, usage, and how well it’s maintained. However, you can probably expect your countertop ice maker to last approximately four to five years with average use. With heavy or everyday use, a countertop ice maker rarely will last longer than 10 years.

Q: Can I leave my countertop ice maker on all the time?

There’s technically no reason you can’t leave your countertop ice maker on all the time, though it’s not the best idea for several reasons. For one, these types of ice makers are not designed to keep ice cold for a long time, and eventually, the ice will melt and drain back into the water reservoir. Leaving your countertop ice maker on all the time will also decrease the overall lifespan and use unnecessary electricity. So it’s best only to turn it on when actively in use.

Q: Do countertop ice makers use a lot of electricity?

The amount of electricity your countertop ice maker uses will vary depending on brand and model, as well as how often you use it. But because portable ice makers typically do not chill ice after making it, they’re way more energy efficient than ice machines installed under the counter or even refrigerators with built-in ice makers. Generally, if the machine is only plugged in while in use, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice an increase in your electricity bill.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve got the budget, the model that stands out from the rest here would have to be the GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker because there’s nothing we love better than those tiny, chewy cubes. Except for the Euhomy Countertop Ice Maker, which freezes cubes into a tray, the rest of the ice makers on this list all produce hollow, bullet-style cubes. 

Though not as soft as nugget ice, bullet ice cubes are also an excellent option for those who like to chew on ice, particularly after the cubes have been sitting in the basket and melted down a bit. But whether you need a machine for parties and entertaining or just love ice, you can’t go wrong with any of these ice makers.

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