There are few better ways to enjoy good weather than with a picnic or barbecue.
You just can't beat getting outside in the sun, with some good food, good friends and nice refreshing cold drinks. However, this last part isn't always easy, as it can be quite difficult to find a reliable source of fresh ice on a warm day.
Sure, you could always buy a bag of ice, but this can be expensive and without a cooler you will often have no means of keeping it frozen. To address this problem, some people buy portable ice makers, so they can have instant, fresh ice cubes in just a few minutes.
These machines make it possible to produce as much, or as little ice as you want which is great when you are hosting any kind of social gathering.
Most ice makers will still need to be plugged into a wall socket in order to function. However, some devices are small and light enough that you can easily take them with you on camping trips in your RV, or to parties.
They are a great way to quickly and efficiently produce lots of ice-cold drinks for you as well as your family and friends. In this list, we will show you some of the best portable ice makers for your next picnic or barbecue.
Best Portable Ice Maker
OUR TOP PICK
The Euhomy ice maker machine is an excellent model made by one of the leading brands when it comes to portable ice makers.
Its compact design means you should have no problem finding space for it on your kitchen counter. This model can make a single batch of ice in 12 to 18 minutes, with a basket that can hold up to 2.2lbs when full.
The controls come in the form of a simple LCD screen which can be used to adjust the thickness and size of your ice.
A single tray can hold 24 ice cubes, which means with just five cycles you can produce 120 pieces of ice, which is great for dinner parties or other social gatherings.
The metal tray is corrosion resistant to protect against rust, helping to freeze the water in the machine much quicker.
This portable ice machine can recycle its water supply and has a 2.2l tank. Not only does this make it more efficient, but it also means you won't have to refill the reservoir as often.
There are LED indicators to tell you when the machine needs a refill, and it will automatically clean itself if you hold the timer button for 5 seconds.
Recycles its water supply.
Produces 24 ice cubes in a single cycle.
Corrosion resistant ice tray and ice scoop included.
Sometimes the cubes may freeze into a single slab.
If you are looking for an affordable, yet high quality portable ice maker, then the Igloo ICEB26 is perfect for you. It comes with everything you need to get started making ice right away, including a removable ice basket, and an ice scoop.
Unlike the last machine, this model produces hollow ice bullets instead of cubes. These form a softer, chewy kind of ice, and the hollow center gives them a larger surface area that will cool down your drink much faster.
Provided you keep the water reservoir filled, you can use this unit to make 26 pounds of ice in a single 24-hour period.
It produces 9 cylinders of ice in a single cycle, which only takes under 7 minutes from start to finish. You can make either small or large pieces of ice, depending on your preference.
There is a transparent lid, so you can keep track of how full the basket is, and how much ice you have made.
This basket can hold 2 pounds of ice and is removable, so you can place it in the freezer if you want to keep its contents frozen. The water reservoir can hold 2.8 liters of water, so you won't need to frequently refill it.
Produces ice bullets that will cool down your drink quicker.
Larger water reservoir.
The transparent lid helps you keep track of how full the basket is.
The ice from this machine is soft and melts quickly.
The COSTWAY Countertop Ice Machine is a great choice for anyone looking for a good ice machine on a budget. With its sleek silver design, and compact footprint, this model will look perfectly at home in any modern kitchen.
The air grille on the side offers better heat dissipation, which will help with freezing your water faster and keeping your ice frozen for longer.
It includes a 2.2 liter water reservoir, which is enough for making multiple baskets of ice before you need a refill.
The machine uses the same technology as the Igloo model we just looked at to make hollowed out ice bullets rather than cubes. You can adjust the thickness of these cylinders with the simple and easy to understand control panel on the lid.
You can produce 9 pieces of ice in a single 13-16 minute cycle, which may not be the fastest, but it is still great for making lots of cold drinks at a party.
It comes with a plastic ice scoop, and there is a noise indicator to tell you when the basket is full. One of the best things about this product is that it is very quiet, so you can make instant ice without having to listen to an annoying hum the entire time.
Simple and easy to use.
Makes two sizes of bullets.
Difficult to clean.
This ice maker produced by Crownful weighs only 17lbs, which makes it very portable. It has a compact footprint that makes it easy to set up on any table or countertop.
Despite its size, this machine has great capacity, with a large basket that can hold up to 70 or 80 pieces of ice.
The Crownful ice maker can make 9 ice bullets in just 7 minutes, which means you won't have to wait long for your chilled drink. It offers two different sizes of bullet, however the large setting will work best for drinks.
To operate this device, you literally only need to close the lid and press a single button. The control panel has a row of LED lights to tell you when you need to refill the water reservoir, or clean your ice maker.
When you buy this product, you will also receive a plastic ice scoop, and you can remove the basket, for keeping your fresh ice in the freezer until you need it.
This model is very quiet as well as efficient, so you can enjoy chilled beverages without an endless droning hum. Crownful offers a 12-month warranty, so you can return or replace your purchase if anything goes wrong.
Produces a full batch of ice in just 7 minutes.
One button operation.
Quiet and efficient ice maker.
Difficult to refill the water tank.
This AGLUCKY ice maker is one of the most popular models in our list because of its affordability and excellent performance.
It is also one of the fastest ice makers we have covered in this article, capable of producing a batch of ice in 6-8 minutes depending on the size of bullet you choose.
Weighing only 17 lbs., this model is incredibly portable and can be easily taken with you on a camping trip provided you have a power supply.
To achieve its exceptional speed and efficiency, this compact ice maker has a high quality compressor built into it for faster cooling and freezing of water.
The columns around which the water freezes are made from copper, which also helps to speed up each batch of ice. You control this unit with two buttons, making it very easy to use.
There is a row of LEDs for indicating when the reservoir needs refilling, or when the ice bucket is full.
The AGLUCKY comes with a free ice scoop, so you can ladle out your ice bullets to everyone at your party or barbecue. Not only is the cooling system in this model fast and effective, but it is also very quiet.
Quiet ice maker that can produce 9 ice bullets in 6-8 minutes.
LED indicators tell you when to refill the water tank or empty the ice bucket.
Simple two button operation.
Ice from this machine may melt quickly.
If you want an affordable yet reliable ice maker, then look no further than this model made by Frigidaire.
This self-cleaning ice maker can only make one size of ice bullet, but it can produce a full batch every 6 minutes, which makes it incredibly efficient. It also has a built-in water recycling function, so any meltwater can be reused to make more batches.
This stainless steel, heavy-duty, ice maker is also extremely durable and can last for years provided you look after it properly.
There are LED indicators on the top which will tell you when the ice bucket is full or when the water level is too low for another batch. As well as being superfast, this unit is also super silent, so you will hardly notice it is there even when you are running it continuously.
The Frigidaire EFIC123-SS has a transparent lid, so you can easily see when the basket is nearly full. It is also incredibly easy to use since you only need to press a single button to start producing crystal clear ice nuggets.
One issue with this model is that it can be quite difficult to locate the drain plug when you need to empty the reservoir.
Highly efficient ice makers.
Capable of recycling water to get more batches from a full reservoir.
Difficult to locate the drain plug.
Ice makers are a very useful piece of kit to own, since they allow you to make cold beverages whenever you want. However, not all models are built the same, so you will want to pick carefully to make sure you get one that works.
Here are some helpful tips to bear in mind while you are shopping for a new ice maker.
How Many Pieces Of Ice Does It Produce
One of the first things you should consider when buying an ice maker is how much ice it produces. If you want to provide chilled drinks for a party or other social gathering, then you will want something that can be left running to produce a whole bucket of fresh ice.
Most models can produce multiple pieces of ice in a single batch, and will continuously do so until they have filled the basket.
For producing as much ice as possible, you will need to buy a unit with both a large ice bucket and a large water reservoir.
However, only do this if you plan on catering for large groups frequently, as water left in the reservoir for long periods of time will become stagnant which will affect the taste of your ice.
Is It Easy To Use?
Another important thing to think about when choosing an ice maker is whether it is simple to operate. You don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out how to make ice cubes, especially if you are going to be busy entertaining guests.
The best units will often work at the press of one or two buttons, and will be very intuitive. Other helpful features include LED indicators to tell you when the water level in your reservoir is low, or when the bucket is full.
Naturally, if you want to make lots of ice for a large social gathering, then you will want a machine that can produce a full batch in under ten minutes.
The fastest units are those that produce ice bullets rather than cubes. Typically, these models can make a full batch of bullets in under 8 minutes, which means you can produce a lot of ice very fast.
Weight And Size
As we are looking at portable ice makers, you will also want to make sure any product you buy is compact and lightweight.
Most compressors will weigh a fair bit by themselves, but it is still possible to buy ice makers that are under 20lbs. These units are easy to transport from one place to another and will have a small footprint for fitting on most tables or counter-tops.
It is difficult to get a fully portable model since they will always require some form of power supply for plugging into. However, if you do have a portable power station for plugging in your ice maker, then you will be all set for making cold drinks for camping trips and picnics.
Is It Easy To Clean
As well as how easy it is to use, you should also think about how easy your chosen ice maker will be to clean. Regular cleaning is essential if you don't want your ice to develop a strange taste.
If you aren't going to be using your ice maker for over 24hrs, then you should always drain any leftover water in the reservoir as it will have gone stagnant. To make this easier, you want the drain plug on your machine to be easily accessible.
Some models will even have their own dedicated cleaning mode, which is very convenient and makes maintaining your ice maker much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Ice Makers Work?
Most ice machines will have metal prongs that are submerged in a reservoir of fresh water. These prongs are then cooled down to below 32°F so that water will freeze around them and stick to the cold metal.
Once enough ice has accumulated, a weight sensor will cause the prongs to be lifted out of the water to the top of the machine. Once these metal poles are positioned over the basket, they will heat up very slightly so that the ice slides off and into the bucket.
Some machines capable of making traditional ice cubes will work by a similar process with a metal tray taking the place of the poles.
Can I Leave Water In The Reservoir Overnight?
It isn't recommended to leave water in the reservoir of your ice machine overnight, as it may become stagnant. This is not only unhealthy, but may cause your ice to develop a bad taste that will spoil your drink.
As such, you should empty the reservoir on your ice maker if you won't be using it for over 24hrs. To do this, you will need to find the drain plug and hold your machine over a sink until all the water has poured away.
How Do I Clean My Ice Maker?
You can clean your ice machine by running it on a normal cycle with a diluted solution of soapy water in the reservoir. After you have done this, you will need to rinse it by running again with clean water at least two times to make sure all the soap is gone.
While you are waiting, you can remove the ice basket and gently scrub the interior to make sure it is completely clean.
Other solutions that work for cleaning your machine include a couple tables spoons of baking soda mixed with water, or a 50-50 mixture of water and white vinegar.