Try having a cocktail without ice and that’s when you start hating it. Just like your favorite cocktail, many drinks are incomplete without adding nugget ice. And if you can’t compromise on the ice then it’s time to get the best nugget ice maker. If you already have your mini bar all set then a sonic ice maker is a must to make your drink like a bar. But before we jump to the reviews let us know what exactly nugget ice or sonic ice is.
After the invention of sonic ice and its uses in various drinks, it is now popular and considered to be essential to have nugget ice machines in order the get instant sonic ice on your demand.
What is nugget ice?
From the word “nugget” itself, you can say the ice is in the shape of nuggets, which it is actually. The ice nuggets look very similar to crushed ice but there is a huge difference between them. An ice nugget is made from flakes of ice that are then compressed together into small nuggets, and thus given the name nugget ice.
Such small nuggets are lightweight, airy, and easy to chew. You can also call it ‘chewy ice’ as it is easy to break the ice with teeth unlike solid ice cubes, which take teeth of steel to break. This light, air, and chewy ice blends in perfectly with your homemade margaritas, cocktails, mocktails, and other beverages.
Besides adding them to your favorite alcoholic drink, pellet ice can also be added to your regular drinking water to refresh the mood instantly. And if you’re an ice lover, then airy pellet ice is perfect to chew on without having to worry about tooth coming off. So now that you know what nugget ice is, it’s time to go through the list of best nugget ice makers review and help you pick out a perfect model.
Best Nugget Ice Makers
Here are the 10 best sonic and nugget ice makers of 2021. We rated them on essential features such as nugget ice per day, built material, capacity, and uses.
1) GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
You can’t go wrong in making pellet ice with GE Major Appliances Opal ice maker. GE is one of the most trusted and favorite home ice maker machines for a long time now. If you love to add ice to every single cold beverage you have then the GE countertop nugget ice maker is perfect. Made from sturdy stainless steel, this large unit can produce up to 24 lbs of ice per day. And this much quantity is enough if you invite guests or friends over regularly.
Speaking of quantity, the GE profile opal nugget ice maker has 3 pounds capacity. So, the opal can produce 1 lb of ice per hour while the bin holds 3 lb at a time. Also, you do not have to keep an eye on the machine while it’s on as the Opal countertop sonic ice maker senses when the bin is full. This will stop further production of ice to avoid overfilling issues.
GE profile Opal measures 10-1/2 x 15-1/2 x 17-3/4 inches, which sits perfectly on your countertop. Or else, you can keep the machine on a tabletop outdoor near a plug point to let guests entertain themselves. Add the water to the container, press the start button, and the machine will make you chewy ice in 20 minutes.
Apart from high functionality, the look of the unit is perfect for your in-house or outdoor parties. The stainless steel body of the GE opal nugget ice maker is finished with grey accents and an LED light. Besides, the unit is Bluetooth compatible which means you can easily control all its functions via smartphone.
2) FirstBuild Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Serve the airy, crunchy ice nuggets to your guests made from Firstbuilt Store opal countertop pellet ice maker and hear them say wow. This powerful little machine produces “the good ice” that is soft to chew yet has a crunchy texture, people love to munch on. Do not go by its small size, as this countertop sonic ice maker can produce 24 lbs of ice per day. Besides, the bin holds 3 lbs of water at once which produces 1 lb of nugget ice per hour.
Instead of going to the machine every time to set, pause, or stop functions, simply take advantage of its Bluetooth connectivity. Connect the Opal home nugget ice maker to your smartphone by downloading the Firstbuilt app. Then it becomes extremely easy to modify or set up ice making schedule from the convenience of your phone.
No need to dig a hole in your wall for a special socket. The machine plugs into any 120V grounded electrical socket that is common in households. Just plug, add the water to the reservoir and wait for about 20 minutes for fresh, homemade sonic ice. Scoop out the ice to have it raw or add it to your beverage, either way, you’ll enjoy the mini pellets.
All the produced ice collects into the bin that does not have any refrigeration inside. This means the ice will melt after some time but it is not an issue as it will go back to the reservoir. Thanks to the slots in the bin that guides the melted water to the reservoir which is again made into new nuggets. In short, you’ll not have to rush to empty the drip tray even if the ice melts in the bin.
3) FRIGIDAIRE Countertop Crunchy Chewable Nugget Ice Maker
Floating ice on your favorite beverages makes it look perfect. And we do not forget to click pictures to post on social media account when homemade cocktail looks so yum. And Frigidaire countertop nugget ice maker makes soft, air ice that effortlessly floats on the surface of the beverage that looks similar to ones you have in restaurants and juice parlors.
No more long wait to have soft, airy, and crunchy ice with Frigidaire at-home sonic ice maker. Within only 15 minutes, the powerful machine makes ice you love. Then slowly and gradually the bin will get full of pellet ice that is perfect to add to your cocktail. You can fill the freshly made chips in a cup to enjoy it raw or add some flavor for more fun.
Not only does the unit have a good aesthetic but is also energy-efficient. You’ll not have to look for a special high-watt output plug as any standard 115V(grounded) electric outlet will get the machine running smoothly. After plugging, fill the reservoir with water and let the automatic icemaker do the trick and make your favorite ice pellets.
The impressive ice producing capacity of Frigidaire freestanding ice maker makes it perfect for a large family who loves ice. It can produce up to 44 lbs of ice in one day which is great especially if you love to host parties. Do not worry about the ice melting in the bin as the water will go again to the reservoir to make fresh batches.
4) Ice-O-Matic Self-Contained Sonic Ice Machine
Setting up a small beverage shop? Then ice is a must. While it might be hard for a compact countertop unit to meet the heavy requirements of the soda shop, making pearl ice is not an issue for an Ice-O-Matic self-contained ice machine. This under-counter ice maker is ideal for both residential and commercial use. In addition to that, you can also keep the unit at offices, cafes, etc, where people can feed themselves a fresh batch of nugget ice.
The large ice-making machine can create up to 85º of pearl ice every 24 hours at 70-degree air and 50-degree water. Now, this quantity is enough for small offices, restaurants, or juice shops. Also, it features self-contained bins that stored up to 22 lbs of ice at a time. You do not have to buy a freezer separately as you can store the pellets in the unit itself.
Do not let the large footprint of the machine make you think it will operate loudly as it does not. Though it will produce some noise it won’t be loud enough to make you or your customers wear noise-canceling headphones. It operates quietly without disturbing the ambiance of the room.
It is infeasible to add water to the tank frequently especially when the machine produces such an impressive amount of pearl ice. So Ice-O-Matic is open to basic hookups at installation and a good water connection for floaty, chewy ice every time. Also, the unit plugs into a 115-V outlet that is easy to find in both household and commercial places.
5) Manitowoc Freestanding Nugget Ice Maker and Water Dispenser
If you take your ice pellets seriously then Manitowoc nugget-style ice maker and water dispenser are just right. Even though it has fewer ratings on Amazon, all the reviews are positive which says a lot of product quality and performance. Unlike other large, freestanding commercial ice makers, Manitowoc CNF-0201A-L dispenses ice nuggets within minutes. So, goodbye to the long wait for a fresh batch.
The machine has the same dispensing outlet for both cold water and ice nuggets, so one sure thing is, it will sonic ice small enough to pass through the tube. And it successfully does. It creates new-bite sizes nuggets that boast up to 90% ice content with only a 10% water offering. These are the best nugget ratios for maximum cooling and minimal drink dilution.
In addition to slow melting, the mini sonic ice makes perfect soft, chewy, and airy pellets that you find in any good sonic center or local gas station. Such an output makes the machine perfect for dispensing, blended beverages, cold therapy, and water needs.
Unlike the above freestanding ice machine, Manitowoc features blue led light. This bright led light gives you a better view of the content inside without interfering with the ambiance of the room. Besides, a large drain pan minimizes ice spillage. Also, Manitowoc’s new DuraTech™ front panel reduces hard water staining in the dispensing area. Thus, eases cleaning.
6) KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Scooping nuggets out from the bin is all fun until you can dispense nuggets ice on a touch. Also, many people consider it unhygienic to use the scooper which has been touched by many people, especially after the coronavirus pandemic. And if you feel the same way then get the KBice self-dispensing countertop nugget ice maker that does not require scooping or touching any nuggets. Simply place your glass beneath the dispensing tube and press the ‘dispense nuggets’ button. The soft, chewy ice nuggets will drop right into your glass.
The compact design of the unit sits easily on your kitchen countertop. Also, it does not require any water hookup which means you can shift the machine easily. Just fill the reservoir and plug it into any 120v standard electrical outlet. You can add filtered, distilled, or bottled water.
While the water reservoir of many nugget ice makers is visible, the case is a bit different with KBice self-dispensing ice machine. The machine is equipped with 2 magnets on the side and you need to remove the cover by pulling both left and right sides towards you. Then it is easy to access the water tank to fill water. Or else, you can simply use the included funnel to fill the water easily.
For optimal health, the machine features an in-built clean function. Make sure to fill the reservoir to the maximum mark and press the clean button to remove calcium deposits from internal parts. Use filtered water instead of tap water as it will protect internal elements as well as demand less cleaning.
7) Snooker 155 Lb Commercial Ice Machine for Nugget, Sonic, Pellet Ice
Ice making is a breeze with Snooker commercial sonic ice maker. Be it your office, cafe, or restaurant, you’ll never run out of ice with this powerful machine. Instead of waiting for the ice to form in batches, the machine continuously produces an incredible 155 pounds of ice in just a 24-hour period. This means you’ll never run of sonic ice even if there’s continuous scooping.
Besides, the machine is comprised of a large 44 lbs ice storage bin. It holds an adequate amount of sonic ice that can feed a crowd in the cafe or restaurant easily. The powerful commercial machine makes sure to incorporate mini air pockets into the nuggets. This makes the sonic ice light, airy, and chewy that we love to munch.
The Snooker ice commercial freestanding ice maker requires a water hookup which is quite apparent. You can easily hook the unit anywhere with good water access. Connect the unit with a water supply pipe and a drainpipe and you’re all set to make fresh sonic batches.
In addition to a drainpipe and water supply pipe, the large sonic ice maker machine comes with a water filter. Always use a water filter and replace the old filter at a certain interval to ensure smooth and quiet operation. Also, the water filter removes hard salts and calcium before the water enters the reservoir to make flavorful pellet ice that your guests/customers will love.
8) NewAir Countertop Crunchy Nugget Ice Pellet Machine
We understand the wait for munching on sonic ice can feel like days even when it takes 20-30 minutes for a machine to make a fresh batch. And if you can’t wait to have yummy chewy icy nuggets then NewAir countertop ice pellet maker is just for you. While most units take 20 minutes to make a full batch, the NewAir takes as low as 5 minutes to make the first nugget. And within 12 minutes, you can enjoy a cup full of fresh, crunchy ice.
A thin external layer can melt ice quickly which increases power consumption as these machines are designed to recreate nuggets from the melted ones. But that won’t be a problem with NewAir small ice maker as it features an ultra-insulated storage area. As a result, the pellets stay in shape for long period.
The odd smell and formation of mold are common with home nugget ice makers. So in short, you require deep cleaning of the internal components every once in a while. But cleaning will not be a problem with NewAir as it features a self-cleaning system. So keeping the container free from mold and mildew is a breeze.
9) Scotsman Freestanding Nugget Undercounter Ice Maker
Designed, assembled, and engineered in the USA, Scotsman air-cooled nugget under counter ice maker machine is perfect for your minibar. Measuring only 20 inches wide, this under-counter unit can easily fit in tight spaces. Also, it does not require side clearance. Simply choose a good location, set the unit, and wait for it to make you a cup full of a fresh batch.
Speaking of cup-full, Scotsman UN1520A-1 has a high-production rate. It produces up to 167 lbs of pellets per day and stores 57 lbs. So despite the small size, this freestanding ice maker produces an impressive quantity of nuggets per day which is enough to entertain your guests or friends.
Maintainance of the unit is a must for long-lasting performance. But you will not have to spend a thick wad of cash to maintain Scotsman USA sonic ice maker. Thanks to sealed, maintenance-free bearings that require less frequent maintenance. Besides, the stainless steel evaporator and auger ensure maximum durability.
10) Kazila Portable Electric Nugget Ice Maker with Ice Scoop
Not ready to spend half of the money away from your paycheck on a single appliance? Then Kazila portable ice maker machine is a great option for you. It is an affordable, fast, and efficient unit, that is perfect for both home and office use. This automatic ice maker adopts a superior compressor to ensure efficient ice production and lower power consumption. In short, you can enjoy a cup full of chewy pellets without worrying about increased electricity bills.
Just like a majority of home machines, Kazila also offers a generous 40 lbs production rate per day. In fact, it is capable of producing 24 crystal clear sonic cubes per operation cycle which is perfect to add to a homemade cocktail or any other drink. Besides, you’ll not have to bear loud operational noises as Kazila automatic nugget ice maker runs at less than 45dB. Thus, the machine will peacefully make a fresh batch while you enjoy partying with your friends.
While the unit gets points for its quiet operation, the intelligent LCD panel gives you better control over the settings. You’ll not have to scratch your head every time to use/set the functions as the automatic ice maker will respond to your every tap of the corresponding button.
Besides, there are warning indicators that let you know when the tank is empty or the basket is full. This way you do not have to keep peeking into the water tank and simply refill the reservoir to the max mark to keep on making fresh batches. You can also set the ice making time as per requirements for minimal wastage.
How to choose the best nugget ice maker?
Speed of Nugget Ice Making
Normally, a home ice maker creates the first nugget in about 15 minutes while it takes around an hour to fill the bin. This is excellent for home use where you can wait for a little for a fresh, chewy batch.
On the other hand, commercial or undercounter ice makers can be quite quick as making ice. Their speed of nugget ice making ranges from as low as 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
Nugget Ice Storage Capacity
A good ice maker machine has a good storage capacity to hold fresh, airy, chewy pellets. Also, it is important to focus on ice bin capacity while a new unit as you do not want to empty the bin frequently. And thankfully, many brands offer good bin capacity that can hold enough nuggets to serve a small crowd at once and store the rest inside the bin.
Another benefit of having a generous ice bin is, the pellets melt slowly. This is because much sonic ice inside a container drops the temperature which ultimately reduces the melting point. And slow melting of ice means more energy savings as then the machine does not have to make the pellet again.
Uses (For Home or Commercial)
If you love munching on chewy ice and are a regular customer of sonic ice then it is a good idea to get a countertop nugget ice maker. While small countertop size units are good for residential use, there are a few large freestanding ice maker machines that are perfect for commercial use. No matter what machine you buy, make sure to focus on built-quality and ice storage capacity for long-lasting, hassle-free performance.
Price and Warranty
A good-quality sonic ice-making machine can be expensive. But if you pick the right one, you’ll never have to visit the sonic center again to satisfy ice cravings. Generally, the price range of a home countertop nugget maker is between $400-$950. Then there are large machines that can go up to $1200.
Commercial or built-in nugget ice makers can cost more as they are designed to produce a large batch in a small time. A good commercial/built-in model can cost anywhere around $2500-$4500.
It is obvious to seek a warranty when you invest such a large amount of money in an appliance. And thankfully, many brands offer an impressive warranty on their products. While home ice-making machines are backed by 1 to 2 years of the warranty period, commercial units have extended warranties.
Countertop, Freestanding, or Under-counter?
With the advancement in technology comes the flexibility of installing a new unit. And there are three basic models, countertop, freestanding, and under-counter. Different requirement demands a specific model which makes them all equally important. Let us see a few differences between them.
Countertop: Countertop models are perfect for residential use. They are affordable, easy to install and use. Most of them do not require water hookups and plugs safely into household electrical output. Besides, they offer a generous ice bin that holds enough ice for a small party and gathering. A countertop nugget ice maker produces 25-45 lbs of pellets a day which is enough for home use.
Freestanding: A freestanding model looks similar to the countertop one but is large in size. This means, they have a large tank capacity and produce a good quantity of ice nuggets at once. Freestanding sonic ice makers are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. People generally install them in their home bar. You can also use it along the poolside for a cool pool party.
UnderCounter: If you’re refurbishing your kitchen and have a love for sonic ice then it is good to install an undercounter ice maker. You can either install them permanently or use the void space of the cabinet to keep a brand new machine. They save countertop space and produce a relatively large amount of ice than the countertop.
Nugget Ice Vs. Crushed Ice
Nugget ice looks similar to crushed ice and we often use both terms interchangeably. But it is no big deal to use them interchangeably(like, who cares!), however, there is a major difference between them.
While crushed ice is solid and more like small chunks of an ice cube, nugget ice is made from flaked ice. The flakes are compressed into small nuggets but not too tightly. There are small gaps in between nuggets that make the passage of air and liquid possible. Also, the air gaps make the ice chewy and crunchy that we all love to munch on.
When to use Nugget Ice in Cocktail?
Ice in cocktails is common. Yes, you can put a regular ice cube in your homemade drink but that will not provide the pleasure you’re seeking. Also, if you’ve ever made a visit to a bar or any restaurant and ordered a cocktail, soda water, or simply chilled water, you might have seen the ice there taste way different than the one you freeze in the refrigerator. And that’s because it is sonic ice and not regular cubes.
This brings us back to our question about when to use nugget ice in a cocktail?
Add nugget/sonic ice to your cocktail to make the drink chilly and refreshing. Tiny air spaces inside the nugget socks in the flavor of a cocktail which makes it even more delicious.
There are only a few people who love to drink a cocktail without adding ice. But if you feel the drink is incomplete without nugget ice then go generous and fill your cocktail glass. This will keep the drink cool which is a prime requirement during hot sunny days.
Uses of Sonic Ice
If you’re an ice lover like me, you do not even need to know the rest of the uses of sonic ice when you can simply chew the crunchy ice. But apart from eating it raw, there are many other uses of sonic ice.
Classic/Plain: Grab your cup, fill in the fresh nuggets, and munch on them. The best part about nugget ice is the microsized holes. The mini holes make the pellet soft, airy, and chewable which we crave for.
Cocktail: A cocktail, no matter how expensive tastes bad if not served chilled. And these tiny pellets make your cocktail complete. While many cocktails require minimal ice content, large quantities are a must for margaritas, mojitos, etc which are intended to have chilled.
Seafood Storage: Make the mini ice nuggets in your home ice maker and use them to store seafood. These small pellets preserve seafood better due to the presence of tiny holes that allows the passage of air. Thus, elongates shelf life.
Emergency Use: If a cool pack is not present in your home and you need one badly then use your nugget ice maker machine. Grab and pack the mini sonic pellets into a plastic bag and keep it over the affected area for instant relief.
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Munching on ice is simply love for some people. And if you find it hard to live without these small cool cubes then it’s time to make space for the best nugget ice maker in your home/office. A good quality ice-making machine will take only a couple of minutes to make you your favorite pellet ice.
Though they are a bit of an investment a good machine will not only make you chewy ice but also save your visits to the sonic centers. This will save both gas and time and also you enjoy your own fresh batch of nugget ice at home with a good ice maker.
After going through the detailed reviews above, we hope that it must have become clear to you which unit is worth buying. Do let us know which product you picked and how was your first experience of making homemade nugget ice in the comment section below.