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15 Best Nugget Ice Maker Home We've Tested 2022

Peter Fonda
  Nov 30, 2022 2:43 PM

Any ice connoisseur will tell you that there are several types of ice. In fact, many people claim that nugget ice, also known as pebble ice, is the tastiest ice available because of its small, chewable pieces. Nugget ice, popularized by chains like Sonic and Chick-fil-A, is produced with an auger mechanism that compacts ice flakes into small cubes. This generates a porous, soft ice that easily absorbs the flavor of whatever beverage is being served.

Although nugget ice producers aren't as prevalent as traditional ice machines, they are available for purchase at both the consumer and business levels for individuals who just must have those lovely chewable cubes.


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Buying Guide

There are a few things to consider before purchasing a nugget ice maker if you've decided to forego running to Sonic or Chick-fil-A for a 10-pound bag of nugget ice and instead produce your own ice at home.

Price

It's possible to spend over $10,000 on a nugget ice machine. Models from commercial appliance manufacturers like Manitowoc, whose customers tend to be eating establishments and drinking establishments, tend to be the most pricey options. Several affordable countertop nugget ice makers exist for home use.

 

Though these models typically cost between $400 and $700, they are the simplest and least expensive way to satisfy your craving for chewable ice. Yield-wise, however, they fall short of what can be achieved with a portable ice maker.

Yield

Consider the number of individuals who will be using the ice, the rate at which it can be generated (in ounces per hour), and the size of the ice bin before buying a nugget ice maker (also represented in ounces).

Ice Maker Style

The majority of the recommended ice makers are countertop models due to their low cost and convenience. Some manufacturers, including GE, now offer built-in ice makers that fit neatly beneath your kitchen counters. These cost between $3,000 and $5,500, but they are ideal for frequent hosts due to their capacity to manufacture and store big amounts of ice. Before buying an ice maker, make sure there's room for it.

Size and Weight

These chewy ice makers often weigh between 30 and 50 pounds and have the footprint of a tiny refrigerator (typical of a college dorm) or a very tall microwave. The portable size of regular ice producers is something that may be found, but the same cannot be said for nugget ice makers (yet).

The majority of countertop appliances are too tall to fit beneath a standard upper cabinet. They also need some breathing room to avoid getting too hot while in use.

Before purchasing a nugget ice maker, make sure you have a suitable location for it, preferably one that is shaded from the sun.

Maximum Amount of Ice per Day

Another reason commercial grade nugget ice makers are excessive for household use is because they can create at least 80 pounds of ice each day. That's enough ice for the biggest, baddest house party ever.

Most families don't need the whole 24 to 30 pounds of ice that residential nugget ice machines produce each day (a pound or more per hour). Even better, you can bag up the ice and store it in the freezer for later use if you plan on throwing a party or otherwise require an abundance of ice.

Home nugget ice producers produce around the same amount of ice daily, therefore this metric isn't particularly useful when comparing models. The length of time the ice stays cold is, in our opinion, a more crucial aspect. One of the reasons we chose the Opal as the finest nugget ice maker was its ability to keep ice cold for the longest period of time during our tests.

Storage Capacity

How many cubes of ice may be made at once with the ice maker? Two to three pounds of ice typically fits. Even if the maker mechanically re-melts the ice and turns it into new nuggets, the differences in bin capacity are negligible. The fact that the manufacturer keeps the bin filled is more crucial. While some ice makers may melt the ice more quickly than others, we found that the vast majority of manufacturers performed admirably.

Noise

Most residential ice makers produce a noise level of between 50 and 60 dB when in use. Similar to a normal conversation or, more appropriately, the sound of a running refrigerator compressor.

 

That is to say, ice makers shouldn't be too loud for their surroundings. If they tend to run around the dining room or other communal spaces, though, you could find them a little distracting.

The tinkling of ice cubes as they hit the bin may annoy you, but after a while, it just became another house sound that we ignored. You shouldn't acquire an ice maker if you believe you'll be bothered by the constant hum of the compressor or the tinkling of ice as it slides into a container.

The best thing to do if the ice maker's noise levels are too high to bear is to put it somewhere other than the main living room. Your ice maker will be out of earshot in a bar, amusement room, or perhaps an adjoining garage if there is counter space available.

Overwhelmingly, the regular operation noise of the tested manufacturers was deemed to be acceptable. If your ice maker is making an unusually loud noise (not the steady hum of a running compressor), it probably needs to be serviced.

Dispenser

Sonic ice makers for the house typically come with a storage container and a scoop, while some models also include a dispenser. To receive ice from a dispenser, you just position your glass beneath the spout and press a button.

Dispensers are superior to a bin and scoop system in terms of cleanliness, but they are also more complex machines that, in our opinion, have not been fully developed for the domestic market. The KBice Nugget Ice Dispenser is the best model we found at the "home user" pricing point; but, it does have some annoying peculiarities, such as dumping ice nuggets at random onto the counter to melt. Actually, that's not the best scenario.

Because of this, if you're dead set on having a dispenser, you might want to consider investing in a Manitowoc, which is a top-tier model but also quite pricey at several thousand dollars. Great machine, however if you can't afford it, go with the KBice or learn to live with a bin and scoop.

Materials

A commercial ice maker is not meant to endure forever. Spending a fortune on machinery that breaks down or ceases working is, however, not worthwhile.

Choose a machine that is constructed of sturdy materials to ensure that it does not break apart when you transport it. Remember that the container's material can withstand the load of a lot of ice.

Warranty

The warranty is an important factor to think about while searching for the finest countertop ice maker. Since ice makers can be quite expensive, knowing that they have a lengthy lifespan will help put your mind at ease.

Simple To Cleanse

A household ice maker's ease of cleaning is another major consideration. Time and effort are saved by using ice makers that use water recycling technologies, since you won't have to empty the device or install a drainage system.


FAQS

Why Are Nugget Ice Makers So Much More Expensive than Other Ice Makers?

We speculate that this is because the production of nugget ice is more labor-intensive. In essence, common ice is just frozen water. To achieve the characteristic fluffy, chewy consistency of nugget ice, the ice must be shaved, compacted, then extruded.

Nugget ice's rising popularity and the resulting influx of manufacturers could lead to lower prices. However, nugget ice makers are likely to always command a higher asking price than traditional ice makers.

Are Chewy Ice Makers Noisy?

Depending on how much you mind the background noise, they might. Most have an operating noise level that is within the audible range of a refrigerator or typical conversation when in use (about 50-60 dB).

The sound of melting ice dropping into the trash can is also annoying.

None of the ice makers we tried gave us any trouble, although if you're easily irritated by background noise, you may want to put yours somewhere other than right next to the kitchen table.

A faulty ice maker will create loud noises like whining, rattling, or grinding that aren't caused by the compressor.

How Often Do You Have to Clean a Nugget Ice Maker?

The frequency of cleaning is determined by a number of things. While most manuals will tell you to clean it every week, we've discovered that using filtered water means you only need to do it once every two months.

If your ice production has slowed down (which could mean the parts are blocked with junk from your water) or if your ice has a musty flavor, it's time to clean your ice maker (indicating your ice maker is growing mold or mildew somewhere).

Is There A Fridge With A Nugget Ice Maker?

Yes. The nugget ice maker is a standard feature on the Samsung Smart 4-Door Flex fridge. The large interior and modern style of this gadget give it an air of high luxury.

Why Are Nugget Ice Makers So Expensive?

The high price of nugget ice makers is due to the complex technological components required to produce the ice. Making those crispy frozen pellets requires more work than just freezing water into solid bits.


Conclusion

Even though they produce the same result, ice producers that produce nugget, chewy, pellet, or Sonic ice are considered more of a luxury than a necessity. But chewy ice is a fantastic treat, and there are now multiple ways to have it in your own house. Our top pick is the GE Profile Opal, especially if you get it with the optional side tank and just have to fill it up once each day. The Opal has the highest quality and earns the best reviews of any nugget ice maker we looked into, and its countertop design makes it a good match for most households.

Of course, you may pick from a wide variety of alternative models, but unfortunately, the vast majority of them either have terrible reviews or aren't even worth considering for any other reason.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this


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