For those of us who like a cold drink, portable ice makers are just about the best kitchen gadget you can find. They save you buying lots of ice, worrying about where to store it, and are much quicker than using water trays in the freezer.
Plus, you can bring them camping with you, or to a cookout, as long as you’ve got electricity nearby. Whether you’re getting ready for your 4th of July barbecue or planning for your next cocktail party, a new ice maker can simplify your plans and bring your party game up to the next level!
However, portable machines can also be some of the most fickle, unreliable appliances out there. While some models can make your life fun and easy, others can lead to leaks, spills, and headaches for you.
That’s why it’s so important to find the best portable ice makers on the market. With so many models out there, and so many of them having similar looks and features, how do you tell the difference?
We’re here to help you out! As your kitchen gadget pros, we’ve spent lots of time looking for the best new machines on the market, so you can spend less time shopping, and more time enjoying a cold glass of something tasty.
We went on a quest to find the absolute best portable ice makers. We compared features, specs, and other important details for dozens of top models. Then, we looked carefully at hundreds of reviews from previous buyers, to see how these models performed in the real world, and how they stood up to everyday use.
Here in our special guide, you’ll find our own in-depth reviews for our three favorite portable models. We’ll talk you through everything you need to know about them, and help you get a sense of which one’s the best purchase for you!
Here’s a quick glance at our favorites:
Best on a Budget
- Our Rating: 4.o
- Popularity: Low
- Our Rating: 4.o
- Popularity: High
- Our Rating: 4.6
- Popularity: Low
Portable Ice Maker Reviews
This Gourmia model is our most compact and affordable recommendation. It’s a small, unobtrusive machine that’s capable of producing an impressive amount of ice.
It produces a 9-cube tray in just under 10 minutes, and it’s small enough to fit in just about any space. If you’re looking for the most portable option, this is it!
Even though it’s affordable, this one’s still powerful enough to make ice fast. The Gourmia produces 9 cubes every 15 minutes. At the smaller sizes, it’s even quicker-10 minutes. At that rate, you’ll be able to make about 30 pounds in a day.
It has lots of smart features built in to help you out! It’s equipped with a full digital display and push-button controls. You can choose from 3 different cube sizes, set timers, and create a production schedule for yourself. It’ll also alert you when it’s time to refill the water compartment, as well as when the bucket is full.
It comes in two different color options, so you can match your other appliances. There’s a silver and a white option, which will cover most décor styles.
At just over 1 square foot, it’ll fit on countertops, side tables, or in a camper with ease. It’s also easy to set up temporarily without having to clear a whole counter just to make ice.
The removable bucket makes it easy to pour your fresh supply into a cooler or freezer bags when the machine fills up. Previous buyers said they made it through about an hour (about 6 batches) before it needed to be emptied. You also get a scoop to help you empty the machine out.
There’s an easy drain plug on the back to help you wash out the machine after a day of ice-making.
It’s fairly noisy. Most of the noise comes from the rattling sound when each batch finishes, but some previous buyers did say the machine was louder than they had anticipated.
The bin where the fresh cubes are deposited isn’t super insulated. You’ll want to stay on top of emptying the compartment, to keep your cubes from melting.
Some people found the instructions confusing. We also found that some people didn’t like the clock, which only displays military time.
We read a few reviews from buyers who said their machines had died within a year, but they didn’t provide many details to help us get a sense of the problem. We also had a hard time finding warranty information for this model, so we’d recommend tacking on some extra coverage when you order yours.
2. Avalon Bay
This Avalon Bay model is the #1 best-selling portable ice maker on Amazon right now. It’s simple, affordable, and makes ice very quickly. This one takes about half the time of the Gourmia for the smaller cubes!
We like the simple, easy-to use design, as well as the helpful automatic features on this one. If you want a machine around the price of the Gourmia, but without a computerized control system, the Avalon Bay should be right up your alley.
It works quickly. This machine cranks out a load of 9 cubes in about 6-12 minutes, depending on the size of cube you’re making. That means that over the course of the day, you’ll end up with about the same load you’d get from the Gourmia.
There are two sizes of cubes to choose from, large and small.
It has simple push-button controls. Unlike the Gourmia, this one doesn’t take any effort to figure out. You simply turn it on, select a size, and you’re good to go! There are lighted indicators next to the buttons to let you know when the ice cube bin is full, and when the water reservoir is empty.
Even though this one isn’t computerized, it does have some modern conveniences built in. It has automatic overflow protection built in. Plus, it starts automatically when it’s filled up to the line! That cuts down on the procedure between cycles, and makes the changeovers less of a hassle for you. It also recycles any melted water from ice that’s sitting in the bin.
The simple, silver design matches most modern kitchen décor, and blends right it with your other appliances.
Just like the Gourmia, this one has a drain plug built in for easy emptying.
It’s around the same price as the Gourmia.
It uses an environmentally-friendly refrigerant. That’s not necessarily something you’re thinking about when you purchase, but it makes for a more responsible purchase in the long run.
It’s quieter than the Gourmia. This one makes a slight hum while the cooling system is running, but the only real noise you’ll hear is a slight clatter as the new cubes drop into the bin.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
It has a half-gallon reservoir, as opposed to the 3-quart tank on the Gourmia. That means this one needs to be refilled slightly more frequently.
As with the Gourmia, there are some reliability issues. Some previous buyers reported that their machines called it quits within a year or so. They also has poor experiences with Avalon Bay service. That’s not abnormal for ice makers, but it’s still pretty disappointing to have to replace an appliance so quickly. With that being said, the majority of buyers didn’t report any issues.
This Ivation model is our most reliable recommendation for a portable ice maker. It’s also the quickest of the three, with a 6-minute batch time. We like the simple, intuitive control panels. It has basic alert lights to help you out, and a clear window on the top to let you see what’s going on inside.
We especially love the big reservoir, which makes for longer cycles with fewer refills for you to deal with. If you’ve got a few extra dollars to drop on your new machine, we think this is the best you can do for quality and quantity in one package.
It’s faster than the Gourmia and the Avalon Bay. This one can crank out a 9-cube batch in just 6 minutes!
It has the biggest reservoir of the three. This one has a water reserve of just over half a gallon, which means you don’t have to refill it as often.
This one has alert lights built into the control panel. It’ll let you know when the water needs to be refilled, and when the ice cube chamber needs emptying. They’re good for people who want the updates, but don’t want the interruption of an audible alert.
It’ll shut off automatically when the cube collection chamber is full, so you don’t end up with any jams or overflows.
There are two ice cube sizes to choose from, large and small.
The reservoir design lets any unused ice cubes run back into the water chamber, so you’re not wasting any water between cycles.
We did find just a couple of reports of machines dying early, but it seems to be a very isolated issue.
It’s more expensive than the other two.
The larger reservoir capacity means this one takes up a larger footprint than our other recommendations. You’ll definitely have to clear some space on your countertop for this one.
Which is the Best Ice Maker for You?
They all have pretty similar features and functions, but there are a few key differences you’ll want to have in mind as you shop.
If you’re the sort of person who likes a smart system, you’ll probably enjoy the Gourmia most.
It has the most alerts of the three, and it’s the only one that’ll make noise to remind you to check up on the ice cycle. We also like being able to set timers for when you know you’re going to want a bucket of ice. This one also has the most options for ice cubes, with three sizes to choose from. However, this one has a few reliability issues, and was tricky for some users to figure out.
If you like a no-nonsense approach, with simple buttons and no audible alerts, the Avalon Bay will suit you a bit better.
There’s no computer system onboard, so it’s very easy to figure out. We also love that it starts automatically when you fill up the water reservoir. It has a reservoir capacity and ice-making speed that’s right in the middle of our recommendations, and was very popular with online buyers. On the downside, it’s the most unreliable of the three, and has the spottiest track record as far as durability is concerned.
If you want the best bet for long-term reliability, you’ll want to go for the Ivation.
It’s slightly more expensive than the other two, but we found far fewer reports of trouble down the line from previous buyers. Overall, we think that while the other two might be cheaper in the short term, the Ivation is the smarter investment, simply because you’re less likely to have to replace it. It’s also the largest of the three machines, and that extra water capacity means you’ll have to make fewer refills than with the other two. It’s the fastest to churn out a load of ice cubes, and it’s the most likely to keep doing so year after year.
How to Choose the Best Ice Maker Machine
Establish your budget:
Portable ice makers range in cost between $100 and $300, depending on the brand and the capacity. You’ll pay more for larger capacities, as well as extra automatic and electronic conveniences.
We haven’t recommended any models over $200, because we didn’t see any real difference in reliability between $150 models and $250 models. With machines as unpredictable as these, we just don’t think it makes sense to spend an extra $100 if you’re not going to see a tangible difference in quality. On the other end of the spectrum, we found that the ice makers on the market for less than $150 were simply too unreliable to recommend.
Think about quantity:
In this category, you’ll want to weigh water capacity versus footprint. Having a higher water capacity in your machine means you can make more ice cubes on a single reservoir, with fewer refills throughout the day. However, the added capacity also takes up space. Think about how much ice you need to make, and weigh that against the space where you’ll be using your machine.
Know your preferences:
Most portable ice makers function in pretty much the same way. The main differences are in the styles of control panel, and the size of the ice cubes.
As far as controls are concerned, your choice is between a computerized display, or simple push-buttons. Computerized models give you more options for settings, timers, and alerts. However, they can be harder to figure out.
On the other hand, push-buttons are easy to figure out, but limit your options. Think about whether you’d prefer an alarm to ping when you need to change the ice, or whether you’d rather a light flash to let you know without disrupting your social occasion. Consider how often you’ll use the machine, and whether you want to have ice ready on cue, or just make some when you need it.
If you’re picky about the size of your cubes, it probably makes sense to buy a machine with 3 different sizes. If you’re just the average drinker, and aren’t really bothered, you’ll probably be fine with the normal large and small options.
Portable ice makers are unfortunately some of the most temperamental, unreliable kitchen gadgets out there. You’ll find that any model on the market has a few reviews reporting a lemon. Mixed reliability is simply par for the course.
Now, as kitchen gadget geeks, we know that any new invention takes a few tries to get right. At this point, we think that these machines just haven’t been around long enough to improve much. They can only get better as time goes on.
With that said, we’ve tried to find the most reliable models out there. While none of our recommendations are completely issue-free, they’re much more reliable than the competition.
We recommend adding on some additional warranty coverage, like Square Trade. While most portable ice makers do come with a 1-2 year company warranty, these add-on plans give you a few benefits. First, they give you more warranty coverage, either 1, 2, or 3 years.
Second, they tend to make solving any problems easier. You’re dealing with a third party, rather than the vendor, and most of these programs have much higher standards of customer service and support than manufacturers.
If you’re not quite sure about any of these portable ice makers, check out Amazon’s best-selling models here! You can compare prices, features, and specs for all the top brands! Visit our homepage for more reviews!