I Love Ice Cream, and This Small Appliance Makes It Easy to Satisfy My Cravings at Home (It’s on Sale!)

published Nov 12, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
bowls of vanilla ice cream, topped with olive oil and salt
Credit: Kitchn Video

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and I’m fairly certain it runs in my family. It’s not that I keep a ton of sugary treats at home, but there’s usually at least one in my fridge, pantry, or freezer at any given time. My sweet treat of choice is typically cold ice cream, and the more toppings it has, the better — especially if it’s peanut butter, chocolate, or caramel. However, as much as I love a bowl or pint of ice cream, it can get fairly expensive to buy all the time and it’s not the most convenient option if you have to leave home to get it. I’ve had an ice cream maker for years, but it’s been a while since I’ve used it. It’s an electric maker, but you still have to fill it with rock salt and wait for it to churn for about as long as you would if you were hand-cranking it yourself. When I first heard about the Ninja CREAMi, I knew it was the sweet treat upgrade that would fit perfectly into my kitchen.

The full Ninja CREAMi package includes the appliance, an outer bowl for processing, and four pints for any frozen treat you’d like to make. I lifted the CREAMi directly from the box to its new home on the counter. There were only a few pieces of wrapping to dispose of before I could start to figure out the machine’s functions, and fortunately, it came with an instruction manual and recipe book. As long as I had enough ingredients for at least one recipe, I’d be able to make my first dessert right away! (Best of all: No rock salt needed.) The Ninja CREAMi is able to make a variety of frozen treats, including ice cream, sorbet, gelato, granita, milkshakes, and smoothie bowls. The recipes are incredibly simple and if you’ve got the patience to wait 24 hours for a mixture to freeze, then you’ve already mastered the most difficult part of a CREAMi creation. I picked a couple of ice cream flavors to try (Cinnamon Bun and Fruity Cereal) after my next grocery run, and then rummaged through my pantry and fridge to see if there was anything I could make immediately. As it turned out, there was!

Credit: Britt Franklin

To make sorbet with the Ninja CREAMi, all I needed was 100-percent fruit juice, sugar, and water. I whipped up two pints of lemon sorbet and followed the same recipe with pineapple juice to make a second pair of fruit-flavored pints. The liquid mixtures went into the freezer and after waiting a full day for them to freeze, I could finally pick one to process into creamy sorbet. Taking a lemon pre-sorbet out of the freezer, I loaded it into the outer bowl of the Ninja CREAMi, locked it with a twist, then turned on the machine and pressed the “Sorbet” button. It’s that simple! The machine whirred to life, using the Creamerizer paddle to break it down from lemon-flavored sugar water to deliciously smooth sorbet in 90 seconds. The machine is a bit loud, but I didn’t find it to be bothersome, since I knew it was for a purpose. Once it finished making the sorbet, I unlocked it and braced myself for the results. If your blend isn’t creamy enough the first go-round, there’s a Re-Spin button on the appliance to run it again. However, I didn’t need it, since my sorbet came out perfectly. It was soft enough to scoop out with a spoon and had a light and refreshing lemony taste that was exactly what I needed to combat the warm weather outside. As a test, I emptied half of the pint and put the remaining sorbet back in the freezer. I worried that I would have to remix after freezing it again, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to scoop some out and eat it later just like I would for any pint I’d purchase from the store.

Credit: Britt Franklin

With sorbet handled, I dove into making ice cream just days later. The process is nearly the same: You follow the recipe, load it into the machine, and press the “Ice Cream” button. One key difference is that I actually did have to use the Re-Spin button for my Cinnamon Bun ice cream. The first churn came out crumbly, so it needed another cycle for a smoother and creamier blend. After that, the ice cream was the right consistency, and tasted so great that I made a point to share it with relatives who were visiting. If I’d been making the Fruity Cereal ice cream, then I’d have to use the “Mix-In” button, which is used for more complex ice cream recipes with ingredients such as frozen fruit, chocolate, candy, nuts, cereal, and more. Just keep in mind that fresh fruit, sauces, and spreads don’t mix well because they will water down the dessert. (An alternative is chocolate and caramel shell toppings.) If you aren’t much of a dairy fan or have a low tolerance, there are plenty of dairy-free options and substitutions for you to enjoy as well.

So far, I’ve been much more successful with sorbet than with ice cream, but I’m looking forward to trying more recipes and desserts. I’ve even been brainstorming which holiday treats I can whip up with the Ninja CREAMi for family gatherings in the coming months. It’s so easy to store pre-made mixtures in the freezer that I often have multiple pints frozen at one time. Whenever I have a craving for something sweet, all I have to do is grab one, load it into the Ninja CREAMi, and enjoy it — all in less than five minutes. Next to my electric kettle and air fryer, the Ninja CREAMi is my most-used countertop appliance. As someone who’s made grocery runs specifically for ice cream, it’s saved me lots of gas and money, which is just another plus in my book!