The Hamilton Beach Half-Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker is ideal for one or two people who enjoy a very soft, soft-serve ice cream. The machine is easy to use, comes with two bowls and churns out dessert in about 10 minutes. The freezer bowl doubles as a dish, but some owners complain about ice cream sticking to the sides. Fans of hard ice cream should pass on this model.
Coldness is the essential ingredient. The Hamilton Beach Half-Pint Soft Serve is designed to easily make ice cream within 15 minutes. Beyond that, either the bowls have not been frozen long enough or the freezer is not cold enough because a little bit of ice cream always seems to stick to the interior of the bowl. Professional testers report that its ice cream doesn't come out perfectly smooth even after upping the sugar and cream content. However, experts say it creates thick and smooth sorbets and frozen yogurt after churning faster and to a stiffer consistency than ice cream.
Prep is the hardest work. The machine comes with two 12-ounce freezer bowls, which owners say they keep in the freezer for at least eight hours. Each batch of soft-serve ice cream is ready in as little as six minutes. Owners say the bowls are easy to clean, and the machine is small enough that it doesn't take up too much storage space. A few tips: Dig in as soon as it's ready because the ice cream melts quickly. Eat out of the bowl to help keep it cold. And use a plastic spoon to avoid damaging the bowl.
Mixed results. Several owners gave up on the machine after a few dessert disasters. However, some determined fans say that once they got past the learning curve, they appreciated the little machine's niftiness. The Hamilton Beach Half-Pint ice cream maker comes with a one-year limited warranty and runs about $35.
1. Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping gave the Hamilton Beach Half-Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker a B+ for its ability to make excellent sorbets, ease of assembly and use, thorough manual and good customer service. The machine lost points for a canister that needs pre-freezing and the ice cream not coming out perfectly smooth.
Review: Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker, Editors of Good Housekeeping, June 2012
About.com's Housewares and Appliances guide writes about her personal experience with the Hamilton Beach Half-Pint Soft Serve and gives it 4 out of 5 stars. She says the machine's size makes it easy to create a dessert for just one or two people. She also finds the machine makes a stiffer frozen yogurt using a container of store-bought yogurt than ice cream.
Review: Hamilton Beach Half-Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker Review, Mariette Mifflin, June 19, 2011
About 180 owners review the appliance on Amazon, giving it an overall rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars. Only 46 percent gave the machine a perfect score, while 30 percent gave it only 1 out of 5 stars. The negative reviews focused on the machine's tendency to build up frozen ice cream on its sides, bowls cracking and dissatisfaction with the very soft consistency of the dessert.
Review: Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2013