Whether you're throwing a party and need lots of ice cream, or you just want to make multiple batches back-to-back, an old-fashioned ice cream maker is your best bet. These traditional machines make ice cream the way Grandma used to -- with a lot of rock salt and about two bags of ice, which need to be added to the cost of the ingredients. The upside is that their canisters don't need to be pre-frozen. This enables you to make ice cream in a flash if Aunt Sally forgets to bring dessert to the family reunion. All of the old-fashioned models, though, require you to stay fairly close to layer rock salt and ice before and during the churning process.
Most modern, yet traditional, ice cream makers have an electric motor to do the churning. Only one old-fashioned machine, the Aroma 4-quart Traditional Ice Cream Maker (Est. $60) has a hand crank option along with an electric motor. Aroma owners love to show off their hand-cranked ice cream maker, but they complain that their novelty machine has poorly made parts that break easily. It produces ice cream that has a thick milkshake consistency but that will harden if left in its canister with fresh ice added or transferred into containers and put in a freezer.
Our favorite traditional model, the Nostalgia ICMP400 Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Maker (Est. $25) gets rave reviews on Amazon.com and Walmart.com for its sturdy motor, thoughtful design and ability to make scrumptious frozen desserts. It takes about 20 to 40 minutes to make ice cream, which one owner describes as being "thick, creamy, non-pourable and paste-like" and will have to be further cured in the freezer. You'll need your own recipes when using this machine since many of the manual's recipes did not produce the desired results, even for the experts at Good Housekeeping. The Nostalgia ICMP400 comes with a 90-day warranty, the shortest warranty of all the ice cream makers featured here.
Another old-fashioned model, the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker 68330R (Est. $35) better handles simple recipes than ones with lots of extras. This was fine for one industrious Amazon.com owner who made ice cream for the 75 people attending her wedding. But if you like gourmet ice cream recipes with lots of add-ins, you should pass on this unit since its motor struggles with bulky ingredients. The machine also lacks a transparent lid, which would help monitor the ice cream's progress. One owner complains that this feature would help owners determine whether the ice cream is almost ready or whether more ice should be added. The sturdy plastic bucket doesn't leak, but on the downside, it doesn't have a drain on its side to prevent the brine from overflowing. Therefore, it requires close supervision.