Shopping for a manual ice crusher?
You’ve come to the right place.
Manual vs. Electric Ice Crushers?
If you already have a powerful blender at home (1000W or more), you don’t need any kind of ice crusher. Your blender can easily crush ice.
If you don’t have a powerful enough blender or just want a dedicated crushed ice maker, you’ll need to choose between a manual or an electric ice crusher.
An electric ice crusher is the best choice for most homes. It’s easy to use, makes crushed ice or snow ice in a matter of seconds, and can make lots of crushed ice in no time, making it perfect for large families and parties.
The most significant advantage of a manual ice crusher over an electric one is the price. Manual ice crushers are cheap, and they are especially great if you are on a budget.
A manually crushed ice maker is also ideal for making crushed ice for just one or two people.
Another reason to get a manual ice crusher over an electric one is portability. A manual ice crusher is the best option if you want crushed ice on picnics, road trips, and campaign adventures since it’s smaller, lighter, and doesn’t need electricity.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
In this buying guide, we recommend the best manual ice crushers you can buy online. We also explain how they work and how to choose the right one for your kitchen or home bar.
Best Manual Ice Crushers
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
- Our Top Pick: MANBA Portable Ice Crusher and Shaved Ice Machine
- Easiest to Use: Time for Treats Ice Crusher
- Best Mallet Ice Crusher: glacio Ice Mallet and Lewis Bag
- Best Personal Ice Crusher: Westmark Germany Manual Ice Crusher
- Best for Shaved Ice: Time for Treats Snow Cone Maker
1. Our Top Pick: MANBA Portable Ice Crusher and Shaved Ice Machine
The Manba ice crusher uses a hand crank that operates three blades inside the machine. The blades are sharp to ensure you use minimal force to crush ice.
- Easy to use.
- Has sharp and rust-proof stainless steel blades.
- It is easy to clean.
- Produces fine crushed ice/snow.
- Includes complimentary ice tray.
- No suction base to hold it down.
Generally, most manual ice crushers are easier to operate than you’d expect, and the Manba ice crusher is no exception.
Thanks to the three sharp stainless steel blades, you don’t need to apply too much force to turn the crank. In fact, most customers say their kids can make their own crushed ice. That’s how easy it is to use.
And since the blades are hidden, it’s totally safe.
This is no electric crushed ice maker, so it takes some time to get enough crushed ice for everyone. The crushing area on top can hold several small ice cubes or a couple of larger ice cubes.
The Manba ice crusher produces finely crushed ice that’s perfect for drinks as well as treats such as snow cones. The more pressure you apply on the lid, the finer the crushed ice gets to the point where it turns into shaved/Hawaiian ice.
You can also place a large puck-shaped block of ice in the crusher, then press firmly on the lid. This will produce perfect shaved ice.
The Manba ice crusher comes with a bonus ice cube tray in which you can freeze up to 15 ice cubes. The tray is made with flexible silicone, so it’s easy to pop out the ice cubes.
Issues & Limitations
While the Manba ice crusher is easy to use, a suction base would have made it even easier to operate, especially for elderly and arthritic users.
As it is, you have to hold down the ice crusher with some force as you turn the crank.
The MANBA portable ice crusher is best for: Individuals and small families looking for a manual ice crusher that makes finely crushed ice and is easy to use.
Avoid if: You prefer a manual ice crusher with a suction base.
2. Easiest to Use: Time for Treats Ice Crusher
A suction base, long crank, and sharp stainless steel blades make the Time for Treats ice crusher the easiest manual ice crusher to use.
It’s especially great for kids, seniors, and people with arthritic fingers.
- Very easy to operate.
- Great for elderly users.
- Makes coarse or fine crushed ice.
- Average longevity.
The suction base on the Time for Treats ice crusher makes all the difference when it comes to the ease of crushing ice.
You don’t have to hold down the ice crusher with all your might when turning the crank. To secure the base, make sure the counter is clean, smooth, and non-porous. Turn the suction lever to secure the base in place.
Now you can fill the hopper with the number of ice cubes that will fit, place the lid on top and work the crank.
The crank is slightly longer than other manual ice crushers, making it easier to turn and crush ice. The sharp stainless steel blades also make your work easier.
You can adjust the coarseness of the crushed ice by turning the crank in the opposite direction. Clockwise produces finer crushed ice, while counterclockwise produces coarser ice. However, most users say they don’t notice much difference between the two.
Note that the Time for Treats ice crusher does not produce shaved snow-like ice, regardless of what shape or size ice you add to the hopper. The way the blades are designed, they can only crush ice.
If you want an ice crusher that can also shave ice, get the Manba model we’ve just reviewed above.
Issues & Limitations
The main worry for users of the Time for Treats ice crusher is how long the machine will last. It feels sturdy, but the primarily plastic construction will probably not last long, especially with frequent use.
Some customers say some plastic components have already broken.
For the price, though, even a year or two out of the Time for Treats ice crusher is worth it.
That said, if you crush a lot of ice every day, you should probably get an electric ice crusher instead, and it’ll be faster and can withstand daily use for years.
The Time for Treats Ice Crusher is best for: Anyone looking for a manual ice crusher that is super easy to use – easy enough even for kids or a senior.
Avoid if: You crush a lot of ice often, and an electric ice crusher is a better choice. Also not ideal if you want a manual ice crusher that can also make shaved ice.
3. Best Mallet Ice Crusher: glacio Ice Mallet and Lewis Bag
If you want to go really manual, get this glacio mallet and ice bag kit—the heavy-duty beechwood mallet and canvas bag work much better than a rolling pin and paper towels.
- Heavy-duty wooden hammer crushes ice cubes easily.
- No mess – canvas bag is waterproof.
- Likely to last longer than other manual ice crushers.
- Easy to use.
- Requires more effort than a hand-crank ice crusher.
- Doesn’t crush ice as finely as other manual ice crushers.
The glacio mallet and bag are not only practical but are also aesthetic additions to a kitchen or home bar.
The long wooden mallet made from beechwood looks incredible and will undoubtedly attract comments about Thor’s hammer.
The canvas bag also looks great.
As for their practicality, the glacio mallet, and bag work better than any DIY ice smashing solution you might come up with at home.
The mallet is so much easier to use than a rolling pin, and its long handle and broadhead crush cubes of ice in no time.
The canvas bag also works better than paper towels or plastic bags, and it’ll not tear or create a watery mess on your counter.
Because you can only fit a few ice cubes in the bag at a time, we recommend the glacio ice mallet and canvas kit for personal use. Use it to make some crushed ice as you prepare some cold brew coffee, cocktail, or margarita.
As for cleaning, there’s no need to. After use, place the hammer upright on the counter, then place the bag over it. This will dry both the bag and mallet.
Issues & Limitations
If you are looking for a manual ice crusher to make crushed ice for your entire family, get a hand-crank model instead.
It’ll take too long to make enough crushed ice with the glacio mallet and bag.
Another limitation with the glacio kit is that it doesn’t make finely crushed ice that you can use for kids’ treats, and it produces coarse ice that is only suitable for drinks.
The glacio Ice Mallet and Lewis bag are best for: Anyone shopping for an old-fashioned mallet ice crusher.
Avoid if: You prefer a hand-crank manual ice crusher. Also not ideal if you want to make finely crushed ice for treats.
4. Best Personal Ice Crusher: Westmark Germany Manual Ice Crusher
The Westmark Germany manual ice crusher is another good choice for those shopping for a personal ice crusher for their bar or kitchen.
The Westmark ice crusher crushes just one or two ice cubes at a time, making just enough crushed ice for a single drink.
- Easy to use.
- Heavy-duty metal construction.
- Dishwasher safe.
- Easily portable.
- Slow – crushes 1-2 ice cubes at a time.
- Doesn’t crush ice finely or evenly.
The Westmark ice crusher looks and works like a nutcracker. You place ice cubes between them and press the two handles together to crush them.
You can only crush one large ice cube or two smaller ones at a time, which is why we recommend Westmark as a personal ice crusher, and it makes just enough crushed ice for one drink.
Most people find the Westmark ice crusher fairly easy to use, and it does require a bit more hand strength than a crank-style ice crusher, so we don’t recommend it for elderly users or people with arthritic fingers.
The ice crusher is made from heavy-duty aluminum to withstand years of use without bending, cracking, or chipping. It’s also rust-proof.
You can clean the Westmark ice crusher in a dishwasher.
Issues & Limitations
The main limitation of the Westmark ice crusher is speed. Able to handle just 1 or 2 ice cubes simultaneously, it takes time to make enough crushed ice for several drinks.
It also doesn’t crush ice as finely or evenly as crank ice crushers, breaking ice cubes into smaller chunks. They are fine for drinks, but not kids treat such as snow cones.
The Westmark Germany Manual Ice Crusher is best for: Anyone looking for an easy-to-use and long-lasting personal ice crusher.
Avoid if: You prefer a crank-style ice crusher.
5. Best for Shaved Ice: Time for Treats Snow Cone Maker
If you want a manual ice crusher mostly to make treats for kids, we recommend the Time for Treats snow cone maker.
The snow cone maker crushes/shaves ice into fine snow-like ice that’s perfect for slushies, snow cones, and other frozen treats.
- Makes great shaved ice.
- It can also make regular crushed ice.
- Easy to use.
- Comes with molds.
- Best ice crusher for desserts and kids’ treats.
- It takesa long while to freeze ice molds – not ideal for parties.
When it comes to frozen kids’ treats and desserts, shaved ice is usually better than regular crushed ice. It’s softer, melts quickly in the mouth, and soaks up liquids such as syrups really well.
While not as fast as an electric ice shaver, the Time for Treats snow cone maker is easy to use and makes shaved ice that’s almost as good as Hawaiian shaved ice.
In the package, you’ll receive three plastic molds for freezing ice in a puck shape. This is the best shape for producing fluffy shaved ice. The molds are stackable, so they won’t take up much space in your freezer.
You can also use regular ice cubes, but these will produce regular crushed ice that’s better for adding to drinks.
Once you add ice to the hopper, the crank is easy to turn. The only slightly challenging bit is holding down the machine to keep it in place. But it’s easy enough that older kids can make their own shaved ice.
Issues & Limitations
Because ice cubes don’t work as well in the Time for Treats snow cone maker for making shaved ice, you have to wait until the water in the provided ice molds freezes into pucks.
Once they are ready, probably the next day, you only have three molds. They are enough to make treats for a small family, but they can’t keep up with a birthday party.
One way you can go around this limitation is to buy additional molds or use other containers like a yogurt cup cut halfway to make more molds in one go. Of course, that means giving up more freezer space.
Some shaved ice makers can also make true Hawaiian shaved ice with regular ice cubes, but they are electric and cost more.
The Time for Treats snow cone maker is best for: Anyone looking for a manual ice shaver/crusher for making frozen kids treats.
Avoid if: You want an ice shaver that can serve a large kids’ party. Get an electric ice shaver instead.
Manual Ice Crusher Buying Guide
What’s a Manual Ice Crusher and How Does It Work?
A manual ice crusher is a non-electric tool for crushing ice cubes.
Typically, most people crush ice in a blender or manually by whacking ice with a mallet or rolling pin.
Electric ice crushers have also become common and a cheaper alternative to powerful ice-crushing blenders.
A manual ice crusher is an even cheaper alternative to an electric ice crusher.
Most manual ice crushers work the same way as electric ones – a set of rotating blades crushing ice into tiny pieces.
The difference is that in an electric machine, the blades are driven by a motor, while in a manual ice crusher, you are the one rotating the blades using a crank.
Not all manual ice crushers use a hand crank. Others resemble a nutcracker. You put an ice cube or two between two handles and press them together.
There are also the old-fashioned ice crushers consisting of a specialized ice mallet and bag.
Pros and Cons of Manual Ice Crushers
- They are cheaper than electric ice crushers, and they are also way cheaper than an ice-crushing blender.
- They are perfect for individuals and small families – basically, any situation where you don’t need a ton of crushed ice.
- They are generally easy to use. They can also be fun to use.
- Most are safer than electric ice crushers, even for kids.
- Since they are smaller, lighter, and need no electricity, you can use a manual ice crusher anywhere, even outdoors, when camping or picnicking.
- They don’t work as quickly as electric ice crushers. If you often hold parties, an electric ice crusher is better.
- Some don’t crush ice finely and evenly.
- Some can be difficult to use, especially for elderly and arthritis users.
What to Look For When Shopping for a Manual Ice Crusher
1. Type of Ice Crusher
The first thing to decide is the kind of manual ice crusher you want. The best ones for most people are the crank-style models.
Hand crank ice crushers are the easiest to operate, they crush ice almost as well as electric crushers, and they can crush enough ice for a family. They also make the best-crushed ice for desserts and kids’ treats.
On the other hand, if you want crushed ice just for yourself or your partner, a personal ice crusher works great.
The best personal ice crushers we have come across are the old-fashioned ones that consist of a mallet and bag or a nutcracker-style tool.
These make small amounts of crushed ice in a go, and the kind of crushed ice they make is only suitable for drinks.
2. Ease of Use & Kid-friendly
A manual ice crusher won’t be as effortless to use as an electric one. But some are easier to use than others.
For crank-style ice crushers, make sure the blades are sharp so that you don’t need a lot of effort to crush ice. We also love those that have a suction base to keep them secure on the counter.
Other types of manual ice crushers (such as a mallet) tend to require more effort. We don’t recommend them for seniors and people with reduced arm strength and mobility.
When assessing how easy a manual ice crusher is to use, also consider whether it’s kid-friendly.
If you want your kids to be involved in the whole process, not just eating the frozen treats, get an ice crusher that’s safe and easy for them to use.
Hand crank ice crushers are the safest for kids. The blades are well hidden, and they don’t require a lot of force to operate.
Capacity refers to how much-crushed ice an ice crusher can make in a given period. Manual ice crushers lag behind electric ones’ incapacity.
An electric ice crusher can produce 100lbs or more of crushed ice in an hour.
Manual ice crushers are more suited to small families and individuals.
Crank-style ice crushers usually have a higher capacity and can serve small to medium-sized families and even small parties.
Personal ice crushers are only suitable for 1 or 2 people.
4. Quality of Crushed Ice
Check the quality of crushed ice an ice crusher produces. For kids’ treats, desserts, and mixed drinks, you want finely crushed ice. A hand-crank ice crusher is the best one for this.
Some hand-crank ice crushers can even make Hawaiian shaved ice, which is the best for kids.
For premium alcoholic drinks, you can make do with coarse and uneven crushed ice. Mallet and nutcracker-style ice crushers are good enough for this.
5. Build Quality and Durability
Crushing ice is hard work and requires a well-constructed ice crusher that will last a long time.
The best manual ice crushers are all-metal or are made from high-quality plastic. The blades, if there are any, should be stainless steel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are manual ice crushers easy to use?
It depends on the type and design of the machine. But generally, most manual ice crushers are easy to operate, and hand-crank ice crushers are the easiest to use.
Can I add flavored ice cubes to a manual ice crusher?
Unlike electric ice crushers, manual ice crushers don’t have many limitations on what kind of frozen things you can crush.
Check the user manual to be sure, but most manual ice crushers can crush flavored ice cubes and even frozen fruits. We’ve even seen pet owners crush frozen soup cubes for their dogs.
Just make sure you clean the ice crusher after you finish.
Can manual ice crushers make shaved ice?
Some manual ice crushers can make both crushed and shaved ice.
Is a manual ice crusher better than an electric one?
It depends on your needs, budget, and preferences.
A manual ice crusher is excellent for small households, it’s cheaper, and you can use it anywhere.
An electric ice crusher, on the other hand, costs more and needs an outlet. On the upside, it’s easier to use and can make a lot more crushed ice quickly.
Final Verdict: What is The Best Manual Ice Crusher Sold Today?
The MANBA Portable Ice Crusher and Shaved Ice Machine is the best manual ice crusher for most homes. It’s affordable, is super easy to use even for kids, and can make either crushed or shaved ice.