Shopping for a snow cone machine?
You’ve come to the right place.
A snow cone machine efficiently turns ice cubes into crushed ice that’s perfect for making snow cones.
You can get a small snow cone machine just for your family or a bigger and more powerful one for birthday parties, larger gatherings, and even commercial use.
Snowcone machines are typically compact and fit easily on a counter or table. So it’s easy to add one to your kitchen, patio, RV, or boat.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
In this in-depth guide, we review the best snow cone machines in the market.
We also explain how snow cone machines work and how to choose the best one for your needs.
Note that these machines are different from shaved ice machines. If you want the fluffy snow-like Hawaiian shaved ice, see our reviews of the best Hawaiian shaved ice machines.
Snowcone machines produce crushed ice, which has a coarse texture and is the preferred type for traditional snow cones.
Best Snow Cone Machines
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
- Our Top Pick: Nostalgia RSM602
- Best Compact: Nostalgia ISM1000
- Best for Parties & Events: Paragon Arctic Blast SNO Cone Machine
- Best for Shaved Ice Snow Cones: Little Snowie Max Snow Cone Machine
- Best Manual: Time for Treats Iceberg Ice Crusher
- Best Bargain: ZENY Electric Snow Cone Maker
1. Our Top Pick: Nostalgia RSM602
The Nostalgia RSM602 is the best all-rounder snow cone maker. It’s compact enough for most kitchen counters but big enough that you can make enough snow cones for a birthday party.
It’s also one of the best-looking and aesthetically pleasing snow cone makers in the market.
- Great for large families and parties.
- Comes with reusable cones.
- Handy side shelf.
- Safety auto switch.
- Beautiful vintage style.
- Only crushes a few ice cubes at a time.
- No drain plug.
Nostalgia makes some of the best-looking retro appliances. The Nostalgia RSM602 has a beautiful vintage style that stands out in any space.
The Nostalgia RSM60 is designed to be versatile – you can make just a few snow cones for your kids or as many as you want for a large party.
The stainless steel blades churn through ice cubes quickly, dropping crushed ice into the large bin below. A full bin makes about 20 snow cones.
The ice is similar to traditional snow cone ice – fine and crunchy. You can flavor it with any of Nostalgia’s syrups or whichever brand you prefer.
The Nostalgia RSM60 comes with two reusable snow cones. It also has a handy side shelf with two holes where you can place the snow cones when preparing them.
As for safety, the Nostalgia RSM60 has an automatic safety switch. The blades only activate when you put the lid on and turn it. So the spinning blades are never exposed.
Once you open the lid, the blades switch off.
The Nostalgia RSM60 measures about 10” wide, 10” deep, and 13” high, which should easily fit even on smaller countertops. At 6lbs, it’s also not too heavy, and you can easily carry it around your home and set it up wherever you want.
Issues & Limitations
One issue with the Nostalgia RSM60 is the small hopper where the ice gets crushed. It’s small and can only hold a few ice cubes at a time. This will slow you down if you are making a lot of snow cones, and it’s tedious to keep opening the lid to add more ice.
The other issue is the bin. It has no drain plug. To drain melted ice water, you have to turn it on its side, which can be quite inconvenient for some people. A drain plug would have been much more convenient in this case.
The Nostalgia RSM60 is best for: Anyone looking for a reliable, easy-to-use, and affordable snow cone maker that can handle everything from a couple of snow cones to dozens of them for a party.
Avoid if: You want a faster snow cone machine (We recommend the ZENY ice crusher, which we review further below).
2. Best Compact: Nostalgia ISM1000
Our favorite compact snow cone machine is also from Nostalgia. The Nostalgia ISM1000 has an ultra-compact design that’s perfect for small kitchens, RVs, and boats. It’s also a great choice if you want a snow cone maker you can easily carry around.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Great for small families.
- Handy snow cone holder.
- Works with regular ice cubes.
- Not the best for large families and parties.
Unlike the Nostalgia RSM60, the Nostalgia ISM1000 doesn’t come with a large bin for storing crushed ice.
Instead, you crush ice directly into a snow cone. There’s a holder right under the spout that keeps the snow cone upright. You can also remove the holder and crush ice directly into a bowl.
The Nostalgia ISM1000 works with regular ice cubes and doesn’t require any special molds. The ice it makes is fine and crunchy and goes well with any syrup. Moreover, it’s also great for making slushies with soda, juice, and other drinks.
The Nostalgia ISM1000 has a thoughtful design that ensures you never come into contact with the blades. The motor and blades are contained in a separate head unit.
Once you add ice cubes to the small hopper on top, place the head on top and press down. This activates the blades and crushed ice drops from the spout underneath.
The Nostalgia ISM1000 measures 6.2 by 6.7 by 13 inches, so it should fit pretty much on any surface. It’s also super light, weighing just 3.2lbs.
Issues & Limitations
If you plan to make snow cones for a lot of kids, the Nostalgia ISM1000 is not the best choice. You can certainly use it, but it’ll be slow.
For parties and big families, we recommend Nostalgia RSM60, the Paragon Arctic Blast, or the ZENY Electric Snow Cone Maker.
The Nostalgia ISM1000 is best for: Small families looking for a compact and easy-to-use snow cone machine.
Avoid if: You have a large family with lots of kids or want a snow cone machine for parties.
3. Best for Parties & Events: Paragon Arctic Blast SNO Cone Machine
Looking for a snow cone machine that can keep up with large parties and events? We recommend the Paragon Arctic Blast.
This commercial-grade snow cone machine can crush up to 500lbs of ice per hour. It’s great for home parties, large family or church events, or anyone looking to start a small snow cone business.
- High-capacity – can make lots of snow cone ice.
- Large ice bin with a drain tube.
- Can make crushed or shaved ice.
- The ice hopper holds a lot of ice cubes.
The Paragon Arctic Blast is a commercial machine, so only buy it if you think you need its high capacity. Even for a large family, it’s probably too much.
The Paragon Arctic Blast makes the most sense for families that hold frequent parties and for family, church, and other social events with lots of kids. It’s also great if you are thinking about opening a concession stand.
The Paragon Arctic Blast by a ⅓ HP motor. Together with the sharp stainless steel blades, that’s what allows it to churn through 500lbs of ice per hour.
The ice hopper/horn where you add ice is big, and it holds lots of ice cubes, so you don’t have to keep refilling it.
The ice bin underneath is also pretty big and has an aluminum frame for stability. The bin is tinted to help with insulation, keeping the crushed ice from melting too quickly.
And if it melts, there’s a drain tube to keep the inside from getting all watery and messy.
Right out of the box, the Paragon Arctic Blast is set to make shaved ice – fine and fluffy like Hawaiian shaved ice.
But you can adjust the blades to make coarse crushed ice for snow cones (shaved ice is also great for snow cones).
Issues & Limitations
Considering its power and capacity, it’s not surprising that the Paragon Arctic Blast is expensive. If you are shopping for a budget snow cone machine for parties, consider the ZENY snow cone machine instead (reviewed further below).
The Paragon Arctic Blast is also big and heavy, weighing 50lbs, and it’s not the kind of thing you want to move around frequently.
The Paragon Arctic Blast snow cone machine is best for: Large parties, events, and small businesses.
Avoid if: You are shopping for a budget snow cone machine. Also not ideal if you want a compact and lightweight snow cone machine for your family.
4. Best for Shaved Ice Snow Cones: Little Snowie Max Snow Cone Machine
Shaved ice makes for great snow cones. If you prefer the soft fluffy texture of shaved ice over crunchy coarse ice, we recommend Little Snowie Max.
It makes great shaved ice that you can use to make snow cones and other treats like Hawaiian shave ice.
- It makes true Hawaiian shaved ice.
- Powerful enough for large families and home parties.
- Includes six flavor powder sticks.
- Handy dome shaper for perfect snow cones.
While crushed ice is the one that’s traditionally used in snow cones, shaved ice can work, too.
If you don’t like the crunchiness of traditional snow cones, try using shaved ice instead, and it has a soft and fluffy snow-like texture.
It also absorbs flavors really well.
The Little Snowie Max uses special multi-edge blades and a powerful motor to make shaved ice from regular ice cubes.
Place one of the included cups under the spout. You can also use a snow cone. Once the cup or cone fills up with shaved ice, use the attached dome shaper to give it a perfect finish. All that’s remaining now is adding the flavors.
The Little Snowie Max comes with six powder sticks, each with a different flavor. Each stick makes a pint of liquid syrup. The package also includes two mixing bottles (with pourers) to help with the mixing.
Little Snowie Max is powerful enough that you can use it for a birthday party. It shaves ice quickly. So all you need is to have lots of ice cubes with you.
Issues & Limitations
The only downside to the Little Snowie Max is the price. It’s significantly pricier compared to other home snow cone machines.
Little Snowie Max is best for: Anyone who prefers shaved ice snow cones.
Avoid if: You prefer traditional crushed ice snow cones.
5. Best Manual: Time for Treats Iceberg Ice Crusher
If you want a budget snow cone machine, a manual one is your best bet. We recommend the Time for Treats Iceberg ice crusher.
It works via a hand-operated crank. It’s an excellent choice for small families and those who want a portable snow cone machine they can use outdoors.
- Budget price.
- Easy to use.
- Portable – great for outdoors.
- Adjustable ice coarseness.
- It takes time to crush ice.
- Not suitable for big families and parties.
The sharp stainless steel blades on the Iceberg ice crusher make it easy to operate by hand. You don’t need to exert a lot of effort to turn the handle.
The suction base sticks to the countertop, making it easier to crush ice.
You can fill the hopper with regular ice cubes of any size. You can also use bullet ice from an ice maker or chewable Sonic ice if you want softer crushed ice.
Close the lid, make sure the suction base is secure, and then start turning the handle.
The Iceberg ice crusher produces finely crushed ice when you turn the handle clockwise and coarser ice when you turn it anticlockwise.
The ice bin is fairly big. It can hold up to five and a half cups of crushed ice, enough to make snow cones for everyone in the family.
Because it doesn’t rely on electricity, the Iceberg ice crusher also works great during outdoor adventures like camping, road trips, tailgating, and picnics. Just carry ice with you and crush it wherever you are.
Issues & Limitations
The Iceberg ice crusher is great for making snow cones for just a few kids but quickly becomes tedious and slow when serving a large birthday party.
It’s also not the best option for large families. Get an electric snow cone machine instead.
The Iceberg ice crusher is best for: Anyone looking for a budget manual snow cone machine.
Avoid if: You prefer the speed and convenience of an electric snow cone machine.
6. Best Bargain: ZENY Electric Snow Cone Maker
Zeny’s powerful motor, high capacity, and low price make it the best value snow cone maker among our picks.
It’s a great choice if you are looking for an affordable snow cone machine that’s suitable for a big family as well as home parties.
- Good value for money.
- High capacity.
- Durable stainless steel construction.
- Safety auto switch.
- Makes a bit of a mess on the counter.
The Zeny electric snow cone maker uses a 300W motor and stainless steel blades to crank out 145lbs of crushed ice per hour.
You can make as little crushed ice as you want for just your family, or as much as you need for a big party.
The hopper is big and fits a lot of ice cubes, so you can make a lot of snow cones in one go. The machine also comes with a large stainless steel bowl for collecting the crushed ice.
The ice is not as coarse as regular snow cone ice but not as fine as Hawaiian shaved ice either. It has a texture somewhere between the two. Most customers like it. It goes well with any snow cone flavor, and you can use it to make other treats as well, like slushies.
With something this powerful, safety is essential. The Zeny snow cone machine has an automatic safety switch that turns the blades off when the handle is open and turns them on again when you close the lid, and this ensures there’s no risk of coming into contact with the spinning blades.
There’s also an on/off switch on the side that’s water-resistant.
Issues & Limitations
The Zeny snow cone machine is noisy, likely because of the 300W motor. Luckily, you only need to operate it for a short period to get all the crushed ice you need for snow cones.
Another issue is the spout where crushed ice comes out. It could use a better design that prevents ice from flying off in all directions.
Most of the crushed ice does end up in the steel bowl, but some also end up on the counter.
The Zeny snow cone machine is best for: Anyone looking for a powerful and capable snow cone machine that’s also low priced.
Avoid if: You want a quieter snow cone machine.
Snow Cone Machine Buying Guide
What Is a Snow Cone Machine – And How Does It Work?
A snow cone machine makes crushed ice that’s used to make snow cones. Snowcone machines are sometimes referred to as ice crushers or crushed ice machines.
A snow cone machine is different from a shaved ice machine. A shaved ice machine produces fluffy snow-like shaved ice, while a snow cone machine produces coarse crushed ice.
But the two work the same way – using blades to crush or shave the ice.
The blades are driven by a motor in electric machines or by a hand crank in manual machines.
What To Look For In a Snow Cone Machine
1. Type of Ice
The first thing to check is the type of ice the snow cone machine produces. If you want traditional snow cones, make sure you get a machine that makes crushed ice, not shaved ice.
If you prefer the softer texture of shaved ice, then get a machine that produces shaved ice.
Some snow cone machines can make both types of ice depending on how the blades are set and the kind of ice you are using.
2. Power & Capacity
Next, check how powerful the snow cone machine is. If you plan to make snow cones for just your family, you don’t need something powerful.
But if you often host parties or have a lot of kids, get a snow cone machine with a bit more power. It’ll also have more capacity, and you’ll be able to make a lot of snow cones quickly.
Keep in mind that a powerful snow cone machine will be pricier. It’ll also be heavier, bigger, and noisier.
3. Ice Bin
We love snow cone machines that come with an integrated ice bin. It provides a handy place to collect crushed ice, and you can then make several snow cones in one go.
But if you are short on space or plan to make only a few snow cones at a time, a binless machine will do. Get one that can dispense crushed ice into a bowl.
Some snow cone machines come as a kit, with everything you need to make snow cones, including reusable snow cones, spoons, and flavors.
These are great if you want to hit the ground running instead of buying a bunch of different things separately.
5. Electric vs. Manual
An electric snow cone machine is the best choice for most families. It’s easy to use, requires no effort, and it makes a lot of crushed ice in a short time.
If you have a big family or host parties frequently, definitely get an electric snow cone machine.
But if you have a small family and want a low-priced snow cone machine, get a manual hand crank snow cone machine.
6. Build Quality
Check the snow cone machine’s build quality.
Crushing ice is a lot of work. The blades should be stainless steel. Check if customers are complaining about the blades breaking or going dull.
For everyday use at home, a well-built plastic body snow cone machine should easily serve you well for quite some years.
But if you make lots of snow cones often for events and parties, we recommend getting a commercial-grade snow cone machine with a mostly metal body since it’ll last longer.
A safe snow cone machine should never have the spinning blades exposed.
Most snow cone machines have an automatic safety switch. The blades only start up when you close the lid on the hopper and will automatically stop when you open the lid.
If a particular machine doesn’t have that feature, don’t get it.
How To Make The Best Snow Cone Ice
Snowcone machines are easy to use, and most don’t need special ice or molds. Just get a bag of ice from the store or use ice cubes from your freezer.
Bullet ice from countertop ice makers also works great.
Plug in the snow cone machine and open the hopper. Add ice cubes until the hopper is full or up to the recommended level.
Close the lid. The blades should start spinning automatically as long as the machine is switched on (some machines have no physical switch).
Keep the lid on until all the ice has been crushed and dispensed into a bowl or bin. Add more ice cubes to the hopper if you need more crushed ice.
Make snow cones immediately since crushed ice melts quickly. We recommend having all the items you need on hand before you begin crushing the ice, including the flavors, snow cones, an ice scoop, and spoons or straws.
Here are some additional tips.
- Place a towel under the machine to catch any meltwater and stray crushed ice.
- After you are done, open the hopper lid and leave the machine on the counter to air dry.
- Check if you can adjust the coarseness of ice. This is available only in some models, and it lets you make both fine and coarse snow cones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a difference between shaved ice and snow cones?
Shaved ice is fine and fluffy, similar to snow. Snow cones are coarse and crunchy since they are made from crushed ice.
Can you make snow cones from shaved ice?
You certainly can if you want. In fact, some people prefer the texture of shaved ice snow cones compared to traditional snow cones.
To make shaved ice snow cones, you’ll need to buy a shaved ice machine.
Can you make snow cones with a blender?
Yes, you can. But you need a powerful blender (at least 1000W). Place ice cubes in the blender and pulse several times to make crushed ice.
Scoop the ice into snow cones and add flavoring.
Final Verdict: What is The Best Snow Cone Machine Sold Today?
The Nostalgia RSM602 is the best snow cone machine sold today. It’s affordably priced, easy to use, and versatile enough to serve a small family or a birthday party.