Three best snow cone machines

Steph Coelho

Experiment with flavors by mixing simple syrups together to create your own concoction. You can even make your own syrups from scratch!

A snow cone machine is a delightful addition to a child's birthday party, a summertime family event, or a fundraiser. These machines churn out crushed ice that is then flavored with sugary syrup for a refreshing summer treat. Without a machine, it's tough to create delicious snow cones from scratch. With a snow cone machine, the little balls of edible simulated snow are simple to make and the perfect way to add whimsy and fun to your event. With a snow cone machine, all you need in order to put smiles on faces is some ice and yummy syrup.

Considerations when choosing snow cone machines

Size and capacity: For home use, capacity isn't a terribly important consideration, but if you intend to make snow cones for parties, events, or commercial use, the machine should be able to churn out a considerable amount of ice per hour. Keep in mind that larger machines that can serve more people are costlier. For at-home use, consider your storage space. Snow cone machines aren't usually compact and can take up quite a bit of room.

Durability: For longevity, choose a machine with stainless-steel components. Plastic is cheaper than stainless steel, but it isn't as durable.

Supplies: In addition to a snow cone machine, you'll need the following to serve up cold treats: cups, syrup, ice cubes, and spoons. Some machines are equipped with accessories, but at some point, you will need to replenish your supply.

Snow cone machine features

Vintage design: Some snow cone machines have a retro-inspired design. One of these is an excellent choice for fun, "blast from the past" parties or retro kitchens or bars.

Adjustability: A handful of machines offer you the ability to change the texture of the ice. These units are sold at a premium price point.

Safety: Snow cone machines use blades to pulverize ice, so it's essential to check that your chosen machine is equipped with safety features, such as a safety switch to prevent accidental operation of the blades or a lid-lock mechanism that powers on the device only if the lid is securely attached.

Holding tray: Machines with additional components like a holding tray often cost more. Trays are designed to hold cups filled with scooped ice.

Shaved ice vs. snow cones

Shaved ice is not the same as a snow cone. The difference is mainly in the texture of the ice.

Shaved ice machines produce ice that's soft in texture, almost as fluffy as fresh snow. This type of device comes in manual and electric varieties.

Snow cone machines crush ice to produce a finished product that's denser in consistency than that of shaved ice.


Q. How much ice do I need when using a snow cone machine?

A. You'll need 20 pounds of ice to make approximately 50 snow cones (of about 6 ounces each). If you're hosting an event during the summer months, you might want to buy an extra bag or two of ice, since the ice will melt faster in the heat.

Q. Can you make snow cones without a machine?

A. Not really. You could try to use a blender to crush ice, but the texture wouldn't be quite the same. After all, half the fun of making snow cones is using the machine!

Q. Are snow cones good for you?

A. Snow cones aren't particularly nutritious, but they aren't calorie dense. The calories come from the sugar syrups used to flavor the ice, so a snow cone contains about 50 to 70 calories.

Snow cone machines we recommend

Best of the best: Snowie LLC Little Snowie 2 Ice Shaver

Our take: An at-home machine that boasts commercial-quality construction.  

What we like: Made of durable stainless steel and sold with handy accessories like spoons and syrups.

What we dislike: On the expensive side and a bit noisy.

Best bang for your buck: Hawaiian Shaved Ice Electric Snow Cone Machine 

Our take: Best for those with limited storage space and those who prefer simplicity.

What we like: The compact design of this budget unit makes it easy to store. It won't work if you don't have the lid on, which is a nice safety feature.

What we dislike: Slow and a little loud.

Choice 3: Cuisinart Snow Cone Maker 

Our take: A cute quality machine with a counter-ready design.

What we like: Making snow cones with this device is fast and easy. A pop-out tray holds finished cones for serving, and the ice container wipes down easily.

What we dislike: Pricey.

Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.