Clear ice cubes or spheres look absolutely amazing in your drink and they melt slower than regular ice. Clear ice adds elegance and a wow factor to your drinks.
My kids love the clear ice cubes and I also give them to guests when they come over and they are always impressed.
Bars and restaurants are also looking to up their quality when it comes to their cocktails and spirits and clear ice is an obvious way to do this.
While many people think you can just make clear ice with boiling water this is not true. Boiling water in a regular ice cube tray will still make white cloudy ice.
To make clear ice you need a specific clear ice cube maker that will create crystal clear ice without air bubbles.
The real challenge is finding an ice maker that can reliably produce crystal clear cubes. Some options are better than others.
You are not alone if you’ve tried to make clear ice without success. It is challenging to near impossible to make these transparent cubes without a clear ice maker, even if you use distilled or filtered water.
Thus, you must obtain the necessary equipment to recreate restaurant-quality ice at home. That’s why I’ve hunted down the best clear ice makers for you to try.
Clear Ice vs Cloudy Ice
The main difference between cloudy ice and clear ice is air.
Bubbles get trapped inside the ice, and you lose transparency. This makes the ice cubes white in the middle and in order to get clear ice you need to get rid of this air somehow.
Cloudy ice uses lots of air to create a consistent “packed snow” look throughout the block. But most ice made at home is irregular: primarily clear with one big foggy spot in the middle of the cube caused by air. But clear ice is blemish-free.
Both clear ice and cloudy have their pros and cons. Clear ice is aesthetically pleasing and perfect for parties. It is made from water that has been filtered or distilled which minimizes impurities and also makes the ice taste better than it otherwise would.
Features of clear ice include:
- Crystal clear appearance
- Melts slower
- Doesn’t absorb the flavor of the drink
- Devoid of most impurities and minerals
- Tastes better as it melts
- It is difficult to make
- It takes longer to freeze
Chewy ice is excellent for sodas and slushies. It’s ice that you can welcome into your mouth and savor the flavor without breaking a tooth (usually).
It is made with carbonated water, is made from compacted flaked ice (like how nugget ice is made) or uses “contaminants” such as sugar.
Features of cloudy ice include:
- A fizzy, “packed snow” look
- Easy to chew
- Absorbs the drink’s flavor
- Excellent for making slushies
- It has a slight “freezer burn” taste
- Fairly easy to make
How Clear Ice Makers Make Ice
Clear ice makers use omni-directional freezing to create crystal cubes.
“Omni-directional freezing” is the science of causing a liquid to freeze in a single direction.
With a regular ice tray, the cubes are exposed to the cold on all four sides. This makes the liquid freeze from all four directions, starting on the outsides and working towards the center. Bubbles then get pushed towards the center of the ice cube and trapped there making it white or transparent.
But clear ice makers only allow the liquid to freeze in one direction. They achieve this by insulating sides.
Thus, the ice freezes top down, creating a sophisticated and clear cube and pushing all the impurities and air bubbles to the bottom where they can be cut off and discarded.
What Makes A Good Clear Ice Cube Maker?
A quality clear ice cube maker produces excellent results consistently. Of course, all clear ice makers will claim this, but only some of them will be true.
The key features of a good clear ice maker are:
- Heavy insulation
- Durability and Quality of Materials
- Size of ice cubes
- Size of ice cube maker
- Non-spill features
Heavy insulation is the crucial element of a quality clear ice cube maker. Without it, freezing will not be limited to a single direction. As the ice closes in from all sides, it traps air, creating a blemish.
With the more expensive clear ice makers you'll notice that the insulation is often thicker and more robust. Creating better clear ice as the omni-directional freezing is better.
Durability and Quality of Materials
Clear ice cube makers cost more than a standard ice tray. Their design is more complex, and they use more materials.
But the extra cost means nobody wants to have to keep replacing them every six months. So, the product has to last to be worth the extra bucks.
Some cheaper clear ice makers have the insulating foam fully exposed with no plastic over them. These will wear out and deteriorate faster than clear ice makes with a hard plastic exterior.
Size of Ice Cubes
Like ice trays, clear ice makers come in a variety produce different-sized cubes. Large cubes are less prone to diluting your drink so most clear ice makers make larger ice cubes of about 2 inches in size of diameter.
However, they are useless if they don’t fit in your glass so you don't want to go too big. So think about the size a maker produces before purchasing.
Size Of Ice Cube Maker
Because they contain insulation, clear ice makers tend to take up a lot more space in your freezer when compared to regular ice cube trays.
Often there is a trade off between quality of the clear ice and the size of the ice cube tray.
For example, the Tovolo clear ice sphere maker shown above doesn't take up too much space for a clear ice maker that makes 4 spheres. But it doesn't make perfectly clear ice and it tends to have a few little air bubbles left in each ice sphere.
Space is always a premium in the freezer so you need to look at how big the clear ice maker is.
If you're a bar or restaurant and want to make multiple clear ice cubes at a time then space will certainly be a premium.
Cubes take up less space compared to spheres or other shapes and 4 cube ice makers will take up less space than 2 lots of 2 cube ice makers.
Clear ice makers also take around 24-48 hours to make clear ice. So they'll be taking up space for a good deal of time.
This is something I only noticed after buying some clear ice makers myself.
Some of them (particularly the sphere ones) are prone to spilling water and this then freezes hard all over your freezer and is difficult to clear up.
Ideally you want a clear ice maker that is highly unlikely to spill.
Best Clear Ice Maker Molds For The Best Clear Cubes
Different ice cube trays have benefits and downsides when compared to other trays.
Some are higher quality at a higher price while some sacrifice durability for affordability. Some pack more ice cubes in and others still make different shapes like spheres or diamonds.
There are lots of different clear ice cube makers and molds and you need to choose the one that is best for you.
I’ve rounded up an array of clear ice maker molds of different sizes, prices, and materials, and some that feature unique shapes, including spheres. The following selection is durable products with heavy insulation.
1. True Cubes
If you could only look at and purchase one clear ice cube maker then I would have to recommend you get the True Cubes Clear Ice Maker.
This clear ice maker made ice fame when America’s Test Kitchen named it the Best Clear Ice Mold. The ice is incredibly transparent. So much so that it is nearly invisible when submerged in a drink.
True Cubes is used by many bars and restaurants to make high quality clear ice cubes in large quantities.
It's made from high quality materials, creates great clear ice cubes and doesn't take up too much space considering how good the ice cubes are.
True Cubes is straightforward to use:
- Pop the inner silicon trays into the outer container
- Fill the inner tray with regular water
- Pop it into the freezer
- Wait 18-22 hours
- Remove inner trays and separate
- Knock off any ice sticking to the bottom
- Peel off the silicon and release the cubes
The product isn’t too bulky, about the size of a commuter’s lunch cooler.
It produces four large 2-inch square cubes at a time.
The True Cube design is BPA-free and removes 98% of TDS and metals. An excellent, hassle-free product.
The only downside is you need a lot of them if you’re throwing a big bash. But for personal use, it’s perfect, as one cube lasts ages.
2. Belinzo Premium Clear Ice Cube Maker
The Belinzo Premium Clear Ice Cube Maker is another straightforward design that produces 2 large, square cubes in 24-48 hours. There is also a larger version that makes 4 ice cubes at a time.
The Belinzo also comes with a handy storage bag so you can easily decant and refill it to stock up for special occasions. Airtight bags are the best way to store ice in your freezer as it stops it absorbing any bad smells or odors which can make your ice taste bad.
You don't want to go to all the effort to make these beautiful clear ice cubes only to have them ruined by last's night's garlicky leftovers.
Each large 2.4-inch square cube will last long enough to refresh a drink 2-3 times.
Belinzo produces clear, elegant blocks. The outer shell is heavily insulated, ensuring the ice freezes in one direction.
There is also an anti-spillage cavity should you accidentally fill slightly past the water mark or have a wobble on the way to the freezer.
The actual molds are BPA-free and is a cinch to remove for dispensing and cleaning.
3. Belinzo Premium Clear Ice Sphere Maker
If you'd rather spheres than cube then Berlinzo has you covered there too.
The Belinzo Premium Clear Ice Sphere Maker produces elegant balls that will wow your guests and make any evening feel special, even when relaxing on your own.
The 2.4-inch balls can are made similarly to their cubed cousins. It has the same excellent insulation with easy-to-remove molds and comes with a storage bag.
This version comes in 3 sizes – 1, 2 and 4 ice spheres at a time. So if it's just for yourself in a small freezer one might be enough but for larger families like mine the 4 ice spheres version is going to be the best option.
The Belinzo approach to making sphere ice is easier than regular ball trays. Instead of trying to fill it through the tiny holes at the top, you simply fill up the outer shell with water, then drop the tray into place.
Thankfully, this does not cause the molds to freeze into the shell. Instead, it comes free with minimal effort when it is time to remove them. It also avoids the spills that come with some other products.
This product also has a hard outer shell which makes it more durable and it's tall and thin meaning it doesn't take up too much space in your freezer.
4. Coleman Flip Lid Cooler
The Coleman Flip Lid Cooler is an affordable option for those wanting to have crystal clear ice without the bank-breaking costs.
This isn’t a specialty device. It is precisely what it claims: a cooler.
But the insulation and size are the right fit for most freezers.
If you’ve never made clear ice with a cooler, I’ve got the directions right here. Believe me; it is simple and uncomplicated to do.
Simply take the lid off the cooler and fill in 3/4 full and place in your freezer. Then leave to freeze for 24-48 hours. Once frozen tip upside down in the sink and leave to melt for a bit until the large block of ice comes out.
You can cut away and discard any cloudy ice but the top should be completely clear.
This is one of the cheapest options to make a lot of clear ice quickly, however it does mean you'll need to cut the ice cubes yourself from the giant block which can take a fair bit of work and the ice cubes are less regular looking.
5. UrbanXElites Crystal Clear Ice Maker
The UrbanXElites Crystal Clear Ice Maker is a 2-in-1 making traditional 2.36-inch smooth, globe spheres or geodesic.
The former’s hexagonal design is like having a queen’s jewel dropped directly into your drink. The set makes four ice spheres in 24-36 hours. It also has its own set of ice pinchers and two storage bags.
The bags are great for storing clear ice spheres for your next dinner party, and you’ll have every guest feeling like royalty.
The UrbanXElite’s design is one of the most user-friendly and comfortable out there. Instead of pulling up the mold from the sides of the outer shell, there are silicon handles at the top.
As a result, hands can smoothly slide in, grip, and pull. This prevents the trays from getting stuck and waiting for the bottom to defrost.
6. OnTheRocks – Crystal Clear Ice Cube Maker
OnTheRocks Crystal Clear Ice Cube Maker can be used with its tray or like a cooler, creating a single large block of ice.
The latter is fun if you are artistic, as you can shape it into a centerpiece to wow your friends. The molded 2-inch cubes require 24 hours to freeze.
Like many on this list, it uses the “drop-in” method, making it a cinch to fill and means it is less likely to spill.
The downside to this product is it doesn't feel as premium as the Berlinzo or True Cubes yet it still commands a high price. I'm not sure if it's quite worth it when compared to other brands.
7. Tovolo King Clear Ice Cube Mold
Tovolo King Clear Ice Cube Mold is impressively smaller than most on this list. Instead of a bulky “cooler box,” it looks like a rectangular candle holder for four cubes.
The four silicon molds sit in a tray and are filled through a spigot in the middle. Then you click the insulation around it, like a jacket, and four seam-free clear cubes will be ready in 12-16 hours.
Admittedly, this one takes slightly more skill than the bulkier cooler box styles and it can lead to some spilling in the freezer. But it only takes a few tries to learn the knack, and then you’re saving space and time.
It doesn't make perfectly clear ice cubes and usually you'll have a few bubbles in them, but they are mostly clear and this is a very affordable option.
8. Tovolo Seamless Clear Sphere Ice Maker
This is one of the more affordable sphere options, it only weighs just over a pound (most weight well over two), and it doesn’t eat up so much freezer space.
It works like the Tovolo cube maker, produces very satisfyingly clear globes, and has lasted me for ages.
It doesn't make perfectly clear ice spheres and the Berlinzo makes better ones, but it's a lot cheaper than that product and the ice spheres it does make only have a couple of bubbles in them which is fine for me.
I highly recommend this product for someone looking to save space and money.
9. Jell-Cell Clear Cube Silicone Mold
The Jell-Cell Clear Cube Silicone Mold is a mid-priced option that utilizes Jell-Cell trays made of non-stick silicone.
The outside shell is plain white, nothing fancy to look at. But when it is in your freezer, you’ll hardly care.
Besides, it makes ten (10!) large 2-inch clear cubes in 18-24 hours. The cubes are unlikely to be perfectly clear given how many you are making at a time but they'll definitely be clearer than a regular ice cube tray and this is the tradeoff for being able to make a lot of ice cubes in a small space.
So the Clear Cube ice maker is perfect for large families or those that enjoy entertaining.
10. Iceology 8 Count Clear Ice Cube Maker
Not everyone who loves clear ice wants a 2-inch cube.
The Dexas iceology 8 count clear ice cube tray is filling the market gap, creating a cocktail ice maker that produces cubes only 1.375 inches squared.
They look dainty in fancy drinks and can fit inside some water bottles. This can look pretty when fruit, herbs, or edible flowers are frozen inside.
The individual silicon molds fit into a tray that slots into the insulated inner. These individual blocks can be pulled apart like children’s building bricks once your ice is ready. This makes the ice easy to retrieve without chipping it.
If you want smaller clear ice cubes and more of them then this is the clear ice cube maker for you.
Best Countertop Clear Ice Cube Makers
If you are a dedicated lover of clear ice, you might find molds don’t meet your needs.
Molds take a lot of time, eat up significant freezer space, and only produce a few cubes at a time. It is hardly like going to a restaurant and filling up a tall glass of ice. Nor is it handy for those who regularly entertain guests or are like me and have kids who love using ice in almost anything.
If you want to produce large quantities without buying bags of crystal-clear ice, then you need to use a countertop ice maker.
These countertop clear ice makers utilize similar technology used in machines made for restaurants and bag ice sellers. However, these only use up a fraction of the space (whew).
They do this by constantly running water over a cold metal plate. This causes the ice to freeze from the bottom up while the air bubbles and extra minerals get washed away.
This leaves clear ice cubes much like you would find at McDonalds.
They won't be bit cubes like the ice cube trays above, they will be a lot smaller. But they'll make a lot more ice a lot faster.
11. Frigidaire EFIC452 Countertop Clear Ice Maker
The Frigidaire EFIC452 Countertop Clear Ice Maker not only produces reliable quantities of cubes, but it also doubles as entertainment for children, cats, and hey, I found it fun, too. The machine does work slower than a standard countertop ice maker. But it is loads faster than making them in your freezer with molds.
You can see it in action in this entertaining video. It is worth a watch, as it not only shows the appliance in action but demonstrates how it compares with cloudy ice.
The clear cubes keep drinks colder, and their slower melt rate means your drink doesn’t quickly become watered down.
This machine is quite affordable when you compare it to countertop nugget ice machines but it makes extremely high quality ice and (in my opinion) is better than the “bullet ice” that is made from other cheap countertop machines.
12. Luma Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker
The Luna Comfort Clear Ice Cube Maker is the most expensive product on the list. But this sleek design produces ice fast, first cubes in only 15 minutes, and in 24 hours, you’ll have 28 pounds of cold, clear chill.
It is a time saver, as you won’t have to head to the store whenever you need bags of ice.
This design is easy to use. You plug it in and add water; that’s it.
Cleaning is simple, and it even has a side-mounted drain, making rinsing it out simple and mess-free.
This is perfect for people who like to stock up on ice for picnics, fishing trips, camping, and having Superbowl parties and large BBQs.