It's only been in the last 10 years or so that countertop nugget ice makers have come onto the market.
Before this the only way to get nugget ice was to get a commercial machine or perhaps go to your local Sonic restaurant and buy a bag.
With the success and popularity of the first countertop nugget ice maker back in 2015 new improved versions of countertop nugget ice makers have begun to show up and it can be tricky to know which is the best one to buy.
These ice makers aren't cheap and if you're going to be spending $300-$700 you want to make sure you're buying a good product. So what are the best countertop nugget ice makers on the market and how do you decide which one is right for you?
What To Look For In A Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Nugget ice makers are different to regular ice makers. The way nugget ice makers work is they create flaked ice which is then scraped off and compressed into nuggets by a spinning auger.
Nugget ice makers create perfect little ice cubes that are easy to fit in your mouth and are soft and easy to chew (think compacted snow). They are also porous and absorb the flavor of your drink plus they cool down drinks super fast.
Kids and adults alike absolutely love this ice especially during summertime. Nothing beats nugget ice on a hot day.
For this reason nugget ice makers are in high demand and there are several different makes and models you can choose from.
Nugget ice makers can be expensive but they are well worth the money if you can afford them and if you're going to get enough use out of them.
Even though there are other methods you can use to make nugget ice at home, having an ice maker on your countertop is easier, more convenient and the quantity of ice these machines put out is much more than you could achieve in your freezer at home.
Before we get to the best nugget ice makers we will go through how to distinguish a good nugget ice maker from a not-so-good one.
When you are looking for a nugget ice maker there are a few things you should search for to ensure you buy the best nugget ice maker for you. It's important to weigh your options and find the ice maker that suits all your needs as you don't want to regret your purchase later.
So let's go through what you should look for in a nugget ice maker.
Quality And Brand
The first thing you should search for with nugget ice makers is the brand that makes the ice maker. Because this is such a new category of ice makers some brands are superior to others and are more well-known while other brands are trying to quickly enter the market with a cheap “me-too” product that could be riddled with maintenance issues.
Well-known brands are often more popular and have been around for a bit longer – giving them time to work out the kinks in their machine and fix any issues that original versions may have had. They can often offer better customer care and easily fit a problem with your ice machine should a problem arise.
You should also look for the quality of the material that the ice maker is made from. If it looks cheap it probably is and if the price sounds good to be true…it also probably is.
Because nugget ice machines work in intricate ways you need a high-quality ice maker where the moving parts won't break or must be replaced within the first year of use.
Usually, the more well-known brands use higher-quality materials in their products and this means your nugget ice maker is less likely to stop making ice for some unknown reason.
Size Of The Nugget Ice Maker
The size of the nugget ice maker is a big factor that you need to consider before you decide on the ice maker to buy for your home. Countertop nugget ice makers come in varying sizes, and most of them are actually pretty large.
You should not assume that the ice maker you buy can fit on your kitchen counter properly and you should always get the measurements and measure it first.
You should measure your countertop where you want the ice maker to go and look for nugget ice makers that match these measurements.
Some nugget ice makers are smaller and some can be directly connected to a water source – saving space as a water reservoir isn't needed.
This will also help you decide on how much counter space you are willing to give up to the nugget ice maker. As they can be difficult to store, so they will be on your counter at all times.
Production And Storage Capacity
When deciding on a nugget ice maker for your home you need to consider the production and storage capacity of the nugget ice maker you will need.
Most nugget ice makers have a similar production capacity. Nugget ice makers start making ice in as little as 15 minutes and most countertop nugget ice maker will make between 1-2 pounds of ice per hour.
But the storage capacities vary considerably. Some have as little as 1 pound of storage while others have a larger 3-4 pound storage bin.
If your family goes through a lot of ice in a day, you will need a fast-working ice maker with a large storage capacity to supply the demand for ice in your home.
Smaller ice makers won't have enough power to freeze as much water as fast as the bigger ones, and they won't be able to store as much ice.
You need to know how much ice the ice maker makes per hour and how much it can store.
Authentic Nugget Ice
When looking for a machine that makes nugget ice, you want to ensure you buy an ice maker that makes authentic nugget ice and not just small ice cubes.
Anyone who loves nugget ice will tell you there is a large difference between nugget ice and small ice cubes.
Nugget ice is easier to eat and chew by itself and makes for a great way to stay cool on a scorching day, while small ice cubes are more difficult to eat as they are slightly bigger than nugget ice.
Look very closely at the machines you're considering and make sure it makes authentic nugget ice.
NOTE: Each machine in this list makes nugget ice.
Warranty And Reliability
When searching for the best nugget ice maker for you, one thing you need to consider is if the ice makers you are looking at have a good warranty or not. This is an important factor as you don't want to buy an ice maker only for it to break within a week of using it, and you have to pay out of pocket to fix it.
One of the problems with nugget ice makers is they are a bit more complicated than regular ice makers so there is a higher chance of things going wrong.
We-known ice maker brands generally have good warranties that last for a year or two, and they are more reliable when you need help with your ice maker. So, always ensure there is a warranty with a reliable company that can help you when you need it.
1. GE Opal 2.0 Nugget Ice Maker
Best + Most Popular Nugget Maker
The GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker is the top ice maker on this list. This is one of the best countertop ice makers you could ever get your hands on.
It was the first countertop nugget ice maker made for the home market back in 2015 and since it's initial release it has been iterated on and improved multiple times. Each version gets slightly better than the previous and this has given GE time to fix any common issues.
This ice maker is recommended by many people for its great productivity and storage capacity. This nugget ice maker is one of the more expensive nugget ice makers, but it's well worth the money if you can afford it.
The GE Opal 2.0 nugget ice maker is the best overall nugget ice maker on the market today and honestly this is without a doubt. The brand recognition, time in the market, popularity, warranty and overall quality just makes this product an easy choice.
The Opal nugget ice maker can make 1 pound of ice every hour and has 3 pounds of ice storage space. The size of this nugget maker is 15.5 x 10.5 x 16.5 inches but then you need to add in the dimensions of the water reservoir on the side which makes it even bigger.
This ice maker is made from stainless steel, meaning it's unlikely to break easily and will last you a long time.
The water reservoir can hold about 1 gallon of water, making about 8 pounds of nugget ice.
You can find this nugget ice maker at Walmart, Amazon or the GE brands website.
|Makes 1lb of ice every hour||One of the more expensive models|
|Starts making ice in as little as 15 minutes||It can be noisy when operating|
|Holds 3 pounds of ice in the storage bin||It's quite large so isn't great for small counter spaces|
|GE is a well known brand and this was the first countertop nugget ice machine||The storage bin is not refrigerated leading to ice melting after it's made|
|It has built in Wi-Fi and app control|
2. New Air's Nugget Ice Maker
If you don't like the look of the Opal then the NewAir is the next and most obvious choice.
The NewAir's nugget ice maker is another excellent nugget ice maker that many people recommend.
This nugget ice maker has a brilliant self-cleaning function to help make the maintenance of the machine as easy as possible.
This nugget ice maker is perfect for home use as it can easily fit on kitchen countertops and doesn't take up much space. The size of this nugget ice maker is 17 x 10 x 17 inches.
It's not just a cheap “me-too” product but actually a high quality nugget ice maker that seems to work really well. You can see it being used in the video below:
The New Air's nugget ice maker is my best budget pick on this list. It's not the absolute cheapest option but it does offer some serious savings compared to the Opal.
So if you have a budget and looking for a good high-quality nugget ice maker, this is the product for you.
This nugget ice maker will give you a steady stream of perfectly shaped, chewable nugget ice whenever you want it.
This ice maker can make 44 pounds of ice per day and can have the first ice made within 10 minutes of filling the water reservoir. There is also a smaller version that only makes 30 pounds of ice per day (still more than enough) that is a fair bit cheaper than it's larger sibling.
This ice maker has a light in the ice holder, so you can easily see how much ice is left in the machine. You can find this nugget ice maker on Amazon via the link below or the New Air website.
|A more affordable nugget ice machine||The machine has a plastic body – not stainless stell|
|Makes up to 44 pounds of ice per day||The ice bin isn't refrigerated|
|It's very quick – starts making ice in 10 minutes|
|Compact design that saves counter space|
|Not too heavy and easier to move around|
|Storage box lights up with a blue light|
|It has a self-cleaning function|
3. GE Profile Opal Dispense Nugget Ice Maker
I hate to list the same brand's product as #1 and #3 but in this circumstance I can't help but do exactly that.
The GE Opal is THE BEST brand when it comes to nugget ice makers and their new Opal Dispense is the latest and greatest in their lineup.
The obvious major difference here is the fact that the ice is dispensed straight into your cup or bucket and you don't need to scoop it out. This is much easier and more convenient and honestly looks like a lot of fun.
The downside to this is it comes with a higher price tag, you can't actually see the storage bin to know how much ice is in there and also it has a smaller storage capacity (1.8 pounds vs 3 pounds with the regular Opal).
In saying that, the GE Profile Opal nugget ice maker dispenser can produce a huge 38 pounds of ice in 24 hours (vs 24 pounds in 24 hours for the original) and is considered a rapid production machine. You can have your first batch of ice ready within 15 minutes of the machine being on.
You can connect this ice maker with an app on your phone, which can help you monitor the ice maker and schedule when you want your ice to be made.
It also comes with a built in water filter that means your ice will always taste great. Some people can have some difficulties with the filters on this machine, but most people find this ice maker to be one of the best.
This ice maker is about 17.4 x 15.2 x 16.9 inches and features a new all black design which looks very sleek and futuristic. You can find this ice maker on the GE Appliances website.
|Makes 38 pounds of ice per day||Smaller storage bin than other models|
|One gallon water reservoir makes 8 pounds of ice at a time||You can't see inside it to know how much ice is available|
|It has an automatic self-cleaning function||The water reservoir has to be refilled manually|
|Makes ice very quickly: 15 minutes for first ice||It's THE MOST EXPENSIVE nugget ice maker on this list|
|Built in wif-fi and app control||You might miss scooping the ice if you need larger quantities (unlikely)|
|Automatic software updates|
|Self-dispensing is very convenient|
4. Gevi Household Nugget Ice Maker
The Gevi Household Nugget Ice Maker is an excellent appliance for home use. What I love about this machine compared to the products mentioned above is the fact that it has thick insulation – so your nugget ice cubes won't melt and stick together as quickly as they do with other brands.
This easy-to-use ice maker can make 29 pounds of ice in 24 hours and has a storage capacity of 4.8 pounds – which is one of the biggest storage capacities of any machines on this list. With this little machine, you will never run out of ice.
This ice maker also has a self-cleaning function to help you maintain the ice maker for years to come. The water reservoir can be filled manually or you can directly connect it to your water line so you don't have to worry about refilling it.
This ice maker is compact and can easily fit on kitchen countertops, as this machine only weighs 34 pounds and is 17.6 x 9.7 x 16.9 inches. For people like me living in a small apartment without a huge amount of bench space this nugget ice maker is a great choice.
This ice maker does have plastic components that can break or wear out over time, but this machine does come with a warranty. The price is also very good, making this a really great choice for budget friendly shoppers.
|Makes 29 pounds of ice per day||The navy blue color or white tops may not match other kitchen appliances|
|Compact and tidy stainless steel exterior||The collection container is not refrigerated – however, it is insulated|
|Large storage box holding 4.8 pounds of ice at a time||Not as flashy looking as some other models|
|Water reservoir can be manually filled or directly connect to a water line|
|It is ultra quiet|
|Comes with automatic cleaning function|
5. KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
If you want a self dispensing ice maker but don't want to spend the $600-$700 that the Opal Dispense costs then this is a much cheaper alternative.
The KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker makes about 30 pounds of ice in 24 hours, making this a good production machine.
If you and your family use a huge amount of ice, spread out throughout the day, this is the nugget ice maker for you.
The downside of this ice maker is the fact that it only has approximately a 1 pound storage capacity. So if it's lunch or dinner time and everyone wants to fill up their glasses all at once it can run out of ice pretty quickly.
You can see a video review for this product below:
This ice maker is made from plastic with a stainless-steel looking display panel to control the machine. This machine is 16 x 12 x 17.5 inches, making it a relatively compact ice maker that can fit on your countertop easily.
This machine is self-dispensing, making it a mess-free ice maker.
|Makes up to 30 pounds of ice per day||Small storage container only holding 1 pound of ice|
|Attractive plastic exterior with stainless steel look||Requires distilled water – tap water not advised|
|Self dispensing but budget friendly||Has to be filled manually and you can't see the water level|
|Automatic cleaning function||Takes a bit longer than other ice makers to start making ice (25 minutes vs 10-15 minutes)|
6. Euhomy Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Euhomy countertop nugget ice maker is a lovely little machine that can produce 26 pounds of ice a day and has storage space of around 3 pounds or nugget ice.
This ice maker is 17.64 x 9.69 x 17 inches, making this a lovely compact ice maker.
This ice maker can be linked to a water supply, meaning it is self-refilling, so you don't need to check the reservoir every day to ensure it has water.
This machine has a one-year warranty and is made from stainless steel, so it's a sturdy product.
|An affordable nugget ice maker||Takes slightly longer to get started than other models – around 20 minutes|
|Makes 26 pounds of ice per day||Collection bin isn't refrigerated|
|Has a small compact design||Not as premium looking as other models|
|The storage bin can hold 3.3 pounds|
|The reservoir can be filled manually or attached to your water supply|
|It has a quiet operation|
|Automatic cleaning function|
7. Frigidaire Crunchy Chewable Nugget Ice Maker
The Frigidaire Crunchy Chewable Nugget ice maker is a nifty little machine that can easily fit on countertops. This ice maker is 17 x 12 x 19 inches, and it has a storage capacity of 3 pounds.
This ice maker is one of the cheapest ice makers on this list. However, this drop in price does seem to lead to a drop in review ratings. Being one of the lower rated machines even though it has thousands of reviews.
There is now a V2 of this product which likely iterated on and improved issues with the previous model, however this is a fair bit more expensive so then needs to be compared to the likes of Opal and Newair.
The ice maker is made from plastic with some stainless-steel finishes.
|One of the cheapest machines||Version 2 is more expensive|
|High production rate of 44 pounds per day||Ice bin isn't refrigerated|
|It works quickly, in just 15 minutes||Some complaints about it being quite loud|
|Small slim design minimizes footprint||May be too tall for some kitchens|
|It's lightweight and easy to move||Not great customer reviews|
|Storage bin holds up to 3 pounds of ice|
8. North Air Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
The last ice maker on this list is the North Air countertop ice maker. This is a relatively small ice maker at 9.8 x 16.1 x 19 inches and has a storage capacity of 2.2 pounds.
This ice maker can make 44 pounds of ice per day if needed.
This ice maker has a helpful self-cleaning function to help maintain the machine well. However, this machine only has a 90-day warranty.
This ice maker has many great qualities, but some people are still disappointed with this ice maker.
For some people, this ice maker did not last longer than a few months before it started giving them trouble.
This is disappointing, especially as this machine is not the cheapest, so you should purchase this ice maker cautiously.
|Makes 44 pounds of ice per day||It may be a bit noisy|
|Easy to fill water reservoir||Some bad reviews saying it may leak water or break easily|
|Large storage bin – 3.3 pounds||Can only be filled manually|
|Features automatic self-cleaning|
|Works fast: 10-15 minutes to start making ice|
What Countertop Ice Makers Make Sonic Ice?
Many people enjoy Sonic ice from the Sonic restaurant chain, as they find it easier to chew when their drink is finished, but can countertop ice makers produce this sort after Sonic ice?
Well, Sonic ice and nugget ice are the same thing.
So, you can purchase any of the ice makers mentioned in this article and receive the Sonic ice you've been craving, but at home!
Nugget ice is a popular form of ice that many people have fallen in love with due to its chewability. Many people think you can only get nugget ice from restaurants like Sonic, but this is not the case.
There are several countertop ice makers that you can buy for your home that make nugget ice.
In the list above, you should be able to find a nugget ice maker that suits your needs and the countertop space you have to ensure your nugget ice cravings are met.