If you've ever been to a Sonic drive-in restaurant you know how amazing their ice is in their slushies and their drinks. The small soft nugget ice is extremely chewable and flavorsome and it's loved by many.
But rather than driving to your nearest Sonic it is actually possible to make this nugget ice at home and have it in any drink you want. There a few simple ways you can do this.
You can make sonic ice at home by purchasing a nugget ice maker or using a nugget ice cube tray. You can buy ice bags directly from Sonic or fill ice cube trays with less water. You could also crush your ice, freeze carbonated water for soft ice, use an ice shaver, or purchase a tabletop ice maker.
Finding Sonic ice in your local supermarket is next to impossible, but you will be happy to know that there are many ways you can make Sonic ice at home quickly and easily! Continue reading with us to find out!
What Exactly Is Sonic Ice, And How Is It Made?
Sonic ice is called many other names, including nugget ice, cubelet ice, or pellet ice. This is because it's shaped like little nuggets or pellets.
It's good to know these terms as it can help you find the right machines or methods for making this kind of ice.
It's also good to know that Sonic ice is completely uniquer to Sonic, there are other restaurants that use this same ice and machines you can buy from your home that make ice exactly the same as Sonic restaurants do.
Whatever you decide to call it, Sonic ice is known as a soft and chewable style of cube that was initially made for hospital patients. As this type of ice became increasingly popular, schools and other industries have also begun using it.
The reason Sonic ice is so soft and chewable is it's made from flaked ice that is then compressed and pushed through small holes where it is then broken off to make the little nugget sized pieces we know and love. Nugget ice machines are actually fascinating in the way they work. Click here to learn exactly how nugget ice machines work to create delicious Sonic ice.
8 Best Ways To Make Sonic Ice At Home
If you're looking to make quick and easy sonic ice at home continue reading to find the best method for you!
1. Purchase a Nugget Ice Maker
Hands down to make the best authentic Sonic ice at home is to use a nugget ice maker.
This is the exact same type of ice make that Sonic uses in their restaurants…only Sonic have commercial machines that make huge quantities of ice and these at home machines are smaller and make less ice.
The GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker is the highly recommended and rated machine on the market for making nugget ice in the comfort of your own home.
This machine may come at a high price tag, ranging from $500-$600. However, this machine is worth the money if you and your household consume lots of ice, you love sonic ice, you've got the space and budget, and if you want great-tasting ice without waiting!
The Opal starts making ice in as little as 15 minutes and can make 1 pound of ice every hour and store up to 3lbs of ice at a time.
This ice machine is the best compared to cheaper models and will provide fresh sonic ice all day long. This should be your first choice if you're serious about making sonic ice at home! You can see the latest price of the opal nugget ice maker at Walmart here.
2. Use A Nugget Ice Cube Tray
Using a nugget ice cube tray is one of the cheapest, quickest and easiest approaches on the list. It's what I've done and my kids absolutely love it. It's their favorite type of ice and they even refill the trays themselves because they like the ice so much.
Fill the opening of this ice cube tray with water just like a traditional ice cube tray. Place it in your freezer and wait for it to freeze!
The silicone tray makes it effortless to take out your pebbles once they have frozen.
They are very similar in texture and size to Sonic ice, it's just a little bit harder and more square. This is because nugget ice makers compress flaked ice making the ice cubes softer but these ice cube trays freeze the water like normal.
I personally use and recommend these silicone nugget ice cube trays (at Amazon). They come in a 3 pack and are very affordable. The ice also freezes surprisingly quickly in them and they aren't too hard to get the ice out.
3. Purchase Bags Of Ice Directly From Sonic
If you're a huge fan of sonic ice, you might be happy to hear you can order a bag directly from Sonic for as little as $2!
This is great if you're hosting a party and you want to keep your freezer stocked in case. This article on Hip2Save gives you all the details on how to get it.
It's a super affordable option to have sonic ice whenever you want it. Just make sure you store the bagged ice properly so it doesn't all stick together and get ruined.
4. Fill Up Your Ice Cube Trays Only A Small Amount
While large ice cube trays can be handy for creating regular ice cubes, they may take much longer to freeze due to their large sizes and they aren't as soft and delicious as Sonic ice.
If you don't want to spend the money on an expensive nugget ice machine or you don't have a small nugget ice cube tray then simply fill your ice cube trays with very little water and place them in your freezer.
This way, you will have numerous smaller ice cubes in a much faster time frame!
You can even break up these small ice cubes to make them even more like Sonic ice.
5. Crush Up Ice In a Teatowel With A Hammer
If you're looking for another alternative smashing existing ice cubes is a great way to make small pebble-sized ice cubes with minimal effort.
You can achieve this by making ice cubes as you usually would and wrapping them in a tea towel. Lay them on a chopping board then use your hammer to hit the ice as many times you want to until you end up with crushed or shaved ice!
To make things easier I suggest this Lewis Ice Bag and Wooden Mallet (at Amazon). It comes with a cloth bag and a wooden mallet for easily crushing ice without making a mess.
6. Freeze Carbonated Water To Make Soft Ice
If you're more interested in soft and chewable texture than the size, freezing carbonated water would be your best bet! You don't need special equipment or ice cube molds, and it's easy!
Simply pour carbonated water into your ice cube tray and place it in the freezer. You can't make fizzy ice but what will happen is the carbon dioxide will escape as the ice freezes making the ice super soft to each.
The ice would be white in the middle due to the bubbles in the carbonated water. The carbon dioxide bubbles will be forced out as the ice freezes, leaving you with soft and chewable ice.
7. Use An Ice Shaver, Then Recompact The Ice Using An Ice Cube Tray Mold
Nugget ice machines are so expensive because they have a lot of technology and moving parts that first created shaved ice and then compresses it into nuggets.
An ice shaver will allow you to make shaved ice great for snow cones and slushies and you have the option to compact it as well.
Simply turn your ice shaver on allow it to make ice and place the ice in a container. Use any suitable-sized ice cube tray mold, or even just your hands, to compact your ice and use it in any delicious drinks of your choice!
I like and recommend this Hawaiian Ice Shaver (at Amazon). It's highly rated and very affordable and is a simple way to quickly make shaved ice. It also has a small profile so it won't take up loads of space on your kitchen bench.
8. Purchase A Tabletop Ice Maker
You can purchase a tabletop ice maker if you're after ice in general. They might not be as good as the Sonic ice you prefer but it's an inexpensive and easy way to make ice that is pretty soft.
These ice-making machines produce pieces of ice called bullet ice, which will cost you anywhere from $100 to $250 and produce roughly 25 to 50 pounds of ice daily.
If I was to buy one I'd most likely get the Wizisa Countertop Small Ice Maker (at Amazon). It's one of the more affordable options but it also has high customer ratings, meaning it's less likely to have issues. It can also make ice in just 6 minutes!
Making sonic or nugget ice at home isn't as difficult as it seems and with a little trial and error you will surely get the hang of it in no time!
If everything else fails, you can always buy sonic ice directly from Sonic!