You want crunchable nugget ice on demand, but the countertop machines that make them come with pretty steep price tags. We’re happy to report that there’s a much more budget-friendly option: the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker. It’s cheaper than any of its competitors, and as a bonus, it takes less time to produce a batch of deliciously chewable ice. Sadly, it does have a couple of mechanical faults that require some workarounds.
Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker
3.8 / 5
- Only takes 12-15 minutes to produce a batch of ice
- UV sterilizing light
- Slim profile
- Too tall for some kitchens
- May break if left running a long time
- Prone to leaks
- On the noisy side
- $100-150 cost to return if you claim a warranty replacement.
You do have to drain it after your unconsumed ice is melted, but that actually keeps things more sanitary than having stagnant water in a machine...it does have a cleaning mode I use before running a new cycle of ice. It’s quick, efficient, and I love the ice!
Our 2 Cents
The Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker is one of the least expensive countertop pellet ice makers on the market, and it has a couple of unique features worth mentioning. If you’re willing to put up with a few quirks for fast, affordable, and high-quality nugget ice, then this might be the machine for you.
What We Liked
1) Low Batch Time
Nugget ice can’t be stockpiled like traditional ice cubes, because freezing temperatures cause the pellets to pack down and lose the fluffiness that makes them chewable. That means you can’t just reach into the freezer and grab a cupful of nugget ice whenever the craving strikes. You have to wait for your machine to make a new batch (unless you’re leaving it on continuously, which we don’t recommend due to the noise and risk of breakage).
The good news is that the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker has a lower wait time than any of the other options we surveyed. The whole ice-making process, from switching the machine on to filling your cup with nuggets, takes about 15 minutes. Once the device is up and running, the time for each new batch drops to around 10-12 minutes.
That’s less than half the wait time required for some of this machine’s closest competitors. Even many of the critical reviews on Amazon mentioned its impressive speed.
This rapid operation means you can easily produce more than 40 pounds of ice per day with the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker, and the roomy bin holds up to 3 pounds at a time. No need to worry about being able to supply enough ice for your summer pool party!
2) UV Sterilizing Light
With any kitchen appliance that circulates water, you need to be wary of letting mold and bacteria build up. Any decent ice maker will let you run a cleaning cycle with some soap or vinegar to address this issue. But the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker offers an additional safeguard: a sterilizing ultraviolet light.
Pressing the “UV” button above the ice bin turns on a lamp that blasts the interior of the machine with ultraviolet rays, killing microorganisms before they can get a toehold. If you’re especially hygiene-conscious, you can run it the entire time the machine is plugged in. Just turn off the lamp before you open the bin; exposure to that radiation isn’t as bad for you as it is for microbes, but it’s still not a good idea.
The UV function is deceptively simple to use, though for some reason it’s not explained in the manual. It’s just a single button to start and stop the lamp. Don’t get confused if you notice no change when it turns on - UV rays are invisible.
3) Slim Profile
Space comes at a premium in most kitchens. It can be a struggle to justify purchasing a new appliance when your countertop already houses a coffee maker, a toaster, a knife block, and who knows what else.
At less than 10 inches wide, the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker isn’t hard to slot next to the other items occupying your counter space. You don’t need to connect it to a water line, either. This machine uses a self-contained reservoir that reuses the water from melting ice nuggets; there’s no need for an external hookup.
The Frigidaire is also far lighter than the competition, weighing in at just under 20 pounds. It’s easy to carry out to your RV if you want to have nugget ice on hand for your next glamping trip.
What We Didn't Like
1) Too Tall for Some Kitchens
The Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker achieves its slender build by placing the reservoir at the top. That means you trade away some vertical space for the extra room at the sides - the device is more than a foot and a half in height.
That won’t be a dealbreaker for everyone, but you should take a minute to measure the space between your counter and your cabinets. If you don’t have enough clearance, there may be very few spots where you can keep this machine. Consider your kitchen layout carefully before adding this item to your shopping cart.
2) May Break if Run Continuously
This is the most glaring issue we encountered with the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker. A number of customers reported that after they went to bed or left the room, the upper compartment filled with ice until it cracked open at the top. What seems to be happening is that when the machine runs for too long, the mechanical arm that funnels nuggets into the bin can fail, letting ice pile up in the top.
This is a pretty severe flaw, made worse by the fact that the company’s warranty and return policy are quite aggravating. Many Amazon reviewers complain that they couldn’t get any response to their claim, or that the company refused to cover the costs of shipping the broken machine back. (Note that although this unit is sold under the Frigidaire brand, it’s actually made and serviced by a company named Curtis International).
Take a look at the comments below. You'll see there was a buyer who received a response for a warranty claim but was responsible for paying shipping to send the unit back. A cost that can vary but can cost upward of $150.
So why would anyone buy this ice maker? Well, although it’s a serious issue, it seems fairly simple to avoid - just unplug the machine after using it, rather than leaving it powered on and unattended for hours.
It’s annoying that this workaround is necessary, and it’s a shame that you can’t count on having fresh nugget ice ready when you get home from work. But many users are happy to live with these limitations in exchange for the lower price.
3) Tends to Leak
As we mentioned above, these machines can’t keep their ice frozen, because that would remove the crunchy lightness that makes nugget ice so popular. Instead, the ice begins to melt once it drops into the tray, and the water circulates back into the reservoir to form new nuggets.
All well and good. Unfortunately for the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker, the system that draws the meltwater back up is less than stellar. As a result, liquid builds up in the bottom and begins to leak out of the base. The tiny drip tray that’s included overflows so quickly that it’s pretty much useless.
As with the bursting problem described above, there’s a workaround: every so often, you can drain the excess water out using the hoses in the back of the unit. One reviewer also claimed that you can stop the leakage by slightly propping the front two feet up, channeling the water toward the collection area at the rear of the device.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the lower sticker price makes all this jerry-rigging worth it.
This isn’t unique to the Frigidaire, but it’s worth a mention: nugget ice machines are quite a bit louder than the gentle hum of the ice maker in your freezer. Customer opinions vary widely on whether or not the noise level is tolerable, so if you’re especially sensitive to sound, you might want to pass on this appliance.
Note that if the device is making a truly awful grinding or screeching sound, it probably needs a descaling to remove minerals left behind by your tap water. Fill up the reservoir, add a little vinegar, and run a cleaning cycle. That should resolve the problem.
Suggestions Before You Buy
If you’re thinking of getting the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker, we’d recommend taking a few extra steps before whipping out your credit card:
Overall Product Rating
Our take on the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker is decidedly mixed. It’s a slim, lightweight machine that works fast and produces high-quality nugget ice. It’s also one of the most affordable choices. On the other hand, it seems to have sacrificed a fair amount of durability to get the weight and sticker price down. This could be a decent pick if you’re a nugget ice fanatic on a budget, but be prepared to baby this appliance in order to keep it running smoothly.
If you love nugget ice, want to save some cash, and don’t mind a little preventative maintenance, the Frigidaire Nugget Ice Maker may be just what you’re looking for. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it device that you can leave running in the background for hours at a time, but it’s unbeatable for speed and portability. With proper precautions and frequent cleaning, it will keep you well-supplied with crisp, crunchy nugget ice.
Thanks for reading, and please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments.
Founder of Robust Kitchen