An absolutely brilliant invention, nugget ice has gained quite the following. And while most "hype" products come and go, we don't think chewable ice is going anywhere. Ice is used by millions of households all over the world, but it has one major downfall...
It's hard as rock.
Nugget ice completely alleviates this problem and yet provides all the cooling qualities of everyday ice. With all that said, the technology is still in its infancy. It's important to take the time to find a nugget ice machine that will create tried-and-true chewable ice.
Below we've outlined the best countertop nugget ice makers to date. We hope this guide will answer all your ice maker questions, and help you find the machine you've been searching for.
Our Overall #1 Pick
Fixing many of the issues the previous model had, the upgraded GE Opal Ice Maker Version 2 is currently the industry favorite. GE Fixed the previous leak issues with a spring loaded hold and replaced the finicky bluetooth with wifi compatibility. For more information on the differences between Version 1 and 2, click here.
Other Top Products
Best Nugget Ice Makers
1) GE Profile Opal Countertop
Sonic Ice Maker V2
The GE Opal Pebble Ice Maker V2 has some notable design differences from its predecessor.
For starters, most fans can appreciate the lack of drip spillage - the rear holes have been replaced by a spring-loaded hold that only opens when the bin is fully inside the appliance.
Out of the 2,100+ GE reviews (as of 03/17/22), most rated within the 5-star category which is why we gave this machine a 4.5 rating. Many customers loved the design improvements such as rounded corners and touch button functionality.
Check out our side-by-side comparison of Version 1 and Version 2 here.
Though fewer than 10 percent of the reviews were negative, it’s worth noting that several of them said the machine stopped working within 3-6 months. This is unfortunately pretty standard due to the technology being much more advanced than your standard cubed ice-maker (it's also the reason for the heavy price).
The GE Opal sonic ice maker V2 measures 13.43 width x 16.5 height x 17.5 depth and weighs 38 pounds. It can produce up to 24 pounds of ice.
Anyone who is banking on the warranty being a lifesaver might want to think twice.
Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, a few noted the process through customer service to take advantage of the warranty is more hassle than it’s worth.
2) GE Profile Opal Countertop
Nugget Ice Maker V 1.0
The GE Opal Profile Sonic Ice Maker V1 was one of the first nugget ice makers that made dependable nugget ice at home, a reality.
With that said, there were definitely some hiccups in the engineering and this caused for drastic polarization in the reviews. People were fanatical about it, or they hated it with a passion.
Nonetheless, GE fixed many of the most common complaints with improvements in version 2.
So why would you buy this version if there is a superior version?
1) It's cheaper
2) There is still a much higher proportion of positive reviews than negative reviews.
With over 16k Amazon reviews, this model has sustained a 4.4 / 5 star rating (as of 04/07/2022).
The most common complaints from the 1-star reviewers were "loud noises" or "stopped working." Both of these complaints reflect a machine that is not working as the company intended and should be returned immediately (hopefully before the warranty period).
GE offers a 1-year warranty on this ice machine. If you decide to go this route, immediately register your product through the GE website to avoid future headaches.
You'll find that the bluetooth version is no longer available on Amazon. This is likely because there were so many complaints about its poor functionality.
3) KBIce Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Cube Maker
As the first countertop self-dispensing nugget ice machine, the KBIce Pellet Ice Maker is perfect for those who want simple, on-the-go ice.
3 buttons make this the most user friendly ice maker on our list:
1) Self Cleaning Button
2) Dispense Nuggets Button
3) Make Nuggets Button
You really can't ask for a more straight forward ice machine. It's also easily transportable and requires no water hookup. Pour your distilled water into the reservoir and press the "make nuggets" button.
Another important quality to mention is the positive remarks regarding customer service. Even people who were unhappy with the product, said the company and customer service were awesome.
This unit offers a 1 year parts and labor warranty as well as a 30 day hassle free return policy. A few perks to put your mind at ease.
The ice bin is a bit small (only holds 1 pound of ice) but no reviewers described this as a negative feature.
Dimensions: 12”W x 16”D x 17.5H inches
4) GE Opal Nugget Ice Dispenser w/ Built-in Wifi
GE has dominated this list for a while now, since their Profile Opal nugget ice maker has received more consistent positive reviews than any other. Now they’ve leveled up with a scoop-free model that pours ice right into your glass.
In addition to being more convenient, the GE Self Dispensing Nugget Ice Maker is faster and quieter than the models that came before it. Numerous users mentioned how little noise the machine makes.
And the time to whip up a batch of fresh ice is just 15 minutes. You can use the SmartHQ app to start it up remotely so that your ice is ready by the time you get home.
These improvements do come at a cost. This is the priciest countertop nugget ice maker by a wide margin. It’s also quite new, so there aren’t many reviews to vouch for it yet. And despite being heavier and bulkier than the previous Profile Opal generations, this one has a smaller bin, holding only 2 pounds of ice at a time. (Though that’s still twice as much as the other no-scoop model we looked at - the KBIce Self Dispensing).
Despite these drawbacks, the GE Self Dispensing Nugget Ice Maker is your best bet when it comes to speed, ease of use, and quiet operation. And the early reviews make it clear that this machine makes fantastic, perfectly crunchable nugget ice.
5) Frigidaire EFIC235-AMZ Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Sonic ice makers are expensive. Even the cheaper nugget ice makers are pricey compared to their "non-sonic ice" predecessors. But once the technology is dialed in, there are always those companies that find ways to sell these products for a reasonable price.
In terms of sonic ice makers, Frigidaire is that company.
With the most popular pebble ice makers selling for approximately $500, the Frigidaire ice maker sells for just over half that price. The cheapest nugget ice maker available is the Frigidaire pellet ice maker (affiliate link).
Not only does it sell for a far more reasonable price, but it's also capable of making more fresh ice in a day. This model can make up to a whopping 44 lbs of chewable ice a day.
While most of us probably don't have the need for such a large quantity of ice, it's nice to know what it's capable of if the circumstances reveal themselves.
After a whopping 2,000 Amazon ratings, this unit has sustained a 3.9 / 5 star review (as of 03/17/2022). Customers continually spoke on the great quality of the sonic ice, and the ease of use.
6) Newair NIM044BS00 Nugget Countertop Ice Maker
This new pellet ice machine from Newair has a lot to recommend it. First of all, its 44-pound daily ice capacity is right at the top of the line for countertop nugget ice makers. Its bin holds 3.3 pounds at a time, and its fast operation means you’re not likely to run out of ice.
Plus, it just looks good. Aesthetics aren’t always the first concern for ice makers, but this one sports a slick black-and-gray exterior with a cool purple LED light inside. When you’re picking a machine that will sit on your kitchen counter 24/7, it’s nice to have one with some pizzazz.
Not that it will take up much counter space. The Newair NIM044BS00 is fairly narrow, less than 10 inches wide.
You should be aware of a couple of downsides. First, some customers mentioned that it’s loud, though it’s unclear whether it makes more noise than your average nugget ice maker.
Second, and more importantly, it’s new. This machine has only been on the market for a few months (as of March 2022) and doesn’t have as many reviews as some of the other ice makers on this list. That means it’s harder to be sure how durable it is - which is concerning, since nugget ice makers are often pretty finicky. If this concerns you, Newair does offer a warranty up to 3 years.
From a birdseye view, this model appears to be a huge step up from the former Newair countertop model.
7) Gevi Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Here’s another fairly new contender in the world of countertop nugget ice. The biggest selling points of the Gevi Countertop are convenience and quiet.
The self-cleaning program can be set to run automatically, reducing your need for maintenance, and the straightforward control panel is easy to read. The Gevi doesn’t work quite as fast as some of its competitors, but the bin that holds the ice is very roomy. Though it won’t keep your ice frozen (you can’t really do that with nugget ice), the thick, insulated walls ensure that it takes a while to melt.
This machine also makes very little noise. No nugget ice maker is truly whisper-quiet, but this one comes as close as any we’ve seen. Lots of happy Amazon reviewers have posted videos showing how soft it sounds.
It’s hard to say how long that will last, though. There are very few reviews of the Gevi out there, and none from people who’ve owned it for more than a few months. That means you’re taking a bit of a chance if you buy it now.
Our Star Rating: 4 out of 5
What is Nugget Ice?
First off, what's all the hype about? Why do people so adamantly prefer nugget ice over traditional cubed? Well, most of us love the perks of ice, right? The lasting cooling effect it creates. But what's the one quality about cubed ice that makes it inferior?
It's teeth shatteringly hard!
Unless you have teeth of steel, chewing into solid ice is cringe-worthy, not to mention damaging to your teeth. Well, nugget ice offers all the perks of ice without the downsides.
It is a simple, yet ingenious way of making ice more approachable.
How it's Made
Regular, cubed ice is created using an extremely simple process. Water is dispensed into cubes, the refrigeration system cools the water to freezing, and dumps the resulting ice into the ice bin.
Nugget ice has a completely different process:
Step 1: Water is funneled into a cylinder-like structure, where it's cooled down to freezing temperatures. This results in thin sheets of ice that begin protruding from the cylinder.
Step 2: The resulting sheets are pushed through an auger and shaven down to flaked ice. Flaked ice are tiny fragments of ice (similar to what a margarita machine creates). Not quite shaven, but far from cubed.
Step 3: The flaked ice is then compressed to form larger, compacted ice flakes that retain their structure when cold, but easily break down when exposed to the warmth of a mouth.
GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker 1.0 Vs 2.0
The GE Profile pellet ice machine is by far the favorite when it comes to nugget ice makers for home use.
Its countertop functionality and "true to its name" nugget ice make it an easy choice for most buyers.
That being said, what's the difference between the two models? Is it worth it to buy the 2.0 with the higher price tag? What are the advantages?
- No Wifi, just bluetooth (can only control when in range)
- Weighs 9 Lbs more
- Smaller width and diameter (Dimensions: 16 1/2" H x 10 1/2" W x 15 1/2" D)
- Only one stainless steel color option
- 1 Button without label
- Costs approximately $550
- Wifi compatible (can control from anywhere)
- Weighs 9 Lbs less
- Larger width and diameter (Dimensions: 16 1/2" H x 13 43/100" W x 17 1/2" D)
- Stainless steel and black stainless steel options
- Buttons with labels
- Costs approximately $600
The new updated 2.0 version has some small improvements that are worth mentioning, but won’t be decisive for most people.
- The new wifi capability means ice-making while you’re away from the house. This can be convenient for those working and wanting some fresh nugget ice when they get home.
- The new buttons have easy-to-read labels for customers who are losing their vision or struggle with newer technology.
- The new black stainless steel option is a game changer for anyone interested in an alternative to typical stainless steel.
All in all, both make the same amount of nugget ice per day, both have a water reservoir and both make the same quality of nugget ice. In other words, we wouldn't take too much time on your decision. Both seem to have a similarly high star rating with the similar customer responses.
Consider Before You Buy
Countertop, Freestanding or Under-counter?
There are three basic options for installing a nugget ice machine. We'll start with the simpler options and move on to the more labor-intensive ones.
Countertop: Countertop models are obviously the easiest to install. Most of them don't even require a water hookup. Keep the water reservoir filled, the plug inserted, and have flavor saving nugget ice at your fingertips. Countertop models are also the most portable and sell for the most reasonable price, ranging from $400-$800.
With this in mind, countertop ice makers also take up precious kitchen counter space and can't produce as much nugget ice as freestanding and under counter models. They're usually limited to 25-40 Lbs of nugget a day (still a decent amount).
Freestanding: Freestanding models offer you more nugget ice while remaining somewhat portable (you'll need to be close enough to a water source). They're much more expensive but can produce a large amount of nugget ice, ranging anywhere from 50-300 Lbs of pellet/day.
This is convenient for home-bars and commercial applications. Some people think this style is an eye sore, but in the right environment, it can fit right it.
Under-counter: Under-counter pebble ice makers are great for those who have a void space under the counter. There are both permanent (built-in) and impermanent (portable) options which make this the best-looking option for the kitchen. GE sells a built-in option where you can hand pick the cover material, and Ice-O-Matic makes a stainless steel portable option.
These models offer anywhere between 50-150 Lbs of nugget ice.
Nugget Ice vs Pellet Ice vs Sonic Ice
In short, all of these terms mean the same thing. It seems as though every ice aficionado wanted to trademark a name for themselves.
To help break the terminology down, we created a thorough post explaining whether or not these chewable ice terms are the same.
Is Chick-Fil-A Ice Nugget Ice?
Yes, Chick-fil-a ice is nugget ice but is only available at some Chick-fil-a locations.
Unfortunately, it looks like you have to call or show up to the location in question to know for sure whether or not they sell nugget ice.
Is there a Fridge with a Nugget Ice Maker
There are some refrigerators that boast a nugget ice maker, but none that actually make true nugget ice. Take a look at our Samsung Flex Refrigerator Review to get the inside scoop.
As soon as a refrigerator is created with true sonic ice, we'll be the first to let you know.
Per usual, we highly recommend finding a model that boasts a good warranty. Nugget ice machines do not sell cheap (even the countertop models) and so warranty becomes even more important. If you buy from Amazon, confirm the warranty through the seller by sending them a message. This way you have documentation validating the warranty.
If you're buying from big name brands like GE, Whirpool or Scotsman, take a look at their warranty policy and see what it covers. A lot of companies offer long term warranties on compressors, but lack considerable warranties on the less critical parts.
Nugget or Cubed Ice?
If you have any experience with pellet ice, you know how ridiculous this question is. People who've experienced nugget ice know that it is undoubtedly a better alternative to the rock hard, teeth-cracking, crunch ice cubes we're accustomed to.
Nugget ice is created by shaving the ice down, compressing the shavings, and creating smaller, less cube-like ice nuggets. It provides all the cooling characteristics without the over tough nature of the ice.
How Much Nugget Ice?
Any countertop pellet ice maker will easily supply 1-3 people with daily, chewable ice. The only restrictive factor will be the storage bin. If you have a household of people looking to chew crunchy ice all day, you may want to go with one of the bigger, under counter models.
Again, countertop models can make between 25-40 Lbs of nugget ice a day. Under counter and freestanding models will be able to make 50-300 Lbs of pellet ice a day. Consider how many people will be using the machine and always round up for larger events.
There's no way around it. Nugget ice makers are not cheap. Ranging from $500-$4000, there's really no budget pick, only some less expensive options. As the process becomes more efficient and more companies hop on-board, prices will surely drop. In the meantime, know that you're probably going to cough up at least $500 on a countertop model.
In spite of the high price, people unanimously expressed their love for the crunchy ice, and most said the price was well worth it.
We're very happy to know sonic ice is now available to the general public (not just those who eat at sonics). We hope this review was helpful. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment below.
Founder of Robust Kitchen