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 13 best sonic and nugget ice makers of 2021. We've placed them in the order of their ice production, starting at 24 pounds of nugget ice per day and capping out at 315 pounds.
Our #1 Pick
One of the most reviewed home nugget ice makers
available, the GE Profile nugget ice maker V1 can
handle up to 24 lbs of nugget ice a day. With over 12000 Amazon ratings, this nugget ice maker has sustained a 4.6 / 5 star review (as of 02/06/2021).
Other Top Products
Top Rated Products
1) GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker V1 (Amazon) - 1 of 2 Best Countertop Units Overall (24 Lbs a day)
2) GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker V2 (GE Appliances) - 1 of 2 Best Countertop Units Overall (24 Lbs a day)
3) KBIce Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker (Amazon) - Best Countertop Self-Dispensing Ice Maker (24 Lbs a day)
4) TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker (Taotronics) - 26 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
5) Raysonics Nugget Ice Maker (Amazon) - 26 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
6) Frigidaire EFIC235-AMZ Countertop Nugget Ice Maker (Amazon) - 44 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
7) NorthAir Countertop Nugget Ice Maker (Amazon) - 44 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
8) KitchenAid Reversible Door Freestanding/Built-in Nugget Ice Maker (Lowes) - 50 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
9) GE Built-in Freestanding Nugget Ice Maker (Home Depot) - 56 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
10) Scotsman NCS60 UnderCounter Nugget Ice Machine (Amazon) - 80 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
11) Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 Freestanding Nugget Ice Maker (Amazon) - 85 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
12) Scotsman UN1520A-1 Undercounter Nugget Ice Maker (Amazon) - 167 Lbs of Nugget Ice a Day
13) Manitowoc CNF-0201A-L Nugget Ice Maker and Water Dispenser (Amazon) - 315 Lbs Nugget Ice a Day
Best Nugget Ice Makers
1) GE Profile Opal Countertop
Nugget Ice Maker Versions 1.0
The GE Opal Profile Nugget Ice Maker V1 is our #1, best all around nugget ice maker. It received this honor for one simple reason...
It has the highest review count with the highest star rating on the web...
After over 12000 Amazon reviews, this model has sustained a 4.5 / 5 star rating (as of 08/28/2021).
Measuring 7.5 x 13.43 x 16.5 inches, it's small, sleek design makes it a seamless for most modern kitchens. Not to mention it's one of the very few household ice makers that offers "true" nugget ice.
It boasts production of up to 24 lbs a day and the ice bin holds 3 lbs of nugget ice. Each cycle takes approximately 20 minutes and can be activated physically or through bluetooth (with an installed app).
With that said, there were several complaints stating that the bluetooth application was user friendly (thankfully, the newer V2 version fixed this with built-in- wifi).
Even with the high ratings, there were some very conflicting reviews on the Amazon and GE websites. 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 thus, 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 any future head-ache.
2) GE Profile Opal Countertop
Nugget Ice Maker Version 2.0
The GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker V2 has some notable design differences between itself and its predecessor. For starters, most fans can appreciate the lack of drip spillage thanks to the rear holes being replaced by a spring-loaded hold that only opens when the bin is fully inside the appliance.
Out of the 1400+ GE reviews (as of 9/10/21), most rated within the 5-star category which is why we gave this machine a 4.5 rating. With improvements in designs such as rounded corners and touch button functionalities, many customers loved their true nugget ice.
Check out our side by side comparison of Version 1 and Version 2 to here.
With just under 100 negative reviews 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.
While producing up to 24 pounds of ice the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker V2 comes in at a 13.43 width x 16.5 height x 17.5 depth and 38 pounds.
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.
3) KBIce Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
As the first countertop self-dispensing nugget ice machine, the KBIce Nugget 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) Clean 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) TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker - 26lbs Nugget Ice per Day (3.3lb Ice Bin)
The Taotronics nugget ice maker somehow managed to fly under our radar for quite some time. Nonetheless, we are happy to inform you that this is the only model (to our knowledge) that has both a manual and auto-refill reservoir.
What does this mean?
Well you have the option to manual pour water in the reservoir and wait 20 minutes for nugget ice to complete....
You can hook the ice maker up to a water supply and have the ice making process completely automated.
And while extra moving parts tend to make equipment more vulnerable to breakage, the reviews speak for themselves.
Raysonics also makes a similar nugget ice maker that is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
5) Raysonics Nugget Ice Maker - 26lbs Nugget Ice per Day (3.3lb Ice Bin)
The Raysonics Nugget Ice Maker according to some, this is the bargain item that you've been looking for. Coming in at $399.99, this nugget ice machine has earned itself the title of "budget model" (I know hard to believe 400$ is a bargain, but relatively speaking it's one of the cheapest available).
It has 90+ Amazon reviews (as of 9/10/21) with most of them favoring the portable ice machine. With features like constant ice making and full bin detection, the machine seemingly does the work for you.
But some customers found the machine to be too noisy even with the significant savings compared to some other ice makers. The portable dimensions offer 10 width x 17 height x 17 depth and 40.4 pounds total. This is important considering one of its selling points is the portable function.
A decent warranty of 12 months can be extended through online registration and offer 18 full months of coverage. This comes in handy since some of the buyers reported dents and scratches upon arrival.
6) Frigidaire EFIC235-AMZ Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Sonic ice makers are expensive. Even the cheaper ones are pricey compared to their "non-nugget 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 nugget ice makers selling for approximately $500, the Frigidaire ice maker sells for just over half that price.
Not only does it sell for a far more reasonable price, but it's also capable of making more ice in a day. This model can make up to a whopping 44 lbs of nugget 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 just 9 Amazon ratings, this unit has sustained a 4.5 / 5 star review (as of 12/20/2020). Customers continually spoke on the great quality of the nugget ice, and the ease of use. There were no common complaints to speak of, but the review count is still low.
7) NorthAir Countertop Nugget Ice Maker (similar to Frigidaire model above)
The NorthAir Nugget Icemaker is going to give you 44 pounds of ice per day making it a good fit for those who can’t seem to stop chewing. With little wait times ice can be produced in 15 minutes.
With 144 Amazon reviews (as of 9/11/21) most buyers note this machine does the job and produces true nugget ice. For others, issues arrived early on which made the 90-day warranty look less appealing.
One customer, in particular, had to note that the customer service was simply the best they had dealt with which made the creaks and leaks a lot easier to handle. Its dimensions are 9.8 width x 16.1 height x 19 depth and weighs 40.7 pounds. So make sure you have a helping hand when you go to move this machine!
While producing a good amount of ice in a short time this could just be the life of the party. This is especially true as only an electrical outlet is required for operation. Those looking to avoid water hookups will especially like this machine.
8) GE Built-In 56 Lbs Freestanding
Nugget Ice Maker
The GE Built-in Freestanding Nugget Ice Maker is definitely a step up in ice production and price. That being said, people were extremely happy with the results.
There's just one catch, it doesn't come with the front door panel. Unfortunately, you have to pay extra for this. The vast majority of the 1 star reviewers were very upset to receive their ice maker without a door panel.
The rest of the reviews were predominantly 5 stars because people loved the fast production of the ice, and the quality of the ice itself.
This GE ice machine also makes up to 56 lbs of ice a day with a storage bin of 26 lbs. This should have no problem fulfilling any household ice needs. It's indoor and outdoor compatible which leaves you with options for placement.
Based on research, here's our take on this model...
If you have the money, it's a superior ice machine. Just know that you'll have to cough up the extra $300 or so for the door panel. Once the unit was complete (door panel and all), people were very happy with the result.
9) KitchenAid 50Lb UnderCounter Freestanding/Built-in Nugget Ice Maker
With the KitchenAid 50 LB Freestanding/Built-in Nugget Ice maker you are looking at top-notch nugget ice. This under-the-counter machine has a sleek finish that fits in nicely with other high-end appliances.
With 150+ reviews on Lowes (as of 9/11/21) this nugget ice maker holds 35 pounds of ice at once. While it is capable of freestanding or built-in the KitchenAid Nugget Icemaker weighs 50 pounds and has dimensions of 15 width x 34 height x 24 depth making it difficult to move.
As an expensive appliance, some customers were disappointed with the quick breakdowns from filter issues to loud production noise. That was possibly offset by the warranty covering parts and labor for the first three years.
A distinctive feature is the max option which increases ice production rates to 56 percent faster. Something particularly useful for hosting. If you can get used to some possible replacements and occasional use of the warranty then this nugget ice maker might be for you.
10) Scotsman UnderCounter Residential Nugget Ice Maker
If you have an expensive taste then the Scotsman UnderCounter Nugget Ice Machine is the one for you. At 120 pounds this under-counter nugget ice machine will produce 80 pounds of soft chewy ice.
23 Amazon reviews will tell you that this is the machine that will last you quite some time. As it should, it costs a little over $4100. It’s a beautiful stainless steel appliance approved for both indoor and outdoor use.
At 22.75 x 14.88 x 33.38 inches, you can get custom wood paneling to match your surrounding cabinets. However, one of the more concerning points was how the cabinets got a little too hot for comfort from the power of the machine.
Aside from that, if you’ve got the money to spend, users say this is the machine to beat. Producing true nugget ice customers loved its easy-clean and easy-to-use features like the control panel.
11) Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 Pearl
The Ice-O-Matic is a great option for those who are looking for a lot of daily nugget ice. The company website states it can make a solid 85 lbs of nugget ice a day.
Its stainless steel design makes it versatile in that it will visually fit wherever you need it to (granted it fits the space). Not like some of the eye sores below (that are really only suitable in commercial or industrial settings).
The majority of the negative reviews were customers that were unhappy with the company repair costs or the dinged up box that showed up on their front step.
As far as company repair costs, this is an expensive product and it will require an expensive repair (if warranted) past the warranty period (1 year). This is the same gamble you take when you buy any heavy duty appliance (fridge, freezer, oven, etc).
As far as the dinged up boxes, this is another gamble you take. It usually comes down to the retailer (not Ice-O-MAtic), so do yourself a favor and go to the reviews of each store selling this model. Type "package" in to the reviews search bar and see what other customers have to say.
People loved this ice machine. The look, the output and the high quality nugget ice make it an attractive piece. Weigh out the pros and cons and see if this is the model for you.
12) Scotsman UN1520A-1 Under-Counter Commercial Nugget Ice Maker
As the inventor of Nugget Ice, it shouldn't be surprising that Scotsman made their way on our list. "Sonic ice" received its name because it was the first known place where nugget ice was sold on a large scale. Sonic invested in Scotsman nugget ice machines most likely because Scotsman is the oldest known manufacturer of nugget ice.
With that being said, Scotsman has had some serious time to perfect their nugget ice. Let's dive into some of the advantages of this ice machine.
At 20" wide, the Scotsman nugget ice machine can be stored under the counter with little spacial investment. It also requires no side clearance due to the front breathing design.
It also can produce a whopping 167 Lbs of ice a day with a 57 Lb storage bin. This is ideal for smaller restaurants, cafes or bars. It's energy star certified and thus will have minimal effects on your electrical bill.
It has a stainless steel evaporator and auger, aluminum side panels, sealed bearings (maintenance free), and 6" adjustments for the legs.
There is a 3 year commercial warranty and a 1 year residential warranty. Here's more information on the Scotsman warranty.
13) Manitowoc Water and
Nugget Ice Dispenser
The Manitowoc nugget-style ice maker has a total of 7 Amazon ratings (as of 10/20/2020). Yes, not a whole lot of reviews, but not a lot of people are purchasing three thousand dollar equipment online. In spite of this, every single rating is a 5 star rating.
It's also one of the few large ice machine manufacturers who has positive customer service ratings. A very, very attractive feature when you're spending this kind of money on an ice maker.
This model also offers the option to serve via the lever arm or touchless activation. The large drain pan catches rogue ice cubes and keeps the floor clean.
Katom may have some more information regarding this model. Amazon's description is fairly short.
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 a 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, nugget-like cubes 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 Nugget Ice Maker is by far the favorite home nugget ice maker.
It's countertop functionality and "true to its name" nugget ice makes 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 worth mentioning but are usually only necessary for certain people.
- The new wifi capability means ice-making while your 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 those who are losing their vision or struggle with the new wave of technology.
- The new black stainless steel option is a game changer for those looking for 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 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 nugget ice/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 nugget 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.
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 nugget 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 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 nugget 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 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 nugget 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 option, there's just 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 gonna cough up at least $500 on a countertop model.
In spite of the high price, people unanimously expressed their love for the nugget 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