Written by:
Michael

Updated
10/27/2021

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Does your mouth water at the thought of having crispy, chewable nugget ice available 24/7? If you’re thinking of buying a pellet ice machine for your home, the first thing to consider is what type you need. Many consumers opt for the less-expensive countertop units, but there are some good reasons to consider a larger, under counter nugget ice maker.

For one thing, they tend to be more robust than the portable machines, which often use lots of plastic parts to cut down on weight and cost - sacrificing durability in the process.

Also, most under-counter machines can run automatically, while countertop units often require you to turn them on and off or periodically refill their reservoirs. And, of course, a beefier machine offers more storage capacity, making it less likely that you’ll run out of ice.

Not convinced yet? Take a look at our list of the 10 best under-counter nugget ice makers to see whether or not this is the right fit for you.

Our #1 Pick

GE-undercounter-Nugget-Ice-Maker

GE Profile 56-lb Reversible Door Freestanding/Built-In Nugget Ice Maker (Panel Ready)

Everybody seems to love this GE Profile model, and for good reason. Amazing nugget ice, affordability, durability, and panel door options allow for ultimate satisfaction when it comes to having nugget ice on hand 24/7.

Best Under Counter Nugget Ice Makers


1) Ice-O-Matic Nugget Ice Maker


ice-o-matic-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.2 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 22 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 85 lbs.
Warranty: 2 year commercial, 1 year residential
Dimensions: Depth - 24 in.  Height - 33.75 in.  
Width - 15 in.  Weight - 133 lbs.  
Home or Commercial? Commercial

Pros

  • “One of the quieter chewable ice machines.”
  • High daily production
  • Antimicrobial finish to reduce odors and bacteria
  • “By far the best ice I have ever experienced. The machine makes it extremely fast, literally within minutes of plugging it in.”

Cons

  • Lacks an interior light
  • Storage capacity is on the low side
  • Somewhat heavy

Product Overview

The customers who’ve reviewed this product have nothing but good things to say about the quality of the nugget ice it produces. Many also emphasize how quiet the Ice-O-Matic is while running. If you’ve ever shopped around for nugget ice makers, you know how unusual that is! A high noise level is one of the most common complaints about this type of appliance.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Ice-O-Matic is affordable, even by the standards of nugget ice machines. If you decide to purchase the drain pump add-on, it still costs less than competing models which don’t even include front door panels.

Installation can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re looking to hook this device up to a drain pump. The product arrives with some necessary parts missing, most notably the hose that hooks up to the water line. However, once you get it set up, this is a reliable and high-quality ice maker.

Be aware that if you purchase the Ice-O-Matic for home use and it needs repairs, you’ll have to hire a third-party technician to work on it; the company’s service network can’t operate on residential installations.

2) GE Profile 56-lb Reversible Door Freestanding/Built-In Nugget Ice Maker (Panel Ready)


GE-Profile-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.3 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 26 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 56 lbs.
Warranty: Limited 1-year for entire appliance,
limited 5-year for refrigeration system
Dimensions: Depth - 22.75 in. (with panel) Height - 33.875 in.
Width - 14.875 in. Weight - 112 lbs.
Home or Commercial? Home

Pros

  • Interior LED light 
  • “Good volume of ice in a short time, low level of noise.”
  • Customizable installation
  • “Best ice ever, just like sonic ice but I don’t have to drive anywhere to get it.”

Cons

  • Door panel not included 
  • Filter not included
  • Somewhat slow operation

Product Overview

GE’s flexible installation options allow you to install this nugget ice maker as a freestanding unit or slot it in beneath your kitchen counter. The customization options are both a strength and a drawback.

For example, you can choose a front panel to match your other cabinets - but if you don’t shell out a few hundred extra dollars for this door covering, your machine will arrive with an ugly industrial-looking exterior that doesn’t even include a handle.

On the plus side, this device does make excellent nugget ice, and reviewers have few complaints about its durability. There’s always a risk of breakage issues with this relatively new technology, but the GE Profile Reversible appears to stand up to wear and tear better than most. It’s also fairly quiet (again, by the standards of nugget ice makers).

One note of caution: the drain pump add-on appears to be noisier and more prone to malfunction than the rest of the unit, and it’s considered “after-market," meaning it is not covered by warranty. If your house’s layout permits, we’d recommend going with the gravity drain option instead.

3) KitchenAid 50-lb Reversible Door Freestanding/Built-In Nugget Ice Maker (Stainless Steel)

kitchenaid-undercounter-nugget-ice-maker

Our rating: 

4.2 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 35 lbs
Daily Ice Production: 50 lbs (more with high-speed mode)
Warranty: Limited 3-year for entire appliance, limited 5-year for refrigeration system parts
Dimensions: Depth - 22.63 in. Height - 33.88-34.28 in.
Width - 14.88 in. Weight - Not specified
Home or Commercial? Home

Pros

  • Reversible door
  • High storage capacity
  • Rapid ice production mode

Cons

  • Doesn’t produce actual nugget ice
  • Gives off a lot of heat
  • Prone to mold - requires frequent cleaning
  • “The ice is always wet and melting even after just being made.”

Product Overview

There’s a lot to like about the KitchenAid 50-lb Reversible: it sports an attractive stainless steel exterior, it has a rapid ice production mode that kicks the speed up more than 50%, and it comes with an integrated water filter to remove minerals and contaminants.

On top of all that, it’s the least expensive model on our list.

Unfortunately, despite being sold as a nugget ice maker, the reviews and product description suggest that it actually produces small tiles of solid ice.

True nugget ice is made by mashing together wafer-thin flakes of ice, rather than simply freezing water into solid cubes. No doubt the compact squares this machine produces are easier to chew than standard-sized ice cubes, but they won’t have the feathery crunch of actual nugget ice.

If you’re not a stickler for the perfect Sonic-style ice, you might still find this machine to be a worthwhile budget purchase. But if only “the good ice” will satisfy you, we’d recommend looking at one of the other options we’ve profiled.

4) U-Line Undercounter Nugget Ice Maker


U-Line-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.0 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 30 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 90 lbs.
Warranty: 1-year parts and labor with optional 1-year extension, 5-year part replacements for refrigeration system
Dimensions: Depth -  22.688 in. Height - 32 in.  
Width - 14.938 in.  Weight - 95 lbs.  
Home or Commercial? Home

Pros

  • High speed and capacity 
  • Digital touchpad for controls
  • EnergyStar certified 
  • Soft-close door hinge

Cons

  • Few reviews
  • Water line connecting hose not included
  • “Took 2 months for U-Line to send a repairman out, and I was told I had to buy a water filter out of pocket...and the repair would take 6+ months as they’re waiting on parts.”

Product Overview 

The U-Line beats out all of its cabinet-style competitors in terms of the sheer volume of nugget ice it produces. It works fast, capable of generating a best-in-class 90 pounds of ice per day. It’s got excellent storage capacity, too, with a bin that can hold 30 pounds of refreshing pellets at once.

This machine makes chewy restaurant-style ice nuggets, but it also has a unique feature that lets you toggle the density of the pellets. Its five settings range from ordinary slow-melting ice chunks to fluffy slush perfect for snow cones. There’s also an internal water dispenser hooked up to the same built-in filter used to make your ice.

All those nifty features come at a substantial sticker price; the U-Line isn’t the most expensive machine on our list, but it’s near the upper end. More concerning is the low number of customer reviews, which makes its performance in the real world tough to gauge. If the manufacturer’s specs can be trusted, this device offers premium quality for its premium price.

5) Viking Nugget Ice Maker 


viking-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.0 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 26 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 80 lbs.
Warranty: 2-year full for entire appliance, 6-year full for refrigeration system, 12-year limited for refrigeration system.
Dimensions: Depth - 24 in. (with panel)  Height - 34.25-35.25 in.  
Width - 15 in.  Weight - 113-118 lbs. (depending on pump style)
Home or Commercial? Home

Pros

  • Low water and energy consumption
  • Rated for outdoor use
  • LED control panel

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Door panel sold seperately
  • “A lot of maintenance. Recommend using scale remover from Viking & make sure your water is soft.”

Product Overview

This model can produce an impressive 80 pounds of nugget ice in a 24-hour period, a noticeable jump up in speed from the GE model we just looked at. Unlike most of its competitors, the Viking is also designed to sit flush with the rest of your cabinets when installed in a standard 24-inch cutout.

Along with the standard indicator light that reminds you to clean and descale the machine, the Viking includes a water quality sensor to let you know when it’s time to change the filter. And its self-closing door ensures that you won’t accidentally leave it hanging open and waste electricity.

These positive features come with a caveat; there are very few customer reviews of this model so far. That makes it hard to say for sure whether it lives up to its promise. We’d definitely recommend getting a product protection plan if you choose this machine.

6) Follett 7 Series Undercounter Nugget Ice Maker


follett-7-series-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.0 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 7 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 125 lbs.
Warranty: 2-year full, 5-year refrigeration compressor.
Dimensions: Depth - 22.125 in.  Height - 31.5 in.  
Width - 14.625 in.  Weight - 125 lbs.
Home or Commercial? Commercial

Pros

  • No assembly required
  • Quiet operation
  • Capacitive-touch ice and water dispenser
  • Sleep mode to conserve energy
  • Built-in toe kick

Cons

  • No in-home repair service
  • Internal filter sold separately
  • Low storage capacity 

Product Overview

The Follett 7 Series Undercounter is an excellent pick for those who value convenience and hygiene. It dispenses ice right into your cup at the press of a touchscreen, doing away with the need to scoop it out by hand. There’s also a secondary nozzle for water.

All surfaces in contact with ice or water are treated with the company’s proprietary antimicrobial coating to reduce the risk of mold or bacteria building up in the machine.

Follett calls its ice pellets “Chewblets”, but as far as we can tell, they’re essentially the same crunchable nuggets you’d get from a Sonic or Chick-fil-A. Though its main selling points are cleanliness and ease of use, this machine is no slouch in terms of production, with a daily yield of 125 pounds of ice.

This machine doesn't require a drain of any kind. There’s a removable drip tray for catching and disposing of spillage, while the water from unused ice trickles down to be shaped into fresh pellets. This offers you a little more flexibility in terms of installation locations, and it means you won’t have to worry about purchasing a separate drain pump accessory.

Unfortunately, the Follett 7 Series has no customer reviews. This makes it a bit tougher to trust in terms of operating lifespan.

7) Perlick Undercounter Nugget Ice Maker


perlick-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.0 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 22 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 80 lbs.
Warranty: 2 year full, optional 6 year extension for refrigeration system
Dimensions: Depth -  22.563 in. Height - 31.5-3.5 in.  
Width - 14.875 in.  Weight - 118 in.  
Home or Commercial? Home

Pros

  • Zero-clearance hinge
  • Drop-down panel under bin to catch spilled ice
  • Water circuit easy to disassemble for cleaning
  • Can be used outdoors

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • No customer reviews
  • Less storage capacity than competitors

Product Overview

Perlick’s Undercounter nugget ice machine series is yet another line of appliances that are appealing on paper but can’t be completely trusted due to a lack of reviews.

The “cubelets” these machines produce appear to be classic nugget ice with a company-specific rebranding, and the listed daily production of 80 pounds is quite respectable. If you’re okay with taking a chance on a machine with fewer customer ratings, Perlick has some decent-looking offerings.

You can choose between the “Signature Series” or a slightly smaller ADA-compliant option. Both are available with reversible stainless-steel doors or as a panel-ready setup allowing you to add a door that matches your cabinets.

Overall, this seems to be a good nugget ice maker. However, if you’re going to pick one that hasn’t been extensively reviewed, you might be better off with the U-Line, which is available at a lower price point and has some features this one lacks.

8) Scotsman Undercounter Nugget Ice Machine


scotsman-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.0 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 26 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 80 lbs.
Warranty: 2 year parts and labor, 5 years compressor replacement
Dimensions: Depth - 22 in.  Height - 33.375 in.  
Width - 14.875 in.  Weight - 129 lbs.  
Home or Commercial? Home

Pros

  • Concealed hinge
  • “Makes awesome nugget ice like nobody's business which our friends and family love.”
  • Interior LED light
  • “Within 5 minutes of connecting the water supply, ice started appearing. The consistency is great...volume is as promised.”

Cons

  • No gravity drain option
  • Hose kit required for install
  • “Since it is always on, the counter and cabinet get very hot.”

Product Overview

For a long time, Scotsman was the only game in town when it came to nugget ice. They have more competition now, but their machines still reliably produce the refreshingly crunchable ice that Sonic made famous. This under-counter model includes a field-reversible stainless steel door but can be purchased panel-ready instead, letting you match it to your decor.

Unlike most of its competitors, the Scotsman Undercounter includes a built-in drain pump. This is a good thing if your kitchen doesn’t allow for a gravity drain, but some customers find the periodic noise the pump makes to be very jarring. You might want to consider installing this in a less-trafficked area like a garage or a pantry. 

Don’t forget to descale your Scotsman ice maker at regular intervals. You might also want to consider buying a filter to cut down on the mineral content of your water.

9) Scotsman Air Cooled Undercounter Nugget Ice Maker


scotsman-air-cooled-ice-machine

Our rating:

3.8 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 36 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 79 lbs.
Warranty: 3-years parts and labor - commercial only
Dimensions: Depth - 24 in.  Height - 38 in.  
Width - 15 in.  Weight - 108 lbs.  
Home or Commercial? Commercial

Pros

  • Tough construction
  • “The ice comes out perfect every time and doesn’t clump.”
  • Scan QR code on rear to quickly pull up technical and warranty documents
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • In-home installation could void warranty
  • May not blend with cabinets
  • “[For residential use] It is not serviceable in my experience.”

Product Overview

If you’re interested in Scotsman’s classic nugget ice but want something more robust than the above model, the Scotsman Air Cooled Undercounter might be what you’re looking for. It can hold a very respectable 36 pounds of ice in its easy-access sliding-door bin.

Sealed bearings, corrosion-resistant panels, and stainless steel internal components help to boost this unit’s durability. Its adjustable legs allow you to install this as a freestanding unit even on uneven surfaces, or you can remove them to slot the machine beneath a typical kitchen counter. However, its look is decidedly industrial, so you may prefer to leave it in a garage, laundry room, or some other spot where decor is less of a concern.

The biggest drawback of this machine is that it’s intended for commercial use, not residential, so in-home repairs won’t be covered by the warranty. We personally reached out to Scotsman and were assured that commercial machines used residentially will only receive a 1 year warranty. This can also make it difficult for homeowners to find repair techs who can service it.

10) Manitowoc UNF0200A/UNF0300A Under Counter Nugget Ice Maker
(Discontinued but some still available)


manitowoc-ice-machine

Our rating:

4.0 / 5 Stars

Storage Capacity: 40-50 lbs.
Daily Ice Production: 172-300 lbs.
Warranty: 3-year parts and labor - commercial only
Dimensions: Depth - 26-27.19 in.  Height - 33.19-39.5 in.  
Width - 26-29 in.  Weight - 153-224 lbs.
Home or Commercial? Commercial

Pros

  • Sturdy, high-load bearings
  • Door slides out of the way to conserve space
  • “This machine has been a very dependable machine. I was worried that it wasn’t going to be able to keep up during the summer months and it has done great.”

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Few reviews to go on
  • Fairly expensive

Product Overview

The Manitowoc UNF0200A is a true industrial-strength workhorse. With a production capacity of around 170 pounds per day, it sits head and shoulders above all the other options we reviewed in terms of raw output.

With that higher capacity comes a larger size. The UNF0200A is a chunky unit, around 20 inches wide and 26 inches deep, making it harder to fit in beside your cabinets. The UNF0300A, the version designed for bar-height counters, is even larger. It should go without saying that these machines are heavy, too - 153 and 224 pounds, respectively.

That may be a moot point, since this device’s utilitarian appearance is unlikely to fit in with your kitchen decor in any case. It looks like what it is: a sturdy piece of restaurant equipment. The Manitowoc NF0200A/UNF0300A is a good option for those who are after a seriously high volume of nugget ice and aren’t picky about their appliance’s looks.

Note that the Manitowoc under-counter devices use a self-contained water reservoir instead of a water line hookup, so you will need to periodically refill the machine by hand.

Consider Before You Buy 


1) Size

dimensions-of-ice-machine

Almost all of the nugget ice makers presented above have roughly the same height and width - just under 34 inches tall and 15 inches across - but even small variations can make a difference if your counter is a non-standard height or your cabinets are unusually wide. When it comes to depth, there’s a bit more range, and it’s worth considering whether the machine you’re buying will cut into your kitchen space.

The amount of room for your ice maker’s door to swing open is important as well. Some customers who’ve failed to take this into account have wound up frustrated by appliances they can’t open all the way. This is especially important if you’re choosing a model that doesn’t have a reversible door. Bottom line: always measure your kitchen space, and carefully review the dimensions of your ice maker before making a purchase.

2) Installation

undercounter-ice-machine

The nuts and bolts (pardon the pun) of setting up your ice machine will vary depending on the model, but there are a few specific things you should keep in mind. One is the type of drain. Most nugget ice makers use either a gravity drain system that lets excess water run down into the pipes in your floor or a drain pump that sends the water up to the pipes below your sink.

In some cases, you might have to choose one or the other depending on what your kitchen layout is like. But if you have the option to use a gravity drain, we’d recommend it. Drain pump failure is a common customer complaint with nugget ice makers, so you’d be wise to sidestep this problem. On top of that, the pump tends to substantially increase the noise output of your nugget ice maker.

Speaking of noise, it’s often worth checking whether the space where you’ll be housing your new machine is roomy enough to include some insulation around the inside. If you can pad it a bit, you can make your ice maker run quite a bit more quietly.

Finally, take a look at the installation instructions! Most of these models have manuals that you can view online. In theory, nugget ice makers can be set up by an ordinary homeowner - but if the process looks too daunting, you could arrange for a plumber to perform the actual installation.

3) Style

kitchen-stainless-steel-cabinet

Most people have a pretty specific idea of their ideal kitchen decor, so before you buy a nugget ice machine, think about how it will fit into your culinary space. Many undercounter models have a stainless steel exterior that fits in well with modern kitchens, but if you prefer a more classic look, you may prefer a “panel-ready” model that allows you to customize the exterior of the door.

4) Daily Ice Production

spoon-full-of-ice

How much nugget ice will you actually use? It’s easy to be lured in by the promise of huge daily output, but unless you host a lot of big parties or you’re a true ice-chomping fanatic, you may not need a machine that can produce 100+ pounds per day. You might regret paying for capacity you won’t use.

That said, daily production is also a measure of speed. If your fast-paced lifestyle doesn’t allow you to wait 20 minutes for your device to whip up a batch of nugget ice, then that extra production power may be worth the expense.

You can always opt for a countertop/portable nugget ice maker as well. It will offer less production and storage, but can save you some potential installation issues. 

5) Filtration

water-splash

Mineral deposits left behind by tap water are one of the biggest sources of wear on nugget ice makers. Regular descaling and cleaning are crucial for maintaining your device in working condition, but you can significantly extend your machine’s lifespan by placing a filter on the water line you’re hooking up to it. In some cases, failure to use filtered water could actually void your warranty.

Check to see whether the ice maker you’re buying has a built-in filter. If not, we would definitely advise buying one to go with it.

6) Warranty

Under-counter nugget ice machines tend to be more reliable than the cheaper countertop models, but they’re still more prone to breakage than standard ice makers. Hopefully, that will improve as manufacturers work out the kinks in the technology. For now, it’s important to know what kind of warranty coverage you’ll have if your appliance malfunctions.

Some companies will cover the full cost of repairs while the device is under warranty, others will pay for parts and not labor, and some won’t cover machines in private residences at all. Read through the warranty agreement carefully before you buy, and don’t forget to register your ice maker right away once you set it up!

In Conclusion


An under-counter nugget ice maker isn’t cheap, but it will be much more durable and produce much more ice than a countertop unit. If you’re a dedicated nugget ice lover and you want a steady supply of your favorite frozen treat, then you’ll probably be glad you shelled out for a more substantial machine.

If you have more questions, or you have experience with any of the machines we’ve discussed, let us know in the comments!


Cheers!

Michael

Founder of Robust Kitchen

About the author

Michael spends his days eating, drinking and studying the fascinating world of food. He received his Bachelors Degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis and spent much of his time at the school brewery. While school proved to be an invaluable experience, his true passion lies in exposing the hidden crannies of food for the cooking laymen.


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