Portable ice makers are a fantastic countertop appliance for those that need supplemental ice in their home kitchen or bar but don’t want the hassle of installing a new refrigerator/freezer or clunky ice machine. Like their name suggests, these ice machines are completely portable. They require no installation. You simply pour in water, select your settings, and just like that, you’ll have fresh ice in minutes. You’ll never have to deal with those pesky ice trays permanently installed machines again.
All models feature easy-to-use controls, so ice making is quick and effortless. Portable ice makers also feature insulated storage bins to keep your ice from melting quickly, and most feature a drain plug for easy water draining. For those looking for a specific cube size, some models have up to three (3) different ice cube size options. Additionally, many countertop ice makers employ an innovative water-use technology that reuses water from melted cubes to automatically make more ice, conserving your time and water resources.
We spent over 50 hours measuring pounds of ice, including production and melting times, capacity and taste, and selected the Della – 048-GM-48186 as the best portable ice maker. The Della was the most efficient and user-friendly and lived up to its manufacturer’s claim of making a batch of ice in seven minutes. The Frigidaire – EFIC108 earned our runner-up title for its ice-production speed and clear LED display.
The Della – 048-GM-48186 is the best overall portable ice maker simply because it made the most ice the quickest and with the most consistency. The Della outperformed its competitors on both the large (26 pounds/day) and small (19 pounds/day) settings. Though the Frigidaire was a close second, averaging about a third of a pound less per day on both settings, the Della flat out won.
Igloo sells a few portable ice makers that all garner mixed reviews. The majority of their units are still on the positive side, with many customers saying their ice machine is fast, quiet, and easy to use. However, other customers describe machines that stop working within a couple of months, along with with frustrating experiences getting the run-around from the company when they try to claim the warranty. The cost is low with Igloo, but you’re risking ending up with a product with a short life. If you decide to go with an Igloo ice maker, be sure to take a close look at what customers are saying about the model you are considering.
With its larger size, NewAir's AI-100R compact ice maker offers a bigger cube production capacity; it’s durable that could last in your service for many years. Their compact ice machine comes in a simplified cleaning process —after use, unplug and just drain water contents through its side-mounted drain. It’s one of those best small portable ice makers.
(Editor’s note: In October 2019, we learned that two of the ice makers we tested had been discontinued: Ivation and ThinkGizmos. We checked the manufacturers of the other portable ice makers we reviewed, and although the Frigidaire – EFIC108 is no longer available on the company’s website, many retailers are still selling it. For this update, we tested the Hamilton Beach – 86150, the company’s latest model. See our review below.)
If your portable ice maker will spend most of its time sitting on a countertop in your home kitchen, RV, or boat, then you should double-check how much space is available in that spot to ensure that you don’t end up with a machine that won’t fit. However, if you aim to carry your ice maker from place to place or only use it when you have company over, then we would recommend checking the weight of the device to make sure it’s something you’ll be comfortable carrying.
As every host knows, ice — and plenty of it — is a must-have for any party. Even if you’ve got great beverage containers like those we chose in our insulated tumbler review or insulated water bottle review, ice is essential for keeping any drink as cold as possible. If you’re grilling outside on a hot day, the best lunch boxes and coolers with the best insulation will still need ice to protect uncooked food from entering the bacteria-incubating danger zone.
For the most part, portable ice makers will be on the small side, that is what makes them portable, but you will find some variety in how much space they take up and the amount of ice they can produce or store. Manufacturers provide will provide the dimensions and the capacity rate in their product specs, so it will be easy to confirm that you’re buying the size or capacity you need.
There are two common types of countertop ice makers that you can choose from: both have the same primary purpose, which is to make cubes for your consumption — for fighting the heat during summer or party drinks. But they differ significantly in the capacity they could produce, the shape and size of ice. Also, their cost is another stand-out difference.
Durability is going to be the main reason why you should consider going with a unit that cost a bit more. If you plan on using it frequently or keeping it plugged in at all times, then you will want to consider spending a bit more to ensure you get an ice maker that is designed to last. However, if you only plan on using it for special events or when you have guests over, then a lower priced ice maker will likely fit your needs.