Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Ice-21

Making Ice Cream With the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Ice-21 the Right Way!

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and Box

If you’re used to making ice cream with ice and salt, this can be a little tricky at first. There are certain precautions you MUST take when using this or you’ll lose a lot of time and some ice cream. But after you use it and see how clean, compact and easy it is to use, you may find you love it as much as I do!

Here you will see what a mess you can make if you don’t use the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker correctly. I’ve shared all my novice mistakes in living technipixels just for you!

Really though, it’s so annoying to do something wrong with this ice cream maker…so time consuming and sloppy…that if I can help you avoid any of this I’m a happy ice cream crafter!

The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Ice-21 does not use ice or salt. It has a gel-filled freezer bowl that must be frozen prior to use. If you mess up (like I did the first time) and you only have one freezer bowl, you’ll have to wait a full day until the gel freezes in the bowl again to try a new batch (unless you purchase an additional freezer bowl to keep frozen). If you’re like me though…and if you should do something very wrong, as I did and I explain below, it makes such a mess that I really doubt you’ll ever forget how to do it right in the future. 

Good news about this model, along with the easy clean-up and compact size (for one and a half quarts) is that instead of storing bags of ice in your freezer, you just have to store a freezer bowl…or two. Since I also use ice to quick-chill my custard bases in an ice bath before I put them in the fridge, I’ve run out of ice before while using the ice and salt models of makers.  (The last time I bought a bag of ice for ice cream I couldn’t believe what they charge these days for frozen water!) And since a 2-quart batch usually runs me a cup of salt per batch, the pantry doesn’t have to be stocked with a lot of extra salt when I use the Ice-21.

Although this model also comes in Dark Blue, Raspberry, Turquoise and Red, I’ve used a white one here to demonstrate the good, my bad and the very tasty!

The Cuisinart Ice-21 has very few parts: The base, the freezer bowl, the dasher, and the clear cover.

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Ice-21 Parts
Cuisinart Ice-21 Ice Cream Maker has 4 parts: Base, freezer bowl, dasher (paddle), and clear cover.
Freezing Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker freezer bowl
Place the Cuisinart Ice-21 Freezer Bowl in the freezer on a level surface to freeze.

The very first thing to do is freeze the freezer bowl. It must be placed on a level surface in your freezer.

According to the instructions, freezing the freezer bowl takes somewhere around 16 to 24 hours?! No, it doesn’t! 🙂

It took 7 and a half hours at the longest in my freezer. It may take longer in a warmer climate or if you have kids constantly opening your freezer door but I seriously doubt you’ll need anywhere near 24 hours.

You just need to freeze it long enough so that all of the gel inside the bowl sides is solid. You can test this by taking it out and shaking it. If nothing jiggles or sounds like liquid, it’s frozen.

The wait for freezing doesn’t bother me since I love custard-based ice cream and usually put my custard in the refrigerator overnight. I just freeze the bowl overnight at the same time.

When the bowl is frozen and your ice cream mixture is ready, take the freezer bowl from the freezer and place it on the base. Put the dasher into the bowl, fitting the rounded area into the divet in the bowl. Then place the clear cover over it all and turn it until the tabs on the bottom of the cover fit into the spaces on the base.

This is the critical part: Before you put the ice cream mix in the freezer bowl, plug in the maker and TURN IT ON! Only after the mixture has been turned ON, pour the mixture through the opening at the top.

What happens is the mixture freezes instantly to the sides of the freezer bowl.

If you pour the mixture in before turning it on, the mixture freezes and builds up on the wall and the dasher can’t move smoothly along the wall of the bowl.

Do not pour mixture into freezer bowl before turning the machine on.
Uh Oh! What a mess I’ve made of it. I poured it in when the maker was off and…I poured way too much in!

Instead it tries to push over the ice cream already frozen and a horrid thumping sounds starts as the lid goes around and those tabs start bouncing in and out and over and around the tabs. Truthfully…it’s awful. (Yep, I messed up the first time!)

This is so important I’ll repeat it: TURN ON THE MAKER BEFORE YOU POUR THE MIXTURE IN!

If you don’t, you will have to salvage what mixture you can, remove the bowl, thaw it (takes longer than you might think), wash it out, and put it back in the freezer for another night or however many hours.

Okay, so you’ve done it the right way…you’ve put the freezer bowl on the base; the dasher in the freezer bowl; the clear cover over it all and the tabs are happy at home in their slots. Perfect!

Cuisinart On Before FillingNow TURN IT ON! Yay!

Provided everything is correctly in place and the freezer bowl is turning smoothly, NOW pour the mixture through the opening in the top of the clear cover. This opening is perfectly fit for a neat pour too!

I used my Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe for this. I have to be honest…one and a half quart…two quart…like I knew if this was the measurement before or after ice cream is done. So I poured my entire custard mixture in. Okay, this was definitely way too much but you know what? The ice cream that didn’t flow all over the bowl came out fine! 


I checked the mixture 15 minutes into the process and it was freezing nicely!

Cuisinart Ice-21 Ice Cream 15 minutes later
Ice Cream after the first 15 minutes in the Ice-21 Maker.


I checked again 25 minutes into it and oops! Too much mixture and too much time 25 minutes into the Cuisinart Ice-21 MakerI think 20 minutes was plenty for a batch this size. It didn’t hurt the ice cream at all, or the machine…I just had a little extra clean-up to do.

To be honest, I think using half of the Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (or the other recipes I have here) would work the best in this. With an additional freezer bowl I could just divide the custards into two half-batches, make them one after another, and even add some fun things to the second half for variety.

(To add additional ingredients with the Cuisinart Ice-21 Ice Cream Maker, please see below.)

When the ice cream is ready, turn off the machine and remove the cover.

Then remove the dasher (or paddle) and use a wooden spoon or non-metallic spatula to get the ice cream out of the freezer bowlCuisinart Ice Cream In Freezer Container and into a container you can put in the freezer. Metalware will damage the finish on the inside of the freezer bowl and the freezer bowl isn’t made to store your frozen ice cream.

The ice cream freezes pretty solid to the inside wall of the freezer bowl so it will take a little more work to get it all out than it would with an ice and salt maker . But since you’ve already saved time not using ice and salt, it’s not that big of a deal!

The ice cream is soft and will freeze to a wonderful scoopable texture after a night in the freezer.


The result:

Finished and perfect Vanilla Ice Cream with the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Ice-21

The texture is perfect…dense, smooth and creamy! The flavor is the same as it is with an ice and salt maker. The texture is so close to an ice and salt maker that you probably wouldn’t notice any difference.

NOTE: With the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Ice-21, there’s also a major difference when adding things to your ice cream like chocolate chips, coconut, candy, cookie dough, etc. You do not put the ingredients into your ice cream mix prior to making the ice cream. Instead, you are instructed to add the ingredients through the top opening 5 minutes before your ice cream is done.

If you want to add items to the Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe, or any other recipe I have here, I would suggest using half of the liquid mixture at a time, and adding half of whatever ingredients are called for 5 minutes before the ice cream is done. You need to make sure you have plenty of room for the ice cream to expand and for the additional ingredients.

How do you know when it’s done?  Fortunately you can see it freezing through the top so when it has thickened nicely or, in the case of this recipe…15 minutes into the process…I’d add the ingredients.

Some tips for using the freezer bowl: If you want to leave a freezer bowl in the freezer during warm seasons, there are two things that make it handy: Once it’s frozen, it doesn’t need to remain level; and, putting it in a bag will help keep any freezer odors out.