Ice Cream Frustration

I own this ice cream maker: and have been having significant trouble with it, even though I think I'm doing everything right. Generally speaking, the problem I'm having is that the ice cream never freezes. It gets to the slushy phase, but never moves beyond it. I don't expect it to be like ice cream from a container, but I do expect a soft-serve consistency. I just can't figure out why it won't freeze.

The bowl is completely frozen solid and the custard/base is very cold. It seems (I could be mistaken) that there is a correlation to the lack of freezing and the number of egg yolks I use. The kind I made last night was definitely more custard than regular ice cream. Is that possible? The first batch I ever made about a year ago didn't have eggs (and wasn't as tasty) but froze well. Should I do a batch with no eggs and see what happens, just for comparisons sake?

I ended up just throwing the icy custard into the freezer with the mix-ins as I couldn't bear to waste that many eggs/cream/milk. I haven't tried it yet, but I have a feeling it will be very dense as it didn't freeze in the maker.

Do you all have any thoughts? I've read countless articles about making ice cream and mistakes that people make - and I think I've covered all my bases. Are there any tricks that I'm missing?

I'm tempted to go out and purchase a maker with an internal compressor-freezer - but at around $400, I'd rather not if I can make this one work.


Liza's Kitchen NYC


loubaby June 3, 2015
I had the same problem once and I called the company and they sent me a new one...and I didn't have to return the non-working one....try it.
Greenstuff June 2, 2015
This question has come up on the Hotline before, with no definitive answer as to cause or cure. I've heard that exposing the bowl to too high heat in cleaning can be the cause but don't know the chemistry of the gel. I've also heard that letting the bowl sit out until it comes to room temperature can be a cure, but I understand that one even less. You might give it a try even if you order a new bowl--it's pretty convenient to have more than one.

As for going with another brand, lots of people have asked the Hotline for advice, and an awfully lot of us are happy with our Cuisinarts. I have two and have given a lot of others as gifts. The price is right, and many Food52s and I have used ours for lots of years without encountering your problem. Good luck, and be sure to report back.
magpiebaker June 1, 2015
I've seen people put the whole machine in the freezer and run it with the cord sticking out...have you tried this? I have a Cuisinart as well and agree it is strange that it won't freeze, since I've never had any trouble (and I almost always make custard based recipes, mostly from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop). Some of the recipes use up to 6 egg yolks so eggs shouldn't be causing the problem. Good luck!
ChefJune June 2, 2015
I don't think putting the base in the freezer is a good idea at all. In fact, probably dangerous. and also unnecessary. I am sure Cuisinart does not recommend that.
Jan W. May 28, 2015
I have the same ice-cream maker, and it has been practically foolproof for me. The bowl requires min. 24 hrs. in the freezer to be effective from room temperature. Your ice cream base should be chilled for 2-4 hours (depending on the amount) before churning. Like others have said, the churned ice cream needs to set in your freezer for a few hours after that to be solid enough to scoop.

I also agree with the suggestion to use David Lebovitz's recipes, because they're easy to follow and are very consistent as long as your ingredients are.
luvcookbooks May 28, 2015
Jeni's Splendid recipes are foolproof according to a friend who has her book. I have a Cuisinart and so far, so good. No other tips besides the ones already here. Sounds as if your machine itself may be the problem. Surprised they won't replace it for you.
mcs3000 May 27, 2015
Yes, try some recipes w/ eggs. My fav are from David Lebovitz, esp. this one. I make my base the night before. Churn it in the morning and pour it into a metal loaf pan to freeze. I find the loaf pan keeps the ice cream colder and makes it easier to scoop.
PieceOfLayerCake May 27, 2015
The art of making ice cream deals with a balance between the sugar/fat/alcohol (if used) content, with one trying to keep the texture as smooth as possible, without affecting its set. Everything you put into ice cream can affect the formation of ice crystals, with a high sugar ratio being the usual culprit. I went through dozens of different ratios of ice cream base to salt caramel before I got something that wasn't soup or cement in the freezer. I say, continue to experiment with small batches before you lose faith in the machine. I own the same model, and its always been very responsive to what I put in it.
Ken May 27, 2015
I have the same model Cuisinart as ChefJune and some other posters. I find that the canister requires more than 12 hours to properly freeze (I usually allow 24-48 hours). Also, if the weather is warm I churn the ice cream inside a refrigerator.
boulangere May 27, 2015
@Ken, I agree. I store my cylinders permanently in the freezer.
ChefJune June 2, 2015
Both my canisters live permanently in my freezer (I have a mediu-sized chest freezer) because you never know when you might NEED to make ice cream...
Liza's K. May 27, 2015
Thanks all for the tips. I've only hand-washed the bowl, so it's unlikely that it's the issue. I did add the vanilla early in the process, but thought that the alcohol cooked off - maybe it didn't. However, I'd be surprised if one TB of vanilla made such a big difference in such a large amount of base.
I called Cuisinart and the warrantee is just up, but they've given me an extra few days to make a decision. They've offered to allow me to send the bowl back to them and they will send a new one for $15 + shipping/handling. Between shipping the bowl back and paying for the new bowl and shipping, it might make more sense to just get a new one on Amazon for close to the same cost.
I've done some reading on other makers and it seems that the top of the line option is the Breville. I have a few of their other products and love them, however it's really big and also quite expensive. Do any of you have that machine?
boulangere May 27, 2015
I don't own a Breville, Liza, but I taught cooking classes for a few years in a local kitchen store. The most often-returned (as in failed) "electrics," as they were referred to, were made by Breville. They appeared to fail so consistently that the store stopped carrying them.
Susan W. May 26, 2015
I was just reading some of the reviews on your machine. You are not alone in having issues, but many more love it. One suggestion was that your freezer should be at zero degrees. Also, if you are adding any alcohol, including vanilla, add it at the very end. You've probably run across these tips, but just in case you haven't. Also, don't put the canister through your dishwasher.
boulangere May 26, 2015
I, too, have used the same one as Chef June for years and years. A few thoughts: first, never run the cylinder through the dishwasher, as the high heat compromises the interior gel's ability to freeze adequately (learned that the hard way); second, place the cylinder in the freezer for at least 12 hours before you spin your ice cream; and last, be sure that your custard is chilled to at least 40 degrees, if not lower, before you spin it. As Chef June mentioned, the consistency is more like soft-serve ice cream when straight out of the cylinder, and needs several hours in the freezer before being sufficiently frozen. And last last, ice cream custard is so named because of the presence of eggs. When spun and frozen, eggs help give ice cream that divine smoothness as it spreads over your palate.
Liza's K. May 26, 2015
Update: I've just called Cuisinart and I need to call them back tonight when I get home. They need the serial number to see if the machine is under warranty prior to answering any questions. I'll let you all know how it goes! Thanks for your help.
ChefJune May 26, 2015
Liza, if you're not under warranty any more. pm me. The Customer Service director is a friend of mine. We might be able to get you some help anyway.
cookbookchick May 26, 2015
My daughter has the same model as ChefJune and has great success with it. She makes delicious ice cream with and without eggs. And I agree, I prefer it with eggs. But they're both tasty. They do come out soft and have to be hardened in the freezer.
ChefJune May 26, 2015
I have owned and used a different Cuisinart Ice Cream Freezer for more than 20 years. It's the 1 1/2 quart machine that comes with 2 bowls. With that machine, the ice cream churns and freezes "softly," but requires about 4 hours in your deep freeze to set up and be properly frozen. I always remove it from the freezer bowl to a freezer container for it to set up. It never freezes completely, and isn't supposed to do so.
I don't know anything about the machine you have, but if you've tried the recipes that came with it unsatisfactorily (to you), I would contact the company. I do know they want you to be successful with their appliances, and will work with you to iron out the problems you're having.
Susan W. May 26, 2015
Have you tried using a recipe (or at least looking at) that came with the machine? I'm almost wondering if you have a defective machine. I had a small Braun ice cream maker. I found I had to chill the custard overnight for it to work perfectly. You probably saw that tip in the research you did. I've always used an eggy mixture. Maybe you should call the company.
Liza's K. May 26, 2015
Thanks for your thoughts. Almost all of the recipes that come with the machine are egg-less, which is why I thought that they might be the problem. However, I've found that recipes without eggs are not as creamy/yummy, which defeats the purpose of making your own ice cream.
Susan W. May 26, 2015
I agree. I much prefer a custard base over eggless. You are right to expect a soft serve consistency. It sounds like yours is less frozen. I really think you should call the company.
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