Stuff We Love: Make Delicious Ice Cream With the Lello Gelato Junior
I absolutely love ice cream; so much so that once I set out to try a different flavor of ice cream every day for a year. (I lasted over 100 days before life got too busy to and my freezer got too full.) And there is nothing better than homemade ice cream, which is why I've owned an ice cream machine for most of my adult life. The Lello Gelato Junior wasn't the first ice cream maker I owned, but I'd recommend it as the first ice cream maker any else buys.
Why I Own an Automatic Freezing Ice Cream Maker
If you've ever used an ice cream maker, chances are it was one of those kinds where you have to stick a big metal bowl in the freezer for 24–48 hours before you can make the ice cream. You then pour the ice cream "batter" in the metal bowl, and all the machine does is spin around — the machine uses the cold in the bowl to freeze the batter. If your batter isn't cold enough, the metal freezer bowl thaws, and you end up with a big bowl of never-frozen ice cream.
I owned one of these freezer bowl type of machines for years and hated it. Usually making ice cream was a spur-of-the-moment decision and the metal bowl wasn't in the freezer. I tried for a while to store it in the freezer, so it was always ready, but it took up too much space. Even when I did plan ahead, the freezer bowl would thaw too quickly.
But then I discovered automatic freezing ice cream makers.
These don't require any metal bowls; they do exactly what you would expect by their name. They automatically freeze the ice cream without the need for putting a bowl in the freezer.
Unfortunately, they are on the pricier side. Compared to the $35-$90 for non-automatic machines, automatic ice cream makers (also called ice cream makers with compressors) are $200 plus. But, I researched and found one of best machines on the market and put it on my wedding registry — the Lello Junior Gelato Maker. Someone bought it for us, and I've been making ice cream with it almost once a week during the summer ever since.
What's Great About It
Ice cream! Whenever you want some!
The best thing about the Lello 4070 Junior Gelato maker is that it automatically freezes ice cream, without any obnoxious freezer bowls, in about 30 minutes. You get a quart of homemade delicious ice cream in less time that it would take to drive to the store and buy a pint. While it's called a "gelato" maker, you can make ice cream, sorbet, and even frozen drinks in it.
Making homemade ice cream is extremely easy particularly if you make Philadelphia style (no eggs), and it tastes amazing. When you have an automatic freezing machine you can experiment with different flavors — a surprising favorite of mine is coconut avocado — without worrying that a batch won't turn out well. You can make multiple batches in one day because there isn't a bowl you have to refreeze in between.
What It Compares To
The Lello Gelato maker is one of only a handful of products that can be classified as 100% automatic freezing ice cream makers in the less than $400 price range. Other than the machine made by Lello, Cuisinart makes one, DeLonghi makes one, and Breville makes one. (Don't be fooled by the $90 and under Cuisinart machines; some have "automatic" in their name, but when you look closely, they all have freezer bowls.) We chose the Lello because it's an Italian made machine and had the best reviews on Amazon compared to similar machines.
There's a whole other category of machines with compressors — those in the $650+ range. My ultimate "someday I'll buy this for myself purchase" is the Ferrari of the ice cream machine world, the Lello Musso Pola at $1,200 (or perhaps I'd settle for the Lello 4080 Lussino at $679.) These gorgeous ice cream makers freeze even faster and make even more ice cream than the Lello Gelato Junior.
Who It Is Best For
The Lello Gelato Junior machine is an amazing machine for anyone who loves ice cream. It's great if you like to entertain (because there's no better dessert than homemade ice cream) and if you have kids you can make a variety of frozen treats for your children.
How It Could Be Better
The only problem with the Lello ice cream maker is that it's noisy. If you have an eat-in kitchen, you'll want to sit in the living room with your guests while the machine is on. It's not a problem when you're just cooking, but having an extended conversation with the noise right next to you is difficult.
What They Don't Tell You in the Manual
When you use the Lello machine, the manual says that you are supposed to make your ice cream base and refrigerate the batter for a few hours to bring down the temperature. If you do this, your ice cream will be ready in about 30 minutes. But, you can still make ice cream even if you don't refrigerate. It just takes about 60-90 minutes.
Bottom Line Recommendation
The Lello Junior Gelato Maker is an inexpensive, completely self-freezing, automatic ice cream machine. It makes a quart of incredible ice cream in about 30-60 minutes.
Where to Get Yours
The only place you can currently buy the Lello Junior is on Amazon. I've also seen them from time to time in specialty cooking stores. It will cost you about $230.
What's your favorite ice cream maker?