The Best Snow Cone Machine for Your Home

Win cool points with the kids by serving the best frozen treats!

Win cool points with the kids by serving the best frozen treats!

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On a hot summer’s day, there’s no better way to cool down than by enjoying a delicious frozen treat.  While some may head to the ice cream shop or chase down the neighborhood ice cream truck, there’s a new treat in town that’s perfect for those sunny summer days, the snow cone.

A Perfect Alternative

The snow cone is a delicious, dairy-free alternative to the traditional ice cream cone. They’re perfect for vegans, people with lactose intolerance, and anyone simply in search of a refreshing frozen treat. They’re also good for those of us watching our weight! In comparison to ice cream, a snow cone contains 90 calories per ounce of regular syrup and just 3.5 calories per ounce of sugar-free syrup. Meanwhile, a half cup of vanilla ice cream contains an average of 145 calories.

Can’t do dairy but still love to bake? Did you know you can make vegan buttermilk with almond milk?

Snow cones are a perfect make-at-home treat.  Even better, they are one of the cheapest treats to make. In the retail market, an 8-oz snow cone sells for about $1.50. The seller makes about $1.35. That’s a profit margin of about 90%!

Making your own snow cones at home can be a fun, easy, and cost-efficient activity for the whole family to enjoy. Of course, you first need the perfect snow cone machine!

The history of the snow cone

The first snow cones date back to 1919 when Samuel Bert debuted his ice crushing machine at the Texas State Fair.  From that point forward, Bert continued selling his snow cones and his ice crushing machine all over the world. Over the years, innovative individuals expanded the technology over the years. Eventually, we ended up with the syrup-drenched snow cones and shaved ice we know and love today.

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Snow cones vs. shaved ice

Personalize your dessert with a range of fun flavors and colors.

Personalize your dessert with a range of fun flavors and colors.

So, what’s the difference between a snow cone and a shaved ice?  In a snow cone, the ice is ground into a chunkier consistency. When you pour flavored syrup on top, the flavor slowly drips to the bottom. Shaved ice, on the other hand, is ground into a much lighter. The snow-like consistency is so fine that the syrup sticks to the flakes.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Syrup 10 Pack, Pints

Check out Hawaiian Shaved Ice 10 Flavor Pack of Snow Cone Syrup at Amazon

When it comes to snow cones versus shaved ice, the choice is simply a matter of personal preference. There are plenty of at-home machines that can make both.

Choosing the Right Snow Cone Machine

The first step in choosing the right snow cone machine for you is to address these questions of personal preference. Do you prefer small chunks of ice? Or, do you like a more uniform and soft consistency? If you prefer your treats soft and snowy, a shaved ice maker is for you. A more traditional snow cone machine might be better for those who like a coarser texture.

Either way, the good news is that finding an efficient, reliable, and reasonably priced snow cone machine is a fairly simple task.  Of course, keep in mind that the quality of your snow cone will also be affected by the quality of ice that you put in it.

Need ice for your alcoholic drinks? See my review of the best ice maker for a home bar!

For the Traditional Snow Cone Lover

Nostalgia Electrics’ Vintage Collection Snow Cone Maker

If you’ve decided the chunkier, more coarsely-shaved ice suits your preferences, the Nostalgia Electrics’ machine is an excellent option. Its stainless steel blades grind the ice finely, while still maintaining a thicker (but not overly chunky) consistency. As this model is capable of storing shaved ice for twenty 8-oz snow cones, it’s ideal for parties and entertaining.

Nostalgia SCM502 Vintage Snow Cone Maker

See the Nostalgia Vintage Collection Snow Cone Maker & Shaved Ice Storage at Amazon

This snow cone maker can be loaded with regular ice cubes straight from your freezer, saving you the time and space associated with freezing an additional tray. Quick and easy! Best of all, the machine is extremely durable and is sure to last through many snow cone making years.

With a reasonable price tag, this machine is hard to beat.

For The Shaved Ice Lover

Shaved ice has a smoother consistency than a regular snow cone.

Shaved ice has a smoother consistency than a regular snow cone.

Great Northern’s Premium Quality Ice Cub Shaved Ice Machine Commercial Ice Shaver

For those of you partial to the smoother texture of shaved ice, this machine is a clear front runner for at-home use. It’s an extremely high-quality and durable device, featuring stainless steel blades, a heavy duty motor, and a sleek stainless steel body. This machine can shave 6 pounds of ice per minute, meaning you won’t have to wait very long to enjoy your snow cones.

Great Northern Premium Quality Ice Cub Shaved Ice Machine Commercial Ice Shaver

See the Great Northern Premium Quality Ice Cub Shaved Ice Machine Commercial Ice Shaver at Amazon

Great Northern’s machine grinds ice into your desired airy texture, perfect for dousing with your choice of syrup. However, this is a commercial grade machine, which means it is on the more expensive end of the spectrum. This model can run a little high, price-wise.  Despite the price tag, the Great Northern machine receives the highest praise, is efficient and compact, and comes with a one year warranty.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Electric Shaved Ice Machine

If you aren’t looking to spend quite so much on your shaved ice machine, check out the Hawaiian Shaved Ice’s electric shaved ice maker. It’s an excellent alternative with a price point that won’t break the bank.  This model is small, high-powered and, most importantly, easy to use. Creating your snow cone with just the push of a button! It is powerful enough to grind the ice into a perfect, smooth consistency while still operating quickly, taking about 30 seconds per cone.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine, 120V, White

See the Hawaiian Shaved Ice Electric Shaved Ice Machine at Amazon

One downside is that the machine does require specially-shaped ice. You’ll need to freeze an additional ice cube tray to supply the machine. However, the pros definitely outweigh the cons with this budget-friendly device.

Do you want to make your own fruit flavored water?  Here’s the lowdown.

You’re a smooth operator!

Spare your wallet and your waistline! Making snow cones at home is a simple and tasty activity that the whole family can enjoy. A snow cone is the perfect treat for parties, BBQs, and family night. Check out the machines on this list to make your own refreshing and customizable desserts all summer long.

Use the healthiest water to whip up snow cones without breaking the bank.  Check out my recommendations for the best water ionizers for the money0.

For more frosty fun, see this post on the best ice cream maker for non-dairy ice cream. You might also like this post on the six ice cream scoops that are also great for portioning out cookie dough.

If you’re a fan of grown-up beverages, check out my article on the best beer mugs for freezing. Are you more tropically-inclined? Then see the best margarita machine for your home, and don’t forget about the margarita mix for your machine!

There’s nothing like snow cones with a side of fresh fruit! Read about the best cherry pitter for small cherries, and check out these three cool ways to cut watermelon!

Keep it cold on the go. Here are the best insulated tumblers for cold drinks.  And then check out the best carbonation machines for sparkling water.

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Keith M.220gal220 and Janine.