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Which nugget ice maker is best?

If you like to entertain often and need a lot of ice for serving drinks, more than likely your kitchen freezer probably isn’t up to the job. Kitchen freezers are generally slow to freeze a batch and don’t produce a lot of ice every 24 hours. In fact, most only produce 4 or 5 pounds per day. Outfitting your home with a nugget ice maker can help solve this problem. 

Not only do nugget ice makers produce ice that is easy to chew and cools drinks very quickly, most can produce anywhere from 24 to 44 pounds per day. Some models, such as the GE Profile Opal, even boast high-tech features like Bluetooth connectivity and match well with premium stainless steel appliances.

What to know before you buy a nugget ice maker

Countertop vs. commercial models

Ice makers come in both countertop and commercial. Countertop models are also sometimes referred to as portable ice makers and are suitable for home users who either don’t have an ice maker in their freezer or who like to entertain often and need additional ice during dinners and cocktail parties. They don’t take up too much space nor do they require any kind of permanent installation. This means you don’t have to worry about a drain or connecting them to a water line.

Conversely, commercial ice makers are generally large machines that are intended for permanent installation with both drainage and a water line attachment. These offer a much larger output and storage capacity.

Freezing cycle

The freezing cycle is a measure of how long it takes an ice maker to freeze a batch of ice cubes. The average freezing cycle for countertop nugget ice makers is around 10 minutes, with some models capable of producing ice in as little as 6 minutes and others taking up to 15 minutes.


Just like coffee makers and any other machine that constantly has water running through it, nugget ice makers require periodic descaling to keep the water flowing freely and everything working in good order. This should be performed at least once every 2 to 6 months depending on the hardness of your water and how often you use the machine. You can either use a commercial descaling product or your own homemade solution of white vinegar and warm water. 

Features to look for in a quality nugget ice maker


Nugget ice makers vary in the amount of ice they can produce in a 24-hour period. Commercial models produce anywhere from 100-500 pounds every 24 hours. Countertop models generally range from 25-75 pounds every 24 hours, which equates to roughly 2-3 pounds an hour.

Bin capacity

Along with the output, it is important to consider the bin capacity of any ice maker. Since most consumer models can’t keep up with the demand of a busy cocktail party, the bin should offer enough capacity to serve your guests for at least half the length of the event. It should be noted that the bins on most countertop models are not freezers. Rather, they are insulated to hold ice for a period of time, but cannot be used to store ice overnight.

Cube type

Along with nuggets, ice makers can produce other types of ice cubes. Most commonly, these are bullets or square cubes. These latter types of ice cubes don’t melt as quickly as nugget ice, which can be good for hot climates or certain types of beverages that you don’t want to dilute as quickly.


Ice makers need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of mold and the buildup of bacteria. Models that feature a self-cleaning function eliminate the need to do this manually.  

Bluetooth connectivity

Though not common, some nugget ice makers boast Bluetooth connectivity and connect to an app on your phone or tablet. Depending on the particular app, you may be able to monitor the ice maker’s status, schedule ice production at certain times and even order related accessories through it.


Some nugget ice makers come with extra items or have accessories that enhance their functionality available to purchase. These may include an ice scooper, add-on water reservoirs or bins to increase the continuous production capability or storage capacity

How much can you expect to spend on a nugget ice maker

Countertop nugget ice makers cost anywhere from $100-$600. Commercial models cost anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars.

Nugget ice maker FAQs

Do I have to use filtered water in my nugget ice maker?

A. While not a requirement, it is generally recommended to use filtered water in your nugget ice maker. Not only will it result in ice that tastes better, but it’s also less likely to cause a buildup of mineral deposits that can eventually cause machine failure.

Are nugget ice makers loud?

A. Most countertop nugget ice makers operate very quietly except for when a batch of ice finishes and is dumped into the storage bin. Even then, this sound only lasts a fraction of a second. On large commercial ice makers, the compressor can make a low humming sound.

What is the best nugget ice maker to buy?

Top nugget ice maker

GE Profile Opal

GE Profile Opal

What you need to know: This premium countertop nugget ice maker boasts high-tech features and has an attractive stainless exterior that will fit in with high-end appliances..

What you’ll love: It has Bluetooth connectivity to monitor and schedule ice making from your mobile device. There is also an optional side water tank that triples the amount of ice it can make before you need to refill it. 

What you should consider: It commands a high price that may put it out of reach for some consumers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top nugget ice maker for the money

Frigidaire EFIC235-AMZ

Frigidaire EFIC235-AMZ

What you need to know: If you are looking for a model that offers easy maintenance and which can pump a lot of ice per day, the EFIC235-AMZ is the way to go.

What you’ll love: It is equipped with a UV sterilizer to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. Also, it recycles water from melted ice to reduce the amount of times you need to refill it.

What you should consider: Some buyers have experienced issues with longevity.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

What you need to know: This Northair ice maker can produce up to 44 pounds of ice per day and can continue to operate reliably in temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

What you’ll love: Its well-designed storage bin and included scooper make for easy access to the ice, and it’s illuminated LCD control can be clearly seen even in dim lighting conditions.

What you should consider: There have been reports of some units leaking water from the storage bin.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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