MEET YOUR MAKER
Almost all ice cream machines function the same: They rapidly chill a base while agitating it to incorporate air. This keeps the ice crystals that are forming inside as small as possible. Which machine you need largely depends on how much ice cream you plan to make.
THE STARTER: Cuisinart’s entry-level Ice-21 is compact, foolproof, and makes an excellently textured product. The downside is prep time. Its freezing power comes from a gelfilled bowl that must be frozen 8 hours in advance of churning and refrozen after each 1-quart churn. $60; cuisinart.com
UPGRADE: Breville’s Smart Scoop has a built-in cooling element so you can spin batches back to back (though, for best results, freeze the churning chamber for five minutes between projects). It also churns at a slower speed and whips less air into the base for a subtly denser and creamier result. $400; breville.com