The snow is here to stay! At least that’s how it looks from a dessert standpoint—especially if you’re looking to add an ice shaving machine to your kitchen tools.
These machines are experts at preparing a wow-worthy dessert. They allow you to explore all types of dishes in your kitchen like the Asian shaved ice desserts kakigōri, bingsu, halo halo and baobing. All of these share a fine snowy texture and theatrical presentation. The U.S. also has its own versions of these desserts in the form of Hawaiian shave ice and New Orleans snowballs, both of which have a fine texture more akin to snow than a snow cone.
These machines can also go beyond dessert and can help save your blender some wear and tear while making slushy cocktails. Simply, fill your glasses with shaved ice to create frozen margaritas or the perfect mint juleps. You can even use a shaved-ice snowball in place of ice for a drink that will benefit from the increased dilution, like this Egg Knoggin.
Today, ice shaving at home has never been so easy—or affordable—with machines that put the ice crushers of yore to shame. Here are some of our favorite best ice shaving machines.
The Best Ice Shaving Machines
1. Best Overall: Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine
Thanks to the included molds, this popular machine makes fluffy shaved ice as well as coarser snow cone-style ice (ice cubes can be used, but they won’t produce a snowy texture). Try using half milk and half water in the molds for an especially silky texture, which is preferred for Korean bingsu.
2. Best Ice Shaving Machine for Snow (e.g. Kakigōri and Hawaiian Shave Ice): Hawaiian Shaved Ice S777 HomePro
This option is a sleek deluxe version of the previous machine by the same manufacturer but does all the work for you (the other machine relies on manual pressure). It’s fast, simple and there is a blade-adjustment knob for making the finest ice, rather than using a screwdriver to adjust the blade.
3. Best (and Only) Ice Shaving Machine KitchenAid Attachment: KitchenAid Shave Ice Attachment
This attachment is a no-brainer, especially if your KitchenAid is already on the counter. It takes up little space and puts shaved ice at your fingertips without hauling out a separate machine. The attachment comes with fine and coarse blades, and the machine does a fast and precise job when using the included molds.
4. Best Ice Shaving Machine for Frozen Cocktails and Mocktails: Cuisinart SCM-10P1 Snow Cone Maker
You’ll love this serious machine with a cheery look that may remind you of a miniature movie-theater popcorn maker. In some ways, it’s better than a blender for slushy cocktails because you can let each person customize their drink. Plus, it’s great for a party since it can make at least four servings per minute. It even comes with a scoop that makes attractive domed tops. Bear in mind this only makes snow cone-textured ice, so this machine isn’t ideal for Asian shaved-ice desserts.
5. Best Ice Shaving Machine for Snow Cones: Vevor Electric Dual-blade Ice Crusher
This shaver has a cool look that resembles a citrus squeezer and comes in yellow, orange or gray. It’s heavy, fast and can handle a lot of ice without tiring. The adjustable blade never quite gets to a snowy texture, but it’s a fantastic snow cone machine, especially for the price.
6. Best Manual Ice Shaving Machine: MANBA Ice Shaver and Snow Cone Machine
Manual shavers can often do a better job than some machines, because it allows you to moderate pressure and speed for the best result. This little powerhouse is great when you only need one or two servings of shaved ice or want crushed ice for a drink without getting the blender out.
7. Best Budget: Victoria Cast-Iron Ice Shaver
Sometimes called a raspador de hielo or raspahielo, you may have seen these in Mexico or Puerto Rico where they’re used to make the frozen desserts raspados and piraguas, respectively. This old-fashioned style takes a little muscle but is very satisfying to use. Freeze your own block of ice in a long shallow container (the longer the better, so you can make sweeping passes with the shaver). It’s easy to use, clean and store.
What’s the Difference Between a Snow Cone and Shaved Ice?
Generally speaking, snow cones are made with finely crushed ice (think ice cubes put through a particularly fine meat grinder), while shaved ice like in kakigori, bingsu and Hawaiian shave ice is made by literally shaving extremely thin layers of ice for a texture akin to freshly fallen snow. Most home machines are shavers rather than grinders, but because they don’t have the precision of commercial block-ice shavers (which can cost several thousand dollars), you may end up with a texture somewhere between a snow cone and actual snow.
How Do You Make Shaved Ice Fluffy?
Machines that use ice from included molds shave finer than cubed ice, which tends to create ice chips rather than an even shave. Real Hawaiian Ice, a provider of commercial machines and supplies, compares it to mowing a lawn.
“Areas where the grass meets structures or concrete, or hilly areas without even dimensions become a lot more difficult to mow,” reads the website. “The same is true for ice…It’s easier for a shaved ice machine to get a close and clean shaving of ice with a large block than with several cubes.”
Additionally, machines that use molded ice come with molds that fit perfectly.
How Do You Keep Shaved Ice From Melting?
The best way to keep shaved ice from melting is to work fast and serve it immediately. But you can buy time by keeping your serving dishes in the freezer, and if you’re making several servings, gather the ice as you shave into a bowl submerged in ice.
What Are the Best Toppings for Shaved Ice?
There’s no limit to the toppings for shaved ice, and each country has its unique favorites based on local customs and availability. Think of it as a sundae that welcomes lighter flavors. There are many commercially available syrups, but you can make your own fresh fruit purées easily with a blender (pass through a strainer to eliminate pulp, if desired). Condensed milk is an ideal base, as it’s already sweetened (unlike evaporated milk) with a syrupy texture and rich flavor. Try flavoring it by whisking in espresso, peanut butter, chocolate sauce, cream of coconut or matcha powder to taste.