Spec Check: Ice Cream Machines

One common mistake operators make is purchasing a soft-serve machine that is an inappropriate size. Here are two other common mistakes foodservice operators should avoid when purchasing this type of foodservice equipment.

Capacity, menu, and space and utilities represent three factors foodservice operators should take into consideration when specifying an ice cream machine.


Ice cream machines are typically specified by size, which can range from two to 14 cones a minute. It is important to estimate the number of servings per day, but also to assess the location's traffic well enough to know if a high-volume situation may happen once or more each day. High-volume locations may want to consider pressurized equipment to maintain consistent product quality.

The freezing cylinder size provides one indication of the frozen product capacity. The hopper size is where liquid mix is stored before freezing. Refrigeration systems should be evaluated by the heat removal capabilities or Btus per hour. It's important to note that compressors could have the same horsepower rating, but have different heat removal capabilities.


Evaluate the menu items that would use soft-serve ice cream. What serving sizes will be available, and how many flavors will be available each day? Single flavor and two flavors with a twist models are available.

Space and Utilities

Smaller operations with limited space may only be able to accommodate a countertop unit. Adequate air clearance also should be evaluated in the space.

The electrical service at the location must have enough amperage to handle the equipment. Most soft-serve equipment is nominally 220 volt, usually available in either single or three phases.

More on Ice Cream Machines
Ice Cream Machines: An Overview
How to Know When to Replace an Ice Cream Machine
Ice Cream Machine Applications
Maintaining an Ice Cream Machine
Spec Check: Ice Cream Machines
Energy Efficiency and Ice Cream Machines

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