nugget ice makers

Nugget ice, or ‘sonic ice’ , is one of the most popular types of ice. It’s perfect for drinks, and can even be used in place of regular ice in some recipes. Sonic ice makers are a great addition to any bar, café, restaurant, or anywhere where chilled drinks are served. Even if you want to have the convenience of always having fresh chewable ice at hand at your own home, there’s a nugget ice maker for you.

There are a few different types of nugget ice makers on the market, so it’s important to know what to look for when choosing one. This guide will cover the best nugget ice makers for both home and commercial use, and explain everything you need to know about them.

What is a sonic ice maker?

A sonic ice maker is a machine that produces the best and chewiest type of ice called “nugget” or “sonic” ice. These small, bite-sized pieces are much softer than regular cube or flake ice, making it perfect for smoothies, frozen cocktails, and more!

What is sonic ice?

Nugget ice, pellet ice also called ‘sonic ice’ is small, cylindrical pieces of ice. Probably the most famous user of nugget ice is the Sonic restaurant chain. It has become so popular that some people actually refer to nugget ice as “Sonic” ice.

Nugget ice is softer than other types of ice, so it melts in your mouth quickly. It is also known as ‘chewy ice’ because of its soft, chewable texture. Nuggets ice is used for its small size and unique shape. It varies in size and its consistency ranges from semi-clear, hard to opaque, and semi-hard.

How does a nugget ice maker work?

Sonic ice makers work by using a process called sonification, which is the process of turning liquid water into ice. Most sonic ice makers use a system of cold plates and tubes to quickly freeze water and turn it into nugget ice. Some newer models also use compressed air or CO2 to force freezing, resulting in ultra-soft, chewable ice.

Types of Sonic Ice Makers

countertop ice maker

Countertop

One of the most popular types of sonic ice makers is the countertop nugget ice maker. These models are small and compact, making them perfect for home use. Many countertop models also come with built-in storage bins, so you can keep your nugget ice close at hand.

Some models need to be hooked up to a water supply,  while others feature a water tank that can simply be filled with water as needed.

under counter ice maker

Undercounter

Undercounter sonic ice makers are a great option for businesses or home kitchens with limited counter space. These units are installed under your countertop and come with their own storage bins. Some undercounter models even come with built-in water and drainage lines, so you don’t have to worry about hooking them up to your plumbing. Undercounter ice machines are usually panel-ready, which means they can be customized to match the rest of your kitchen cabinets.

freestanding ice machine

Freestanding units

Freestanding sonic ice makers are the largest type of nugget ice maker. These units are typically used in commercial settings, like restaurants, bars, and hotels. They come with large storage bins and can produce hundreds of pounds of ice per day.

portable ice maker

Portable

If you’re looking for a sonic ice maker that you can take on the go, then a portable nugget ice maker might be right for you. Portable models are small and lightweight, so you can easily take them with you when you travel. Many portable sonic ice makers also come with batteries, so you don’t have to worry about finding a power outlet or a power generator nearby.

5 Best Nugget Ice Makers for Home Reviews

Whether you’re looking for an affordable machine for your home or business, we’ve rounded up the best sonic ice makers on the market. From compact countertop models to heavy-duty nugget ice machines, we’ve got you covered.

1. GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker with Side Tank

The most popular countertop nugget ice machine for home is the Opal Nugget Icemaker by General Electric. This machine is small and sleek, with a modern design that will fit in any kitchen. It is also very affordable and has some high-tech features such as Bluetooth connectivity and a smartphone app that allows you to schedule fresh ice and monitor the status of your icemaker from your device.

This particular unit comes with a side tank, which means you don’t have to hook it up to a water line. Instead, you can fill the tank with water and the machine will automatically make ice.

One thing that cannot be denied is that this machine makes perfect chewable ice. And it does it quickly too: you’ll be able to enjoy your first batch of ice in 20 minutes or less. The Opal can produce up to 24 pounds of ice per day, and it stores up to 3 pounds at a time.

That being said, Opal Ice Maker has its fair share of flaws. First, it is not easy to clean, and the ice basket needs to be emptied frequently to prevent ice from melting and refreezing. Second, this machine is very loud, and it emits a high-pitched noise when its ice maker is working. Some customers also point out that this model tends to break, and the support is unsatisfactory. However, the reviews are mostly positive and the general consensus is that the GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker offers good quality for the price.

Pros:

  • Makes perfect chewable ice
  • Affordable
  • Comes with a side tank
  • Quick and easy to use

Cons:

  • Not easy to clean
  • Tends to be loud
  • Some customers have had issues with its durability.
ge opal icemaker

2. KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Ice Maker

This self-dispensing ice maker makes up to 25 lbs of ice daily, but it can hold only about one pound of ice at once. It takes about 30 minutes to make the first batch of nugget ice. All of this makes this ice maker more suitable for home use than in commercial settings. The quality of ice produced is great though, it makes soft, chewable ice nuggets.

What sets the KBice ice maker from the rest is the ease of use. Unlike most ice makers with a water reservoir, you don’t have to open it to add water. There is a handy funnel that comes with the machine that allows you to easily add water. Also, getting the ice is really easy – just place your glass on the bottom plate and touch the ‘dispense ice’ button.

The unit itself is made of plastic, with the front plate and water plate connecting with magnets. Despite this, the build quality is decent, and the price is amazing. Commercial self-dispensing ice makers from brands like Scotsman cost several thousand dollars, and with KBice you will get to enjoy the benefits of a self-dispensing ice maker at home or office for much, much less. Of course, the volume of the ice produced is incomparable.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • User-friendly
  • Great ice quality

Cons:

  • Small bin capacity
  • Mostly plastic parts
  • Some people might not like the design.
KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

3. GE Profile Opal 2.0 Stainless Steel

The GE Profile XPIO13SCSS is a high-end pellet ice maker that can produce up to 24 pounds of ice per day. This unit is larger and more expensive than the Opal, but it comes with some features that justify its price tag.

First, the GE Profile XPIO13SCSS has a self-cleaning function that helps to keep the ice maker clean and free of bacteria. It also has a built-in water filter that removes impurities from the water, ensuring that your ice is always fresh and pure. Unlike some of the pellet ice makers on the market, this model does not use a refrigerated ice bin. Instead, it uses the melted ice to create more ice by recirculating ice melt to the water reservoir.

This ice maker also has a sleek stainless steel finish that will look great in any kitchen. And it comes with a handy ice bin that can hold up to 48 ounces of ice. In addition to modern looks, Opal 2.0 is equipped with modern features as well, such as WiFi connectivity, the SmartHQ app to monitor device status and schedule fresh ice and voice control capabilities through Alexa and Google.

The only downside to this ice maker is that it has a very small water reservoir, so you will need to refill it frequently. But other than that, the GE Profile XPIO13SCSS is a great pellet ice maker that is sure to fulfill your chewy ice needs.

Pros:

  • Produces up to 56 pounds of ice per day
  • Self-cleaning function
  • Built-in water filter
  • Sleek stainless steel finish
  • Handy ice bin

Cons:

  • Small water reservoir
  • Expensive
GE Profile Opal 2.0 | Countertop Nugget Ice Maker with Side Tank

4. GE Profile UNC15NJII 56-lb Undercounter Pellet Ice Maker

Yes, it’s the third GE ice maker on this list, but it is well-deserved. GE is a trusted name in appliances, and their under counter pellet ice maker is a great option for those who want the convenience of having ice on hand at all times, without taking up too much space. This 15″ under counter ice maker can produce up to 56 pounds of ice per day, and it stores up to 4 pounds at a time.

It has a sleek stainless steel finish that looks great as is, but it is also panel ready so you can match it to your existing cabinetry. This unit is also very quiet, so you won’t have to worry about it disturbing the peace in your home. And it comes with a handy ice scoop so you can easily transfer ice to your glass.

One downside to this unit is that it is quite expensive, though not as expensive as heavy-duty commercial nugget ice machines. But if you are willing to pay for quality, the GE Profile UNC15NJII is a great option.

Pros:

  • Produces up to 56 pounds of ice per day
  • Stores up to 4 pounds of ice
  • Sleek stainless steel finish
  • Panel ready
  • Quiet

Cons:

  • Might be too expensive for a home-use unit
15 inch under counter ice maker

5. Frigidaire EFIC237 Countertop Ice Machine

Frigidaire’s EFIC237 is a popular countertop ice machine that produces chewable, nugget-style ice. This unit is very easy to use and doesn’t require any installation. You can simply plug it in and add water, and the machine will start making ice within minutes. Be aware that this ice machine does not make real chewable ice, but rather tiny hard squares.

It is a high-capacity ice maker that can produce up to 44 lbs of ice per day, with a bin holding 3 lbs. Still, this Frigidaire nugget ice maker is compact and can be placed anywhere as long as there is an electrical outlet nearby. Another feature worth pointing out is the self-cleaning function, which makes maintenance a breeze.

All good features aside, there seem to be a lot of problems with this machine. Customers have pointed out that it is very loud, it tends to malfunction, leak all over the counter and the warranty does not cover everything. If you really like the Frigidaire Nugget Ice maker and would like to test it out yourself, we advise getting it from a seller that allows returns.

Pros:

  • High-capacity
  • Very compact and portable

Cons:

  • Does not make real chewable ice, but small solid nuggets
  • It's loud
  • Some customers have reported it leaking
  • Breakdowns are common
Frigidaire EFIC237 Countertop Crunchy Chewable Ice Maker

Commercial Nugget Ice Machines

Commercial nugget ice machines are in a league of their own. They are much more expensive than home ice machines, but they are also much more powerful and can produce large quantities of ice. They also last a lot longer and are made by companies that specialize in refrigeration appliances and ice makers, like Hoshizaki, Scotsman or Ice-O-Matic.

Scotsman SCN60GA-1SS Brilliance Ice Machine

Scotsman Brilliance nugget ice machines use proprietary technology to make the best soft chewable ice possible. The Scotsman SCN60GA-1SS is a high-end nugget ice machine that is designed for commercial use. This unit can produce up to 60 pounds of ice per day, and it has a storage capacity of 26 pounds. It is also very energy efficient, using only 1.8 kWh of power per 100 lbs of ice.

This machine is made with a stainless steel exterior that is resistant to corrosion, and it also has a self-contained condenser so it can be used in outdoor locations. The Scotsman SCN60GA-1SS comes with a built-in ice bin, making it easy to store and dispense ice.

It can be a freestanding or undercounter unit, and it features reversible door hinges so it can be installed in any location. The price tag on this unit is quite high, but it is a durable and reliable machine that will fulfill the needs of your business and last for years.

Hoshizaki F-801MAJ Flake Ice Maker

Hoshizaki is the global leader in the ice making technology, serving the global commercial kitchen equipment and foodservice markets. The F-series ice makers convert all water brought into the machine, the water consumption is equal to its ice production. Additionally, all Flake and Nugget Ice Makers use the natural refrigerant R290, which is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. They are available in modular and self-contained models.

Hoshizaki F-801MAJ is a self-contained, air-cooled nugget ice maker. It produces flake ice, which is often used for produce display of fish, fresh food and bottled beverages, as well as in the medical field. It features the Hoshizaki’s unique auger system that is made of double hardened stainless steel. Ice is produces in a barrel type cylinder, moved upwards through an extruding head, producing a dry flaked, or cubelet ice. The F-801MAJ features a durable stainless steel exterior that will withstand the hectic environment of busy commercial kitchens, and is capable of producing about 700 lbs of ice per day.

Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 Pear Ice Machine

Ice-O-Matic is the premier manufacturer, distributor and supplier of ice machines worldwide. Ice-O-Matic GEM series ice machines produce a unique type of chewable ice, called Pearl Ice. This type of ice dispenses smoothly, blends quickly and displaces liquid better than any other kind of ice.

The Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 is a seemingly small, but surprisingly powerful unit that can produce up to 85 lbs of ice per day and storing up to 22 lbs. This is a compact, easy to install, nugget ice maker. At 15” wide, 23” deep, and 40” high, this unit has a small footprint, so it can comfortably fit in many locations. It is a great choice for break rooms, offices, luxury suites, and mobile bar trucks. It fits snugly under a standard counter, and it is also approved for outdoor use.

ice-o-matic pearl ice maker

Sonic Ice Makers: Key Considerations

While they all have in common producing delicious nuggets of chewable ice, these ice makers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are designed for commercial use, while others are better suited for home kitchens. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a sonic ice maker:

Size

Nugget ice makers come in a range of sizes, from small countertop units that make a few pounds of ice per day, to large commercial units that can produce hundreds of pounds. The size of your machine will depend not only on how much ice you need, but also on how much space you have, in your home, office, or your commercial kitchen.

Ice production capacity

The capacity of nugget ice makers is typically measured in pounds per day. Small units may only be able to produce a few pounds, while larger units can make up to 60 or more pounds of ice per day. Large commercial units' ice production measures in the hundreds of pounds.

Consider how much ice you need and choose a machine that will be able to keep up with your demand. If you need a lot of ice, you will want to choose a machine with a high production capacity.

Storage capacity

Storage capacity is the weight of ice the machine can hold. Ice machine manufacturers will name an ice storage bin by the maximum capacity of ice they can hold before the ice level reaches the bin switch and shuts down ice cube production. However, maximum capacity is the total amount of ice a bin can hold if it’s completely level, but when ice falls into a bin, it forms a mound. When the peak of the mound hits the bin switch, ice production will shut down, even though there’s extra space to store more ice. The only way to achieve the maximum capacity is by manually leveling the ice as it drops into the bin – which isn’t practical.

A general rule of thumb is that an ice bin will only hold around 80% of its maximum capacity before triggering the bin switch.

ice machine storage capacity

Water filtration

Sediments, chlorine, scale, and other undesirable water ingredients can wreak havoc in ice machines, leading to energy inefficiency, costly and unscheduled repair works or replacements, and unexpected downtime. A filter is not required for ice makers, but they are certainly recommended if you want the appliance to produce the best possible ice. Some ice machines come equipped with a water filtering system, while others need to be connected to one.

Compressor type

Compressor type can be a factor when buying a commercial ice machine. There are two types of compressors: air-cooled and water-cooled. Air-cooled compressors are less expensive, but they require more ventilation and produce more noise. Water-cooled compressors are more expensive, but they're quieter and don't require as much ventilation.

Noise

Nugget ice makers are known to be a bit louder than some other types of ice makers. The process of creating nugget ice involves a lot of different complicated steps and moving parts. As movement causes vibration this will cause the ice maker to vibrate. The biggest source of noise from most nugget ice makers is the vibrations caused by the machine running which then transfer into the counter. Hard surfaces will cause these vibrations to be somewhat noticeable.

Noise level might be an important consideration if you are buying an ice maker for your home, but in commercial settings, it might not be such a big deal. Most ice makers today are fairly quiet and loud noises coming from it might in fact indicate that there is something wrong with the unit. In general, most residential countertop nugget ice makers will give off up to 53 Db when running, and the high-end ones are well soundproofed.

Nugget Ice Makers FAQ

Are nugget ice and sonic ice the same thing?

Yes, they are. This type of ice has many different names: nugget, pearl, chewblet, gem, cubelet, and Sonic ice. There are some variations in terms of consistency and shape, but each of them is soft and easy to chew.

packed sonic ice

Why is chewable ice better than ice cubes?

There are a few reasons. First, it's easier on your teeth. Second, it absorbs flavor better than traditional ice cubes, so your drinks will taste even more delicious. Finally, it just feels good to chew!

How often should I clean my sonic ice machine?

When it comes to cleaning your nugget ice maker, it is important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Most units will need to be cleaned on a monthly basis, but this can vary depending on how often the machine is used. It is also a good idea to clean the unit any time you notice a build-up of ice or water. This will help keep your machine running smoothly and prevent any potential problems.

Some high-end ice machines have a self-cleaning feature that makes it easy to keep the unit clean. However, even if your machine has this feature, it is still a good idea to clean it manually on a regular basis.

What is nugget ice used for?

The most popular use for nugget ice is in drinks. It can be used in cocktails, mocktails, smoothies, and iced coffees. It's also very popular among folks that like to munch ice. Additional uses of this type of ice include keeping food cold (particularly seafood), making snow cones and other shaved ice desserts, and physical therapy.

drinks with nugget ice

How much do sonic ice makers cost?

There are many different factors that will affect the cost of your nugget ice maker. The size and capacity of the unit, the type of compressor, and the features included are just a few of the things that can impact the price. In general, you can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $2000 on a good quality nugget ice maker.

If you are looking for a heavy-duty commercial nugget ice maker, expect to pay anywhere from $3000 to $5000+. These units are designed to be used in high-volume settings and can produce large quantities of ice quickly.

Why are commercial nugget ice machines so expensive?

The commercial ice machines are built to be much more durable and powerful than the home units. They also generally have a higher capacity, meaning they can produce more ice in a shorter period of time. The commercial units also tend to have more features than the home models. All of these factors contribute to the higher price tag.

One of the biggest factors that affect the cost of commercial nugget ice machines is the type of compressor that is used. Water-cooled compressors are more expensive than air-cooled compressors, but they are also much quieter and don't require as much ventilation. This makes them a better choice for use in commercial settings.

Shopping for a Sonic Ice Maker - Final Thoughts

Now that you know a bit more about nugget ice makers, it's time to start shopping! Shopping for a nugget ice maker can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Keep these tips in mind and you'll be sure to find the perfect unit for your needs. Be sure to check out our list of the best Sonic ice machines on the market. You'll find units of all different sizes, prices, and features.

We hope this guide has been helpful as you search for the perfect nugget ice maker. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us and we'll be happy to help.