Even though the Breville Smart Scoop is expensive, it’s a lot of fun. With over 12 different hardness settings and no need to pre-freeze, there are a lot of advantages to paying more upfront.
No need to pre-freeze
Range of settings
Lots of adjustable features
Takes longer to churn
You can trust Homes & Gardens.
Breville means business in the world of ice cream makers. Their Smart Scoop fills a gap in the market. It senses how hard your mixture is and will adjust its churning based on the results. Most machines have one churning setting, but the Smart Scoop has twelve. You pay more with Breville, but you get even more back.
I consider myself a bit of a gelato geek and I’ve tested the best ice cream makers on the market. Whilst this is one of the more expensive models, it hasn’t lost touch with the idea that ice cream making is fun. It professionally tackles different ice creams, sorbets, and gelatos, and then plays music like an ice cream truck when it’s ready for you to taste.
If you have the money, it’s a worthwhile buy. There are alternative models that are specialists in frozen yogurt or gelato, but this is good if you want versatility and don’t want any overnight prep.
|7.2 x 16.2 x 10.7 inches
|mixing bowl, drive, spatula, cleaning brush
Unboxing the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker
The Smart Scoop is a large, heavy machine. For this reason, Breville packages it with lots of polystyrene to keep it safe. It’s a shame, because this is hard to dispose of, especially if you’re being environmentally conscious. In the future, it would be good to see some more sustainable materials.
Who would it suit?
If you like to make a range of frozen desserts, from sorbet and gelato to frozen yogurt and ice cream, this is perfect for you. It doesn’t specialize in any of them, but the range of soft and hard settings means that you can adjust the Smart Scoop to suit your ingredients. If you had a generic ice cream maker, you wouldn’t get a sorbet as good as you would from the Smart Scoop.
The Smart Scoop is particularly good for those who have smaller freezers. Lots of home ice cream makers require overnight prep, meaning that you need to store a big freezer bowl in your full freezer. Instead, the Smart Scoop starts at room temperature and uses a compressor to cool your mix.
If you’re short on storage space or looking to save money, there are better options for you. This is expensive, big, and heavy, so it isn't for everyone.
What is it like to use?
Even though this is an expensive model, it’s not overcomplicated or difficult to use. I gave the bowl a rinse and dry beforehand. It’s important that this is dry on the inside and outside, otherwise your bowl will freeze to the machine and become difficult to remove. You can set the machine to pre-freeze before placing in any ingredients. I thought that this was a really slow process: it took five minutes to drop from 66 degrees to 64 Fahrenheit. However, in one minute, it suddenly went from 48 to -44 and was ready for me to add my ingredients. Don’t lose hope if it looks slow.
Once the Smart Scoop chimed to let me know that my pre-freeze was done, I made sure that the bowl and churning arm were firmly in place. You have to sit the bowl very specifically – there are arrows to show you – otherwise, the churning won’t work.
I selected ‘ice cream’, the hardest setting, and poured in my mixture. I used the same recipe across all of our ice cream makers. I whisked one cup of whole milk with ¾ cup of granulated sugar. After the sugar had dissolved, I whisked two cups of heavy cream and two teaspoons of vanilla paste into the mix. Once it was at room temperature, it was ready to go.
Compared to other ice cream makers, the Smart Scoop is really quiet. It’s one of the quietest ice cream makers that I’ve tested, which surprised me as I thought the compressor would be noisy. I could watch the bowl churning from the clear lid, which has a gap for add-ins. However, if I wanted to look at the technicalities, the screen tells you how long your ice cream has been churning, and gives you updates on how hard the mixture is.
The kitchen was quite warm, so I wasn’t surprised that the Smart Scoop took a while to make ice cream. At 40 minutes, the Smart Scoop started playing traditional ice cream truck music to signify that my ice cream was ready. This is a really fun touch. Don’t worry, if you want to change the song, or don’t want it at all, you can adjust it in the settings.
Considering that this was the hardest setting, my ice cream was pretty soft. It was smooth, light, and creamy, but definitely soft serve texture. It could be a little harder. Breville sends a mini spatula to help you scrape out ice cream. It’s really useful and I got all of the ice cream out with minimal mess.
Vegan Ice Cream
Dairy free ingredients have a reputation for being more difficult to handle: they split, crystallize, or simply don’t freeze in some instances. I substituted vegan cream and oat milk into the same recipe and gave the Smart Scoop another go. This took another 45 minutes, with a notification ten minutes before for add ins. This is when nuts, dried fruit, or brownie chunks can be thrown in through a gap in the lid. When my ice cream was done, it was a little grainy. I had the same soft-serve texture as the dairy ice cream, which was perfect for eating straight away. It was cool, almost crisp, and very light.
This was as simple as getting a tub of greek-style yogurt, pouring it in, and letting the Smart Scoop work. I adjusted the setting to frozen yogurt, which is softer than ice cream, and the frozen yogurt was ready in 20 minutes. Again, it was on the soft side, but it was nice and cold. A little grainy, but still really good.
I didn’t properly dry the bow between vegan ice cream and when I added this back in for the frozen yogurt. The result meant that the removable bowl was frozen onto the ice cream maker. I could get most of the frozen yogurt out, but it wasn’t ideal. If you make the same mistake, use the mini spatula to take as much out as possible, then pour a little warm water into the removable bowl. It comes loose almost immediately.
I was pleased that the sorbet was just as quick as the frozen yogurt. I mixed 15 oz of blended raspberries with 4 oz of sugar syrup to create a pourable, sorbet mix. I adjusted the Smart Scoop to the sorbet setting and, in 20 minutes, I achieved the perfect sorbet texture. It was smooth, thick, and crisp. This was the Smart Scoop’s greatest success.
Breville sends the Smart Scoop with a handy cleaning brush but it would be easy to clean without it. The removable bowl, lid, and dasher need to be washed by hand in warm, soapy water. This is very simple, just make sure you dry them properly too.
The machine can be wiped down with a damp microfiber cloth. Mine, surprisingly, didn’t get very messy in the process. I think I have the spatula to thank for that. However, stainless steel shows every fingerprint, so it’s always good to wipe it down after.
Storage and Maintenance
A huge range of ice creams requires a vast machine. This is very wide and extremely heavy. Normally, I lift the box onto the countertop to take an appliance out. I had to start this one on the floor. Once it’s out on your countertop, the Smart Scoop looks pretty good. However, if you’re short on space, this is a big piece of stainless steel, taking up lots of room. You’ll need big, empty, and low cupboards to store this away, but I’m sure that you could make room for it if needed.
How does it rate online?
I saw lots of glowing reviews for the Smart Scoop, which is why I wanted to test this in the first place. People really enjoyed having a range of settings, a considerable 1.1 quart. capacity, and a low-maintenance machine. Lots of customers loved the ‘keep cool’ setting, which, unsurprisingly, keeps your ice cream cool if you aren’t ready to eat it straight away. These are the kinds of features that you appreciate after using more crude machines. Lots of reviews mentioned the spatula and cleaning brush too. They’re understated extras, which improve the user-experience a surprising amount.
However, this costs double the price of some of the other models which we tested. A number of customers felt that $450 was expensive for this ice cream maker. Given that the ice cream results didn’t surpass those of any other ice cream makers that I tested, I can see why customers and reviewers feel that this is expensive. Some customers noticed that, because their ice cream spins around the center dowel, they didn’t get the most consistent blend of ice cream, which you would expect from an appliance at this price. Unsurprisingly, lots of people commented on the size and weight of this ice cream maker. It’s certainly at the bigger, heavier end of the scale.
How does it compare to similar models?
For the cost of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, you can buy the Smart Scoop. For perfect ice cream, I would be inclined to choose the KitchenAid: it doubles up as another kitchen appliance, looks good, and makes incredible ice cream in half the time of the Smart Scoop.
However, the stand for a KicthenAid poses similar problems to the Smart Scoop: it’s big and heavy, so you’d have to leave it on your countertop. Moreover, to use the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment, you need to freeze the bowl overnight. The Smart Scoop needs no preparation and no freezer space. Small freezer owners and spontaneous ice cream makers are better off with the Smart Scoop.
Another comparable model is the Ninja Creami. This has a range of different settings for different deserts, but is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper. Neither ice cream maker takes up much freezer space. However, the Ninja Creami required 24 hour preparation. The Ninja Creami was inconsistent, with sometimes crumbly, sometimes icy textured desserts. The Smart Scoop is a worthy extra investment for consistency and versatility.
Should you buy it?
If you plan on making a range of frozen desserts; want to save on freezer space; and want to minimize prep time, the Smart Scoop is perfect for you. It’s more expensive than other models, but it’s much more sensitive and technical: it will tell you how long your ice cream has been churning for and update you on its progress. Technologically, it’s the best option. However, if you don’t have the money to spend, you can find some other good ice cream makers.
How we test
All of our experts are well-established product testers, bringing with them the expertise needed to discern whether these are worthy investments for your home.
For ice cream makers, we researched the best products on the market. We wanted to look for appliances that were good value for money with exceptional results. We took these to our test kitchen and, over the course of a few days, tested these on ice cream, non-dairy ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt. We made notes on the whole process from unboxing to cleaning up to make sure that we didn’t miss a thing. All of these ice cream makers were tested alongside each other, so we could make direct comparisons between them and their results. There’s more information in our deep dive into how we test.
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Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.
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