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If you invest in an ice cream machine, you’ll boost popularity with friends and family. A popular option is the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker, worshiped in my house for its ability to transform the simplest of ingredients into amazing frozen desserts.
But this appliance may not be the best choice for your kitchen. How do you know whether the price tag is worth it?
The good news is, everything I know about the Breville Ice Cream Maker is on this page. Having churned out hundreds of ice cream recipes with this appliance I can share how the appliance works, what’s good, and what’s not so good.
The Breville Smart Scoop Components
From the moment you pull this appliance out of its box, you know you’re dealing with quality workmanship. The Smart Scoop is made up of the main body, a removable bowl which also houses the dasher and a lid.
You’ll also receive a spatula to conveniently scoop the ice cream and a brush for cleaning.
About the Smart Scoop Body
- Weight: 14.5kg / 32lb
- Width: 41cm / 16”
- Height: 27cm / 10.5”
- Depth: 27cm / 10.5”
The body of the Breville Smart Scoop is a sleek looking piece of equipment. Brushed stainless steel with a smooth curved design, it never fails to excite guests when I pull it out.
Each side of the machine has air vents and there’s a Breville logo embossed on the front.
For a domestic kitchen appliance it’s heavy. Thankfully there are handles on each side to help with moving the machine. But if you can keep it in one spot in the kitchen without having to move it you’ll be happy.
The interior componentry isn’t designed for frequent moving and bumps. It must also remain in an upright condition, so don’t store in any other position.
The top of the ice cream maker is where the bowl is inserted. It’s also where you’ll see the settings which can be changed depending on your dessert preference.
With the bowl removed, you’ll see the freezer chamber. This has metal sides which get cooled when you start the machine. This is what cools the ice cream bowl and, most importantly, the ice cream!
In the centre of the freezer chamber is a drive shaft. The dasher slots neatly onto this, allowing it to rotate and whip air into the dessert.
I often spill ice cream out of the bowl into the chamber. Try to avoid this as cleaning the shaft afterwards is fiddly.
The control panel is positioned on the right side of the ice cream maker. Once you power up the Smart Scoop you can’t miss the settings thanks to the blue, illuminated LCD display.
The touch panel is easy to use. It’s easy to understand and the buttons light up when you touch them so you know what settings you’ve chosen.
Breville Ice Cream Maker Settings
Start the dasher churning and, if necessary, pause the process. I don’t often use the pause feature but it allows you take off the lid and, using a spatula, scrape the sides to remove any build-up of hard ice cream.
Choose whether to churn sorbet, frozen yoghurt, gelato or ice cream. Within each dessert choice you’re able to choose from three different hardness settings.
Turn the machine’s power on or off.
Toggle between Celsius and Fahrenheit depending on what part of the world you live in.
Control the sounds made when your ice cream is nearing completion and when it’s been completely churned. You can choose between a happy ice cream truck jingle or a chime.
Once the ice cream has finished churning, you can keep it cooled until you’re ready to transfer it into a container.
I love this feature. You can cool the ice cream bowl before adding the ice cream mixture to speed up churning time. This results in a smoother, creamier texture.
The Smart Scoop has automatic settings allowing you to choose your dessert type and let the machine work its magic. However, there’s also a manual option to pre-set the churning time. You might use this setting if you have a favourite recipe and know the exact churn time to get your perfect ice cream.
The screen in large, no need to put your glasses on to read this one! At a quick glace you’ll be able to see a lot of information including your chosen settings and how your ice cream is progressing. You can also check out how long your ice cream has been churning for.
The Screen Information Includes
- View what dessert type you’ve chosen and how far the churning process has progressed.
- Manual or Auto
- Time elapsed since churning started
- Sound selection
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this is the bowl your ice cream gets churned in. At 1.4L (1.5 Qt) this bowl isn’t big or small for a domestic machine. It’s somewhere in the middle.
The bowl has a hole in the middle to allow for the drive shaft. It is made of aluminium and is very sturdy. I have churned thousands of litres of ice cream and it still looks like new.
A handy benefit of having a removable bowl is ease of cleaning. Once have scooped out the ice cream, it can easily be washed. Those of you who have a machine without a removable bowl will know that cleaning them can be a headache.
There is a down-side to using a removable bowl and this applies to all ice cream makers that use this design: loss of temperature transfer. The gap between the bowl and the freezer housing means there is some increase in temperature. This slows the churning process and can result in a less smooth, creamy ice cream.
There is a metal handle to assist with removing the bowl once churning is complete. When inserting the bowl into position remember the handle hinges need to align with the two small grooves. If you don’t do this it won’t fully close and the lid won’t close.
For such a simple piece of equipment, the dasher’s job is crucial to making amazing ice cream. It’s a key player in the final creaminess and structure of the dessert.
The dasher’s purpose:
- Churns the ice cream and scrapes the ice cream off the side of the bowl.
- Incorporates air into the final dessert.
The Dasher Dilemma
Nobody wants ice cream that’s icy or grainy. It needs to be smooth and creamy like the product you get from an ice cream parlour.
The problem is those expensive commercial machines used at your favourite gelato store have dashers that rotate really fast; they also touch the edge of the freezer housing so all the ice cream gets scraped off the sides. Domestic units tend to always leave a thin layer of ice cream around the side which acts as an insulator. This slows down the freezing process and it’s one of the reasons home made ice cream is difficult to churn to a texture similar to that found in a quality gelato store.
The Smart Scoop has this issue. A layer of about 3mm of ice cream doesn’t get scraped from the sides which I would love for the manufacturer to fix. I do understand this is a common problem though with domestic machines.
You can use the pause function to take off the lid and scrape down the sides of the bowl. This isn’t an ideal solution though because the goal is to freeze the ice cream as quickly as possible. Pausing the ice cream maker is counter-intuitive.
Overrun is the amount of air that gets whipped into ice cream as it’s churned. An ice cream that has 100% overrun means the volume of ice cream will have doubled during churning.
The dasher, along with the motor, is responsible for the amount of overrun that gets incorporated into the final ice cream. As far as domestic machines compare, the Smart Scoop does a good job of whipping air into the ice cream. It can achieves 47-51% overrun.
Keep in mind this value will vary depending on whether you’re making frozen yoghurt, gelato or ice cream. Gelato will have less overrun and is denser in texture.
The lid of the Smart Scoop is light, sturdy plastic that’s transparent so you can easily see how your ice cream is progressing. I love the handy flap that you can open without pausing the churning process.
Adding your favourite mix-ins is easy and the best part is, the Smart Scoop will sound a warning chime when it’s time to add them.
This is quite helpful as I’ve made the mistake with other machines of adding mix-ins too early. The end result may be a horrible grainy ice cream if you add ingredients like brownie pieces.
Included with your purchase will be a spatula which is the ideal shape to help scoop the ice cream out of the bowl.
Summary of the Smart Scoop Build Quality
The Smart Scoop has a premium look and feel to it. Not only does it look sleek, it’s been built with quality materials that can churn out seemingly endless pints of ice cream.
The lack of noise produced by the motor is also reassuring (73dB). You can easily watch TV and have the ice cream churning in the same room. Some machines make grinding and squeaking noises, or simply rotate with a lot of noise! You won’t have this problem with the Smart Scoop.
I’m also a big fan of the settings panel which looks impressive and is easy to use. Anyone can quickly work out how to use this machine without the need for a manual. If you do have any questions though, there is a comprehensive manual that’ll have your back.
- Width: 41cm (16”)
- Height: 27cm (10.5”)
- Depth: 27cm (10.5”)
- Loudness: 73-75 Db
- Paddle RPM: 55
- Overrun: 47-51%
- Weight: 14.5kg (32lb)
- Warranty: 1 year
How the Breville Ice Cream Maker Works
There are two main types of ice cream maker currently available.
- Ice cream makers with a freezable bowl
- Ice cream makers with a compressor
1. Ice cream makers with freezable bowls
An ice cream maker with a freezable bowl requires you to place the bowl in the freezer overnight. The next day you can attach the bowl and make a batch of ice cream. Be warned, the bowl can be used once only, then it’ll need to be frozen again.
Take it from me, this can be a frustrating process. If you make a mistake with the ice cream custard, you don’t get a second chance. It’s all over.
Occasionally you’ll want to make two batches of ice cream. This may be needed if you have a lot of guests or you want to make two flavours. With an ice cream machine that uses a freezable bowl, this won’t be possible unless you own, and freeze, more than one bowl. For many, this in not practical.
Freezer space can become a major issue using this type of ice cream machine. The freezer bowls are large and will take up a big chunk of your freezer space. If you have a large freezer this won’t be a problem.
In warm climates, if you don’t have air conditioning, churning your ice cream will take longer. However, you only get a limited amount of time before the freezer bowl loses its coolness and becomes ineffective. The end result will be icy ice cream – and no-one wants that!
2. Ice cream makers with a built in compressor
This type of ice cream maker has a built in freezer so you don’t have to freeze bowls in advance. You have the freedom to get busy churning whenever you get a craving for ice cream, gelato or frozen yoghurt. Simply press the pre-cool button for a few minutes and then add your ice cream base once it’s ready to go.
On the down-side, compressor ice cream makers are more expensive and will take up a fair chunk of your kitchen bench space. I wouldn’t recommend one if you have a small apartment with minimal kitchen space.
The Breville ice cream maker falls into this category as it has a built in compressor.
How to Make Ice Cream with the Smart Scoop
No matter what ice cream machine you choose to buy, you’ll roughly follow these steps to make ice cream. Don’t be overwhelmed by them, they can be very quick if you want them to be!
Step 1: Preparation
This is where you’ll create your ice cream mixture. Getting this step right is crucial to making good ice cream. Balancing the content of water, sugar, milk-fat and non-milk fats will impact flavour, mouth feel, stability, texture and more.
Luckily there are loads of great recipes available online! Check out www.scoopclub.com.au/ice-cream-recipes for heaps of choices. I even have a page dedicated to the best Breville ice cream maker recipes.
Making Cookie Monster Ice Cream with the Smart Scoop
Here’s a quick video demonstrating how easy it is to make Cookie Monster ice cream with the Smart Scoop.
You can also refer to the Smart Scoop manual which has 19 recipes to get you started.
Keep in mind that if you’re going to use other recipe books, you must check the quantity the recipe yields. The Smart Scoop is only 1.4L and some recipes are designed to make more than that.
Step 2: Pasteurisation
For commercial ice cream, this is a required step. When making ice cream at home it isn’t essential, especially if you aren’t using eggs in your recipe. Pasteurisation involves heating the ice cream mixture to kill potential bacteria in the eggs. It also improves the ice cream’s texture and stability.
When you cook the custard base it’s not just about avoiding germs. In this step you’ll be able to add many flavours to your ice cream like mint or chilli. Another favourite of mine is adding spices at this stage like star aniseed or coffee (yes, coffee is a spice).
Step 3: Ageing
If your recipe is a simple mixture of milk, cream, sugar and a flavour like vanilla, you can avoid the ageing step and simply start churning. However, ageing is essential when you’ve cooked off an ice cream custard. It allows the flavours to further infuse and it even improves the final ice cream structure.
This is an important step. I’ve tried skipping it by letting the custard base cool for a short time in the fridge then churning. It hadn’t even cooled. The churning process was much longer and the end result was nowhere near as good as usual. The lesson here: age your ice cream if it’s been cooked.
Step 4: Freezing
This is the fun bit. Churning the ice cream in your ice cream maker!
Turn on the machine and press the pre-cool option. You don’t have to do this but I’m not sure why you wouldn’t? It will take the machine longer to churn the ice cream if you don’t pre-cool so you don’t save time by not pre-cooling. Also, you’ll freeze the ice cream faster which is what you want. The faster you take your ice cream custard from liquid to solid, the better the ice cream will be.
You can check the current temperature on the screen; it should be getting colder. The temperature will lower to between -10°C to -30°C (14°F and -22°F). I find my machine usually lowers to around -30°C.
During the pre-cool phase, you can relax and do something else for around 10 minutes. Once the ice cream machine reaches optimum temperature it will chime, letting you know it’s game time.
Special note: Make sure the ice cream bowl is in the machine with the lid on during pre-cool. Don’t add the ice cream mixture during this stage.
Once pre-cooled, you can now take off the lid and pour the ice cream into the bowl. I use a jug to do this to avoid missing the bowl. Trust me, you want to make clean-up as simple as possible afterwards.
Manual V Auto Churning Mode
Will you use the auto or manual mode?
Auto: Let the ice cream maker do the thinking for you. You can choose from sorbet, frozen yoghurt, gelato and ice cream. Once you choose your setting, the machine will freeze until it’s happy with the hardness then stop automatically. You can see the progress of the ice cream hardening by looking at the sections of the bar at the bottom of the screen.
If you change your mind about hardness mid-churn, simply change the setting and I find it works fine.
Manual: You have control by setting the timer. If you know a recipe works by freezing for a specific time this is a good option. I don’t use it a lot though.
Once you’ve made your choice, press the start button and let the churning begin.
Step 5: Adding Extras
When the ice cream is almost ready, you’ll hear a chime. This is telling you to add the mix-ins. Ignore this feature if you have nothing to add.
The flip open lid allows you to add extras without stopping the machine. I find this feature very helpful.
Step 6: Hardening
When the ice cream finishes freezing in the Smart Scoop, it will be similar to a soft serve consistency. I love eating it at this stage, it’s delicious.
Keep Cool Button
You can use the keep cool function to keep the ice cream from quickly melting. Over time, the ice cream will start to melt and so the machine will kick into action to achieve the required hardness. You can keep your ice cream in this state for up to three hours but I don’t recommend this.
If you want actual ice cream like you’d buy at the store, your soft serve-like ice cream will need to be hardened. To do this you’ll scoop the ice cream into a container and freeze for a couple of hours.
Tips for hardening your ice cream
- Place your ice cream at the back of the freezer as this is the coldest position and doesn’t have as much temperature fluctuation as at the front.
- You could also adjust the freezer to maximum coldness to speed up the freezing process and help produce better ice cream.
- Chill the container in the freezer before adding the ice cream.
- Shallow containers with more surface space freeze the ice cream faster and produce better ice cream.
- Place some cling wrap on top of the ice cream before adding the lid. This stops ice crystals forming.
The Breville Smart Scoop Cleaning Process
Cleaning the Smart Scoop isn’t as difficult as some appliances on the market. The removable bowl, lid and paddle (dasher) can be washed in hot, soapy water. You can use the brush which comes with the machine to help with cleaning but I usually find it isn’t necessary.
The freezer chamber will probably be clean. If not, you can use a damp cloth to wipe away any mess. Wait for the chamber to warm to room temperature first. I tried to clean straight away once and the cloth stuck to the side of the freezer.
How to get the best out of your Smart Scoop
1. Don’t overfill the machine
If possible, keep your ice cream base below the maximum fill line. Domestic ice cream machines can’t deal with the extra volume and you’ll usually end up with slushy ice cream which will freeze with extra ice crystals.
2. Chill the add-ins
Adding them at room temperature will slightly melt the ice cream causing increased iciness.
3. Try to avoid repeat defrosting
Try to avoid frequently thawing your ice cream before service then re-freezing what’s leftover. It creates a horrible ice textured ice cream.
4. Treat chocolate with respect
Adding melted chocolate to ice cream is a fantastic choice. When you melt the chocolate, make sure it isn’t overheated or allowed to come into contact with steam or moisture; this will cause the chocolate to seize.
5. Go quality all the way
Choosing quality ingredients will help your final product hugely. Select good quality organic dairy, premium chocolate and in-season fruits. Avoid cheap cocoa and table salt as they’ll taint your dessert.
6. Add some booze while churning
This will reduce the freezing point, improving the ice cream’s texture and stability. Choose an appropriate spirit to pair with your ice cream. A 40% Vodka works well with most ice cream.
Does the Breville Smart Scoop Make Good Ice Cream?
I think this is one of the most important factors when choosing and ice cream machine. After all, what’s the point of having all the bells and whistles if the ice cream is bad?
The Breville Smart Scoop consistently produces premium creamy ice cream. Your family and guests will love the desserts you produce with this machine, I’m sure.
Based on ice cream quality, is the Smart Scoop the best domestic machine you can buy? I have to say no. The issue I find is that the ice cream tends to be slightly more icy than the ice cream produced by the Whynter ICM-200LS or even the Cuisinart ICE-30 which uses a removable bowl.
The problem with the Smart Scoop is that it takes at least 45 minutes to complete freezing the ice cream. This is at least 10 minutes longer than most other models I’ve used and I think this is far from ideal. Churning ice cream is all a game of speed – the faster the better as there’s less ice crystal formation.
I am sure that the gap between the paddle and the bowl doesn’t help either. The hard layer of ice cream that forms around the bowl during churning must act as insulation and reduce the efficiency of the freezing process.
Don’t get me wrong here, the ice cream is far from bad. I still really enjoy it. But if your sole focus is ice cream quality then there are better alternatives on the market.
Of course, a good ice cream recipe will go a long way towards reducing the iciness. You can also reduce the amount of ice cream in the bowl to speed up freezing time. For example, if you’re only making ice cream for 1 or 2 people, consider making half quantities. You’ll freeze it way quicker and the ice cream quality will improve.
About the Hardness Setting
I’m going to just come out and say it. I think the hardness settings are more a gimmick than an actual useful function. Whether you choose gelato or ice cream, it really doesn’t make much difference. On both, the compressor and dasher keep running until the very end of the freezing cycle (this is when the ice cream prevents the dasher from rotating). At this point, the churning cycle ends.
Gelato has more air whipped into it compared to ice cream. I couldn’t notice any difference in overrun levels when I made two batches using the two different settings so that was a little disappointing also.
I think it’s a great idea to have a hardness setting and I hope that Breville continue to improve this feature in future models.
Until these improvements come, I recommend a combination of using the Auto setting along with your personal intuition. After a few batches, you’ll start to become aware of what’s ready and what’s not. Don’t be afraid to override the auto settings as this is something I often do.
Is the Pre-cool function any good?
This is a feature I really like and use every time. It lets me know, by chiming, when the bowl is as cold as it’s going to get. During that time, I can focus on other stuff in the kitchen.
How about the Keep-cool Function?
If you like to eat soft serve this function is really helpful. You can simply press the keep-cool button and scoop it into cones or bowls as required. It can stay in there in case someone wants a second helping later on.
I also find the keep cool function useful if I get distracted finding the right container or there’s some emergency as the freezing stage completes. I know it’ll be fine until I get myself organised.
It’s best to add the ice cream straight to a container and place in the freezer though if you’re making gelato or ice cream. This reduces the opportunity for ice crystals to form.
Top 3 Features of the Breville Smart Scoop
- The sleek style
- Adding mix-ins is simple
- The display
3 Not So Good Features
- Ice cream quality
- Hardness setting
- Appliance size
Climate and Ice Cream
Living in Melbourne, it can get really hot in Summer. This is no different to many other parts of the world. Heat impacts ice cream making and can add 15 minutes to the churning time.
In hot periods, if you have air conditioning use it to cool down the room before starting. Try to make ice cream on cooler days too, it improves your final frozen dessert.
Best Alternatives to the Breville Smart Scoop
I think that overall the Smart Scoop is an excellent machine. But if it isn’t ticking all the boxes, here are two alternatives to consider.
Best Budget Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart ICE-30
This Cuisinart ICE-30BC was the first ice cream machine I ever bought and I still think about that machine and how good it was. It is significantly cheaper than the Smart Scoop for a few reasons. The main two are that it doesn’t have a built-in compressor so you’ll have to freeze the bowl before making ice cream. Secondly, it doesn’t have all the extra bells and whistles like keep-cool or hardness settings.
Not only does the Cuisinart produce very good ice cream, it has the benefit of taking up much less space in the kitchen.
Benefits of the Cuisinart ICE-30
- Low price
- Large 2L bowl
- Makes brilliant ice cream
- Simple to use (there’s only one button)
Disadvantage of Cuisinart ICE-30
- Having to freeze bowl every time
My Favourite Machine for Ice Cream Quality: Lello Musso 4080
Most domestic ice cream machines take between 30-60 minutes to churn your ice cream. At the other end of the scale are commercial machines that have high powered dashers that can make ice cream in 10 minutes!
As I’ve previously mentioned, speed to freeze is our goal as an ice cream maker. That’s how you achieve delicious creamy, smooth ice cream.
The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino fits somewhere between domestic and commercial machines. It’s used by many restaurants that don’t need to produce a big quantity of ice cream but need that premium taste.
I’m happy to say that this model is also ideal for the home. It is only slightly larger than the Smart Scoop – suitable for your average kitchen. It’s also surprisingly quiet considering the pace at which the dashers rotate.
The beauty of this machine is the ice cream it produces. It churns 1.5L (1.5Qt) in around 15 minutes so you get super creamy ice cream that everyone will love.
So what’s the catch? Well there are a couple of factors to consider when choosing the Lello Musso. Firstly, it’s harder to scoop out the ice cream and also harder to clean as there’s no removable bowl. The wall of the bowl is the actual freezer housing – this is part of the reason why the ice cream freezes so quickly
Secondly, you don’t get any bells and whistles like precool, keep-cool or adjustable hardness settings. There’s just a couple of buttons and the manual timer.
Benefits of the Lello Musso 4080
- Makes very high quality ice cream
- Extremely fast at making ice cream
- Impressive looking (show piece) appliance
Disadvantage of Lello Musso 4080
- High price
- Harder to clean
The Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker is a domestic ice cream maker that is targeting the top-end of this appliance category. It’s a sleek looking piece of equipment that looks impressive on any kitchen bench top.
Breville have put a lot of work into designing this product and it shows. From the high quality brushed stainless steel finish, through to the wide-ranging selection of choices on the selector panel
With a built in compressor, you can do away with the freezer bowl ritual (freezing the bowl overnight before using it). If you’ve ever done this you’ll know that it’s easy to forget to pop the bowl in the freezer.
Thankfully with the built in compressor you can make endless bowls of ice cream whenever you want to.