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Why Buy a Shaved Ice Machine
Making your own frozen treats at home is FAR cheaper than buying snow cones, snowballs and slushies from street stands.
Ice shavers are probably less expensive you think and super easy to operate.
If you need more incentive to buy one, shaved ice is good for more than kids’ treats. Shaved ice also makes margaritas, cocktails and other adult beverages both cooler and lighter.
What’s In This Buying Guide
- What’s In This Buying Guide
- Best Shaved Ice Makers for Home Use
- 1. Best Overall: Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A
- 2. Easiest to Use: Little Snowie Max Shaved Ice Maker
- 3. Best Budget: Time for Treats SnowFlake
- 4. Best for Parties and Events: Great Northern
- 5. Best 2-in-1 Ice Shaver and Crusher: ZENY Electric Ice Crusher
- 6. Best Manual Ice Shaver: Victoria Tinned Cast Iron Shaver
- Shaved Ice Maker Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Verdict: What is the Best Shaved Ice Maker and Why?
In this guide we review and compare the best shaved ice machines sold online. We also explain how ice shavers work and the key features & gotchas to look for when buying one.
Note: ice shavers are different from ice crushers. Ice shavers produce fluffy snow-like ice perfect for Hawaiian-style snow cones, whereas ice crushers produce a more crunchy form of ice that’s better for soft drinks.
If you prefer crushed ice, then check out our recent roundup of the best crushed ice machines.
Best Shaved Ice Makers for Home Use
- Best Overall: Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A
- Easiest to Use: Little Snowie Max Shaved Ice Maker
- Best Budget: Time for Treats SnowFlake
- Best for Parties and Events: Great Northern
- Best 2-in-1 Ice Shave and Crusher: ZENY Electric
- Best Manual: Victoria Tinned Cast Iron Shaver
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
|Shaved Ice Machines||Best For||Power||Dimensions||Weight||Complete kit|
| Hawaiian S900A ||Best overall||55W||6.5 x 8 x 14 in||8lbs||Yes|
|Little Snowie||Easiest to use||110W||16 × 8 × 14 in||11lbs||Yes|
|Time for Treats||Best budget||Manual||8 x 8.25 x 9 in||1.8lbs||No|
|Great Northern||Best for parties and events||400W||15 x 12 x 30.5 in||55lbs||No|
|ZENY||Best 2-in-1 ice crusher & shaver||300W||17 x 12 x 9 in||11.5lbs||No|
|Victoria||Best manual||Manual||2.5 x 6.5 x 2.5 in||1.5lbs||No|
1. Best Overall: Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A
Our top pick is the electric S900A Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Snow Cone machine. It’s affordable, produces some of the best shaved/Hawaiian ice, and comes as a complete kit.
If you want to get started right away making shaved ice treats for your kids and yourself without having to buy accessories and syrups, then you can stop reading and buy the S900A.
- Complete kit at a great price.
- Makes true shaved ice.
- Compact size – perfect for countertops.
- Works fast.
- Doesn’t work well with regular ice cubes – you need to use included molds.
True Shave Ice
The S900A produces true shaved ice – the same delicious ice you’ll find at the Hawaiian snow cone stands. It’s fluffy and melts easily in your mouth.
The machine works quickly, shaving an entire block of ice in about 30 seconds. The only work you have to do is press firmly on the lid. This allows the stainless-steel blade to achieve the perfect shave.
You can adjust the blade to change the texture of the shaved ice. And for those times you want crushed ice, just use regular ice cubes.
One reason we love the S900A Hawaiian shaved ice machine is that it comes ready to use. You don’t need to buy a bunch of different stuff separately.
Here’s what you get in the package.
- The ice shaver itself
- Three bottles of shaved ice syrup – raspberry, grape, and cherry
- Two ice molds
- 25 snow cone cups
- 25 spoon straws
- 3 bottle pourers
- Non-skid mat
The compact design of the S900A ice shaver makes it perfect for space-limited countertops. You can also set it up on a small table outdoors, on the patio, or wherever you want as long as you have access to a power outlet.
Issues & Limitations
Unless you want crushed ice, you cannot use regular ice cubes with the S900A Hawaiian ice shaver. You have to use the included molds or any other mold that produces a round block of ice.
The downside of this is that you cannot freeze a lot of ice blocks at once. Some customers recommend storing frozen blocks in baggies, which lets you reuse the molds to freeze more ice.
The S900A Hawaiian Shaved Ice is a great choice if you are looking for an affordable and reliable shaved ice machine you can use at home and for birthday parties. It’s also a great choice if you prefer a complete shaved ice kit that includes syrups and other accessories.
2. Easiest to Use: Little Snowie Max Shaved Ice Maker
Don’t want an ice shaver that forces you to freeze ice in special molds?
Get the Little Snowie Max, the only shaved ice maker that uses regular ice cubes but produces perfectly shaved Hawaiian-style ice.
- Uses regular ice cubes – makes it easier to use.
- Produces true shaved ice.
- Built-in dome shaper.
- Works fast – produces shaved ice in seconds.
- Safe to use, even for kids.
Shaved Ice with Regular Ice Cubes
It’s not that other ice shavers cannot work with ice cubes; they can. The problem is that they produce crushed ice when you use ice cubes instead of an ice block. The blade crushes the ice, instead of shaving it.
Little Snowie is an exception. Just put in regular ice cubes, press the lid, and outcomes snowy shaved ice. This is hugely convenient especially when you need lots of shaved ice.
Instead of freezing two or three molds at a time, you can freeze lots of ice cubes, or buy a big bag of ice at the store.
We are not exactly sure how Little Snowie manages to make shaved ice with ice cubes, but we have a couple of theories.
One, the blade. If you look at the blade, it has multiple sharp edges instead of a single edge like other ice shavers. The multiple edges allow the blade to shave individual cubes of ice at the same time.
Two, the motor. Little Snowie is rated at 110W, double the 55W of the S900A. This spins the blade faster, producing finely shaved ice from ice cubes.
However, they’ve done it, we are glad to finally be able to use regular ice from the refrigerator to make Hawaiian shaved ice.
Similar to the S900A, Little Snowie comes as a complete kit. So, you are ready to crank out shaved ice treats right away. Here’s what’s included in the package.
- 6 flavor powders – enough to make 6 pints of syrup
- 2 cups
- 2 mixing bottles
- 8 spoons
- Drip pan
- Built-in dome shaper – another reason Little Snowie is easy to use
Safe for Kids
If you want your little helpers working with you to shave ice, Little Snowie is safe to operate. The blade is tucked away safely under the lid and doesn’t start spinning until the lid is pressed down firmly.
You just need to be careful they don’t touch the blade when the lid is open.
Issues & Limitations
If you are shopping on a budget, this is probably not the ice shaver you are looking for. It’s one of the most expensive shaved ice machines for home use.
Another issue is the noise. Because of the powerful motor, it makes quite a ruckus when shaving ice. Using ice cubes doesn’t help with the noise as they rattle around.
As long as you don’t mind paying a bit more for the added power and ease of use, Little Snowie is one of the best ice shavers for your home.
3. Best Budget: Time for Treats SnowFlake
If you are on a tight budget, consider a manual ice shaver. Manual shavers are a LOT less expensive than electric ice shavers, and usually produce shaved ice that’s just as good.
Our top recommendation is the Time for Treats SnowFlake snow cone maker. It requires some elbow grease, but the results are worth it.
- Simple as it comes and easy to use.
- Portable – great for the patio, backyard, picnics, and camping.
- Includes stackable ice molds.
- May be difficult to operate for small kids and older folks.
- Takes a bit of time to make ice.
Similar Ice Quality as an Electric Shaver
We love electric ice shavers for their speed and ease of use. But if you don’t mind going a bit slower and doing some work, the Time for Treats ice shaver makes Hawaiian ice that’s just as good.
The crank requires significantly little effort to operate, thanks to the sharp blade that effortlessly cuts through the ice. You can even adjust the blade to vary how chunky your shaved ice is, a feature not available in many electric shaved ice machines.
Chunkier shaved ice is ideal if you are using it in drinks and don’t want it to melt too quickly and dilute the beverage.
Stackable Ice Molds
You can use regular ice cubes in the Time for Treats manual ice shaver, but it’ll produce crushed ice, instead of shaved ice.
For the best Hawaiian ice, you need ice blocks. The package includes three molds with lids so that you can stack them. The stacked design takes up less space in the freezer and allows you to freeze all three molds at once.
A single mold produces a surprising amount of shaved ice, and it takes less than a minute to shave. You can even let your kids turn the crank – they’ll shave a full mold in seconds.
Take it Anywhere
One advantage of having a manual ice shaver is that you can use it anywhere. This makes the Time for Treats ice shaver perfect for picnics, camping, and other outdoor adventures. Just pack the frozen molds in a cooler and you can enjoy shaved ice anywhere.
Lacking a motor, the Time for Treats shaver is also light and compact, making for easy portability.
Issues & Limitations
The obvious limitation here is speed. If you are planning a birthday party with lots of kids, the Time for Treats manual shaver may not keep up.
Another issue with the manual operation is that some users such as seniors and people with arthritis may also have trouble operating the crank.
The Time for Treats manual snow cone machine is easier to use than it seems. The best part is that it makes delicious fluffy shaved ice, for way less money than an electric machine.
4. Best for Parties and Events: Great Northern
If you are looking for an ice shaver that can keep up with a large gathering or party, then we recommend buying the Great Northern Shaved Ice Machine.
Rated at 400 watts and 1/3 HP, it is the most powerful ice shaving machine of our picks. It’s great for big parties as well as street stands, food trucks and small restaurants / bars.
- Powerful – shaves lots of ice quickly.
- Heavy-duty plastic body.
- Adjustable ice texture.
- Includes a plastic shield for added safety.
- Optional foot pedal.
- Not safe for kids to operate.
Powerful Shaved Ice Machine
The Great Northern ice shaver is rated at 400 watts, almost four times as powerful as Little Snowie.
All that power does not necessarily make for better quality shaved ice – it’s just as fluffy and delicious as the shaved ice from less powerful machines. The main benefit of the powerful motor is that the machine shaves a lot of ice in a short time.
The Great Northern shaved ice machine can produce up to 350lbs of shaved ice in an hour. This makes it perfect for parties, home events, as well as street stands, restaurants, and bars.
The machine uses a large round block of ice. You can freeze a block that’s up to 8” wide and 6.5” high, enough to make a couple dozen cups or cones of ice. The ice shaver does not come with a mold, so you have to find an appropriate container to freeze water in.
A dial lets you adjust the texture of the ice, from fine fluffy snow to coarser shaved ice that melts slower.
Optional Foot Pedal
The Great Northern shaved ice machine works a bit differently from other ice shavers. It doesn’t have a lid or handle that you press to activate the spinning blade.
Instead, once you switch it on, it keeps shaving until you turn the switch off. This can be tiring when you are shaving a lot of ice. So, the manufacturer recommends getting the optional foot pedal. It makes operating the ice shaver so much easier.
To shave you simply step on the pedal. To pause shaving, you step off the pedal. If you plan to use the machine at a party, stand or business, definitely get the foot pedal.
Tough Build Quality
The body of the Great Northern ice shaver is mostly plastic, but it’s heavy-duty plastic that will last a long time.
The heavy part with spikes that holds the ice block in place is metal. The blade is also metal (stainless steel) and is replaceable.
Great Northern offers a 1-year warranty.
Issues & Limitations
As expected for its power and capacity, the Great Northern ice shaver is pricey. If you are shopping on a budget, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives.
Another downside of being so powerful is that the Great Northern ice shaver is heavy – 55lbs. It’s not exactly portable.
Another issue is safety. With most other ice shavers, you can have your kids help you shave ice. With Great Northern, you’ll have to keep them far away. The rotating bit with spikes can easily take off an arm.
And even for yourself, you need to be extracareful when operating the machine. Only plug it in after you’ve lowered the spiked arm into the ice block, and always use the included plastic shield.
The Great Northern shaved ice machine is a great choice if you are looking for a powerful ice shaver that can handle the demand for shaved ice at a party, street stand, or small business.
5. Best 2-in-1 Ice Shaver and Crusher: ZENY Electric Ice Crusher
If you enjoy both crushed ice and shaved ice, we recommend the ZENY 2-in-1 ice crusher and shaver. You can make either type of ice by using different types of ice – ice cubes for crushed ice, and ice blocks for shaved ice.
- Crushes and shaves ice.
- Stainless steel construction.
- High capacity – good for large gatherings.
- Safety auto-on/off feature.
- Outlet chute shoots ice everywhere, making a mess.
Crushed ice is best for beverages and some snow cones. They are also great for chewing if you like crunchy sonic-style ice.
Shaved ice is the best for kids’ treats. The fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth texture goes great with syrups and fruit toppings.
The ZENY ice shaver and crusher lets you make both types of ice. For crushed ice, fill the hopper with regular ice cubes then press the handle down firmly. The chute produces finely crushed ice with a crunchy texture.
For Hawaiian-style shaved ice, melt an ice block in a Solo cup. Place the frozen block in the hopper with the flat side against the blade. When you push the handle down, the blade shaves off thin slices of fluffy snowy ice.
The ZENY shaved/crushed ice machine can easily keep up with a large party, thanks to its powerful 300W motor and 143lbs/hr capacity.
It also comes with a large stainless-steel bowl for collecting the shaved/crushed ice.
Heavy-Duty and Rust-Resistant
The ZENY ice shaver has a mostly steel construction, including a heavy cast base to reduce vibrations and add stability.
The blade and hopper are also stainless steel, ensuring they never rust. The durable construction does make it a bit heavier, but it’s worth the added durability.
For safety, the machine has an auto on/off feature. It only spins the blade when you close the lid and press down on the handle. Once you release the handle, it stops automatically.
Issues & Limitations
The only issue we have with the ZENY ice shaver is the outlet chute. It shoots crushed/shaved ice everywhere and can make a big mess on the counter.
An extended chute would be less messy. You can also use a taller bowl to keep the ice contained.
Surprisingly affordable, the ZENY ice crusher is a great choice for families that want both crushed ice and shaved ice.
6. Best Manual Ice Shaver: Victoria Tinned Cast Iron Shaver
If you want something even more manual and cheaper than the Time for Treats ice shaver, try this Victoria handheld shaver.
The Victoria Shaved Granita works like a hand planer. It’s a great choice if you want to shave ice the old-fashioned way. It’s also one of the cheapest ice shavers.
- Kinda fun to use.
- Well-made and durable – comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Rusts easily.
- Slow and tedious.
- Works best with long blocks of ice, which can be tricky to freeze.
An Old-Fashioned Way to Shave Ice
Some street vendors in the US and countries like Thailand make shaved ice using a hand-planer like tool. They move the tool back and forth on an ice block to shave off the ice.
The Victoria Shaved Granita works the same way. As you pass it over a block of ice, a sharp blade shaves off thin flakes. The shaved ice collects inside the shaver.
The resulting ice is surprisingly similar to the shaved ice from electric machines. It’s fluffy and snowy. You just have to work for it.
As many customers have noted, the shaver gets really cold. You may want to get a pair of gloves, especially if you plan to shave a lot of ice.
Built to Last
The Victoria manual shaver is all-metal. The blade is stainless steel, while the body is cast iron. To reduce rusting, the cast iron body is coated with double layers of tin.
To guarantee durability, the manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty.
If you don’t want a pricey electric ice shaver, the Victoria Shaved Granita is a much cheaper alternative. And because it doesn’t run on electricity, it has no ongoing costs.
Issues & Limitations
Even among manual ice shavers, the Victoria Shaved Granita is extra-slow. Hand cranked shavers are much faster. If you are planning a big party, this shaver will be a pain to use.
It’s not only slow, you also need a big block of ice that can take long to freeze and takes up a lot of space in your freezer.
Another common complaint is rusting. Cast iron rusts easily. If you leave the Victoria shaver wet, the tin coating will not prevent rusting.
The manufacturer recommends completely drying the shaver after using it. Some customers even pop theirs in the oven for a few minutes to get it dry. If you keep it dry, it should last for years without rusting.
The Victoria Shaved Granita is a great choice if you are looking for a cheap manual ice shaver, and want to have some fun making shaved ice.
Shaved Ice Maker Buying Guide
What are Shaved Ice Makers and How Do They Work?
Shaved ice makers are machines that make shaved ice. There are two types: electric and manual.
Electric shavers make a lot of shaved ice quickly and require minimal effort from you. A manual ice shaver is slower but cheaper.
Both types work on the same basic principle – a sharp stainless-steel blade shaves off thin flakes of ice. The resulting ice is fluffy and has the appearance and texture of snow.
Most shaved ice makers require an ice block – not ice cubes – to make shaved ice. That’s because it’s easier for the blade to shave off flakes from a large block rather than small cubes.
The Little Snowie Max Shaved Ice Maker is an exception – it makes shaved ice from ice cubes.
Shaved Ice vs. Crushed Ice
The terms shaved ice and crushed ice are at times used interchangeably, but they refer to two different types of ice.
Crushed ice – the type you get from an ice crusher or powerful blender – consists of tiny bits of ice. It has a crunchy texture.
Crushed ice is great for cocktails, sodas, margaritas, and other beverages. Many people also like to chew on crushed ice.
Shaved ice has no crunch at all. It’s fluffy and melts easily in your mouth. Shaved ice is best for frozen treats like snow cones, bingsu, and Hawaiian shaved ice cups.
What to Look for in a Shaved Ice Maker
- Electric vs. manual: An electric shaved ice maker requires no effort, and shaves a lot of ice quickly. It’s great for big families and home parties. A manual shaver is cheaper but requires some effort to make shaved ice.
- Ice quality: Make sure the machine actually makes shaved ice, not crushed ice. Some ice crushers are inaccurately labeled as ice shavers.
- Type of ice needed: Check what type of ice the machine needs. Some come with the appropriate ice molds. With others, you have to get the right mold yourself. If you want to use regular ice cubes, get the Little Snowie machine we’ve reviewed above.
- Power: Electric ice shavers range in power from 55W to 400W. The higher the wattage, the faster the machine can make shaved ice. If you hold many parties at home, get a high-wattage shaved ice maker.
- Complete kit: Some ice shavers come as a complete kit – the machine plus accessories such as syrups, snow cones, and straws. Such a kit is great if you want to get started right away making treats for your kids.
- Safety: We recommend getting an ice shaver with recessed blades and an auto off/on switch, especially if you want your kids to help you shave ice.
- Portability: If you want to enjoy shaved ice in your kitchen as well as in the patio, backyard, and even when camping, look for a compact and lightweight shaved ice machine. Consider getting a manual one, so you don’t have to find an outlet to shave ice.
Pros and Cons
- Free shaved ice at home – no need to buy shaved ice from the store.
- You can make frozen treats for your kids at any time.
- Makes for fun birthday parties.
- Most are easy to use.
- They tend to be noisy.
- Most require special blocks of ice – you cannot use regular ice cubes.
Cleaning and Maintaining
Because you are shaving frozen water, shaved ice makers don’t need much cleaning. The most important thing is to keep them dry to avoid rusting. Carefully wipe any accessible parts and leave the hopper open to dry out the blade and other components.
The blades in most machines stay sharp for years. If it gets dull, check if it is replaceable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Shaved Ice Unhealthy?
Shaved ice is water, so it’s not bad for you. Where you should be careful is the kind of treats you make with it.
Many syrups have a high sugar content that’s not too good for kids. Either limit how much syrup you add or look for low-sugar syrups. You can also make your own healthier syrups at home.
As for chewing shaved ice, it’s not as bad as crushed ice or ice cubes. Because shaved ice is soft and fluffy, it is less likely to damage your teeth. But overindulging can harm nerves in your teeth because of the cold temperature of the ice.
How Do You Make Shaved Ice Fluffy?
Use an ice block, instead of ice cubes. Ice cubes tend to produce crunchy crushed ice. An ice block results in airy fluffy ice.
Can You Store Shaved Ice?
Because shaved ice melts quickly, you either have to use all of it at once or keep it in the freezer.
If you opt to freeze it, put it in a freezer-safe container or bag. Every now and then, put it in the refrigerator for a while and stir or shake it to keep the shaved ice from clumping and getting hard.
Final Verdict: What is the Best Shaved Ice Maker and Why?
Our most favorite shaved ice maker is the Hawaiian S900A shaved ice machine. It’s affordable, shaves lots of ice quickly, and produces authentic Hawaiian shaved ice.