Sonic Ice Maker – Not All Ice Makers Are Created Equally

Those with an appreciation for ice will tell you not all ice – including crushed ice and chewable ice – is created equally. Many experts say nugget ice is the best type available. This ice comes in soft, chewable, small pieces that were made popular by Chick-Fil-A and Sonic.

However, despite their popularity, pebble ice makers aren’t as common. But if you need those chewable cubes in your drink, there are commercial and residential options.

How Does It Work?

These machines work through an auger system to compress ice into snow. It is a different process compared to other ice makers. The metal evaporator cylinder gets filled with water. Once the cylinder walls cool down, water starts to flow. As soon as the ice forms, a stainless-steel auger moves it to a compressing chamber.

Once there, ice becomes shaved and turns into chewable flakes, which undergo further compression into nuggets. After that, it gets transferred to a container for consumption.

What Are the Advantages to Nugget Ice?

There are several advantages to nugget ice. First, it’s great when chewed and creates a unique mouth sensation.

The second is that, since it is so porous, the ice allows the liquid to enter without altering the consistency of the beverage. The benefit is that it allows drinks to quickly cool and the ice stays in its form for longer durations over regular ice. This makes it great for large gatherings.

The third reason is that it is safer to drink no matter what your age, and it’s more accessible. Parents don’t need to take extra measures if their child chews the ice, and it can be used for a plethora of summer treats.

Things to Consider

Nugget ice makers come in countertop and commercial models. Countertop models are designed for home use and are more compact. Commercial models are more expensive and have a larger footprint.


Speed is the most important feature in a Sonic ice maker. You will need to know how long it takes to make ice. The first batch will tend to be the longest as the machine needs to reach a certain temperature. After producing the first batch, the machine should be able to make ice again within 6-20 minutes.

Storage Capacity

A large ice maker will have about five pounds of storage capacity. Smaller ones will store 1.5 pounds of ice, yet only some keep it in a frozen state. Note that the storage capacity is lower than the capacity to make ice. The more the machine can store, the slower the ice will melt.

Machine Capacity

The average machine makes 20 pounds of ice daily. However, large machines make over 600 pounds per day, which could be important if the demand for ice is continuous.

Consumption of Power and Temperature

Storing the machine near a refrigerator or freezer could increase the amount of ice in an ice maker. However, a larger machine will require more electricity. Large ice makers will drain approximately two kilowatts of power each hour. This could be a concern if you’re using one in a vehicle, like on a road trip or camping trip, as large ice makers will drain the power from your car if they’re kept running for long periods of time.


Sonic ice makers include small, countertop, and undercounter options. The smaller ones are more portable and require less energy, while larger, commercial machines need more kilowatts but will provide more ice.

Models that weigh 10 pounds and under will make less ice but are better suited for RVs. A large machine can weigh 200 pounds and will consume a larger amount of energy. However, it compresses, freezes, and provides 100 pounds of nugget ice each day.

Extra Features

Other features include the following:

  1. Bluetooth – Some machines use Bluetooth, allowing for a delayed start, help alerts, and notifications of completion.
  2. Alarms and Timers – This helps plan an ice-making cycle. The machine will send notifications about the state of the ice maker at any specified time. Some machines have start delays, notifications regarding cleaning, or monitoring screens.
  3. Ice Scoops – Some models include scoops, ice picks, and ice buckets to simplify the machine’s use.

Best Sonic Ice Maker

Before purchasing a nugget ice maker, you will need to take note of how much ice it makes daily, how much it can hold, if it hooks up to your water line or needs to be done manually, and if the compartment for ice is refrigerated. Additionally, some machines may provide ice for a cup or have a bin for scooping.

Best Overall: GE Profile Opal Countertop

Individuals can serve crunchy, chewable nugget ice that retains flavor. This ice machine produces 24 pounds of ice daily and contains a bin that holds three pounds of ice. With BlueTooth connectivity, you can schedule ice so that it is made fresh, monitor the machine’s status, or order accessories.

The design prevents leaks and clumping by recirculating ice to the reservoir containing water. Users can place three times more ice in the side tank, which attaches to the device.


  • Portable – does not require a water hookup
  • Compact
  • Produces ice in 20 minutes
  • Button notifies you when it is time to clean up


  • Requires more maintenance
  • Loud

Best Commercial: Vevor Commercial Snowflake Ice Maker

This commercial ice maker comes with the ability to make 44, 55, 88, 132, 154, and 200 pounds of ice, depending on the machine purchased. It provides snow ice that is healthy, pure, and has superior flavor.

Comprised of 304 stainless steel, this ice maker has a classically sleek appearance. It is durable and will not rust or stain.


  • Food-grade ABS container
  • Fluoride-free compressor
  • Low consumption of energy and low noise
  • Easy to operate


  • Wastes water when cycling
  • Sensor to create ice occasionally malfunctions

Best Countertop: Northair Countertop Ice Maker

Northair makes a very compact ice maker with a small footprint. Designed for small spaces, this machine produces 44 pounds of ice daily and will hold 3.31 pounds at once. If the ice melts, your water returns to the reservoir to be made into more ice. Nothing is wasted in this machine.

The digital display is easy to use. It will notify you if you need more water, remove extra ice cubes if the bucket is full, and more.


  • Takes 10-15 minutes to produce ice
  • Great for camping 
  • Doesn’t require a water hookup


  • Not easy to clean
  • Some report it being noisy

Best for Health: Frigidaire EFIC235

The Frigidaire ice maker contains an elegant design and fits easily on your countertop. It produces quality ice within 15 minutes and is completely portable. It conveniently plugs into an electrical outlet to use.

Nothing is wasted with this machine as water returns to the reservoir once melted to produce additional ice.


  • Produces 44 pounds of ice daily
  • Ice basket holds three pounds
  • Perfect for camping
  • Self-cleans


  • Leaks water
  • Makes a screaming sound when operated

Best Undercounter: Scotsman UN0815A-1

This machine has a space-saving design as it is only 15” in width. This allows it to be placed in the tightest spots. The QR code allows for access to service manuals, warranty, and cleaning guides. The Scotsman is completely reliable with its long-lasting performance, stainless-steel auger, and evaporator.

It will produce 79 pounds of ice each day and will store 36 pounds.


  • Three-year warranty
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Has adjustable legs and an ice scoop


  • Difficult to obtain servicing
  • Requires semi-annual cleaning

Best No-touch: KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Ice Maker

This is the only machine that is self-dispensing in order to keep everything sanitary. Comprised of BPA-free parts, it has a refrigerant that is environmentally friendly and a self-cleaning function. It is mess-free and easy to use with the reservoir just needing to be filled up with bottled, distilled, or purified water.


  • Makes 30 pounds of ice daily 
  • Internal storage is two pounds
  • Limited one-year labor-and-part warranty


  • Difficult to move

These Sonic ice makers tend to have a smaller footprint and operate quite efficiently, with the average output of ice being 44 pounds. Even the commercial-grade ice machines are compact and can store in tight spaces.

Most models are durable and designed to last. There are some that are more hygienic, while others have more accessories. Which one you choose will depend on what features you would like, the function, and how much ice you require.

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