Any ice enthusiast will tell you that not all ice is the same. Nugget ice, pebble ice, or sonic ice are the best because they come in tiny bits that are soft, porous, chewable, and absorbs the taste of your cocktail or soda. The secret to a dashing cocktail is not just the type of ice you use or your preferred liquor but also serving it in a good gin and tonic glass.
It is ideal for scotch, bourbon, or whatever your choice of drink is because it lets the color of your beverage show through and eventually settles at the bottom. It is famous thanks to Sonic and Chick-Fil-A.
An under-counter ice maker is a perfect addition to your kitchen if you enjoy making cocktails, frequently host gatherings, or prefer having ice-cold beverages.
The best under-counter nugget ice maker effectively produces enough clear and tasty ice cubes to meet your needs. Read on to find our top recommendations and the qualities to look for when choosing the best under-counter ice makers.
Nugget vs. Bullet vs. Crushed Ice
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Chewable, pearl, sonic, nugget, pebble, and pellet ice are all the same type of ice. Scotsman produced the first nugget ice maker in 1981, but now the competition has increased, and several companies make nugget ice makers.
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Sonic ice is the best because it is transparent and chewable and doesn't alter the flavor of your beverage, but bullet ice isn't. Instead, it is a thin hazy form of ice resembling a bullet and melts faster than regular ice. Sonic and Chick-fil-A are some of the first food restaurants to develop a reputation for their sonic ice.
Pebble ice is lighter, fluffier, more absorbent, and easier to chew than regular ice. In addition, it easily fits into a cup due to its compact size.
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On the other hand, crushed ice from a refrigerator ice dispenser has a chewier texture than regular ice cubes but is not the same shape or feel as nugget ice. Bullet ice is as cylindrical as nugget ice but just as hard as the food in your freezer trays.
Countertop vs. Under-counter/Built-in Ice Maker
1. Built-in Nugget Ice Maker
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You can have an endless supply of ice with a built-in nugget ice maker in your bar or kitchen. Most built-in ice makers fit perfectly under the counter and do not take up extra counter or floor space in your kitchen. They can either come as panel ready or with a stainless steel swing door that fits your style.
They also have large capacity ice bins so you will not run out of ice during a party. Additionally, an under-counter ice maker can produce 60+ pounds of nugget ice daily.
They are more expensive than countertop ice makers because they are powerful machines that produce lots of pebble ice and last longer. More electricity is required to run these machines compared to the countertop ones.
2. Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
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A counter ice maker is portable so you can place it anywhere in your kitchen, living room, or bar. However, it is limited in terms of storage compared to the under-the-counter, as most can produce 40-60 pounds of ice nuggets daily.
Best Under-counter Nugget Ice Maker
1. Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker Machine
- Euhomy ICE MAKER- GIVE YOU THE BEST ICE - Are you still worried...
- COMMERCIAL USE & ETL CERTIFICATION - Different from other stand...
- MULTI-FUNCTION CONTROL PANEL - The ice maker machine commercial...
- EFFICIENT & QUIET - You can enjoy the experience of this under...
- CLEANING - INCREASE THE LIFE OF YOUR ICE MAKER - Euhomy...
The Euhomy commercial ice maker machine tops our list of the best under-counter ice makers thanks to its 33-pound storage capacity and 100-pound daily ice production rate. We sure did make good use of it during the summer parties and trust me, we never once ran out of ice.
You can also use it in a restaurant or coffee shop because it is ETL certified and has a high output rate. Therefore, it can keep up with the demand in a commercial space. It also features a stainless steel design that is durable but also fits perfectly into our modern home.
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I like the front-facing panel because it is perfect for setting a timer, adjusting the ice cube size, monitoring the temperature and the ice-making cycle, and running the self-cleaning cycle.
So you can relax knowing it requires minimal maintenance thanks to the self-cleaning cycle and the automated overflow protection against ice cube spills. However, a suitable drain and water supply are necessary for gravity drainage.
2. EdgeStar IB120SS Built-in Ice Maker
- Front venting for built-in or freestanding installation; ADA...
- 25 foot long 1/4" water line connection included; Reversible door...
- Easy, convenient, and inexpensive installation; On/off power...
- Produces up to 12 pounds of ice per day; Stores up to 6 pounds of...
- This unit also operates as a freezer and will keep your ice...
Do you have a small kitchen and love to have ice on hand? The EdgeStar IB120SS built-in ice maker is the new small kitchen appliance you need in your home. It is 25'' high, so it fits perfectly under your kitchen countertop.
I like its versatility as you can set it up as a built-in or freestanding ice maker since it doesn't require a drain line, thanks to the front venting design. Therefore, you can use it in an RV, boat, kitchen, or living room.
I also like that it is affordable and features a reversible stainless steel door that either opens on the left or right side with a black body. Consequently, it is bound to fit any kitchen style thanks to its attractive design.
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The EdgeStar IB120SS is an outstanding ice machine that also functions as a freezer since the ice doesn't melt unless manually defrosted. The installation is simple, thanks to the replaceable ice bin. It is also very easy to operate with an on and off switch and an automatic shut-off once it is full of ice cubes.
However, it can only produce 12 pounds of crescent-shaped ice cubes daily and has a 6-pound storage capacity. Additionally, I didn't particularly appreciate that I had to open the door, disconnect the ice machine and manually defrost it.
3. VEVOR 110V Commercial Ice Maker
- ❄【More Efficient 】VEVOR ice maker provides you: ①...
- ❄【Premium Quality】Different from other ice makers, ①...
- ❄【More Convenient】Overall size of ice maker is 19.6 x 14.7...
- ❄【Auto Clean and Ice Thickness Adjustment】Automatic LED...
- ☎【Warranty and After-sales Service 】VEVOR is committed to...
The VEVOR 110V is an effective commercial ice maker producing 120 pounds of ice daily with a 33-pound storage capacity. It is suitable wherever you need it, such as in your home, restaurant, bar, or coffee shop.
I like that it produces crystalline and chewable ice thanks to the water filter that turns tap water into pure water. Additionally, the ice doesn't melt because it has insulation provided by a thick layer of foam. The compressor has powerful cooling and energy efficiency with minimum noise.
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It is made of easy-to-clean heavy-duty brushed stainless steel, so I didn't have to compromise on quality or my kitchen style. Every part of this ice machine is high end including the water pump that ensures it functions effectively as long as your machine is connected to an inlet.
It is a smart machine and thus has features such as an automatic led panel that lets me see the functions. Such functions include blur nano light that cleans the ice, self-cleaning, ice thickness adjustment, and a fully automatic ice-making process.
4. EdgeStar IB250SS 15 Inch Wide 20 Lb. Built-In Ice Maker
- 25 lbs. daily ice production; 20 lbs. ice storage capacity;...
- This unit also operates as a freezer and will keep your ice...
- Reversible door can be mounted in a left hinge or right hinge...
- Dimensions: 14.9" W x 20.06" D x 33.31" H
- Includes ice scoop, water line, and removeable ice bin
Many modern kitchens look great with stainless steel appliances. The EdgeStar IB250SS is one of those small stainless steel and versatile appliances you need in your home. You can use it in your kitchen, RV, bar, or wherever you deem suitable.
I like its compact size, which occupies a small space in my kitchen. However, it only produces 25 pounds of ice daily and has a 20-pound storage capacity that meets your daily ice demands and serves a small gathering.
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You could also utilize it as a built-in or freestanding ice maker. I also liked its simple installation and maintenance, thanks to the replaceable ice bucket, water line, and ice scoop included in the package. In addition, you only need to flip one switch to operate it.
It comes with a reversible door that opens on both sides. Thus, it doesn't limit you on where to place it in your kitchen.
5. Northair Commercial Ice Maker
- ❄ FAST ICE MAKING: NORTHAIR commercial ice maker will satisfy...
- ❄ MULTI-FUNCTION AUTOMATIC CONTROL: Only need to install the...
- ❄ WIDELY APPLICABLE: This 17.6 x 15.7 x 31.4inch ice cube maker...
- ❄ COMPLETELY EQUIPPED WITH TOP QUALITY: This ice maker has...
- ❄ NOTE: 1. If you have any problem, please feel free to contact...
The Northair commercial ice maker is perfect if you own a business or frequently host large groups that require large quantities of nugget ice cubes. You can utilize it in many spaces, such as a coffee shop, bar, or restaurant. We like it because it produces 100 pounds of ice daily and has 33 pounds of storage capacity.
It also has a multifunctional automatic control on an LCD screen for setting a timer, adding water, filling up ice, and self-cleaning. However, you must install the drain pipe before using this ice machine.
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Additionally, I could adjust the ice cube's thickness courtesy of the multifunctional control. It also functions quietly thanks to the 300w strong 99% water usage compressor for cooling. I also like the microcrystalline foam technology that preserves ice cubes for a long time at low temperatures. So I didn't have to worry about the ice melting.
It is compact and versatile, so I had the option of installing it as a freestanding or built-in ice machine. I also like the stainless steel body that is rust-resistant and durable with sturdy adjustable feet. We recommend using purified water to prevent hard water residue that shortens the lifespan of your machine.
6. Scotsman CU50GA Under-counter Ice Maker
- PRODUCTION: Produces up to 64 lb. of gourmet ice in 24 hours and...
- COMPACT: 15” cabinet width for placement in tight locations.
- QUALITY: Uniquely-shaped, crystal-clear, slow-melting,...
- TECHNOLOGY: Water-quality sensor detects hard water conditions...
- EASY-TO-USE: User-friendly control panel informs whether power is...
I like the water sensor in the Scotsman CU50GA under-counter ice maker. It identifies and purges hard water, thus reducing the effects of hard water by reducing accumulation and increasing the period between cleaning.
I prefer to use it as an indoor or outdoor home appliance because of its production rate of 64 pounds of ice per day with a 26-pound storage capacity. However, it is suitable to be used commercially. It is also air-cooled, has a self-contained condenser and gravity drain, and is made of stainless steel that fits into any kitchen style.
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This is the ideal ice machine to create clear gourmet-style ice that looks good and melts gradually in your beverage while preserving the taste. I find it easy to use thanks to the control panel that shows me when the electricity is on, warns me of a water shortage, and always reminds me to clean it.
7. Scotsman CU50PA-1A Under-counter Ice Maker
- Designed for commercial applications
- Control panel informs about water condition
- Approved for outdoor use
- Ideal for any undercounter or bar application
- It produces gourmet ice that’s uniquely shaped, crystal clear,...
The Scotsman CU50PA-1A is one of the best under-counter ice makers because it features a stainless steel reversible door. However, I also had the option of ordering it panel-ready to match my decor. It also notified me of the water shortage and when it was time to clean it.
The installation was simple as it had a built-in drain pump, so I didn't need a gravity drain. However, the pump is quite noisy. Therefore, installing this ice machine in a pantry or garage would be better. In addition, it is energy star certified, so you enjoy your nugget ice while saving the environment and your electricity bill.
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It is durable and ideal for use outdoors at home or commercially since it produces 65 pounds of gourmet ice daily and has a 26-pound storage capacity. In addition, the gourmet ice is crystal clear, slow melting, non-stick, pretty, and odorless thus doesn't interfere with the taste of your beverage and is perfect for formal occasions.
8. Joy Pebble Commercial Ice Maker Machine
- 【FAST AND EFFICIENT】The commercial ice maker is equipped with...
- 【MULTI-FUNCTION CONTROL PANEL】The ice maker machine is...
- 【WIDE APPLICATIONS】The compact design allow you to install...
- 【LARGE STORAGE CAPACITY】This Large Ice Machine has 33lbs of...
- 【HIGH-QUALITY MATERIALS】The ice maker built with heavy-duty...
I like the versatility of the compact Joy pebble commercial ice maker because I can install it as a freestanding or built-in ice maker. Thanks to the 100-pound production of ice daily and well-insulated 33-pound storage capacity, I can use it at home parties, in the office, in a bar or cafe business.
It is also made of stainless steel, which by now you know that I love because it suits most contemporary styles. The digital LCD panel has several functions, including self-cleaning, a smart timer, adjusting the thickness of the ice cubes, and ice full or water shortage reminders.
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The strong compressor functions quietly and conserves energy while cooling the ice maker. It also features a curved flap design and scoop, so I didn't have to bend to retrieve ice from this ice machine. The auto shut-off protects the machine when the ice is full, or the water is running low.
Factors to Consider When Buying an Under-counter Nugget Ice Maker
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You can easily install most under-counter nugget ice makers by following the instructions in the manuals. However, you can always hire a plumber if the task seems daunting.
What kind of drain does your nugget ice maker have? It either comes with a drain pump that raises the water to the water pipes under your sink, a gravity drain that directs excess water to floor pipes, a drain pump, or you have to drain it manually.
The choice is dependent on your kitchen layout. However, we recommend the gravity drain because drain pump failure is a frequent complaint among under-counter nugget ice maker owners. Additionally, check if you have enough space to insulate your ice maker machine because it can be quite noisy.
2. Production and Storage Capacity
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The ice within the ice maker is stored in a plastic or stainless steel container, which is conveniently detachable when cleaning. On the other hand, pan-style ice makers store the ice in removable stainless steel pans. Most residential under-counter ice makers can produce 20-100 pounds of ice daily and store 12-50 pounds.
Regular cleaning and descaling are crucial for your ice maker because of the mineral deposits left behind by tap water. In addition, we recommend purchasing a filter for your ice maker because it increases the longevity of your machine. Some ice makers come with an inbuilt filter, while for others, you need to purchase one.
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If you are an interior design enthusiast like me, you probably know what your perfect kitchen should look like. For instance, I like a contemporary look, so most of my appliances are stainless steel or black. Thankfully, many under-counter models have a stainless steel exterior blending in with modern kitchens.
However, if that is not your style, some panel-ready models are available and suitable for a traditional kitchen. So pick an under-counter nugget ice maker that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing.
5. Frequency of Production
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So, how much ice do you require, and how often do you need it? An under-counter nugget ice maker is a good purchase if you frequently host large gatherings or are a chomping ice fanatic.
Additionally, it is a great purchase if you do not have the patience to wait for 20 minutes for a batch of nugget ice. Otherwise, you may regret paying for a high-quality 100+ pound ice maker that is barely used.
However, you can always purchase a portable or countertop ice maker that doesn't produce the same amount of ice nuggets or provide as much storage as an under-counter nugget ice maker. It also has no installation issues.
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Always measure the available kitchen space and carefully check the ice maker's measurements before purchasing one. For instance, determine the depth and width of your cabinets because most ice maker machines measure 34'' tall by 15'' wide. Also, consider the space required for an under-counter nugget ice maker door to swing open if you select one without a reversible door.
Under-counter nugget ice makers are expensive and have a higher breakage rate than regular ice makers. Therefore it is important to know the kind of warranty a company provides in case the machine breaks down.
Like any other expensive appliance you own, some companies will pay the full cost for repairs while others will pay for components and not labor. Ensure you read your warranty agreement and register your appliance as soon as it is installed.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
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1. Why are Nugget Ice Makers So Expensive?
Most nugget ice makers cost more than $100 because of all the engineering involved during the production process. Additional features such as self-cleaning, water filtration, and automatic shut-off raise the price considerably.
Nugget ice makers are made for commercial use. Hence they have a high output, storage capacity, and material cost because they are huge, heavy, and well insulated.
2. Are Filters Present in all Nugget Ice Makers?
Using a filtering system produces the best quality of ice. It also keeps the machine limescale free and clean. However, not all ice makers come with a filter, so you can purchase a filter separately or use bottles or filtered water to make your nugget ice.
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3. Are Drains and Water Lines Necessary for all Nugget Ice makers?
Built-in ice makers need access to water lines to produce ice, but not every unit needs a drain line. You can manually drain melted ice water from units that don't require a drain line.
4. What is the Life Span of Under-counter Nugget Ice makers?
An under-counter ice maker typically lasts 5-10 years, depending on the materials used, frequency of use, where it is used, and how well it is maintained.
5. How Frequently Should I clean My Nugget Ice Maker?
Clean it every 6 months to maintain efficient operation. Run the self-cleaning cycle and clean and empty the ice bin if your machine has this function. Alternatively, use the user manual to find information on cleaning an ice machine without a self-cleaning function.
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