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Ninja is famed for its impressive kitchenware. The Ninja Creami is its first foray into the world of ice cream makers, but how did it perform in our tests?
Forget everything you thought you knew about ice cream making: this Ninja model is changing the game. With traditional ice cream makers, the machine spends between 20-40 minutes churning the mixture until frozen, but with the Ninja Creami, your base is frozen solid before being 'creamed' by a thick, blunt blade.
Ninja is well known for its powerful and sleek appliances; its air fryers, blenders and food processors perform consistently well in our tests. But, oddly enough, we were a little dubious about this product before testing it – we questioned whether it really is an ice cream maker in the traditional sense or if it’s just a high-powered blender. In the same way you’d 'reverse cream' a cake, this model 'reverse creams' your ice cream, forming those fine ice crystals needed for a super-smooth texture after the whole freezing process has taken place.
We tested this model in the exact same way we tested more traditional ice cream makers, using the same recipes and looking for equally convenient usability and functionality features.
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This ice cream maker comes securely packaged, though we are disappointed to see that a number of the accessories come in plastic bags. Recyclable elements include a cardboard shell that protects the main unit and the box itself. Usefully, this ice cream maker comes with a large recipe book as well as three one-pint containers with lids that are used both to mix the ice cream and store it afterwards.
This doesn’t look like a classic ice cream maker – in fact, it looks a little like a filter coffee machine. It’s a tall piece of kit, but we find it still fits neatly under our kitchen counters with room to spare. It’s not unusual for high-end ice cream makers to come with multiple settings, but this Ninja model comes with the most. You can make six different items with this machine:
There is a button for mix-ins like chocolate chips, fruit purées and nuts, and another button to re-spin the ice cream.
Although it looks complicated to start, setting this ice cream maker up is simple and intuitive. After a quick read-through the manual we're ready to go. Guidance symbols are also printed over the machine to help guide you.
After making your ice cream base, it's poured into the provided pint containers. Usefully, a maximum fill line is printed on the side of the container to ensure you’re not overfilling, as mixtures expand when they freeze. The mix needs to be frozen for at least 24 hours before use in the machine and should be frozen flat to avoid damaging the machine.
After 24 hours of freezing, we fit the frozen mix into the machine and set it to go on the ice cream setting. Be aware, this machine is loud. It takes around 2 minutes to mix the ice cream. While there isn’t a numerical countdown timer, there are progress lights on the front of the machine. After mixing, we feel our vanilla ice cream looks a little crumbly and dry on top. The instructions suggest using the 're-spin' button if this happens. After re-spinning, the ice cream has a much more cohesive and delightfully smooth texture. We use the vanilla ice cream base to test out the mix-in program with some chopped nuts. After mixing again, the nuts are pretty well distributed, save for a centimetre at the bottom of the pot.
Although our gelato is exceptionally smooth and creamy after being processed on the gelato setting, texturally we struggle to find a difference between it and the ice cream. We are expecting the gelato to be denser than the ice cream, but it's just as light and smooth.
To test out the milkshake setting, we use a generous scoop of our gelato along with milk. The setting produces a super-thick and creamy, chilled drink.
We use the sorbet setting for our lemon sorbet recipe. Our findings are much the same as the ice cream and gelato above: a smooth and creamy sorbet.
All of the settings are easy to use and produce brilliant results.
We have no trouble cleaning this machine. All of the attachments are dishwasher-safe (top rack only); otherwise, hand-washing is a doddle too. Take care to clean the metal bolt on the underside of the appliance, as ice cream tends to get wrapped up in the grooves. On the whole, cleaning this ice cream maker is significantly easier than traditional models, as everything remains contained within the tubs rather than getting stuck in nooks and crannies.
As mentioned above, this ice cream maker is very loud, but it’s fast, so you’ll only need to put up with the unpleasant noise for no more than 3 minutes, which is a fraction of the time of traditional ice cream makers.
Although the prep and blending time for this ice cream maker are relatively short, the 24-hour freezing time is long. Indeed, it's the longest of all the ice cream makers we’ve tested.
This model is also remarkably sensitive. Ninja makes a point to emphasise that the ice cream mix must be frozen flat, otherwise you may break the machine. This means that should your ice cream mix get knocked and freeze on an angle, your mix may be unusable and your time wasted.
Like some of the other self-freezing ice cream makers we’ve tested, this Ninja model is an equally hefty bit of kit.
Upon first inspection, we're unconvinced by this machine. It seems to counter everything we know about ice-cream making, which is that the constant motion within the frozen bowl produces fine ice crystals, creating a smooth, creamy and aerated texture. By freezing the ice cream mix solid beforehand, you can’t create those tiny ice crystals or smooth texture – or so we thought. To our surprise, this model produces the exact silky and creamy texture we are looking for, test after test.
This model is similarly priced to the more professional self-freezing models we’ve expertly tested. The 24-hour freezing time may be a put off, but we like how versatile this machine is and the extra-ingenious features, like the number of bowls included that work for mixing and serving.
Pre-freeze or self-freezing: pre-freeze
Accessories: three one-pint pots with lid
Pre-set functions: ice cream, gelato, sorbet, smoothie bowl, light ice cream, milkshake
Dimensions (cm): H:30 x W:24 x D:42
Bowl capacity: 0.56ml (one pint)
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