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Some people are addicted to shopping. Some can’t go a day without playing the lottery. Ice cream happens to be my personal vice.
Whether it’s a McFlurry, a Blizzard, a hand-dipped cone, a milkshake or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, I’ve never turned down a chance to have this frozen dessert. So, when I was given an opportunity to try a top-rated machine that promised to let me make my own ice cream any time, how could I refuse?
The Ninja Creami (yes, it has a pretty terrible name but thankfully that doesn’t affect performance) lists for $229 at Amazon (though it’s currently marked down to $199.99), where it has more than 1,100 ratings so far, the vast majority of which are stellar. With an overall grade of 4.6 out of 5 stars, it’s one of the better-reviewed kitchen appliances I’ve seen on the site.
The Creami promises to help you make homemade ice cream, sorbet, gelato, smoothies and milkshakes, all with one touch of a button. After mine was delivered, I gave it a test run by trying out three different recipes.
Was the Creami legit enough to impress a certified ice cream fiend? Keep reading to see how it went.
What The Ninja Creami Does
Inside the box, the Creami comes with the device itself, which weighs a whopping 13 pounds and felt much heavier than I was expecting from its sleek appearance, a recipe book and two washable pint containers with lids. More of those can be bought on Amazon as well if you want to expand your collection.
The first thing to know about the Ninja Creami is that it doesn’t technically make ice cream. Your freezer is going to freeze ingredients and then the Creami will work its magic by turning that rock-hard mass of ingredients into the texture that matches whichever type of frozen treat you prefer. Similar to Ninja’s most popular appliances, the Creami works a bit like a blender, except the mixing blade comes down from the top and moves vertically through your ingredients.
In this way, it’s similar to other countertop ice cream makers you can find online, but what makes Ninja’s different are its seven one-touch settings and how quickly it turns frozen ingredients into smooth ice cream (or sorbet, or whatever you like) that can be easily scooped.
I will say that it’s very loud as it works, but given that it’s all done in about a minute, it’s not too much of an issue. However, my son and cooking partner may disagree with that statement.
Making Ice Cream With The Ninja Creami
For my series of tests, I picked three different ice cream recipes that were optimized for the Ninja Creami. One of them came from the included recipe booklet, which I found to be surprisingly robust, one came from Ninja Test Kitchen and the other came from The Ice Cream Confectionals, a blog I found that has many unique recipe ideas for the Creami.
First, I wanted to see if the Ninja Creami could make convincing Dole Whip, so I found a recipe for it from Ninja Test Kitchen, which is a recipe website owned by Ninja. The instructions called for combining frozen pineapple chunks, frozen mango chunks, pineapple-mango juice, coconut milk and vanilla extract in a Creami pint and freezing it for at least 24 hours before running them through the machine (this length of time is standard for all the from-scratch recipes I found, so you’ll have to have a little patience and plan ahead).
The next recipe I made was for lemon cookie ice cream from The Ice Cream Confectionals. This one was supposed to be more of your typical ice cream, with ingredients including whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, lemon extract, crushed cookies and … wait for it … cream cheese. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of cream cheese but, as I discovered while looking at recipes, nearly every ice cream recipe for the Ninja Creami calls for a tablespoon of cream cheese. It’s apparently the secret weapon needed to achieve the right texture.
The final recipe I chose was a simple milkshake, made using store-bought vanilla ice cream, milk and candy mix-ins that would be expertly incorporated by the machine, according to the book. Keep reading to see how my tests turned out.
Is Ninja Creami Ice Cream Any Good?
Part of the reason I chose the three recipes I did is because it would give me a chance to use three of the seven settings on the Creami: sorbet, ice cream and milkshake. The Dole Whip was the first batch I made and it was easily the most disappointing of the trio, mostly due to the texture.
I should mention that I deviated from Ninja Test Kitchen’s recipe by doubling the pineapple chunks, leaving out the mango chunks and replacing pineapple-mango juice for straight pineapple juice. After the ingredients were frozen for a day, I popped the pint into the Creami, pressed “Sorbet” and let it do its work.
I was expecting the signature soft-serve texture of Dole Whip, but instead got a treat that was far more powdery and crumbly. It tasted just like the real thing, but made me wonder if I should’ve tried the ice cream setting instead.
Next up was the lemon cookie ice cream. This was the only recipe I tried that used cream cheese and the texture was definitely the closest thing to ice cream dipped at a parlor that I had during my test. I was able to taste a hint of cream cheese in the actual ice cream, which didn’t thrill me, but it was faint and nobody else who tried the ice cream seemed to notice.
This recipe included crushed Golden Oreos that were to be added after the freezing period, so I ran the frozen pint on the ice cream setting before digging a hole through the center, filling it with cookies and pressing the “Mix-In” button, which is supposed to spread your mix-ins evenly throughout the ice cream without grinding them up. I can say it worked like a charm and this ice cream was a winner across the board.
Finally, I made a milkshake using the Ninja Creami and found it to be much easier than the way I’ve made them before: piling everything into the blender and hoping I didn’t over-mix. Using the instructions provided in the included recipe book, I simply added a few scoops of store-bought vanilla ice cream, dug a hole into the center that I filled with Reese’s Cups and sprinkles, added milk, and pressed “Milkshake.”
When my milkshake was done, it was a little on the thin side for my tastes but that probably came down to adding a little too much milk. The candy and sprinkles were pretty much destroyed, so if you prefer bigger chunks in your treats, definitely stick with the “Mix-In” feature. The milkshake tasted great, couldn’t have been easier to put together and left no mess behind on the counter.
The Ninja Creami is definitely an investment but, like other pricey kitchen gadgets from Nespresso or Kitchen Aid, it lives up to its price tag by doing exactly what’s advertised and doing it well. One of the most exciting things about the Creami is the cult-like following it’s gained online, which means there’s an entire community of custom recipes that you can try.
While I wasn’t able to replicate my beloved Blizzard, I hold out hope that I’ll find the proper combination of ingredients and settings to get it right one of these days. The great thing about the Creami is that even the fails are wins because you still get to eat some custom-made ice cream without leaving the house!
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